Advertise Favorite Books

Celebrate and advertise your class's favorite books with sandwich board book signs. Each child or team will need two poster boards. On the front poster board, have the children recreate the cover or illustrate an important scene. On the back poster, ask them to write a short synopsis. Then, make the shoulder straps by stapling lengths of ribbon or string to the two poster boards. Hold a classroom or hallway parade so everyone can see what your class has been reading!

—Bob McMeans, Corrigan-Camden Elementary School, Corrigan, Texas

Top Ten Countdown

Ask students to nominate and vote on their Top Ten unforgettable books read during the year. Revisit one book per day as you count down the last ten days of school. Invite school personnel such as the principal, nurse, or guidance counselor to reread the books to students during shared-reading time. Students might also visit other classes to share their top ten favorites.

—Wendy Wise Borg, Maurice Hawk School, Princeton Junction, New Jersey

Video Booktalks

Look out Reading Rainbow, here we come! Have each student prepare a talk based on his or her favorite book, including the book's title, author, and illustrator, along with a brief summary and reasons why others might enjoy the book. Students can even end their talks with Reading Rainbow's classic sign-off, "But don't take my word for it, read ____ by ____ for yourself." Videotape each student performing a book talk and share the compilation with next year's class to introduce great books they'll encounter during the year.

—Natalie Vaughan, Rancho Encinitas Academy, Encinitas, California

Story Stew

The ingredients from past read-alouds are just the spice your students need to create enticing new stories. Provide each group of four students with a book that you read together over the past year. Have group members work together to record their books' characters, story setting(s), and plot on separate slips of paper. Then have each group add their "ingredients" to one of three large cooking pots, labeled "Plot," "Characters," and "Setting." After students stir the pots with a large spoon, have each group fill a soup bowl with a setting slip, a plot slip, and one character slip per group member. Invite each group to "dish up" an original skit or story based on the ingredients in their stew.

—Sue Lorey, Grove Avenue School, Barrington, Illinois

Medals of Honor

Host an awards show for books and present the winner with a class-made trophy. Put students in charge! Have students conceive a name and design a book award for your class. After they nominate and vote on their favorites, students can hold their own awards show during which they dress up as authors (or characters from the books) to accept the awards. Tape a photocopy or replica of the award on or inside the cover of each winning book in your class library.

Name That Book

Play this game to revisit favorite lines from shared stories. On index cards, record memorable lines from books read during the year. For example, "Without his motorcycle Ralph felt mad at the whole world." [From Beverly Cleary's The Mouse and the Motorcycle]. Divide the class into two teams. Read the line from an index card and let teams take turns naming the corresponding book. Award one point for the correct title, and an additional point if the team can name the author.

—Charlotte Sassman, Alice Carlson Applied Learning Center, Ft. Worth, Texas

Library Comment Cards

Have kids make comment cards to share their responses to classroom library books with next year's readers. Tape or glue a library pocket to the inside cover of each of your books. (Library pockets can be made by folding a small piece of construction paper in half and stapling or taping the edges, leaving an opening at the top.) Label an index card with the book's title and slip it inside the pocket. When students finish reading a book, encourage them to record comments and sign their name and year. As an alternative, comment cards can be placed in a file box and arranged by book title. Next year's class will find the comments helpful when making their reading selections.

—Wendy Weiner, The Parkview School, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Book Character T-Shirts

Make T-shirts that celebrate favorite stories. Using fabric crayons, have students draw a picture of a memorable character from one of the books they've read during the school year. Recruit parent volunteers to iron the pictures onto white T-shirts (50/50 T-shirts work best), following the directions on the fabric crayon package. When the shirts are ready, invite parents to an end-of-the-year literary fashion show. As kids show off their literary duds, they can take turns reading book excerpts.

—Judi Shilling, Dutch Neck School, Princeton Junction, New Jersey; Janet Worthington-Samo, St. Clement School, Johnstown, Pennsylvania

The Book Chain

Help children make connections among the books they have read this year. Assemble your read-alouds in a pile on the floor. Have children form a circle around the books. Then choose one book and read aloud its title. Challenge students to find another book from the pile that has at least one significant element in common with the book you chose. For example, James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling are both set in England. Lay the books on the floor side by side to begin the chain. Continue playing the game until all the books are used.

—Natalie Vaughan, Rancho Encinitas Academy, Encinitas, California