Have you often wondered why certain books that you loved as a child just sit on your classroom shelves gathering dust? Are you curious why the librarian is discarding books by your favorite author? Does it surprise you which books in the community book sale still do not have their bindings cracked? Well … I believe one reason may be that those particular titles had very poor marketing. In many cases in order for a reader to fall in love with a book someone needs to recommend it to them in a way that will get them excited to read it! Here are some suggestions on how to get your students excited about some “new” titles!
Number One – Book Talks
Book talks are a conversation about a book that one reads, infused with joy and emotion. Best if done daily! Love this definition that was found on the Scholastic website. Passionately sharing a summary or providing an exciting hook will entice many readers. Another form of a book talk may be, “First Chapter Read.” Reading the first chapter of a book introduces a potential reader to a new text. Make sure to have a basket or bin where all books that have been “book talked” may be placed for readers to find easily. By teachers modeling book talks for students, it may encourage students to do their own book talks. Remember these should not be viewed as an old-fashioned book report, and absolutely should not be graded (just my opinion). The purpose is to introduce a book to a new reader. Booktalks can also be shared virtually. Recording short video book talks allow students to access new titles whenever it is convenient. Flipgrid is a wonderful way to share a book talk and provides an easy way to keep adding to the number of titles. Check out the sample and click on the small circles under the text to see some video book talks.
Number Two – Book Displays
What grabs your attention when you walk into your school library or local bookstore? It is not usually the books that are neatly shelved spines facing out it is the ones on top or part of an interesting display. Here are some things to keep in mind when you are creating an interesting display. First, find one or two areas that catch your eye when you walk into the classroom or that students will see easily during independent reading time. Next, decide on the display fixture that you will use. Be creative! I’ve seen rain gutters, traditional spinning metal racks, tops of bookshelves, even wooden step stools used to display books.
- Find a theme or way to connect the books that are showcased. Author, subject, genre, current reading, award-winning, and more.
- Books facing front make a bigger impact than viewing the spines. In the lower section of the picture notice that the students are showcasing their current independent read, with all titles facing forward.
- Signage is not a must but draws the potential reader’s attention to the display. Keep it simple and easy to read.
- The books should be in reach for all your readers. Remember it is not all about the visual, it is about having the books fly off the shelf!
- Share out the “Hidden Gems” in the classroom collection that have not been in a reader’s hands lately.
- Simple props may add visual interest but are not a must do. Curating the display by adding an object does help to complete the presentation.
Number 3 – Recommendations
Nothing sells a book more than a recommendation from a trusted friend. Sometimes it may even be a recommendation from a new friend that has the same love of reading. Often when I visit my local bookstore I will strike up a conversation with a customer or sales clerk as to their favorite new read. As an adult, I will frequently consult friends on my Goodreads account for my next good book.
But as young readers, these ways may be a bit challenging. So in years past when I was a first-grade teacher I created an interactive recommendations board for my students to use independently. In the begin of the year, we spent a lot of time getting to know each other as readers. By October we knew who liked to read about horses, who read anything to do with building and who gobbled up any books on trucks that came into our classroom. After that, I would introduce, The Recommendation Chart. Materials were easy; chart paper, marker and bin. Below is an example of the simple chart. The students would fill out the first four columns and leave the book below the chart in a bin with a sticky note with the student’s name on the front for their classmate. When the classmate finished the book they would add an emoji to the chart to let the class know how they liked the book. We discussed the importance of being aware that all readers (including Mrs. Fenton) had a recommendation. This was a chart that continued throughout the rest of the school year and was a busy spot in the classroom library.
Number Four – Sharing Book Quotes
Enticing students with interesting quotes from a book is another way to get someone interested in a new title. Constructing a visual to go with the quote will bring even more interest. There are a variety of options to create an interesting visual. The sample was created with my favorite, Adobe Spark. Canva is another popular way to construct inspirational designs sharing your favorite quotes.
A unique way to share book quotes is by creating a “Book Snap.”There are many digital options when designing a book snap. Book Creator is a very easy way to import a picture of the text, picture of the cover of the book, highlight the quote and add text. It doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles but gets the job done! A wonderful way also to have students to reflect on their own reading.
Number Five – Staff Picks
We all have been drawn to the small cards under books that share what the staff has been reading and recommending at our local bookstores. Why not create this easy method in your classroom. Include this information. _________ recommends ______________. Then leave a few lines below for the summary or hook. Perhaps at the bottom, you may even want to include, If you like reading this book you might also like _____. If you want to put a little tech twist to it try posting your Staff Picks on Padlet. It is a great way to not only include picks for the readers in your classroom but also the school librarian, reading teachers and even the principal could add their favorite picks.
Ready to “Sell” some books?
There are so many ways to increase student engagement, choice, and motivation through your marketing of books. Try out perhaps one new way to showcase your book collection in your classroom. I would love to hear from you other ways you share new titles. Please add your suggestions in the comment section!