Book Talking: Increasing Interest in Reading


Reading plays important role in the social, emotional, and intellectual development of a child. Reading books not only provides information but also stimulates the mind and widens imagination. It fulfills a natural desire for knowledge and stimulates a child to seek information and understanding over many things. Libraries are the best place to seek information on various issues. It is therefore important to motivate students to read books, visit and borrow books from libraries. Book talking can have a positive result in encouraging students to read if implemented in the school library.

Implementing Book Talking


Many teachers use book talking to motivate students to read. As the name suggests, book talking refers to talking about a book with intention of motivating others to read. It differs from a book review in that book talking is fundamentally intended to invoke interest in a book rather than giving a personal opinion over the book. A book-talker introduces a book; featuring the main characters, plot, and main conflicts in a manner that invokes the audience’s interest in reading the book (Bernholz, Cappleman & Sumner, 1992).

For many years, book talking has been used as one of the strategies to motivate young children and adolescent students to read. A teacher can invite a number of students for a short book talk. In the book talk, the teacher introduces several books from the school library, classroom library, or students’ personal collections. A good presenter tries to make a book talk as interesting as possible and includes a variety of books (Bernholz, Cappleman & Sumner, 1992). The effect of book talks is increasing interest in a particular book, the genre of book, and, in general, recreational reading. Students are likely to seek books presented in a book talk and therefore increase their frequency of reading.

There are various ways of implementing book talks. In traditional book talks, a teacher or another presenter with knowledge over a book makes the presentation (Keane, 2002). However, new media has provided other channels for book talks. Digital book talks and book talk websites have become possible alternatives for traditional book talks. In a book talk website, students can be able to read or listen to a number of book talks and choose the books that interest them. Using digital technology, a presenter can incorporate music, film, and videos in their book talks and capture their audience’s interest.

Book talk in the library

In order to encourage students to develop a habit of recreational reading, this paper proposes that the library implements digital book talks. Rarely do students choose to read during their free time; instead, they choose other activities such as watching television and chatting on social media such as Facebook. However, digital book talks can help in increasing students’ interest in reading and therefore increase their reading. The goals of the program are to increase students’ interest in reading, motivate students to read a wide variety of books, and help them develop a habit of visiting the library. For the success of the program, cooperation with classroom teachers will be very important.

Digital book talks can be an effective strategy for motivating students to read. Librarians and teachers can work together in preparing digital book talks for various books in the library. The digital book talks could be in the form of videos, book talk sites, and podcasts. The video could be in such a way that it can be played at any location that can access the institution’s closed-circuit television. A website hosting several book talks infirm of the podcasts can also be very helpful.

Examples of success

Book talking as a reading strategy has been used successfully by many teachers and in various libraries. Young (2006), a library specialist, admits that “bookmarking may be the most successful way to show a young adult that reading is fun, interesting, and valuable” (Young, 2006, p. 1) She advises teachers and School Library Media Specialists (SLMSs) to adopt bookmarking in order to increase voluntary reading. An example where the strategy has been used successfully is at Saxe Middles School, New Canaan, CT. According to Biondi & Sheehan (2010), ‘battle of the books’, a strategy to promote book talking, has become a tradition to Saxe Middle school.

Student Insight

School children who do a considerable amount of voluntary reading exhibit a positive attitude towards reading. However, few students would pick a book that they have never heard about. In an interview to fifth-grade children, it was found that many children were likely to read a book after a book talk. Many children identified difficulty in choosing books from library shelves as one of the difficulties in using the library. J. Richard, a fifth-grader, admitted that he could sustain reading a book to completion after a book talk. He said that book talk aroused a curiosity that motivated him to look for the book talk title. Linda, also a fifth-grader, said that she preferred book talking movies to live presentations. She said that she chose a book to borrow from a collection of titles in book talk movies.


Book talking is one of the best strategies to entice students to read. Children and adolescents are unlikely to volunteer to read unless they are motivated to do so. Book talks develop a students’ interest in particular books and increase their chance of reading the books. Digital book reading can have a positive effect in motivating students to use a school library. Library specialists should work hand-in-hand with teachers to create book talks that invite students to read variety of books.


Bernholz, J. Cappleman, H. & Sumner, P. (1992). Success in reading and writing: Grade 5. New York: Good Year Books.

Biondi, M. & Sheehan, M. (2010). BOOK TALKING BY DESIGN: Tips and Strategies to Hook the Middle School Reader. Web.

Keane, N. (2002). Booktalking across the curriculum: the middles years. Santa Barbara: Libraries Unlimited.

Young, T. (2006). Booktalking: Get Your Reluctant Reader To Listen Up! Web.

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