Putting Arcs into the Hands of Readers

I am extraordinarily lucky.  Thanks to blogging, the Cybils, and conferences, II get a lot of books for review.  At least twice each week I come home to find packages on the porch.  During the months of November and December I was Cybils panelist for middle grade science fiction/fantasy and I received dozens of review copies of the nominated titles.  I also attended NCTE in November and came home with a suitcase full of books.  Some of the books I receive are finished copies and others are ARCs (advanced readers copies).  I read as many as I can, posting reviews on my blog and on Goodreads.After I read and review the books I share them with my students.  These paperback  advance editions of books are like  Publishers value the “buzz” that is generated by these early copies and my students love that they get a chance to read books before they are officially published.  I start the year by explaining what ARCs are and showing them some unfinished copies.  I can still remember the first time I brought an ARC to school, a few months after I started blogging.“Miss Mulhern, we can actually borrow this book? And it’s not even out yet?  No one else has read it?” students asked incredulously.  When I confirmed their suspicions and

My sixth-graders and my high schoolers both understandd that ARCs are not finished works and may differ from the final draft.  But ARCs work wonders with readers.  Even the most reluctant reader can be swayed when they realize they are the first . They are holding a copy of the book before almost anyone else.  It’s a magical, special experience and I’ve watched it hook reader after reader.  However, I realize I am lucky because I do have access to ARCs.  The quantity of ARCs doesn’t matter- one ARC can cast a spell over a classroom of readers.  So how can other teachers bring ARCs into their classroom?

  • Conferences!  Book-oriented conferences like NCTE, IRA, and ALAN are a great place to connect with publishers and pick up ARCs.  Plus, the professional development and connections with colleagues and authors are unbeatable!  I have also attended ALA and BEA despite not being a librarian or bookseller.
  • Facebook and Twitter!  Many publishers host giveaways on their Facebook and Twitter accounts.  For example, Little, Brown does a fantastic job of connecting via Facebook and Walden Pond Press is all over Twitter.  Look for some of your favorite publishers on social media and enter any contests and giveaways that they offer.  It’s well worth it.
  • Goodreads!  Did you know there is a giveaways section on Goodreads?  Every few weeks I go through the YA and children’s giveaways and enter them all.  You gotta be in it to win it, right?
  • #ARCsFloatOn!  My personal favorite because it’s personal.   #ARCsFloatOn is a literacy initiative that grew out of #titletalk over a year ago.  Most teacher fund their own classroom libraries which means that new books aren’t always feasible.  But out there in the world there are bloggers and reviewers with an abundance of ARCs and review copies.  Because it isn’t a good idea to re-sell ARCs, many reviewers and bloggers would like to find places in their community to donate these books.  That’s where #ARCsFloatOn comes in.  From our website:

“Teachers interested in being contacted by donors may register here. Your information will be vetted and added to our searchable database. Reviewers with books to donate may search the database for schools. Donors are then responsible for contacting teachers with a list of the books they have available, and to arrange for shipping or dropoff of the books–it’s up to both parties how to “float” the ARCs. Donors are responsible for all arrangements and shipping costs. We just provide you with the means to connect.”

Kids and teens NEED access to good books, new literature.  As teachers, it can be almost impossible to fully fund a vibrant class library.  But teachers are creative!  Check out any of the ideas listed above to bring ARCs into your classroom.  And reviewers are in a special position here and can really assist teachers in these tough economic times.  If you receive free books from publishers (ARCs or review copies!), please consider donating your review books to a classroom teacher. By donating the books that you receive for free, you are promoting awareness of great books and authors, helping teachers and librarians, and encouraging more reading.

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Sarah Mulhern Gross is an English teacher who lives in New Jersey with
her husband, two Australian Shepherds, and cat.  She was born a member
of the Nerdy Book Club.  She was “that girl” at her younger siblings’
sporting events with her head in a book.  You know, the antisocial
one.  :)  She has been teaching Freshman World Literature and English
IV at a STEM high school in NJ since 2010.  She previously taught
sixth grade Language Arts in New Jersey.  Sarah blogs at
www.thereadingzone.wordpress.com and can be found on Twitter
@thereadingzone.