I love Skype, and use it on an almost weekly basis. In the high school library that I manage in London, UK, Skype is by far my favourite tool to bring new students into the library and keep them coming back.
It’s also been an amazing tool to create new readers, introduce students to new books and connect them with other schools around the world.
Here are five ways I use Skype to do this.
This one is a given. Not only are they often way less expensive than an in-person author visit, it creates much more flexibility with the visit. Sure, you miss out on signed books, but if you’re Skyping with authors from 3,000 ore more miles away, chances are you weren’t going to get those anyway unless you’re very lucky and they visit you on a promotional tour. Skype author visits are the best way to bring new authors into your library.
Professional Skype Series
We run a Professional Skype Series for our students ages 16 and up. How these work: I poll the students to try and get a sense as to what career path they think they might want to go down after university or college or whenever. I then shamelessly email or contact people within that profession on Twitter and ask them if they want to Skype with us to tell the students how they became who they are.
There’s no scientific approach to it. One student told me she wanted to get into theatrical and movie makeup but had no idea how. Neither did I, really, so I Googled “Best theatre makeup course in the UK” and found that the best course was at a University not far away. I contacted the department via email and within two weeks we were Skyping with a professional makeup artist. These are a really cool way to bring students to the library who might not normally come and to actually help them with their future career goals.
I’ve talked about these before on Book Riot. They are fun and simple – you Skype with a class from somewhere else in the world. Their students don’t know where you are and your students don’t know where they are. Taking turns asking “Yes or “No” questions and using iPads and good ole fashioned atlases, you try to figure it out. First one to guess wins. They are one my most favourite Skype activities.
World Read Aloud Day
World Read Aloud Day is exactly what its title says. It’s a day to read aloud your favourite books to someone in the hopes that you’ll get them hooked on a book as well. With Skype, our 11 year old students will talk to kindergarten students in the United States and, taking turns, will read them three or four picture books over the course of an hour, stopping to tell them about London and our school. The kindergarteners in turn tell us about their school and their favourite books. A lot of fun and great public speaking practice for all students involved.
We recently had a class of 12 year old students all reading The Hound of the Baskervilles together as a group. Some students loved it, some not so much. There’s nothing wrong with that but to provide some context to the novel and to pick it apart a little bit I contacted middle grade mystery author Robin Stevens, whose Murder Most Unladylike series is always a top seller and popular with our students in the library.
So there you have it, five reasons I love using Skype. If you have any other uses for it in the library, please let me know!