I had wanted to have a Book Tasting session with students for a long time, but just hadn't had the time or opportunity. I finally had the opportunity to host a book tasting for the sixth grade reading classes at the end of January.
There are many different ways to host Book Tastings. I think one of the best things about it is that you can really tailor your lesson to meet the needs of the age group, the project, or the purpose. For this tasting, we just wanted the students to find books that they would want to read for pleasure.
We started by pulling hundreds of books from the Young Adult Fiction section, as well as from non-fiction, graphic novels, and biography. We grabbed titles with high interest in a variety of reading levels and a variety of formats. Books were set up on several book carts and placed around the library.
After explaining the process, students were allowed to browse any of the carts to select a book. We encouraged them to taste one book at a time for a few reasons: to avoid "hogging" of the "good" books; to ensure they browsed several different titles and carts; to be open to taking recommendations from classmates; and to encourage movement throughout the lesson so they weren't just stationary.
Students made notes on their Book Tasting Menus while they worked. We used the menus as an assessment tool as well as so that they had a record of the books they tasted for future reference.
Students were allowed to check out books that day, and as books were chosen from the carts we replenished them with others. Throughout the lesson I circulated and talked to the kids about their choices, made recommendations, and kept them on task. It was as fun for me as it was for them.
The feedback I got from the students was about what I expected: many students said they loved the exercise and asked when we could do it again; some students said they didn't enjoy it and don't plan to check out any of the books they tasted; and many students said they don't normally read for pleasure, but had discovered at least one book that interested them.