I just turned in my school’s votes for this year’s SC Young Adult Book Award Nominees.  To say I was disappointed is an understatement.  We have 300 students in our school.  I sent one ballot for every student to our English classes = 300 ballots.  The ballot asks students to circle the titles they have read and write the title they want to win on the line at the bottom.   This allows me to track which of the titles are being circulated as well as recording votes for the program.  I received a total of 32 ballots back, with only 10 containing votes I could record.  Sigh.  While the number of votes I can record is usually low, I typically get at least half of the ballots back with some votes on them.   Since the number I received back are so few, I can’t run any statistical analysis of the titles this year.

Now, I have to figure out what went wrong this year.  Two (of four) teachers emailed me back stating that the kids said they didn’t read any of the titles.  Hmm, but the books stayed off the shelves, so SOMEBODY checked them out.

We did all of the usual promotions:

  • Bulletin board outside the library
  • Display of the books at the circulation desk w/ Follet bookmarks
  • Books were taken to classrooms for the book swap activity
  • When kids asked me for a good book, I always talked up the YABA books before taking them to the shelves to find books

Possible reasons why “nobody” read them:

  • limited copies (only 2 per title)
  • our long circulation period (3 weeks) plus ability to renew means one person monopolized a book the whole time = highly possible
  • apathy = kids just didn’t want to participate (in reading them)
  • apathy = kids just didn’t want to participate (in the voting process)
  • not enough and/or enthusiastic enough promotion of the books

Possible solutions for next year (in addition to our normal promotions):

  • Purchase a class set of at least one title to use for book club and English novel assignments (budget permitting) – Two members of the YABA committee are from Aiken and I’ll get their recommendation on which one(s) to purchase
  • Have (ahem – MAKE) English teachers participate in the banner completion
  • Utilize the school’s website to promote (both front page and media center page)
  • Partner with the public library’s Summer Reading program (“Own the Night”) and have something special (sigh, yeah prizes) if students read a certain number of books from the YABA list AND write a review on our library’s blog 2 Read or Not 2 Read or comment on another person’s review with their own review of the book

What else can I do?  Have any suggestions, please comment!

4 thoughts on “SCYABA Voting

  1. Could you have a monthly drawing for some prize (of very low cost)? Students who have read any of the titles can put their name and the book they read on an entry. Each book they have read that month is a separate entry. The winners get a photo taken holding the book and can be displayed for that month. At the end of the year, the person who read the most books on the list can get a prize too.
    Maybe partner with another school and have a challenge? Which school can read the most titles off the list and do a short review for the title (maybe Voicethread or other platform)? At the end of the year a small trophy could be given to the school (and each year the challenge continues with the same trophy going back and forth if needed).

  2. We will be voting Monday and Tuesday of next week and I don’t expect a large number of students to vote. Percentage-wise, it will probably be a smaller number than you had. Sad when you compare the total number of elementary students who vote to the high school students who vote – but it shows a trend, meaning it is not just your students who don’t vote or read.

    It sounds like you do a great job of promoting the books. You can lead a horse to water….

    I like Pat’s ideas of a small monthly drawing and challenging another school.

    How about a Battle of the Books – but not the contest of the same name. Instead, have each of your book club members or strong readers choose one of the 20 nominees and promote them? Posters, flyers, booktalks, etc – whatever would work for your situation.

    Sponsor a book of the week – have students create a display for one title that week. Have a short booktalk done as part of the announcements or news program.

    I hope your other readers can offer some off the chart ideas here to help us all out!

  3. Thanks for the response, Pat! I really dislike having “prizes” for reading. Reading should be it’s own prize. However, I am looking at different ways to promote. I do like your idea of ‘competing’ with another school – a battle of the books! Will definitely look into that idea. I hope to utilize our library blog and that would be a wonderful way to get participation.

  4. Yep – love the battle of the books idea. Might not do it with another school, but maybe within the English classes here. We are one of the smalles schools (student number) so wouldn’t want to pit our kids against theirs! Thanks for the suggestions!

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