Read Around the Clock Café: A 50's Style Book Tasting

Do you have an annual reading night at your school? Reading night is one of my favorite after school occasions during the school year. At my school, which is a 3-5 school, each grade level holds different activities. Since there's between 6-7 teachers for each grade, we usually pair up for our activity. We hold three 20-minute sessions so that families can attend all three activities.

Last year, my partners and I had a fantastic book tasting! It was a tremendous success so we kind of approached this year with an "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" mentality! However, as we were planning our reading night, we also decided to participate in the Socktober drive from Kid President, and we decided to make our reading night the culminating activity for our final night of the drive. I brought up the idea of a sock hop, and from there we decided that the day of our reading night would be a 50's Day theme. We had a sock hop for the last 30 minutes of the school day. I wasn't sure how students were going to do with a 50's Day, but they definitely did not disappoint! Leather jackets and slicked back hair for the boys, poodle skirts for the girls, I felt like I had just walked on the set of Grease! Their outfits were adorable!

We decided that we needed to tweak our reading cafe a bit because we wanted to keep with the whole 50's theme for reading night. I found some wonderful 50's clip art and then my creating began. I tweaked a little bit of this, and a little bit of that, and then I added a little bit of this, and a little bit of that, and I finally I came up with a 50's themed book tasting that was a great success!

The first thing that I created was a book preview for students to work on in the classroom. This would become one of our displays for book night.

Student book previews were displayed with the book that they chose so that families could preview the books as they came in to the classroom. 

Our students were already dressed up from our 50's day, and so they kept those outfits on for the evening. We had 6 students in total, 4 of them were "chefs" in charge of a table of tasting, each one with a different genre, and 2 of which were our hosts, greeting families at the door as they entered the room. I prepared a script for each of them that they were able to practice for a couple of weeks before our big night.

We turned the classroom into our reading café. I threw on a little 50's music,  spread black and gingham tablecloths (Dollar Store) over the 4 different "tables" and a placed a student chef at each one of the tables, ready to greet their visitors and share a selection from the genre that they were representing. Our poetry table was definitely the most popular, and our entire evening was another tasting success, with families engaged in listening to our chefs, then exploring the table to preview other books from that genre, and even making a wish list of books that they would like to read based on what they heard or saw at the tasting. We also included a list of recommendations based on a popular book at each table. The best part was that all of the books on the list and table were from our school library so our students could truly check them out the very next day! I'm confident that many of them did just that!

If you're interested in grabbing these resources, click on the picture below to see my 50's Themed Book Tasting & Book Preview Displays resource.



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