[Doing a little dance :-)] Today is the start of Children’s Book Week here in the UK!
I’ll be at M and J’s school today launching a book exchange, our first big activity for Children’s Book Week.
The idea for this grew out of the fact that our local library closed 18 months ago and so I wanted to find a way to encourage the children I came into contact with through reading at my girls’ school to not lose the habit of reading new books and discovering new delights. As I thought about how I might support a mini local library through the school I first came across @BookElfLeeds and her Travelling Suitcase Library and then the utterly gorgeous Free Little Library movement. I decided to take the best from both worlds and thus the school Book Exchange was born.
The Book Exchange lives in this suitcase, which I got just a teensy bit carried away with decorating…
I used images from book catalogues, book calendars and book magazines and simply glued them on to the suitcase with PVA glue before finishing it off with a couple of layers of clear varnish. My thanks go to @redtedart and @makeitandmendit for their advice on glue and varnish!
Inside the suitcase is a wide variety of children’s books, some of which were donated by Melanie of Library Mice fame and some of which were bought with funds from Tidy Book‘s sponsorship of our book week events.
The idea of the exchange is very simple – children donate a book to the exchange library and then they can take a book from the exchange library. That’s all there is to it. If they love their new book they can keep it forever. If they don’t want to keep it they can swap it again the following week.
Because kids at M and J’s school already get reading books twice a week and school library books every week we had to find a way of identifying books that are part of the book exchange so I created a logo which we’ve printed on stickers and stuck to the exchange library stock.
Please feel free to re-use this logo if you would like to set up a book exchange (simple right click on the image of the logo and save as, or email me if you need an svg version of the image).
We sent home a letter to parents explaining what the purpose of the exchange is and how it is going to work. Click here to read the letter – and please feel free to re-use/adapt this letter if you set up your own exchange. As you’ll see in the letter we provide guidelines about the type of books we’d accept for the exchange (basically we’re very happy with second-hand books, as long as they are in reasonably condition, and not written for adults or baby board books).
We’ve decided to kick start the exchange by giving every child in the class I most regularly read to a book of their own to begin with. This gift will be their first experience of Children’s Book Week and will hopefully encourage them to take part in the exchange which will start in earnest next week.
If you’re interested in another model for a school book exchange or swap you might be interested in this article about the Guardian Book Swap in schools. I’d also like to thank again Melanie from Library Mice. Not only did she very generously donate a wonderful selection of books for the exchange, she also was a great sounding-out board as our ideas for the exchange gradually developed.