What happens when you want to offer teachers a book study experience, but you do not have the time to meet or the money to purchase books for everyone? You start a book relay!I first learned of this idea from Lena Darney, a librarian in Indiana, but didn’t have a name for it. She could only purchase one copy of my book, Literacy Coaching: Transforming Teaching and Learning Through Digital Tools and Technology, so each coach read the book and passed it along to another one. They chose a particular color of sticky notes and left them in the pages of the book for the next coach to read. Once all 5 coaches had finished the book, they met in person to discuss the content. 

Then, I connected with Jill Davidson, a literacy coordinator in Canada who purposefully uses this same idea to connect her teachers across her expansive district geography.

Here’s how it works:
  • Teachers are grouped into teams of 5-6 and the relay works very much like a chain letter.
  • Each member of the team receives a different book and has 4-6 weeks to read it (depending on the number of participants).
  • As teachers read, they are encouraged to share their thinking with the next reader on a few post-its.
  • When finished, teachers send the book to the next person on the list.
  • Teachers receive a new book from a fellow colleague and the cycle continues until everyone in the group has read all of the books (5-6 depending on the number of participants).
  • At the end, teachers receive the book they started with along with the post-its from all of the other readers in your group. Teachers celebrate the completion of the replay with a group session to discuss the books together.
The book relay is an innovative way to bring teachers together around books, books they can they share with their students. Not only can teachers connect with new readers across the district, they can learn from each other’s thinking as each reader contributes their own sticky notes to the pages. 

While this book replay began within a single district, there are tremendous possibilities for creating book replays across districts, communities and even states and countries for both teachers and classrooms of students. 

Who is up for trying a professional book relay together?
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  1. I love this idea and plan to share it with colleagues :) Also interested in joining in if others want to do this.


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