Monday, October 19, 2015

Creating Book Hype for Middle Grade Readers

The biggest challenge I face as a modern day school librarian is getting older kids excited enough about a book to turn off the tv and put down the electronics for a good read.

With younger kids and beginner readers it’s easy: Read them a funny story, maybe about a farting dog or an unrelenting  pigeon who won’t shut up about driving a bus, then point them in the direction of a shelf full of books at their reading level and they're hooked.

Older kids require a bit more motivation.

So the question is: How do I light a spark of book interest in them?
Answer: Roll out the projector, pull down the screen.

I like to use something they love (YouTube) to introduce something they don’t yet realize they love (reading) by showing them book trailers or short interviews with the authors and the results are usually the same: eighty percent of the class wants to read the book I’ve shared.

It’s like kryptonite against their reluctance to reading.

Last year when the Newbery award and honors were announced the kids were so excited to get theirs hands on the books that by the end of the week I had a list for each of the three titles with no less than 75 students waiting. I’m not exaggerating.

The first step in my make-the-kids-fall-in-love-with-these-three-books-plan was to display them and share my own thoughts of the stories. Now, I was fortunate and able to read all three of the books before sharing them with the students…but even if I hadn’t read them I could’ve looked over reviews from other people on Amazon or Goodreads (among many other sites) and shared those with the students.

Then I told them they couldn’t check them out until the following week. (that really made them want to check them out)

Most of the kids who were excited to read these books never would’ve even know they existed if I hadn’t exposed them to the books by talking about the stories and showing the videos of the authors and book trailers.

For Newbery honor El Deafo by Cece Bell I just talked about my own thoughts on the story and flipped through the book showing them a handful of pages (it’s a graphic novel, which is a genre that really appeals to a lot of kids right now) It's a non-fiction memoir about how the author became deaf after having meningitis at four years old. Later on she wore a special hearing aid to school that allowed her to hear her teacher no matter wear the teacher was in the school the the teacher's lounge...even in the bathroom! (yuck!) Anyway-the kids think that's hilarious and they want to read all about it!

For Newbery honor Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson I shared my thoughts, but also this YouTube clip.

And for Newbery winner The Crossover by Kwame Alexander I shared my thoughts, his picture book, Acoustic Rooster (which I read to all the classes at the beginning of the school year with the Michigan Reads Program material-so that was cool) and also this YouTube clip.

Question: How many of you want to read one of these books now?

-Mrs. Hunt

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