Thanksgiving is coming, which means the 600+ students in the Kindle Classroom Project are finding themselves off of school — and ready to read even more.
This also means I’m receiving more book requests than normal. Over the past week, the average has been four a day. Here’s what happens when a book request comes in.
Step #1: I receive an email in my inbox. Before I get the email, the student has already searched for the book on his or her Kindle, not found it in the Kindle Library, and then logged on the KCP Website to ask for the book. The email looks like this:
Looks like Jazmine likes Octavia Butler! (Kindred is a book that some teachers assign, and it’s possible this student got hooked on Ms. Butler after reading it. One of the best ways to get students to read a lot is to encourage them to follow a series, author, or interest over the course of a number of books.)
Step #2: I confirm the book is not yet part of the Kindle Library. Sometimes the Kindle’s search feature doesn’t work perfectly, and as a result, students may request a book that already exists in the library. Until I finish adding all 600+ books to the KCP website (want to help? :) ), the complete Kindle Library is currently on Goodreads.
In the bottom left corner, you’ll see that the status of this book is “want to read.” I change the status to reflect that the book is now part of the Kindle Library on Goodreads. (The Kindle Library now holds 587 titles, thanks to generous donors. Every book that is purchased comes from a student or teacher’s request.)
Step #3: I buy the book on Amazon. This part takes a few clicks. Just to be safe, the KCP’s gift card balance — where supporters’ generous donations go — stays in a separate Amazon.com account from where the students’ e-books go. This means that when I buy a book for the Kindle Classroom Project, I gift the book from account to another.
It looks like Mind of My Mind costs $6.15, much cheaper than buying the mass-market paperback at $16.14. To be clear, I’m not an enemy of physical books, but purchasing the e-book version means several things: (1) Jazmine starts reading the book immediately, (2) The book never gets lost or worn, (3) The book is available to other students, particularly if Jazmine recommends it to her friends.
Step #4: I add the book to the KCP Website and notify the student. This year is the first where the program has a dedicated website — where students can search for books, review them, and recommend them to friends. In addition, teachers will soon be able to track their students’ reading progress, and I’ll be able to see which books are most popular. Big thanks go to my friend and former colleague Brandon, who is volunteering his time and skill to develop this website.
You’ll see my administrator dashboard, which announces the new book requests. Mind of My Mind is ready to be added to the Kindle Library, and after a few clicks, Jazmine gets a personal notification that the book is ready for her to read. My favorite part is that I get to write a personal note to students. Even though the primary contact students have is with their teacher, I get to be interested in their reading lives, too, from afar.
So there’s the process! Usually I honor students’ book requests twice a day — once in the morning, and once at night — so that no student is waiting more than a few hours to get their book. Many requests come late at night — after school, after homework is done. This tells me that students see themselves as readers, and that they trust the KCP to deliver quickly on their reading interests.