Teachers have been flooding Instagram with photos of “book tastings.” Some of these classroom events rival the looks of five-star restaurants with white table cloths, real flowers in vases on the tables, and teachers in chef hats. Book tastings are a fun way to get kids excited about reading. They are easy to adapt to meet COVID-19 safety precautions – and can even be adapted for distance learning. Here’s what you need to know to create your own.
WHAT ARE BOOK TASTINGS?
Book tastings are a way to get several books into the hands of students to explore in a fun, no-pressure way. They can be elaborate or kept more simple. The classroom (or cafeteria, library, etc.) becomes a “restaurant.” Each child gets several books to look through before making a decision on which one to “order” as their reading selection.
Joanne Miller (@headoverheelsforteaching) is the queen of book tastings! Many of the teachers sharing their experiences on Instagram credit her with the inspiration. Joanne has used her 25 years of teaching knowledge and creativity to put together a comprehensive book tasting kit in her TpT store. In includes everything you need to have your own – instructions, templates, ideas, and so many fun printables. Get it HERE.
Joanne Miller, @headoverheelsforteaching
BENEFITS OF BOOK TASTINGS:
There are so many great reasons to hold a book tasting!
1. Get kids hyped up about reading!
Talk up the event to get kids excited. Put up signs. Have kids make “reservations” in advance and check-in with the “hostess.”
2. Fun bookmarks are a great reading tool.
Laminate restaurant themed bookmarks for each student. Bookmarks make reading fun, help kids follow along when they place them below the sentence they’re reading, and safely hold space when taking a break from reading without folding pages.
3. Expose students to a variety of genres.
Many kids (and grownups!) like to stay in their comfort zones when it comes to reading. Giving students different genres to sample helps them try new types of books.
4. Focus on specific authors.
Give students several books by the same author to really get a feel for that particular author’s style.
5. Learn new literacy vocabulary terms.
Theme your book tasting around a particular genre and use it as a hands-on way to explore literacy vocabulary terms.
6. Customize selections to students’ interests.
Yes, this is a great way to expand their book palate, but students will be more likely to step outside their comfort zone if some familiar choices are in the pile. For example, make sure there are some sports selections for budding athletes.
7. Students can let classmates “taste” their favorite books.
Give students a “menu” listing all the books available at the tasting. If a student has read a book in a classmate’s selection, they can share their thoughts on the book and why they’d recommend it.
8. Work on writing skills.
Provide students with some writing prompts as they consider each book. For example, “What do you think this book is about?” or “What makes you want to or NOT want to read this book?”
9. Teachers get to wear a costume and pretend to be chefs!
How fun is that?! With all the stress of pandemic teaching, it’s so nice to make some playful memories with our students.
10. Reassure kids all kinds of books are acceptable – even graphic novels!
Erase stigma by putting in a mix of “fun” books, such as fantasy novels, YA romance, celebrity autobiographies, and graphic novels.
11. Make independent reading time more engaging.
Independent reading is a chore for some students. This definitely adds an engaging layer!
12. Easily adapt the tasting for older students.
Middle and high school kids will love a coffee shop themed tasting! Schedule a day for students to review their “orders” for their classmates after they finish reading.
13. Integrate the fun into other curriculum topics.
Continue the theme throughout the day. For example, integrate your cafe or pizza shop theme into a grammar lesson.
14. It’s a Pinterest lover’s dream!
If your motto is “go big or go home,” this is your chance to go all out with the restaurant theme. Pinterest is filled with inspiration.
15. Or keep it simple!
It’s just as fun and effective with a simple banner, and a few printables for students to write their thoughts on.
16. Introduce fellow teachers to new books!
Book tastings don’t have to be just for kids! They’re great for staff meetings or in-service events, too.
17. Extend learning.
Use this as an opportunity to practice concepts like parts of a book, purpose, setting, characters, and sequence of events.
18. Give each child their own basket of books.
Once students make their choices, the rest of the basket gets put in the cabinet for a 72-hour quarantine.
19. Table for one, please!
Decorate each child’s desk or table like their dining at a cute bistro.
20. Separate stations with plexiglass.
Arm your classroom restaurant with literal sneeze guard!
Distance learning book tastings:
21. Purchase Google Slides templates for a virtual session.
Joanne Miller has an online book tasting resource with Google Slides available in her TpT store! Get it HERE.
22. Create virtual tables!
Create a Google Slideshow featuring different genre “tables.”
23. Transform your bitmoji classroom into a restaurant!
2020 has taught us distance doesn’t have to get in the way of the classroom experience!
We’d love to see your book tastings – both virtual and in-person! Tag @Bored_Teachers in your posts!