Today’s post is written by Amanda Swengros. Amanda is the librarian at Kiser Intermediate in the Lincoln County district in Lincolnton, NC. She spends each day with students in fourth and fifth grade. She has a combination of a fixed and flexible schedule.
Traditionally when students come to my library, they are allowed to check out two books, one fiction chapter book, and one nonfiction book. This year, I was encouraged to let the students check out more books.
At first, I was very reluctant to let my students check out more than two books. My fears of starting this type of book checkout was what may be in many of your heads as you read this: lost books, damaged books, or even finding time to shelve the books. However, I decided to take the plunge. One of my colleagues suggested that I let the students check out the number of books equal to their grade level. For example, if the student is in the 5th grade, they can check out 5 books. I liked the idea; I just added a few more rules. Out of the number of books each student checks out, the student must have two books on their personal reading level, and one of those books must be a chapter book. They also cannot check out two of the same thing; such as The Magic Tree House series.
The first week I tried this, I thought I was going to pull my hair out! Like Jocelyn, I allow my students to check out their own books in my Media Center. Students find their name within their class that I have pulled up for them on Destiny. They then choose their picture, scan their books, and then go back to their homeroom page. However, as soon as I allowed them to check out more books, it was like my students forgot how to check out a book in my library. The other major issue I was having was checking in so many books when the students came into the library.
By the third week of letting the students check out more books, I felt like I was wasting so much Media Class time. I reached out and asked another colleague who was allowing her students to check out more books about her procedures for checking in books returned to the library each week. Her suggestion was to go around to each homeroom on the day they had Media Class and gather all the books the students had finished reading. I have two of my morning Media Helpers do this for me. They go around each morning after the morning bell has rung to gather the student’s books that they are finished with and want to return to the Media Center during their class. One of my Media Helpers stays and helps me check in the books. Then when the students come to Media, we can begin our lesson without delay.
Gathering the books from each homeroom before they come to Media that same day has not only given me more time with each of my classes, but it also allows me to be less stressed with this whole process. The jury is still out on whether I like letting my students check out more books, but it helps that the students really like having more books to read; especially when I do not have available time for open checkout every day.
How many books do your students check out? What are the benefits and drawbacks? Share with us in the comments!