Tag Archives: booktalk

Tips & Tricks for Booktalking

9 Aug

Yesterday, I posted about the disservice of labeling books “boy” or “girl.” Today, I’m going to give you some tips and tricks for booktalking great books to kids – hopefully pushing beyond stereotypes and focusing on pairing children with their right book at their right time. Because it’s not our right book (what we think they should be reading), but it’s what the child needs at that particular moment in time! Corrina Allen talks about this very concept in her podcast, Books Between and other great tips on not becoming a book witch!

Hopefully, I didn’t scare you away from the task because although I LOVE suggesting titles to kids, it can be very overwhelming at times. I look at booktalking in two ways – the first, a more formal presentation of the book, selling it to a group of educators or kids trying to get them interested in the story without spoiling it and the other way to booktalk is matching kids up one-on-one with a book while working the reference desk or being on the public floor of the library (or on social media or in my personal life when people ask me to suggest a good book).

I’m going to leave “group” booktalking for another post as that is something that is an entity all on its own and would make a great post. Today, I’m going to focus on that one-on-one conversation often called Reader’s Advisory in the library world.

  1. Be Positive
    Whatever you do, don’t try and booktalk a book you’re not excited about. It comes across as fake and kids will pick up that emotion and not be interested in what you have to offer. Rather, if you didn’t like something, say so, kids love it when an adult doesn’t like something and they may be interested in your dislike enough to pick up a book. That being said, if you’re not a fan of a genre or format, you need to at least be familiar with titles to suggest, so you can offer a well-rounded list of books. (The A to Z Glossary of the Kid Lit World)
  2. Reading Level or Age/Grade
    This does not mean AR or other leveled reading program, instead this is just to get an idea of what books to suggest – easy readers or is a kid ready for chapter books, are they reading middle grade titles, but maybe they’re not quite ready for young adult books. This is important to know and also be willing to throw it out the window if a kid is ready and willing to read anything!
  3. Favorite Books
    Does the child have books that they do love? Or a recent book that they liked? This is an important question to ask because if a child is super excited about Diary of a Wimpy Kid, then you can easily suggest Wimpy Kid readalikes.
  4. Favorite Genres/Formats
    Some kids will be more willing to read specific genres or formats (not unlike adults), so it’s important to know this in advance – don’t go suggesting fiction titles for a reader who prefers to read nonfiction. Not to say you can’t try and offer a fiction title, but be prepared to offer what kids are most excited for.
  5. Favorite Movies/TV shows/Videogames
    Asking a kid about a favorite movie, TV show, or video game is two-fold – one, it shows kids that you’re interested in them and creates a stronger relationship and two, it can give you some clues as to what to give them – do they like comedy, drama, action/adventure, etc.? This information is helpful in figuring out a child’s interests in books.
  6. Be Familiar
    It’s important as a gatekeeper to be familiar with a variety of genres, formats, authors, illustrators, styles and more. And this is the part of the job I could always use more time for – reading reviews, reading books, learning more about authors – there are so many titles being published and so little time. But a good gatekeeper keeps an updated and backlist log of titles for all genres and formats at the ready.
  7. Offer Choices
    I never give kids one specific book (unless they ask for a specific title), rather I like to offer them 3-5 titles that they can check out and take home or peruse in the library to make a better choice – getting them to read the synopsis or a few pages, something that will make them say, “This is the one I want.”
  8. Walk Away
    This statement could also be, “be patient.” I usually leave a handful of titles with the child, preferably somewhere they can spread them out and then I walk away. Give them time to explore the books without having an adult they feel the need to please hovering over their shoulder. This idea usually works when they come up to the desk and let me know what they picked out, or if they’re not into any of those titles, it’s back to more questions to find a new stack of books. Rinse and repeat.

Check back tomorrow for a list of recently published titles that are for absolutely anyone who enjoys a really good book!

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