Although this has been the topic of other blogs, it can’t be said enough:
Book Talks are a powerful way to get students excited about reading!
I recently posted a picture of my less-than-stellar Waiting List system to a Facebook group of Reading teachers. I wanted to show how daily book talks encouraged my students to try new titles. Based on comments and questions, I decided to share a bit more. In the past, I’ve performed book talks randomly; when I finished a particularly intriguing text or a topic seemed popular with my students. This year I made a commitment to do Daily Book Talks.
No fancy format needed (enthusiasm is essential!):
First, introduce the title, author, genre & show the book.
Next, read a page or two and/or show a book trailer.
Then, make some connection based on topic, TV show, movie or other books, “If you like _________, then you might want to check this one out!”
Finally, add it to our list. We keep a running list of our talks on chart paper. When one fills up, we just lay another on top and keep going. When a student says, “Hey Miss, I want that book that you talked about. You know, the one that….,” we can always look back to find the title.
I perform the same talk throughout the day with all my classes, taking note of students that show interest. They give it a quick preview during class, then let me know if they want it or need to be put on the waiting list.
- You must read & read a lot. You must read books that fit your students level and interests. Luckily, there is a multitude of wonderful middle grade & YA literature.
- Not all students who ask for the book, will actually read it. If you don’t see them actively reading it over the next couple of days, check in with them. Maybe suggest another book. Remind them if others are waiting, “You could let someone else have it for now and try again later.”
- You must have rich, diverse classroom library and continually add to it. You need to be able to hand a student the book you are sharing. I spend a lot on books for my classroom (shhh, don’t tell my husband). Research and read blogs about MS/YA literature to find the latest and greatest. You could use library books, but I think it would be harder.
- Plan for a variety of genres each week: Realistic fiction, Historical fiction, Nonfiction, Science fiction, Fantasy, Adventure & more. Also, try to vary types of text: narrative, books in verse, picture books, graphic novels, etc.
- Recognizing that my students need reading role models that look like them, I have encouraged other staff members to create book talks. I know you can find many online, but feel my kids would benefit most from seeing their favorite Coach or Science teacher enthusiastically share a beloved book. I’ve created a Flipgrid location for these shares and hope to inspire my colleagues to participate.
- Student-led Book talks. Many educators are rockstars at this, but it is an area a growth for me. I really want to push my students to talk more about their books. That’s what real readers do! First, have them start sharing in small groups with their classroom peers. Then, venture out with blogs/vlogs to share with readers beyond our walls.
Daily Book Talks are not the cure-all for fake reading or reading apathy, but it does give students exposure to numerous titles with minimal time and effort. We still participate in book shopping, speed dating, book tastings and read alouds. I am convinced the more amazing books my students see & hear about, that they will eventually find a book that will lead to a life-long love of reading!