Sunday, March 30, 2014

Give a Book! Take a Book! Let's Swap!

Give a Book!  
Take a Book!  
We had a Book Drive! 

I thought I would share a great program that runs each year in my school.  For the past eight years, our Environmental Club has been running a book swap for the kids.  It is a two day event that they run around the same time as Read Across America. This year, over 1,600 books were brought in to be swapped.  In the eight years the program has been running, a little over 18,500 books have been swapped between children.  The Environmental Club calculates they have saved over 6,188 trees!

Here's how it works.  Each homeroom is given a cardboard box.  Students bring in a children's book from home that they have already read and are willing to swap.  They fill out a little slip with their name and homeroom teacher.  They put the slip in the book and the books in the box. The collection runs for about a week.  The club advisers set up two pick-up days after school when the club will meet to pick up all the books and process them.  I've not been a part of the process, but it seems they pull the tickets which are kept sorted in big envelopes by homeroom and student and then sort the books by genre, series, etc.

On the day of the swap, the books are put out in the main hallway for display.

I should mention that these pictures are all from the second day of the book swap when most of the "good" books were already snatched up and the supply was dwindling.  I write "good" in quotes because I think you would agree there were lots of great books still available on day two!

The day of the book swap, the envelopes are delivered to each homeroom and the tickets given back to the children.  During lunch/recess periods, students can come to the table and pick one book for each ticket they have.  An even swap!  There is a check-out table manned by club members.  They count the tickets and books to make sure they match.  Then, they tear up the tickets, bag the books, and send the readers off with a new stack of books to read!

For some reason, every year there are books left over.  The club advisers allow teachers to come after school on the last day and pick through any leftovers.  Even after that, there are still books left.  This year, as I was leaving the building, the advisers had let all the students in our after care program come and take as many books as they wanted.  The kids were so excited!  It was like getting a surprise birthday present!

What I like about the book swap it that it build excitement for reading in the entire building.  Even those reluctant readers are excited about the book swap!  Invariably, there are those kids in your class that don't have books at home or don't have a book to swap.  I find a lot of teachers try to get a book in their hands to swap.  I have a pretty big class library, so if I have a student I know doesn't have a book to swap, I will give them one from my class library.  A loss for my library, but since I seem to have an addiction to buying children's books, not really!  Plus, the whole point is to get books in kids' hands.  This book swap does the job quite nicely!  I have even seen many kids selecting books not just for themselves, but also picking books they think a sibling or friend would like.

Finally, if this looks like a lot of work. . . IT IS!  No getting around it!  I would have to give a great big BRAVA!! to the advisers of the Environmental Club.  I hope they really know how appreciated and important this book swap is. And while I'm pretty sure they don't read my little blog, on behalf of all those kids reading "new" books out there because of you, I say THANK YOU!!


  1. Our school librarian has organized a Book Swap in the past, but hasn't so far this year. (Maybe it's because I now see how much work it is.) I like the idea of having students help out with this. We have a Leadership Club at school. I think this would be a good project for them! Thanks for sharing!

    Mrs. Laffin's Laughings

    1. I could totally understand why your librarian hasn't tackled a book swap this year! It is a lot of work but oh so worth it! You definitely need the man power of a club to ease the work load. Our club advisors also asked for teachers to volunteer to help out on the swap days. Lots of teachers signed up during their preps or lunch to monitor.

  2. I don't agree about the amount of work. We tweaked the process a bit to make it easy for everyone. First, we placed a box in each classroom so the kids deposit their books into the box, and they leave the slip showing the # of books, this is tallied next to their name on the registration sheet for the class.

    This allows classmates to compete to bring in books, which removes any need to nag or remind parents.

    On the day before the sale, book boxes are collected and brought down and books laid out. The book tokens are delivered to each class per above, and the books are swapped. The only effort involved is the initial notice, and the laying out of books. The swap is manned by the older students. There is almost no effort by teachers. At the end, the books are stored for later sale at our summer fair.