I have a dream, my librarian friends. Not quite as noble as Martin Luther King Junior's dream, but a dream nonetheless. My dream is that one day, students will remember to return their library books on library day. I want them to develop a habit of responsibility, and I don't want the books to be lost.
Here's what I'm doing this year to help make that dream a reality.
I drew a picture of Pete the Cat wearing his backpack (because that's where he keeps his library books when he's not reading them). I copied it twice for each kindergarten and first grade teacher. I colored one copy and cut it into 5 pieces (head, body, front legs, back legs, tail), and put those pieces into the zipper bag.
I told every kinder and first grade class that each time EVERY boy and girl brings their library books back on library day, we will add a part to Pete the Cat. When Pete the Cat is completely covered, we will have a Pete the Cat surprise in the library! For the whole class!
So that's what we've been doing. When EVERY boy and girl returns their library book, we glue a colored piece onto Pete the Cat and celebrate the happy occasion.
I'm happy to say that we've had three Pete the Cat surprises in the library. For our surprise, we have a 30-minute party. I tell students the Gingerbread Pete the Cat story that you can find here at Miss Sarah's Storytime. Each student makes a Gingerbread Pete with foam, pipe cleaners and pom poms.
We dance along with the dancing Pete the Cat doll in this video.
And I give the students two gingerbread cookies in a zipper bag to take with them, because we keep running out of time for snack at our Pete parties.
We've had fun celebrations. Those three classes are now trying to color in Clifford, and I'm planning a Clifford the Big Red Dog party (Pinterest!).
I'm celebrating their success, but at the same time, I'm sad for the other classes, especially the two first grade classes who have NEVER had everyone turn in their book on library day. This whole year!
So...what's your secret? How do you encourage your students to return their books on time? Have you found something that works?