At the beginning of the year I was asked by two eighth grade language arts/English teachers to work with their students twice a month by promoting books (mini book talks), help find new books they might not have thought of, and provide the opportunity for their own critique of a book. This is both fun and challenging.
Talking about books is not a problem. I can do that all day.
Providing ideas for new books is in the bag. I have a promotion I do where I only give the students a brief synopsis of a book. They do not get to know the author or see the cover. If they like what they hear they can check it out and then see the actual book. Once they do, they have to give it at least one week, if they don’t like it at the end of the week they can return but they have to give me or their teacher a detailed reason why they did not like the book in the end. They can write it in their reading response journal. We call this the don’t judge a book by its cover promotion.
So my real problem was getting them to recommend books. They already have a response journal and they have to write papers about their books. How was I going to get them to participate in recommending books to their classmates. Here are some ideas I had:
1) Write a brief summary but also have the cast the book as if it was being made into a movie. They have to sell this book to the public: what’s the hook; what would their posters look like; maybe the more ambitious ones make a trailer.
2) Create an infographic about the book
3) Draw a cartoon about the book
4) Select a character from the book and write reasons why you would be friends with this person and why you wouldn’t.
Those are just some ideas, however, getting the students to open up is still a challenge. Some are more than willing to talk for hours about a book, while others clam up and never even look you in the eye. However, there is one thing that these types of students have in common. Social networking.
So why not bring social networking into the equation. Classrooms and schools have really embraced social networking in all areas of the learning environment. And one of the best social sites for librarians is (can you guess from the title of this post?).
Now I love GoodReads. I have been able to see what my former co-workers are reading, what some of my friends are waiting to get their hands on; what some former students are recommending to me; and I get to see what strangers are thinking. I have discovered so many new authors and learned about new books from GoodReads that I feel this is the perfect site for students to use to express themselves as well as learn about books they never would have thought of trying. My GoodReads campaign has been embraced by my fellow teachers and the administration is happy with this also. However it was the reaction by the students that was surprise. They loved it and have come up to me countless times to ask if I have a certain book that they learned about from GoodReads. I might not have gotten all of the students involved, but the ones I did, I love it.