Booktalking: The Bookteller`s Best Friend

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Booktalking: The Bookteller’s Best Friend
What It Is:
1. Structured enthusiasm for a book you’ve read (don’t ever booktalk a title you haven’t
read) Patrick Jones says it’s “a presentation designed to persuade an audience to read
a book or books.”
2. A mini mystery that tells your audience just enough about the characters and the plot
to hook them but not enough to spoil the ending
3. Not storytelling but storyselling. Focus on books you like.
4. It’s portable programming. You can do it in classrooms as well as in the library.
What It Isn’t:
1. It’s not a book review or a critique.
2. It’s not a memorized excerpt from the book.
Do YOU Have to Write Every Book Talk You Do?
No. There are lots of books with already prepared booktalks (see Joni Bodart’s series,
for example) but if you use one of these, be sure to read the book it’s about! And you
may want to change words to fit your own speech patterns.
Writing the Booktalk
 Make notes while you’re reading – plot points, character names, good (i.e. quotable)
lines.
 Think about why you liked the book.
 Start with a dramatic moment; it may not be at the start of the book; it may be in the
middle. Or it may just be an arresting moment. Some examples:
o “Don’t you just hate vampires? That’s what Zoe might have thought, too, until
she realized she’d fall in love with one.” (Silver Kiss by Annette Curtis
Klause)
o Don’t ask me why Willa Jo and Little Sister crawled out onto the roof that
morning. And don’t ask Little Sister either. She hasn’t said a word since Baby
died. Willa Jo would probably say it had something to do with watching the
sunrise. Well, all right. But it's noon now and the girls are still out there on
that roof and Aunt Patty – well, Aunt Patty’s about to have a spell. It’s starting
to look like Willa Jo and Little Sister might just stay out there forever,
watching the world go by beneath their feet and remembering why Momma
didn’t say “no” when Aunt Patty said they had to come live with her.
Remembering the day that Baby died and Momma started to paint pictures of
angels in heaven. But just then Uncle Hob crawled out of the attic window
onto the roof. And he was carrying an umbrella . “(Getting Near To Baby by
Audrey Couloumbis)
o “I cried when I read what happened to Cookie’s older sister that Christmas
Eve.” (Stop Pretending by Sonya Sones)
 The first sentence will almost always be the hardest but once you’ve got it, the rest of the
booktalk will be, relatively speaking, a piece of cake.
Young Adult Services Fundamentals Spring-Summer 2004 - This material has been created by Michael Cart for the Infopeople Project
[infopeople.org], supported by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology
Act, administered in California by the State Librarian. Any use of this material should credit the author and funding source.
 It’s best to write the booktalk word for word. You may alter it or change it when you start
performing it, but having it word for word is better than trying to improvise a fleshed out
booktalk from an outline.
 When all else fails, don’t hesitate to borrow ideas and language from the dust-jacket
blurb!
Peforming the Booktalk
 Practice, practice, practice. In front of a mirror. In front of a friend. Tape-record it.
Videotape it if you’ve got the technology handy. (I practice them when I’m driving.)
 Should you hold the book up at the beginning and tell the title and author? Sometimes but
not always (I save the title of Sunshine Rider by Ric Hardman until the end because it
gets a laugh). I think I might, as a general rule, say you can hold up the book and tell the
title, but who cares what the author’s name is – unless it’s a household word like Cormier
or Peck.
 Do what’s comfortable for you. If you’re not comfortable, your audience won’t be, either.
I guarantee it.
For Further Reading
Baxter, Kathleen. “Nonfiction Booktalker.” This column appears periodically in School
Library Journal.
_____ and Marcia Agnes Kochel. GOTCHA! Nonfiction Booktalks to Get Kids Excited
about Reading. Libraries Unlimited. 1999.
Bodart, Joni. Booktalk! Booktalking and School Visiting for Young Adult Audiences. H.W.
Wilson. 1980.
______Booktalk! 2. Wilson. 1985.
______Booktalk! 3. Wilson. 1988.
______Booktalk! 4. Wilson. 1992.
______Booktalk! 5. Wilson. 1993.
Booktalking the Award Winners: Young Adult Retrospective Volume. Wilson. 1997.
Bromann, Jennifer. Booktalking that Works. Neal-Schuman. 2001.
Guevara, Anne and John Sexton. “Extreme Booktalking.” VOYA. June 2000. p. 98-101.
Schall, Lucy. Booktalks Plus. Motivating Teens to Read. Libraries Unlimited. 2001.
Young Adult Services Fundamentals Spring-Summer 2004 - This material has been created by Michael Cart for the Infopeople Project
[infopeople.org], supported by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology
Act, administered in California by the State Librarian. Any use of this material should credit the author and funding source.
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