In October I went to our state library media conference, which I love and go to every year. One of the sessions I went to talked about a program she had started in her school (Isaac Dickson Elementary in Asheville) called Bag of Books. We made a few small changes, and it is working great! We sent the letter home to parents about it two weeks ago and have already had over 40 parents sign up and come in for a bag.
So, what is Bag of Books you ask? Well, it is a bag of books! We pre-selected 5 picture books and 2 non-fiction books that are appropriate for K-2 students per bag and put them in plastic drawstring bags with two copies of a list of the books and bar codes, one in red and one in black. Each bag has a colored tag with information for parents on it. Parents simply fill out the form, bring it in, and pick up a bag. It is quick and easy for parents. I did put on the form that these are meant to be read together and are not leveled readers for independent reading.
We just write the bag color and number on the form and put it in a binder. We take out the red list of titles and after the parent leaves, we create an account for the parent and check the books out to them using the bar codes listed. When they come back, we take the old bag, give them a new bag and again take the red list out. They can head out. From checking in the previous bag, we can see who to check the new bag out to and again use the bar codes listed on the red form. The list that was in the binder, goes back in the returned bag and the new list goes in the binder with the form.
The parents seem to love it. Some are already on their second or third bag.
Few suggestions – we check all the books in the bags out to me so they do not show as available if someone is looking them up on the catalog. Also, I tried to choose the books that are good books that just don’t get checked out anymore and I read them all to make sure I was not getting a book with someone dying or with monsters or anything that parents might object to. I also tried to choose books that would appeal to boys or girls and usually at least one in each bag that was a little deeper for parents and kids to have a chance to start a conversation. We started off making 30 bags and have had to up it to 54 so far, and we may need to make more. I have about 900 students though, so in a smaller school you might not need as many. We ordered the plastic drawstring bags from Demco like this. It is a lot to keep up with, so the binder has been very helpful. We have the parent forms in ABC order by grade and put the title list from the bags checked out behind the form each time and write on the back of the forms which bags they have had as a way to track how many are checked out but also if they want to know if they have had a particular bag before later on.
Do you have any great programs you do? Any ideas for how to make this more streamlined?