Book café gives students a taste of new reading

Fourth-grader Jackson Breuer picks up the order for his table
Fifth-grader Makayla Sheldon prefers horror stories but was willing to try reading something new

In the Appleview Elementary media center, reading materials were ready to be gobbled up.

The tables were set with traditional red-and-white checked café tablecloths, a vase with a flower, and a menu for each visitor. Each table was assigned a server who would take orders and distribute the goodies.

Concerned that younger students often get stuck on reading the same books or types of books over and over, Lori Shaffer, who heads up the school media center, wanted not only to expose them to other books but also to encourage them to read other genres.

Media Center Clerk Lori Shaffer gets ready for cafe day

Shaffer rolled out the first “book tasting” event two years ago after seeing an idea for a book café online shortly after she came to Appleview.

She said she liked how the students responded and wanted to do it again. Last year with major construction throughout the district and the Appleview building, the café idea was put on hold while she purged available reading materials and reorganized the school’s collections.

Now with a complete knowledge of available reading materials, she wanted to make sure the students were exposed to the many options. And so this year, Shaffer offered the students a new way to take another bite out of their reading experiences.

Fifth-grader Kelton Smith shows off his favorite series

The Biblio Café

“Welcome to the Biblio Café – that’s library in French,” she said as students entered the media center.

Shaffer had made custom menus with a list of genres and a book title in the category.

“I checked ratings and didn’t include anything with less than four stars,” she said. “You will find the ratings in the place where the price would generally be on the menu.”

Once orders were placed, servers went to the checkout station to pick up their trays.

Menus offering book choices were on each table

Each customer was required to sample their order by reading the summary provided by the author on the book, and to briefly describe the book using adjectives — what Shaffer called “yummy words.” A list of descriptive words could be found on table fliers.

If there was interest in particular book, a to-go order could be placed for students to pick up later, Shaffer said.

Fifth-grader Kelton Smith thought the experience was “kind of fun,” but said he plans to continue reading his favorite books, Geronimo Stilton adventures.

Appleview Media Center offered a “book tasting” event for its students

Classmate Makayla Sheldon said the book tasting made her want to try something new.

“I usually read horror stories or fantasy,” she said. Instead, “I tried a mystery. It was good, but now I am going back to my normal stuff.”

Shaffer said it’s early to tell if reading habits have changed for others, but “they certainly had fun, and they are now asking about new books.”

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SNN article: Noshing through novels

Menu choices were served from a silver platter
Janice Holst
Janice Holst has been both a teacher and a journalist. A former MLive reporter, she wrote features and covered local government and schools for Advance Newspapers for nearly two decades. She also was a recipe columnist and wrote features for Mature Life Style and occasional entertainment pieces for On The Town magazines. She lives in Sparta Township and is thrilled to spend some of her retirement hours writing the stories of the northern Kent County school districts. Read Janice's full bio

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