Friday, March 2, 2012

One School, Many Books

My students have all headed off for Spring Break--a welcome break for all involved! I'm relieved to be on break (goal for break: get my sleep back in functioning condition), but also excited about what will be happening when students come back from break.

We started a program I'm calling "One School, Many Books" this year. I'd long been interested in doing a One School One Book program, but had no idea what book I would choose for such a program. As a result of working in a very small school with students with very diverse reading interests, all of my top ten checkouts have checkout totals in the single digits. What book could I possibly choose? Especially since much of my population is comprised of VERY reluctant readers. If the book doesn't appeal to them, there's no way they're going to even give it a shot.

But then I started thinking about what could motivate students to read a book over Spring Break. And I realized, as with so many other things, it's about making connections between people. A student who might not be interested in reading a book (or only have a passing interest in reading a book) might be more interested if reading that book was tied to a book club being hosted by one of their favorite teachers.

We have an amazing faculty here, and several of them stepped up right away to host book clubs. Each of them have different interests, and connect with different kids, and so picked out very different books. Which I love. We've got groups reading The Hunger Games, The Art of Racing in the Rain, Lola and the Boy Next Door, Gentlemen and Trapped.

Once I announced the book clubs, students would come in looking for "the book that Ms. _______ is reading." Didn't matter the book, they wanted to spend time with the teacher. They knew the teacher, liked the teacher, assumed

We're building on relationships that already exist in order to foster a love of reading. And it's really cool to watch it happening.

As part of this, we're hosting a visit from Michael Northrop (author of Gentlemen and Trapped) in April. Handing out those books to kids has been particularly cool. "This is mine to keep? Do you think he'll sign it for me? Awesome!"

In honor of that visit--and in the interest of generating more interest in those books, I made a couple book trailers.

I love making book trailers, as it pushes me to think in ways I don't usually think. "Thinking in pictures" is generally a weakness for me, but many of my students connect really well with images, so it's a skill I work on a lot--and making book trailers is a really fun way to develop that skill set. I use flickrCCBlueMountains for images, and have recently added PhotoPin to my "go to" sites for CC images. I use Jamendo for music, and I don't know what I'd do without it.

Overall we have about 30 (out of 180) kids involved in the book clubs in some way. I'm looking forward to the book club discussions that will be happening after break!


  1. Love this spin on the "one book" idea. And particularly the "building on relationships that already exist in order to foster a love of reading" You've now been "pin-a-quoted" :)

  2. Thanks Polly! It was really a great experience from start to finish. We hosted Michael Northrop last Friday, and he was great. Hope to have time to do a quick post about his visit/the book groups.