Bookstore Field Trip Activites
1. The manager of Barnes & Noble agreed to explain how the best-seller list works for the store, since Barnes & Noble has their own version of a best-seller list. He discussed the differences between hardcover fiction books (and showed the students examples), trade paperback fiction, and mass market fiction. In no other retail industry can you order too much of a product and send it back to your supplier, he explained, as you can in the publishing world. He discussed how his store places orders, what they watch for in ways of new authors and books that are gaining in popularity. The layout of the store was described and he also presented the "hot and new" books in the teen fiction section of the store, briefly describing the plot of each title. To my shock and amazement, the students actually listened and seemed very interested in the manager's spiel. They even ask questions, and I was very proud of them, for the most part. However, I did cringe a little when one of my witty boys asked the manager, "so how much do you make reading books all day?". Nice.
2. After the manager enlightened us with how Barnes & Noble operates, we were lucky to have a resident author working in the store. This man worked in their distribution department, but was also a part-time author with a few published novels. He explained how "not everyone is a Stephen King or Stephenie Meyer" and that most published authors are NOT millionaires and usually have to have another profession to pay the bills. He explained how many years it took him to write his first book, and the lengthy and frustrating process involved in having a book published. I really wanted my students to understand that just because you write a book, doesn't mean it is guaranteed to be published. Hands were up all over the groups when the author asked for questions. Being the hopeful author that I am, I asked him a ton of questions, myself!
3. Students were beginning to get antsy after sitting through both speakers, so I gave them twenty minutes to go use the rest room and grab a frappacino or coffee from the coffee shop located inside the store. The group that was able to go in the morning before the actual store opened even learned the ins and outs from the barrista how to correctly order fancy coffee. I learned a lot during this mini-lesson as well! I had told the students in advance that they would be allowed to purchase coffee, books or gifts during our trip, so many of my students were jacked-up on sugary coffee beverages by the end of our stay. I'm sure the other 8th grade teachers were silently cursing me after I brought their students back to school, bouncing off of the walls! The coffee break was quite a treat, and made the rest of the trips' activities all the more enjoyable!
4. The Communications Director had a great idea to get the students up and moving around the store. (Be forewarned that I had several parent volunteers going on the trip with me for this portion of the adventure!) She created a scavenger hunt in which the students had to list the title and author of books in certain sections of the store. For example, she had questions like, "List the title and author of a book located in the Travel section. Pick a book that discusses a location you would like to visit someday." She even had questions that would bring the students to the Customer Service area, so that they would be familiar it. We gave the students pens and paired them up and let them loose. My parent volunteers and I roamed the store, making sure students were not being too loud or rowdy. The first pair finished received bookmarks, but I think next year I'm going to try to round-up a few gift-cards to the store for the winners.
5. To "bring down" the students before loading up on the bus, the Communications Director took the time to tell my students about the many reading clubs that meet during the month at Barnes & Noble. She also gave students a Barnes & Noble calendar that listed what activities and author signings were going on that month, and encouraged them to stop by and participate. I also had students ask how they could start their own teen reading club. (I was as proud as mother duck, watching her babies swim for the first time! Ha!) My students also inquired about the store hosting a release party for the sequel to The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins titled Catching Fire. It is scheduled to come out in September, but they were wanting to do something similar to the Harry Potter parties the store has had in the past. We might actually get to be "hosts" of such a party this September.