Talking About Books

This week I spent some time reading Book Love, by Penny Kittle.  In her book, Kittle shares ideas of book talks, how they work for students, and the passion for books that students begin to share.  We also read a few articles about read alouds and the benefit they have for older readers.

As I think about my life as a reader and a teacher, I can see the importance of talking about books with students.  I want to record my current thoughts about talking about books.

The Book Talk

I’ve heard about book talks quite a bit this past year between Children’s Lit and now YA Lit classes.  Yet, I had never seen one.  That’s right….NEVER.  A quick YouTube search brought me to Ms. Jen Smith and this amazing book talk.

Now that I have seen this, I GET it.  She follows the format Penny Kittle lays out for us.  She holds the book and shows students the cover, the size of the book, and points out features of the cover that help draw the listener in.  Ms. Smith knows this book, she has read it, she shares how this book came to her (a student recommended it), and she knows the background of the author and why he wrote the book.  She reads short passages to the students.  She gives some background about the plot, but then supplements them with pieces of text that show the author’s voice, the action that is happening, and the pull of the plot.  This is a successful book talk – I’ve added the book to my TBR even!

I could do a Book Talk on ANY of these!

So, why would I take class time to do a book talk?  First, it helps to develop the community of readers in my classroom.  Penny Kittle emphasizes that we need to share our reading lives with students and the book talk is one way to do that.  Secondly, it is a great way to tell students about books they might not otherwise pick up.  Book talks can also be handed over to students throughout the year, giving them a chance to share the books that they love (and practice some speaking and listening skills along the way).


The Read Aloud

Book talks are great ways to share snippets of our favorite books with students.  Yet, how can we share some amazing books with students in a more in-depth way?  The answer to this is the Read Aloud.

A Read Aloud is when the teacher (or 2979328682_22e8a02813_osometimes the students) read part of a longer book or an entire book out loud to students.  The Read Aloud is a common feature of elementary classrooms and children’s libraries.  How can they work for teens?

Jess deCourcy Hinds explains the benefits of Read Alouds with teens in this article.  Read Alouds benefit teens, especially those who are dormant readers or who struggle with reading.  Teens often have a higher comprehension level when listening because the act of reading may require them to work very hard without much benefit.  Also, Read Alouds allow us to model reading strategies for our students – using context clues to define a word, reading with a proper pace and inflection, and sharing the fact that reading can be pleasurable.

These elements are essential to developing our community of readers because they model real-life pleasure reading.  It engages students and allows them to truly enjoy a book without the pressure of being assessed on the book’s features – especially if reading is a challenge.


My Future Classroom

My future classroom will be FILLED with books.  I want to also share with students some amazing and inspiring works.  I want to ignite their passions for reading and create a community of readers who share the goods and the bads of different written works.  I can do this by incorporating Read Alouds and Book Talks.  These are just two ways that I can talk about reading with my students and maybe, just maybe, help them to find their reading passions.

Well, what do you think?  Should we talk about books and share books with our students?  How do we “defend” these practices to the naysayers?  Let’s talk below….


12 thoughts on “Talking About Books

  1. I have this fantasy of doing book talk in my classroom: I’m going to do a book talk, and then I’ll segue into having students doing book talks, like show and tell. I still want to say, “You don’t have to take my word for it.” to harken back to Levar Burton’s Reading Rainbow. However, I don’t think that my book talk will be a prepared ten-minute speech.


    1. Wouldn’t it be cool if our students remembered Reading Rainbow?! There are so many things that kids today will never get to experience.
      As far as preparing, I thought the clip did use quite a few passages. My impression from Penny Kittle is that one good, descriptive or action-filled passage was enough. I think the clip I found was being used as a model for student book talks, but it was a bit formalized than what I envisioned from Book Love. I still want to read the book though!


  2. I absolutely love your post! I find the idea of handing over the book talks to students very interesting. I think it would be fun to see what they could come up with and how their choices went over within the classroom. Building a community of readers is so important, and I loved how Kittle highlighted that fact. 🙂


    1. SO true. I want to share the books I am passionate about but I want my students to share the books THEY are passionate about. And, I want to make an effort to read the books that they recommend. How will they take my recommendations seriously if I don’t take their recommendations seriously?
      In Children’s Lit this fall we read some things by Donalyn Miller. In her writings, she tells about how students give just a few minute blurb about a book they finish – like a plot recap and a “you should read this book because…” We could even have our students do book talks that are more informal like this too!


  3. I think it is a great idea for book talks. If you just dive in what is to keep the students interested. I know if I was just told to sit and listen without being explained certain parts I would not be listening. Thanks for sharing!


  4. I love your post! You have divided up everything really evenly, and you have done so much justice to the Penny Kittle chapters. I’m really impressed that you were able to google book talks and find such a great one. That was a really great video. Your future classroom sounds like a place I most definitely want to be. 🙂


    1. Thanks. I’ve never seen a book talk but really liked that clip. I hope that I will have a class where students WANT to talk about books!


  5. I like the thought of students doing read-alouds. I wonder if one could expand on this to include fun facts that interest them, notable quotables from interesting people, and awesome anecdotes to foster connection and interaction between the students even more. Great post.


    1. What an amazing idea! You could combine read aloud with independent reading & book talks to have a fun, dynamic reading class!


  6. It’s hard to imagine when I hear that some educators worry about being able to fill all their class time. That does not seem to be an issue at all! So many things to teach, so little time.


    1. Here here! I think that the biggest issue we as future educators will face is justifying the intentional slowing down and “unmeasurable” use of time talking about books. There is so much we are “supposed” to teach. However, the most important in my opinion is a passion for reading.

      Liked by 1 person

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