Annual Teen Read Week goes virtual due to COVID-19

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Courtesy of Seana Shelby

Although students can’t physically browse book tables to find a book, Shelby’s Bitmoji library gives students access to every Teen Read Week book.

With the COVID-19 pandemic still raging on, this year’s Teen Read Week, held from Jan. 11-15, was forced to go virtual. Despite this setback, SCHS Librarian Seana Shelby helped to make Teen Read Week happen and to carry out its purpose. 

“The goal was always to try and create readers, and if the students were already readers, then to introduce them to what’s new and interesting,” Shelby said. 

The previous Teen Read Weeks have been successful and, according to Shelby, the number of students who visit the library always spikes during Teen Read Week. With COVID-19 regulations still in place, however, having an in-person Teen Read Week was not feasible.

This year, staff and students recorded book talks rather than presenting live in the library to English classes. 

“I’ve created a Bitmoji library. All of the book covers are on bookshelves, and students can browse and click on a book cover, and the video will come up,” Shelby said. “The video book talks will stay up past Teen Read Week so students can still refer to them when trying to find their next great read.”

Students have access to every book talk for each of Teen Read Week’s books instead of just two or three during a single class period. Every book found in the Bitmoji library can be checked out and read through Sora at any time.

According to Shelby, physical Teen Read Weeks had a much busier schedule since each English class had to be brought into the library, and this year’s virtual Teen Read Week did not meet the standards set by previous years.

A virtual TRW loses some of the excitement of in-person TRW,” Shelby said. “Students can’t browse tables of books to find what they want.” 

SCUSD ED Tech T.O.S.A. Michelle Brown said her goal when giving a book talk was to help students decide if they liked a book and wanted to read it. 

“I got to share the book with classes that listened attentively, asking questions and generally smiling,” Brown said. “My goal was for everyone to hear about it, but a couple of kids to maybe think, ‘Oh, that’s a book for me!’” 

Freshman Aliana Ferreira felt the virtual Teen Read Week was more convenient. She said physical Teen Read Weeks allows students the ability to see if a book is truly right for them, and that it is not as precise online. However, Ferreira feels that the presentes still did an excellent job representing their books.

It can be harder to do online, but teachers still made their presentations enjoyable,” Ferreira said. “It was still successful because the staff members still found a lot of great books to represent. It was very creative and was really thought out.”

Whether online or in-person, Teen Read Week is a way for teachers and staff to share their favorite books and hopefully give students new opportunities to explore the library. 

“It (Teen Read Week) is not about me. It’s about supporting students,” Brown said.