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School starts and “booktalks”

We’re abuzz with school starting preparation. So when does school start for us? Tomorrow for Linda at Teachers College, Wednesday for me at Queens, next week for David at Ramapo and Sue at New York University and Sophie, in first grade at a NYC public school, The Anderson School. Dot, my long-time friend and a captivating presence on my blog and in my book Rosie the Riveter, started last week. She’s a middle school librarian and here’s her report: Hi Penny, We started last week. It was one BUSY week! Everything seemed to go well. The 6th graders seemed confused, but no one was crying. On the second day of classes, the reading teachers brought their students to the library for 20 minutes to select books. They never want to give up much time for this, so I can’t really do indepth booktalks. I had two carts selected; one for 7/8 grades and one for 6th grade. I gave 30 second book talks for about ten books to each group and really whipped through them fast. Almost every book I “talked” went out! I’m hoping teachers get the value of doing that, rather than letting the kids just float around the library. I enthusiastically second Dot’s comments re the power of “booktalks,” a terrific technique for anyone–parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, teachers, librarians and strangers–who want to share their passion for reading. Yes, strangers; several years ago a stranger–a woman whose appearance initially made me think she might be homeless–who was standing next to me in the mystery section of an independent bookstore turned to me and said, “Do you want to read a wonderful book?” “Sure.” With that she headed off to another section with me in tow, plucked a nonfiction book, Timothy Egan’s The Worst Hard Time, off the shelf, and handed it to me. Intrigued I bought it, read it, and loved it. p.s. you can also do “articletalks.”

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