SYRACUSE — Students at Syracuse High School are risking blind dates this month in hopes of finding their true love — that is, a book they truly love.
The Titan Library Advisory Board, a volunteer group of 11 students, came up with the idea to offer blind dates with a book through the school’s library.
“I thought it would be unique and something that everyone would enjoy for a Valentine’s Day theme. Even if you’re single, or if you have someone, you can have fun with it,” said Paige Eaton, 17, co-president of the board.
Teacher Librarian Cathleen Edwards selected books she thought would appeal to a broad range of students, wrapped them in brown paper, and added a heart with a few ribbons for decoration. She created a template description to provide potential readers with a vague understanding of the type of book within the wrapping.
“It’s set up like a matchmaking business,” Edwards said. “The description says, ‘I’m looking for a reader who is into adventures or romance.’”
Eaton said the book she selected for a blind date turned out to be a story she really enjoyed.
“It was pretty good, but I wouldn’t have read it without the blind date,” she said.
As part of the activity, students were asked to keep the book for at least 24 hours and to give it a try.
“We wanted to focus on books that weren’t super-popular,” Edwards said. “So a lot of them are books that came out at the same time as Hunger Games or a Divergent, or that don’t have a very good cover or title. But, it is still a fantastic book.”
When students checked out a book, they would find a “Rate Your Date” card inside that allowed them to evaluate the story. Students answered several questions describing their overall feelings toward the book, their first impression of the book and how likely they would be to read a similar book in the future.
They could then rate the book on an overall scale of one to 10 hearts.
Returned books, with their completed anonymous date cards, were available in the library for fellow students to read.
“I turned mine back in because I didn’t like it,” said Eelje Oldfield, 18.
She said she read three chapters of her blind-date book and just couldn’t get into it.
However, her friend James Kellmer found that his blind-date book was a match.
“There was a really twisted plot with a bad guy ... I would read something like that any day,” Kellmer said.
He explained that the blind date introduced him to an author he really enjoyed. He said he hopes to read another book by the same author.
Edwards said more than 50 books have been checked out of her library by students since the event began Feb. 1.
The program has been more successful than she anticipated, as she has had to wrap more books daily.
Most of the ratings on returned books have been positive, with students checking out books their peers have recommended.
Edwards joked that the wrapped books have been so appealing to students, she thinks the program could be expanded.
“I have told their English teachers, ‘You need to just wrap their textbook, because then they will read it.’”