Book Talks: The Great Equalizer in the Classroom

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!

7 thoughts on “Book Talks: The Great Equalizer in the Classroom

  1. I use book talks in my first grade classroom. First we talk about why people talk about books. After modeling how to do book talks, my students meet in groups to do their own book talks. They have a form to guide them. I use the Super 3 format: Plan, Do Review that cue them into their job for each step. On the back of the form lists sample questions/ideas to share about their book if needed for their planning. Students can take questions and/or comments if they wish. When I first tried book talks, after modeling, I attempted to be a part of the group, however I found that the students talked mostly to me. So now I sit off to the side of the group so I can listen in and make notes. The students love sharing books and are engaged in meaningful conversations about books.


  2. I had not known anyone who shared book talks with students in first grade classrooms so I am very interested to read this. What a wonderful way to build a community and develop enthusiasm about books in young readers. I can appreciate your being on the side of the group to encourage the interchange to be between the students instead of directed at you. It will help them have genuine talk with each other when they start literature discussion groups or discuss books in guided reading. Jill


  3. Hello Jill,

    Where are the samples of book talks that you have shared? I can’t seem to locate them! I would love to share this at our staff meeting.


    • Hello Leslie,
      I hope you were able to read Book Talks, Part 2 that had the samples. Sorry it wasn’t clear that they were coming. I hope these help as you share them in your meeting. Jill


  4. Talking about books brings pleasure at all ages and grades. When a child gives a book talk, he learns how to select information and present it to others. What a wonderful life skill.


  5. Thanks Jill! I did share your book talks at our meeting on our last day of professional development. I look forward to the fall when we can use your resource to inspire our students to create and share book talks! I plan on reading and creating some of my own this summer!



    • I think you will find it engaging developing these book talks Leslie. Like the students it is exciting for us to create recommendations and think about how we will interest others in reading books we have enjoyed.
      Happy summer reading and writing of book talks! Jill


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