In what has become a year-end tradition, the children’s librarians at the Port Moody Public Library have chosen our Best Books (for kids) of 2015 and taken the show on the road.
In late October, we contact local schools and offer 20 minutes booktalks to each classroom promote the top ten picks for kindergarten to grade 5 and tell them about our contest. Each classroom receives a ballot with their grade’s top ten books and the students can vote on which three books they would most like to read. We draw one winner from each school who will receive a free book every month for the rest of the school year.
Unlike our summer reading club visits which promote high-interest books to entice them to the library (ie. ALL the Minecraft books), the Best Books are chosen primarily for their literary merit.We try to choose books with strong hooks that will challenge readers at all reading levels within the grade.
We have been pleasantly inundated with kids asking for The Nest and “the book with the farting”. For those waiting on hold lists, there are readalike displays in the children’s area:
The program has been a hit with students and schools. Like a “One Book, One City” program, the Best Books creates a passionate conversation about books. Students argue, persuade, and haggle with classmates to make sure their books win. Classes spend entire blocks trying to whittle down their choices to just three. Some schools post their ballots on the bulletin board in the hallway. We also receive RA requests from teachers looking for readalikes and readalouds for their classroom.
The Best Books program has become a cornerstone of our school-age programming. It allows us to reach a huge number of students, gets the kids excited about reading for pleasure just before the holidays, and strengthens our connection with schools.
And, of course, the students come to the library to find these books and more (and sometimes to argue with the children’s librarians about how other books are better).