Our 2017 student book budget group is hard at work making purchasing decisions for the 2016-17 school year. This year’s group is made up of 4th & 5th graders who applied to be in the group, and they meet during lunch and/or recess time a few times per week to spend a budget on books requested by students. This money sometimes comes from grants, but this year’s budget is from profits at our fall book fair.
The money is completely under the control of students, but they must base their decisions on what the rest of the school wants to read. To determine this, the students work together to create a Google form survey. This year, they added pictures of all of the new genre sections in our library. We emailed the form to upper grades, but for lower grades, each book budget student chose a class to go and survey with an iPad.
Once we surveyed almost half the school, students analyzed their results to see what the top categories were.
They also looked at text responses from students to look for commonly requested specific books or series.
After some analysis, they decided to focus on the following categories in their purchases:
- Graphic novels
- Historical fiction (high interest)
I sent these categories to a couple of vendors: Avid Bookshop and Capstone Press. We’ve worked with both of these vendors for years, and it’s great to continue this project with them. Jim Boon from Capstone brought in a selection of books and catalogs for students to look at. He broke the book samples into fiction and nonfiction to help students sort through a variety of books. If they found a book of interest, he helped them find the book in the catalog by using the index.
We setup a scanning station for students to scan the barcode in the catalog and add the specific titles they wanted into a consideration list. For this first step, we don’t worry about price. We simply add every book that looks good to our consideration list. Later, we’ll look at our budget and start to narrow our decisions.
Jim also talked to the kids about incentives from Capstone such as Capstone rewards. These incentives help students stretch their budget even more, so we have some great life-skill discussions about saving money and stretching budgets.
Before he left, Jim gave every student a Capstone pen and a poster. There are always special moments in these sessions and one of those was when one of our students asked if Capstone has a World War II poster. Jim told her that if she composed an email, we could send it to Amy Cox at Capstone for consideration.
This student wasted no time and went straight to her room to compose a professional email.
Amy wasted no time in responding, and I can’t wait to see where this conversation takes us.
I love that Capstone truly does listen to their customers. Even if it doesn’t happen, just taking time to respond to a request in a genuine way means so much to our students.
Our next steps will be to continue looking at Capstone catalogs and take a walking field trip to Avid Bookshop before narrowing our lists for ordering.