How to Encourage Reading with Wrapped Books

Library books wrapped by students

As school librarians, we always look for more ways to encourage reading. Our guest author, Deborah Lamoot, found a way to use wrapping paper and craft supplies to help students of all grades get excited about choosing a new library book. Here’s what she says…

Based upon the idea of “Blind Date With a Book,” which I felt was too mature of a title for the K-5 elementary school that I am the librarian at, I renamed it “Fall in Love With a New Book.” Rather than preparing this activity by myself, I decided to enlist my 4th and 5th graders by having them take most of the control of this project. I knew it would require a great deal of management on my part and that it would take several weeks for my older students to complete (being that I only see them once a week for 40 minutes) but I felt confident that this lofty project would be worth it for all of us. It turned out to be very worth it and far exceeded my expectations.

Wrapped Books Lesson 1

Library book wrapped by student

When I kicked off the first lesson with my 4th and 5th graders, I shared a Google slideshow that I created to introduce the project. Next, students chose a partner to work with. Partners then had to select a picture book, an easy graphic novel book, or an easy non fiction book that is not well-known and one that doesn’t circulate often. I then had to approve the book. There was still time in the period for partners to read the book they chose.

Wrapped Books Lesson 2

For the second lesson, partners had to read their book at least two more times. After reading, I had them read the summary/blurb on the book and/or the summary/blurb in Follett Destiny. (There’s a lot of reading going on here for the fourth grade and fifth grade participants!)

Wrapped Books Lesson 3

The third lesson consisted of the students typing an original, non plagiarized, summary for their book in a Google doc. Students had to edit and proofread their summaries before I also edited and proofread them. Google Docs are easy to share, and your fourth and fifth grade classroom teachers will appreciate the extra writing practice!

Encourage reading with School library book wrapped by a student

Wrapped Books Lesson 4

For the fourth and final lesson, students used colored paper to wrap their books. I encouraged students to bring in craft supplies to decorate the outside to make it more appealing for the younger students. Many of them did in fact bring in craft supplies. I brought some in as well for those that didn’t have any. Students also had to glue their book summary and a second barcode (since the original barcode was wrapped inside) onto the backside of the wrapped book. The title of the book was nowhere to be seen. The goal was to keep the book a mystery until the littles brought them home.

How to Encourage Reading (and Writing)

The culmination of this activity was me putting all of the books (about 100) of them on display for the littles (grades K-2) to check out. The 4th and 5th graders got such a kick out of seeing their completed and decorated books on display and ready for the littles to enjoy. The littles were tickled to check out a wrapped, mysterious book. 

I will definitely do this activity again. After reflecting on it, I will make some adjustments to be better prepared for the vast amount of materials and the fun chaos that ensued. I feel that it was a fantastic way for my older students to practice paragraph and summary writing. The older students were so excited with the notion that “their” book would be checked out and loved by a younger student. I am thrilled to report that every single book was checked out!

Library Book wrapped by Students

Be Flexible and Creative with your Theme

I love how this activity can encourage reading for ALL of your grade levels! Although our guest author did this activity for February with a Valentine’s theme, you can do this activity at any time of year:

  • Fall in Love with a New Book (in the fall, with autumn leaves)
  • A Book is a Gift You can Open Again and Again (winter holidays)
  • Spring into a New Book (spring months, with spring colors and decorations)

Thank You to Our Guest Author!

Deborah Lamoot is the Library Media Specialist at Marlboro Elementary School in Marlboro, NJ. This is her 18th year serving as the school librarian. Prior to being the school librarian, she was a 2nd grade teacher for 10 years for a total of 28 years in the same school!! She says: Who doesn’t just love being surrounded by books? I know I love it! There is so much that I enjoy about my profession, that I wouldn’t even know where to begin and so much of it would sound cliche. Being a teacher/librarian gives me the ability and freedom to be creative and share my love of literature.

You can follow Deborah Lamoot on Twitter: @LamootsLibrary

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