This year the @THSReadRev has been connecting student readers to authors through Skype. These connections have been made possible through the promotion of our student readers on Twitter. If you haven’t witnessed this positive social media movement, please follow us on Twitter IMMEDIATELY – also, search the hashtags #ireadths, #readitforward, and #thssummershelfie (to name a few). You can also look into the teachers that contribute to the @THSReadRev – @THSteacher, @MrsMagazineTHS, @MrsJalowiec, and @mccaffths.
By connecting students to authors directly, we do many things for them. First, it creates a buzz about a book. It becomes something that students flock to read. It increases the circulation rates in our libraries, it connects readers to each other, and it encourages conversation. When you take it to the next level and try to bridge the gap that exists between reader and writer, well… the skypes the limit!
So far we have done 3 group Skype sessions with 3 different authors.
As it was our first, it featured 10 students and 5 teachers. It was great to hear her interact with our readers and answer their burning questions. Kimberly did a great job relating to the students and talked about her motivation as a writer and what helped her come up with the ideas for her characters and books.
Our next author Skype was with Andrew Smith. His books have come to define our year. In the picture below you can see we have all become best friends:
I say this because we are such friends – he has forever influenced the readers of the @THSReadRev for the 2015-2016 school year. I can not imagine what our reading culture would look like without his books. One of his titles comes up every week. He also goes to amazing lengths to make his readers feel important. See below:
Our session with Andrew was widely attended and featured discussion about his motivation and decisions as a writer. The students in the session had all read at least one of his books, so the discussions were less about plot choices and were more closely connected to how a character is created. For example: Did you know that Andrew was a 14 year old Junior in High School just like Ryan Dean? Did you know that Grasshopper Jungle was not a book he planned to publish? We had multiple students walk out of this session saying they couldn’t wait to write…
That is what is special about connecting with an author: STUDENTS DIDN’T JUST WANT TO READ MORE – THEY WANTED TO WRITE MORE!!
Our most recent Skype was with Nicola Yoon – author of the novel Everything, Everything. As my colleague Kristin Magazine always says, “I am jealous of you if you haven’t read this book.” The Everything, Everything frenzy of 2016 was amazing to watch. Our library couldn’t order the books fast enough. Students were trying to take the books out of the boxes before Media Specialists could even get barcodes on them. It was amazing!
This book was frequently read by our students in less than a day. I even had one girl read it in a school day, sneak reading during all her classes – we call these students our ReadRev Reading Renegades.
This Skype session was another big one for us. Nicola was naturally good at connecting with our students. It is clear she is a natural storyteller. She brought us through tales of her early days as a reader to why she called her first book “Everything, Everything.” So you know, she discovered Harlequin Romance novels at the age of 8 as she was hiding from a tree that reminded her of the movie Poltergeist and the title of her book came from shared moments with her husband…
“What do you want for dinner?”
Super cute right?! She even called herself a “romance goober.”
In the end, when readers see writers as human beings they grow to appreciate reading more. Skype is just one tool we use, but it has been a powerful one. When authors like Nicola Yoon explain that her motivations to write about her main character comes from her fears as a mother – it means so much more coming from her!
So reach out to authors – ask them to talk to your students and you will see why:
THE SKYPES THE LIMIT!