So, last month was my first big project as a fake “librarian” in my school. Since I’m doing my practicum this semester, I’m doing different activities in my library to get hours and to get practice as a librarian. My first big project/display was a “Blind Date with a Book” display for the month of February and it was a much bigger success than I expected! Woo-hoo!
Today’s blog is going to recap what I did to set-up the Blind Date display, how I monitored it, and some of the key takeaways. That way, if you’re an aspiring librarian you can get some suggestions for how to do this in your library! Let’s get rockin’!
First of all, I’m a firm believer in not reinventing the wheel. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the most creative person so I turned to TeachersPayTeachers to see if there were any resources on a Blind Date with a Book display. Turned out – there was! Mrs.ReaderPants on TPT has a whole resource for Blind Date with a Book that was perfect and took a lot of the prep work out of my hands. I printed her “how to” signs and a poster advertising the Blind Date project and got started.
I knew that I wanted to pick books that weren’t typically checked out of the library (aka no Diary of a Wimpy Kid) to try and get kids hooked on books that I knew to be great but that weren’t perhaps getting the circulation they should. I also selected a variety of genres. I prepared my list ahead of time, checking our media center’s catalog to ensure that the book was available.
After school on the Friday before the Blind Date started, I took my materials to the library and got to work. I’m pretty sure I was the only person still in the building besides the custodians. That’s called dedication. I put each book in a brown paper lunch bag (I had contemplated actually wrapping them but decided that was too much effort – and I was right). Each book had a card stapled to it that told the genre, a little about the book, and the first line. I’d laminated the cards so they could be used more than once. That’s called smart.
I set up a table with the poster taped to the front and laid out all the bags of books. I also put out some pink “How did it go” cards for students to fill out after they read the book. At the end of the month, I’d draw winners from the completed cards.
And we were ready to go! The display started off slow but picked up speed. A lot of sixth graders participated because I talked about it all the time. A handful of seventh graders participated. Unfortunately, no eighth graders participated. I guess you can’t get everyone.
Over the course of the month, I replenished the Blind Date display with over fifty more books. I chose from every genre. I chose books I had never read but were award winners or were highly recommended. And, by about week 2, the “blind dates” were flying off the shelves. I don’t know if word was getting around about the gift card prize or if kids were really interested but I will take it!
At the end of the month, I drew two names from all the “How did it go” cards that were turned in. The first got a $25 gift card to Target and the second got a $15 card to Starbucks. The three students who read the most all got $10 gift cards. I had 35 students in total participate in the Blind Date project. Since I am not married and have no kids and live a pretty frugal lifestyle (don’t judge), I was able to also purchase pretty good books from Goodwill over the weekend and give each kid who participated a book to keep. Some of them were pretty stoked about that!
Overall, the Blind Date with a Book project was a success. I got some books circulating that normally don’t get checked out. Students who don’t usually read got involved. I think that when I do this as the actual librarian, I will be able to get more participation because I’ll be able to actually go into classrooms and talk it up, rather than relying solely on teachers.
And, yes, it was a lot of work on my end (in addition to my regular lesson planning, Marshall coursework and Mobile Adoptions work) but it was super duper worth it. It’s something I really enjoyed doing and I know that my enthusiasm for the activity proves I’m meant to be a media specialist.
This has been a long post so thank you for reading this long! I’ll leave you with a story from BDwAB that really made it worth it for me. I read each of the “How did it go” cards as they were turned in. One girl that I don’t teach but I know from bus holding had read The Selection and really liked it. Because I now knew that, I sought her out at lunch and asked her if she knew that it was book 1 in a trilogy. She didn’t but was super pumped to know there were more. Later in the day, I sent her my library copy of the book to read. Her teacher later shared with me that getting that book was her “Good Thing.” That, that, that is why I want to be a librarian. To get to know the students and encourage them to read and help them find books that interest them.
I hope I will be one soon.