New Out of the Box: Using Book Swag to Get Kids Reading

BookendsIMG_0182Cindy: I so enjoy coming home to new boxes of books but sometimes I don’t know what to make of the occasional extra special promotional book shipments I receive from publishers. Lots of packaging, cool gimmicks, a bit of a hard sell . . . they sometimes make me feel guilty. But last spring I started using them as motivational tools with my students and the response has been great. I bring the special-looking packages into school, unopened, and pop into a classroom where I let the students open them for me.

How could I pass up the opportunity to have a
middle-school unicorn parade to the library?

A few weeks ago, a sixth-grade reading intervention class opened a box announcing Derek Jeter’s new imprint with Simon & Schuster, Jeter Publishing. The box contained an advance copy of The Contract, first book in the series, and a Jeter Publishing baseball cap. The reading level of this middle-grade sports story was a good fit for the students in this class and I gifted the hat to one of the boys who was most eager to read it. The book now has a waiting list even though I’ve bought some additional hardcover copies. It doesn’t hurt that Jeter has some Michigan roots, but the fun of discovery motivated a few of the readers.

IMG_3846Lynn still volunteers weekly in some of our district’s elementary schools so I am hoping we can share some of the book boxes of younger titles with students there, but in the meantime, I couldn’t resist asking the same class as above to humor me after we opened Uni the Unicorn, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, and found sparkly unicorn horns to assemble with elastic bands. How could I pass up the opportunity to have a middle-school unicorn parade to the library? Thank you to Mrs. Martin (and to all of your sparkly unicorns) for playing along. The story about a unicorn who keeps the faith that little girls are real is sure to strike a chord with its intended audience. We have other photos to share, so watch for more New Out of the Box posts soon.



About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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