Let the Reading Roll!

By Sarah Svarda, librarian, Discovery School, Murfreesboro, Tenn.

January is a hump month for students, who have just returned from winter break and are often experiencing the winter doldrums. It’s important that we don’t let the love of reading grow cold! Try some of these great tips to get kids reenergized about reading.

Sarah’s Top Speeding Dating Titles

Introduce these spring titles to your K-6 students:

  • If You Had Animal Hair by Sandra Markle. I am so excited that Sandra Markle has written a second nonfiction book in the vein of If You Had Animal Teeth. I was so excited when I saw this title that I yipped a bit inside! Your kids will eat this book up. This book will appeal to all ages. Last year If You Had Animal Teeth was our Principal's Pick and one of our top sellers at our Book Fair. I absolutely expect the same from its sequel.

  • Fly Guy Presents: Dinosaurs by Tedd Arnold. Our kids have been waiting on the edge of their seats for this newest addition to Tedd Arnold’s high-interest nonfiction series. This book is jam-packed with great nonfiction features that you can use for teaching nonfiction text in your classroom.

  • Hot Rod Hamster by Cynthia Lord. It's a bird. It's a plane. It's a hamster in a hot rod? It's fair time and hamster ends up in the perfect spot: the driver's seat for the hot rod contest. This book will delight your young readers with all of the nostalgia of the county fair: cotton candy, rides, and best of all, hot rod races!

    Note: Not all titles are available at every Fair.
Host a speed date with Scholastic Book Fair books. Did you know that you can buy Book Fair preview books from your School Resource Catalog as early as eight weeks before your Book Fair? That means that your books will be delivered to your school as early as six weeks before your upcoming Book Fair. Speed dating – or musical books, depending on your preference – will allow your children to preview several advertised Scholastic titles quickly and will also get your kids excited about reading. Here’s how to get started.
  1. Set up a circle of chairs in your library. I cleared out all of my tables for this activity. Put one book that will be at your Book Fair in each chair for every child in your class. Explain to your kids that they will be previewing several books in a very short amount of time and that all of the titles will be available at your upcoming Scholastic Book Fair.
  2. Share the best ways to preview a book in only have a few minutes. Have your kids read the summaries on the backs of the books or inside the dust jackets, look at the illustrations, and read about the authors and illustrators if they have time. I kept a handheld timer and explained to the kids that we would rotate books every two minutes. This is also a great way to expose students who typically choose the same books or series to a variety of genres.
  3. After your students have rotated several times, let them list their top three titles. This is a great way to give you feedback about titles that will be popular at your Book Fair and to help you create a Classroom Wish List.

Sarah Svarda works as the head librarian at Discovery School in Murfreesboro, Tenn., a winner in 2012 of the National Blue Ribbon Award. She has five years of classroom experience as a third-grade teacher and served nine years as a media specialist. She earned her undergraduate degree in multidisciplinary studies (grades 1 to 8) and master’s degree in instructional leadership, both from Tennessee Technological University. An accomplished Book Fair chairperson, Sarah was named the Scholastic Book Fairs® National Elementary School Contest first-place winner in 2006 (Read, White and Blue), 2007 (Reading Rain Forest) and 2010 (Book Fair Diner). She also was a second-place winner in 2008 (Book Fair Safari). Sarah shares her professional insight about reading, writing, and her favorite children’s books on her blog, libraryeverything.blogspot.com.
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