Thanks to YALSA and The General Dollar Literacy Foundation English, fifty students were able to increase their ability to read, develop an interest in books, and become more comfortable using school library services. As a high school librarian and the recipient of a Summer Learning Resources Grant, I created a summer program that would provide funds for students to select books THEY WANTED to read as part of a field trip experience to the local bookstore.  Looking online or through catalogs to select a book does not get the student as involved as actually seeing, touching, smelling and perusing thousands of books—that is a much more engaging experience for developing booklovers! Also, witnessing other bibliophiles outside the school in the real world provides students with a new and refreshing perspective on reading, the love of books, information and the freedom to choose. 

Our school is fortunate to have a store within walking distance of our school, and the field trip took place on a beautiful, sunny day which only increased the pleasure and privilege of the experience for the students. Participants are English Language Learners (ELL) who come from families facing language and socio-economic challenges. Many do not have the resources or family support to purchase books for reading other than what is provided by the school. As grant facilitator, I was able to build relationships with the students, and draw them into the library, building their confidence in not only reading, but utilizing the library space and resources as a beneficial support system for future academic success.  Collaboration with ELL teachers provided additional supervision, support and enthusiasm for the project, as well as encouraged future use of library services for their students. Since the students reviewed and donated their book back to the library, it increased the library collection with high-interest student selected books. Additionally, the grant provided funds to purchase culturally relevant lit circle books for reading and discussion that the students look forward to reading next.  Here is a simplified project itinerary:

1. Field Trip to Book Store – fill out form with title selected and why you picked that book.

2. Write a “Thank You” note to a person on the provided list. (incorporate writing skills!)

3. Read, Read, Read!

4. Write book review comments on the provided “Traveling Bookmark” and leave it in the book.

5. Return the book to the school library in the designated “student reviewed books” display.

6. Select a different book to read that has been reviewed by one of your classmates.

7. Read, Read, Read!

8. Write book review comments on the provided “Traveling Bookmark” and leave it in the book.

9. Select a book from the school library to read!

Dana Kepler is the librarian at Park Hill High School in Kansas City, Missouri. This summer she attended the Library of Congress Teacher Institute, to continue her professional development increasing student literacy, learning and advocating for the profession of school librarians. She also looks forward to presenting at the AASL National Conference in November. 

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