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Middle Grade Monday – Statistics

This year, my library is promoting the North Carolina Young Adult Book Award competition. You can find out more about it here, but it is essentially a list of ten student nominated titles.  Students who want to participate in the voting process in the spring need to have read at least four of the ten titles. After all eligible votes are counted, one book is declared this year’s winner and the process begins again. I decided to do this instead of our traditional Book for All Readers competition for two reasons. First, the Book for All Readers has been a hit or miss affair. Some years it was a tremendous success (often because a movie was made from the book that year.) Some years it has been less successful, and fewer students were invested in the program. Second, I didn’t think we had the resources necessary to support both projects – both in terms of time and finance. We were able to purchase 6 additional copies of each title with the help of a Donors Choose grant. I’ve been working diligently to book talk each title to all of the classes as they come to the library. We also have a special location for the books where they can be displayed and are easily located, as well as a hallway display with a picture of the cover and a short summary of each title. Today, I decided to take a look at the only real statistic I have available to me to tell if these books are making an impact on our students, the number of times they’ve circulated this year.

Anecdotally, it would be easy for me to tell you the one book that is not circulating as well as the others (Kids of Kabul.) Other than that most basic observation, however, I had no idea. And, in fact, Kids of Kabul has circulated eight times this year, which is quite good for a ‘less high interest’ non-fiction title. I was pleased to see this, although I know that it’s not going to get as much traffic as the other titles. My hope is that some of the students who have read it will be interested in promoting it to their friends.

The biggest surprise, to be honest, is that Holly Goldberg Sloan’s Counting by 7s has had the highest number of circulations. When I book talk it, no one seems all that excited. And I’m not hearing a lot of buzz about it from the students. It’s what I’d refer to as a ‘quiet book’ and it has a quiet cover – no explosions, etc. I would have expected some of the other titles, such as The Screaming Staircase or The Colossus Rises to have outpaced it by now. Of course, most of the books are falling into a small range of numbers of circulations. Here, see for yourself:

  • The Colossus Rises by Peter Lerangis (24)
  • Counting by 7’s by Holly Goldberg Sloan (28)
  • Kids of Kabul: Living Bravely Through a Never-ending War by Deborah Ellis (8)
  • Lincoln’s Grave Robbers by Steve Sheinkin (17)
  • Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson (26)
  • Navigating Early by Claire Vanderpool (25)
  • The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud (25)
  • Tesla’s Attic by Neal Shusterman & Eric Elfman (20)
  • Twerp by Mark Goldblatt (20)
  • Zane and the Hurricane by Rodman Philbrick (22)

There are so many other factors to consider, though, that it may be a somewhat fruitless task to try to assess impact at this point. For instance, we have 12 copies in total of Maureen Johnson’s Name of the Star. The students love it. So, one might wonder why it hasn’t had more circulations. Or maybe it’s because so many of this year’s 7th and 8th grade students have already read it. I’m really not sure where any of this will lead, but it may be time to post circulation numbers next to the hallway posters. Or, maybe one of you has a brilliant idea? Let me know in the comments.

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