So my first year teaching I wanted to have a game for my 2nd graders to explore the library and discover new books. I’ve blogged briefly about this game before. We spend a lot of time in second grade talking about how we choose our books, how to find summaries on the backs and inside the dust jackets of books, and basically just how we find the books we like. I do another activity called “Judge a Book By Its Cover” (I talk about Drop Everything and Read in that post). Judge a Book By Its Cover came in real handy this year when my 4th graders started Wonder; they remembered the 2nd grade game immediately and understood what I wanted them to do.

Anyway, I concocted this version of Musical Chairs for the library, and I called it “Drop Everything and Read.” Yes, I blatantly took the title of my game from this. But, I actually mean it a little more literally.

The kids walk around the library with their shelf markers, moving constantly just like in Musical Chairs. The game is exactly like Musical Chairs, really. When I yell out “Drop everything and read!” the kids must immediately use their shelf markers to pull a book from the closest shelf to them, drop to the floor, and start reading it. From any page, or from the summary. I time them, then they stop and put the book back and start again. If they don’t use their shelf markers (like the two students above), they are out. If they talk, they are out. I tell them my job is to catch them and get them out, their job is to stay in the game.

If the kids find a book they want to check out this way, they put it at their seat and keep playing. We check out 2 books at a time in second grade. And if they forgot their books, they can play the game but have to put every book they pick back on the shelves. Kids find a lot of treasures this way, and we always play the game after we’ve spent a good month talking about book selection and personal choice.

I felt like posting these photos I took of us playing recently because this game is always such a hit with the kids. They practice using shelf markers, they learn about keeping the shelves neat, and they discover books they might have otherwise overlooked. Did I mention that if I catch them hovering around their favorite books they can also be out? They have time at the end of class to look for whatever books they want, but while we’re playing the game they have to keep moving. It has to be a random book they drop and read. No dashing across the library to grab that book they really, really wanted. We save that for checkout time at the end.

Maybe I’ll play this with them next week.