Talking Up the Book Talks

by Shayna Monnens, Head Editor, INALJ South Dakota

Talking Up the Book Talks

shaynamonnensYay! School is in session, and they are filled with kids eager and waiting to learn! Ok, might be a big of a stretch, but they are there and they are waiting. Waiting for something (or someone) awesome to come see them. Someone who can bring them treats, and lots of them!

One of the best aspects of my job is the interaction I get to have with youth. With storytime and home schooling events for the younger kids, and different clubs and special events for the teens, I get do so much.  One of my biggest achievements to date is serving on the Young Adult Reading Program (YARP) for the state of South Dakota. This is program that is designed to get teens excited about books, and have them reading more than just the “flavor of the month” books.

The best part of YARP is the school book talks. While I am a public librarian and this duty falls more in the scale of school librarians, I am thrilled that I am asked to come into the schools and share these books. Last year I did about 10 different books talks, to different high school classes. The kids love hearing about the new themes and trends that are popping up in YA literature, and I am just so danged thrilled to be the one to share it with them!

Book talks can sound a bit intimidating the first time that you get to do one, but they are a lot of fun! While it could be just me standing in front of approximated 35 teens giving plot summaries on these books, I make it so much more. One of my most favorite programs, Prezi, is perfect for this job! Teens need visual stimulation as well as hearing someone talk about these books, and the more cool effects and awesome tricks that can be done, the more teens will be engaged and that means that they are actually listening. Not only do I use Prezi (seriously, one of the most amazing things ever!), but also enjoy showing book trailers. The kids love these, because while I will only use these for 2 or 3 books, I do not say anything about the book, just let the trailer do the talking for me. The kids go crazy, and they are interested in what I think of the book. But, mum’s the word! 😀

I also provide some sort of literature on my presentation to the teens. Last year I gave out bookmarks with the listed books, as well as these awesome sticky tab highlighters that they could use to highlight the books that they were interested in looking at and checking out at the library. This proved to be incredibly useful, and just one more thing that made the kids excited about me being there. I also gave out candy (with permission of the teacher), because what teen doesn’t love candy. As for what I will be doing this October, I am not sure, but thankfully I have some time yet to prepare.

The most important aspect of book talks with teens is actually being excited about the books yourself! How do you expect anyone to want to read further about these books if you yourself aren’t in love with them either? You don’t necessarily have to enjoy each and every book that you are discussing, but you have to inject energy into it. People feed off energy, and particularly teens.

So, if you are at all interested in getting books out there, whether for teens or adult or kids, do book talks! They don’t have to be done in schools. You could reach out to senior housing facilities, local business for brown bag lunch type book socials, wine bar book sessions, reading stories to kids at local daycare centers. The possibilities are ENDLESS! Not only do you get to plug great books, but also show that librarians are more than just individuals who stand behind the desk at the library.