Bringing Genius Hour to Your Library
Implementing a Schoolwide Passion Project Program
by Elizabeth Barrera Rush
November 2017, 163pp, 8 1/2 x 11
1 volume, Libraries Unlimited

Paperback: 978-1-4408-5652-5
$45, £35, 40€, A62
Please contact your preferred distributor for pricing.
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-5653-2
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“Genius Hour.” “Passion Project.” “20% Time.” Use this book to transform these common buzz-word terms into effective learning programs at your school or library.

This unique book presents a practical and realistic approach to implementing a school-wide, K–12 Genius Hour program—one that can succeed regardless of budgetary and infrastructure constraints.

Genius Hour is a movement in which students are allowed to spend a portion of their in-school time learning about a topic of their choosing—even subjects outside of the curriculum. When properly implemented, a Genius Hour program can create true passion for learning among unmotivated students, ignite interest in STEM as well as the arts, encourage collaboration, improve the relationship between educator and students, and help prepare students for real life outside of the educational system. But revamping a school library program to offer a Genius Hour program may seem like an insurmountable task—especially when working with a limited staff or budget.

This book provides specific direction and concrete advice that enables school librarians to lead a school-wide program for all grade levels, from kindergarten to 12th grade. It explains why Genius Hour is the perfect program complement to the learning commons environment; presents research and support that will empower librarians to make a convincing case to administration; explains how to enlist the participation of faculty; and provides step-by-step guidance to begin, successfully manage, and grow a campus-wide Genius Hour. Librarians will see why investing in “creative teaching” is worth the effort, despite their limited time and resources; understand how to help underperforming students make their distractions “count” in school; and look forward to playing a part in creating imaginative and independent thinkers, not test takers.


  • Provides a clear plan for implementing a school-wide genius hour program that can create a fluid learning and teaching experience for both students and librarians
  • Offers an education program that matches the goals or mission of a venue such as a learning commons environment
  • Delineates how a school librarian can fulfill a position of leadership in the school to implement a school-wide vision
  • Written with sensitivity to and knowledge of the issues that surround both public and private schools—for example, varying budgets, degrees of technology adoption, and community support
Elizabeth Barrera Rush is a library specialist for Northside Independent School District in San Antonio, TX, providing support and training for elementary and secondary librarians district-wide. She obtained a master's of science in Information Studies from the University of Texas at Austin and a bachelor's of Business Administration from St. Mary's University, San Antonio, TX. Rush has served as a consultant for the National Assessment of Educational Progress in Writing, is a member of the Texas Library Association (TXLA) and the American Library Association (ALA), and she received the Spectrum Scholarship in Entrepreneurship from both the ALA and the TXLA. Her published work includes the article "Genius Hour in Your Library" in Teacher Librarian as well as "Genius Hour and Stone Soup" in School Library Connection. Her 20-year tenure as a librarian began at St. Luke Catholic, a private, parochial Pre-K–8 school, then continued at the San Antonio Public Library and Nichols Elementary School, Northside Independent School District.


"Rush offers valuable information on proposing Genius Hour to school leadership and getting buy-in from key members of the faculty, along with realistic and helpful caveats that individual circumstances may vary. . . . This title emanates can-do spirit and a willingness to think big."—School Library Journal, April 2, 2018

"This guide takes the reader step by step through the process, covering topics like proposals to principals, teachers, and PTAs; incorporating curriculum standards; introducing genius hour to students; researching topics, skill lessons, and presentations. . . . . [T]he author stresses that students come up with the topics they are passionate about, which would be different from person to person. Overall, this book gives the reader a firm ground to start their own genius hour project. Recommended."—School Library Connection, May 1, 2018

"The writing tone is practical, and the layout has a how-to feel. . . . [L]ibrarians who like Rush’s approach will find her process easy to apply."—Booklist Online, May 10, 2018
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