A special thanks goes to Carly Smith, 1st year SLMC at Wallburg Elementary for this awesome post about hosting a "book tasting".
Last week, I did a Book Tasting lesson with my 3rd-5th grade students. While the main purpose of this activity was to connect students with quality literature that they might not have known was available in their very own library, I also used this activity to determine my next book club choice for my upper grades students.
If you're not familiar with the term "book tasting", it is an activity where students can "try" different books. In order to know if you like a particular food, you have to try it, or taste it, first before forming an opinion on whether they like the food or not. With this activity, students "try" different books on their "menu" and rate them based on their opinions of the text.
I had a consistent 30 students each week for last year's book club on Wonder that I did with Amy at Wallburg as my final grad school project, and it was a pretty solid mix of students across the three grade levels. I did have a lot of 3rd graders, too....which is why it was important for me to include 3rd grade in my book tasting lesson.
For this year's fall book club, I wanted to give students more of a choice in the book we read. I mean......how am I going to top Wonder? I chose four books that were Wonder read-alikes. Students book tasted the following books:
Our "I Can" statement that focused our learning was: I can use the parts of a book to form an opinion on the book.
I purchased tablecloths, huge round centerpieces, and fake candles at the Dollar Store and set up my library to look like a diner. I had previously created flowers out of colored pipe cleaners and attached them to plastic spoons (Remember that, Tammi?!!!) that I placed in mason jars and other clear glass jars to look like flowers in the center of the tables. I called the library/diner the Lion Luncheonette :) I wore an apron as well...had to complete the look.
Books were placed on the centerpieces and menus were set out at each seat along with an Expo marker to use when they rated each book. Students shared markers with their partner.
Before I go any further, I have to give a HUGE thank you to the librarians who sent books from THEIR collection my way so I could complete this activity. I borrowed books from Ledford Middle, Brier Creek, and Davis Townsend. THANK YOU Angie, Danielle, and Tina!!!!!!! I also had to check out every single copy of Counting by 7s in the Davidson County Public Library system. I needed 8 copies of each title....which is a bunch.
I ended up having to check out 5 copies of the eBook of Save Me a Seat and one copy of the audiobook of Out of My Mind on NC Kids Digital Library. It was a great way for me to learn more about this resource as well as getting students used to using it.
Once students were seated, I welcomed them to the Library Luncheonette. After I explained to them what we were doing, we started by looking at the parts of a book. We reviewed what was on the front cover, spine, back cover, title page, and contents, and how that information could tell us about the book we were going to "try". For our fiction books especially, I think the spine is underrated and widely overlooked in helping us determine book choice. In our collection at Wallburg, our fiction section is genre-fied and each book has a genre sticker on the top of the spine. I led students to noticing the call number on the spine (which is going to be the focus of our next lesson....) as well.
I emphasized that after looking at the parts of the book we discussed, I wanted students to read as much as they could of the first chapter. I didn't set a number of paragraphs or pages because I wanted this to be a relaxing environment.
I then led students in understanding how to rate the books on our menu. I had 5 stars under each title on the menu, and we discussed what a 1-5 rating would be. I explained my expectations for the book tasting, and then put on some soft jazz music for the 3-4 minutes students had with each book. Students were to spend the WHOLE duration of time while the music played with their book. They could only rate it after I stopped the music.
Students voted on their favorite book out of the four before checking out. They raised their hand when I called each title out. I was going to do a Google form...but that would have taken much more time. Maybe I can figure out a way to do that next time.
Overall, students LOVED LOVED LOVED this activity! They loved the setting and were excited to "try" the books I had for them. I strongly believe I accomplished my goal of getting students excited about reading. Some of my kids who normally do not seem thrilled about reading wanted to know when they could check out these books. Many were torn on their favorites because they gave more than one 5 stars.
However, I do have many things that I didn't think about/would change for next year:
Also....Fish in a Tree was a LANDSLIDE favorite among ALL of my 4th and 5th grade classes. ALL of 3rd grade voted for Save Me a Seat. So, my after school book club will be for 4th and 5th and I'll do a lunch club for 3rd after I figure out how to do that. Tina...I'm going to ask you for guidance!
Hope this helps! I have a Google Slide of my presentation if anyone would like it. Please let me know of ideas that would make this activity better in the future if you think of some! :)
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