Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year!

I love it when a plan goes well. Today, I had my students come up with a top ten list of the best books they read in the past year. The only directions I gave each class were that the books had to have been read sometime between January 1, 2011 and December 31, 2011, and that books nominated had to be ones they absolutely loved. They got opportunities to talk about why they liked each book (or series in many cases), what type of reader I should recommend it to, genres, etc... Not only was the lesson fun and the library full of lovely chatter about reading, but each class's list was really well rounded and represented the class's personality incredibly well. Of course, there were some books that ended up on almost every classes list-- Diary of a Wimpy Kid series and the Percy Jackson series, but there were also quite a few pleasant surprises like classroom novels such as The Giver and Bridge to Terabithia and even a few more classic stories like Old Yeller. Bless my Black-eyed Susan loving heart, they even had several of this year's nominees on their lists! I was so impressed with how seriously and thoughtfully my 6th graders took on this challenge today that I couldn't stop smiling. One interesting thing to note is that  most of the books on their lists were not written in 2011. Noticing this gave me a  great opportunity to review where to find a book's copyright information (both in the catalog record and on the verso) and to start a discussion asking them to consider what a tough job the members of the ALA committees have when they select books for the big awards like the Newbery, Caldecott, etc.... It was a great way to kick off 2012, generate excitement for upcoming book award announcements,  and get kids energized about books. I left each class's list up while they looked for books to check out and surprise, surprise... kids checked out books that their classmates recommended. : ) Once I've done the activity with all three grades, I'll be sure to post a combined list of all their recommendations. I was just so pleased with how enthusiastically the students participated that I felt the need to blog about it right away.... just in case anyone else wants to try it out with their library patrons. May your 2012 be full of great beginnings, page-turning middles, and happy endings!