The end of the school year is near, and that means one thing to every librarian: getting all the library books returned. This is the toughest part of my job, and it’s the one I dread every year: letters, notices, phone calls, emails…the list is endless. I don’t know why, but it seems like my upper grades (3rd/4th/5th) have the worst time finding and returning their books. But one thing has made the task a bit easier, and it doesn’t cost any money or involve any food prizes: the annual Poster Raffle!
My first year as a school librarian is when I dreamed up this idea. I had leftover posters from the Scholastic book fair (generously donated each year), which I put them up all around the library. Each poster is numbered and has a corresponding numbered envelope.
The week before books are due, I explain the way the raffle works:
- Only students in 3rd/4th/5th grades are eligible.
- If ALL books are either returned / paid for by the return date, students earn entries to the raffle. NO entries are earned if ANY book is still checked out.
- 3rd grade = 3 entries, 4th / 5th= 4 entries. This corresponds to the max number of items they are able to check out.
The week books are due back is raffle week. At the end of the lesson, I explain the above rules again. I include:
- Students can put all entries into one poster OR spread them out.
- There is a chance to win more than one poster. It has happened!
- The raffle will be held Friday afternoon, with names of poster winners posted on the library door. If students forgot books/payment, they have until then if they want to get entries to the raffle.
I check the student accounts while they browse books on tables (not pictured). Students who have zero items out earn raffle slips (recycled paper…it’s hard to duplicate). Name, teacher, and poster # gets written on each entry, which saves me from the “I didn’t enter for THAT poster!” speech. While they debate over favorite posters and place their entries into envelopes, I have quiet chats with the handful of students who forgot items at home.
I have had a poster raffle for the last 10 years, and it is a student favorite. They LOVE having the chance to win, and I LOVE that it costs no money! Better still, this activity helps to have over 95% of the library materials from my 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders!
And in case you’re wondering: K, 1st, and 2nd students earn ALA bookmarks for returning all materials by the due date. The probability of winning a poster doesn’t work well for their developmental level. Much better to have the same item for each student. 🙂