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Real Live Booktalk in Super Hi-Def 3-D!

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Apr. 10th, 2010 | 03:34 pm

Today, I did an actual booktalk at the open house of my hometown's new library! This has been in the works for roughly a month, and it went splendidly. Details of how it got done under the cut for those who are interested and/or might want to try this booktalking business themselves. (It's fun!)

How it went:

I have to give a lot of credit to my parents. Mom went to the library to check out the books I wanted to booktalk, both of them distributed the fliers I'd made (which were Mom's idea), and Dad e-mailed all the faculty and staff at the college where he works, telling them about the open house and mentioning my booktalk in particular.

In the meantime, I practiced my booktalk, on average, about once a day. I don't think I actually needed to rehearse as much as I did - after all, I had to make a substitution about a week and a half ago when it turned out the library wasn't, as we'd thought, about to add Mister Monday to its collection. The book I did instead went just as well as the others. I suspect that, when it comes to rehearsing, there is a point of diminishing returns. Still, this was my first booktalk done for a real audience that wasn't full of classmates who were required to listen to me. Overpractice was probably not a bad idea - it made me confident.

The books I chose were Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer, Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones, The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner (my replacement for Garth Nix's Mister Monday), and Uglies by Scott Westerfeld. By happy coincidence, I had new copies of the first two - I was keeping them as default gifts for the next time an occasion snuck up on me. They became prizes for a free raffle I held. I didn't advertise the raffle beforehand, though, because I didn't want people attending just for that.

The open house ran from 10:00 to 2:00, and my booktalk was at 11:00. Mom and I got there early, and not many other people were there to enjoy the cake and punch. The open house wasn't that well publicized, and my booktalk was one of the only scheduled activities.

I took the opportunity to scour the shelves for more work by the authors of the books I was using. Mom had done this earlier, but apparently a bunch of books had been returned since then. I wound up with, besides my four booktalking books, three by DWJ, one by Eoin Colfer, and four by Scott Westerfeld. In the children's program room where I'd be presenting, I set the books all up on a table. I also had:

- a stack of handouts I'd made with the title and author of each book, a little picture of the cover, a brief summary (sort of a condensed version of the booktalk), and other books by the author, as well as my e-mail address
- a bunch of little slips of yellow paper on which people could put their names for the raffle
- a cool hat in which to put the raffle names
- the raffle prizes

Thanks to my parents' publicity (and pulling family friends, e.g. Lucas, and the small-towniness of my town), we had a rush at about 10:50. Mom and Lucas' mom went around the library telling people that the booktalk was about to start. We also got a lot of people who hadn't known it was happening, especially after they saw my family's plants friends heading to the program room. Mom helped me get raffle slips from everyone who wanted to enter.

The room filled up, and people were standing! It isn't a huge room, and the standing might have been due in part to the tininess of the chairs in the children's area, but I was still thrilled. My estimate of about forty people was confirmed by the thirty-three raffle entries, which I counted later, and which did not represent all in attendance.

Funnily enough, though my booktalk was advertised as "aimed at teens, but welcoming everyone," I got basically no teens. Lots of adults with very young kids, a few kids between eight and eleven or so. But seriously, there was a bit in the Uglies talk when I asked whether anyone there was between twelve and sixteen (like the "uglies" are). None. Luckily, I'd known that might happen. I was also comfortable doing some improv with the booktalks - after so much practice, I knew that getting away from the basic script wouldn't make me forget what I wanted to say.

It went beautifully. I was much more relaxed than when I did the booktalk for class, and people told me afterward that the presentation seemed natural and unrehearsed. Several said it made them want to read the books, and many took handouts from my stack at the end. I got lots of applause, and the laugh lines went over well. The entire process, including getting name slips and doing the raffle at the end, took about twenty-five minutes.

I think I'd been right in assuming that most people would not have heard of booktalks. Before this semester, I hadn't. I love the concept, though. It combines the power of a personal recommendation with the zip of back cover text or a movie trailer. (I explained briefly at the beginning of the presentation that a booktalk is "a book recommendation, but also kind of like a movie trailer for a book.")

Best of all, the raffle prizes went to two super-excited kids, probably eight (Howl's Moving Castle - I was eight when I first read it!) and five or six (Artemis Fowl - he might need some help with that, or to have it read to him, but boy was he psyched). The kids got their photos taken and everything. And - one of the things that had me most excited - an older girl came and got Uglies off the table to take home. YES!


Short version: Well. Very well indeed.

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Comments {1}

"Also, I can kill you with my brain."

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from: toastedcheese
date: Apr. 10th, 2010 09:36 pm (UTC)
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I had never heard of booktalks myself (I wish I had room for a library programming class in my schedule, but it's not going to happen....) I assumed that they were a lot like the book segments in Reading Rainbow, and I guess that's accurate. :)

I'm glad it went so well!

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