Tagged: book faire

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Popular books among Oakland youth

favicon When you’re starting to build a classroom library, one of the best ways to find high-interest books is to ask your students what they like.

It’s not always best practice just to ask them with no context, though. If they don’t see themselves as readers, they may request a book they read several years ago, like A Child Called It or The Giver. That’s no good.

What is better is to team up with your local public library and put on a Book Faire. I’ve written about the Book Faire at Envision Academy in Oakland. It’s great. Students browse about 150 books and then fill out a slip of their top three requests. Then, if you have the money, you buy some!

Take a look at a few of the most-requested books from last month’s Book Faire in Oakland!

Any surprises? For me, there’s nothing shocking about The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Life in Prison, or Perfect Chemistry. But I didn’t expect Hunger Games to still be so popular.

On the other hand, I was pleased that Zom-BMonument 14, and Article 5 made the list. Students everywhere still like zombie-filled, post-apocalyptic, and dystopian tales. Why not? (I liked Zom-B.)

The only non-memoir nonfiction title in the group, Buzzed is an excellent resource for students who want “the real truth” about drugs. It makes me happy that it’ll be checked out. wtf, maybe not so much (though I haven’t tried it yet).

Please let me know what you think of the students’ requests! Did they choose well? Have you read (and enjoyed, or hated) any of these books? And feel free, as always, if you feel the urge, to buy a few for my students over at their Amazon Wishlistfavicon

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Another successful Book Faire in Oakland

favicon I like the Book Faire that Envision Academy in Oakland puts on to build its school library and to promote reading among students.

The process is simple.

Once a semester, Mary, the school’s vice principal, calls up the Oakland Public Library Teen Zone. Its librarians, Brian and Xochitl, are wonderful. They know what students like to read, and they pull 150 high-interest titles from the shelves.

The day before the faire, I drive on over to the library in my Honda Civic. Brian grabs a cart, which we load with five massive book bags. We wheel the books down to my car, and I drive them on over to the school.

When I arrive, student librarians are ready to receive the books, take them upstairs, organize them into genres, and put them on tables. Here’s a picture of part of the ethnic literature table:

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Once the books are on tables, everything is ready for the event.

The event runs extremely smoothly, thanks to the student librarians. They have the whole process down pat. Classes come in (this time, the groups were organized by Math classes), get a book request slip, browse the books for about 10 minutes, and then fill out their slip with three choices.

It’s great to see students talking with students about books. It’s also great that students know that we’re going to buy the books that they request. (That’s what the book request slip is for. After the event, I go through the slips and purchase up to three copies of each requested title.)

Overall, the Book Faire is simple and smooth. I can’t say enough about the student librarians. If you want to build a reading culture at your school, the single most important investment is to find, train, and cultivate the skills and passions of student librarians. Mary, the school’s vice principal, has done an excellent job building this group.

Here’s a quick picture of them after a job well done:

Book Faire 3

Please, if you have a minute, consider leaving a brilliant insight. What do you think of this Book Faire? What thoughts do you have about the student librarians? Thank you for your insights! favicon

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Putting on a book fair, the easy (and free!) way

2013-12-06 08.47.36favicon As a literacy coach, my primary job is to work with teachers to improve reading and writing instruction. But a related goal is to help promote a culture of reading among students.

So far, it’s been really fun — and we’ve had quite a bit of success!

Last June, the principal at my Oakland school had a dream that came from a warm childhood memory. “Can we have Scholastic come to our school and do a book fair?” she asked.

I said sure, but Scholastic is better known for its books for younger kids. Their selection for urban teenagers of color is extremely limited. Plus, their book fairs are either expensive or tough to manage. There’s a lot of set-up and upkeep and takedown and drama.

So I countered. “How about doing our own book fair?” The principal agreed but wondered how we would pull it off. “Won’t it be a lot of work?”

It turns out, no, it didn’t take a lot of work. Actually, it was pretty easy, thanks to the wonderful teen librarians at the Oakland Public Library. The vice principal and I called up Brian Boies, the lead TeenZone librarian, and his staff pulled 150 high-interest titles (both fiction and nonfiction) for us to borrow for the book fair. I drove over in my Honda Civic and loaded the back seat with mountains of books.

Then, we elicited the help of our student librarians, who have already gained fame this year after founding the school’s new library. They sorted the books into genres, got tables and signs ready, and double checked the day’s schedule. English teachers brought in their classes in 20-minute installments, and each student got to browse, talk with the student librarians about books, and write down three titles they might want to read.

Here are a few more photos from the day:

Here’s the best part: The principal has decided to allocate funds so that all students will receive, right before Winter Break, at least one of the books on their list! Not a bad way to go into vacation!

Even if the book fair did not lead to the purchase of new books for students, it would have been a big success. Students got connected to good books. More important, students got connected to other students who like good books. There was much joy, and the joy was about reading. favicon