Tag Archives: book talks

Booktalk Schedule–Fourth Grade

This year I’m hoping to continue my 4th grade booktalk class visits that were so fun and successful last year. I’ve talked with the two teachers I worked with last school year, and one gave me a list of core standards that I could talk about and share books on. I have about 9 topics to cover:

  • Folktales, fables, legends, and myths: What are the differences, where can you find them in the library, what are some awesome books in each areas.
  • Biographies/Autobiographies: Not just the regular requisite 100 pg assignment.
  • Mystery: From sleuths to spooky tales, get a clue here!
  • Historical Fiction: From the distant past to recent history, we’ll talk about what it is and some good books to read.
  • Non-fiction: There are a TON of super awesome non-fiction books out there that are fun to read and fascinating!
  • Fantasy: From talking animals to wizards and everything in between.
  • Science Fiction: cool gizmos and aliens, along with travels through time.
  • Realistic Fiction: Real kids, real fun, and real situations.
  • Fiction: I’m not sure why this is on the list, but sure I can talk about 4th grade fiction.

So here’s to a great school year with lots of awesome book talks!


Favorite Standby Booktalks

As a librarian, I am always trying to find new books to entice kids to read, something fresh to lure kids into picking up a book. However, I have my favorite books that I pull out to recommend, ones I read as a child, or even that my parents might have read when they were young. While I discard old copies, with dated covers, I gladly plunk down money over and over for new versions, with fresh covers. Today I’m going to tell you two of these books I pull out regularly to recommend for kids who ask for scary stories.

The updated cover is really nice and spooky, but it is only paperback and inexplicably the prebound edition is the 1980's verson.

Vintage 1980s cover

Another classic cover

Ghost stories are perennially popular, and my first recommendation is usually Wait Til Helen Comes, by Mary Downing Hahn, mistress of spooky tales.

When Molly and Micheal’s mother gets married they, along with their new step sister Heather, move into the countryside into an odd old house. Not only is the house way out in the countryside, leaving them stuck with their bratty new stepsister, but it is super creepy–a converted church, with all kinds of surprises, such as a graveyard in the back yard. If that’s not enough, Heather starts talking about her new friend Helen, a ghost. Molly and Micheal are not sure what to make of this, are ghosts real? Maybe in a spooky place like their new house. But the biggest question of all is: if Helen is real, a real ghost, what does she want from Heather, and how far will she go to get it?

Now many of the kids have already read this one, and if they liked it (most kids still really love it) I recommend another spooky classic, by another master of the children’s gothic genre. The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Keatley Snyder. There are some similarities between these two, and both have had an assortment of different covers. This one actually has more as it is older and a Newbery honor award winner.

We still have this one on the shelf--kids do check it out even with this cover!

We also have this one on the shelf, I'm not sure if it really conveys the mood of the book.
Like in Wait Till Helen Comes, this book features a spooky old house, a new step sister and possible ghostly going guests. When the Stanley children’s father remarries they gain a new step-sister and move into a spooky old house. Amanda, the step-sister, is a 12 yr old who seems mysterious and who claims to have studied witchcraft and have powers. She wants to teach the four children, but when the cupid’s head in the hall is removed the children have to face the fact that these powers might be real or there might be other forces at work. Is Amanda a witch, or is there some other force at work in this spooky house? Read The Headless Cupid to find out!

I’d love other spooky recommendations, whether old or new to share with my ghost loving patrons.

Teen Summer Reading Program Promotion Booktalk

Most of my outreach is for elementary students, mostly because it is easier to get into classes there, but since the sixth graders are just weeks away from graduating, they are practically middle-schoolers. So I’ll be promoting the Teen (12 and up) Summer Reading Club to them, though I’ll be mentioning that if they want they can also sign up and participate for the kids. Most kids don’t want the prizes for the little kids, but will sometimes attend if the program sounds interesting. The theme for teens is You are Here.

I’m squeezing the entire 6th grade from the local school in after an epic day of division meeting to explain the Summer Reading Program, opening the branch, and Kindergarten class visits, and all of this before 3 p.m.. I have about an hour to give an short tour and promote our programs. The hardest part will be what to have the kids do while I’m giving the tour. I’m thinking geography trivia they can try to answer while we quickly give a tour, and then go over the answers when I get back. I found a good quiz here

So after introductions and a discussion of library cards and the library, I’ll divide the group in half and do a tour for one half while the others answer trivia questions. After all the kids do the tour and the quiz/game we’ll go over the answers (with prizes/candy for winners), and ask the kids if they’d like to see the world?

I’m going to do some book talks:
Peak Can you imagine being the youngest kid to climb the tallest mountain on earth? Well, in Peak by Roland Smith one boy leaves his home in New York City, where there are only skyscrapers to climb, and travels all the way around the world to tackle that exact challenge. Adults die trying to climb this mountain every year, it requires a huge amount of endurance, skill, and luck. Do you think you’d want to risk your life to say you are the youngest person to conquer the mountain? See what Peak Marcello does, and if he makes it to the top, by reading Peak.

If you aren’t ready to take on Everest, we have another challenge here at the library for you. This summer you can get your boarding pass and embark on a trip of a lifetime here at the library. Sign up for our Teen Summer Reading program, complete at least six adventures and get a really awesome prize. This year we have a cool metal water bottle, a nice bag, and a book. You can get all your stamps by attending programs at this location or at one of our branches and reading books of your choice and turning in book reviews.

