She walked me around the entire children’s section placing book after book in my arms. She gave me a little background on each book and let me know what types of readers the book would appeal to the most. By the time we were done, I had gone back to the check out desk twice with my arms completely full of books each time.
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To begin, I purchased this packet on Teachers Pay Teachers because it had everything I needed as far as student materials! Now, I just needed some ambiance.
Once I was in my classroom, I rearranged my tables and grouped them into two long rows. I put white plastic tablecloths on the tables similar to these and a few checkered tablecloths in between. I found those checked tablecloths at my local thrift store, and while they didn’t fit my tables perfectly – they helped set the restaurant mood. If you can’t find them in a thrift store, you can also find checkered tablecloths here on Amazon.
At my local dollar store I purchased battery operated candles like these and large plastic silver platters to set the books on. I also bought one pack of red plastic cups and one “bunch” of fake flowers that I could pull apart and put in the cups, which I used as vases. I put rocks in the cups to keep them from tumbling over.
I told the students that often, once we find something we like – we tend to stick to it, because we know we’ll be happy. I let them know this is a very human condition that affects everyone – even adults! We all agreed that this wasn’t a very good way to learn about new and different things. I then asked students to try books that they might not ever look at on their own because the entire point of the day was to try something new! I explained that they most likely would not like everything they tried, but that was okay – because the book tasting was about taking risks.
We talked about how to complete the book tasting menu and how to rate the books. Then, I explained we would be switching tables and went over the rotation pattern. I did this to ensure students had to choose a new book every 10 minutes or so. Once everyone understood how the class would run, I told them to choose a book and read!
The atmosphere was cozy and sophisticated with the fireplace going (on the projector) and the instrumental jazz music playing in the background, and the students loved it! Adding in just a touch of play to the experience really took the book tasting to the next level. The students loved it and I had quite a few teachers stop in and say they wanted to be in my room for the day!
If you have ever thought about doing a book tasting, I would highly recommend it. It does require a little bit of prep work, but it certainly doesn’t have to entail all the things that I’ve done. Just visit your local library or your school librarian and grab a bunch of books that may interest your students. Let them sit and read in the classroom without pressure and watch the magic unfold!
Classroom Teacher Doctor of Education
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