In this series, I am crunching the data reported by my students about what books they’ve read since October and how much they’ve liked them.
- Part 1: Photo Essay
- Part 2: Reading Data-How and Why to Gather It
- Part 3: Data of Differentiation
- Part 4: Data of Student Preferences
- Part 5: Data of Book Popularity and Circulation
In this post, I will explore how using this data can help you learn about the popularity and circulation of the books in your library, and how that data should inform your decisions. Click below to view the data taken from one of my level 3 classes.
Many, and perhaps most, of our students report that they don’t like reading. Many that they HATE it! So when they walk into my classroom and grab their book for the independent reading 15 minutes at the beginning of class, I know I need to do everything I can to make my reading program a success.
One of the best strategies is to know which books are popular, and to make them the most accessible. Or, conversely, to know which books aren’t generally popular, and perhaps keep them in a separate, less prominent place.
It’s a tough decision removing options from your main browsing library. You don’t want to take a possibly beloved book away from someone. But you also don’t want kids to pick up books and reject them on a regular basis. I tend to err on the side of removing a book if it’s marginally popular to only display the best in the browsing library, even at the cost of having less variety.
For the many books that aren’t as popular, I don’t throw them away! Heaven’s no! I hold onto them in a separate bookcase until I learn about the students in the room. Then, I can directly suggest one of the less popular books in a strategical way. For example, I haven’t had any kids pick up Robert Harrell’s Pirata Del Norte, a buccaneering tale about pirates in the North Sea during the middle ages. However, I know of a student from last year who would have loved it. He knew everything there is to know about Norse mythology and loved to talk about Vikings, middle-age roll play games, etc.
Sorting the spreadsheet by book title is an excellent way to see which titles are popular in which levels of proficiency, and with whom.
In some places, it provides confirmation. For example, I think El Ratón Pablito is wonderful for beginner students. But it turns out that the level 3 upperclassmen who pick that one to read also think it’s wonderful (7.4 and 8.7 averages in my level 3 sections respectively.)
The rankings also provides nuance. A lot of kids like the Brandon Brown books. I thought that the last one, El Nuevo Houdini, would be the most popular with my high school kids, since Brandon is a high schooler in just this one book. But nope, Brandon Brown Quiere Un Perro is more popular (7.4 vs 6.5 and 7 vs 6.3). Good to know.
Sorting by book title also gives valuable insight into your library’s circulation. For example, I see that the Brandon Brown Quiere Un Perro is both highly circulated and highly popular. On the other hand, some books that have been ranked very highly (and I also think are great) have very little circulation:
- Ataques De Hambre (8 out of 10, but only 1 read)
- Cuentos De Chonko (9.6 but only 5 reads)
- Esperanza (7 but only 1 read)
- Diario De Greg (9 but only 4 reads)
- El Ekeko (10 but only 1 read)
- Fiesta Fatal (8.25 but only 5 reads)
- Frida Kahlo (8 but only 1 read)
- La Llorona De Mazatlán (9 but only 2 reads)
I know that these sample sizes are really small to draw conclusions. However, I’ve read all of these books and think they are some of the best as well. So, perhaps moving forward I will highlight these under-circulated titles in Book Talks or in my future Books of the Week sections.