Hosting a Successful “Blind Date with a Book!” Event

Every year at my school we have “Literacy Week”, where all five days (or four, as it is this year) are devoted to fostering a love of reading in students. My favorite event of this year’s Literacy Week has to be “Blind Date with a Book”, because the kids love it and the adults get a kick out of it!

Step 1:

Choose several books (more than you think you need) for each grade level that your school serves.

I work at a K-6 institution, so I had a K-2, 3, and 4 and up category. Choose books that aren’t new and that aren’t circulated much– get some oldies off the shelves! Don’t choose books that are popular (Harry Potter, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, etc.) because you’ll regret it when people ask for them and they are all wrapped up!

Step 2:

Create a spreadsheet.

Using whatever program you typically use to make spreadsheets (Numbers, Excel, Google, etc.) create one that has one column for the number of the book, one column for the title, one column for the title, and one column to input a student name. This way you can keep track of the books when they are wrapped and which students took them out on a “date.”

Step 3:

Wrap them up!

I used brown wrapping paper traditionally used for wrapping packages to be mailed. There is no way that kids can see through them, and it’s cheap!

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Since our event was during Valentine’s week, I also decorated with heart tape.

Step 4:

Give some clues!

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I chose three clues to put on each book, as well as the appropriate grade level. Of course, you will have vastly different reading levels even in just one grade, but these are guidelines. You can steer other students in the appropriate direction if you know their own personal level.

Make the clues interesting, but don’t give too much away!

(And make sure you indicate the number of the book on the wrapping, and that it matches your spreadsheet!)

Step 5:

Make them commit.

Now it’s time for your kiddos to choose a book! Let them browse the selection and when they’ve decided, let them open (or open yourself) their selection. Indicate which child has which book on your spreadsheet!

The only reason that I allowed a child to not give a book at least 30 pages (for a chapter book) or 5 pages (for a picture book) is if they had read it already. Otherwise, I required them to commit to a certain number of pages of their selection. I explained that wrapping the books takes time and resources and that it is important to give something a decent try. If they really did not like the book after the required try, they were allowed to return it.

Step 6:

Get feedback!

After your students have either finished the book or read the required number of pages, get their feedback!

I created a small response sheet for students to indicate whether or not they would “take the book out again.” I displayed some of the first responses in the library.

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Name, grade, title and author, and whether or not they would “take the book out again” (did they like it or not?) are the fields I had on the response sheets. I had one category for Yes responses (Hot Date) and No responses (Total Flop).

My kids had a ball with this event this year, and I encourage you to do this in your own library or classroom!

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Four 2015 Award Winners!

Yesterday the American Library Association (ALA) announced several award winners for 2015. Here are the highlights:

Newbery Medal: 

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

A novel in verse about two twin boys in junior high, the sons of a former pro-basketball player and basketball players themselves, who start to grow up and apart.

Caldecott Medal:

The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend written and illustrated by Dan Santat

An imaginary friend journeys to the city from an island to find the child to whom he is meant to be matched.

Coretta Scott King Award (Author):

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

African-American author writes about her experiences as a young Black woman in the 60s and 70s through poems.

Printz Award:

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Twins Noah and Jude each tell half of the story as they grow up and fall in love.