Saturday, May 22, 2010

Clearly, the best part of summer

I have officially(ish) launched the Summer Reading program. The video below played at morning assembly yesterday (without sound, which I'm trying very hard not to be bothered by, but being largely unsuccessful; I have, however, made it a solid three days without crying at work, and I'm not willing to break that streak quite yet).

I'm really excited about the Summer Reading program this year, for a few reasons. The main reason is because I'm a big nerd, which probably goes without saying (as I start to wrap things up in the library for the end of the year, I've started a shelf of my own summer reading, which has now grown beyond any sort of realistic expectations. But I will probably still add to it).

The other big reason I'm excited is because of how the Summer Reading program is changing and growing. I've been lucky in that the English department chair here not only humors all of my ideas, but encourages them. My first year here we re-did the Summer Reading list in order to fill it completely with high-interest young adult titles; now, when I work on the list I'm able to fill it with the best things I've read over the past year (along with some older titles and suggestions from faculty); my summer reading often becomes a large part of the following year's Summer Reading list.

This year we're changing it even more. When Reading Rainbow was canceled (which I found really upsetting, despite not knowing it was actually still on the air) I heard someone on NPR talking about the difference between Sesame Street and Reading Rainbow; Sesame Street was about how to read, while Reading Rainbow was about why to read. That really resonated with me, and I started thinking about how a Summer Reading program is the why to the regular school year's how; so I went to the English department with an idea about how we could change how Summer Reading is assessed. This year, instead of writing an essay, students will have several options, including writing a book talk, creating a book trailer, making a poster, or creating a work of art that reflects the book they read in some way. We pick the Summer Reading books because we want students to like them and be excited about the books and about reading; what better way to capitalize on that excitement?

The final reason I'm excited--and the thing my mother thinks I've spent too much time on, but I don't care--is the Summer Reading promotional. . . stuff. The past few years I've done recorded book talks with Audacity and posted them on the library wikispaces page. After seeing the success I had with the book trailers I created for the author visit in April, I decided I wanted to do more of them. Initially, my plan had been to create book trailers for all the books, but in the end it ended up being about half, because a) it's hard to think in images for all these books and b) there are only so many hours in a day, and I got started way too late. I did step up my game on the book talks, adding in music I found on Jamendo (which I am now completely in love with, by the way). I would like to learn more about video creation and editing, so I could make some non-Animoto trailers, but that's a project for another day.

The whole list and all the book talks and trailers are here, should you care to humor me and check some of them out: Summer Reading 2010

There are a couple book trailers I want to highlight, because they're for two of my favorite books on the list, and I'm really happy with how they came out.

Going Bovine by Libba Bray

If I Stay by Gayle Forman


  1. Bovine has been on my to-read list for months, and you know how much I loved loved loved If I Stay. Awesome trailers!

  2. Wow...Going Bovine sounds amazing. I mean, what's better than a book that somehow finds a way to bring viking lawn gnomes and mad cow disease together?

  3. Thanks! I'm so glad you liked them. I loved both the books, and wanted to make sure I did them justice.

  4. Great video - wow!! And I'd be happy if I had those books to choose from for summer reading! :)