One of my favorite steps in the student book budget process is when the students get to meet real vendors and talk with them. This year at the School Library Leadership Summit someone asked me if I ever used an independent bookshop as one of my vendors for student book budgets. The answer was no, but this year we changed that.
I email Janet Geddis, owner of Avid Bookshop, and asked if she would like to be a part of this year’s project. It was refreshing to hear that community outreach is actually a big part of her business plan, so she definitely wanted to be a part. When our students had their purchasing goals created, I sent them to Will Walton at Avid Bookshop. Will is an awesome bookseller and has his first novel coming out in May called Anything Could Happen.
Will pulled several books from the shop and brought them to our book budget meeting.
I made a Google spreadsheet and shared it with all of the students. The spreadsheet included a spot for title, author, price, and which goal the book matched. Will put the books into various categories and started talking about each one. If the book sounded interesting, then the students worked together to capture the details in the document.
I learned pretty fast that they needed to see the title, author, etc so I pulled Avid’s website up on the board and typed in each book as he talked. The students could easily copy down the info while he talked.
After talking through several titles, the students had lots of questions for him. They had a great time just talking books with Will. Several students branched off to do their own thing, so I decided to add another layer onto what they could do.
We used our state database, Galileo, to pull up Novelist K-8 Plus. I showed students how they could look at books by age range and genre. Then, Novelist shows books that are similar to books that you have read and liked. I suggested that they use Novelist to find books that sounded good and matched our goals, and then use Avid’s site to find the price and add to our spreadsheet.
Mr. Coleman’s ELT group is joining us in this project and they plan to continue this process this week before we meet again on Monday.
We are very grateful to Avid Bookshop for their support of students. I loved how Will talked directly to them. He asked them questions about books but also questions about how they planned to spend their money. He posed interesting questions such as “Have you thought about paperback versus hardback? The cost difference can be about $10.” Students were shocked by the price difference but most agreed that they wanted hardback for durability in the library. That was without any prepping or pushing from me. I was amazed. They said the extra $10 was worth it if the book lasted longer.
I love how these types of conversations naturally surface. You can’t force plan each one, but they usually come up at some point. Soon, the students will meet with another vendor and start the hard process of cutting their wishlist to meet our budget.