Activities to Build Readers

Speed Booking

Extend readers’ exposure to a variety of books through activities like speed booking! Like speed dating, speed booking sets a time limit (5-7 minutes for each genre station) for participants to experience the new.

How it Works
Readers rotate through tables, each stacked with a different literary genre. Once these high-interest books are selected by teacher librarian and put in place (I use bins or milk crates with a cardboard insert in the bottoms to raise the books for easy browsing) , this is largely a student-driven activity, with the teacher and/or teacher-librarian acting as a facilitator and timekeeper. All books/genres to experience during the activity are student-selected, giving preference to those not read before.
Some Operational Tips
  • Emphasis is on reading for pleasure, not for an assignment. This is an activity for exploration; every student makes their own decision about the book they take or leave. Ideally, this would follow lessons on book selection that students have experienced previously.
  • The ambiance is important – depending on the season, a crackling Netflix fire & faux candles can help create a cozy space. Think of the warmest memories you have of reading and try to recreate some of that environment.
  • Teacher-librarian gathers the best books of each genre chooses in a range of reading levels – I often pull books from these broad genres: mystery, fantasy, realistic fiction, horror, historical fiction, nonfiction and graphic novels. You can also sort to highlight the subgenres, like breaking fantasy genre into dystopias and/or science fiction. You also may want to provide two tables full of genres in high demand. I double up fantasy and realistic fiction for my crowd.
  • Choice of books in each genre is equally important. Texts must be HIGH-INTEREST, EXCITING with appealing covers, including books that appeal to both boys and girls. Now may not the time to pull out old classics. Yes, they likely have incredible literary value but will be passed over in this fast-paced activity unless they are reprints with fresh covers.
  • Encourage students to make their own decisions about which genres to visit. This works better if students travel through the genres as individual readers, as the influence of peers may steer them away from their own choices. But you can whisper tips about good books as they make their way through the bins. I’ve found students to be more receptive than usual to the librarian and/or teacher suggestions during this activity.
  • At the end of each 6-7 minute round, students have the option of:

1. Keeping the book with them to check the book out from the library/classroom at the end of the period;
2. Putting books back in the genre bin;  
3. Or recording the title on a “Books on Deck” list in reader’s notebooks for future reading.
Actually, there’s always a 4th option – they can put the book on the “Changed my Mind” cart you can create with a simple sign.

  • To wrap-up, classes spend a couple of minutes sharing numbers of titles written in the on-deck lists for future reading, surprises students found in bins; recommendations for books students/teachers volunteer to share.
  • It’s a fun, fast-paced activity which is perfect for the beginning of the year or to spark excitement for reading during a period of doldrums.