Books R Us: Growing a Culture of Readers at Hopewell Elementary School

Beth Campbell

Beth Campbell is an instructional technology coach for the Pleasant Valley School District in Bettendorf, IA. During the summer, she is an instructor at the University of Iowa in the graduate department for Library and Information Science.

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Books R Us is a student created podcast that discusses new and not yet published children’s books.

At Hopewell Elementary School in Bettendorf, Iowa, students and teachers are dedicated to promoting and encouraging others to read. They work collectively to foster conversations, both in and outside of their building, about books that promote thinking and touch their hearts. The commitment to being a “Culture of Readers” started in the fall of 2013 and has continued to expand.

As part of the “Culture of Readers” mindset, sixth-grade students participate in a year-long passion project, and last year Books R Us came to life. Three students created the program’s structure and began podcasting last spring. A new group of students, under the direction of their teachers, Amanda Hornick, Courtney Bielis and Beth Campbell, has continued the show this year.

“Our overall goal is to give our students real world opportunities where they can share their ideas with others,” stated Campbell.

“Using a team approach, Courtney and I work with students in the classroom to identify titles, reflect and write the script,” said Hornick. “Beth comes in at the back end to help edit and produce the podcast.”

Books R Us
Listen to the podcast

As a result of this project, students have improved in their writing, editing, professionalism, critical thinking and collaboration skills, as well as their ability to talk spontaneously. They are also proud of the fact that their podcast is on iTunes, which is more meaningful than a grade on a report card.

Publishers such as Little, Brown and Co, and Disney, as well as authors have been supportive in sending Advance Reading Copies. Some authors, such as Elly Swartz, have talked with the girls via Skype prior to recording the podcast. Elements of her interview was included in the podcast script for the book “Finding Perfect.”

Students are extremely honest in their reactions and questions about the books. They focus on one book per episode and at times, will respectfully disagree with each other. Upcoming authors will hopefully include: Ammi-Joan Paquett, Dan Geimeinhart, John David Anderson and Gordon Korman.

Additional information, please contact: Beth Campbell campbellelizabeth@pleasval.k12.ia.us or on Twitter @hopewellLibrary.

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