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Hosting a Book Tasting

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Help students discover new books by hosting a book tasting. Here is everything you need to know to put together a great event.

Hosting a Book Tasting

What is a Book Tasting?

A wine tasting helps you discover a new favorite wine. A cheese tasting allows you to sample various cheeses to find one that suits your tastes.

A book tasting is no different.

When you host a book tasting, you allow students to sample different books.

You can expose them to new authors and even genres of books that they have yet to try.

In doing so, you can increase a student’s appetite for reading!

Follow these steps to host a successful (and enjoyable) book-tasting event.

Hosting a Book Tasting

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Selecting the Book Tasting Venue

You can host a book tasting in your classroom or set one up in the library or cafeteria.

Consider how you need to arrange the space. (You can set it up like a restaurant to fully embrace the theme.)

Make it classy! If you can, put on tablecloths and a centerpiece at each table.

Choosing Books for the Book Tasting Event

When choosing books for the book tasting, the primary consideration should be the reading level of the books.

The goals are to inspire children to read and expose them to broader genres of reading…not overwhelm them with books that are too advanced.

You also want a wide selection of genres. Consider:

  • mystery
  • biography
  • poetry
  • adventure
  • how-to
  • science nonfiction
  • fantasy
  • fairy tales and myths
  • historical fiction
  • graphic novel
  • sports
Hosting a Book Tasting

Getting the Word Out

If you are a classroom teacher, it is simple to organize this event and spread the word to other classes in your grade.

Simple put it on your class calendar and send information home in your class newsletter.

If you are a parent or media specialist, you will need to spread the word about your event.

Communicate information through the school newsletter, the announcements, and on the website.

This is particularly important if the event takes place outside of traditional school hours.

Collaborate with teachers and administrators to maximize student involvement.

Organizing Materials and Stations

Each course is a theme (like the genre).

You can rotate which table in on which course, or you can students move from one table to the next (and the keep that course on the table).

You can provide a “menu” of that course that lists the books and short summary of each.

Make sure you have one book at each place, and additional books at the center of the table.

You can make a placemat where the students can jot down their thoughts on each book.

You could also provide a form where they can check the books they want to read (perhaps on a menu).

This way they can remember which books they want to read.

Here is a sample middle school book tasting packet from Penguin. It can give you ideas.

Do you have younger students? Take a look at this Penguin book tasting packet for emerging readers.

Hosting a Book Tasting

Introducing the Book Tasting

When students arrive, play some light music in the background.

Give them instructions about how to participate in the event (feel free to ham it up like Lumiere from Beauty and the Beast).

Emphasize the importance of reading widely and trying something new.

You never know what could be your new favorite book!

Rotating Stations

Divide students up into stations (the various tables) and set a timer. Give students 3-5 minutes to go through each book.

Let them sample a couple books at each table by starting the opening chapter.

Encourage interaction and conversation between peers.

Prompt them with discussion questions like, “Which book in this course has the most intriguing cover?”

After the allotted time, have the students switch stations (or rotate the books themselves).

Hosting a Book Tasting

Share Reflections

At the end of the book tasting, ask students to refer to their notes and share their thoughts.

Prompt them with questions like, “Which book surprised you?”

“Which book had the most enticing opening?”

“Which cover was your favorite?”

“Did you find a book that you wanted to read that is different from the books you usually read?”

Book Tasting Follow Up

A book tasting is successful if students walk away with a list of books they want to read.

Take it one step further and make a recommendation list by collating the student responses.

You can share the list with parents and teachers.

You could also assign projects to students like “write a book review” or “design an alternate book cover.”

Provide Resources

Where can the students find these books? Provide library call numbers, links to digital libraries, or online purchase links.

Hosting a Book Tasting

Why You Should Host a Book Tasting

Book tastings are a fun and novel way to entice students to read more books and to try new genres.

Once you host your first one, you can easily reuse your supplies to host another.

Make this a quarterly activity and boost the excitement around books!

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