Booktalking. We’ve all heard about it. We all know it is important. But are we all prepared to do it?
For a little bit of backstory, I will be one of the presenters at the WLA Conference this year for the CAYAS (Children and Young Adult Services) Booktalking the Best presentation. It is a presentation in which library students and professionals give booktalks about some of their favorite recent books at the Washington Library Association’s annual conference.
Have I given a professional, official book talk before? NO! Am I nervous? You bet your socks I am! But instead of hiding under a blanket, I’ve decided to tackle this head on. I figured some of you might be in the position of booktalking for the first time, so I thought I’d take you along for the ride as I start researching how I am going to booktalk the books I chose.
Not sure where to begin?
Sometimes the hardest part is getting started. I know I’ve been somewhat actively avoiding thinking about these booktalks for about a month now, unsure of where to start. So in this blogpost, I am going to share some ideas to help get us started. This list is certainly not exhaustive of all possibilities.
Booktalks are essentially an advertisement for a book. So just like those clever Super Bowl adds, these booktalks have to be catchy! By catchy, I mean–what is the hook? What is going to make the potential reader stop and listen in? It is important to establish some sort of intrigue. This can be done in a couple of ways.
- A quote from the book (pick something ear-catching)
- “Eleanor was right. She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn’t supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.” -Rainbow Rowell, Eleanor & Park
- Describe a scene
- Imagine you’re in a race with your friends, running from the car to see who can get to the door of your house first. You’re in the lead, you can hear your friends giggling. You feel the rush of the wind on your face, you’re flying, no…no…you’re not flying, you’re falling, you’re falling flat on your face. Pain. Blood. Screams. Mom? You see people all around you, in a second you’re mom is there but you can’t understand why she is asking people to look through the grass. What are they looking for? Your head is swirling, you try to talk, but realize, with a sudden panic as your mouth tries to form the words that what they are looking for are your two front teeth, which are somehow missing from your mouth. – inspired by Raina Telgemeier, Smile
- Ask a question
- What do you think would be the first thing YOU would notice if you went outside your house for the first time since you were a baby? – inspired by Nicola Yoon, Everything, Everything
- Do something different
- This is a chance to shock, surprise, or jolt the audience into attention! You could draw something, you could bring up an image, you could make them enact part of the book, you could even…SING! Be creative–showing that you’re interacting with the book in a fun and exciting way will get your potential readers excited as well.
Spoiler Alert: I am totally going to sing for one of mine!
Here are two links to lots of videos of booktalks if you are interested seeing some examples:
Scholastic has several videos of booktalks that do a great job of telling the reader what the story is about.
Check out this YouTube playlist of a bunch of librarians doing booktalks.
This blog was written by Katie Riley. She is a first year online MLIS student. As a former 6th grade English teacher, she love working with kids but likes the library setting rather than a traditional classroom. She is working toward the school library media endorsement. She love kids books–from farting aliens to swooning zombies–she can’t get enough! When she is not tearing up over a great middle grade read, she is usually playing with her crazy dog Soliloquy (Lily for short), making up silly songs, or writing some awesome snail mail to friends and family. She excited to be a part of iYouth and to help create, discover, and learn!
What I’m reading now: The Diviners by Libba Bray