Each activity not only gets you closer to completing your quest and getting the prize (which will be handed out at the end of the summer program), but it also allows you to enter into a weekly raffle. Winners of weekly raffles will get their choice of books, as well as other awesome prizes.

This summer we’re going to learn about different places around the world, what they’d be like to visit, and what life is like for kids who live there. How many of you have eaten food from a different culture or country? Ever wonder if it is really like what people who live in other parts of the world eat? What the World Eats In What the World Eats you can find that out–how people get their food, what they eat, and how much. Each spread shows one family of at least four and the food they eat during one week. I’ll show some of the families profiled and give details.

Next I’ll tell them about our programs, one of which offers kids the chance to try some foods eaten in other parts of the world. Carrot salad, dal, maybe even sushi. Another program will help kids relax after the end of school, with yoga, origami, zentangles. We’ll be learning some dances from Polynesia and eating pineapple. And going on a trip around the world to track after a master criminal, if you are ready to be a world traveler by then. We’ll hand out the final prizes after we track the thief down!

If we have more time I’ll book talk a couple more books, A Step from Heaven A Step from Heaven, by An Na, and Younguncle Comes to Town Younguncle Comes to Town, by Vandana Singh

Earth Day Book Talk

When I do a class visit to share books, I try to find a theme and tie the books together in some way that makes for a flow from one to the next. Transitions are important to hold attention. So while I’ve posted individual book talks for this presentation for the past couple of weeks, here is how they all fit together.

The Watcher: Jane Goodall's Life with the Chimps I want to start by sharing The Watcher, a picture book biography of Jean Goodall, as it emphasizes the way that even as children we can watch and learn about the world around us.

A Life in the Wild: George Schaller's Struggle to Save the Last Great Beasts After starting with the idea that observing nature is an important way to learn about the world, I’ll share A Life in the Wild, which will allow me to tell students about how wilderness conservation changed when scientists began to observe and study nature.

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda Next, I’ll share The Strange Case of Origami Yoda, which is the case study a bunch of kids did of a phenomena they noticed in school.

Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World's Strangest Parrot (Scientists in the Field Series) Featuring another strange creature, I’ll move from Yoda to Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World’s Strangest Parrot, which continues the importance of observing the world around us as well as being very interesting.

Hoot (Newbery Honor Book) The next book is also about a rescue attempt, but of who? A runaway boy, a bird living in the ground? In Hoot , there are a number of mysteries to solve.

I’ll conclude with Crunch, which also has mysteries and encourages kids to keep watching the world around them.

Since this is ready, I’m turning my attention to Summer Reading titles, so I can promote our programs and share books at the programs. Stay tuned!

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda Dwight is a strange kid in many ways, perhaps the strangest is the puppet he wears on his finger. An origami figure of Yoda. Yes, a Yoda finger puppet, who just like in the movies, supposedly, is a font of wisdom. And when kids listen to him, things seem to work out right. Only is it the puppet with the wisdom, or could it possibly be that oddball Dwight? Well, Tommy needs to know, because how else can he decide if he should follow Yoda’s advice?

So just like the scientists who go and look at an animal living in the wild, Tommy and his friends decide to go at this scientifically, and record each instance of Yoda’s advice, its outcome, and whether or not it works out. The Strange Case of Origami Yoda is this casebook, full of drawings, stories of Yoda’s misadventures, and evidence one way or another. Will Tommy and his friends figure out Dwight and his Yoda before it is too late to take his advice?

This book has some Wimpy Kid read alike appeal, but with its cast of characters including girls and boys and a range of topics, this book is not for boys alone! Plus instructions on how to make a Yoda of your own. I really want to book talk this book–so even though I’m doing science and Earth Day books I will squeeze this in.

Lemme Library hosts Book Talk Tuesday, head on over to check this week’s offerings out!

Audio Book Book Talk

As I’ve mentioned before, audio books are SUPER popular at my branch, so we are asked on a regular basis to recommend good titles for kids, teens, and adults. There is a fair amount of crossover, with a lot of adults listening to teen and children’s titles. Unfortunately, I’m not much of an audio book listener, generally they are too slow for me, and I either tune out the book or whatever else I’m doing (something that can be particularly dangerous when driving). Most of our patrons, however, are satisfied with good story recommendations, even if I can’t tell them much about the narrators.

Recently, I visited a middle school and took a handful of audio books to book talk. It was a resource class and the teacher had told me that she was trying to promote different ways of accessing stories.

Stuck in Neutral Stuck in Neutral, Terry Trueman. This is a powerful book, and an easy on to book talk. Can you imagine if you thought your father was going to kill you, but you had no way of communicating with anyone to tell them your suspicions, or anything else!

Hoot Hoot, Carl Hiaasen. I actually listened to this one, and I thought it really brought the different characters to life. My five second book talk is, new kid in town, notices a mysterious loner running away from the bus, starts an investigation of pranks, and finds more and more mysteries.

The Graveyard Book The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman. This is another book I listened to, and it is a fantastic listen–it has Bela Fleck on banjo and it is narrated by the author. The story is also awesome–toddler escape’s his family’s murder and is raised in a spooky old graveyard by an eccentric mix of ghosts.

The City of Ember (The Ember Series, #1) The City of Ember, Jeanne DuPrau. Lots of kids have seen the movie or read the book, but I figured if this class was made up of kids who didn’t like to read, they might not have. In a world that is dark, the electricity is running out, as well as a lot of other things–how can you survive in a world where everything is falling apart.

Booktalk Tuesday is hosted by Lemme Library, head on over to check out the other book talks and reviews.