Thursday was our annual book pass for the eighth graders. I love the concept of a book pass. I have seen them done many ways for many ages, but the purpose is always the same – let your kids touch and look at the books. If you are interested in doing a Book Pass for your kids, you can get loads of ideas from a quick google search.
In eighth grade we push the social side of reading. We create book groups around their summer reading; we chat about books in class; we book talk what we are reading and encourage our students to do the same. Our Book Pass is designed to create that same community of readers.
We jam two classes into the library, pile the tables with 20-25 books we love, and let the kids dig through them. It is a little messy, but the student will end up putting their hands on about 50-100 books by the end of the period.
If you are interested in hoping your own book pass, here are some steps:
1. Collaborate with your librarian and possibly another teacher. Find a date and schedule about an hour of prep-time the day before the Book Pass.
2. Create a Book Pass list or just have the kids bring a piece of paper. They will use this to write down the books that spark their interest. After the book pass, I keep these in the room so that the students can access them before they go to the library. This year, kids took pictures of the books they want to read with their phones. As a reader, I am always storing covers of interesting books on my phone. I love the idea that the kids now carry these covers around with them all the time.
3. The day before the book pass, I like to discuss the process of choosing a book with my kids. I find that many non-readers or dormant readers, struggle to match themselves with the right book. Like when I thought that I didn’t like gnocchi. Turns out, I was just eating bad gnocchi.
We discuss looking at covers, back covers, inside flaps, and inside pages.
3. At your prep-meeting, pull books off the shelves. We stack them loosely by genre – action, sports, romance, fantasy, non-fiction – so that we can pull from each stack to create a pile on a table. Number the tables to make it easier for the kids to rotate. We like five to six students per table, but that is probably very flexible.
4. Have the kids meet you at the library, send them to their table, rotate them every five or six minutes.
5. Circulate and enjoy the conversations. Help the kids who are overwhelmed by the giant stacks of potential reading material. Be excited about all the kids discovering that book that is going to make them think, or dream, or maybe fall in love with reading.