I’m not really a huge booktalker. I realize that’s almost blasphemous as a teacher-librarian, but honestly, it’s about limited time. After teaching 20 classes, managing 6 sessions of RtII, supervising TV crew, ditching the Dewey decimals, managing the Android tablets, and ordering fantastic and exceptional books, there isn’t a lot of time left for dedicated booktalking.
Here’s what I do instead:
- Personalized book recommendations – During almost every library class, I offer to help anyone find their next book based on their genre preferences and past reading. This takes 3-5 minutes per student, so I can’t do it for everyone, but the ones that take me up on the offer get my undivided attention.
- Book tastings – In September, the four 5th grade teachers and I collaborated for the first time in several years. We schedule book tastings in the library with 7 library tables of books, 1 genre per table with a mix of fiction and nonfiction. The library was a mess for days, but it was worth it! The classroom and several learning support teachers came with their students to help with choosing and evaluating reading levels. By the end of 90 minutes, each student left with a list of 7-10 books they wanted to read this year. Many checked out one or two that day. I’d like to repeat the tasting again for the spring, but I think it might have to wait until after PSSA tests.
- RtII literature circles – When over 60 students need to choose new books for literature circles, the gifted teacher and I decide on a few choices, and I booktalk them to the students before they vote for their favorite. Lit circle groups are organized by student choice of books.
And that’s about it. I used to do more booktalks when teachers did monthly or quarterly book projects/reports on a particular genre. Book projects have fallen out of favor in our school in the past few years, and perhaps that’s for the best. Though students were forced to read a variety of genres, inevitably the genres that were less-respected by teachers such as humor, poetry, and science fiction were overlooked. Besides, I prefer students to read what they want, instead of what their teacher wants them to read. I’m a reading rebel like that!
I sometimes wish our teachers and public schools could be more focused on reading for fun or for enjoyment (Rosenblatt’s aesthetic stance) instead of almost exclusively on reading for information or learning (Rosenblatt’s efferent stance). Booktalking was always a great way to promote reading from an aesthetic stance, and it introduced students to books they might not have read otherwise. I think students would be more likely to become lifelong readers and learners if we could.
For more information about Louise Rosenblatt’s instructional stances, check your local public or college library databases for “transactional theory of reading” or “reader response theory.”
Rosenblatt, J. M. (1991). Literature — S.O.S.! Language Arts, 68, 444-448. Preview available on JSTOR.
The TL blogging challenge is from Cybrarian Jen at Where Books and Technology Meet. I’m going to try it out, but instead of daily posts, I’m going to try for 1-2 posts a week.