Love is in the air! Hearts were fluttering with excitement and romance was everywhere yesterday as 7th and 8th graders met in the library for a very unusual book club. At this time of year, many students can feel overwhelmed by schoolwork and uninspired by independent reading. The weather is bleak, the midterms are rough, and the number of library books checked out is at an all-time low. To get middle schoolers excited about reading at this time of year takes something extra special. Enter Blind Date with a Book – a book club with a creative twist.
Last month during Monday Meeting I announced the quirky and unusual book club using this video. This book club was out of the ordinary because there was no set book to read – students didn’t have to purchase anything, come prepared to discuss, or sneak any spark notes. Instead, Blind Date with a Book put them in the drivers seat by letting them choose a book that they loved to share with friends. The catch? To make it a true “blind date”, their book had to be a complete mystery – meaning the front and back covers and spine had to be completely covered.
That’s the only rule – the identity of your book has to remain a secret. Everything else is up to them. Over the next month, the library became a decorating zone for students during their lunch, break, and study hall time. Some used wrapping paper, others used notebook paper. Some printed pictures, while others chose text or hand-drawn illustrations. Some got crafty with ribbons and crayons while others stuck to simple, meaningful designs and quotations. As the pile of Blind Date books on my desk grew taller, I got even more excited for the event – each book was unique and meaningful to the reader that chose to share it, and their decorations reflected that.
Just after Valentines Day, we met in the library for a Blind Date with a Book Speed Dating Session. The name may sound stressful, but our time together was relaxed, low-key, and fun. Each student put their book on display to be browsed by other participants. The selection was rounded out by books shared by teachers, so there was a wide variety. The group spent time perusing all of the different book covers, munching on pizza, and talking about the best books they have read recently. I loved getting this one-on-one time with some of my oldest, most experienced readers – their schedules are so busy that I don’t get to see them very often, so this was a special lunch to get to share.
After looking through the selection, each reader chose at least one book that interested them and we got to the most exciting part – unwrapping the books to discover the tiles hiding inside! Some students left with books that they would never have expected to be drawn to – others were delighted to find titles that they had been excited to read. It was so much fun to watch their faces as they ripped away the wrapping on their novels. It was like Christmas morning watching their expressions and seeing them celebrate!
After countless requests from this year’s 6th grade class, it looks like Blind Date with a Book will become an annual Valentines Day event at St. Anne’s-Belfield School. I can’t wait to see how this creative event grows and changes over the years. Take a look at a sampling of the custom-made book covers below. And happy late Valentines Day, book lovers!