Monday, October 11, 2010

What to do when a class comes to you

Working on a presentation for children's librarians on conducting school outreach, I began to think more about hosting classroom visits to the library.

I always looked forward to offering these trips: the excitement of getting one's first library card, sharing a favorite book, disseminating library information, reaching students who wouldn't normally visit the library as well as seeing the regulars in their classroom setting. Not to mention the larger picture of building a relationship with local schools in a particular community.

There's always much to share with students like basic library card practices and good book behaviors. I like to take the opportunity to explain to children (and often their accompanying teachers and parents) how library books are organized and that the stickers on the spine of a book refer to the author's last name and *not* the level. It's also a perfect chance to promote upcoming library programs and ongoing activities like "Read Away Your Fines" or afterschool homework help.

I break up all the talking with one or more read alouds. Some of my absolute favorites to share are:

Kindergarten, First & Second Grades

Bark George by Jules Feiffer
Birds by Kevin Henkes
Clay Boy by Mira Ginsburg
Read It, Don't Eat It by Ian Schoenherr
Chickens to the Rescue by John Himmelman
The End by David LaRochelle
The Gingerbread Boy by Richard Egielski (I love this version set in NYC!)
Seven Blind Mice by Ed Young

Third & Fourth Grades

Actual Size by Steve Jenkins (This book is beyond cool and elicits wild reactions!)
One Grain of Rice: A Mathematical Folktale by Demi
Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel
Stories to Solve by George Shannon
The Sweetest Fig by Chris Van Allsburg

Fifth & Sixth Grades

For older students I might instead do a few booktalks on titles I enjoy with multiple copies available like City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau, When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead, The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman or The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart. I've also focused on non-fiction at a teacher's request, making it a game to see who can locate a specific non-fiction call number the fastest on the shelf.

And if you would like to still offer a read aloud, you can never go wrong with the first chapter of Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar (expect everyone to chime in on "apple").

Other fun ideas are to offer a library scavenger hunt after giving students a tour of the collection or ask book trivia questions.


  1. "Walter the Farting Dog" was a hit with some of my 3rd grade classes. They were amazed that there were books about FARTING in the library. Farting=hilarious

    "There's a Canary in the Library" went over really well with kindergarten and 1st graders. Animal noises=good time

  2. Meghan, I'm sure the third graders will never forget their library field trip :) Thanks for commenting!

  3. My recent favorite for 1st and 2nd grade has been "Beware of the Frog" by William Bee. It makes the kids crazy.

  4. Oooh, not familiar with this title and I LOVE the cover. Requesting it immediately, thanks!