I previously blogged about how our summer reading promotion school visits work, and the books we brought to read to K-2nd graders. For grades 3-5, we bring books to booktalk. We brought a lot of books this year, and most were successful. Here are the books we talked about, and the reactions to them:
A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd. This was asked about by pretty much every class, and was one of the most popular books we bought. And obviously the booktalk worked–I just had to buy another copy of this for the library because we had so many holds on it! A fun cover, a magical town, and a girl who moves super often were all elements that intrigued the kids.
Drizzle by Kathleen Van Cleeve. This was also asked about by every class, which surprised me. I didn’t realize how compelling that cover was! And even though booktalking this book shows how strange it is (a magical rhubarb farm?!?!), it’s another one that has so many holds on it I just bought another copy for the library. So obviously a successful booktalk!
Treaties, Trenches, Mud, and Blood by Nathan Hale. Another very popular cover–it was asked about in every class we had it out for. This series continues to be popular in our library (our graphic novel collection is generally just insanely popular, as I assume it is everywhere), and this was no exception. It was the only book where after our presentation, a child actually asked me to write down the title so he wouldn’t forget it.
Tricky Vic by Greg Pizzoli. I think what always surprises me the most about booktalking to classrooms is which covers the kids are interested in hearing more about. This one got asked about a lot, and I have had a few kids come in the library since and ask “what was that book about the conman, again?” This is a great picture book nonfiction, that I loved, but I didn’t expect it to be as popular with the kids as it was.
Absolutely Almost by Lisa Graff. Another cover that surprised me–it was asked about a lot. I LOVED this book, but realized it’s actually kind of tricky to booktalk. I think my booktalk rambled on a bit the first time I tried to booktalk it, so I ended up just reading a chapter from the book, which seemed to work better.
Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick. This book reminded me that I can’t wait for The Marvels to come out soon. I love Selznick! A lot of the kids had already read this one, and they loved sharing with us that it was a great book. It is 🙂
Greenglass House by Kate Milford. I love the cover of this, but it always seemed a little adult to me, and I wasn’t sure it would appeal to kids. I was TOTALLY wrong about this. This one got asked about a lot, and I still have kids coming into the library wanting to put holds on it.
Waiting for the Magic by Patricia MacLachlan. The animals on the cover of this made it a big draw. And the kids all liked the fact that this was about a family that owned a lot of animals.
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson. Another book that both my coworker and I loved, but found somewhat difficult to booktalk without rambling. We brought the audiobook, rather than the physical book, which meant we couldn’t just read from it. But it was asked about a lot, and the kids definitely seemed intrigued by it, and our copies aren’t staying on the shelf, so I think this will be a summer hit!
El Deafo by Cece Bell. This book wasn’t asked about as much as I expected it to be. I realized later that I think it’s because it’s kind of hard to read the title from far away. The lettering makes it difficult to read and I think some kids were just shy of guessing what it said. But the classes that did ask about it all seemed very interested, especially when I told them about her being able to hear teachers in the bathroom and teachers’ lounge.
Red Madness by Gail Jarrow. We only booktalked this to 5th grade classes, as it’s a little more middle school than younger elementary, but most of those asked about it. There’s so much gross stuff in here to share in a booktalk–talking about “filth parties” and doctors eating pills made of feces and human skin made everyone make the most amazing faces.
Tastes Like Music by Maria Birmingham. Books like this, about quirks of the human brain, are fun to share. There’s lots of interesting information in them, and the kids seemed genuinely fascinated by it all.
The Crossover by Kwame Alexander. Another book that was asked about a lot. I would usually read a poem from it to demonstrate the style. A great story–I love that you can emphasize that this is great if you love sports books, and also good if those aren’t your thing. Just such a great book.
Ken Jennings’ Junior Genius Guides: U.S. Presidents by Ken Jennings. A lot of kids were interested in this fun compendium of facts. Always great to share with kids that there’s a whole series, so if they like this one, there are others for them to read!
Ship of Dolls by Shirley Parenteau. I was surprised by how much this was asked about. Historical fiction is a bit of a tough sell in my library. But the title and cover were compelling and it was asked about quite a bit. I’ve also had a few kids come into the library and put it on hold since the summer began.
Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson. This wasn’t asked about as much as I was expecting. Maybe everyone’s read it already? (Because it circs like crazy in our library.) I thought the cover would be irresistible. But when kids did ask about it and I said that fans of Raina Telgemeier’s Smile would probably like this, there was palpable excitement in the room. I expect this will continue to be popular in our library!
Ick! Yuck! Eew! Our Gross American History by Lois Huey. When my coworker booktalked this, she went to the chapter on dental hygiene and showed them some pictures of what teeth probably looked like before there was reliable dental care. Kids were HORRIFIED (can you tell my coworker and I like the gross-out stuff?). The kids seemed really interested by the premise of this.
W.A.R.P. The Reluctant Assassin by Eoin Colfer. Another one we only booktalked to 5th graders, but they seemed really interested in it.
Wait Till Helen Comes by Mary Downing Hahn. This is obviously an oldie, and the cover on our library’s copy is pretty dated, but I recently read it for the first time and I was surprised at how truly scary it was. And, with the exception of a mention of listening to a Walkman, it wasn’t all that dated. And despite the cover, this was asked about quite a bit and I think budding horror fans will be checking it out.
Why’d They Wear That? by Sarah Albee. There was a decent amount of interest in this. Explaining how leather was made (using dog poop!) produced a lot of gross out moments. One kid came up to me after and asked, “Leather still isn’t made that way, right?” It’s fun to bring nonfiction to school visits–people don’t always think to look there for a good story, so it was great to share some example of interesting nonfiction kids might want to read over the summer.
Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead. I love Stead (and can’t wait for Goodbye Stranger to come out), and was happy that this book was asked about a lot!
We actually brought a few more books that weren’t asked about at all, and we both realized that we maybe brought a few too many books this year. But overall, booktalking and summer reading promotion was a success! We’re a week into summer reading and have over 1000 kids signed up, which is great for us. I anticipate a busy, fun summer, full of helping kids find good books to read!