I did booktalks at my local high school last Thursday in celebration of Teen Read Week. I remember when I was first asked, sometime last year, to do booktalks for their students. I was pretty nervous going into it, but I felt really prepared. I brought a stack of some really excellent new books, along with some surefire older ones that almost all teens fall in love with (like Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin). What I wasn’t prepared for, though, was the fact that most of the teens stared at me with a blank look on their face. I quickly learned that I was living in a fantasyland thinking that I was going too reach that entire room!
Booktalks are exciting for teens who like books, but if they’re not readers, they’re probably not going to care. But still, I try. I bring a wide selection of books for both boys and girls, and I give them enough of the plot to try to hook them, but not enough that they feel like they’ve heard the whole story. I’ve found that it also helps to bring the newest books in a series, but also to talk about the first book in order to possibly grab the interest of readers who aren’t familiar with the series. I also try to keep my energy level up (even though I repeat myself to several classes throughout the day!). The last time I was at the school doing booktalks, a student from the newspaper was taking photos of my presentation. I later found out that she had to discard all of them – I move my hands around when I talk, and every photo was too blurry to print!
The night of my booktalk last week, I ran my monthly manga program back at the library. When it was over, one of the circulation staff called me over. “I just wanted to tell you,” she said, “that a girl came in and checked out The Maze Runner. She said some lady had talked about it at her school this morning.” That lady was me! I was that lady! As a 32-year-old who is often mistaken for being several years younger, I’m not often called a lady, but I’ll take it. Because this lady is really, really excited that someone was listening.