Our student book budget team has been hard at work making consideration lists based on the data they have collected from Barrow readers. Each year, we meet with several vendors to look at book samples, catalogs, and websites. During this time, students don’t worry about our budget. Instead, they capture every book that looks interesting to our readers and meets our purchasing goals.
Goal setting was a bit different this year than in the past. Students typically pick 5-6 categories of books to focus on, but this year they really looked within types of books such as picture books, chapter books, and informational books. I thought this was an interesting development because in past years students have had a difficult time deciding whether or not they should buy chapter, picture, or informational books within the categories they decided. This year’s survey construction helped make this more clear.
Within Picture books, students decided to focus on humor, sports, jokes, graphic novels, animals, and scary.
Within Chapter books, students decided to focus on scary, humor, adventure, and mystery.
Within Informational books, students decided to focus on fun facts, cooking, ghosts, animals, makerspace, and sports.
Vendor 1: Capstone
Every year, we meet with our Capstone sales rep, Jim Boon. Jim brings in books divided into fiction and nonfiction and has catalogs for all students to look at. He shows them how to use the index in the catalog and how to find the rest of a series from the book samples he has on display. One of the things I love most about working with Jim is that he sits down with students and actively helps them look for books in the catalogs. He engages in conversation about interests and uses his wealth of knowledge of the products to match what students are asking for. While he does this, students come to me with catalogs and we scan the catalog bar codes into the Capstone site to make a consideration list.
Amy Cox at Capstone also allowed each student to choose a personal pick from Capstone. These personal picks were not a part of our budget and also did not have to fit our purchasing goals. These were completely based on the interests of members of the student book budget team.
Vendor 2: Gumdrop
Some years, we bring in our Gumdrop sales rep, Gret Hechenbleikner. We like working with Gumdrop because they can offer us some titles that aren’t available through Capstone. Gret also brings in many book samples for students to get their hands on. She sets them up on multiple tables arranged by the categories that students named.
Gret pastes printed lists in the front cover of each book so that students can see the titles in the rest of the series or similar series. If students need to see the other covers of books or if they need to do a general search, I have the Gumdrop site pulled up on the projector. Gret sets up her computer and students take books to her to add to a consideration list. Before she leaves, Gret cleans up the list, prints a copy for us, and emails me a PDF. I love how much help Gret gives us in making the list while I have a chance to talk with students about the books on the tables and what they are thinking.
Vendor 3: Avid Bookshop
Now that Avid Bookshop has a 2nd location within walking distance of our school, we take a field trip to the store. This year’s books budget team has about 40 students, so we split the trip over 2 days: 3rd grade on one day and 4th/5th on another day. Ahead of the visit, I once again shared the student purchasing goals.
Hannah DeCamp and Kate Lorraine worked together to pull books from the Avid collection to book talk for students. We all sat on the floor and listened to several book talks from each of our categories.
Then, students split up into the picture book, informational, and middle grades sections of the store to look for books. I wrote all of our books into a notebook which I typed up later.
I love going to Avid because it gives students a connection to a part of our community. Several of our book budget members knew about Avid but had never been inside. Before we left, Kate gave each student an ARC (Advance Reading Copy) of a book to keep and consider for our library.
Now that we’ve met with all vendors, it’s time to start narrowing down our lists. This process has already started. For Gumdrop, each student is taking a page of our list and crossing through books we may want to delete. For Avid, students are looking at the digital list and highlight books we may delete. For Capstone, we are looking at our digital list and deleting books from the list if they don’t fit our goals or if we chose too many books from one series. My hope was to have this done before winter break, but it looks like this process will continue into early January. I’m so proud of the work students have accomplished in this large group. It’s shaping up to be one of the best year’s so far.