Thirteen Middle-Grade Titles to Booktalk


I’ve always shared books with the students in my Children’s and Adolescent Literature courses, but this semester, I got serious about booktalking.  I’m an ace book matchmaker, but I’ve never been good at booktalking. As my students know, when I really love a book, I have a hard time articulating why. If I love it that much, I can mostly only grunt and shove the book into someone else’s hands. So booktalking was definitely a growth area for me as a teacher.

Here’s what I did to make booktalking more successful:

  • Spent fewer than 60 seconds pitching the book
  • Shared 3-10 titles per class session
  • Showed book trailers when there were good ones available
  • Read a short passage
  • Made connections to other books (“If you like The One and Only Ivan, you need to try Home of the Brave.”)
  • Held the book up and showed the inside if there were pictures or lots of white space
  • Invited students to share informally and spontaneously as they finished good books
  • Displayed books on tables or the whiteboard ledge for browsing and borrowing

In their final learning reflections, nearly every student listed book talks as the single most important factor in motivating them to read more this semester, so I know that book talks need to be the foundation of these courses. And after a semester of practice, I think I improved a lot, though there is still some grunting and shoving when I read an especially wonderful book.

These are the middle-grade books I most enjoyed shoving into reader’s hands this semester.

one and only ivan

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegatewonder

 Wonder by R.J. Palacio

out of my mind

Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper


Bluffton by Matt Phelan


Moonbird by Phillip Hoose

flora and ulysses

Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo


Bomb by Steve Sheinkin

tapir scientist

The Tapir Scientist by Sy Montgomery, photographed by Nic Bishop

march book one

March: Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell

a crooked kind of perfect

A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban

one for the murphys

One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

doll bones

Doll Bones by Holly Black


Yummy by G. Neri

Featured image: CC-BY RJ

6 responses to “Thirteen Middle-Grade Titles to Booktalk”

  1. The fact that I am now following blogs is truly adding to my “to-do” list of reading. It has been really interesting. “Wonder” that you listed here is now one of my all-time favorite books. I read it about 10 days ago I think. I have already recommended it to some of the teachers where I am working as well as the librarian. My Goodreads account is an amazing way to keep track of these. In the past, I would just continue to kill trees by making lists and lists. Technology… when it works it is great!

    • Goodreads is also one of my favorite apps! I have it on my phone and it will scan ISBN numbers and automatically upload the books I’ve read. It’s a super time-efficient way to get the titles I’ve read into Goodreads. I need to start using the want-to-read feature more in Goodreads. Are you organizing the blogs you’re reading into an RSS feed? I have my blogs saved into Feedly, which I have on my laptop, iPad, and phone, so I can catch up on a few blogs here or there when I’m waiting. That way, I’m able to keep up with new stuff without spending a lot of extra time!

      • I do have my blogs in Feedly. It seems like the easiest way as all I have to do is go to that each day, and I can read through everything without having to search for them. Since I don’t have a Smartphone, I would be unable to scan books in, but that sounds awesome! Especially since I will be working full time in a busy public library this summer to complete my final library class. Some of my classes have required me to learn new technology that I use for class, but don’t have a need to use it in the future. However, the things that we use in this class are ones that I will definitely continue to use. I am amazed daily at how much useful information that I am able to find by just reading education and library blogs. If I am not really liking one, I can just ignore it. There are so many useful ones that I can literally “shop” for what is most beneficial to me professionally. I had set up a Goodreads account some time ago, but I haven’t been keeping up with it since my reading for enjoyment has been all but eliminated from my life with textbook reading. Hands down… this is my favorite class. It has allowed me to get back into reading which is one of my true loves in my down time. I went on a 2-day field trip with my 6th graders this week, and they thought it was funny that I was reading every time we got onto the bus. It was awesome though! I was able to get approximately 6 hours of reading completed while working. 🙂 I started “Bomb” on the way back and one student asked me what I was reading a book for kids. Funny guys…

  2. Textbooks…. bah! So glad you’re enjoying this class. Reading for enjoyment is the most important gift we can give our students, and I realize more and more that it’s a gift I need to give MY students too! Many of the bloggers you’re following are very active on Twitter as well and probably share a lot of links to articles and other blog posts they found interesting there. So that may be something you want to explore too. I use Twitter primarily for sharing articles and learning, following links to articles and blog posts that others share, and connecting with some of the teachers and educators whose blogs I read.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: