Even in our remote learning model, I am still working to provide opportunities to support reading for enjoyment. This is a bit more difficult when you cannot see the children you teach regularly, but here are seven ways I, with the help of others, am keeping kids reading even at a distance!
What Are You Reading? Flipgrid
To keep students talking about books I created a Fligrid for each grade level. The students can post a video about what they are reading and if they would recommend the book to others. I am able to respond back to them so we can keep talking about books!
Since March I have been able to use my remaining budget to purchase new e-books for the library collection. To teach the school community how to check them out I have created videos to share what resources are available. The videos have been shared through school newsletters and class announcements. Additionally, one of the library lessons for the second- through fourth-grade students was to learn how to check out these materials and share with me what they were reading.
Canvas is the learning management system that is used by my school. The library has a page for each grade level. On this page, I post weekly lessons for students to complete. In addition, I post a weekly reading challenge. Students can take a picture and send it to me when they complete the challenge. Challenges include activities like reading under a table, reading next to a tree, reading with a LEGO creation, etc. With each challenge, I also post a weekly book recommendation. Each recommended book is available through our e-book collection.
Summer Reading Family Packs
This year for summer reading the library department is trying something new. We are creating family packs. These are thematic book pairings that will encourage older and younger family members to read books that have similar themes. Each pack will contain picture books, beginning readers and chapter books, middle-grade titles, YA, and adult books.
Our themes include:
- Geek Out! – These are nonfiction books that share fun facts. They include data in a unique and visual way.
- Books We Know Turned Graphic – Classic stories that you love that have been turned into graphic novels.
- Story of Our Lives – These are books that reflect diverse characters and experiences.
- Math Is Everywhere – Explore both fiction and nonfiction books that have math concepts mixed in.
- Couch Explorers – Travel around the world from your living room. Read a book that takes place somewhere else in the world.
- Time in the Hammock – These are light and fun titles that you can relax and enjoy on a warm summer day.
- Blast from the Past – These would be fiction and nonfiction titles that have a historical connection.
- Game On! – These titles are all related to sports.
Virtual Battle of the Books
The reading specialist and I are collaborating to host a virtual Battle of the Books. The students who signed up to participate have been reading the books since October. We wanted to recognize their work. We will meet in a Zoom session and have the students answer questions about the books they have read. They will be working in teams just as they would have if the battle was held face-to-face.
The hardest part of encouraging reading in a remote learning environment is getting books into kids’ hands. On March 16, I was able to host a book drive-thru. This was an idea I borrowed from a librarian in Hong Kong named Laura Chesebro. She shared her book drive-thru on the Future Ready Librarian Facebook group.
For this event, families could fill out a Google Form to request up to ten books to have at home. I created an individual resource list in Destiny for each child. Then these lists were printed so that volunteers could help pull specific books. The books were placed in bags and organized alphabetically. That way they were easy to find when parents pulled up. Families had an hour to pick up their books. They drove up and the books were then delivered to their car.
Please note: This was done at the start of our quarantine when a few cases of COVID-19 existed in our state. At the current time, this would not be something that could be supported due to the stay-at-home order. It may be something we could do again in the future.
Middle School Read-Alouds
The middle school librarian and I set up meetings with middle school students and teachers to record books being read aloud. We had the students choose an e-book that was part of the library collection using books that the publishers had expanded the copyright restrictions. The students signed up using a SignUp Genius. Then each student met individually with a librarian in a Zoom meeting. They were able to share their screen and read the story aloud. This was done twice each day over several weeks.
The stories were recorded and collected in a mini library of read-alouds through the library Canvas page. The collection grew slowly but ended with over 25 read-alouds for students to access at home. This collection will be removed at the end of the school year so that we comply with copyright.
What ways have you been connecting books with kids? I would love to hear about them!
Author: Kelly Hincks
I am the librarian at Detroit Country Day Lower School in Bloomfield Hills, MI. I have worked as a school librarian for the past eleven years. I was a classroom teacher for four years prior to that. I have worked in charter, public, and private schools. My favorite thing about being a school librarian is the opportunities I have to work both with students and teachers. I love the co-teaching opportunities and connections I have been able to make! I have served on AASL committees as a member and chair. I currently serve as secretary of my state association, Michigan Association of School Librarians (MASL).