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ARC's Float On Campaign

I have been on a break from the Book Whisperer blog this past month in order to participate in the Texas State Teacher of the Year competition. This summer, I was selected as one of three finalists for Elementary Teacher of the Year and I have enjoyed meeting teachers from all over the state and participating in interviews and award celebrations. What a thrilling experience! Congratulations, to Daniel Leija, from Northside ISD, who was selected the 2011 Texas Teacher of the Year. Daniel is an amazing science teacher and leader in his community.

While I haven't been blogging much, I have been reading, of course. As a member of the NCTE/ CLA Notable Children's Books in the Language Arts committee, I have been reading and reviewing scores of books in consideration for this year's award lists. Publishers submit their latest titles for consideration by many award committees each year in the hopes that their books will garner awards. I also receive review copies for this blog from time-to-time since I provide regular book lists. In addition to sending books to award committees, publishers share advanced reader copies, or ARC's, with book reviewers and book bloggers, as well as passing out early release copies at conferences. Publishers value the increased interest and marketing that sending out these new books and review copies brings, and reviewers enjoy previewing books in advance of their release and sharing sneak peeks at new titles.

After the reviews are written, the blog tours take place, and the books are no longer needed by the reviewer, I often wonder what happens to these ARC's and review copies. I often see ARC's wind up on e-bay, which seems a bit unethical to me because these books are not meant for sale and neither the author nor the publisher earns any money. As members of the media, book reviewers are not allowed to sell ARC's and review copies. What happens to these books?

As a classroom teacher, many of the books I receive wind up in my classroom for my students to read. When I receive books written for younger or older readers than my sixth graders, I share these free books with colleagues at other campuses in my district or send them to my Twitter network of colleagues. Mentioning and sharing these books promotes awareness of new titles and guides people who purchase books for children toward the hot titles.

Teachers and librarians spend an outrageous amount of our personal money on books for students each year. I spend hundreds of dollars a year on new books for my classroom. With budget cuts and reduced funding for schools and libraries, it is difficult to purchase new titles for our students. Students enjoy reading books before the rest of the world sees them, and the buzz these new books create encourages my students to read. Keeping abreast of new titles helps me suggest books to our librarian and other teachers, too. Reading advance copies of books helps teachers and librarians decide how to spend our limited funding by discovering new, high-quality books that our students might like to read. One free book can turn into several book purchases for a school.

The topic of review and ARC books came up during the monthly Twitter chat, #titletalk, that I co-host with Paul Hankins. Many teachers discussed that finding low cost books and keeping on top of new releases for our students continually challenges us. Sarah Mulhern, from The Reading Zone blog, suggested that we start a campaign to encourage book reviewers and bloggers to donate their review books and advanced reader copies to classrooms and charities in their communities. Many of the reviewers I know already donate their books to local schools, libraries, and literacy charities.

If you receive free books from publishers, please consider donating your review books. By donating the books that you receive for free, you are promoting awareness of great books and authors, helping teachers and librarians, and encouraging more reading. Learn more about this initiative or connect to a classroom through the Twitter hashtag, #ARCsFloatOn.

Blog Update 11/5/10: Sarah Mulhern has created a survey to assist with matching bloggers to needy classrooms and libraries.

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