This week’s posts have focused on reluctant readers and three factors that teachers might consider in their efforts to hook kids on books. I’ve shared my own experiences with providing choice to young readers and carving out class time for pleasure reading. Today, I wanted to share some ideas and resources that might help you get great books into the hands of the kids you hope to inspire.
Books are a treat. They are gifts. They’re special. Of all the ways we indulge ourselves, books remain one of the greatest pleasures in life, and many children would agree that there is nothing quite like having a book that is your own. When I first began teaching, a colleague of mine and I sat down to order new titles for our classroom, and she suggested that we order paperbacks because they were easy for kids to carry. Good books are tucked into our pockets. They rest on the armchair of our sofa. They are tucked into purses and folded into the gloveboxes of our cars. Kids who love to read need books that they can conceal inside of their notebooks and their desks. They are always reading, even when other learning experiences are taking place. Raise your hand if you can name a kid who put YOU in the position of asking him or her to “put the book away” for moment in order to attend to other necessary tasks. These kids are tremendous role models for others. They also have a lot of books. Ask them if they’re willing to donate their books to your classroom library and provide them an incentive for doing so.
Last summer, my daughter decided to do a book drive for our local library. She set a date, created a flier, and invited our neighbors to leave any books that they were willing to donate on their porches. Three weeks later, my living room was filled with HUNDREDS of beautiful books that were sent along to our library. Consider doing the same or inviting your students to.
Many schools invite teachers to participate in dress down days or “casual fridays” for a small donation. We did this for a number of years at our middle school, nearly all teachers participated, and we raised THOUSANDS of dollars that were earmarked specifically for books.
Host a read-a-thon after school, and invite kids to bring books, blankets, pillows, and snacks. Play some music, play some games, and invite fellow teachers to read or perform excerpts from their favorite books. Give away some great door prizes and throw in a pizza or two. Kids will come, and when they do, ask them to donate a book from a wish-list of titles generated by teachers and students in lieu of an entrance fee.
Ask students to post and share their own reading wish-lists and use them to guide your own purchases and requests for books. Suggest that parents donate titles to your library rather than gifting you with other things during the holidays or at the end of the year. Ask book sellers and publishers for donations. Save book club points. Go to garage sales.
Looking for other ways to get books without breaking your budget? Check out some of these resources:
- Bibliomania provides free full-text books.
- My family loves BookCrossing–the first free, online bookclub. See which books are waiting to be discovered in your neighborhood!
- Bookins, BookMooch, and the PaperBackSwap allow you to trade books with others for the cost of postage (or less)! Zunafish allows you trade books and much, much more.
- Children’s Books Online houses fully illustrated versions of children’s books, and new editions are added almost daily.
- Wikibooks provides open-content textbooks.
- The World Public Library is the world’s largest online library and many find it to be more valuable than their local library.
- Wowio provides contemporary titles, including comic books.
- Angela Maiers shares a great list of online resources for free unabridged books here.