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Booktalking Tips 2008

October 15, 2008

Trisha, Jolene and I are all going booktalking in the near future.  Here are some of our booktalking tips for new librarians and new booktalkers alike.  We’re by no means experts, but hey, every little bit helps right?

Trisha’s  Booktalking Tips:

1) It gets easier. I hated giving oral presentations when I was in school, so of course, the first few times I went booktalking by myself, I was more than a bit overwhelmed and intimidated by the whole thing. But it got better, especially once I figured out what worked for me and found my own style.

2) Find your own style. Different librarians have different styles, so if you can, observe other librarians booktalking. Some have their booktalks memorized, some do everything off the top of their head. Some use props, some don’t. Some spend a couple of minutes talking about one book, some tend to do shorter booktalks. Try out different techniques and see what comes most naturally and works the best for you.

3) Remember, you’re not just promoting books. You’re also promoting the library and its services. So tell the students about upcoming programs and recent programs you’ve held. Remind them you have DVDs and online resources that’ll come in handy when they’re doing homework or searching for colleges or need to practice taking the SAT. Just try to do it in an interesting way.

4) You can find booktalks online. Scholastic and Random House offer booktalks on their sites. Nancy Keane’s Booktalks Quick and Simple has tons of booktalks, sometimes two or more talks for one book. I find the sites useful, because though I almost always write my own booktalks (usually months after I first read the book, because I can never force myself to write a booktalk right after I’ve read a book that would be great for booktalking. Instead, I wait until I’m asked to go booktalking, start freaking out and after looking at the booktalks I’ve already written, go to my shelves to find newer books to supplement the ones I know I can do effectively, and start writing. But I don’t recommend this method), I sometimes find it hard to find that initial flash of inspiration. The booktalks I end up writing may look nothing like the ones I found online, but just seeing the different approaches others have taken is often enough to get my creative juices flowing.

Other handy links:

Gayle’s Booktalking Tips:

1) Have fun! In most cases you are in the classroom during some lull in standardized testing so make the most of it.  The students will be receptive if you are enthusiastic.

2) Interact! I’ve found the quickest way to engage a class is to ask them questions.  It doesn’t hurt if you share a little about yourself too.  It gives you more credibility and makes you more real when you personalize booktalks.  Of course, don’t personalize too much, you are a professional so conduct yourself in a professional manner.

3) Choose Books You Like! If you’ve been reading about booktalking, you’ve no doubt heard this tip numerous times.  And I can’t stress too much how important this is.  It’s hard to booktalk a book you feel indifferent about.  In direct contrast it’s easy to gush about a book you love.

4) Practice, practice, practice! You don’t need to memorize, but practice makes perfect.  Try to practice on a forgiving audience to see if your booktalk makes sense.

5) Variety is the Spice of Life! Even if your reading preferences are very specific try to step out of your reading comfort zone for the sake of booktalking.  Non-Fiction books are easier than you think to booktalk–many of them sell themselves with their quirky content.  Books from different genres appeal to different sorts of readers.  And hey if you’re a big chick-lit fan and love a science fiction book, it gives it that much more credibility that you think it’s a winner.

6) Keep it Simple Smarty! Don’t try to over-explain a plot or a book.  Keep it simple and it’ll be smooth sailing.

7) Be Flexible. (No exclamation point here.)  It’s important to be flexible because schedules change, people get sick, memories are faulty, and there are somethings in life you can’t control so roll with the punches.

8) Read a lot! The more you read, the more you have to booktalk.  If you don’t find that this is the case, try reading something different.

9) Smile! A smile makes you more approachable and breaks down a lot of barriers.

10) There’s always room for improvement! If you can learn from your mistakes then you’ll be that much better then next time. Remember to project your voice and speak clearly. One of my biggest challenges is to slow down.  I tend to speak very quickly and I’m constantly struggling to slow down.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. October 16, 2008 7:06 am

    Great tips!

  2. Sarah permalink
    October 16, 2008 11:21 am

    As a new librarian, I definitely appreciate these tips!

  3. Emma permalink
    October 16, 2008 2:29 pm

    Thanks for the tips! I’m in Dr. Knuth’s LIS 682 this Fall, and it was helpful to hear your booktalking presentation in person as well.

  4. October 19, 2008 1:38 pm

    Great tips — I think they can be adapted for a writer who has to talk about her own book, too (and being pretty terrified of the whole public speaking thing, I’m glad for the “it gets easier” one!). Thanks for this post.

  5. lhecker permalink
    October 20, 2008 1:02 pm

    keep it short! Don’t try to tell the whole deal. A couple of comments are plenty. Sometimes just setting the stage and leave them guessing is best. I always urge the undecided to take a few books, sit down, read the first three or four pages, and see what grabs you. The writer surely knows his stuff and knows that he has to get his reader interested right away. A harder sell may be the classic or longer read. In that case, use an interesting paragraph from the story to set the mood.

  6. Emily Chorno permalink
    October 28, 2008 5:10 am

    Great tips, I think finding your own style is the most important. You have to speak with your own voice, or it won’t really be comfortable! Thanks for this post!

  7. john permalink
    October 16, 2013 6:02 am

    Thanks for the tips! I’m in Dr. Knuth’s LIS 682 this Fall, and it was helpful to hear your booktalking presentation in person as well.

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