Book of the Year 2015

By: Mary Kienstra on: April 14, 2015  in: Engagement, enthusiasm, party, reading,

Today was the great reveal for the book of the year for 2015.  It was a very close race, but HOLES by Louis Sachar won.  My students voted for the book using a March Madness style bracket to narrow down the choices.  I love this unit as it engages all readers in talking about books!  What could be better?

We have spent weeks on this project.  It all started when students sought to answer the umbrella question, “What makes a book worthy of an award?”  They researched children’s book awards and began to read many different award winners.  They discussed their books and finally nominated their favorite book for the Book of the Year.  See this post for the details on this part of the project. 


The original bracket for this year’s Big Book Theory

My students had created a book commercial using the iMovie app trailer to persuade their classmates to vote for their favorite book.  These short videos are posted on our class  web  site (password protected) so that kids could watch all of them and write comments.  Some kids had not read all of the books that were nominated so this gave them an opportunity to get to know the books.


The finals! Holes is the winner.

Then the fun began.  The first day there were 17 books presented in the brackets like March Madness.  All the students picked up a “clicker” (classroom response system) and voted in 8 “games” for their favorite books.  (One game had 3 books just to keep it even.)  Each day we narrowed down the choices until last Friday, when we were down to the final 2 books.  As predicted, the voting became more difficult with each passing day as students had to choose between some very good books!  Today we revealed that HOLES won the Book of the Year or as the students named it, Big Book Theory 2015.


Sand buckets filled with rice and buried treasure.

It was only fitting that we celebrate HOLES’ victory with a book party.  After a trip to a local craft store, I filled beach sand buckets with rice (cheaper than sand) and collected treasures to hide in the buckets.  Some of the treasures included a bottle of water, an onion, a jewel, tennis shoes, yellow spotted lizard, eye glasses, and a tiny poster that said “Be yourself.”  Of course the students needed orange T shirts because the main character in HOLES is in jail and can wear only orange jumpsuits.  Next, it was time to dig.


Students took turns wearing the orange “prison” T shirt and digging.


Digging for buried treasure just like Stanley Yelnats.

Groups of students relayed to dig in the sand buckets to find the buried treasure.  One at a time, they put on the orange T shirt, used the little sand shovel, and uncovered buried treasure.  As they returned to their group, they took off the orange T shirt and gave it to the next person.  They collected their treasures in a treasure chest.  


Group discussion about the symbolism of the treasures.

Keeping with the symbolism of “treasures,” student then met in groups to discuss and record the deeper meaning of each treasure.  This was the important part as their interpretation of treasure and symbols provided an excellent discussion.

I think my students enjoyed the book party and the chance to do something a little bit different today.  While they may have predicted HOLES would win the Book of the Year, they probably never thought they’d be digging for treasure in buckets of rice!  My goal is to provide experiences for my students that make their learning come to life.  I think they will remember this one!







Leave a comment