I hosted my very first classroom Book Tasting yesterday, and my students were ALL IN! Book Tastings are a wonderful way to get kids engaged in reading and familiarizing them with a wide variety of genres. As an extra bonus, they get to practice Read to Self and find good fit books. At the end of the tasting, they all end up with a list of books that they can't wait to read. No more, “I don't know what to read!” excuses when we head to the library!
File this under lessons that must be repeated multiple times throughout the year!
This was BY FAR my favorite lesson that I've done so far this year!
To prepare for my book tasting, I met with our librarian and we selected 8-10 books at my students' reading levels per genre. We are so lucky to have a HUGE library with a VAST assortment of books! Then, I headed to the Dollar Tree and bought all of their blue and green placemats! I also grabbed a few snacks for the students to have a “taste” of while they took a “taste” of their books.
As I was planning my Book Tasting, the fabulous Joanne from Head Over Heels for Teaching created an amazing Book Tasting Resource! PERFECT TIMING! The Book Tasting Menus that the students recorded on as well as the genre labels came from the pack! My extra placements (Dollar Tree only had 20!) also came from her packet!
Here is how I set up my book tasting:
I set up six different tables. Each table was for a specific genre. I placed a placement, a menu, and a plate at each seat. Then, I put one book on each plate and a few extra books in the middle of the table. I put the genre sign in the middle. Than, I put on an apron, and I played some cafe music. I also put little bowls of snacks on the table, but the kids didn't get to taste those. More on the snacks later!
When the students arrived, I explained that they were now dining at Chef Montero's, and I had prepared a very special dining experience for them. They, the Distinguished Diners at Chef Montero's, would be getting a taste of all kinds of new books! I REALLY played it up, acting like I was a chef/server, and they were guests at a nice restaurant. They even had to use their manners and act like dinner guests!
Menus and Selection
They were all seated at a table and grabbed their menus. I gave them about a minute to look at the book on their plate. If they truly weren't interested in it AT ALL, they could trade out their book for one of the books in the middle of the table. Most kids did not trade.
Then, they began writing in their menus the genre, title, and first impressions of the book.
After that, they had about 3-4 minutes to “taste” their book. During this time, they were reading several pages out of their book. While they were doing this, I walked around and served tiny tastes of several of my very special creations. I got a little silly during this part, coming up with gourmet names for all of the little treats I served them. Their favorite treat was the Rainbow Beans (AKA Skittles). They got a tiny taste of something during each course at a different table. We have a strict “Safe Snack” list, so I served Fruit Snacks (2), Oreos (1), Skittles (2), Pretzel Sticks (a few), and Teddy Grahams (2). They thought it was hilarious that they were getting such small portions of their snacks, but I reminded them that this was only a tasting! 🙂 They LOVED how into my character I got.
After Their Book Tasting
Once they had done their tasting of the book, they filled out the rest of their menu, explaining whether or not they wanted to keep reading and why. They also rated each book on a scale of 1-10.
Then, they reset their tables nicely, took their menus with them, and took a seat at another genre table. I had six tables, and we made five rotations. In total, it took us about an hour to do our book tasting.
We had a BLAST doing our book tasting! They loved it so much that they begged to do another one tomorrow! I promised them that we would do another one later on this year once they have had time to read some of the new books on their “Must Read” list.
More Novel Study Ideas
You can also have your students complete any of the activities from my Novel Study Activities Bundle with their new books. These novel study activities are perfect for pre-reading, during reading, and after reading. Use them with almost any novel to help your students to think critically about what they're reading! It's packed with a variety of formats– choice boards, journals, and task cards to engage all learners!