We are between read alouds in my classroom right now, so my team teacher and I decided to dedicate read aloud time this week to book talks. We started out strong with book talks in the beginning of the school year, and books were constantly being checked out of our classroom library. Students talked about books, shared books, and, most importantly, read books.
Somewhere along the way, we stopped giving book talks as part of our routine. Every now and then I remembere to share a book, but it hasn’t been part of our class culture. And, it shows. Last week I looked around during independent reading time and noticed only about half of my students engaged in a book. I called a few students over to the classroom library to help them find a book. Three students and three book talks later, I had three more engaged readers. I knew it was time to ramp up the regularity of book talks.
Reading Book Love by Penny Kittle reminds me that I don’t have to read every book I book talk with students. Reading a passage or the back cover aloud, and sharing my thinking on why I chose the book, can be just as effective a hook as having read the book.
The four books (two I’ve read and two I haven’t) I chose to talk about in our sixth grade classroom today are:
- The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
- Lion by Saroo Brierley
- House of Robots by James Patterson
- Gaby Lost and Found by Jennifer Cervantes
All four books were checked out and being read after I finished the book talks. We even have a class waiting list started for Lion! Book talks matter. As Penny Kittle says, “Your passion is contagious…Becoming a community of readers and writers invites the participation of all; I know that students are developing reading lives when their to-read-next lists are filled with books I’ve never heard of…I know how short my time with them is.”