Blokes with Books Club

This post is about a year overdue, but here goes.

Early into my new job as a newly minted Teacher Librarian I started noticing the “lost boys”  of the library.  Those souls who would wander around and between the stacks with a dazed look on their faces. Or they’d be flicking through books without actually registering the contents. Or they’d just park themselves on a chair with the (too popular to let them be borrowed) Guinness Books of records and sit and talk through with “oohs and aahs” with their like-minded mates.  Obviously

But equally obvious to my middle aged, white, female mind, I was not the one to do it. Or at least, not to appear to be the one to do it. But should it be a teacher? If so, which teacher? My criteria was young and male, but I didn’t know my new colleagues all that well… I settled on our EdTech coach, Tim.  An extremely busy and popular educator, with experience in the classroom and, since moving into the new role with all the classrooms, he was enthusiastic when I suggested it. (Phew).

We collaborated on lesson plan ideas, and books that may “hook” the students. And we were open for business. We emailed teachers from Grades 3-6 and asked if they had any students who they thought may benefit from this group. Most teachers had 1 or 2 students.  The first session started with about 8 students. And quickly word spread that this was a really fun thing to be involved with.  Group members had their own membership badges and a special “learning agreement” for their time in the library. Teachers reported back that the students were more motivated to borrow books and were super enthusiastic about going to the sessions which were held once a week on a Wednesday during the last period (a 40 minute period reserved for literacy leadership). A couple of ELL students were identified who would also benefit from being “one of the blokes” even though their language level wasn’t that high and they joined in as well.

The year ended with a bang when I chanced on reading of a book review of “Adventures of a Kid Magician” in February or March. Then of course it was a case of getting Tim’s mother to buy 5 copies of the book from Walmart – the only stockist at the time and shipping it to Singapore. It was as if we’d set off fireworks in the library. Basically each chapter leads to clues which unlocks a code to a youtube video showing how to do a magical trick. So the rest of the year involved multiple read-alouds of the chapters and hunting the clues down and desperate attempts by our blokes to be the next in line to read the book! Talk about a magic formula to combine the physical and digital (my review here),

dating lineWe started school on the 15th August and unfortunately the first few weeks our literacy period has been occupied by assemblies and other “housekeeping” matters like fire-drills. But the requests and the demands from our blokes were so incessant that we did a “soft launch” of the club during DEAR/SSR time. When I say “we” – I’m definitely the ghost in the machine and very much in the background and 99% of the credit for the magic that is happening is due to Tim.  When I handed out the permission forms for the surveys, nearly every boy (it’s grown to 25 boys!) returned the signed form the next day! Any teacher trying to get back permission forms can attest to how unusual that is.

Today was our first official day, starting with going over the essential agreements, one boy who insisted on doing a book talk on a book he was loving (Things Explainer – I’ve ordered a copy for the library now ) an ice-breaker of Zip Zap Zop followed by “Book Speed Dating” – 3 rounds of 5 minutes of “dating” a book after which the favourite was chosen (or not) for checkout.

Initial Lesson plans (2015/6):

Lesson # Ice Breaker Activities
1 Staring Contest -Choose a Book Any Funny Book/read

-Read in the Dark/ Tent

-Find a girly book competition/read  

-Find a manly book competition/ read

2 Spot The Difference -Ben Cooperman Read Aloud his book “Gabriel and Five Joshuas”
3 Charades (written on note cards) -Discuss adventures/ what kind of adventures there are

-Read choose your own adventure book

4 Crocodile Tooth Game Graphic Novels
5 Zip Zap Zop -Judge A Book By It’s Cover
6 Toilet Paper Mummy -Monster Books
7 Drawing Charades -Joke Books
8 Draw Yourself As Cartoon -Dewey Grams

-write down the number of book and to hand to someone else

-Use to make a Christmas book wishlist

9 Minefield -Introduce Legends and Myths with Sinbad Video

-Legends and Myths books

10 Zip Zap Zop -Introduce old comics

-Read through old comics

11 Tennis Table Soccer -Magazine Reading

Explain all the neat features of the different magazines

 12-end of year Various icebreakers Reading of “Adventures of a kid magician” and unlocking the videos 


4 thoughts on “Blokes with Books Club

  1. I remember when, at one of my previous libraries, we created a manga collection. It brought out a whole range of new readers I had never seen before. It’s sometimes surprising how making collection decisions impact in ways I didn’t foresee, and yet now all the time, I am conscious of the different types of readers there are, from instigating this one decision.

    Also, I think your new survey is just the right length, and asks for insightful data.


  2. Thanks for sharing this Nadine. It sounds fantastic – I too taught in boys school for many years and I love how active this lesson is. Boys really respond to that. I also know how much they would love uncovering clues, using codes and trying out magic! The real power here, however, is your collaboration with Tim. Well done.


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