Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things
Are these really my favorite things? No, not really, but coincidently enough, this song was playing while I was doing one of my favorite things—shopping for books with my students! Hearing this got me thinking...what are some of your favorite things? Within our libraries, we all have programs, ideas, lessons, etc that fall into the category “favorite things.” One of my favorites happens to fall right at the holiday season which of course heightens the stress, but I think it makes me appreciate the project all the more. So, sit back, relax, and get ready to hear about one of my favorite things...
A few years ago at the NCSLMA conference, someone mentioned taking the students to Barnes and Noble to buy books. A light bulb went off and an idea started brewing. I could take all the freshmen English students to Barnes and Noble, they could pick out books, and I would put them in the library catalog. I would call it the “Fresh Books” program. A week later, I had talked to the English teacher (only one teaches 9th grade), reserved a bus, found some money, and was ready to hit the road. I made a deal with the kids that they would have a $20 limit, could pick out any book that would be appropriate for the library, and I would put it in the library with a book plate with their name on it in the front cover and allow them to check it out first.
Was it a success? Just ask the kids. Our first group is this year’s senior class. Just the other day, one of the boys was looking up his book in the catalog to see if it was available because he was telling another boy how great it was. That first year, some of the older students complained because they never got to go on any “cool” trips. Later on, I heard a few of the younger students (I serve grades 6-12) discussing what they were going to buy when they got to go. Each semester, as I catalog the books, I have to fight the kids off from the book cart and tell them that the freshman who chose the book gets to check it out first. And before this last trip, one of the sophomores asked me to make sure to get the latest Ranger’s Apprentice book because he had chosen one in the series as his book, and he wanted to make sure we had the next one.
We took our latest group of students to Barnes and Noble on December 3 with a few reservations because they are one of “those classes.” You know what I mean. But, $902 and 50 books later, I was extremely pleased. This trip was also the perfect example of what this can do for my library collection. Before these trips started, recommendations for books really only came from the readers. The non-readers were just that—non-readers. But getting these non-readers into the book store has helped my shelves be populated with books that I never would have thought to buy. I never knew there was a series based on the Halo video game. I definitely never knew there were that many hunting books! And this trip, after two boys approached me with “You ask her.” “No, you ask her.”, I have my first two gaming strategy books on my shelves. During the past two days of cataloging, I’ve had more kids pick up those two books than any others, begging to be allowed to check them out. I think I’ve found something to put in my LSTA grant application! But, my greatest satisfaction came on the day the books were checked out. Seeing the kids’ faces when they opened up their books and saw their names printed on the inside cover reminded me once again why this is one of my favorite things. Happy Holidays and Happy Reading!
Sarah Justice, President Elect