We did 3 book exchanges last year and have done 2 so far this year as part of our reading program. We send a note home about 2 weeks before the event to announce the date and time and give the "rules" for participating.
The students bring gently used books and exchange them one for one. We set a limit of 5, but note that if someone would like to send an extra book or books for students who want to participate and don't have a book to exchange it would be wonderful.
We have done our book exchanges two ways: In conjunction with a family night event and during school hours. The school hour exchanges allow more children to participate, but the family event exchanges also allow you to get the parents involved with an adult exchange.
For the family event exchange, we give the option of bringing the books in before the event or that evening. Having the books brought in before the event allows us to have a wider selection of books(and have them sorted) right from the beginning. To keep track of what has been brought in, we give each teacher a class roster sheet to mark the qty of books next to the child's name. We then pick up the rosters on the day of the event and simply mark the students off when they pick up their books that night.
For the in school exchange the kids simply bring their books with them that day.
We sort the books by age/reading level as much as possible to make it quicker and easier for the students to select a book.
We have purchased some bargain books from our book fairs and ordered supplies of bruised books from Scholastic to beef up the number of books we have, especially for the older kids since that's a section we are usually short on for books.
The exchanges are a great way to encourage reading throughout the year and are very easy to do.
I am curious, how would you handle the situation if a student has brought in books, and can't find any books that they'd like in return? Especially if the books that they brought in, have been taken already by another child.
We've never had that happen since we have such a huge selection which includes many new books that we purchased as I described above, but I guess I would make them some kind of voucher for the next exchange or maybe give them a small gift certificate to our next book fair if it's not too far off. For the students who bring their books with them to the exchange I don't put the students books on the exchange table until they've made a selection just because I usually don't have time right then. So you could eliminate the portion of the event where they bring books in beforehand if the situation you described is a big concern.
Do you charge to enter the swap or just ask them to bring books to swap? I have been researching ideas to get more parent involvement at our school and thought a book swap would be a great idea but wasn't sure exactly how to run it. Thanks for any input