Tag Archives: book talks

Book Talk Tool: Kahoot!

Kahoot! app.Yesterday, I had my last school visit of the year. I’ve learned a lot through a year of book talks, and get a sense of closure from having the first and last classes I visited this school year be the same. One tool I’ve started using in middle school classrooms is Kahoot!

If you’re unfamiliar with Kahoot!, it’s a free online platform that lets you create multiple-choice quizzes that students can answer on a computer or mobile device. (There are other options for quizzes and games you can create, but I haven’t explored those yet.) Every student at the local middle school has a Chromebook, which is perfect for Kahoot! After talking about books I think the students will like, I tell them about the library’s online resources and upcoming programs. A Kahoot! quiz on our eBooks and events is a great way to see how well the students were listening (and how well I presented!), and to get them more involved in the presentation. In my opinion, the more interactive a class visit, the better! It helps that the teachers use Kahoot! here, too; just say “Kahoot!” and the kids all know what to do!

Tonight, before we Skype with YA author Stephanie Garber at the library, I’ve prepared a Kahoot! with trivia about her book, Caraval. There are so many ways to use Kahoot! to spice up a presentation or host a trivia night.

Do you use Kahoot!?


School outreach with book talks

Check these out! Great middle school reads.I just returned from my first day of book talks at one of the local middle schools. I’ll admit, going into this, I was really nervous. I am not a public speaker. And I had to talk to a full class of seventh and eighth graders. For forty minutes. Six times in a row.

And it. Was. AWESOME!!! These students were respectful, engaged, and asked great questions. They liked hearing about books to read for fun, and about our digital resources (Freegal was really popular, and the teachers were all pushing Tutor.com along with me). Working the Information Services desk, I don’t often get to interact with teens who are excited about reading; those who come for a book usually know what they want and find it themselves. So seeing them give enthusiastic thumbs-ups to the books I brought was awesome.

But more than getting teens excited about reading, book talks are the most effective outreach I’ve ever done. I got to talk up the library to 130 teens who were a captive, engaged audience. Those students now all know me as the teen librarian. They’ve talked with me, and will (hopefully) be comfortable approaching me at the library. They know about our programs, and left class talking about game nights and edible bugs (yes, we’re having edible bugs at an Eat Around the World program in a couple weeks). Even if only ten percent of them come to these programs, that’s thirteen teens I hadn’t seen at programs before.

And, book talks gave me a chance to meet some awesome teachers! I had an opportunity to show them some of the library’s resources that can help their students. And when I found out about a series their students like that we didn’t have at the library, I was able to tell the teachers and the students that we could get those books. Two teachers even offered extra credit to students who show them their public library card. And hopefully, these teachers will vouch for me when I want to visit their colleagues’ classes.

If you’re a youth librarian, and there’s a chance for you to do book talks at your local schools, I highly recommend it. It’s a great way to build or strengthen partnerships with educators, and to show a lot of students what the library has to offer them. Plus, it’s just really fun to meet and talk with the students you might not already see at the library.

On promoting “mature” YA

T rating.As I prepare for my first round of book talks at local schools, I’m finding one of the hardest parts is choosing which books to promote. I want to choose diverse books, books where a character’s race/background isn’t central to the plot and books where it is, books from a variety of genres. I want to throw in a few graphic novels, both to highlight awesome stories and to affirm that, yes, reading comics counts as reading. I also, of course, want to choose age-appropriate titles.

But as I try to choose books that the conservative parents in my community will approve, I also want to pick books teens will want to read and think about and discuss. Because here’s the thing: parents may not want their kids to read about sex or drugs or abuse, but these things exists. For some teens, drugs and/or abuse are their reality — either they personally struggle with these issues, or they have a relative or friend who does. Some are having sex, others are wishing they were having sex, and still others are choosing not to have sex. But nearly every teen will come into contact with “mature” issues in some way. And they will have questions.

Books that tackle mature topics are a safe place for teens to find answers to their questions. Readers can vicariously explore what it’s like to take certain risks, to drink or do drugs or have sex. They can walk in the shoes of someone who’s being bullied or victimized, and learn how to make sure sex — when they decide to have it — is safe and consensual. They can develop empathy for the addict they’ve always looked down upon. They can experiment with characters on the page and learn from the characters’ mistakes, instead of making their own.

Teens will have questions. Books provide answers. I respect that some parents may not find “mature” books appropriate for their teens, but I want the teens who need these books to know about them. I want those teens to know that it’s okay to have questions, and that having those questions does not make them any lesser than their peers who aren’t asking the same questions. (I could dedicate several posts to why I find the label “clean” read problematic.)

I haven’t made any final decisions, but I’m leaning toward presenting a book with a short, positive sex scene in the high schools and another one that explores rape culture to juniors and seniors. Because these things exist, and teens are going to talk about them. I’d rather provide a safe space for them to do so than pretend these issues don’t exist, or don’t affect teens.

Have you book talked any “mature” books to older teens? What was the reaction?