Wednesday, August 1, 2012

What is a Book Break?

As a Reading Specialist, I have always taken the time to read aloud great children's books to my students.  As I pursued a degree in School Library and Information Technologies, I began to further explore the vast and wonderful world of children's and young adult literature.  My interest and love for books and reading has only continued to grow and I wanted to be able to share the amazing world of books with both children and adults!  That is how I began to implement a booktalking program that I fondly refer to as my Book Breaks!  

I was already conducting a weekly Poetry Break, an idea that I have explained in my poetry wiki,, so it seemed to be a natural way to explore booktalks with the students in my elementary school.  Last year was my "pilot" year for implementing Book Breaks.  Since I was already conducting the Poetry Breaks with first grade classrooms, I began with the offer to conduct a weekly Book Break as well.  One of my colleagues, Tricia Anastos, eagerly scheduled Book Breaks for her class on Thursday mornings at 8:45.  Every week at this time, I would appear at her classroom door, blowing my train whistle to announce my arrival with an exciting new book (or books, I often couldn't resist the opportunity to share more than one title, especially when so many books can be grouped together according to one theme or another)!  

Tricia and her students were always so very excited and eager to see what I was bringing in my book bag!  Many of the books that I shared were newly released publications that I had recently purchased at the bookstore or a conference.  Sometimes the books were award winners (which always sparked great conversations!).  Other times, I brought signed copies of titles and was able to tell a little tale of how I had been able to meet the author/illustrator (usually showing a picture of myself with the author/illustrator - it is a great way to demonstrate that authors/illustrators are REAL people!).  Still other books that I brought to share with my eager first grade friends were old favorites!  

A Book Break generally lasts between five and ten minutes.  During that time, I give a brief booktalk, which simply means talking about a book and getting the audience interested in reading it.  I will be sharing some of my Book Break highlights from the past school year, as well as new Book Breaks, as the upcoming school year unfolds.  I will share how I use a variety of techniques and tools to promote the  books in my Book Breaks.  Some of the techniques and tools include the use of puppets, props, pictures, photographs, videos, book trailers, and more. 

I am also very excited to be expanding my Book Breaks!  At our annual end-of-year literacy data meeting, Tricia shared with colleagues and administrators, how much she and her students enjoyed their weekly foray into the world of children's books.  She shared that her students were so interested and motivated to read books and explore other books by the same author.  Additionally, Tricia and our library staff, shared with me that the students would actually argue about who got the books first to be able to check them out of the library!  Now I will be visiting at least two additional classrooms to conduct Book Breaks!  Thanks for having me and my books, Tricia!

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