The stars of St. Rose

Guest Blogger
Apr 12, 2013
We’d like to welcome Alice Ozma to the blog! Alice is National Manager of Reading Programs and Events, Scholastic Book Fairs, and she has a story to share with us about booktalks. What’s a booktalk, you ask? Read and find out! I think almost all kids dream of seeing themselves on the big screen someday. But recently, students at St. Rose of Lima School in Haddon Heights, NJ got to see themselves on a small screen. And now, the whole country can watch them too. A few months back, our Scholastic Book Fairs marketing team suggested putting QR codes on bookshelves at the fair that would link shoppers to videos with more information on our company and products. We wanted students and parents to be able to access this content using their smartphones and tablets. Much of my job focuses on booktalks – two to three minute presentations that students give on books they’ve read, loved, and want to share. Naturally, I thought booktalks would be a great fit to attract attention to a few new titles being featured this spring, but we had a tight deadline for producing them. One of my colleagues suggested a school in New Jersey and I met with the students to ask them to not only read their books but craft and memorize their booktalks in just three short weeks – including the Thanksgiving holiday. I’ll admit, as I left the school, I was nervous. Was this too much to ask? Could it even be done? But these students never even considered it a challenge. On filming day, they arrived with some truly amazing writing and delivered their booktalks with gusto, despite the bright lights, awkward sound equipment and intense filming schedule. They knew that not every booktalk filmed would be used, so they did it for the pure love of reading, writing, and performing. In these, and more, they excelled. Although shelf-talker QR codes aren’t yet available on all Scholastic Book Fairs, we gave the St. Rose booktalkers a sneak peek during a special unveiling party. What an unveiling it was! The students could hardly contain their excitement at seeing themselves, or their classmates, on the fair. From the moment they entered the room, they were running from case to case, smartphones in hand, high-fiving and hugging each other. One little girl was bubbling over with joy as she watched herself, wrapping her arms around her best friend and giggling as she hopped up and down, a few proud tears sliding down her cheeks. Older students high-fived over their favorite videos. If you have a Scholastic Book Fair coming up, you might just see her face smiling up at you from the screen of your phone. These students want to guide you through subjects from the Titanic to wrestling and fairy godmothers. They’ve devoured these books, they adore them, and if they have any say in it, you will too. “It’s kind of cool to think someone might read something just because I liked it,” one young man said, trying his best to answer earnestly but eventually breaking into a wide grin and beaming down at his own QR code. After passing out cupcakes and taking photos, we let the students run wild and lingered back with their teachers and parents. The conversation was much the same. But when it came down to it, it wasn’t the opportunity to see these students in schools nationwide that got the adults excited. It was what they’d done to get this attention. As one parent put it, “When’s the last time you heard of reading and writing making someone a star?” At St. Rose of Lima School, it’s just another day at the book fair. For more booktalks on the books you love, visit the Scholastic Book Fairs channel on School Tube!