Recommending Books to Readers
The matchmaker’s goal when delivering book talks is to introduce students to a potential new “bibliomate.”
—from The Book Club Companion by Cindy O’Donnell-Allen
It is important to remember that a child cannot be interested in literature he has not been introduced to yet. A great way to encourage readers to try new authors and genres is by reading aloud a book or by reading a portion of a book and doing a book talk on it. Two great resources are Hey! Listen to This: Stories to Read Aloud edited by Jim Trelease (grades 1-4) and Read All About It edited by Jim Trelease (grades 5-8). These books contain excerpts from 48 children’s books, along with an introduction and background information for each and suggestions for further reading.
Nancy Keane says, “I like to use the analogy of a movie trailer. The purpose of a book talk is to ‘sell’ the book.”
Book talk tips:
- Give enough of the plot to interest the listeners, but not a full summary of the book.
- Don’t give away the important parts of the book or the ending.
- Highlight the interesting points.
- Read aloud an interesting or favorite _______
- End with a cliffhanger.
- Use a visual prop to build interest.
For more tips on how to present a book talk, see booktalking tips at: Nancy Keane’s Book Talks
Student-Led Book Chats
It is just as important for students to recommend books to their peers as it as for teachers to recommend books. Student-led book chats are the perfect vehicle for students to “sell” books to their peers. See Student-Led Book Chats for more details.
Books I Want to Read
Students should be encouraged to keep a list of titles that they would like to read in the future. The “Books I Want to Read” form is kept in the reading workshop folder. Students are encouraged to take it with them during classmates’ book chats and individual conferences with the teacher so that they can record books that the teacher or their peers recommend.
Assemble a binder with the blank forms. When students read a book that they think their classmates would enjoy, they complete a section in the binder. When a student is looking for a new book to read, s/he may consult the binder for some suggestions from classmates.
Ways to “bless” a book:
- Hold up a book, mention the title and offer a few words of information or response to the book.
- Mention that the book offers information on a topics you will be studying.
- Tell that it was written by an author students know.
- Read just a bit of it.
- Show an illustration.
- Say “if you like scary books/funny books/sports stories, this book may be for you.”
- The goal is to give a brief introduction to entice student to read the books.
Each child has his/her own specific emotional and academic needs, so merely handing a reader a book list is not sufficient guidance; however, you can find some wonderful lists of recommended books in the professional resource s at the end of this handbook.
- Beyond Leveled Books: Supporting Transitional Readers in Grades 2-5, by Karen Szymusiak and Franki Sibberson, Stenhouse, 2001.
- Books to Build On by J. Holdren & E.D. Hirsch, Delta, 1996.
- Hey! Listen to This: Stories to Read Aloud by Jim Trelease, Penguin, 1992.
- How to Get Your Child to Love Reading by Esme Raji Codell, Algonquin, 2003.
- Learning Under the Influence of Language and Literature: Making the Most of Read-Alouds Across the Day by Lester Laminack and Reba Wadswroth, Heinemann, 2006.
- Leveled Books, K-8: Matching Texts to Readers for Effective Teaching by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell, Heinemann, 2005.
- Making the Match: The Right Book for the Right Reader at the Right Time : Grades 4-12 by Teri S. Lesesne, Stenhouse, 2003.
- Matching Books to Readers: Using Leveled Books in Guided Reading, K-3 by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell, Heinemann, 1999.
- Reading Aloud Across the Curriculum by Lester Laminack and Reba Wadsworth, Heinemann, 2006.
- Some of My Best Friends Are Books: Guiding Gifted Readers from Preschool to High School by J. Halsted, Great Potential Press, 2002.
- The Fountas & Pinnell Leveled Book List, K-8, 2006-2008 Edition.
- The Magic Bookshelf: A Parents’ Guide to Showing Growing Minds the Path to the Best Children’s Literature by Janie and Richard Jarvis, Lorica, 1999.
- The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease, Penguin, 2006.