Create a Buzz with a Book Raffle

Donalyn Miller and Susan Kelley, in their new book Reading in the Wild (Jossey-Bass, 2014), offer a variety of great ideas to encourage students to be life long readers. One idea I tried this week with 5th graders was hosting a book raffle.

I was asked by one of my 5th grade teachers to share some titles I enjoyed when I taught this same grade seven years ago. Below is my list of books that I “blessed”. The students used Donalyn’s template for recording the books they wanted to read.

Reprinted with permission from Donalyn Miller.

After I shared a short recommendation for each book, students could put a red ticket with their name on it in that book’s cup. This would enter them into a drawing to read that book first. If they were not picked for a book they really wanted, they could still use their list they created to check it out later. All of these titles came from our school library.


Once all the books were claimed, I led the dozen or so 5th graders down to the library on the first floor to check them out.


Without book talks, I suspect that several excellent titles would sit on their respective shelves in school libraries. This idea from Donalyn Miller and Susan Kelley helps kids become more aware of great books and authors that deserve more attention. Both students and adults can get into reading ruts without the support of a community of readers.

Author: Matt Renwick

Matt Renwick is an 18-year public educator who began as a 5th and 6th-grade teacher in Rudolph, WI. He now serves as an elementary principal for the Mineral Point Unified School District ( Matt also teaches online graduate courses in curriculum design and instructional leadership for the University of Wisconsin-Superior. He tweets @ReadByExample and writes for ASCD ( and Lead Literacy (

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