Ideas from Waltham Library Teachers

At Plympton School, I run some sort of reading or research project targeted at grades 2 to 5 each month. It almost always is open-ended (you can play all month). The projects are completely voluntary, but I often offer some sort of little prize to one of the participants ("you have to be in it to win it" as they say). When kids come to check out books, I explain the project each month, and I remind kids to participate at each checkout period. Some teachers use these to help with reading logs, or as anchoring activities. Our book buddies sometimes work on these projects too. Some of the most popular include:

  • World Series Readers: A baseball-themed program I run in the fall. I make a list of all the series books that I have lots of in the library (e.g., Magic Tree House, My Weird School, Nancy Drew, Henry and Mudge, etc). I divide the books into two lists--the easier and shorter books are "American League" readers and the more difficult and longer books are "National League" readers. Kids then sign up to be on a team dedicated to reading books in a particular series. When they check out a book, they are on first base; when they read it, they are on second; when they complete the book, they are on third; and a homerun is scored when they write a short book review (using a form I give them) and return it to the library. I keep updated stats of which teams score homeruns, and which kids are "most valuable readers"--scoring the most homeruns in each league. Updated "standings" are announced each Friday on the PA. At the end of the month, all the students on the winning team in each league receive a little prize. In addition, the two "most valuable readers" (one in each league), get a trophy. This is wildly popular and I have many kids reading anywhere from 8 to 25 books during the month.
  • You'll Love this Book: In February, I have templates that look like Valentines. Kids who read a book, can send a "You'll Love this Book" card to a friend. The template looks like a card, but asks the sender to include the book's title, author, a short description of the plot, and why this friend would love it. Each day, I have student volunteers sort the cards and deliver them to the classrooms.
  • Get Me Out of Here: I find dozens of books that rarely circulate and put them in a display. I tell kids that I am thinking of removing these books from the collection because no one ever reads them. Kids can then check them out, read them, and let me know if they should stay or go--but they must tell me the reasoning based on reading their book--of course, there is a form they must fill out (and I often do follow their recommendations). I select 5 participants and allow them to each select one book to put in the library to replace the books removed during this promotion.

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