Book Tasting

Recently I saw my fellow colleague, Buffy Hamilton, talk about “book tastings” in the Unquiet Library.  Just the words “book tasting” sparked a plan to share books with our students that they might normally miss on the media center shelves.  I often see students picking the same kinds of books:  comics, football, sharks, princesses, etc.  While I think that is completely ok for them to read, I do think it is important to explore other genres and push yourself as a reader.  I offered teachers the opportunity to bring their classes to the media center for a book tasting to allow students to see several books in a short amount of time in order to find something new.

Today, Ms O’Prey brought the first group of 5th graders.  We set the media center tables with flowers, turned on some jazz and classical music, and placed “menus” and books and pencils at each seat.  I did a quick intro and explained to them that they would have between 2-3 minutes with a book.  Their job was to read some of the book: the back cover, the first pages, etc.  Then, on their menu, which was a list of all the books, they had to make notes about the books that they experienced.  This could range from a frowny face for a book that was just terrible to a longer description of why the book was a good match for them.

Students chose their first place at the tables.  From there, students spent 2-3 minutes with a book before hearing a train whistle blow.  At that time, they passed the book to the next person at the table and started the process again.  We immediately noticed how engaged students were in the process.  It was fast-paced and fun, and they were eager to see what they got.  We did run into some students who had already read the book they received, so we placed replacement stacks in the middle of each table.  Students could swap a book out if they had already read it.  I circulated and had a few conversations with students or redirected them if they were off track.  Periodically, I checked in with the whole group and got a feel for how the time was working for them, whether or not they had found a book they were interested in, and if they had found a book they couldn’t wait to get rid of.

As our time came to an end, I asked them to revisit their menu and choose their top 3 books.  We spread the books out on the tables.  Each student walked to their top pick.  If they were the only person there, they checked out that book.  If there were several people, they negotiated and some moved on to other books.  In the end, every student left with one new book and several left with more than one.

I was pleased to see books leave the media center that are new and have not circulated as much as I would like them to.  I told the students that I would check back in with them to see how the books were going.  Before they left, a few students recorded why they chose the books that they chose.  I have 2 more 5th grade classes coming to do this, and all of the 4th grade will be coming to do “author tastings” for author studies they will do at the end of the year.

13 thoughts on “Book Tasting

  1. Dr. Janie Cowan says:

    I love this idea, Mr. Plemmons! I will be borrowing this from you and Buffy very soon.


    Dr. Cowan
    Settles Bridge Elementary

  2. LOVE this and I am going to do it in my library! I was looking for something new to do with 5-6th grade for Children’s Book week!
    Thanks! (Found you through Pinterest)

  3. Cynthia Matzat says:

    Would you mind sharing a copy of your menu you used?

  4. Heather Verreault says:

    How creative! Many of our 4th and 5th gr teachers pull about 15-20 books from different genres each month. But this would be great to encourage students to actually read a summary and read through the first few pages before choosing.

    Your blog has been so beneficially to me as a new elementary Media Specialist!


  5. Kristi F. says:

    Would you mind sharing what was included on your “menu”?

    • plemmonsa says:

      Krisit….for this first attempt, I really didn’t put much more than a picture at the top and a list of the books with lines beside each one. I did an intro to the “cafe” and gave examples of what students could write on the lines. In a way, this was good because the time was so short, but I do want to try it with some stems of things they might think about: first reaction to the cover, what caught your attention on page 1, what category would you put this in, etc.

  6. […] heavily from another Clarke County colleague, Andy Plemmons at Barrow Elementary, who hosted a book tasting for a class of 5th graders last spring, and who was in turn inspired by Buffy Hamilton of the Unquiet […]

    • plemmonsa says:

      So great to see this idea spreading. I think it’s a great form of reader’s advisory now that we don’t have as much time to have conversations with students about their books.

  7. […] found this idea on Pinterest from the Barrow Media Center. Get a group of kids together and hold a “book tasting.” Select a books to be sampled […]

  8. […] school librarian is to make sure my students are exposed to a wide variety of books. So when I read Andy Plemmons’ post about book tasting (who was inspired by Buffy Hamilton), I knew it was something I wanted to try with my students. For […]

  9. […] See how students reacted to the book-tasting experience in videos from Barrow Media Center. […]

  10. […] See how students reacted to the book-tasting experience in videos from Barrow Media Center. […]

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