Mini Lesson Monday: Speed Dating with Books

Booktalking is the number one way to get books into our students’ hands, but when students need more ideas than we can offer, speed dating is a fun activity to help students add additional books to their to-read list.  This is always my favorite go-to activity when a teacher tells me that he/she is struggling to keep up with booktalking or they are new to the reading workshop approach.

The Lesson

Objective:  Students will select and record new books to add to their to-read list.


  1. Collect a variety of books from different genres in your classroom or school library. I try to have between 8-10 books per table/genre. For my lesson, I had seven tables: sports, realistic fiction, action/adventure, short and sweet, sci fi/fantasy, books about people, and historical fiction. img_0268
  2. Arrange the tables with no more than four chairs per table.  This way students are required to spread out among the different categories for this activity.
  3. When students arrive, explain to them the format of the activity. Let them know that choosing a book is like choosing someone to date.  The first thing you notice about your date is their appearance (the book cover) and then you want to see if you have common interests. We also tend to choose books about topics we are interested in and are familiar to us.
  4. To start the activity, have students walk around the tables and glance at the book covers. From here I have students pick a table to start at.  img_0267
  5. Set the timer for 2-3 minutes (depending on the level of your students).  Students look at the cover, back of the book, and then read the first few pages until time is up.
  6. When the timer ends, students decide if their book is one that they would like to add to their “to-read” lists.  If yes, they write it down.  They can continue to read the book that they like or they can “pick up” a new book at the same table or another table with a chair open. It is okay to date more than one book at a time (but remind them that is probably not the best thing to do in real life!!)
  7. Repeat this 4-5 times so students have an opportunity to “date around” and find as many books as they can to add to their to-read lists. I do like to do mini book talks in between every few rounds to break things up and to highlight ones that aren’t as popular in the speed dating rounds.

    What I Learned From This Lesson:

#1 – Some students will find books right away that they are interested in and some students will take several rounds to find the “right” book.

#2 – Having the to-read list with the students during the activity is important because students never remember titles without writing them down.

#3 – Use a timer.  It helps keep the activity organized and moving.

#4 – Even students who claim to “hate” reading tend to get into this activity.  They enjoy the short rounds, the ability to discard books, and the ability to “date” several books at one time if they really like a few.


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