Every teacher has heard the dreaded words: “I hate reading!” Whether you are assigning a famous classic or allowing a student to choose their own novel, these comments can be heard echoing in the classroom and hallways (and haunting English teachers) everywhere. Now more than ever, it is important to instill a love for reading in students. Books are competing with online outlets of information that quickly catch and hold students’ attention. So how do we entice students to open a book? One popular teaching practice is teacher book talks.
Teacher book talks are a great way to introduce books quickly to your classes. Book talks are short presentations that introduce students to a particular book and are used to catch a reader’s attention. There are multiple ways to structure a book talk: personal opinions, read alouds, summaries, book jacket readings, or even quick videos. A teacher book talk should not reveal key components of the book, but it should be something to hook the students to want to read more. This is the perfect time to talk about why you personally enjoyed the book and why you think the students in your classroom will also enjoy it. Book talks can help build curiosity for a variety of novels and can be presented based on themes, genres, or topics.
The Power of Teacher Book Talks
What are the key reasons to use teacher book talks in the classroom? First, book talks create an anticipation to want to read more. When you read a thrilling excerpt from a text, students get excited and begin asking questions. It can hook them and motivate them to see what happens to the characters next. Along with this, you can give a quick synopsis of a book, but leave a huge cliffhanger. This cliffhanger alone can make students want to know more! By putting in your own opinions and experiences with the books, you can create a classroom built on student and personal connections. As an English teacher, it is your goal to show students how exciting books can be. While doing these book talks, it is important to show the excitement and emotions you felt while reading the book.
Along with anticipation, book exposure is another key component of book talks. Students do not know what they do not know. There are so many genres in young adult literature, and the options are endless! By introducing books, students are made aware of what is out there, and it can help them understand where to go in order to find books they love. This is a time to help students of all reading levels find books that are appropriate and encourage them to read.
Extend Book Talks Beyond the Classroom
Teacher book talks do not need to be limited to the classroom or classroom teacher. Book talks are a perfect time to introduce students to the school or community library. You can showcase a variety of authors and books by relocating to the library to have your book talks. Plus, the students love mini field trips! This is a great time to show the students what the library has to offer, so when they do find a book or author they enjoy, they know where to go to find more. If you have a classroom library, you can organize your books based on specific genres and then leave the book display for students to ask questions about. This encourages students to continue to add to their list of books they would like to read, but it also allows them to ask questions about the books you have presented.
The classroom teacher does not have to be the only teacher giving the book talks. In order to build a stronger connection to school-wide reading initiatives, you can invite “guest book talkers” to showcase books that they also love. This gives you opportunities to expose students to books that other classroom teachers enjoy reading. It also allows a variety of content area teachers to foster relationships and build connections within their own classrooms. If teachers in the school know your reading goals, they can recommend books to students or talk with students about the books they are currently reading.
Empower Students Through Book Talks
Book talks can also boost engagement amongst the students in your classroom. Moving forward, students can give a book talk themselves as another tool to encourage discussion around reading. Students can give presentations on their favorite books to their classmates in order to inspire their peers to grow their independent reading lists. This is a great way to showcase passion in reading and get students to talk about the books they love throughout the school year. As you model teacher book talks, students can learn how to convey curiosity, engage their classmates, and express the exciting components of the book. Students can learn the art of reflection and hone in on their presentation skills in front of a class of their peers. What better way to get students to interact with their classmates than by having them talk about a new book they have discovered and actually loved reading?!
Independent reading is vital to student learning, but sometimes it is hard to know where to start. A successful classroom and school structured around reading must give students ample opportunities to be immersed in a variety of books. By showcasing student novels through teacher book talks, students will create their independent reading list and begin their journeys in the wonderful world of reading. Teacher book talks are a great way for you to encourage readers to find the books just for them.
For additional reading on book talks, you may be interested in these blog posts: