I don't know about you, but I am in LOVE with Scholastic book orders. They are my best source for acquiring high quality, engaging books that my kinders can actually READ.
Level A and B books are nearly impossible to find in book stores or libraries. Seriously, I need to publish a collection of my own and start selling them to Barnes & Noble. They don't seem to have a clue about how desperate kindergarten parents are to purchase books that are super-easy for their young kinders to read. But I digress...
Fortunately, the Firefly and SeeSaw book clubs for Scholastic have some real gems inside each monthly catalog. There are lots of great books that are silly and just plain fun, but I really start to drool over the high quality nonfiction books that are sometimes sold in collections.
My current favorites are the Guided Science Readers. They are informational text that are easy to read, loaded with sight words, and very engaging (especially for my boys!)
Getting new classroom books is always fun, but I rarely pay for them out of my own pocket. Thank the Lord for bonus points! Over the years, I've learned a few strategies for maximizing parent orders so I can supplement my classroom library and I am thrilled to share a few tricks of the trade with you.
I am not a SaleswomanBut before I really start sharing, let me begin by saying that I do not put pressure on parents to order from Scholastic. They get a note from me when the forms are sent home and 1-2 reminders in my class newsletter or website and THAT IS ALL. My goal is to make the ordering process as simple as possible for classroom parents, but not to make them feel guilty if they choose not to make a purchase. I don't even mention book orders to my students because I do not think it is my place to put pressure on my classroom parents to purchase books.
With that said, some parents are very eager to purchase books and often want guidance for suggested reading materials. That's where I come in.
Circle Suggested Books in Each Order FormBefore the book order is sent home, I take the time to circle my top picks in every catalog. This usually includes the Guided Science Readers and other simple book collections that contain 8 pages in each book. I circle other favorites the children may have from class, such as Go Away, Big Green Monster, books by David Shannon, and of course our favorite character Pete the Cat.
Yes, circling book titles in every catalog is somewhat tedious (especially since I usually send 3 catalogs home at a time), but I have found it to be effective. When parents do choose to order books, their orders often include my recommendations. If you have parent volunteers, this is a great job for them. Create a sample that shows all titles you want circled, and have the volunteer repeat the process.
I am aware that scholastic offers a similar component for online ordering that allows the teacher to circle suggested books and create a wishlist. I used this feature once or twice, but it did not work for me. I found the feature too clunky to navigate and the process took WAY too long. My time is too valuable to waste! Plus, since the paper catalog is the first thing most parents see, they can make a mental list of items to purchase, then find them online.
Put Scholastic Books in The Hands of Your StudentsI also use many of the recommended books in my own classroom. My students become familiarized with MANY of these popular books and can share their opinion of the reading materials if parents want to involve their children in the decision-making process.
Introduce Storia E-books in your Classroom
If you are not already familiar, Storia is Scholastic's online e-book store for purchasing and reading children's e-books. It is FANTASTIC. Many of the books offered in Storia include "enhanced" features (such as the ability for a child to listen to a story being read on the computer and as fun response activities).
My students love Storia too! Storia is available for PCs, iPad, and Android devices so I downloaded the program onto the two student computers in my classroom. My kinders are permitted to use the computers if their work is complete and this is always a popular classroom activity! It provides students with an opportunity to read and interact with e-books. It also serves as a great demo for my parent volunteers who are considering a download of the free Storia app or additional e-books. (Just in case you are wondering, the answer is YES! You do get Bonus Points for Storia purchases that your parents make as well!)
Use Parent Communication Tools From ScholasticIn addition to making personal book recommendations and introducing my students to books purchased from Scholastic, I provide parents with ordering information across several different paths of communication.
When sending out book orders, I staple all forms together with a note on top that explains the due date for order forms, how to order books (in case someone will be ordering for the first time), along with the url to order online and my class code for new parents. This is a modified version of the sample note Scholastic offers online.
Templates for letters, email and custom labels to print and attach to the order forms are available when you log in to Scholastic. Just scroll down until you see these tools.
As a final step, I place a custom HTML banner on my class blog and website to remind parents that Scholastic orders can be placed online. When parents click on the banner, it directs them to Scholastic's ordering page. This bright little image is so much more appealing to click than a boring old text link.
Looking Back...When I first started teaching, very few parents ordered materials from the Scholastic book orders (probably because I hadn't developed any of these great ideas yet.) Instead, the book orders became my personal book store. I spent a few years building up my classroom library and capitalized on the bonus points I earned from my own purchases. At the end of the day, it's all about getting high-quality books into the hands of your students. My hope is that you can save yourself a few dollars along the way and build a book collection by capitalizing on LOTS of bonus points.
Do you have any tips from your own classroom to maximize class orders from Scholastic?