Reaching Readers Through Video Book Talks

This blog post was contributed by: Jill DeFarno, elementary school librarian

One of the challenges I have in my school library is talking to all students about books and getting them excited about reading.  Due to my flexible schedule I don’t see all students on a regular basis.  Although I do lessons with all classes throughout the year, it is based on topics they are working on and so it may be awhile between lessons.  If I have a lesson that I do with all grade levels it’s on one topic such as the book fair.  In addition, it seems as if fewer students are coming to the LMC to check out books.  The times where students have come in the past is now used in the makerspace area or online with a variety of personalized reading websites.  And although I see the value of both the makerspace time and personalized instruction I don’t want books to be forgotten.  I also value the teacher’s time and know that sometimes it’s hard to find time to schedule a library lesson or book checkout time into their schedule.  

Last winter I started to think about how to make students and staff aware and interested of the different books we have in the library.  What would be the best way to reach them?  After thinking about it, I decided that video was the way to address this challenge. I would record myself talking about books, post them on YouTube, and send the link out to the staff and families.  This way my message can reach all students and teachers can play it at their convenience.   My first book talk was to promote new makerspace books I’d purchased with a grant.  Incorporating a green screen (actually green bulletin board paper) and WeVideo I created my book talk and uploaded it to Google Drive.  By the end of the year I made seven more.  I invited other teachers to join me to talk about a variety of topics.  After each book talk I put the books mentioned in a prominent spot in the library.  

It’s been great to see the students stop by to check them out.   I’ve gotten positive feedback from students and staff about the talks and suggestions on what to do next and staff who want to be included. On a board in my office I have a list of potential topics.  So far this year I’ve done three talks.  My newest topic was You Choose Books.  Click this link to watch it https://youtu.be/UtVJLbSD904.  You can also see my previous videos on my YouTube channel.  If you are having the same challenge that I am, I encourage you to give this a try.  If you’re not comfortable talking in front of the camera just record your voice holding up a book.  If you don’t have time or want to incorporate a green screen just do it from a favorite reading spot in your library or at home.  I’ve found it’s a great way to share my love of books with the stakeholders in my school.     

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Selfies and Sneak Attacks

Contributed by Rhonda Jenkins, elementary librarian

Something that I love doing is taking pictures of my students in action in the library. I catch them reading alone, with others, or just having a fun time in the library. Most of the photos I take are “sneak attacks,” so I can catch them unprepared instead of posing. When I come across a particularly precious moment, I’ll forward it to their parents in an email with a subject of “Today in the LMC.” Parents respond with a huge thank you! I try to send photos to different families each month. I pick a Friday night to stay at work and flip through the photos and choose families to send them out to.

This year I also added a selfie-station in the LMC. It’s a counter-mounted iPad with a Bluetooth clicker. It’s designed for students to take a picture of themselves with the books they check out. You can only imagine the selfies that I see: serious, goofy, extremely goofy, single shots, group shots, etc. I Tweet out the photos using #KendallReaders. Many times I’ll also include the author’s name in the Tweet. When the author responds, I share that Tweet with my students. They are very excited to know that the author of their favorite books “Like” the Tweets and respond!

Using “sneak-attacks” and selfies has been one more way for me to connect to the families that I serve, keep my students excited about reading, and model the types of connections students can make through digital platforms like Twitter.

Happy reading (and photographing!)