A new store opened Wednesday inside the Elementary School. The only item on the menu: books.
Borrowing an idea from the world of retail, fourth-grade teacher Judy Haudan opened “Starbooks Café.” Her goal is to get her 23 students to open their reading “palettes” to different tastes.
Her approach addresses an age-old challenge for teachers: how to encourage students to try different types of books, both in genre and complexity. For Ms. Haudan, who started teaching at Ottawa Hills Local Schools in 1987, one solution was the café. In this tasting room, students try fiction, nonfiction, science fiction, biography and other literary works.
“Students too often take home the same type of books, whether from our library or my classroom,” Ms. Haudan said. “Since it’s early in the year, I wanted to expose them to not only a broader world of literature, but the process of how a reader can use certain techniques to determine if the book fits their ‘tastes.’”
“Here at Starbooks Café, we believe that everyone is a reader,” reads the in-store literature, which was handed out to every patron. “Some patrons may come to us who have bitter sips of books, but we know that with the right selection, we can find what hits their brain-buds.”
For the opening ceremonies, Ms. Haudan dressed the part, donning a green apron and ushering guests four at a time from the hallway waiting room to tables (four desks put together), which were dressed with tablecloths and topped with a variety of finger foods. Joining the students at the ribbon-cutting was Superintendent Dr. Adam Fineske.
With each book sampled, students filled out a three-section survey card. In the “Sip” section, students identify the title, author, and genre (fiction or nonfiction); elaborate on the type of genre; and describe the cover. In the Sip phase, it’s all about general and first impressions. In the “Taste” section, students read the book’s summary (usually on the back cover). This is the phase when they savor the book to develop a stronger appreciation for its strengths. Finally, in the “Read” section, they make a determination as to whether they would enjoy reading the book and then assign it an early rating based upon a five-star scale.
Throughout the year, students will return to the café to continue exploring new tastes in literature. Ms. Haudan has even invented a Twitter hashtag to encourage students and parents to share experiences with trying books: #OHstudentsreadalatte.