Below you will find engaging book talk ideas, as well as resources to implement those book talks.
Postcards from Camp
This booktalk format can be adapted to any time of the year, but I set up a tent in the library at the end of the school year and go for the summer camp feel. I choose a scary folktale or a good old picture book to read to my high schoolers just for fun. Then I send them to the tables to browse through new and old books. They are asked to create a post card to send to a friend or family member. If they bring me a quarter I will actually send it for them (my school is small enough that I can cover the $0.10 difference as it costs $0.35 to mail a postcard in the US). I created blank postcards by cutting card stock into quarters. That fits postal regulations. Community connections, art, and writing standards are made with this gem! If you are allowed, you can even do modified s'mores (see pics below).
Scavenger Hunt - Using GooseChase
This is a fun book talk format and it is worth paying for the Educator Plus upgrade on the GooseChase app if you can swing the fifty bucks. (It's the difference between having the ability to allow individuals to play versus teams - it gives you option.)
My school is small and I was able to trust my small classes of 11th and 12th graders to go on a a school wide scavenger hunt - they way the app works, students submit photos as evidence, so good wifi is key for success. I had a bunch of book based "missions" and you could certainly limit your scavenger hunt to library-only.
Hands down MY FAVORITE so far. Even the 12th graders got into this.
Set up: I made a long rectangle with three tables and faced the chairs outward. Each chair has a book on it and there are lots of books on the table as well.
There is a chair for every student for the first two rounds. Students walk around, when the music stops, they sit and look at the book. During the second round hand out the form (below). Students need to evaluate the book they land on - but now a chair is taken out each round and a student is eliminated. The eliminated students take a book with them and evaluate on the sidelines. They can switch books each round. For the last person standing to win a prize (bookmark, pencil, piece of candy) their form has to be completely filled out. We had a blast.
Reading Is Sweet
For this book talk you'll need to print out the "genrefied" gingerbread people and laminate. You'll want to make 4 or 5 sets, depending on how many groups of students you will have.
For each group, at each table have: a set of gingerbread people, corresponding books to be matched up, and finally, a "These books caught my sweet tooth" sheet to be filled out afterwards.
Depending on time, students can rotate through the tables. I have made it a timed competition and allowed the winning team first "dibs" on borrowing books. If your school allows, end the event with decorating cookies!
Sort of like Trivia...but not... (Idea modified from Librarian Amanda Galliton)
For this book talk, I have a Google Slides show set up with three books on a slide and a "one liner." Students have to decide which book the one liner belongs to. I set the scoring up like our local trivia night so the team with the most points at the end wins a bag of candy (usually they share with the whole class). If you are a no-food school, other incentives could be offered - bookmarks, some extra perk in the maker space if you have one, etc.
You'll want to photocopy at TON of student answer slips. Each team needs one for each round.
Here's how the scoring went. There are 8 rounds. For each round, each team had to wager how many points (1-8) on their guess. They could use that point value only once. For example, if they are super sure they are correct, they would wager 8 points on round 1, but they could not wager 8 points again, they'd have to use 7 or 6 the next time they were super sure.
Be a Film Critic
Full disclosure: my students told me they found watching book trailers boring, so I have moved away from this activity. I am moving towards making book trailers with apps like:
However, when watching movie trailers, I ask students to be a film critic and use the sheet below.
It's all about ambiance...
There are many ways to hold a book tasting in your library. Many librarians, like myself, bring in electric candles and table cloths and really "do it up." My students are served a dessert course, book shaped cookies (Fig newtons - one edge trimmed off and frosted) at the end, as we are allowed to serve food. Below are resources I use, including placemats.
Some of these resources were modified documents shared by Librarian, Neha Thakkar
Book Speed Dating
This one takes a little patience...
Book speed dating is a way to expose your students to a vast amount of books in a short amount of time (depending on how you run your 'event'). Different grade/reading levels will determine how long your dates will have with each book. I tend to set the library up like a restaurant and explain how a speed dating event works and take it from there. Again, this kind of event can have a lot of variations.
If you haven't tried a Breakout yet, what are you waiting for?
I often use Breakouts to introduce middle schoolers to the library. It's also a fun way to re-acclimate students to the genres in our fiction section.
Breakoutedu.com offers loads of ideas, as well as Pinterest and just the internet in general.
I find customizing my own Breakouts to work out best. Below I've provided some of my favorite resources.
Music Match Up
Connect with students on their level and you become a rock star...
This book talk starts with a slide show (see resources below) that highlights how songs have themes and can be connected to books.
Then show students the Music MatchUp sheet and talk about the various ways it can be filled out. We talk about how students can Google song lyrics, or use Goodreads to find out a book's theme.
There are a multitude of ways to go about connecting students' music with songs. This was just the way I did it this year. I would love more ideas on how librarians are doing this. Making music videos, without breaking copyright laws would be one...
Digital breakouts are very similar to the breakout boxes only - no boxes! Well, sometimes I hide clues in little boxes around the library to make the breakout more of a scavenger hunt. If you subscribe to BreakoutEdu you can make really great breakouts online with their platform OR you can make them for free with Google Forms. I recently used a Digital Breakout to introduce students to a batch of new books as well as refresh their use of the Online Catalog.
What's It Gonna Be
This turned out to be a really fun booktalk method, despite the set up taking quite a while. First students take a personality test to determine what kind of book they will enjoy the most. In addition, there are physical items around the tables that correspond with the personality/genre types. There are books at each of the tables and students are encouraged to check them out after we go over the 'test' results. The kids really enjoyed the activity and some were surprised to see which genre types matched their personality.
My students BEGGED me to do a "Kahoot Book Talk." I found with some groups it was too chaotic and others could handle it. If you have access to devices (either chromebooks, iPads, laptops, or student devices) this can be a fun choice once in a while. What's nice about Kahoot, you can customize it and add photos. That said, I limit it to once a year. (But I am not opposed to students creating ones!)
If you'd like to try a sample Kahoot I did with my students, click HERE and and you will be given a game PIN.
Fact or Fiction?
I have not done this one yet, but I plan to this year. I saw this idea on www.nancykeane.com. I love it, probably will modify it, and will, of course, add the resources when that happens.
"All the booktalks must be stated in a journalistic style, and the more enticing information that can be shared about the characters and conflict the better. You could distribute numbered scorecards for students to guess "fact or fiction", then at the end of the session, tell them which stories were from nonfiction books, classic or contemporary novels, newspaper articles, or maybe movies or TV shows."