What is BookTube?
BookTubers are content creators who are also readers and sometimes even writers. Many BookTubers are librarians or work in the publishing industry. Some BookTubers have even been hired by publishing companies because of their work in BookTube.
What does it do?
While book reviews are a staple in the community, there are numerous other video types that would be useful when translated into the classroom. Many readers participate in reading challenges, which occur over a defined period of time. Another example is a read-a-thon where a creator delivers a prompt with a challenge. For example, last year the Book Roast hosted The Magical Readathon, with prompts based on the Harry Potter series. Nonfiction November is happening this month; created by several booktubers, it challenges other booktubers and viewers to read at least one nonfiction book over November 2020.
Tags are also a mainstay in BookTube. Similar to an email chain, a list of prompts or questions is created with booktubers responding to the prompts based on their bookshelves or reading experiences. Book tags include “Unpopular Opinions,” seasonal picks, or ones related to a particular monthly theme (such as Black, female, or LGBTQIA+ authors), or Top 10 lists.
What’s most unique about Booktube is the active comments section included in each video. Here, viewers can interact with the booktuber and with other viewers/readers. Thus, the reading recommendations, critiques, and analysis do not remain only with the booktuber as a reading authority, but with the viewers and booktuber exchanging ideas and opinions.
YAL in BookTube
I have discovered numerous young adult titles through BookTube, including John Green, Gabrielle Zevin, and Melina Marchetta. I have been encouraged to diversify my reading to include other ethnicities, nationalities, races, and gender identities. Booktubers have advocated for multicultural books and authors. For example, Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give has spurred an emphasis on young adult books with Black characters and by Black authors. The Artisan Geek offered her advice to viewers about how they can diversify their reading as she took on a personal challenge to be purposeful in her reading.
BookTube in the Classroom
Ehret, Boegel, & Manuel-Nekouei (2018) suggests that BookTube can be used in the classroom to teach students important digital literacy skills. They suggest creating a BookTube channel for your classroom where students can post book reviews, book recommendations, or literary analyses. Using Google privacy features, teachers can set the channel to private and monitor the comments section. Through the comments section, students can also discuss their classmates’ opinions and exchange information based on books, literary film adaptations, and reading challenges. Del Mar Suárez and Gonzalez Arguello (2020) include a wonderful evaluation rubric they used with their language--English--for a Specific Purpose for students in Spain.
A Clockwork Reader is a college student who loves YA fantasy and eschews the traditional TBR list. She is also open about her own life in her channel.
Words of a Reader, Lesley is a Brit who advocates for children’s literature and creates thoughtful book discussions based on issues within the BookTube community such as What Makes a Classic Book?
Merphy Napier’s How to Find the Best booktubers [for you] notes how BookTube viewers can find the right BookTube channel to fit their preferences. Much of her suggestions include narrowing search terms to favorite author, genre, or reading preferences.
BookTube Recommends: Underrated YA Books is a wonderful collaboration video of booktubers recommending their favorite underrated YA books. The video would be a great introduction for those looking to find their way into BookTube.
Angeltrazo's Asian American Book Club: Young Adult Books Angel is a Ph.D student in cultural studies at UC – Davis and admits to loving YA despite being 25. Her recommendation video is a response to the Filipino-American History Month, which this month. She recommends a mix of fiction and nonfiction books by Filipinos and Filipino-Americans.
Del Mar Suarez, M and González Arguello, M. V. (2020). Becoming a good booktuber. RELC Journal, 51(1). 158-167. DOI: 10.1177/0033688220906905
Semington, P., Mora, R. A., and Chiquito, T. (2017). Booktubing: Reader Response Meets 21st Century Literacies. The ALAN Review, 44(3). 61-67. Retrieved from http://www.alan-ya.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/J61-66-ALAN-Sum17.pdf
Sorenson, K and Mara, A. (2013). BookTubers as a Networked Knowledge Community. In M. Limbu and B. Gurung (Eds.). Emerging Pedagogies in the networked knowledge society. Hershey, PA: IGI Global.
If you have any BookTube or booktuber recommendations, please include them in the comments below!