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Random House Best Practices & Tips for Common Reading Programs

Random House Best Practices & Tips for Common Reading Programs

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Published by RandomHouseAcademic
Developed by the Random House First-Year Advisory Board, the best practices and tips featured here will be of use to school common reading program directors, and will be of interest to librarians overseeing One Book, One Community programs as well.
Developed by the Random House First-Year Advisory Board, the best practices and tips featured here will be of use to school common reading program directors, and will be of interest to librarians overseeing One Book, One Community programs as well.

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Published by: RandomHouseAcademic on Jan 24, 2011
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09/21/2011

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BEST PRACTICES AND
Tips from the Random House
Relax, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel
. ake advantage o the many resources available to learn about other readingprograms. A good starting point is a monograph published by the National Resource Center or Te First-Year Experience®and Students in ransition,
Common Reading Programs: Going Beyond the Book.
In addition, there are a number o campuseswith well-established and successul reading programs, and the proessionals who run these programs are usually very happy to share advice and tips (as well as opinions on books they have used in the past.)When starting a program, it’s important to
include various stakeholders on campus
. When it is time to select a book, youwill most likely want some type o campus selection committee. Te committee should comprise members o a variety o constituencies, including aculty, student services and academic afairs administrators, as well as students.
Tink carefully about the scope, mission, learning outcomes, and assessment of your program
. For example, will theprogram be a rst-year/new student reading program or a campus-wide (common) reading program? What will be thepurpose o the program (this may inuence the type o books you will be considering)? How will you inorm students aboutthe program and when will they be expected to read the book? Again, take advantage o the numerous resources available tohelp answer these questions.
LAUNCHING A PROGRAM SELECTING A BOOK 
Use digital and social media to your advantage
. Use your university’s existing social media webpage or account (Facebook,witter, etc.) or create a dedicated page or your common reading program to create a community around the book selection,author visit and other programming activities. Many authors, publishers and lecture agencies have existing material that canbe posted to your community page.
Get students prepared
. Consider introducing the book during the spring or summer prior to the next academic year. Forexample, i rst-year students receive the book during Orientation, the Orientation Leaders and various speakers canadvertise the program and build a eeling o community around the reading o the text. Also, think about having studentsturn in questions or the author as part o an assignment and have a moderator pose the questions to the author. Tis willincentivize students to come up with more original questions, will save on time during the Q&A and will avoid dreaded“dead air.” Make the questions a contest, such as: “Can you stump the author?”
Have students create materials in advance of the author’s visit
. Essay collections are a great idea. You may also considermultimedia approaches—such as blogs, videos, or website. Students tend to share more on a personal level when they are not
 
ENGAGING STUDENTS 
Tink about the ollowing questions when considering eligible books or your program:Does the book 
tell a good story 
?Is the book 
accessible
? Will a variety o students at diferent reading levels and with diferent interests be able to engage withthe book? o this point, consider page count. A good rule o thumb is the “300 Rule:” i possible, choose a book with 300pages or less.Does it
feature a protagonist students can relate to
? Tey might be the same age or be dealing with similar lie situations(change, challenge, adversity).Does the book touch on
teachable themes
, such as inclusiveness/diversity, global engagement, etc.?Do the themes o the book 
correspond to your university’s strategic mission
? Campus engagement and resources will beeasier to secure i you make this relationship clear.I having the book’s author speak is part o the plan or your reading program, it is important to
consider author availability 
during the book selection process. Speaking ees and availability can vary considerably. You don’t want to go through all thework to select a book, only to nd out that the author’s speaking ee will not work or your budget, or s/he is not available tospeak on the dates you need!
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