Book Talking

Risking-Failure: Book TalkingI’m participating in the 20-day Blogging Challenge from Jennifer Brower over at Where Books and Technology Meet. She posted 20 days of blogging challenges for librarians back in January. I’m modifying and responding to one prompt each week.

Challenge: How do you book talk to your students? How often do you book talk? Do you have resources you use for this?

This is a good topic for me. I don’t book talk very well. My version of book talking for my students tends to be along the lines of, “Today we’re reading a ____ book. If you are interested in reading more ____ books, you can find them on the shelf at ____.”

I do book talk our state award nominees to third, fourth, and fifth graders and try to mix that list of ten up with a combination of book trailers and traditional book talking.

I find book talking challenging to think about for several reasons, but I need to do it more often anyway and then I’ll get better at it. Right?
My main two issues are: I simply forget to plan it. When I think about it I realize I have to do a lot of research to figure out what to book talk so there will be enough options because kids will usually checkout what you offer them.

So I guess I ask rather than offer… how do you manage planning book talks on a fixed schedule? Do you keep a list? A big stack? When I book talk to one class I can’t book talk the same books to the same grade the next day because the books simply won’t be available. Book talking enough books in a week to keep an entire grade level satisfied is daunting to me…

My goal this year was to do it more regularly and I’m simply failing at it.

I do have ideas. Big plans. Dreams. Goals.

Not enough time….

One of my middle school pals does a great job at keeping book lists that go along with social studies themes. She gets into classes during units to book talk materials related to the content. I love the simpleness of this idea and think it’s genius to get students to the library for book checkout and also to start small with collaboration.

Maybe I need a different tactic? Planning some book lists about topics that I could offer to teachers to relate to holidays, character traits, genres. Save the lists from year to year to build on and grow?

Sigh. You all are probably doing this, right? I’m so not good at this right now. (And while I breathe a great big breath of attitude adjustment, let me thank you for letting me think out loud on my blog. This is the real me all the way…)

Maybe it’s not a matter of a perfect plan or a right list. Maybe it’s a matter of just starting. Taking one step?

So here’s my step… Use the resources I’ve got. Make a book list (I’m seriously doing this RIGHT NOW as I type this post). Offer the topic to just A FEW teachers and ask if I can come into their classroom to book talk.

Here we go… live blogging of my book talking preparation process.

Step 1: Find Books

First, one of my favorite websites for booklists: Teaching Kids Books.

Next, search for a perfect topic. President’s Day is coming up. Let’s get prepared and see what is suggested

Now I’m scared. My library has exactly 3 of the books on this list. That’s not the true problem. The list looks great and I DON’T HAVE THESE BOOKS! (I’m doing a lot of shouting on this blog post. I apologize.) They all look like “must have!” books!

Okay. So I have books. It’s not that I don’t. I was hoping for some hidden gems. I just have to work a little bit harder to find them…

Search my library catalog the old-fashioned way.

Okay, I found some books that will work.

Step 2: Preparation

  • Read them.
  • Take some notes and write a post it so that I’m super prepared!
  • Put all of the books into a Destiny Resource list so that it can be easily printed.
  • Plan a time with a few teachers (I’m hoping for 2).

Step 3: Execute

  • Book talk these babies!
  • Take the students’ library cards with me to the class.
  • Write student ID numbers onto the printed list of the books (that I will bring with me) so that I can check them out after returning to the library.
  • Offer hold slips for students who want to read a book but might not have gotten it first.
  • Ask students for feedback. Was this good? Would you like to do this again? Do you have a topic to recommend?

I think that’s enough from me about the topic of book talking… I would love to hear ideas and strategies from others that are book talking pros and those that struggle as much as I do.


  1. I struggled with all the same things that you struggle with regarding book talking. Though I have a flexible schedule, I have over 1000 kids in my school from 4K through 8th grade. I do not have time to plan in depth book talking. So, my solution was to book talk books during our bookfairs to the middle school students (about 500 of them throughout two weeks).I pull about 30 off the carts, aiming for a variety of different reading levels and interests. Some of the books I have read, and some of them I have heard good things about. I even pull some completely based off of curb appeal (book cover). I read the backs of the books and then start book talking. I start off telling the kids that the books are hot off the presses and admit that I haven’t read many of them yet, but that they all looked like they would be amazing. I do about 30 second booktalks on most of the books, and spend a little longer on the ones I have read. I give historical background when I can (example is to talk about kids about fallout shelters and air raid drills when book talking Countdown by Deborah Wiles), and connect to popular culture too (Walking Dead references when describing a zombie book). I know it’s not the proper way to do Booktalks but the books sell like hotcakes and I always get multiple copies of the most popular ones with our Scholastic dollars so kids who can’t buy the books will be able to read them too. The kids can make wish lists to give their parents or keep them as a want-to-read list for future checkouts.

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