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February 10, 2016

Booktalks, Book Trailers, and Book Teasers

By Alycia Zimmerman
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8

    As an adult reader (and a passionate one, at that!), I rarely find the books I want to read by browsing the shelves at the bookstore or library. Most often, I read books recommended by friends or books that I hear about on NPR or my favorite podcasts. Essentially, I rely on the guidance of trusted sources to help me find reading material that is tailored to my interests.

    It only makes sense that our students will have an easier time finding the books they want to read if we create a culture where talking about our favorite books is the norm. I take my job of matching children to books very seriously! After all, the most important way a child develops as a reader is by reading — and that will only happen if she can find books that interest her. So, I’ve made booktalking a regular, daily part of my teaching, with fantastic results. Not only do booktalks get my students excited about trying new books, they naturally begin to booktalk themselves! Curious about how to incorporate more booktalking in your classroom? Read on for some practical tips and resources.

     

    After modeling booktalks for a couple of months, students naturally begin booktalking too.

     

    What is a Booktalk?

    A booktalk is an informal oral recommendation about a book that you really enjoyed reading. My booktalks usually take a minute or two at the most, and are unscripted, (although I do think about what I’m going to say ahead of time). Sometimes I booktalk in front of the whole class — particularly when we get new books for the classroom library, when I want to introduce a book that connects to a content unit, or when I want to direct the kids’ attention to a genre they are overlooking. Other booktalks are even less formal, such as when I suggest a book to an individual student or group of students. I really like how author Kate Messner describes informal booktalks in this short video.

    For more information about booktalks, printable tip sheets, and templates for student booktalks, visit Scholastic’s Booktalk page

     

    What is a Book Trailer?

    A book trailer is a very short “coming attraction” style video promotion for a book that you can share with your students. Often these videos are made by the book publisher or the author. Scholastic has a HUGE collection of book trailers, video booktalks, and author interviews on their Books and Series Videos page and on their Book Trailers YouTube Channel. I also find high quality book trailers made by librarians, teachers, and even students on SchoolTube, YouTube, and Book Trailers for Readers. If I can find a great trailer for a book I want to promote, I project the trailer for my entire class to watch.

     

    What is a Book Teaser?

    A book teaser is a short read aloud of a sampling of a longer book. Sometimes I read the first few pages or first chapter, but this isn’t always the case. Other times I pick an action scene or a cliffhanger. When I tease Hatchet, for example, I read the two pages right as the plane is crashing. My students groan in dismay when I close the book. Soon enough they are fighting over the copies of the book in the hopes of being the first to find out what happens.

     

    When Should I Booktalk?

    I often find my reading lessons are too long and jam-packed as it is, so I generally don’t booktalk during reading workshop. (Although I informally recommend lots of books to students as they are “shopping” the classroom library for independent reading books.) I find that booktalks are perfect for transition times and the spare five minutes between activities. Often I share a booktalk or book trailer right before lunchtime or during our morning meeting. And my students are invited to booktalk to the whole class as part of our afternoon meeting right before pack-up.

    Download my "I'm Ready to Booktalk" sign up calendar for student booktalks.

     

    What Happens After a Booktalk?

    As soon as my students hear a booktalk, trailer, or teaser, they are usually fired up to read the recommended book. So what do I do when ten students all desperately want to read the same book? (Such problems, I know!) I remind my students to add the book to their “Someday List” in their reading notebook so they remember it’s a book they plan to read. Then I randomly select the first reader using the old “I'm thinking of a number between 1 and 20” game. (Shh, occasionally I cheat and make sure a reluctant reader wins the game.)

     

    How Do I Teach My Students to Booktalk?

    I find that modeling booktalks nearly every day automatically teaches my students how to give a booktalk; I don’t need to teach booktalking explicitly. I grew up watching booktalks on the PBS program Reading Rainbow; those booktalks undoubtedly influence my booktalking now. You can find some of those booktalks online to share with your students (such as here on my Booktalk YouTube playlist.)

       

    If you want to provide more guidance for your students as they create booktalks, Scholastic’s Six Student Booktalk Tips and Ten Tips for Coaching Booktalks (above) are great places to begin.

     

    More Booktalking Resources and Ideas

    In their very helpful book, Transforming Literacy Teaching in the Era of Higher Standards, Karen Biggs-Tucker and Brian Tucker talk about the importance of booktalks to build a reading community. They write that the goal for intermediate readers is for “them to begin to depend on one another for book recommendations and not the teacher. After all, we will not always be there to recommend a title — but hopefully a trusted friend will.” (page 78)

    I’ve written about using series books to hook reluctant middle-grade readers. Series books are often the first books I booktalk to my students each year, because once a student enjoys one book in a series, they have their “what will I read next?” conundrum figured out.

    Blogger Mary Blow’s middle school students tweaked the booktalk format to create talk show-style videos about their favorite books. Her post explains their process in great detail, and can be adapted for any grade level.

    Several years ago, some of my students decided to make booktalk videos in the style of the Reading Rainbow booktalks. This makes a great enrichment project, especially if the students take the reigns as directors, videographers, and film editors. Check out Henry's booktalk video below.

