“I don’t know who writes the backs of the books, but they don’t do a very good job. It’s a bland plot synopsis with a few catchy words,” a student says. He is the same one that is quick to point out cliches, mentioning that the line, “My time hasn’t come yet,” that just about every action movie uses was actually stolen from Jesus.
“I know. I don’t really like books,” a struggling reader points out. “Why can’t they have those little movies that come on before the movies to show you what another movie is about.”
“Trailers?” I ask.
“No, in movie theaters.”
He has a point. If I could redesign the library, I would have a place where non-readers could get a sense of what books are like through short book trailers. Maybe this is a bad idea. The medium is the message, right? Except, I often choose a movie based upon a written review, so maybe this isn’t a bad idea.
Perhaps this is already being done somewhere. If not, it’s something that would work. Show the conflict, quote a few lines, make it interesting to the students. I’m not thinking of a video review, either. Not like Reading Rainbow. I’m thinking of a video that would captivate a student and get that child interested in a really good novel.
A day later, I mention to a student that I really like the radio show “This American Life.” To my surprise, this student has listened to the show (first time ever, considering the dominant station is the local hip hop station) and he suggests that we should create longer, thematic podcasts. “You know how we do a theme like ‘freedom’ or whatever. What if we did podcasts where we looked for stories in our world that had to do with the same concept?”
One of the best parts of teaching is when a student is brave enough to share and idea and reshape the direction of the class for the entire year. It’s a gift and if I’ll just stay quiet enough I’ll be able to receive it.