Booktalking Basics

Booktalking is the wonderful art of turning kids on to books. It is a sales pitch for specific books at a specific time. The librarian (or someone else who has a passion for reading and wants to pass that along) presents books to a group of kids.

Enthusiasm and creativity are key elements to book talking. If the presenter does not like a book, she can not promote it in a credible way.

Books can be grouped according to themes or subjects, and can be "talked" in the classroom or library. Teachers can collaborate with librarians and invite them to their classroom to present books that would augment their lessons.

The following are a few tips by Hazel Rothman (Tales of Love and Terror: Booktalking the Classics, Old and New) with my notes:

  • "Leave the listeners wanting more" - Don't overdo the sales pitch (talk too much)
  • "Think about what will convince people to read books" - What will pique their interest? (Hint - What piques your interest?)
  • "Don't tell the ending" - Leave them hanging and wanting more!
  • "Don't tell everything about a book"
  • "No right or wrong way to do a booktalk" - Be creative! Use a variety of approaches. Play a character. First person, third person. You can invent dialogue, but just stay true to the character. In a collection of short stories, do several episodes or one whole story in the collection. The key here - be yourself. Use buzzwords - don't just be enjoyable to watch, but inspire kids to want to read the book!


  1. Rothamn, Hazel. Tales of Love and Terror: Booktalking the Classics, Old and New. A twenty-five minute videocassette produced by ALA Video, American Library Association: Chicago, Illinois - ISBN 8389-2077-2
    *The above is also a book - ISBN 0-8389-0463-7, 86-32285
  2. Bodart, Joni Richards, Editor. The New Booktalker Vol. 1. Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited, Inc., 1992
  3. Bodart, Joni Richards. The Powers of Persuasion: Student Booktalking in the Secondary Classroom. "Connecticut English Journal, Volume 22, Fall 1993, p. 151- 153 (Contains a bibliography for more books on booktalking)
  4. Chelton, Mary K. Booktalking: You Can Do It. "School Library Journal 22:39-43 (Apr. 1976). R.R. Bowker Company/A Xerox Corp. (Reprinted in Turning Teens on to Books)
  5. Gillespie, John T. and Corinne J. Naden. The Newbery Companion: Booktalk and Related Materials for Newbery Medal and Honor Books. Englewood, Colorodo: Libraries Unlimited, 1996

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This page last updated May 10, 2001
© 2001 Daphne Jorgensen. All Rights Reserved