For several years now, since I read about Andy Plemmons Book Budget that he does in Georgia, I have wanted to get students involved in purchasing books for the library. After attending my first AASL conference in November, and running into Andy Plemmons while waiting in a line there, I was finally ready. It helped that my building principal, Margaret Wright, was with me at the conference and encouraged me on every idea!
I started with inviting fourth graders to join the crew. And I had to stop there! Almost every fourth grader was interested! Wanting to keep the group small and magaeable for my first time, I randomly picked 21 students from the list. These students were invited to come to our first meeting on January 19. We have met several times since then and are preparing to meet with our first vendor soon. But let me tell you what we have accomplished in the mean time.
We surveyed students from January 26 through February 5. Third through fifth graders were invited to complete an online survey during a library class. The fourth graders surveyed students in grades K-2. The students were so excited to be working with the younger students! We had almost 200 responses to our survey out of just over 300 students. I learned a few things about surveying doing this project: keep it simple! Collecting extended responses can be difficult to aggregate. Checkboxes work better when wanting to create charts and graphs. Here is a our Book Budget Survey.
After the survey results were compiled, students took a copy of the results with them to determine which topics were most often requested. Topics that kept appearing were: animals, fairy tales, dinosaurs, mine craft, and sports. Fortunately for us, we were also hosting a book fair during this project. Students shopped the book fair for some books that would appeal to students. I set a budget of $200 for the book fair and naturally, we went over it. It was interesting listening to students talk about which books we should keep and which books we could pass on to keep us within our budget. Ultimately, we found and agreed on some great titles.
We are meeting with a vendor from Bound to Stay Bound books on Tuesday to look at more titles. Our remaining book budget is $800. I am looking forward to seeing what additional titles these students select for our library.