105 Ways to Give a Book

Summer Reading Program Booktalking

Focus! Focus!

Sorry, that was my internal dialogue taking over. The truth of the matter is that I have only two days before I need to talk about books to five hundred kids, and I am woefully unprepared. I have read the books, but I am having trouble coming with my hooks for each title. Without that starting point, I find it hard to move on.

Let me back up. In my county that shall remain unnamed — like Voldemort — the public librarians go to the elementary schools in the area and promote our summer reading program. We also have a list of books, mostly from the previous year, that we use to get the kids excited and coming in the library doors. Voldemort County orders extra copies of these books — like forty extra copies — and we talk them up in the schools — like a hundred and forty schools — so the students swarming into the libraries have shiny new copies to borrow. I’ve helped make the list before, but this year I merely suggested books to consider. It is only a mark of the committee’s intelligence that they ordered most of my suggestions.

So now I need to tell the kids about these books. I’ve read them, some twice, and I love them, hence the suggesting for the list. But I need the first sentence or the gimmick or the hook to grab the kids’ attention. You are welcome to submit suggestions in the comments, particularly if you are Jenny Han or Gail Gauthier, given that the books I’m talking up to the sixth graders are Shug and Happy Kid!

I’ll talk about Yellow Star to the fifth and/or sixth graders, but I already know that I will open with the first paragraph, where it lists the numbers of Jews in the Ghetto before and after the war. For Transformed: How Everyday Things Are Made, I’ll start with some interesting facts and then recite the complete list of items covered. Bridging the fifth and fourth grades, I’ll also read from Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich, since it was such a hit with my daughter’s fifth grade class. I’ll probably throw in a new, non-list book called Blind Mountain, because it’s a fun (short) adventure book. For that I’ll start with asking them to close their eyes and imagine getting around different places, and ending with getting down a mountain with a cougar stalking you. I know, sounds good, doesn’t it?

I wanted to add Water Street to the fourth grade, maybe fifth grade, mix but I don’t know how to grab them with such a quiet book. Any ideas?

Tomorrow, look for my selections for third grade on down to the tiny kindergartners.


Kelly said...

Sometimes, and especially now when I'm on the May-train of hellish commitments, you make my day, MR:
"You are welcome to submit suggestions in the comments, particularly if you are Jenny Han or Gail Gauthier," just made me laugh :)

zee said...

I booktalked Shug. I think I opened it by just saying that this book is exactly what it was like to be in 6th grade.

I then said something like, let's pretend you have a best friend who's a guy and all the sudden you wake up and realize you love him.

That seemed to get there attention. Then I just hit some other highlights of the plot.

gail said...

I'll definitely get back to you on this. I want to come up with the perfect sentence. It might include the words "gateway to hell."

ZG said...

I am in a slice of hell at work these days -- just wanted to let you know that the thing that is keeping me going forward is the vision of cracking open the hoarded mountain of books by the bed next weekend for the 48- Hour Book Challenge! Bless you for that.


gail said...

Okay, what about this for the opening line for the Happy Kid talk?

"How miserable would you have to be before you'd consider reading a self-help book your mother picked up for you while she was shopping for underwear for your dad?"

MotherReader said...

Gail, I'm going with it - even if it doesn't include the phrase "gateway to hell." And, Zee thanks for the inspiration. I know you must do some booktalking.

Jenny Han said...

Oh my God, I love you, MotherReader!!! You are so awesome to pick Shug! I'm so honored, thank you. How's this for a hook?

"What if you were flat-chested and all the other girls you know were fillin out their A-cup bikinis? What if your sister looked like America's Next Top Model and you looked like... America's so-so Girl Next Door?"

Okay, I'm just kidding. But... what if you lost your very best friend just because he was a boy and you were a girl?

Little Willow said...