Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Professional Book Review-Final Project

Littlejohn, Carol and Cathlyn Thomas. 2001. Keep Talking That Book: Booktalks to Promote Reading, Grades 2-12 Volume III. Worthington, OH: Linworth Publishing.

Carol Littlejohn has created the third volume of her successful Professional Growth Series books, Keep Talking That Book: Booktalks to Promote Reading, Grades 2-12. Author and library media specialist Littlejohn “aims to help media specialists and others use booktalks or brief book chats to stimulate interest among individuals of all ages and ultimately match the right readers with the right books.” For Volume III, she has collaborated with school librarian and writer Cathlyn Thomas to produce a valuable booktalk resource.

This slim volume is jam packed with information divided into five parts. Readers will find a list of book awards, an alphabetical list of tips and strategies, genre and subject headings, sample booktalks, and indexes. The efficient, user friendly organization of the volume allows the reader to skim and access information instantly.

Part 1 includes a list of book awards arranged alphabetically. Most of the booktalks listed in the volume are based on books from recommended reading lists. Readers will find the background information on the various awards highly valuable.

In Part 2 booktalkers are treated to an alphabetical listing of tips and strategies, and yes, there is something for every letter of the alphabet. Take X, for example, “X-Files: Booktalk any topic related to the X-Files television series, aliens, telepathy, Bermuda Triangle, any conspiracy topics, the FBI, anything supernatural, fiction or nonfiction. Like magic, the books will disappear!”

Part 3 finds a list of Genres and Subject headings for beginners or those in need of an inspirational boost. This particular volume offers some subject headings like Bullies, Holidays, Mental Illness, Moving, Nature, Seasons, and Transportation that were not listed in the previous editions.

Dive in to Part 4 for a multitude of booktalks for readers of all ages. Arranged alphabetically by the author’s last name, they also include bibliographic information, age/grade appropriateness, various book awards, genre, subject, and related books. A section called “Notes” is included to give any additional information about the book, author, genre, or maturity content. If profanity is present in the book, it might be noted here. At times, the ending of the book may be revealed in the notes, but this is only information for the booktalker. The authors stress, “The ending of a book should never be shared with students since the purpose of booktalks is to encourage reading.”

The Indexes of Part 5 are a helpful listing of author, title, reading level, genre, and subject lists. The authors have made it easy to use the Genre and Subject indexes to reference books or booktalks that will assist them to further arouse interest in reading from a particular subject area. Designed to match related books for booktalking themes and recommendations, these indexes are an asset to any educator.

If you are thinking about implementing a booktalking program at your school or library and you would like to motivate students to read, this book provides a helpful framework for getting started. Littlejohn and Thomas have created awesome models to use and execute and mold into your own to inspire and stimulate a life long love of reading. The easy to use booktalk format will allow you to springboard ideas and create new and exciting booktalks for your readers, reluctant or not. In the words of Carol Littlejohn, “Let’s keep talking those books!”

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