How to Encourage Readers and Give a Book Talk

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Written by Pam Odd of Keeping Life Creative.

Children’s author Mem Fox said, “When I say to a parent, ‘read to a child,’ I don’t want it to sound like medicine. I want it to sound like chocolate.”

To me, curling up with a good book is fulfilling as a decadent morsel of rich, dark chocolate melting on my tongue. But I also know reading isn’t rich, delicious, or satisfying to everyone – particularly those who’ve had limited literature exposure or have struggled with fluency.

Today I’m sharing a learning experience that may spark some interest for books from even the hesitant reader.

How to Encourage Readers and Give a Book Talk

photo credit: pixabay

Giving a book talk allows kids to become an expert and share their knowledge and enthusiasm for a favorite book through oral or visual presentation. And they can use a book talk as a platform to draw from their individual strengths and creativity in deciding how to present.

A book talk is not a book review or book report, it’s more of a commercial to tease and grab the attention of your audience, persuading them to want to read the book. This blog post shares the process I led my kids through when creating an oral book talk.

Thinking About Audience

To begin our book talk project, I asked my kids to choose a previously-read favorite book and then we spent a while discussing audience. The audience can be real, or imaginary.

If kids are hesitant about speaking in a public setting, stuffed animals make a polite audience and a good way to practice and get more comfortable with giving an oral presentation! This is a good project to do for a co-op reading night or just as a fun and educational family activity.

oral book presentation ideas

photo credit: pixabay

I asked the kids to pretend their audience was unfamiliar with the book they were about to share. What would questions might they have? What important information would they need to know? What cliffhanger would leave them wanting to know more about the book? 

Creating a Rough Draft

Sometimes the hardest part about writing is getting started, though it depends on the kid. Hand my daughter a blank sheet of paper, and she’ll have it filled in no time. But do the same to my son, and he panics.

If you have insecure writers, a fun way to encourage them to get started is to “talk out” their ideas into a voice recorder. We always say, “Any idea is a good one. Just ‘vomit your ideas’ onto the page (or recorder).”

book report alternatives

photo credit: pixabay

Boys especially love that one, and while a blank sheet of paper or computer screen paralyzes my son, I can hand him a voice recorder and he’s overflowing with ideas. The recorded ideas are then transcribed into a rough draft or “sloppy copy.”

Reviewing and Editing

Discuss the rough draft, making edits for clarity. Editing can be a scary process for most. My husband teaches college freshman who’ve been traumatized by the red pen.

editing tips for kids

I feel like it’s important for kids to know editing and clarifying is an important part of the process and not something to fear. Rather than marking up their paper for them – talk about the ideas together and help them see where they could make improvements to make the book talk even better.

The Final Draft

After making edits, have them copy the new and improved book talk into a final draft, or read it back into the recorder. We chose the later, and then I had the kids listen to their book talk over and over to help them familiarize themselves with and memorize their commercial.

The Presentation

This is where it gets really fun and where creativity can run wild. Costumes, props, dioramas, posters, illustrations – anything is allowed and encouraged to make the book talk more enthusiastic and a “selling point” for the audience.

We keep a dress-up bin of old Halloween costumes and funky thrift-store finds that comes in handy for acting the parts. In preparing for this particular book talk, my 4th-grader chose to present Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and insisted he’d need a purple suit jacket to play the part of Willy Wonka.

When the costume bin came short, we scavenged the local thrift store. I hoped to discover something velvet and gold-tassel trimmed from the 80’s, but no such luck. So we bought a “perfectly good” khaki suit coat and some fabric dye (investment: less than $5).

book report alternative

I’m not suggesting going to this much effort is necessary for creating a fantastic book talk, just that a little creativity can go a long way and make the project more special.

Once their costume or project is ready, plan a family night, or just set up the video camera, and let them present! Such a fun way to present passion for a good book, encourage the love of reading, move through the writing process, and practice some public speaking skills!

Do your kids think of reading as taking medicine or eating chocolate?

This post is linked to the Hip Homeschool Hop.

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This article was written by a Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers guest author. See the author's full bio in the body of the post.

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  1. This is such a good idea! I love the quote from Mem Fox, too. Reading is definitely a place a lot of children struggle and it is great to get them engaged and excited! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Such a wonderful idea! I particularly love the Mem Fox quote! I want reading to be like chocolate for my kids too!

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