Last year during COVID, the library was closed and I brought the books to the classrooms. Students could request books online and they were delivered. The book talks and trailers for the Sunshine State Young Reader’s Award was all done on Zoom and very impersonal. But despite all this, 35 students in grades 3 & 4 participated in the voting at the end of the year. Our classes could not mix with each other, so when it was time for me to recognize all the participants in this state contest, I had the ceremony outside and the 3rd and 4th grade classes sat together while keeping far apart from each other.
Then we fast forward to this year….I was so excited that the library was finally open and students were face to face, even though we were all wearing a mask. I actually went into their classrooms with the books and did my book talks, showed the book trailers and handed out the lists of books they could read, if they wanted to participate. This month, we voted and I was so proud and excited that there were 56 students who chose to participate! That is the most third and fourth graders I ever had that voted!
We planned to hold the award ceremony outside again, but this time we invited all the second grade classes to attend. I felt it would be great for them to see what lies ahead for them in third grade. I also invited the MD/UD media specialist, since the fourth graders would be working with her next year, to help hand out the awards All students were given “gold reader” medals and certificates with their name and the seal of the school. Additional awards were given to students who read more than 6 books. Those prizes included “brag tag” necklaces with all 15 books, little stuffed animal book marks, new paperback books, and special reading tee shirts. This year I had two students who read all 15 books and one of them actually read all 30 books from both lists. (3-5 and 6-8)
Some parents showed up to see their student get recognized and it was a very proud moment for all. Group photos were taken and shared on social networking.
This week I had my regular classes and when one of the second grades came in, they immediately wanted to know what program in third grade would get them a gold medal? I was so impressed that they remembered and were already interested. This made me think of the “ripple effect” starting with the earlier grade instead of only focusing on the battle of the books which is done with the older students.
We had our battle with a fifth grade team this year and I also attended. I was so proud of our team and I am sure there will be continued interest with the present fourth graders. Some of them have already asked for the new list of books and one student has purchased some of the titlles on Amazon already. Isn’t this a great way to start off the summer reading incentives?
The “Battle of the Books” fifth grade team with both of us.