    For updates on my upcoming blog posts, please follow me on Twitter or Facebook.

    As an adult reader (and a passionate one, at that!), I rarely find the books I want to read by browsing the shelves at the bookstore or library. Most often, I read books recommended by friends or books that I hear about on NPR or my favorite podcasts. Essentially, I rely on the guidance of trusted sources to help me find reading material that is tailored to my interests.

    It only makes sense that our students will have an easier time finding the books they want to read if we create a culture where talking about our favorite books is the norm. I take my job of matching children to books very seriously! After all, the most important way a child develops as a reader is by reading — and that will only happen if she can find books that interest her. So, I’ve made booktalking a regular, daily part of my teaching, with fantastic results. Not only do booktalks get my students excited about trying new books, they naturally begin to booktalk themselves! Curious about how to incorporate more booktalking in your classroom? Read on for some practical tips and resources.

     

    After modeling booktalks for a couple of months, students naturally begin booktalking too.

     

    What is a Booktalk?

    A booktalk is an informal oral recommendation about a book that you really enjoyed reading. My booktalks usually take a minute or two at the most, and are unscripted, (although I do think about what I’m going to say ahead of time). Sometimes I booktalk in front of the whole class — particularly when we get new books for the classroom library, when I want to introduce a book that connects to a content unit, or when I want to direct the kids’ attention to a genre they are overlooking. Other booktalks are even less formal, such as when I suggest a book to an individual student or group of students. I really like how author Kate Messner describes informal booktalks in this short video.

    For more information about booktalks, printable tip sheets, and templates for student booktalks, visit Scholastic’s Booktalk page

     

    What is a Book Trailer?

    A book trailer is a very short “coming attraction” style video promotion for a book that you can share with your students. Often these videos are made by the book publisher or the author. Scholastic has a HUGE collection of book trailers, video booktalks, and author interviews on their Books and Series Videos page and on their Book Trailers YouTube Channel. I also find high quality book trailers made by librarians, teachers, and even students on SchoolTube, YouTube, and Book Trailers for Readers. If I can find a great trailer for a book I want to promote, I project the trailer for my entire class to watch.

     

    What is a Book Teaser?

    A book teaser is a short read aloud of a sampling of a longer book. Sometimes I read the first few pages or first chapter, but this isn’t always the case. Other times I pick an action scene or a cliffhanger. When I tease Hatchet, for example, I read the two pages right as the plane is crashing. My students groan in dismay when I close the book. Soon enough they are fighting over the copies of the book in the hopes of being the first to find out what happens.

     

    When Should I Booktalk?

    I often find my reading lessons are too long and jam-packed as it is, so I generally don’t booktalk during reading workshop. (Although I informally recommend lots of books to students as they are “shopping” the classroom library for independent reading books.) I find that booktalks are perfect for transition times and the spare five minutes between activities. Often I share a booktalk or book trailer right before lunchtime or during our morning meeting. And my students are invited to booktalk to the whole class as part of our afternoon meeting right before pack-up.

    Download my "I'm Ready to Booktalk" sign up calendar for student booktalks.

     

    What Happens After a Booktalk?

    As soon as my students hear a booktalk, trailer, or teaser, they are usually fired up to read the recommended book. So what do I do when ten students all desperately want to read the same book? (Such problems, I know!) I remind my students to add the book to their “Someday List” in their reading notebook so they remember it’s a book they plan to read. Then I randomly select the first reader using the old “I'm thinking of a number between 1 and 20” game. (Shh, occasionally I cheat and make sure a reluctant reader wins the game.)

     

    How Do I Teach My Students to Booktalk?

    I find that modeling booktalks nearly every day automatically teaches my students how to give a booktalk; I don’t need to teach booktalking explicitly. I grew up watching booktalks on the PBS program Reading Rainbow; those booktalks undoubtedly influence my booktalking now. You can find some of those booktalks online to share with your students (such as here on my Booktalk YouTube playlist.)

       

    If you want to provide more guidance for your students as they create booktalks, Scholastic’s Six Student Booktalk Tips and Ten Tips for Coaching Booktalks (above) are great places to begin.

     

    More Booktalking Resources and Ideas

    In their very helpful book, Transforming Literacy Teaching in the Era of Higher Standards, Karen Biggs-Tucker and Brian Tucker talk about the importance of booktalks to build a reading community. They write that the goal for intermediate readers is for “them to begin to depend on one another for book recommendations and not the teacher. After all, we will not always be there to recommend a title — but hopefully a trusted friend will.” (page 78)

    I’ve written about using series books to hook reluctant middle-grade readers. Series books are often the first books I booktalk to my students each year, because once a student enjoys one book in a series, they have their “what will I read next?” conundrum figured out.

    Blogger Mary Blow’s middle school students tweaked the booktalk format to create talk show-style videos about their favorite books. Her post explains their process in great detail, and can be adapted for any grade level.

    Several years ago, some of my students decided to make booktalk videos in the style of the Reading Rainbow booktalks. This makes a great enrichment project, especially if the students take the reigns as directors, videographers, and film editors. Check out Henry's booktalk video below.

    For updates on my upcoming blog posts, please follow me on Twitter or Facebook.

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