Monday, October 29, 2012

Book Talking the Caudills (and Bluestems)



Public schools in Riverside where I work are gearing up for the annual Caudill and Bluestem awards and this year, as we have for the past three, our staff is sharing the responsibility of book talking the books on the nominee lists. It’s a nice chance for us Public Librarians to help the School Librarians with the heavy responsibility of getting kids excited about reading from the award list. I say “heavy” because since adding the Bluestem award, both lists have a combined total of about 40 books, give or take. (Some are repeated on both lists, phew!)

In spite of the heavy work load, I find it fun to write an original book talk. I enjoy puzzling out just what details to include. It helps to keep in mind the various ages and grades of your young audience. Was there a particular gross-out scene you know they’d love to hear about? What is it really like to get braces? (The book Smile does a beautiful job of putting you right in the orthodontist’s chair.) It can be a challenge to know just what details and how to describe an historical fiction book like, War Horse. What does each grade know about World War I? Should I just focus on the horse’s experience?

When you know you’ve hit it just right and can see the excitement on the student’s faces (and when they visit you in the library to say, “I heard you tell about that book at my school and now I want to read it.”) there’s nothing more rewarding.