Library Confessions: I’m a terrible book talker

I’ve been feeling a bit ‘meh’ about some things lately, and perhaps putting some library confessions out there might at least make me feel more honest about where I feel I am professionally and what I’m doing to improve myself. With blogging, it’s easy to post only the good things and make it look like you’re a library rock star, but the honest truth is that we all have things that we struggle with professionally. It’s what we do about them that really defines us.

I’ve always felt that one of my shortcomings as a librarian is book talking. I know some teachers and other librarians who are book talking geniuses. I am not one of those people. Back in my elementary days, I could throw down a mean story time. And I feel like I’m great at connecting students with books on a one on one basis. That may be one of the roots of my book talking failures — I prefer to get to know students and their preferences, then recommend books I know they will enjoy. I usually establish those relationships so well that I don’t really have to ‘sell’ the books, I just hand them over and ask students to report back. So over the years, “Here — you’ll like this one,” is kind of the direction where my book talking skills have gone. There’s definitely not much of an art to that — so I’m working on it.

As with most things that I do, I require thought time and preparation to be anywhere decent in my execution of book talks. I don’t think I’ll ever be one of those amazing-on-the-spot-book-talk-givers. With all of my middle school and freshmen library orientation/book check-out visits this year, I did a hand full of book talks as well. I went through and pulled a selection of books that I know and love, then I wrote little blurbs on sticky notes to put on the back to use as a guide when I book talked. Of course, I kept all of the stickies, because that was a lot of work!

After two weeks of this, I realized handwritten sticky notes probably weren’t the best long term solution for keeping track of my book talk notes. I’ve since made a Google Form where I’m inputting my notes so I can reprint them on sticky notes and reuse them in the future.

And just for fun, here are some of the books I find myself recommending most often to students:

Do you have any advice to improve book talking skills? Or favorite books that are checked out every time you share them with students?

3 thoughts on “Library Confessions: I’m a terrible book talker

  1. I appreciate you sharing this post!! I also prefer one on one talks with students about books. I really don’t like to do book talks, but I’m determined to do more. I’m glad to know that I’m not the only librarian who is not a book talking guru.

  2. Thank you for sharing such an honest post. As much as we would all like to be good at everything, that quite simply isn’t realistic. I think it is important to air your weaknesses and seek support. Don’t we ask this of our students? Being a good leader takes reflection and the ability to recognize areas of improvement. As I start my journey as a teacher-librarian, I have a huge learning curve. I think my biggest hurdle right now is becoming familiar with my collection so that I can better match students with books. This sounds like one of your strengths! Do you have a favourite source for book recommendations? How about tips on getting the gist of a book, since it will take me awhile to read through the library. In response to your question, “Do you have any advice to improve book talking skills?” I have a couple of suggestions, but they are by no means tried, tested and true. What about using book trailers? I’ve also created imovies in the past to hook students before starting bigger projects. I’m thinking that could be a fun, and maybe even student led, way to deliver book talks.

  3. Hi Tiffany,
    I appreciate how open and truthful your blog entries are. I liked the honestly behind the post since some blogs I’ve seen only discuss the positive sides and the highlights of the day. You were able to connect pictures and some potential solutions to your blog post and that made it appealing and kept me reading until the end. This post was refreshing since I feel like most of us will feel like we aren’t doing something right or that we aren’t good enough at our jobs, regardless of how hard we work. I think it’s hard to be an expert on such a variety of childrens’ books. I would feel intimidated knowing that it was seen as my responsibility as a teacher librarian to recommend and help connect all young readers to appropriate reading content. The variety of reading interests, levels, genres, age appropriate content and availability are too many variables to have one person be an expert at. Reading your post put me at ease, knowing that it was okay to be at a place where I’m not an expert but I can work towards learning as much as possible to do the best job I can do, in that moment.

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