On Friday night we had our first-ever teen appreciation night, and what fun it was. There was no author, no activity, just seven pizzas (which the school paid for) and twenty kids who wanted to talk about books with us.
We’ve been working very closely with the Vergennes seventh and eighth grade teacher choosing books for her classroom. Ms. Lawson, Jen to me, comes in with a list and a deep knowledge of her students and together we match the kids with books. Jen is the kind of classroom teacher all kids need, someone who cares a great deal about them and knows them as readers. Jen had the kids write shelf talkers for us. She asked who would like to participate in this and all thirty kids said yes. That was gratifying to say the least.
Look how cute this shelftalker is! Hand-drawn by an eighth grader from our newsletter, this is so much more appealing than our index card shelftalkers. These have only been up a day and already I’ve heard kids reading them and talking to their friends about the books. Now that’s a successful shelftalker. I am going to track the sales of the books these kids choose to write about and see if kid-written shelftalkers increase sales.
I have a feeling they will. The kids and I finished the pizza and then talked about books. The conversation turned to book covers with one boy asking,”Why are they so ugly?” Well, that’s direct. He said he hated photographs of real kids on covers, especially modern-looking kids on historical fiction titles. Many girls chimed in that they were getting “really tired” of covers that had girls’ bodies, but no heads. The consensus was the photographs ruined the book in a way because it dictated what the characters looked like, and that might not be how the reader actually saw them. Editors, are you listening?
I gave out galleys at the end and the kids were excited, but one boy was disappointed there weren’t more 2010 galleys. I told him I hadn’t finished reading them yet.
The teacher and I decided that we will do this quarterly. So, in the spring, I’ll get 30 more reviews, we’ll have some more pizza and honestly, I can’t wait.