How We Work

A bookstore clerk helps a young boy at Barnes & NobleHow My Own Book Works — Our Process

The My Own Book model remains much the same as it was when the program was founded in 1999. (Click here for a history of the program). Volunteers (usually two) visit each third grade classroom to meet with the children and the teachers. They talk to them about how a bookstore works, the differences between and bookstore and a library, and discuss approaches to selecting books, with emphasis on genres, book prices, the value of a good home dictionary, and choosing their own “just right” books.

The children are given great flexibility to choose books of interest and are prompted to make shopping lists in advance of the store visit. Essential to the success of the program is the enthusiasm and motivation generated by the teachers, principals, and assistant principals. As a result, our volunteers meet with the teachers and school management separately to explain the program and ensure that they are motivated, passionate partners.

Young girl uses calculator in the bookstoreThe actual trip to the bookstore lasts about two hours which gives the children plenty of time to listen to the bookstore orientation, usually given by a Barnes & Noble manager, and to browse through, select and purchase $50 worth of books.

It’s an exciting time as the kids literally bounce around the shelves eager to find the books that they can call their very own, and then quiet down as they add up their purchases to make sure they’ve not exceeded $50. Teachers and volunteers work with each student to make sure their selections are appropriate to their reading level and interests.

A key component of My Own Book is the follow-up visit to the classroom where the volunteers spend time visiting each class allowing the children to share their experiences with the books that they have selected. Typically, the teacher creates lesson plans to give students an opportunity to show off their new books with book reports, readings and special presentations. The children explore the importance of owning their books as a continuing adventure in their love of learning and reading. Our volunteers all say that the follow-up visit, usually accompanied by “Thank You “ notes written by the kids, is when the connection really comes alive between the My Own Book experience and the children’s pleasure in reading.