Liz Derouet

Still talking about books


Booktalks are short talks about a particular book, or series of books. They are different to book reviews or reports in that they do not give an analysed appraisal, nor do they retell the story. A booktalk gives the audience a taste of what the book is about and usually leaves listeners with questions about what happens next. I have used booktalks many times to hook prospective readers. By reading a small excerpt, finishing on a cliff hanger that leaves the audience wanting to know what happens, I have motivated many readers and non-readers to pick up a novel. Booktalks take little preparation and minimal resources. If you read books your students or library patrons also read, then all you need to do is look out for the hook, or talking points, during your reading. I always read with a notebook handy or a blank file card as a bookmark. Post-it notes are also helpful if you don’t want to lose momentum while reading.

Booktalks can take many forms. They might take on the actions and speech of one of the characters, sometimes delivered as a monologue. I sometimes begin with some background information before reading, but not always. Sometimes jumping straight in character is most effective. The genre might also be mentioned briefly. I have read just the prologue as a booktalk, leaving many in the audience wanting to read further. The form or type of booktalk depends on the book.

There are many benefits to bookatlks. Obviously, they promote quality literature to your audience. Booktalks also enable your audience to find out about new books and series. Genres and authors that may have been overlooked in the past are exposed and sampled. In the case of young people, they may not have been exposed to a wide variety of genres or authors.

The length of the booktalk needs to be carefully considered. Too short, the audience does not get a taste of the book, too long and you risk losing interest.

The MOST important thing is to read with enthusiasm and interest. This is contagious and is a big motivational factor for your audience. It is also important that you read the book yourself before sharing with others. Young people can detect a fake a mile off!

The booktalk will not work for everyone in the audience. If it encourages a few to pick the book up and read it, the time spent preparing and delivering the booktalk is worth it.

I use booktalks regularly with my students and have done for many years. I know their success in promoting and encouraging reading and would like to use this blog to share my successful booktalks with you. The links below will lead you to a review or outline of the book and a booktalk I have had success with. More will be added over time, so please check back regularly, or follow me on Twitter.

Derouet, L. (2004). The power and passion of booktalking. Access. 18 (1). 7- 8.

The featured image above was downloaded from, December 23, 2016 and adapted by me.


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