Billionaire’s Book Club Wins Innovative Reading Grant

Editor’s Note: Boosting literacy through partnerships, social media, and an online radio show? No wonder this program was an award-winner. Maybe it will spark some ideas for your library.

Shanna Miles is the 2011 recipient of the American Association of School Librarians’ (AASL) Innovative Reading Grant for her project, the “Billionaire’s Book Club.” Sponsored by Capstone Publishers, this grant of $2,500 supports the planning and implementation of a unique and innovative program for children that motivates and encourages reading, especially with struggling readers.

Working out of the Tech High School Library in Atlanta, Georgia, and with the support of the Tech High School Parent Teacher Association, the Billionaire’s Book Club will team ninth-grade struggling readers with an upperclassman who is a member of the National Honor Society. These teams will read one book a month for six months, and each month the teams will host an online radio show analyzing the book read. In addition, the teams will keep a reading journal and maintain a Billionaire’s Book Club Facebook group as a place to share their thoughts about their reading.

The goals of the project are to increase the reading level of the struggling reader by improving reading comprehension and fluency. The students will also use social networking to improve their academic success by discussing literacy academically and socially. The program seeks to create a reading culture within the school and help bridge the digital divide. Throughout the program the students will work cooperatively to produce their radio shows, but team members can work competitively to earn the grand prize, an e-reader.

Miles’ “Billionaire’s Book Club” project and other AASL award recipients will be honored at AASL’s Awards Luncheon during ALA’s 2011 Annual Conference in New Orleans. The luncheon will be held Monday, June 27, and Lauren Myracle, best-selling young adult author and national spokesperson for intellectual freedom, will headline. Ticket information can be found on the AASL website.

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