Posts Tagged fiction

Book Tasting

One drawback to shelving fiction by genre is that students can get stuck in their preferred genre and miss out on some really amazing books from other genres. Next semester, I have plans for “Book Tasting” events, in which students sit in tables of four, have four bite-sized samples of foods (made by Mrs. Carlton’s Foods students) lined up in front of them, and four books from varying genres. They sample the first book and food for seven minutes. Then, they switch to the next; repeat. The hope is that students will get hooked on and want to finish books that they may never have given a chance otherwise.

On Friday, I did a trial run with my Information & Society class, only with candy instead of foods. Each book station looked like this:

The tables looked like this:

And students absorbed in reading looked like this:

I asked for feedback since they were my guinea pigs and they reported that:

  1. They liked the activity
  2. Many found books that they loved and want to finish reading
  3. Many found books that they hated and really don’t want to finish
  4. Seven minutes was just about right to get a taste for the book without getting fidgety

After they read for seven minutes, I gave them two to three minutes to fill this form out for each book to help them remember what they read for later:

I can’t wait to do the full activity with real food on a broader scale!


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Fiction section by genres

I took the plunge. I rearranged the fiction section in to genres. While the traditional arrangement by author last name makes for quick location of specific books, I believe it was a barrier to student motivation to read. Looking at a wall of book spines was overwhelming to students and if we are to encourage them to read in addition to all of the other activities that compete for teenagers’ time, I believe we need to make selection and access to books as user friendly as possible.

Since much of fiction selection is on a browse basis, and so many students come in wanting a genre type, this just made sense to me. Plus, reports from fellow librarians that circulation increased after implementing this type of organization sealed the deal for me.

I began by assigning a colored dot to each of these categories:

Historical Fiction


Sports and Action

Realistic Fiction



Fantasy/ Science Fiction

Then, I placed the appropriate category dot on each fiction spine. I then changed the call numbers in cataloging, and finally, moved the books to the appropriate section.

Mrs. McPherson’s graphic design students made me signage:

Realistic Fiction

Final product:

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Reading Cafe Day

Yesterday Mrs. Kohrs’ classes had a Reading Cafe Day in the library. Cappuccino was consumed; books were read; horizons were broadened; literacy was furthered; world peace was instituted. Well, maybe everything but that last one happened.

So much research shows that giving students the TIME to read is one of the most effective strategies to improve reading skills. It was a good day down here.

Schedule a day for your classes! I would be happy to showcase books and resources that the library has that pertains to your content area.

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There is a teacher in our building that is my education kindred soul. She and I have similar taste in books, she sees value in the incorporation of library media standards and skills in to her curriculum, and is all around an awesome English teacher (much better than I was in my classroom days.) I’d love to persuade her to come to the dark side and pursue library media licensure, but it would be a loss to her classroom students, so, instead, I wallow happily in our frequent team teaching partnerships.

As a facet of our renewed push this year to improve reading climate at our school, students in each English course read 2 ‘required’ novels and 2 ‘choice’ novels a year. By ‘choice,’ I mean that they choose from a list of 5 or so titles. I think our Language Arts Department did a pretty good job of freshening up the reading lists, especially compared to many lists that currently exist in high schools. To introduce their choices, my education kindred soul and I did tag-team booktalks with a minimalist Powerpoint philosophy for her 10th grade Pre AP class: (though our spoken lines are missing, you can get a general idea of the content)

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