It’s important to create a positive experience for students in the library. Students form opinions about libraries at a very early age. I’m sure that many of us remember a lot about our elementary library. I know I can remember the way it looked, where each section of the library was, and how the librarian and librarian assistant treated us. My librarian always made sure that we had a positive checkout experience, and I like to do the same for my students.
We want to make sure that the experience inside of the library is a positive one in order to foster an interest and love of reading. One way to do this is to make sure that there isn’t too much chaos during checkout time.
There are great ways to really build incredible bonds with your students during checkouts. This is where students can have conversations with you about suggestions, topics, and where items are located. They may even want to tell you important things happening in their life too. Don’t forget to stop and have those meaningful impactful conversations with students. Relationship building is so important! Keep reading to find out my tips on how to have a positive checkout experience.
A great way to make a positive checkout experience is through center rotations. You can do center rotations and have checkout as a part of their rotations. Maybe you have students check out books at the beginning or the end of class. However you decide that is best for your library, I recommend a timer. Let’s face it, we can all get lost looking at books. Our students can really benefit from understanding they have a certain amount of time to complete this task because then we all need to move on. Displaying a big timer up on the screen works best to provide students with a visual on their time limit.
Free Book Cart
One suggestion of what to do when a student cannot check out a book is to create a Free Book Cart. I know, I know, we want our students to be responsible and remember to bring their books, but at the same time, we are trying to create a positive environment for students. Sometimes when it comes to reading, students already have a wall up. I don’t want them to walk away empty-handed.
If a student cannot check out a book for the week, they are allowed to choose any book off of my free book cart and take that with them. There is no obligation to bring it back either. If they return it great, but honestly, it’s not a big deal if they don’t. How do you get these “free books”? Often these “free books” are books that are discarded from the library. Also, in some districts librarians cannot accept donated books to utilize in their circulation. Because they cannot be placed in circulation, you place the donated books onto the free cart.
I have had teachers, as well as students, bring me books to add to the free cart. It’s so sweet to see them want to give in a simple way. You honestly don’t need a ton of books. Sometimes students see books on that cart that they want to read and they can check out a library book. Again, they are free to take it. I do have to watch the cart and make sure that some library books don’t end up there. A free book cart goes a long way to making a positive checkout experience.
Newspapers and Magazines
Another suggestion is to have newspapers, magazines, or a place to read online for your students. Sometimes your local newspaper will donate copies to your school a couple of times a week. You can also see about purchasing a copy that is brought to your school on certain days or even daily. (A lot of times this brings staff members into the library that want to read the paper.)
Students enjoy looking at things like newspapers and magazines because they do not have access to these items inside the home anymore. I want them to have that experience. Magazine subscriptions for kids are usually inexpensive and they really enjoy them. If you do not have a newspaper or magazine available it is always a good idea to have them read online. There are sites like Epic that have free versions for schools or Big Universe that is a paid subscription. You may already have some digital books available too. One of my favorite ways is to show students the state database and use the local library with their student id numbers. These collections have a lot of ebooks available that are popular titles.
For Students that Have Already Checked Out
I have seen a lot of librarians discuss that checkout is a part of their center rotations. But if you are a librarian that has students check out at the beginning or the end of class here are a few things to consider:
- Have this be their silent reading time. Students sometimes just need time to sit and read.
- Have students create book recommendations. A great bulletin board to have up is book recommendations; you can also display them in different parts of the library. I have also seen where the librarian takes a book recommendation and puts it inside the book, like a bookmark. This allows others who may consider this book an opportunity to read a peer review.
- Makerspace Time — Have students utilize some of your building toys such as Magformers, LEGOs, blocks, etc. Sometimes just giving students time to talk and play is what they need.
- Have them work on something fast and simple like typing.com or code.org
- Have the students play a fun pop quiz on Kahoot. These are super easy, fun to make, and the kids really enjoy them too.
For more tips on how to have a smooth checkout, read this blog post. What kind of great ideas do you have when it comes to checking out books with your classes? Share them over in our Facebook Community. We love learning from each other!