Book Talks: Introducing Readers to Books
Shelves and stacks full of books overwhelm some of our students. Where are the “good” books in all those shelves and stacks? Students who are still discovering and refining their preferences could be even more bewildered when the choice is to find one or two books among hundreds or even more selections. We can help them to get to know books in our collections with book talks.
What is book-talking? Think of it like a commercial for a book.
We (and eventually our students) share just enough of a book to entice others to read it.
Book-talking can provide more entry points for student engagement and increase joyful reading experiences. Book-talking provides opportunities to promote books of interest to your students and expand their awareness of the topics, genres, and formats available for them to read. Book-talking feeds conversations about books and reading, too. Starting each class meeting or your literacy block with a short book talk from you, then a student, becomes a routine that students eagerly anticipate because they enjoy discovering new books to read. Perhaps you can set aside fifteen to twenty minutes for book-talking as a ritual every week if you cannot get to it every day. Book talks may begin with teacher modeling and direction, but they become more powerful practices when students have input. Readers find joy from celebrating the books they enjoy and encouraging others to read them.
Look for book-talking models online. Many children’s and young adult book publishers offer book talks on their YouTube channels. Nerdy Book Club cofounder and teacher Colby Sharp regularly shares book talks on his YouTube channel and provides teachers with practical suggestions for sharing books with kids. We Need Diverse Books has designed a book-talking kit for promoting and celebrating books without minimizing complex characters and subjects to a few “diversity” labels. Record students’ book talks over time and you’ll build quite a collection of authentic book talks in a few years!
Book-talking can feed the reading culture of a school when everyone shares books—administrators, librarians, teachers, staff, families, community members, and kids. While those book talks are helpful, the best people to recommend books to your students are other kids. Schedule regular opportunities for students to share and promote books to each other under low-stakes circumstances— no grades or projects, just reader-to-reader conversations and celebrations. Book-talking supports joyful reading by providing students with frequent opportunities to preview books, share books, and expand their ability to self-select books for independent reading by increasing their knowledge of books. Set aside regular time for students to book-talk and discuss books with one another. Encourage reader-to-reader relationships with students who share common reading interests.
When book-talking occurs often, it becomes a powerful connector between readers and influences how they discuss and share books with each other all of the time. This social interaction fosters joy for readers who crave more conversations about books.
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This blog is #2 of 2. Read Blog #1 here:
Book-Matching Moves and Rituals: Get to Know Students with Interest Surveys
👉 Browse more blogs featuring The Joy of Reading.
Adapted from The Joy of Reading. To learn more, visit Heinemann.com.