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. Book chats are not oral book reports. Rather, they have the feel of a book commercial. I have found student-led book chats to be the perfect vehicle for students to “sell” books to their peers. The book chats consist of a brief oral presentation in which the presenter tells the title, author, and genre of the book, gives a brief summary without spoiling the ending, includes some personal response to the book, and makes a recommendation about who should read this book. Students also have the option of creating a visual aid to accompany the oral presentation.
- I introduce the book chats by showing some “book commercial” clips from Reading Rainbow (the last few minutes of each show).
- Next I post a calendar of available book chat slots–I like to do 3 per week. Students sign up for a date, but they do not need to indicate the title of the book yet.
- A week before their assigned book chats, students take home the following packet to help them prepare: Included in the packet is a list of suggestions for performing a satisfactory book chat, a booklet of directions for creating an optional book chat project to accompany the oral presentation, and a video/DVD of some Reading Rainbow book commercials.
- The book chat project directions are ideas I pulled from these two sources:
I photocopied about 20 projects, laminated them, and bound them into a booklet.
- Students prepare for their book chats at home. This includes practicing the oral presentation and creating the project (if they choose to do one). They may present a book chat on a book they have just finished reading, one they read earlier in the year, or even a book their parents have read aloud to them. The main criteria is that it must be a book they love!
- On the student’s assigned presentation day, he sits in the reading rocking chair and presents the book commercial to his classmates who are gathered around on the floor. Click on the video below to see a sample book chat.
After the student present his book chat, classmates respond with feedback. We call it “warm feedback” and “cool feedback”. Warm feedback is positive comments and cool feedback is constructive criticism that is worded in a positive way. I post the following chart on the wall to scaffold students’ feedback and prevent comments such as “I liked your book chat because it was good.” Usually, at least one student will respond with “Can I read that book next?” or “Where did you get that book?” That is the exact response that the book chats are meant to provoke! I want reading to become contagious in my classroom.
While the student is presenting his book chat, I record comments and observations in my assessment notebook.
After the student presents his book chat and receives feedback, he completes a self-evaluation on this Book Chat Rubric and then places it on my desk for me to evaluate.