In order to obtain some beginning of year data, and get to know my students better, I gave out a beginning of year reading inventory to our second through fifth grades. I tried with one first grade class and it went horribly, so I did an informal stand up / crouch / sit down method for the littles.
I wanted this information at the beginning of the year to help me guide my reading promotions, know my readers better, and set goals for improvement within our building. I obtained my questions by looking through a variety of reading surveys and inventories I had done over the years as a classroom teacher.
The question that kept me up at night was “Do you own your own books?” Our building has a Reading is Fundamental program that provides books for students in primary grades to take home throughout the year, but I was surprised at the number of 2nd – 5th grade students without any books of their own at home.
Because of this wondering and worry, I created my own holiday “Booksgiving” to happen somewhere around Thanksgiving and Christmas. I compiled a list of all of the students without books at home and spoke with each of them to get a feel for if there was really a need for new books, or if they accidentally checked it (and a few of those kids had already moved to different schools.) I told them about the Booksgiving party and asked if they were interested and let them know I’d be in touch.
From there, I reached out to the classroom teachers to let them know my plan and to get a general reading level so I could better match books to readers once donations came in. I wrote to a couple dozen new and used bookstores and other donors in the region and had only three respond. However, from there I was able to get enough donated books to wrap and gift five books for each of the students.
Shortly after Thanksgiving, I made fun invitations and had my group of a dozen or so students join me in the Learning Commons for our Booksgiving celebration. I think some were much more excited for the new books than others, but we made some fun glittery thank you cards to send our donors, and I wrote a letter and included pictures of our event to make sure our donors felt appreciated and will hopefully contribute again in the future!