You’ve Been Booked! for Students

Hi, friends! Sara Marshall originally shared her great “you’ve been booked” idea in our Learning Librarians Facebook group. I asked her to give us all the details in a guest blog post, and she generously agreed. Here is her terrific idea for reading promotion at your school library! She says…

You've been booked with stack of books

Book Talks

I have been brainstorming ideas for how to incorporate book talks into my lessons each week for a long time. In the past, I faced the conundrum of choosing who would get to check out the books I advertised and not having enough copies of them to go around. It was also difficult to come up with enough different books for the 30 classes I see each week.

My solution came from an idea I’ve seen trending in various librarian forums called “You’ve Been Booked.” The concept was originally intended for classroom teachers as a way to surprise them with fresh new reading material to share with their classes based on the age/grade level they teach. I saw the value and novelty of this service as it reminded me of popular subscription unboxings that range from beauty products, to reading material, to pet supplies. I love the idea of curating materials for teachers and surprising them with the latest and greatest literature. This is something that I hope to implement with my school’s staff in the near future.

Build Student Excitement

However, I also saw this as a potential way to build students’ excitement over receiving books tailored to their interests. The “You’ve Been Booked” program seemed like the best way to fairly distribute the books that I feature to all of my students who are eager to read them, so I tweaked it to fit my needs.

book cover insignificant events in the life of a cactus

My plan was to choose two books to book talk each week and have students sign up if they wanted to check them out. For my first book talks I chose to feature Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling and Save Me a Seat by Gita Varadarajan. I chose the first book because I read it over the summer with my daughters and we loved it. I knew that fans of Wonder by R.J. Palacio and Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper would love it as well. I haven’t had the chance to read Save Me a Seat yet, but I’ve heard nothing but wonderful things about it. Its themes of starting at a new school, friendship, and dealing with bullies fit in nicely with the beginning of the school year.

book cover Save Me a Seat

I gave a short talk about both books to grades 3-5 and told students they could sign up for a drawing to be one of the first to read them after our lesson. I told them that the winners would have the books delivered to their classrooms the next week. My sign-up sheets were really basic: I just wrote the book titles at the top of two sheets of notebook paper and told students to write their name and class. Around 15-20 students signed up. There were several ways to choose the winners, such as numbering their names and choosing a number at random, but I went with two of my voracious readers who I knew would read the books quickly so that others could have a turn.

You’ve Been Booked Gift Wrap

To make the book delivery even more special, I packaged it like a gift and included a few extra goodies. My principal gifted me  a box of bookmarks, reading pencils, and reading bracelets. I included one of each item, along with two Tootsie Rolls. I received a huge box of plastic popcorn bags two years ago, which made perfect goodie bags to hold the book and treats. Last, I finished it off with a colorful tag that reads: You’ve Been Booked! with instructions on reading and returning the book in a timely manner.

gift wrapped books

Both of the recipients of my first “You’ve Been Booked” program thanked me personally for their books. They read and returned their books in a timely manner. I plan to go down the list now and “gift” each student who signed up as the books come back. My goal is to book talk different titles at least once a month.

student note for extra library book

You could try this idea with new or older books, books from author/illustrator studies, and state award titles. One could even have students sign up for a mock “subscription” service to occasionally receive a surprise book in class. There are so many possibilities for utilizing this concept to build anticipation for students’ next great read, and to instill the idea that reading is the ultimate “gift.”

Thank you to Sara Marshall for sharing this great idea to promote reading at our school libraries! You can find more of Sara’s ideas in her Facebook group, The Playful Librarian.



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    1. Hi Cari,

      I am totally inspired by the concept of “You’ve been booked!” What an awesome way to exposed students to some really great books and make them excited about reading! I can definitely see myself incorporating this idea as I just bought a whole new collection of novels for my classroom. I also like the idea that you could do this with not only new books, but older books too. Thank you for sharing this wonderful idea!

    2. Would you read the entire book before “booking” a student, or just a few chapters to wet their appetite and then have them sign up and “book” them?

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