by Jill Eurich
How many of us choose the books we are going to read on the recommendations of others? I know I do. I just galloped through the Steig Larsson trilogy with Lizbeth Salender, an unlikely heroine. These are not the kinds of books I usually pick up and probably wouldn’t have if some of my “go to” book pals hadn’t highly recommended them.
Book talks function in much the same way in the classroom. Book talks are a 2 – 4 minute oral advertisement for a book that can be given by teachers or students. These short, engaging recommendations have many advantages. Book talks:
- Allow students to become familiar with different books in the classroom library
- Expose students to genres and authors
- Encourage students to make lists of books or authors they hear about that might be appealing. In this way students always have books in waiting.
- Build a community of readers: adults and students share their interests and love of reading.
- Help students choose books for units of study that focus on a genre, author, theme, or common elements of craft.
- Allow students to have teacher modeling and then learn for themselves the art of delivering an engaging book talk.
- Encourage students to become familiar with books of different genre clustered together around a topic or theme. I have provided an example of a book talk around topic in which non-fiction, fiction and hybrid book about wolves are discussed together as a book talk around topic.
So how do book talks serve as equalizers in the classroom? Teachers can be strategic about giving books talks at all the independent reading levels of the students in their classrooms. When books appropriate for students who are reading below grade level are shared and celebrated through book talks they are met with acceptance and appreciation by the community of readers. Students who find reading challenging can thereby read these books without being stigmatized. In a 45 – 60 minute reading workshop the 2 – 4 minute book talk is time well spent.
In a book talk you will want to share the title of the book, author and if appropriate the illustrator.
Here are some other options of what to include:
-Books by the same author
-What you like about the book, author or genre
-What you appreciate about how the book is crafted
-One or two excerpts from the book that lures your listeners in and gives a strong sense of the author’s style
-A brief summary that sets up the exciting part(s) of the book without giving them away
-The type of person who would find the book appealing. ” If you’re the type of reader who…”
-Quotes from the book jacket or the front or back of the book.
Book talks are greatly appreciated by students in grades 3 – 8. Enjoy!