Personalized Book Talks with YouTube

In an educational climate where English teachers are feeling overwhelmed by the mounting expectations from state and district administration, reading for enjoyment can be one of the first things to get the curriculum ax. Research time and again has shown that independent reading is a literacy fundamental, but it has no benchmark or SAT measurement tool that teachers can validate the time with. The focus on independent reading dwindles away from elementary school literacy centers where students are expected to read independently everyday, to high school where it is not included unless teachers want to do it.

The “WHY?”

When surveying English teachers about time to push in for book talks, the response from many was “I wish we could, but we have no time.” Looking at this barrier with a personalized learning lens I came up with the idea for quick book talks housed on a YouTube channel for students and teachers to access when they had extra time. It could be in the 5 minutes before or after class, over the weekend, or even during class when they are ready for a new book but are unsure what to read.

The Process

The process of creating a YouTube channel is two fold. One is creating the videos and two is creating the channel and uploading. Due to the fact that my district is a Google Apps for Education district we have easy integration into YouTube, which made creating the channel a one click project. The title of this channel is simply my name for now. In the future I may connect this to my Instagram account and change the name to ThroughTheLibraryGlass for consistency. You can view my channel by clicking here. The goal is to add a new video each week, and give students a new topic in a bank of videos to choose from. 

Creating the videos is the most amount of work by far. For my video creations, I chose to use WeVideo. Our school has a building membership that allows for added features and storage space, but they do have a free version that you can use as well. It is all web based which is great; I can access it from anywhere. Also, WeVideo has a really easy upload process that is very compatible with YouTube.  

Choosing Episode Topics

The first episode that I created focused on new sequels that students might not be aware of that are out right now. I only choose three books because I want to keep the length under five minutes to keep the students engaged and the teachers time short. When thinking about future topics here are a few ideas:

  • Favorite fiction
  • Nonfiction picks
  • Historical fiction fans
  • Romance reading
  • Sports stories

As an added buy-in for students and staff I will be branching out by inviting guests to share their favorites. Student and staff picks that are book talked by themselves can be an added incentive to watch and then hopefully come check-out.  

Personalized Book Talks

Creating personalized options for students in a digital and ever-changing world can engage readers in a new way. Coming up with ways to get students the resources that they need when they need it is my new challenge as we incorporate 1:1 technology and blended learning class formats in the future. The goal for this project is to supply resources in an individualized and accessible way. Personalizing for students what books they want to spend time hearing about, and making the most of class time is a win for everyone.


Author: Elizabeth Libberton

Elizabeth Libberton is the library media specialist at St. Charles East High School in St. Charles Illinois. She currently writes book reviews for School Library Journal. She is a member of the ALA Awards Selection Committee. Also, she is a member of the steering committee for the AISLE Lincoln Book Award.

Categories: Blog Topics, Student Engagement/ Teaching Models, Technology

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