I Read Because: A Book Tasting Library Orientation

I’m always trying to maximize what happens during library orientation each year. This year, I asked myself what I really hoped students experienced on their very first visit. Yes, there are many expectations and rules I could go over, but what message do I send if that’s how I spend our time on day 1. Instead, I wanted to focus on the power of reading and give students time to explore the genres of the library.

As students entered, I played a video from Scholastic’s “Open a World of Possible” site. The video had students sharing reasons that they read.  Then, I asked students to think about why they read.

I shared a couple of reasons I read. One of those reasons was to be able to walk in someone else’s shoes. I shared books like Wonder and How to Steal a Dog, which gave me a chance to wrestle with something that is different from my own life.  I also talked about escaping to another land when I need a break from our world.

I also loved that I had teacher voices to share. At the beginning of the year, teachers recorded Flipgrid videos to introduce themselves. They shared their hopes for the year as well as books that inspire them. I pulled these books and showed them to students with the teacher names posted on the front of the book.  I wanted to establish at the very beginning that we are a community of readers and we read for many reasons.

Last year was our first year with a genrefied library. It went really well, but there were some things that I knew I needed to do to help students better understand how the library is now organized. I wanted students to realize that they could spend more time at the library shelves exploring actual books and less time on the computer searching in Destiny.

Genre tasting in progress #librariesofinstagram #reading

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I pulled a few books from some of our genre sections and put them in baskets or piles on tables. Students split into small groups and rotated from table to table every couple of minutes. The purpose was to sample the books in the basket to get a feel for that genre. It was also to show students that when they spent time with the books, they found things they weren’t even expecting to find.  Students could keep any books that they found in the baskets and I replenished them throughout the classes.

We ended our time by thinking about how the experience felt as well as taking a look at times when the computer is actually useful for finding a book.

Students then checked out the books they needed. My new rule about checking out books is to check out what you need and what you can keep up with. Some students checked out 2 books and others checked out 6. I never want readers to feel like they are limited by a number that I set.

I can’t wait to see how our year goes as we grow our community of readers.  On a side note, I set up a station in the library where students can listen to the teacher Flipgrids and respond to any teachers. I love seeing students interact with Flipgrid and share responses with our community.

 

Book Tasting

Recently I saw my fellow colleague, Buffy Hamilton, talk about “book tastings” in the Unquiet Library.  Just the words “book tasting” sparked a plan to share books with our students that they might normally miss on the media center shelves.  I often see students picking the same kinds of books:  comics, football, sharks, princesses, etc.  While I think that is completely ok for them to read, I do think it is important to explore other genres and push yourself as a reader.  I offered teachers the opportunity to bring their classes to the media center for a book tasting to allow students to see several books in a short amount of time in order to find something new.

Today, Ms O’Prey brought the first group of 5th graders.  We set the media center tables with flowers, turned on some jazz and classical music, and placed “menus” and books and pencils at each seat.  I did a quick intro and explained to them that they would have between 2-3 minutes with a book.  Their job was to read some of the book: the back cover, the first pages, etc.  Then, on their menu, which was a list of all the books, they had to make notes about the books that they experienced.  This could range from a frowny face for a book that was just terrible to a longer description of why the book was a good match for them.

Students chose their first place at the tables.  From there, students spent 2-3 minutes with a book before hearing a train whistle blow.  At that time, they passed the book to the next person at the table and started the process again.  We immediately noticed how engaged students were in the process.  It was fast-paced and fun, and they were eager to see what they got.  We did run into some students who had already read the book they received, so we placed replacement stacks in the middle of each table.  Students could swap a book out if they had already read it.  I circulated and had a few conversations with students or redirected them if they were off track.  Periodically, I checked in with the whole group and got a feel for how the time was working for them, whether or not they had found a book they were interested in, and if they had found a book they couldn’t wait to get rid of.

As our time came to an end, I asked them to revisit their menu and choose their top 3 books.  We spread the books out on the tables.  Each student walked to their top pick.  If they were the only person there, they checked out that book.  If there were several people, they negotiated and some moved on to other books.  In the end, every student left with one new book and several left with more than one.

I was pleased to see books leave the media center that are new and have not circulated as much as I would like them to.  I told the students that I would check back in with them to see how the books were going.  Before they left, a few students recorded why they chose the books that they chose.  I have 2 more 5th grade classes coming to do this, and all of the 4th grade will be coming to do “author tastings” for author studies they will do at the end of the year.