Since starting my current position as a “middle years” focused children’s librarian, I’ve spent a good chunk of time developing relationships with the Teacher Librarians at my area schools. It’s been a wonderful part of my job – all of my TLs are super friendly and open to collaboration. We’ve been developing ways we can work together throughout the year that benefit both parties. On my end, my overarching goals are to ensure that all the kids in my area have three things:
- a public library card
- a visit to the public library
- a knowledge of and (hopefully!) a relationship with the public librarian (that’s me!)
One of the ways I’ve made headway on the last goal is by doing booktalking programs at the schools. In addition to promoting our collection and cultivating a love for reading, booktalking programs let the kids get to know me. They see my face, they learn my name, and we get to talk about our favourite books together. It’s been amazing, and somewhat astonishing, at how effective this program has been. Kids have been coming in and asking for the books I talked about. Some of them personally ask to speak to “Len-say.” And my hope is that when I visit them again in June to promote the Summer Reading Club, I’ll be a familiar face.
Last fall I’d definitely been feeling what Erin puts into words so well – the pressure to put on ground breaking school-age programs that I see on so many wonderful blogs. But then I realized that booktalking – though it may be considered a very basic program – is exactly what my community needs; in addition to falling in line with my library’s strategic initiatives. So I’m going with it, and I’ve been super happy with that decision.
So, what exactly did I do? Well, the first thing I did was email Abby who gave me lots of booktalking advice and shared some examples of booktalks she’d done. She has been a great role model to me in this endeavor and I highly recommend checking out her blog further.
Here are the details! I’m providing you with pretty much EVERYTHING I used because I wish I would have had something like this last year when I started to plan.
What ages did you target?
Because I do more of a storytime program for the K-2 students, I focused on reaching kids in Grades 3-7. A lot of the schools in Vancouver have mixed-age classrooms, so I broke my talks into three groups: Grade 3-4, Grade 4-5, Grade 6-7.
What books did you select?
I focused on three factors: new(ish) releases, number of copies in my library system, and diversity. Diversity in terms of genres, formats, character experiences, settings, backgrounds, etc. I ended up going with 10 books for each group: 5 chapter books, 3 non-fiction titles, and 2 graphic novels. Here’s the complete list. Some of the titles overlap because reading levels vary and I was trying to keep my work load manageable.
|Grades 3-4||Grades 4-5||Grades 6-7|
How long did you have?
I saw a rotating groups of kids for about 30 minutes each. I spent about 20 minutes booktalking (2-3 minutes per book), and left 10 minutes for discussion, sharing, and advertising library programs.
What did you actually say and do?
Here’s a brief outline of each 30 minute session:
- Introduce myself and where I work
- Define “booktalk”
- Booktalks – the bulk of the presentation
- Ask kids their favourite books
- Promote library programs
I created a PowerPoint presentation that accompanied each of the sessions I presented. Here they are for you to view. Please note, most of the images are copyrighted and cannot be used outside of educational purposes. I borrowed liberally from authors’ websites but if an author ever contacted me to remove the images, I would gladly do so.
- Book Talks Grade 3 to 4 PowerPoint
- Book Talks Grade 4 to 5 PowerPoint
- Book Talks Grade 6 to 7 PowerPoint
These slides were broadcast behind me while I talked. They definitely helped keep the kids engaged and focused. I also hope it helped them remember the books a bit better.
I had all of the books lined up on a table, so when I talked about a book I could hold it up and show them some of the pages. The other trick I learned from a colleague is to tape what you want to say on the back cover – see here!
If you want to see the content of the booktalks, click on this file. For the most part, I only used these as reference and tried to talk about the book without reading from a script. Also, I do not claim ownership of any of these booktalks – I took stuff from online reviews, GoodReads, and any other helpful source I found. They really come from a mish-mash of sources. Some of them Abby generously shared with me!
What did you take with you?
- USB with PowerPoint presentations
- Copies of all the books – invest in a good bag on wheels!
- Library card application forms
- Flyers with our current school-age programs
- Bookmarks with all the titles, authors, and call numbers of the books I shared. Each kid got one of these at the end of their session. I also left some on the information desk at my library so that other staff could reference them if kids came in asking about the books. Nothing fancy but they work!
Have you blogged about booktalking to school-age kids? Do you write booktalks on a blog? Let me know in the comments! I’m thinking about writing a booktalking resources post next!