*Edited to add: Bloggers and teachers who are interested in being a part of the program, fill out the survey
Since starting at my new school, I have not been blogging as much. I’ve been working on my curriculum, getting to know my students as readers, and grading a lot! I have been trying to keep up with my reading, though, and I’ve been posting reviews here on the blog (with more to come). My to-be-read pile of books continues to grow exponentially, adding titles from blogger reviews, student suggestions, and review books that I receive.
I get a lot of books for review. At least twice each week I come home to find packages on the porch. Right now, as a Cybils panelist, I am receiving review copies of the nominated YA/middle grade nonfiction titles. Some of the books I receive are finished copies and others are ARCs (advanced readers copies). I read as many as I can, posting reviews here and on Goodreads. Publishers value the “buzz” that is generated by these early copies and my students love that they get a chance to read books before they are officially published. I start the year by explaining what ARCs are and showing them some unfinished copies. My sixth-graders and my high schoolers both understood that ARCs are not finished works and may differ from the final draft. But ARCs work wonders with readers. Even the most reluctant reader can be swayed when they realize they are first. They are holding a copy of the book before almost anyone else.
After I read, my ARCs and review copies are put in my classroom library. Upcoming books are shelved separately, drawing in reluctant readers. ARCs that have been published (and physically survived my classroom) are moved onto the general shelves of my library. Books that are not a good fit for my classroom are given to other teachers. My sister teaches high school special ed and is just starting her classroom library. I brought her boxes of high-interest but low-level books this summer. I also give middle grade titles and elementary titles to other friends who teach those grade levels. The teachers are always extremely grateful. Plus, my husband is happy because the books are out of our house! (Honestly, it is only temporary because more books soon replace those that are gone).
Classroom libraries are a vital part of students’ lives. According to Scholastic’s Classroom Libraries Work: Research & Results,
By providing access to a rich classroom library, teachers promote greater amounts of reading, increased reading frequency, and more diverse reading experiences among their students, thus helping them to attain greater levels of reading achievement.
Unfortunately, almost all teachers fund their classroom libraries on their own. This means ordering from Scholastic, visiting warehouse sales, soliciting donations from students/parents, and looking longingly at those new titles in the bookstore but knowing it’s impossible to buy them all. I am extremely lucky; as a reviewer, I have access to the newest titles. But for most of my friends, this is not true. The economy has hit schools and teachers hard. Spending extra money on trade books for the classroom library is hard to justify when it means your own family might do without something else. Schools are spending their money elsewhere, unable to fund classroom libraries.
While joining in the monthly Twitter chat for #titletalk, Donalyn Miller (The Book Whisperer) and I started talking about this issue. I brought up the fact that I know many bloggers who are inundated with titles and have nowhere to donate them. ARCs can not be sold or cataloged by an actual library, so many are thrown out. Most public libraries are unable to accept donations of review copies, or finished copies. (I know mine can not, and I have tried, and tried!)
I suggested that we start a campaign to encourage book reviewers and bloggers to donate their review books and advanced reader copies to classrooms and charities in their communities. I know many of the reviewers already donate their books to local schools, libraries, and literacy charities. However, I talked to many on Twitter who did not know what to do with their copies.
This is my plea- find a worthy charity or a local classroom teacher. Give them your ARCs and review copies when you are done. Tweens and teens NEED access to good books, new literature. Reviewers are in a special position here and can really help out in these tough economic times. If you receive free books from publishers (ARCs or review copies!), please consider donating your review books. By donating the books that you receive for free, you are promoting awareness of great books and authors, helping teachers and librarians, and encouraging more reading. Learn more about this initiative or connect to a classroom through the Twitter hashtag, #ARCsFloatOn.
If you are interested, and don’t know how to get matched with a local teacher, feel free to comment here or Tweet me. I would be happy to do some matchmaking!
*Please remember, ARCs can not be cataloged by an actual library. However, personal classroom libraries can accept ARCs!
Edited to add: