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Let's talk books

Posted by Susan on June 8, 2010 at 12:00 AM in Librarian Job DescriptionLibraries
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This post is part of a series about what children's librarians do all day. Very few people seem to know what the job entails, so I thought I'd shed some light on this wonderful and often misunderstood field. For the rest of the posts in this series, click here. Got a question about something a children's librarian does? Please post it in the comments and I'll feature it in one of my upcoming posts.

It may be hard to catch a glimpse of your children's librarian during early June. That's because they're at the local schools doing booktalks. Don't know what a booktalk is? (That's okay- almost nobody does, hence the reason for this post).

BooktalksThe first part of a booktalk is basically a summer reading pep rally. The public librarians go to the elementary schools and explain the summer reading program to the kids. We tell them all about how to sign up, the rules of the program, and all the exciting events we have during the summer. Then comes the fun part. We also bring lots of cool books with us to tell the kids about. The goal is to tell just enough about a book to whet their interest without giving anything away.

And then the next grade comes in, and we do the whole spiel again, with different books. And then we do it again. And again. And again. We see each grade separately, so that we can tell them about age appropriate books. At the school I went to yesterday, we talked to almost 600 kids over a six hour period. Finally, the day is over (booktalks are exhilarating but completely exhausting)... which means it's time for tomorrow and another round of booktalks at a new school. And so on, and on and on, until we've talked to every class of every public elementary school in the county.

Magical Ms. Plum.JPGHere are a few examples of booktalks I've been doing this year:

Ms. Plum is the best teacher at Springtime Elementary School. Why? Nobody's quite sure, but everyone wants a chance to go into her supply closet. Discover what's hiding in there... everything from incredibly organized squirrels, to a tiny horse to an extremely talkative parrot. Read The Magical Ms. Plum by Bonny Becker to find out what's waiting for you in the closet.

Never Smile at a Monkey.jpgCan everyone smile? Be careful not to do that when you see a monkey because they interpret it as an aggressive gesture and respond violently. Check out this book by Steve Jenkins and learn many other important things to remember the next time you're in the wild. Find out why you shouldn't pet a platypus, step on a stingray, bother a blue-ringed octopus or confront a kangaroo. And remember, Never Smile at a Monkey!

Curious what this looks like? Ask your child's school media specialist if there are booktalks at your school from the public librarians this year. They're well worth watching (they really end up being quite a performance) and you get lots of great book recommendations.

Ever seen a booktalk? Ever give one? Please leave a comment and tell us about it.


Wendie writes...

Hmmmmm, you see larger schools than I do. Most of mine had about 550 students, each.

Debbie writes...

That's very insightful! I hadn't thought of doing something like that at all. I am a student librarian in the juvenile section at my University's library, but we help University students most of the time, rather than Elementary school students, so it's a little different. :)

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