I consider my number one priority as a librarian to acquire awesome books and help our students find books that they will love or find interesting. Many in the profession call this readers advisory. There are so many forms this can take from book trailers, book talks, personality quizzes (see my post about genre personalities here), having one on one conversations, and today I am sharing one of my favorite readers advisory activities: speed dating with a book!
What is speed dating with a book?
Students spend 3-5 minutes with a book of their choosing and rate the books they 'date' on their attractiveness, personality, and comprehension/compatibility. There are different variations on this activity all around the internet nowadays so feel free to do some Googling for different ideas.
You could hear a pin drop they were so engaged in their 'dates!'
Setting the Stage to Engage
I set out a variety of high interest books from different genres on 7 -8 different tables with 4 chairs each. My list changes each time I do this activity because new books come out and I get to know the students and their interests more. The number of books stays about the same as I want to have enough for students to choose from. With 6 books per table and 7 or 8 tables, plan to have 42-48 books on hand.
Find the table images I created for table signs here.
I like to go extra when decorating so of course I had tablecloths and decor on all the tables. There is a cheap option on Amazon for a pack of white tablecloths. The decor I have collected over the years, but since it is Valentine's Day, there are always good deals at Michaels, Target Dollar Spot, or Hobby Lobby.
One other thing I do is softly play cheesy love music in the background as a timer for each date round. Besides the books, this is what our teachers and students love the most! Check out the Spotify playlist I made just for them here.
How Do I Choose Books?
Choosing books depends on the age group that is coming in and the personality of the students I know are visiting the library. This honestly gets into a deep discussion about readers advisory, but I work with our Student Library Advisory Board throughout the year to know what books our students are loving along with circulation stats and new releases. I also read (A LOT) and generally know the books. This year, I tried something new by picking books based on their 'personalities' rather than just their genres. This has been a huge hit with the students!
The biggest consideration for me in choosing books beyond this is whether we have the digital version of the book on Sora-OverDrive so students can check the book out immediately. That instant gratification is crucial with our reluctant readers and OverDrive makes that possible while also helping me maintain organization for two weeks of speed dating.