Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Speed Booking

About every three weeks language arts classes come to the library to hear booktalks and check out books.  For each booktalk, I present six books that I think are excellent for the students' grade level.  While this program has been very successful and students report enjoying the booktalks, I felt I was barely exposing students to the abundance of great literature we have in our library.  Today we tried a new reading encouragement program with the sixth graders: speed booking.  The program, which is based on the principles of speed dating, is meant to introduce students to a wide array of books and get them excited about reading.

The set-up is so simple.  I pulled A LOT of books from our shelves that are appropriate for sixth grade.  I selected books that students might not notice, particularly non-fiction, and tried to focus on high interest titles.  I placed about 20 books in a pile on six tables.  Students in groups of four sat down at each table. They had two minutes to select a book from their pile and fill out a simple form.  I used Online Stopwatch to countdown the time; when the two minute timer went off, students had to get up, move to the next table clockwise, and start again. 

In just twelve minutes, every student had looked at over 100 books and given their opinions about six of them.  They then had the opportunity to discuss what they saw on the tables with their peers and check out anything that looked interesting.  The students really seemed to enjoy speed booking.  They were extremely well-behaved during the whole process and very interested in the books.  They loved having the opportunity to talk about what they saw with their friends after we were done.  Though no one was required to take a book, of the 21 students who came during the first class, 18 checked out a book from the tables before leaving the library.

The students have a file in their English class where they keep lists of books they might want to read.  They will place their speed reading forms there.

I will definitely continue using speed booking in addition to my regular booktalks.  It is a fun, easy method for energizing students around books and reading.  This program is very student-centered; my only involvement while they were here was to stop and start the stopwatch.  The only downside is that I will have to shelve a lot of books after the program is over, but I can live with that.


  1. Very cool idea. I will try this with my class in New Zealand.

  2. I found this in desperation mode this morning. Looking for a fun activity for Reading week. I tweaked it a little and used it for my 4th, 5th, and 6th graders. Thank you so much.

  3. We run an independent reading programme at my school and I think this would be a perfect introductory activity. Thank you.