This is my own tried and tested recipe for school library inductions, which should leave time for borrowing & work for all ability levels. I should point out I am a very kinaesthetic learner and I think you can tell I have a bias towards that kind of task! These sessions are fun and adaptable too, with lots of room for interaction with pupils, which helps it not become too repetitive for the librarian delivering it too. So I am not saying these induction ideas are perfect, but I hope they might inspire a few readers.
Part One – You will need:
1 enthusiastic librarian
20-or-so 11 year-olds
1 Carel Press Reading Game (& folded photocopies of map)
1 (potentially sceptical) teacher
15 minutes prep to layout zone signs and books
1 full lesson time
Introduce yourself first, then I always ask the teacher to shut her/his eyes while I ask the class to put up their hands if they love reading / reading is ok / hate reading. I always say it is OK to not like reading, everyone has different hobbies and interests, I might like swimming but hate rock climbing, for example, however they are all at school to learn and they will need reading skills for that. And then tell them that the good news is that my job is to get them all enjoying reading & to find the right thing for each person, so even if they hate reading just now, it is my job to change that and when you really enjoy reading something it won’t be a chore any more. Then I’ll say something about how many different kinds of books there are in the library & there should be something to suit everyone and we are playing this game so they can get a good look at what the library has. (There might be time here for more discussion e.g. of authors they enjoyed at primary school, play it by ear!)
Then we play the Carel Press Reading Game. I find this works really well when pupils are set by ability already, because all of the books can be selected for reader level & appeal. About 4/5 books per zone is plenty. (P.S. I do the photocopying and folding of worksheets during school vacation, for the whole year in advance). I like to mix up the categories (the game comes with extras and bits you can swap), so that ‘Fact’ becomes a zone and I would definitely include Sport and Graffix too.
I prefer not to give a spiel about genres, just give instructions for the game clearly, but then let discussions evolve over the course of the game. For example, I deliberately wait for someone to ask if they can borrow these books (I’m devious like that!), and then make that announcement to the whole class, “someone asked a good question here, absolutely, you can borrow one of these books, just remember which one and there will be time at the end to go back for it” – somehow generates more excitement that way. Also, it is good to have multiples and/or alternatives to hand in case 2 people want the same thing. Other points for discussion – what do they think of ‘fact’ being a zone? Is ‘fact’ a genre or is it something else? Could a book be put in 2 different zones? Which zone do they like best? Which one are they looking forward to? Teachers can be a bit surprised at first at the slightly chaotic or rowdy nature of the game, but as they start to see their pupils get enthused they start to get it.
Always try to leave 10-15 minutes at the end for borrowing time. It doesn’t matter too much if your class doesn’t get around the whole room; time for converting interest into loans is more valuable. Also, being in groups helps stagger borrowing time at the end of the reading game. Get the teacher to help, once you’re desk-bound, they can tell one group at a time to get the books they want and bring them to the library desk.
(I have ran an adapted version of the game, still using the exact same kit, but where all the books were “classics”, for a specific class project a teacher wanted support with & that was really good fun too)
Part Two – You will need:
1 enthusiastic librarian
20-or-so 11 year-olds
1 Pirate map & question sheets
1 (hopefully less sceptical) teacher
15 minutes prep to shelve the relevant books & print/cut out question sheets
1 full lesson time
This is the ‘Pirate treasure hunt’, inspired by Eva Baillie (now Librarian at Glasgow’s Goethe Institut) who ran something very similar in her school library! Preferably wait a couple of weeks after part one before running this session, so the class can return last time’s books at the same time. I would start with asking someone to explain the difference between fiction and non-fiction. Then maybe a bit of practice for how fiction is organised (alphabetically by surname, so Roald Dahl would be under…D…ask a few others). Then I do a really simple explanation of how to find non-fiction books. My preferred description is that it is a bit like a supermarket, so similar things are next to each other, e.g. the vegetables are right by the fruit…etc, (and suggest keep an eye out for any parts of the library they might want to come back to, e.g. the car books, football books, etc) but then sometimes you can’t find something so then you can either ask me or search the catalogue and get a number (Dewey number) and then follow the number order to find the book.
This time you will probably need 2 teams, and within each team a number of pairs or threes. Each pair gets a small question sheet. These will need to be adapted to your library! Here are my most recent ones:
Each pair has to find one book, and answer one question on it. Not all the tasks mean using the catalogue computer (if they do you will have a long queue…). It is very important that you say that running or shouting will disqualify your whole team! Stagger when everyone starts – Task 1s to go first, once they have got underway, Task 2 can start etc., eventually everyone will be looking at once but staggering the start makes everything calmer! Also, choose a spread of books so not everyone is looking on the same exact shelf etc. While they are looking, relax a bit 😉 don’t give in to temptation to help straight away! Have a sit down, let them come to you, and even when you know they have the wrong book, look at it with them, explain where they went wrong, e.g. ‘I see you found a book with the right number, but what is its title? And what is the title you’re looking for?) Once a pair has found its book AND answered the question, you can give them a piece of treasure map to take back for their team. My treasure maps are laminated coloured card, cut into jigsaw type pieces, with an “X marks the spot” map on one side and on the other side, either a silly maritime poem or pirate joke. When all the pieces are put together the group can then read the poem or joke. A few stragglers may need some help at the end! Maybe send one of their teammates back to help them. At the end you can go over any lessons that came up from the game e.g. the pair who brought a book with the right number but wrong title, remember there might be more than one book with the same number & that will mean they are about the same topic.
The map & what goes on the back can be adapted or made more elaborate…maybe you can find some maritime riddle for them to solve, or hide a code. You could also give prizes or perhaps instructions for making pirate hats out of newspaper and the winning team get to wear pirate hats for the day! It depends how much time/energy you have! Mostly, I just give the ‘prize’ that the first group goes to borrow more books first!! Again, this allows you to stagger the kids going to look for books.
Yes it means you have to have a tidy up, and you have to shelve the same books over and over, but I like that it is very ‘sneaky learning’, you are covering the catalogue and the Dewey decimal system in a pretty crafty way. Also, again for the reluctant readers, the game is fun, and you really want to build some positive library experiences like this for these youngsters. And it gets them out and browsing the shelves, which I think is very important. Pupils can get a bit fixated on the library catalogue, I want them to feel happy and confident just looking around too. I do tend to keep this pile of books aside and reuse them, rather than lending them as with the reading game, it just means I can do a quicker turnaround for the next class. But if someone is very keen, it is no huge job to slightly adapt the question sheet for the next class.