​Speed Dating With a Book at the Limestone Middle School

By Tricia Coffman, Book Fair Chairperson at Limestone Middle School in Kankakee, IL
Speed dating with a bookI have to be honest; I didn’t come up with the idea of speed dating with a book on my own. I had heard of it online and through websites. We tried it back in February with 5-8 graders and they loved it. It also got a lot of books moving in the library.
So when it was time for the Book Fair I was racking my brain trying to think of ways to get 7th and 8th graders motivated to even look at the books on the racks. I decided to try the speed dating activity because they did have so much fun with it.
Last year they got 45 minutes to come to the book fair. They walked around aimlessly for five minutes and then sat down and got themselves in trouble. I needed something for them to do when they came in this year that would be fun and get them looking at the books.
So this year, we set up a large circle of chairs and put random books from the carts on each chair. Some were love stories, some were war stories, etc. As each class came in, they took a chair, wish list, and a pencil. I played some goofy music and we were off.
When the music turned off they sat down. They then read for 1 minute. They could read any part of the book (cover, summary, first page, back, etc.). If they were interested in the book, they wrote it on their wish list. If not, they moved on to the next one.
We did about 5 rounds before we went and shopped. I had all my 8th graders (120 students) come on Tuesdays and all my 7th graders (120 students) come on Wednesdays. So for two days, six periods each, we did the speed dating activity. Many students began talking about the books and writing them down.
When the activity was done, my library clerk Debbie and I showed them the book trailers on tablets. They absolutely loved Shadow House – that title was probably one of the top. The Darkest Hour, War Dogs, Lost in the Pacific, The Making of a Navy Seal, The Lightning Queen, and Red Queen were some of the more popular titles among the 7th and 8th grades.
I didn’t do this activity with my 5th and 6th graders because they came at the same time and there just wasn’t enough room to do them all. Next year I will do it with everyone. The students and the adults in the room had a lot of fun. That’s what I loved. We were all enjoying our time with the books.