aha moment, being a teacher, books, Passion

Got a Minute? One Sure Fire Way to Get Students to Read

For the past 3 years I have avidly shared my reading life.  Students always know the book I am reading, they know the titles I am excited about it, I have shown them pictures of my ever growing TBR (to be read) pile at my house and every week I am lucky enough to bring in new books for my students.  I place them on the shelves, the ledges, the window sill.  I place them on their desks and I place them into their hands.  And yet, something was definitely missing.  Students were reading sure, I see them with the books in their hands, but for some reason my excitement was not carrying over.  Those books I had loved that were given 5 stars on my “Read” poster were still staring at me from the shelves.  Enter Nancy Atwell and her idea that is so simple, yet I had forgotten to do, the idea that has changed the way my students are finding books, the idea that has taken 1 minute to implement in every class.  Yup a minute.

Got a minute?  Do a book talk.  Seriously.  Grab a book and plan one right now.  

For a little more than a week, I have started every class with a book talk.  A one minute recap of why a book was amazing and deserves to be read.  Sometimes I have expanded it to 4 minutes as I have read the first few pages of a book when I don’t feel the back page gave it enough selling power.  Then I have put it down where the students can see it and then started to teach class.  Easy to prep, easy to do, doesn’t take much time out of our precious 45 minutes.

The result has been palpable.  Almost every single book I have book talked has left the room.  Almost every book has found a new reader right after the talk.  That is why I talk up a different book to each class, so they all get a chance at something amazing.

The best part though is that a book talk doesn’t just end with the one reader that gets the book.  Once a child loves a book, they pass on that love to another friend,  and that friend passes it on.  A whole chain of book love going on all because you took one minute to talk up a book.  I should have done this from the start.  Thank you Nancy Atwell for reminding me.

I am a passionate teacher in Oregon, Wisconsin, USA but originally from Denmark,  who has taught 4th, 5th, and 7th grade.  Proud techy geek, and mass consumer of incredible books. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, Co-founder of EdCamp MadWI, and believer in all children. I have no awards or accolades except for the lightbulbs that go off in my students’ heads every day.  First book “Passionate Learners – Giving Our Classrooms Back to Our Students” can be purchased now.   Second book“Empowered Schools, Empowered Students – Creating Connected and Invested Learners” is out now from Corwin Press.  Join our Passionate Learners community on Facebook and follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.

11 thoughts on “Got a Minute? One Sure Fire Way to Get Students to Read”

  1. I love your “book talk” too! Whenever you share favorites in your classroom, I always reserve those books from the library for my grandchildren and my daycare children, when appropriate. thank you!

  2. Agreed. When I taught 5th, I would try to take the kids to the library once a month and the librarian would do book talks on many titles. Someone–and usually more than one–wanted every single books she talked up! I collected multiple copies of my favorite titles and they were always voted on by groups for Lit Circles.

  3. This is such a great idea, this gives students just enough to want to dive in and then starting your lesson fills them with suspense. This is an idea that I will have to remember and implement into my classroom. This is such a simple way to get kids to pick up a book and help them to not spend so much time searching the shelves for one that they thought sounded good. Great idea! Love it!

  4. Book talks are amazing, especially when the children do them too. I used to have a sharing circle in which the children talked about the books they were reading and what they liked about them. We usually did this after a quiet reading time (U.S.S.R. or D.E.A.R.) The children loved sharing, but they also loved to know what they were reading too. Enthusiasm for books is contagious.

  5. If you ever doubt whether or not the children are listening to you or respect you…do a book talk. My ability to get kids to read books based on what I say about them amazes me. Thanks for the reminder. By February I need to move books around for the third time to encourage kids to look for different ones and I need to book talk every day.


  6. This definitely works. I’ve found that books I never talk about collect dust. Those that I speak briefly about – even in passing – literally fly out of my hands, with many students rushing me to grab it before their friends do.

  7. Pingback: Kids | Pearltrees
  8. You are right! I some how stopped including Book Talks in my lessons and I could feel that something was missing. Book Talks work miracles for my students. I usually can’t finish talking about the book before I have several student’s hands raised in their air to be the first to read it. I also allow my students to conduct Book Talks and this has helped expand the reading of my students. All of a sudden a respected peer talks about why they loved a book and other students now want to give the book a try. I love this idea from Nancie Atwell. Thank you for the reminder.

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