Summer Reading

This summer I had to pack up my classroom library.  No, I’m not moving classrooms.  I actually did that in the middle of the year. :)  And I am not changing schools, either. (Thank goodness!).  Just normal end-of-the-year cleaning.  Because I dread putting everything into boxes, I posted a message on our school’s electronic BBS and said that any students interested in borrowing books for the summer could come sign them out over a 2-day period.  I expected a few freshman to take a book or so each but I didn’t have high hopes.

Umm, approximately 25 students came and borrowed books.  I signed out close to 100 books for the summer!  Some students took one book, others took closer to 10 books!  How awesome is that?  Freshman, sophomore, and junior students came to the shelves and browsed, signing out anything that interested them.  My students are all brilliant and heavily involved in lots of extra-curriculars.  They told me that they were looking forward to taking some time to relax and read this summer.  More than one of them came in with a list of books that they were hoping to read, books that had been on their must-read lists for most of the year.  Other students came in and asked for recommendations, both from myself and other readers.  It was awesome!

I’ve never lent books out for the summer before because my sixth graders moved onto a new school after leaving my classroom.  It’s nice to have the ability to loan books to students over the summer.  Do you loan books out of your classroom library for the summer?

What Every Teacher Wants to Hear

Today was my last class with my seniors (they spend 1 semester with me and then swap to another English teacher for the next semester).  We spent the last few minutes of class reflecting on what worked and what they would change for my next group. It was a productive conversation and they had some great ideas.

As we wrapped things up, I reminded them that they can always come borrow books and to email me if they want any recommendations or want to share books with me.  They started chatting amongst themselves as they packed up and one student stopped me as she got ready to leave the room. She said one simple sentence and continued on to her last period class.

“Thank you for reminding me that I love reading”.

Needless to say, I smiled for the rest of the day. :)

 

ARCs Float On

*Edited to add: Bloggers and teachers who are interested in being a part of the program, fill out the survey

ARCsFloatOn Matchmaker 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:

Want to be matched?  Fill out the survey!

Adding Books to Your Classroom Library

Any teacher worth their salt knows how important classroom libraries are.  Even if we didn’t see the evidence in our classrooms everyday, there is plenty of research proving their importance.   But how does a teacher keep their library packed, updated, and enticing?  Students need access to books.  The more students you teach, the more books you need in your library.  At times it can seem very intimidating- how do we build up a huge classroom library without going broke?

I am extremely lucky.  Thanks to my work reviewing books for the blog I have access to review copies and ARCs.  Every single review copy and ARC I receive makes its way into my classroom library for my students to read and enjoy.  If I don’t think the book is appropriate for my 6th graders I pass it on to another teacher, our school librarian, or my sister’s school.  But most teachers don’t have time to review books on top of their day-to-day work, so I am frequently asked how I keep my library well-stocked and up-to-date.

One of the best ways to stock your classroom library is by visiting the semi-annual Scholastic Warehouse Sale in your area.  Check here for the next sale in your area.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE my warehouse sale!  Picture this:  walking through a large garage-like door.  In front of you are closed silver cases, the ones you see at your school book fair.  There are signs, favorite characters posters, and a few small piles of books.  You round the corner and suddenly you are swallowed up by this huge warehouse.  Floor to ceiling there are just huge shelves of books.  It’s like a teacher and booklover’s paradise.  Bring your credit card, your purchase order, your checkbook- however you plan to pay.  And be prepared to walk out with boxes upon boxes of books.

Can’t get to a warehouse sale?  Check out online book outlets.  Right now Barnes and Noble is running a 3 for $10 promotion.  There are lots of great children’s and YA titles in the mix.  I just placed my order.  I also frequently check out the Bargain Books on Amazon.  Be sure to go through the books in the $5 and under category for some really great deals!

Better World Books is my all-time favorite book website.  They have a constant promotion of 5 used books for $15.  Many of these are library remains and I have scooped up some phenomenal deals.  The shipping is a little slow, but it is free and they let you offset the carbon footprint so they get two thumbs up from me!  And right now they are running a special promotion in honor of Children’s Book Week-  5 children’s books for $10!

Offline you can visit garage sales, library book sales, and make sure you utilize the Scholastic Book Clubs.  I use my bonus points monthly to buy new titles for our classroom library.  The kids love having a say in what we purchase and it really builds a lot of excitement.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 6,780 other followers