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"Books with Bulldogs" Encourages Library Engagement

Books with BulldogsJunior softball player Jakheera Burton reads Not Quite Snow White by Ashley Franklin while video production students in the Hart College and Career Academy film a "Books with Bulldogs" episode.

“Books with Bulldogs” Encourages Library Engagement

For many kids, storytime is an opportunity for adventure through literature — and having someone they look up to, like a role model, to take them on that exploration makes the experience even more special.

That’s why Hart County High School student-athletes are teaming up with Greg Gaines’s video production class, and elementary instructional coach Andina Oglesby, to create a virtual storytime experience for young students.

“Books with Bulldogs” is a way for student-athletes to connect with younger students in Hart County by reading their favorite children’s book to them. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, student-athletes often volunteered their time to go read children’s books to elementary school classes.

Since they haven’t been able to go into the classrooms, Oglesby had a different approach. She teamed up with Gaines’s video production class to produce a video series called “Books with Bulldogs” where student-athletes at Hart County High School read their favorite children’s book on camera. These videos will then be housed on a website for teachers to share with their students. The variety of books shared range from picture books to graphic novels so that students at both the elementary and middle schools can find something of interest. 

Junior softball player Jakheera Burton recently read the book Not Quite Snow White by Ashley Franklin for a new video. The film team found a location with appropriate lighting and sound barriers, and set up in a lounge area before prompting Burton with instructions.

“I chose this book because when I read it, I could kind of relate to it,” Burton said on camera. “So hopefully you all will enjoy it like I did.”

Oglesby has also been coordinating book talks with the student-athletes by using Flipgrid, which is a website and app that allows teachers to facilitate video discussions. Students are organized into groups and then given access to discussion topics. The book talks are shorter videos where a high school student-athlete discusses their favorite book in a short 40-60 second video, and then students have an opportunity to respond. 

In one Flipgrid video, junior football player Nick Carlson discusses the book The Pigeon Needs a Bath! by Mo Willems.

“Have you ever just really not wanted to take a bath? Well in this book, the pigeon is really dirty and he hasn’t taken a bath in over a month,” Carlson says to the camera. “He just really doesn’t want to take a bath, and people keep telling him to take a bath … so what do you think happens at the end of this book? If you want to find out, then go check this book out from your library.”

In the “Books with Bulldogs” videos, due to copyright restrictions, student-athletes stop reading the book before the ending, and inform the young students of how to go to the library and check out the book to continue reading.

“It is encouraging younger students to head to the library to check out books and share their experience with others through creating their own Flipgrid videos,” Oglesby said. “After classes watch the videos, we will look at the data to see if library engagement went up. The media specialists at the schools will promote this literacy project by taking students through an exploration of the videos available through the website and setting up a “Books with Bulldogs” corner with the books displayed for easy access.”

The goal is to eventually be able to share the “Books with Bulldogs” throughout the community by having them displayed in local businesses with QR codes linked to the videos.


Payne Oglesby

Junior football player Payne Oglesby reads Grumpy Monkey by Suzanne Lang during a "Books with Bulldogs" episode.