Speed Dating for Book Lovahs!
I want to share with you a favorite book selection activity that the kids dig, is super silly and fun, creates a lot of excitement, and makes the books fly out of the library! I first blogged about this with you back in 2013, added a genre twist last year in 2016, and now I've added a video and a few new tweaks.
My kids love this lesson so much they even ask me in the hallway, “When are we going to do that again?” - so next year I'm going to try and run it both in the fall and in the spring.
With my middle school kids this activity is guaranteed to make them grin, giggle, and cringe a little...ok, a LOT. Give yourself permission to really ham it up. Because prepare yourselves, book lovahs, this is super cheezy!
All the resources, printables, graphics, and videos are FREE for you to take, use, & share because they're made using the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Set Up & Book Your Date
To get ready, I take a book cart around first the fiction area, grabbing armfuls of favorite, popular, and good looking books, grouping some by genre like my Teen, realistic novels, and Bluford High series.
Then I collect a passel of Manga, comic, and graphic novels, and finally I cruise around my non-fiction and add popular like Guinness World Records, DK, Cooking, and sports books. Lucky for me I also have a couple great kiddos who pitched in and selected some of their favorite books to add, too!
The trick to staging this activity is to create messy inviting piles of books on each table (by subject, genre, or type), leaving some some flat, some standing up, and just pile it up and add signage.
Hey Baby, Give me a Sign!
Next, I printed up some of the posters I designed last year when I blogged with my Californian librarian friend Mary @SEMSLibraryLady about Speed Dating by Book Genre. (Take them, they're FREE! - Wow, I seem to mention that a lot, don't I? But, Who doesn't love FREE?)
Super sports fan 7th grader Dominic, of course, chose all the Tim Green and Mike Lupica books to add to the sports table!
YouTube it for a Partial Flip!
Then, using the fun, silly, super cheezy script I wrote a couple years ago, I created a new iMovie with photos, music, and voice over to play for each class giving the directions.
Which I really needed because in the past 3 months I've had bronchitis twice and the days I was leading this activity, my voice was super croaky! (Yeah, that's part of why I've been a slacker about posting lately. But, I'm not apologizing for it, because life and bronchitis happens! So, not apologizing or making excuses! Reflective Blogging Tip #3)
Srsly, the video above saves your voice, time, is a partial flip addition, and it adds extra cheese to the lesson. Besides, let me make a fool of myself with the cheezy delivery and you can just sit back and roll your eyes with the kiddos. You're welcome! ;-)
Be Daring - Try a Blind Date!Laminate some butcher paper book covers with cuts out on the back for bar codes! I made just four. (Yeah, I'm lazy!) Choose a few books, write short provocative blurbs on oversized post-it notes and rubber band em up! (I deliberately chose books I had several of copies of that I hid on a cart- so that if they were checked out I didn't have to do all the work over again - pop in the next copy! Boom!
Now, set the time bomb timer (I start with 30 seconds) and go!
Switching a lot means that kiddos keep moving, talking, and it creates a sense of urgency. I tell the kiddos: "No sitting down - to find true book love, sometimes you have to be quick on your feet & ready to pounce on the right book! During the 3 or 4 activity rounds you can also play Love Boat Theme by Barry White.
Sort of like musical chairs, but with books! Encourage kids to try a new genre or type of book. Make suggestions! Let the cooperating ELA to Reading teacher wander around making suggestions or pointing out a "good lookin possibility!"
After a couple turns I'll call out that the first 6 kiddos checking out books will get a scratch and sniff bookmark and then they can go, put up their feet, read their new book and hang out in our READING LOVE LOUNGE. ("VIP: Space is limited - hurry kids!")
Not in the mood? Already got a date?
Baby, it's all good!
To the kiddos: "Don't want to check out a book today? Not in the mood? Already got a "date?" or reading a book? It's OK if you're already in a committed reading relationship - I don't want you to cheat on book you've already checked out! I'm not gonna to force you - I just want you to see what's out there! It's all good!" LOL
I'll then ask the cooperating teacher now to help out with the timer as I scoot over to the circ desk and check out the books. (Of course I do it myself! Esp, if I don't have a media asst there or a parent volunteer available- and most times, I don't [sad face]) The last round the kiddos can go anywhere in the library to find that "just right" book and then-- in the space of about 15 min almost every kid has a book & they're all smiles! W00t!
I hope you can give it a whirl! I know there are a LOT more ways to do this and some of my favorite teacher librarians do even more intricate dating and book set ups. But I'm kinda lazy! This is easy, fast, fun, cheezy, and effective.
I've seen other Librarians are doing book tastings and that's OK, too. But I like this because it's so cringeworthy, keeps kids moving, and I love seeing kids leaving with a book in hand that they may have never found on their own.
I'd love to hear how YOU do it, additions you would suggest, any changes or opinons in the comments!
Though I did try and link most of the parts while I was writing this, here's the nuts and bolts of what you'll need to run this activity as described. Feel free though to add your own flair!
Speed Dating by Book Genre: Personal Ads Collaborating with my friend Mary - where it's more about the Genre and it includes a Kahoot exit ticket game!steal and enjoy the posters!
My original Speed Dating with Books! post where I tried to do Vocaroo and it turned into a total fail in the long run! See the update to find out why.
Thank you so much for this amazing suggestion! This seems like a really fun activity that is adaptable for a lot of different age groups. In my school I used take my class to the library to choose a silent reading book for the term, but this seems like a far more engaging activity for finding a book! I could see the mystery date books being a fixture in the learning commons. We used to do that in the English department of my university too-- leave books wrapped with a brief description written on the paper for people to pick up if they were feeling adventurous. I also really appreciate that you included resources, what personally worked for you, and even explanatory videos! This is great.
Thank you so much for your comment, Ellen! W00t! I get so excited about a "real" comment from the hundreds of SPAM ones I get trying to sell me something. Means so much, really!Delete
Sorry it took me a while to get back to you - I kind of took the summer off from work because I found distance learning during COVID very exhausting. Rewarding, but it sure took a toll. Anyway, I'm back! LOVE the idea of mystery date books. Maybe I'll add a mystery book part of our Google Form for our Curbside Book Pick Up program!
Thanks again for your comment, Ellen! Reach out to me on Twitter or Instagram - would love to connect with you!
Thank you for this fantastic activity suggestion. I mentioned it to a TL friend of mine yesterday and she was very interested in learning more! Currently, I am taking a Teacher Librarian course and I found your site after doing a search for current teacher librarian blogs.
This activity answers my question of “how can we get middle school students more interested in the library collection?” I like that the books are literally put front and center for the students. I liked the blind date portion of the activity – how many times do we pick books solely based on the book cover? This also involves a bit of risk and reward in the activity. How many times are students surprised that they liked the book?
I also appreciate that in the activity, you give an “out” to those students who may not be interested in participating. I like that you tell them to give the book about 12 hours and 20 pages before giving up on it.
Using student volunteers to help with the selection of the books beforehand is a fantastic idea, do they assist you with the re-shelving? For this activity, how many books do you usually use?