Episode 17: Book Talks Boost Language within the Word Conscious Classroom

As we get closer to the summer break, I want to get my students hooked on a couple of books that I expect them to read over the summer. I have a few reluctant readers who would prefer doing anything else rather than reading. Still, I would like to capture the interests of those students with a book talk.

Book talks entice students to read books much like “movie trailers entice people to watch the movie” (para 1). I personally have not done many book talks with my students because the librarian typically does the book talks. Still, for building a word conscious classroom, I wanted to do a book talk with my students to challenge them to read books that are beyond their current reading levels (with help from an older sibling or parent  when needed), and outside of their current reading perimeters.

The Gifted Program at the University of Connecticut has a planning tool that can be used for planning a book talk. The book hook planning document poses questions to consider when launching a new book for student interests. UCONN’s Renzulli Center for Creativity, Gifted Education, and Talent Development has the following recommendations for getting started with Book Hooks:

  • Familiarize yourself with a few books from a wide variety of genres (including some non-fiction texts), authors, and reading levels.
  • Make connections to students’ interests and experiences when selecting books.
  • Select one of your favorite books to use for a book hook. Share with students why and how you first selected it to read.
  • Introduce students to the SEM-R bookmarks by incorporating some of the questions into your book hook. Explain to the students that they will also be able to use the bookmarks to ask themselves questions when they are reading.
  • Have a central goal or main emphasis for each book hook. Preparing in advance will allow you to make careful links between specific titles, sections to read, and your objective for the book hook.

The SEM-R Bookmarks are a great tool for helping teachers and students with question generation. In some instances, teachers might need ideas for crafting questions that require students to think critically and creatively. In other instances, students can use the SEM-R questions with each other during Literature Circles. In any event, the SEM-R questions encourage critical thinking and scaffolds student self-regulation and independent reading.

In this podcast episode, you will hear me giving a book talk to a group of Grade 3 students. I used the SEM-R book hook planner to help me decide how I was going to select the book, what critical thinking strategies I was going to employ with the book, and how I was going to leave my students wanting more. For more guidance on this topic, please refer to U-CONN’s gifted education site.


SEM-R Phase 1: Book Hooks. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://gifted.uconn.edu/semr-phase1

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