Book Celebration Week

By Daphne Jorgensen

  1. How the topic of the activity would be selected: In a middle school, the librarian would produce a general outline for a Book Celebration Week as a means to initiate the process. However, the success of the activity would necessitate committee participation and input: brainstorming.
  2. Who would be involved in the brainstorming: The Librarian, Middle School Principal, English teachers, student officers, and other students who wish to serve on the planning committee. It is integral that the Principal is involved because in order for activities to succeed, top-level management must be invested in them. Also, since this kind of activity requires full participation of the faculty the Principal’s authority is necessary.
  3. Description: A weeklong celebration of reading. (Please note Table 1 below for the daily schedule of activities. The week’s activities are described more fully in the following bulleted text.
  • DEAR – Drop Everything and Read, means that when the Principal gives the signal (perhaps an unusual bell tone), all students and faculty drop what they are doing and start reading a book for twenty minutes. Since this can happen at any time during the day, students and teachers should have a book with them at all times. Faculty must participate to set the example. This is not a time to grade papers because students will notice and this sends a subtle message to them that reading really is not all that important. The Principal will choose the DEAR schedule at least one week in advance and hand it out to the teachers to give them a chance to apprise him of any scheduling conflicts. The DEAR schedule is confidential.
  • Character Advice Column Contest – A committee of the school librarian and English teachers will write "Dear Abby" letters as characters from YA books. Every morning until Thursday, the column will be read over the speaker system by student volunteers from the planning committee. The homeroom teachers will then distribute the day’s advice column to the students. The students have all week to figure out all the characters based on clues in their letters. The first student to correctly name all the characters wins the Grand Prize of a certificate from The next three winning contestants will win a book. (Entries need to be submitted to the Librarian, who will number them.) They will also receive recognition at a special Assembly at the end of the week. The prizes are nominal and will come out of the school’s supplies budget.
  • Leisure reading all week during English class – The English teachers need to factor this into their lesson planning at the beginning of the school year. This activity will simply emphasize the enjoyment of reading. (No book reports!) Teens can bring in cushions. Weather permitting, the classes can go out and read on the grass.
  • Make Your Own BookMarks – The sixth grade class, supervised by the art teacher, will be in charge of this lunchtime activity on Tuesday. The sixth graders will set up the booths. The Art Department will provide the paper supplies, yarn, paint, pencils, glue and markers. The janitorial staff will aid in clean up.
  • Eighth Grade Reading Activity – The eighth grade class will go on a field trip for part of the school day to a neighborhood elementary school, where each student will read to first and second graders. The eighth graders will be supervised by teachers who normally teach them during the block of time of the field trip. Scheduling would be coordinated. An English teacher will be in charge of the trip. The elementary school teachers and librarian will need to pull out enough storybooks for the activity ahead of time.
  • Bake Sale – The seventh grade class is in charge of setting up and manning the bake sale booth during lunchtime on Thursday. A letter will be sent home with each student asking for home baked goods. Proceeds will be donated to the school Library.
  • The Grand Finale on Friday – Students and faculty members come to school dressed as a YA book character. A special Assembly will feature student book talks. The Advice Column contest winners will be announced there. The Assembly will close with a parade of some of the most original (or best) costumes. This concludes Book Celebration week.
  • A Note on the Booktalks – English classes will have learned about booktalking (through a collaborative effort of the Librarian and English teachers). They will have already prepared a booktalking assignment for English class. The English teachers will choose the best, most creative, presentations for the special Assembly in front of the whole school.

4. Promotions: Flyers will be posted around the school about the Book Celebration week. Also, the sixth and seventh graders will make flyers for the activities they are coordinating and post them all over the school. It will be advertised in the monthly Library newsletter, and be covered in the school newspaper. It will be a required activity. However, its success will be evaluated by two criteria: (1) Did our students get the point that reading is fun?; and (2) Was one new student turned on to reading this week?


  1. Youth Participation in Schools and Public Libraries: It Works; the Youth Participation Committee of the Young Adult Library Services Association; A division of the American Library Association; compiled and edited by Caroline A. Caywood; American Library Association, USA, 1995 (Selected readings)
  2. Jones, Patrick; Connecting Young Adults and Libraries: A How to Do It Manual; Second Edition; How-to-do-it Manual for Librarians Number 59; Neal-Schuman Publishers Inc., New York; 1998 (Selected readings)
  3. Blostein, Fay; Invitations, Celebrations: Ideas and Techniques for Promoting Reading in Junior and Senior High Schools; Revised & Enlarged; Neal-Shuman Publishers, Inc.; New York; 1993 (Selected readings)
  4. Bodart, Joni R.; "The Powers of Persuasion: Student Booktalking in the Secondary Classroom;" Connecticut English Journal, Volume 22, Fall 1993; p. 151-153
  5. Nixon, Joan Lowery; "Writing for the Reluctant Reader;" Connecticut English Journal, Volume 22, Fall 1993; p. 134-135
  6. Brown, Marilyn and Anne Merkle; "Need a Program Idea?…;" Voya, Vol. 18, No. 1; Scarecrow Press Inc.; April 1995; p. 10-12
  7. Ruth, Lindsay D. and Sari Feldman; "The Whole Service Approach: Plugging the Holes in Your YA Service;" School Library Journal, May 1994; p. 28-31
  8. Armbruster, Kathy; "In the Classroom: Don’t Let the Library Bugs Bite..." (An article taken from a newsletter for International school administrators in March 1999)

Table 1: Book Celebration Week Daily Schedule

Introduce Character Advice Column Contest to run all week
6th Grade: Lunch time: Make bookmarks
8th Grade: Field trip to read to cooperating elementary school classes
7th Grade: Lunch time: Bake sale to raise money for the Library

Character Dress up Day

Leisure reading during English class all week
Leisure reading during English class all week
Leisure reading during English class all week
Leisure reading during English class all week
Special Assembly: Student Booktalks. Also, announce the winners of the Character Advice Column Contest

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This page last updated May 10, 2001
© 2001 Daphne Jorgensen. All Rights Reserved