Saturday, September 10, 2011

O Miracle

I admit it.
       I'm late to the party.
       Book trailers have been on YouTube for a long time. And yet here I am, chuffed as little mint balls, thinking of the myriad possibilities Book Trailers offer to authors, kids, parents, and educators.
       Teens+YouTube=A Focus In the Classroom That Makes Angels Weep.
       I'm not exaggerating. My wiggliest wiggle was transfixed by The Knife of Never Letting Go trailer. This book is part of the remarkable Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness, and, if I can editorialize here--which I can--I think this work got unfairly overshadowed by The Hunger Games. We watched that trailer too. Also the trailer for Andrew Smith's new book, Stick, which comes out in October. Trailer made just by kids, by the way, which is awesome.
       For the last two weeks I have taken a few minutes to read out loud to my high school students, mostly ninth graders. I read to them from The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka and illustrated by Lane Smith. I've read from Andrew Smith's books and Gone by Michael Grant and I have a slew of others--just a page at a time.
       They love it. Almost old enough to drive and they love it.
       Or they're just pretending really well. They're nice kids, and very polite.
       But that's okay, the just pretending. Because I am crafting a plan.
       Like all crafty plans, this one started as a dream, the kind of dream born of desperation and longing from what ifs.
       What if my students could read books that they chose to read, and could get credit for them?(And get thee behind me, Accelerated Reader; you slouch towards Bethlehem with other Misbegotten. There will be a reckoning.)
       What if my students could get credit by hosting a book chat, or discussing the book informally with someone who loves the book, or created some product that inspired them(no.dioramas.)
       What if a student or a group created trailer?
       What if a student invited a parent/guardian/trusted adult to read the book with them? Or asked the parent/guardian to allow them the stretch of a book by authors who are alive and writing and opening worlds upon worlds?
       What  if the student emailed the author, or left a comment on a blog for the author, and the author responded?
       That thought gives me goosebumps. That a kid, a kid who may/may not feel invisible, alone, alienated--what if that kid felt seen by the person who wrote a book that changed that kid's life?
       It's a lot of What Ifs and Tall Orders, especially in a world that scowls at teachers, is driven by test scores, and implements soul-crushing programs all "for the good of the whole child."
       Like there are any.
      At least by the time they are thirteen or fourteen and get to my classroom. Because by the time you've made it to high school you are wounded. You're wounded because you are human and growing up and you've been raised by people who may or may not be doing their best, but since they are human too wounds are going to happen. And if you are reasonably whole, you could still use a big dose of empathy and compassion. We all could use more of that.
      And I believe something: I believe that we can learn from pain and move on from pain by reading good books. Like Stick. Like Story of a Girl. Like Harmonic Feedback by Tara Kelly.
       So I have a dream. And a plan.
       Stay tuned.


  1. Personally I don't watch a lot of book trailers, because I already know about the books that are on my radar, and I don't need a teaser to sell me on them.

    But, that being said, I think you make an excellent point about them reaching young people. I know my own children love looking things up on Youtube, and I think that's wonderful that you're using that to connect with students in the classroom.

    I would have loved to do something like this when I was that age.

  2. i'm hit an miss on book trailers. Some of them i really like, but more often than not i don't like them. I general, i prefer the ones that have a voice over narration

  3. Matthew, again, I thank you for your comments. I would have loved to make book trailers when I was in high school. Book reports are soul-killers.

    Sarah, thank you for your comment! You clearly have more book trailer experience than I have--I don't know enough to have a preference yet!