Challenge #7: Make a list of books you want to highlight through book talks in the first month of school.

Challenge #7: Make a list of books you want to highlight through book talks in the first month of school. Get yourself ready to offer a book talk or basket talk every day for the first few weeks of school week.  Of course you’ll adjust once you meet your students, but you can count on having a variety of readers and so you’ll want to be strategic in making sure you enthusiastically and systematically introduce a well rounded set of possibilities.


“Strangers talking over piles of books do not remain strangers long.”

-Matthew Pearl



How Does This Help Grow A Community of Readers?

Book talks are quick informal conversations about books, meant to spread the joy and enthusiasm that one reader has about a book with other readers in an attempt to persuade them to read the book as well. In other words, book talks are moments dedicated to spreading book love around a particular text, series, author, or even classroom book basket.

Screen Shot 2018-07-16 at 6.50.36 PMNot only do book talks connect readers to books, but they also connect readers to each other. Introducing book talking by offering frequent book talks in the early days of the school year is a surefire way to get readers excited about reading books and excited to talk with each other about books.

Readers who are excited about books naturally want to tell other readers about them. So, providing modeling, time, space, and support to help readers develop their own book talking skills is time well spent in the early days of the school year. Book talks are the stuff of real life authentic response to reading. When you or I get excited about a book, we naturally start to think of the other people in our life who might also be excited to know about the book, and we often find a way to tell them, hoping to convince them that the book would be worth their time.

When you start the year with a series of quick, informal talks about books you think your students will love, you let them know right from the start that talk about books is something that you value, and that it’s the job of the whole community of readers to share the word about great books. Book talking then becomes a way of life (rather than a thing we take turns doing on Fridays) with readers talking to other readers every day about the books they are reading now, have read in the past, and plan to read in the future.

Ideas to Get Started

  • Keep book talks short and sweet. It’s not a book report, it’s a teaser, meant to tell just enough to get readers interested.
  • Get students involved from the beginning. Student book talks don’t necessarily need to be whole class events. Students can book talk with a partner, small group, or even in “speed dating” format. Mix it up. The trick is to make sure that every day there are opportunities for readers in your classroom to tell other readers about books they’ve read or are currently reading.
  • In the beginning of the year, we have found book talking every day for the first two to three weeks of school to be very powerful in igniting excitement around books. We recommend planning out the first week of talks and then seeing what students may be interested in to plan out the following weeks.
  • When book talking about a book from your classroom library, be sure to highlight the area of the library where it can be found. In this way some of your book talk can double as basket talk. It may sound something like this: “If you’re interested in this book, or other books like this, you’re going to want to check out the ____________ basket in our library.”  
  • Challenge yourself to share a book talk from each basket, genre, or category in your classroom library throughout the year, therefore stretching yourself to include books for readers with a wide range of interests.
  • Consider sprinkling in some video book trailers as well as teaching students how they can use book trailers to find and preview books for themselves. Students can also make book trailers themselves, posting them via QR codes inside book jackets.
  • Keep the future in mind… At first, you’ll be giving most of the books talks in the classroom. Eventually, once you invite students to try it out, they will start to give the talks themselves. Over the past two school years, Christina’s 5th graders kept a running list of who would be voluntarily give a book talk during the morning meetings each day. Doing this planning work up front will allow you to pass the baton of book talking to your readers quickly and intentionally.
  • A culture of book talks naturally lends itself to teaching students ways they might keep track of books they want to read in the future. From a simple list of future reads, to a Padlet board pinned with book covers, there are endless ways to help kids learn to keep a running list of books they don’t want remember down the line.


Questions to Consider

  • Have you considered creating a regular routine of offering book talks to your students? How might you make more room for book talks in your day?
  • Who can you talk with about books to get started? A colleague, a family member? 
  • What modeling or explicit teaching can you plan for how to give a book talk?  
  • How often will you offer book talks to the whole class?  To small pockets of readers with similar interest or needs?  To individuals who need extra support with finding their way to a great book?
  • How might you encourage your students to take charge of book talking for themselves?  In what ways might technology enhance book sharing options in your classroom?


Helpful Links

Book Talk Examples and How-To

Mr. Schu – The Important of Book Talking

How to Easily Do a Book Talk from Pernille Ripp

Book Talks, Book Trailers, and Book Teasers

Quick Video of Kate Messner Describes Book Talking

Creating a Book Talking Culture – A Video with Donalyn Miller

To keep your collection fresh and interesting and your knowledge of books growing, we share the following blogs and websites. 

Build Your Stack Initiative from NCTE 

Nerdy Book Club

Mr. Schu Reads

There’s a Book For That

We Need Diverse Books

Jen Robinson’s Book Page

We’d love to hear from you. What are some books you’re considering book talking during the first days of school?  Please share some of your selections with our Facebook group.  Come and join us!

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Children’s books in images: Chicken Sunday by Patricia Polacco, The Wednesday Surprise by Eve Bunting, Elephants by Laura Marsh, Butterflies by Laura Marsh, Holes by Louis Sachar

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