Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Third Grade Booktalk, 4/18/12

Today, I visited a third grade class in our nearby Catholic school. The classroom teacher told me ahead of time that her class loves Choose Your Own Adventure Books. My branch doesn't happen to have many of those, though they are widely available in my system, but I wanted to incorporate the spirit of those books into my booktalk. What I did in the end was a booktalk I called, "Choose Your Own (Reading) Adventure." Instead of just booktalking the books that interested me, I pulled together a whole bunch of titles, then asked the kids a series of questions to determine which ones we would discuss.

Here are the questions and answers. I provide the titles in parentheses but did not provide those to the kids when posing my questions so they would be surprised by the books themselves.(Links are to my reviews on my book blog.)

My question: Would you rather speak in a secret language (Say What? by Margaret Peterson Haddix) or not speak at all (No Talking by Andrew Clements)?
Class's answer: Speak in a secret language.

Q. Would you rather have a magic coin (Half Magic by Edward Eager) or a magic babysitter (Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle by Betty MacDonald)?
A. Magic coin

Q. Do you prefer math (Lunch Lady and the Mutant Mathletes by Jarrett J. Krosoczka) or science (Babymouse, Mad Scientist by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm)?
A. Science 

Q. Do you like frogs (Marty McGuire by Kate Messner) or turtles (The Birthday Storm by Sharon Draper)?
A. Turtles (unanimously!)

Q. Explosions (Phineas L. MacGuire... Erupts! by Frances O'Roarke Dowell) or gross food (Scab for Treasurer by Trudy Trueit)?
A. Explosions 

Q. Would you rather hear about a lost diamond (The Case of the Diamond Dog Collar by Martha Freeman) or a found diamond (Bogus by Karla Oceanak)?
A. Lost diamond 

Q. Would you rather go camping (Alvin Ho: Allergic to Camping, Hiking, and Other Natural Disasters by Lenore Look) or go to a sleepover (Horrid Henry's Stinkbomb by Francesca Simon)?
A. Camping 

Q. Would you rather tell a secret (Amy Hodgepodge: The Secret’s Out by Kim Wayans and Kevin Knotts) or a lie (Honestly, Mallory! by Laurie Friedman)?
A. Secret

The kids' votes were pretty heavily one-sided, which I attribute to peer pressure as much as to their actual interests, but I didn't hear a single complaint about a vote not going someone's way. They were invested heavily in the books and a lot of great discussions arose about everything from what can happen on a camping trip to what you can do to make amends after telling a friend's secret. When we finished the questions, we went back to talk about the books they did not pick in the initial question and answer round. Then I gave them a handout of all the book titles and allowed them to look at the books themselves. Eight of the students chose books for me to keep on hold for them at the children's desk so they could come in later in the week or next week to pick them up. The titles the kids chose were:

  • Search for the Black Rhino, Curse of the Pirate Mist, and The Lost Jewels of Nabooti (These were Choose Your Own Adventure books I displayed but did not booktalk.) 
  • Half Magic
  • Scab for Treasurer
  • Say What?
  • Babymouse, Mad Scientist
  • The Case of the Diamond Dog Collar
The kids also told me Marty McGuire is in their classroom library, and many had also read Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle.

This was a great format for a book talk, and it's absolutely how I will do my booktalks from now on. I think some things could be made even better, but it was a great first experience, and I can't wait to do it again for more classes!

Click here to download my handout.


  1. I love this format for doing booktalks! It sounds like a really fun way to make booktalking more interactive.

    1. I wasn't sure how it would work, but it was a lot of fun. I'm sure the kids thought it was a nice break, given how quietly and studiously they were working when I arrived!

  2. I love how engaging this is for the kids, it makes them feel like they are a part of the talk, rather than just sitting passively and listening. I may have to borrow this idea...

    1. Borrow away! I love anything that gets the kids involved. I also think I am less nervous when I know the kids are part of the discussion, and it's not all on me to be interesting / entertaining. This was definitely one of my favorite class visits!

  3. Great idea! I always do my booktalks freestyle choice - I put out the books and kids raise their hands and tell me which ones they want to hear about - but sometimes the fifth graders won't participate, so I might try this on them.


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