SPRING HILL — Usually, eating in the library earns students a scolding, or at least a stern look, from the staff.
But several times a year, Fox Chapel Middle School library media specialist Kathy Buchnowski invites students into the media center to eat and learn during her "Lunch in the Library" sessions.
When funding allows, she provides the food. Other times students bring their lunches and she provide treats, such as cookies.
There are 30 spots available for students each time, and they sign up if they want to participate.
The lunches are centered on literacy and sometimes have holiday themes. Teachers sometimes volunteer to read to the students as they eat. In October, the stories were scary. The December lunch was decorated with a holiday theme and featured holiday stories.
The most recent get-together was a celebration of Black History Month. As they ate, sixth-graders learned about famous African-American authors.
Buchnowski shared some of her favorite books and authors with the students: We Beat the Street, by Drs. Sampson Davis, George Jenkins and Rameck Hunt; Slam and Hoops by Walter Dean Myers, winner of the Coretta Scott King Award; and The Legend of Bass Reeves, by Gary Paulsen.
Buchnowski has been offering Lunch in the Library for seven years and has been at Fox Chapel for 14 years. She has taught social studies and reading, and for the past seven years she has worked as a media specialist. She uses the lunches as another way to find things that interest students and, she said, "to get them to read."
She admits that inviting students into the library for lunch wasn't her idea, but that doesn't matter as long as it spikes interest in reading. Often, "the best ideas are borrowed ones," she said. "You just expand on them."
There will be a couple of more meals in the media center before the year is over. Buchnowski plans a spring poetry lunch and expects the May/June one to focus on the spring and summer seasons.