New Year, New Semester, New Inspiration

New Year

As I write this post on January 22, 2019, I am preparing to travel to my first ALA Midwinter Meeting in Seattle.  Attending the Affiliate Assembly will allow me to see firsthand what it’s all about! I am looking forward to meeting new colleagues and finding inspiration to bring back to my school, district, and state organization, the North Carolina School Library Media Association. Indeed, a national conference is an amazing opportunity to connect with others and share ideas!

New Semester

Additionally, the second semester started TODAY at Highland, and I am planning new collaborations with teachers and sprucing up the school library for students. My weeding list is extensive, I am updating the hallway display board, and, fingers crossed, my library reservation calendar is filling up. I love the start to a new year, full of possibilities and opportunities. New semesters are just the same for us secondary folks!  

Admittedly, I have been a little stumped about what to write about this month. Since my last few posts have been about collaboration with teachers, I thought I would stick with that and share some ideas you can make on your own for your students.

New Inspiration

To begin with, let’s talk about book tastings! This idea is nothing new. Librarians are experts at book talks and are masters of providing a sampling of great books for our patrons! But, a book tasting is a fun, special event for students of all ages. Here at Highland, I have collaborated with teachers (i.e., @jpmundo, @teachermax and @kaleathe615) to create themed book talks for our juniors and seniors.  

Tips for a Book Tasting

  • Plan a theme for your book tasting (i.e., Wonderland, a Book Cafe, a Book Buffet, etc.).
  • Borrow props from the prom closet.
  • Pool your resources. Library selections, classroom sets, and/or a combination of both offer a variety of resources that support the curriculum.
  • Feed the students! Light refreshments make it festive. We got donations from local grocery stores to help us.
  • Find a curricular focus. What are the learning goals for the event?
  • How can you use purposeful instructional technology? Maybe this is a no-tech event.
  • Advertise the event with the students to generate excitement.
  • Provide a menu for the students to guide them through the tasting.
  • Take pictures of your event and share on social media platforms. Always share your library’s story!

Book Tasting Examples

Photos below highlight some recent book tastings in our Highland library. As Parisian music played in the background, the Cafe Du Livre provided students with a menu created around a variety of YA fiction. Students placed an order and had one opportunity to return the book to the kitchen if they were not satisfied and select something else. As students enjoyed the refreshments, they also practiced their manners with an etiquette lesson and conversation tips. The book tasting served as an introduction for an independent book project. Once finished with their books, the students created video book commercials/book talks for their selections. The library blog showcased many of their videos, providing an authentic audience for their work.

Book Tasting Menu

Cafe Du Livre Menu

Paris-Inspired Book Tasting Table

Book Tasting Set-Up

Students arriving at book tasting

Students attending Cafe Du Livre Book Tasting

Ordering a book

Placing a book order from the kitchen

Boys reading books

Students enjoying their selections!

Students reading

Book tasting in action.

For a whimsical activity, picture books provided the foundation for the Wonderland book buffet. While enjoying light refreshments, students sampled the books and reviewed several selections.  Subsequently, they worked in pairs to create video retellings of the stories to share with elementary students via our digital library. As they planned and created their videos, the students used puppets, props, and other creative materials to assist them. Certainly, Highland’s digital library is still a work in progress and the teachers and I hope to add more videos to the collection soon.  (Hint: the digital library might just be the subject of a future blog post.)

Table close-up

The Wonderland inspired book buffet.

Picture book reading

Students enjoying the picture books

Book Buffet Title

Our theme for the book buffet

Collaborative partners

Collaborative partners

Book Buffet set-up

In conclusion, I do hope that these ideas are a springboard for more book tastings in many school libraries. Please add a comment or two about book tastings you may have facilitated as well. As always, I love to collaborate and share ideas with you. So, please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or to share your great book tasting ideas.  

Happy 2019!

Author: Laura Long

Laura Long is the school library media specialist at Highland School of Technology in Gastonia, NC, a 2017 National Blue Ribbon School. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Education from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and her Masters of Library Science from East Carolina University. She is a Gaston County Schools’ Delta Fellow, Pinnacle Technology Leader and member of the Pioneering Educators Team, as well as a National Board certified language arts teacher. Additionally, she is the President-elect of the North Carolina School Library Media Association. She loves collaborating and helping her students connect with others around the world, so feel free to contact her via email or social media.



Categories: Blog Topics, Community/Teacher Collaboration, Student Engagement/ Teaching Models

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