Twice a year, Kari Hall’s third grade classroom at Union Ridge Elementary School transforms into a café. There are red and white checkered tablecloths over the desks, background music, and Hall is the chef for an unusual menu: books.
Hall heard about book tastings from a friend who is also a teacher. “The gist of it is to get kids excited about reading different genres,” Hall explained. “Each table is its own genre: fiction, non-fiction, graphic novels, biography, and book series. The kids have a big platter in the middle of their table with ten to twelve books on it.”
“There’s a difference between tasting and eating,” Hall said. “So you’re just getting a taste. And the tasting consists of first, look at all the books. Talk with each other about what you’re seeing, what looks good to you. Then settle in on a book to taste. Read about three pages of the book and take notes about your reaction.” Students rotate from table to table to “taste” different types of books.
Each student records information in a booklet they can keep and refer back to. Because all the books they use are from the classroom library, they can choose to continue reading any of those books at another time.
Hall is glad the students enjoy the book tastings. “Reading should be a joyful thing. The more they get into the books, the more they’re talking about it, the more they become obsessed with reading. And you produce these great readers by the end of the year.” Hall’s creative book tastings are giving students a new appetite for books.