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Recipes for Effective Literacy Instruction

Book Talk Projects

Growing up, we’ve probably all sat through endless droning book reports—bored, frustrated, or daydreaming—just waiting for them to be over. Book Talk Projects are different because they require—indeed, depend upon—ACTIVE audience participation.

Here’s how the Nonfiction Book Talk Project works: Students read a nonfiction book, describe it briefly, then answer the audience’s questions about it.

This assignment has worked very well with high school students and can be modified for middle school students or for a different genre of reading.  In addition to being a more compelling vehicle for oral presentations than the traditional “book report” because it engages the entire class and holds audience members accountable for listening, taking notes, and asking questions, the Nonfiction Book Talk Project often entices students to read the books that their peers have introduced.

Following is an overview of the assignment, which includes the audience’s questions, a scoring checklist, and a notes organizer for audience members.  This document (cleverly titled Nonfiction Book Talk Project), along with a file called Recommended Nonfiction, can be found in the TLC Download Zone.

If your class is reading a novel, check out the Book Talk Project for Class Novel.  (Thanks to Keith Samber at Paul Robeson CS for contributing to this modified version!)

For more ideas about how students can respond to books or other texts, visit the READING section, esp. the Independent Reading and Analyzing Literature pages.  Also, check out the Socratic Seminars page.

On a separate but related note, you might want to check out "Classroom Reading Groups: What Works and What Doesn't" by Sarah Schwartz, EdWeek, Aug. 15, 2023.

IN THE DOWNLOAD ZONE for Book Talk Projects:


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