Education, Literacy, reading

Our Adopt-A-Shelf Program: The Deets

Last week, I posted a video of our library’s “Adopt-a-Shelf” initiative on my Twitter feed, which my fabulous colleague Caroline Carrel and I dreamed up over lunch one day and which has since garnered a surprising amount of attention. Because I have had so many “virtual” colleagues ask questions about the initiative’s design and/or implementation, I wanted to write a brief blog post addressing some of them.

The idea around our Adopt-A-Shelf program, different from typical adopt-a-shelf programs, is (almost laughably) simple: students sign up to take over one of the more prominent display shelves in our school’s library, adorning their shelf with a display of their favorite books. Each student’s shelf is designed to serve as a sort-of “one-stop shopping” center, where classmates can check out any number of the books–or other texts–that the student recommends.

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James’ adopted shelf (top).

Students who sign up to adopt these shelves are responsible for creating both their signage as well as their book display, and are expected to visit the library regularly to maintain their shelf and fill any noticeably empty space with more book recommendations. Beginning next week, students will also be encouraged to “promote” their shelf by making a morning announcement that will be broadcast to the entire school. After a number of weeks, the student’s shelf is temporarily “retired,” and another student takes over that space.

There are so many advantages to this sort of program. For one, it’s incredibly simple–Caroline, our school’s media specialist/librarian, has to do almost nothing to maintain or promote it: once students take over their shelves, their enthusiasm becomes palpable, and the traffic around their shelf (and among the books they’ve selected) skyrockets. For another, students become much more familiar with the library’s entire catalog as they search for the wide variety of books that have made an impact on them over the course of their young lives. In addition, in having their pictures and book recommendations prominently featured in the school library, these students become “mini-celebrities” within the school, positively contributing to a school-wide reading culture.

Of course, there are so many possibilities surrounding an idea such as this, which many friends have already generously shared via Twitter. However, I would encourage those who are interested in implementing something like this to keep it as simple and as student-centered as possible. If our experience is any indication, the ideas that students generate will be way more well-received (and infinitely more interesting) than any we could ever come up with!

Here is the original Twitter post, in case you missed it:

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