Booktalking: low prep, high results

As much as my students love book trailers – evidenced by the number of holds placed after viewing – not all titles have trailers.  And, frankly, I love talking about books – it’s one of the reasons I started working in the library.  Booktalking to motivate student readers is truly a joy.

I think this method of booktalking is also the easiest.  It requires little to no prep, depending on your knowledge of the titles, and has always produced results…especially with reluctant readers.  Here’s what to do:

  1. Choose titles you know & love and/or have kid appeal.  I’ll choose 5 books for a 5 minute talk, and up to 10 books for a 15 minute talk.  Be thoughtful of genres and diversity.
  2. When kids sit down, have all covers facing them (mine lay flat on the ground, as students sit on stairs).  Explain that they will get to vote for the books you’re going to talk about.
  3. Share each title and genre.  While sharing titles, give each book a number (doesn’t have to be labeled).
  4. At the end of sharing titles, have students make a fist when they know which book’s number they want to hear more about.  When all fists are ready, have them vote by showing the number. Keeping numbers inside of their fist encourages honest responses versus mimicking the BFF.
  5. Notice which number gets the most votes.  Also monitor those reluctant readers and note their number choice.  This should be a quick process – 5 seconds, tops.
  6. Booktalk the titles that garner the most votes.  Often, I’ll also booktalk the choice of a struggling or frustrated reader.  Depending on the day, I may talk 3 or 5 books or 10 of 10 books.  The talk may be reading the summary on the back or my own memory of the books.
  7. Have all books available for check out at the end!

That’s it.  A simple booktalking process that can be geared toward reluctant readers.

2 thoughts on “Booktalking: low prep, high results

  1. Rachel Hollingsworth

    Hi Arika! I’ve been following your blog recently and scrounging it for your insight and resources when I came across this post. I’ve wanted to start doing more booktalks with my students, but it feels a little overwhelming as each grade has about three classes, which means I would need to booktalk a total of about thirty books for each week if most of them get checked out with each class. Is this what you end up doing or do you go ahead and book talk the ones you have planned for even if they are already checked out?

    1. ajdickens Post author

      Hi! I do exactly that – booktalk about 30 books. It’s a bit crazy, but it works. I’ve found that by shelf-talking – literally pulling the books off the shelf – they remember where books are and can find them more easily in the future (that is, if they don’t put a hold on it!). I’ll have all the students sit on the floor in a group and pull titles. Know that I usually look in advance to see what may best match the particular group of kids…then pulling those to booktalk. Good luck!


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