Getting lost in a book is every reader’s goal. As a high school Librarian, it’s also my job to try and get teens to lose themselves for a little while between the pages.
That’s why I was excited to read Anna James’ new middle grade novel Pages & Co. because the book is a love letter to bookshops and actually getting lost in classic books. The main character, Tilly, discovers she’s a Book Wanderer, in that she can magically travel to the pages of her favourite novels and interact with the characters.
Pages & Co has been nominated for The Bookling, our annual High School Book Award and I’ve been promoting it heavily amongst the students to get them involved in the Award.
I interviewed Anna here at Book Riot about the novel and getting lost in a good book which you can read here.
This book inspired me to start a new activity in Library Lessons, bi weekly classes where students come to the Library with their English teachers. I typically do around 25 minutes of reading and then the rest of the hour is spent promoting books and doing a literary based activity or spent on responsible researching skills.
Using Pages & Co as a starting point, I have been interrupting the silent reading (shameful, I know) a little early to generate a discussion with the students.
“What would happen if lightning hit this Library right now and you were all magically sucked into the page you are currently reading?”
I ignored the silence. “What would you see? Would you be in danger?” This was a class that is heavy on reluctant readers so I was expecting most of them to be somewhat too cool for school when it came to speaking out.
It usually only takes one student to get the ball rolling, though, and one student reading Artemis Fowl spoke up.
“I’d be in the Arctic.”
“Okay,” I said, “and are you dressed for the Arctic?” This generated a lot of laughs and his friends pointed out how he’d be a popsicle within minutes.
“What else do you see?” I asked.
“People are shooting at each other and there’s a bunch of explosions.”
This made other students ask more about the book and he held court for a few minutes, talking about how he’d try to survive the freezing temperature and the bullets. I had them on a roll, it was great.
One student talked about how she’d be on Mars and struggling to breathe, another would be hit by a radiation blast and another was caught in the middle of two parents fighting.
As the lesson progressed, more and more students were asking each other about their books and what situations they’d be in.
I almost ran out of time to actually promote Pages & Co there were so many students wanting to tell me about the page they were on.
It was a gamble that paid off and I’ll now be using this simple but effective technique to get students to relay to me what they’re reading and in turn hook other students into their books as well.
It’s an amazing way to stand back and let the students take over in a controlled and calm way, all for the love of getting lost in a good book.
Pages & Co will be published in the US by Philomel in the Fall of 2019.