The Fisher Elementary fifth grade classrooms of Ruby Zamora and Ashley Vario were set up like nothing students had before seen. The coffee-shop-style décor and ambiance played into a brand-new event that introduced the students to a variety of book genres.
It was the school’s first-ever book tasting.
“It was a hit,” says Zamora. “It was a chance to expose students to different genres and get them engaged and excited about reading.”
The students were wowed from the start. The classroom transformation was a new experience and the coffee-shop décor—think tablecloths and decorations—partnered with the room’s smart boards, creating a relaxed ambience with jazz music in the background. “To them, it felt like they were at a coffee shop reading books with their friends,” Zamora says. “It brought it to life.”
As part of the book tasting, each student spent a few minutes at each table, checking out the front and back covers, reading the inside flaps and browsing books for a first impression. After that time was up, students wrote down observations and made notes of which books they wanted to add to their wish list. With each table outfitted with different genres and multiple books per stye, the event introduced students to new genres, a diverse cast of characters and authors, recently published books and award winners.
“They had so much fun ‘tasting’ different book genres and many of them kept books and are readying them now,” Zamora says. She adds that many students who had a negative mindset toward reading were excited to read some of the books put in front of them.
The project is all part of The 40 Book Challenge, where students are encouraged to read 40 books by the end of the year. “I made it clear that the goal isn’t to read 40 books, but to read more books than they have in the past,” she says. “So, if last year they only read four books and this year they read seven, that is what is worth celebrating. That is the goal.”
The students have taken on the challenge with a newfound vigor, thanks to the introduction of so many new books. “They now look forward to silently read or beg to silently read because they have books or know multiple genres that interest them,” Zamora says. “I have many students who just read graphic novels and through this experience many students now have different genres they are reading. It’s very diverse.”