One of the most powerful things I can do for my students is work to promote reading for fun and helping students find books that they will enjoy.

I feel like middle school is one of those key times in life where many students either take the path to become a life-long reader…or not.

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Here’s how I’ve put together this activity: I always get great feedback from teachers and students with this activity…they love it!

By the final round, about half of the students will typically have a book that they want to check out.

And ALL of the students have spent some time with a book from a genre that’s outside of their typical reading comfort zone.

I did this several weeks ago with my 8th graders, and this week the 6th graders are having their turn.

In this lesson there will be books placed on tables around the library with questionnaires for students to answer in the format of "speed dating" to help students choose a book matching their interests and reading level.

This is the second activity in a three lesson sequence.

These classes are designed for struggling readers and generally have fewer than ten students. I had the best results with the eighth grade class, who better understood all my dating jokes ("sometimes you have to kiss some frogs", "sometimes you have to throw that fish back in", "if at first you don't succeed", etc.).

Because of the nature of the class, the students do not tend to be readers, nor are they generally intrinsically-motivated to read. They really enjoyed this lesson, and my eighth grade library assistants, who saw the speed dating as they worked in the library, all asked me to do this with their classes, too. For the reading resource classes, I chose high-interest genres such as horror, humor, manga, nonfiction, survival, romance, sports, and realistic fiction. For my classes, I added a second nonfiction table since it was full every time.

I've wanted to try it out for awhile now, and I finally went for it last week.