Read Away Fines

Hey all!  So...I have been thinking a lot about lost books.  I have some kiddos who have books lost since they were in PreK and of course our littlest library learners do not have the necessary management and organization skills to return their library books on time or at all.  They absolutely rely on their parents and family members to help them out!  While I talk a lot with my littlest library learners about how to care for their book outside of the library, it has been pretty difficult to follow through.  With my own little guy, when he brings home his school library book we take it out of his backpack, read the book and return it to the backpack.  We then repeat this as much as we like throughout the week!  As I write this, I just had the idea to actually bring their library books back to their classrooms and pretend that they are at home reading them!  Then they put them right back into their backpacks.  Next year.  

I digress; lost books.  Even our older library learners can lose books and struggle to locate them.  Developmentally our kiddos just don't have those organization skills until they reach towards 5th / 6th grade.  And when they do, if they still lose them it may be out of their control whether or not they can actually pay the fine for the lost books.  Next option is to replace the book, even purchase any book for the library to give back.  Even that can be a hardship for many of our families.  Having grown up unsure of our next meal or if we'd have lights or heat; I am the last person to pressure anyone to pay for or replace lost books.  

Having said all of that...there are two things going on.  One is that once the books are overdue for a predetermined amount of time, my LMS automatically marks the book as lost and assigns a fine - the cost of the book.  The other is that they WANT to borrow book but cannot because the LMS blocks them from doing so.  Of course, I can override this but my students self checkout and it won't let them.  What is a Library Media Specialist to do?

I have recently begun using restorative practice in the Library Media Center.  I absolutely canNOT claim to know much about it, but what I do know is that the children give something back to the community.  I use this as a way to address behavior and help the children learn from their mistakes while in the Media Center as well engage in prosocial behaviors.  You can find what I do here on my TPT store.  This is in addition to other ways that I may respond to behavior like time out, loss of privilege, reminders or redirection, and more.  This got me thinking about how to help my students get books back in their hands if they have lost books.  

Informally, I started a Read Away and Volunteer Away Fines mindset.  It is January and quite a few of them are tired of not being able to borrow books!  I ask them, quite extensively, if and how they have searched for said lost books. After that I give them a notice with the titles, covers, and price to take home and search one last time while also talking to their parents about paying the fine or buying new books for library.  I even have an Amazon Wish List that I update regularly for parents and families.  At this point if they are still unable to find the book(s), pay for or replace them then it is time for my kiddos to choose.  Will they take care of their fine by reading or volunteering?  Honestly, it is a win-win for me.  If they choose to read, it gives them an opportunity to visit the media center outside of their scheduled media time AND they are reading!  If they choose to volunteer, then they pretty much come in and do whatever I may need them to do.  Some days that may mean helping out the younger kiddos and they LOVE doing this.  Other days it may mean shelving books for me.  And other days it may mean helping me get learning materials ready.  To get the entire Be Fine Free Bundle, click here!  It includes an informational handout / poster, parent newsletter, log and certificate.  And let me know how you help continuously keep books in your kiddos' hands; I am always looking for ideas!


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