Our annual storybook celebration was another huge success. I often get questions about how our storybook celebration is organized and what we do throughout the day.
Planning for this day begins in early October. It takes multiple steps and multiple people for this day to be successful.
Storybook celebration begins with guest readers in every classroom. To organize readers, we create a Signup Genius to easily share the signup as well as send out updates and reminders to those who have signed up. My volunteer coordinator, Courtney Tobin, from PTA helped with this. She created the signup and she and I began sharing it. She contacted parent representatives at each grade level to also send out the link to families.
On the morning of storybook celebration, guest readers arrive in the library between 7:30-7:50. They sign in at the counter and select a book from 2 tables that are organized by books for PreK-2 and 3-5. All of these books are pulled by me ahead of time. Some readers bring their own book.
While readers wait to go to classes, they mingle, pre-read their books, and find a place to sit in the chairs that are ready for a group photo.
At 7:55, we all gather and I give a quick welcome.
Then we take a group photo.
My morning BTV crew escorts readers to classrooms by grade level, so I have a sheet with all of the readers and their assigned classes that I give to each crew member.
Once all readers make it to their rooms, I race around the school to take pictures of as many readers as I can. There are about 2 readers for every classroom. They read and talk with the kids about their book. Some even leave the book in the room so that kids can keep enjoying it during the day, but most bring the book back to the library.
At 9:00, we gather in the cafeteria for the assembly. This year, we tried some new things in the assembly, which required some organization in advance. We had an assembly guest reader. Our family engagement specialist helped a lot with the assembly. She contacted and organized Dan Coenen, a UGA professor and community member. He read The Book with No Pictures and had the kids laughing and engaged.
We also had a skit performed by teachers. It was written by the teachers and reviewed many of the Daily 5 strategies that kids use in class. One again, Mimi Elliott-Gower, our family engagement specialist, got this organized along with Carrie Yawn, 2nd grade teacher.
In the past, all students have walked across the stage to show off their costume. This has been very time consuming, so this year we tried something new. Each row of students stood, twirled, and sat down facing the back of the cafeteria. We did this until every student was facing the back.
Then we were ready for a parade! The parade is outside on the sidewalks of our community. I send out the parade route to families in my newsletter and via facebook. Our principal emails UGA and lets them know so that they can come out of their buildngs and wave.
Taking almost 600 kids on a walk is a big task, and safety is one our biggest concerns. I drive around to make sure that the route we plan to take is all clear before we decide the way to go. Our family engagement specialist contacts the police and they help us cross streets and watch for unsafe drivers to pull over. We talk to the kids about staying away from the road while they are on the sidewalk and we want them to walk in a single line.
I lead the parade so that we make the right turns, but I communicate the route to all of the teachers as well so that they know where we are going.
The kids chant “Read more books!” as we go down the sidewalks and we usually get lots of waves and honks as we walk.
Our 5th graders break off of the parade route and stop at the GA Center for hot chocolate while the rest of the parade returns to Barrow. Once again, several people help with buying, prepping, and pouring the hot chocolate. This is a special treat for our 5th graders’ final storybook parade.
Once we are all back at school, classes carry on with their normal lunch schedule and literature activities in their classrooms. We also have a specials schedule that teachers sign up for. Because teachers miss their planning period, we create some 30-minute segments that they sign up for. Art, music, PE, resource teachers, and I all offer literature-based activities. I create a Google spreadsheet with times and each teacher posts what he/she will be offering. This is done a few weeks before storybook celebration. The week before, I send out the schedule for people to signup.
This year I read the book Ol’ Clip Clop to some classes and Precious and the Boo Hag to other classes. Then, we used the Puppet Pals app on the iPad to create our own stories.
Days like these are filled with learning opportunities, collaboration, tinkering, dreaming, and community. It is a difficult kind of event to pull off by yourself. It can be done, but I’m very thankful to have the support that I do to create days like these for our students.