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Memorial High School English Teacher Promotes Reading Through TikTok Book Talks

Memorial High School English Teacher Promotes Reading Through TikTok Book Talks

When Memorial High School English teacher Maureen Mead joined TikTok last year, she thought it was just the latest social media outlet in the teenage zeitgeist, full of viral dance challenges and trendy, short videos. However, with encouragement from her students, Mead discovered a creative way to bring the app and classroom together: TikTok book talks.

TikTok, which currently hosts 130 million active users nationwide, allows users to create and share short videos on their smartphones, ranging from 15 seconds to three minutes. For Mead, that was the perfect amount of time to pique a student’s interest in a new book. After scrolling through #BookTok–shorthand for TikTok book talk videos–on the app, Mead was disappointed by the lack of intersectional diversity in the book discussions. She gathered book recommendations from fellow teachers, students, authors, and her own library of young adult novels to highlight books that feature diverse protagonists from a variety of backgrounds.

“I was stunned that there are so many BookTok videos, but most of them are very one-dimensional and not really the target I was looking for,” Mead said. “So I tried to integrate music and connect it to the book thematically, find an interesting quote from the book, and set the video up in a way that I could use it for a class assignment.”

In just more than a year, Mead has created 42 book recommendations on TikTok, using a variety of engaging special video effects, and even the occasional cameo from her dog, Prudence. A one-minute video can take upward of two to three hours to produce and film, but Mead says it’s worth the effort to engage her students in reading.

“I like to read books that I can burn through, and students need to learn there are books out there that they can love,” Mead said.

She plans to continue producing BookToks on her account @themeadyo, using the latest app features to engage students in reading both inside and outside the classroom.