I’ve been seeing this promotion in Media Centers around our district lately. Its a fun play on Valentine’s Day and the kids and the teachers have been having a BLAST with it. The table is filled with books, selected by the Media Specialist, wrapped in paper. The kids select a book, without any information than the size and shape of the book. Everything else about the book is concealed by the wrapping paper. You get what you get. They check out the book, presumably read the book, and return.
This is a fantastic way to help some of our voracious readers expand their horizons and possibly read something they would not have selected otherwise. The students in each of the schools where I’ve seen this have been lining up to choose a book. And they have willingly checked out the book they’ve gotten. The excitement has been palpable and infectious. I wanted to choose a blind-date book myself!!
I don’t want to rain on this parade, but I have some concerns for many of our young readers. Young readers are notorious for choosing and then abandoning books. I have shocked many a class by talking about the few books that I have EVER abandoned as a reader and the process that I have undertaken in that abandonment. And I have spent many hours helping students understand how to go about choosing a book that truly fits them (beyond the “just right reading level” notion). When readers make informed decisions about books, they are more likely to stick with books. They are more likely to gain something from reading that book. And they are more likely to become more powerful readers as a result of that experience. When students make ill-informed choices or poorly suited choices, they become serial book abandoners. They reinforce quitting. This is NOT a habit that I want to support and sustain in the children that I teach.
So while the Blind Date with a Book promotion is fantastic in terms of the energy level, the excitement, and the fun, like all other fun events in schools, it has the danger of an unintended message — that how we choose books is unimportant. And it is always the unintended consequences that are the most dangerous — because they blind-side us. So, I’m participating in the Blind Date with a Book, and I’m enjoying the excitement and the fun. But I’m also remembering to keep my eye open for those students who hear that unintended message. So that I’m ready to correct the mis-interpretation and help them to enjoy the Blind Date experience too.