Dating books in high school? What?
In looking for ways to celebrate Library Lover’s month in February, I decided to jump on the Book Speed Dating train. After surfing the web and stalking wonderful librarian blogs, I came up with many already tried-and-true components in support of this event; then I did some hard core recruiting of my most avid student and staff readers.
I would be remiss if I didn’t thank Tiffany Whitehead, aka The Mighty Little Librarian, Mrs. Kirr’s Genius Hour Blogspot, and mrsreaderpants for the book speed dating resources provided on their blogs.
The Definition and the Plan
Book Speed Dating, as a program, provides readers with multiple rounds of five minutes each to explore and read from a selection of books in a variety of genres. Two days each week, our students have 90-minute block classes. During these block days, the English Language Arts students have choice reading time so offering Book Speed Dating on these days seemed like a good match to me.
Additionally, I commandeered my student assistant, who was the most voracious reader of the bunch, to be my co-organizer. Kari and I shared a Google Doc and added all our online finds and ideas and after about two weeks, we completed our plan, promotions, and layout for Book Speed Dating 2014.
The Promotion and Layout
We made a variety of small and large posters and hung them in the English Hallways. Announcements littered the airwaves each week and curious students examined the display case outside the library. The buzz had begun. After a quick trip to the store to secure candy hearts, streamers, and red plastic table cloths, I recruited a crew of students to yank books and organize them by genre tables.
The timers were set, the genre tables organized, and the “rate your date” handouts were copied and ready. Finally, the students in English 9 came during their choice reading time, with an ID and a pencil in hand. After hearing the overview of how Book Speed Dating would roll, the students launched into the books at the sound of the browse buzzer. After locating a possible match, each student settled in to “get to know” their book for a four-minute read.
The Hold Shelf quickly filled as students explored genres that were new to them and took the time to revisit a few favorites. They nibbled on candy hearts that had been tucked under the cover of a well-loved copy of Hamlet. Scratch and sniff Snickers™ bookmarks adorned the pages of books that had been successfully matched to a reader. Round after round of speed dating yielded both rejected books as well as “the chosen” pick.
Reflections on a Good Day
Rarely do students send thank you notes or bolt to the circulation desk to check out a book! I felt as satisfied as if I had just finished a long awaited novel myself. The teachers were reading. The students were engaged in books and even if they abandoned a title, each had tried something new. “When are we doing this again, Mrs. Lackey?” Every chance I get!
Susie Lackey is a teacher/librarian at Arvada (CO) West High School.
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