“So, what have you been reading lately?”
I have learned the power these seven words hold to invite readers to share their reading lives with others. As a literacy coach, I often begin conversations with teachers and students with those very words, which typically lead to lively conversations about the books we are reading or want to read next. Those seven little words inspire readers to connect with their reading lives and help create a community where reading is celebrated, something that can change the entire landscape for literacy learning in a school.
I am proud of my reputation with elementary students for knowing the best and most current books they might want to read next. I am greeted in the hallway with smiles and new book recommendations rather than “hello” as students beat me to respond to those seven words they know I will greet them with. I strive to connect readers to books, and take pride in sharing my reading life with others, inviting students into it.
Infatuated by my own children’s obsession with Instagram, I decided to experiment and see how Instagram could support my children’s-literature addiction. I am quite active on Facebook and Twitter through my professional accounts, but when I first created an Instagram account, it was only to follow my own children. I did not yet know the professional power it could hold.
Enter the Instagram project, a self-created challenge to learn how Instagram could help me connect with books and then connect books to the children I meet by creating a customized feed of #booklove. I now have a personalized inventory of book recommendations for every student I meet, instantly delivered to my mobile device. And now, I challenge you to do the same with this simple, three-step process.
If you do not already have an Instagram account, you will find these tutorials from Instagram quite helpful. Then, follow these three easy steps to fill your feed with beautiful book updates to share with your students.
Start by following the Instagram accounts of children’s book publishers and local bookstores. They post book recommendations, teasers for the most recently published books, and inspiration for continued reading. Here were the first accounts that I followed focused on elementary readers:
Next, follow the authors and illustrators you know and love. Follow the advice of Barnes and Noble and then add your own list of favorites. Here is a sampling of authors and illustrators who fill my feed with book inspiration, focused on elementary readers:
Although you may be tempted to stop with your favorite authors, challenge yourself to connect with authors and illustrators with whom you are less familiar. Break down your reading walls and be open to new possibilities for yourself and your students.
Finally, follow educators and book bloggers who actively post their own #booklove to share with others. Here are a few of the educators and book bloggers I follow, but you might find this list by Kate Tilton helpful in creating your own:
Every morning, I browse my feed for ideas and inspiration for my next book to read and share with students, infusing my coaching with children’s literature. I even model using my feed in front of teachers and students to show them how they might use Instagram to build their reading lives along with their social lives. So what are you waiting for? Go ahead, give it a try, and see the magic that happens when you connect readers with their next book.