The Gift of a Book

I have a friend who has a special name for books that have changed his thinking. He calls them silent mentors, which I love. With the vast set of experiences and perspectives and collective wisdom that books offer, how do we use these silent mentors with our troops and tribes?

One way to use books is to give a copy of a book to each member of your troop, provide time for members to read portions of the text, and then create opportunities for members to discuss and process the ideas. In the early days of Team 21C, the informal name I use with the 21st Century Learning department, I wanted us to reflect on how we would evaluate our work and wanted to start a deep, sustained conversation about defining results. I purchased a book called Work Sucks, which explored the concept of the “results only work environment.” We read a bit of the book, and discussed it a little. In all honesty, I didn’t set up a very effective structure to move through the book together. However, even in this implementation, the gift of the book was that it became a common point of knowledge, provided common vocabulary, helped us identify and label pitfalls when thinking about results, and became a lever in conversation and in thinking about our work.

How might you use books with your troop?

Some thoughts:

  • A book can be a literal gift to a troop member; put a bow on it. Use it to spark emotions of surprise and gratitude.
  • A book is a physical reminder of values in your troop’s workplace. Model displaying books you believe in, such as your troop titles.
  • Ask your troop for input on future titles to read together.
  • Create a book swap area (work-related or not); consider posting a disclaimer to clarify that NSFW (not safe for work) titles are not welcome.

Question to consider? How does using books differ with your tribe, your distributed personal learning network? Often your go-to books have been read by your tribe already. How do you or might you create virtual spaces for sharing title suggestions or for deeper discussions on texts?

In what other ways do you use books? Leave a comment with your insights and ideas.