Booktalking to 10th Grade Honors World Lit Classes

Mrs. E came into the library seeking booktalks for her 10th grade honors world literature classes. The World Lit classes have a semester long project where they read materials with authors from 7 regions around the world. I would provide students with reading options from 5 regions, excluding North America and Europe. The books needed to be a mix of reading levels, YA or adult, and include some translated texts.

I had my work cut out for me! Luckily, the librarian had a list of non-western materials within the library’s collection that I could choose from. Composing these booktalks took longer than the ones for Mr. L’s classes, particularly because I had not read any of the titles and had to solely rely on professional reviews or quick browsing through the pages.

Much like with Mr. L’s class, I began my booktalks by asking the students their reading preferences. The answers I received included psychological thrillers, more sci-fi, contemporary, and nonfiction. Hopefully some students found some books to pick for the next phase of their project!

1st Period Booktalks

3rd Period Booktalks

5th Period Booktalks


Booktalking to 11th Grade Language Arts Classes

photo(2)Today I booktalked to Mr. L’s 1st and 3rd grade Language Arts classes. He asked for a mix of young adult and classic novels that his students may select for an extra credit “free reading” assignment. I selected twelve books from the library’s collection in a range of genres and reading levels. I planned to officially present six to each class, plus several more I’d briefly introduce if I had the time.

To start the booktalk session, I asked the students what they liked to read. How that question is like pulling teeth! Students in both classes preferred certain styles of sci-fi or books with lots of “drama,” but mostly they wanted a good story.

At the end of both classes I had an opportunity for informal reader’s advisory. At this point the students gladly shared their reading interests: action/war novels, manga, futuristic sci-fi where characters posses super powers, sci-fi featuring other worlds, and more. I was so charged by the end of these!

1st Period Booktalks

Booktalks presented off the cuff, based off student feedback:

3rd Period Booktalks

Booktalks presented off the cuff, based off student feedback:

Booktalk Tuesday–MARCH: BOOK ONE


March: Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell

The scene is Nashville, Tennessee. A mix of people–some white, some black–walk into a department store and sit at the lunch counter. Seems pretty normal. Except it’s 1960 and African-American’s aren’t allowed at the lunch counter in Tennessee. An angry crowd starts to form in the store. But this group remains brave, recalling their training in nonviolence. They remain seated. Even as the crowd begins harassing them, the protestors don’t fight back. Even as the crowd begins to beat them.

This powerful graphic novel series shows the early life of Congressman John Lewis of Georgia. It tells an inspiring story of his childhood a sharecropper’s son and education in justice and nonviolence. Eventually he becomes a civil rights leader who marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. and spoke on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

This is a new favorite nonfiction of mine. I recently booktalked this to teens at a high school and they LOVED it. I couldn’t tell if the story or graphic novel format appealed more, but frankly, I didn’t care. Both are great reasons to love this book. The story is compelling (and very relevant) and the art captures really captures the tone. Can’t wait for my hold of March: Book Two to come in at the library.

Booktalking at Northgate Reads

Well. This did not work out quite as planned.

Originally we intended to get the kids used to returning the uncatagorized books to us each week and then we would bring in regular library books for them to check out. But…technical difficulties. So, I never got a chance to booktalk the several library books I selected with these kids in mind (so many gems! Graphic novels, nonfiction, Frozen movie tie-ins, etc…).

Because, unfortunately, this was our final day at Northgate Reads. Instead, Erika and I raced through the Summer of Learning prize books to find ones we thought the Northgate kids would enjoy.

Our weekly time with the 2nd-5th graders amounted to 30 minutes with each group over 6 weeks–not a very long time to build relationships wit the kids. Originally our plan with Northgate Reads Summer Academy was to work with the kids, yes, but also to meet with the teachers to align books to the summer curriculum and gain feedback from the kids themselves. Instead, we relied solely on the uncats available at the library. At least the kids were always excited to see us and often enjoyed the books, even if we had to sell some of them hard!

Once we gathered a number of SoL prize books and got to Norhgate Elementary, Claire had us choose 8-10 books from this selection to booktalk.

Some of which I’ve read. Many of which I’ve not.

Did I mention I needed to choose these books 20 minutes before the 2nd and 3rd graders arrived?

For the 2nd and 3rd graders, I chose a range of nonfiction early readers (plants, rivers, tornadoes), a Squish graphic novel, Those Darn Squirrels picture book, and a couple early chapter book series books. I selected these because the kids have loved any graphic novels (particularly Babymouse, Squish, and any superheroes), series books, and more than anything–funny books.

For the 3rd and 4th graders, I again chose a range of nonfiction books (planets, bugs, storms), A Tangle of Knots, In a Glass Girmmy, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, another Babymouse graphic novel. Like with the 2nd and 3rd graders, these kids loved graphic novels (like Smile and Babymouse) and nonfiction (the more extreme, gross, or creepy the better). Several of them have finished longer novels, so I thought selling them on two (Tangle and Grimmly) action-packed with compelling narratives would capture their attention.

I kept my booktalks short–between 30-90 seconds–and tried a mix of plot description and drawing similarities between these books and what the kids may like. (e.g. If you liked x, then you’ll love y.) For some of the nonfiction books, I also showed pictures and read interesting pieces of information out of them.

For the most part my booktalks went pretty well. The kids listened and some shouted responses or questions, that I easily incorporated. The best part was at the end when the kids raced up to me to ask for specific books I talked about. The funny books, graphic novels, and the middle grade books all got snatched up, although not everything worked.

I definitely felt like this experience had real-world implications, since sometimes I’ll need to booktalk on the fly or discuss books I’ve not read. It helps to know I can do this and now I’ve picked up some great techniques from Claire.