Prefilled book boxes really help with a smooth and successful launch of Read to Self. There are a few ways to go about it.
The last weeks and days of school, we review favorite books we have read throughout the year. As we revisit those books, each student creates a summer reading list based on their favorites as well as recommendations from other students. During this process students choose a few books from our classroom library and place them in their book boxes. We double-check to make sure the teacher name is clearly labeled on each book cover.
If children are looping up with the same teacher, they are all set with books for launching Read to Self the first day of school. If students are going to a new classroom and know which class they will be in, they walk their book boxes to their new room on the last day of school. If classes aren't formed in the spring, we still have our students load their book boxes at the end of the year. On the first day of school, they come back to their old classroom, and amid well wishes for a great year and encouraging words, grab their book boxes and head to their new rooms. At my school, students are encouraged to bring in their own book boxes. Teachers have extras on hand for those who are unable to do so. They are often decorated and personalized in such a way that students enjoy keeping them from year to year.
Many of you have gasped in collective shock, "I can't send my books to another classroom. I'll never get them back!" We've found that when a school has a shared vision of launching Daily 5 at startup, and of supporting students as they transition to a new classroom and teacher, this system works beautifully. Students have a quick touch-base with a familiar face and a few words of encouragement the very first day of school. In their new classroom, they are greeted with the familiarity of books they personally chose in spring. As books are finished, students take time to return them to last year's teacher, again providing an opportunity for attention and celebration. Each teacher knows to watch for books clearly labeled as belonging to someone else and when found, it can provide a wonderful reason to pop into another classroom.
If students don't have their own boxes and you need to keep yours for incoming students, put the books they have chosen into a large zip-lock bag labeled with their name. This makes it easy for the books to move and the book boxes to stay.
Many schools have an open house before to the beginning of school. Another idea to consider for getting book boxes preloaded is to have students peruse the classroom library and load their boxes when they come to the open house. What a great way to welcome students to their new classroom and build anticipation for the start of school with books ready to go!
Whether you choose one of these methods or come up with one of your own, thinking through book boxes is an important step to the successful launch of Read to Self.