I’m not sure if it is because we are on the cusp of cold weather or that we just ended quarter one, but my students are dragging. They rub their eyes more in the morning, carry in larger cups of coffee, and stoop a little lower in their chairs.
This lethargy seeps into even my strongest classes, which is why I like to change up my approach to book talks from time to time to re-energize students before they dive into their independent reading books. Here are five ways I stir up my book talks.
- Musical Chairs: Music is naturally energizing and I love getting books in students’ hands quickly. This is “played” like typical musical chairs, the main difference is that students who sit in a chair also get to look at the book that has been placed on the desk behind them (I have separated desks and chairs so I face the chairs outwards). The student left without a chair writes a “mini-book talk” on the board, which includes the title of the book they have read this year, the author, how many stars it would receive out of five, and a quick sentence to get readers interested.
- Group Book Talks: Getting students chatting about books is one way to ramp up energy at the start of class. My desks are grouped into fours, so students turn to their group members and book talk their current book (or a book they read prior). Oftentimes there are repeat book talks from books I previously shared, but I reiterate the value of multiple perspectives and opinions. What others notice as readers might be something I never thought to share.
- Guest Book Talks: I’ve spent years chatting with my favorite library staff about new YA books, but sadly it didn’t dawn on me to tap into their brilliance until this year. Our phenomenal librarian Kathy Vetter book talked Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates to my AP Literature students, and our AV and computer lab guru, Melissa Ciotti, book talked Little Brother by Cory Doctorow to my freshman classes. By the end of their visits, all copies had been checked out of both the classroom and school libraries. Next up, I have a PE teacher…and hopefully our principal! Students need positive reading role models in all of their educators.
- Speed Dating: I have mentioned speed dating with books multiple times before, but it is one of my favorite ways to get books off my shelves and into my students’ hands. I typically put the desks in a circle and have students rotate the books every minute or so, but I love Amy’s approach as well.
- Book Talk Puzzle: This is a longer project, but I love the final product.
Students write out book talks on large puzzle pieces. I have students discuss their favorite parts of the book and to whom they might recommend it. Finally they draw their favorite scene, symbols, or images from the book. Once the puzzle pieces are complete, we share our final products, build the puzzle, and put it on display for our peers.
- Book Trailers: I had my Advanced Composition students complete book trailers last year. The final films were phenomenal and provided excellent material for this year’s book talks. I oftentimes play the film for my students then read an excerpt to expose them to the language. There are some brilliant book trailers here and sprinkled across the Internet and TTT.
What do you do to change up your book talk schedule during the year? What are some unique ways you introduce your students to various titles?