April 26, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Get On Board the Book Speed Dating Train | Programming for Teens

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 Fun

bookdating2 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

bookdating1Rarely 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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  1. Great idea for a special event!
    At my school we call it Speed Booking and we offer it anytime to all English classes, tailored to suit each one’s needs. Once we know class numbers, gender, and ability level, we put 12-15 books on each 4 seat table. We mix genres to give students a chance to sample something new, and give them a paper that asks for a comment and rating, and then set the online timer. The students examine one book per interval. If students need a refresh, the books, rather than the students, move, and we shift the books or add new ones to the tables as needed. It’s been a big hit here for the last couple of years and we taught it at our state conference.

  2. Michele Puleo says:

    I do book dating for my 8th graders at middle school level and use many of the same strategies already cited. One thing I do differently is to select a specific passage for students to read and mark it with Post It arrows. Students are amazed that they can skip to the middle of a book to “evaluate” it. I try to choose something dramatic that will really hook them. This is only the second year for book dating and because I use the marked passage approach, my list isn’t as extensive as I would like it to be. I do keep a spreadsheet of titles and the pg. #s of specific passages so when an arrow is displaced, I can quickly replace it.
    I do NOT use a timer as my passages are of varying lengths and my readers are of varying levels. Students are “supposed” to move to a new book when they finish rating a book, but frequently the student stays put and the books move as they are recommended from one student to another. Because I don’t group my books in any particular way, this is not a problem.
    If anyone else uses the “passage” approach with middle school appropriate titles, I would enjoy “swapping” to lengthen my list.

    • Barbara Letourneau says:

      I would love to use this idea….would you let me see your list and then let me swap after I come up with a list, Michele?

    • Sara Badiner says:

      I love the idea of selecting specific passages! I already do Speed Dating Books with my students, but hadn’t thought of the “marked passage’ approach.
      Any chance you’d be willing to share which passages / books you use?

  3. Way to knock it out of the park Susie. You are amazing.
    Jeffco Librarians are rocking it!!!
    I want to modify this for elementary!
    Way to get those kids reading! I LOVE it!