How to Host a Book Tasting

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Lately I’ve been seeing a new and creative way to expose kids to new books in the classroom called a Book Tasting.

The basic idea is giving kids the opportunity to sample books they may not check out themselves. They might think they aren’t interested in the topic of the book or they might think the book is too challenging for them to read, so they pass right by it.

Portrait of cute girl sitting on pile of books with raised arms

Here are some posts that I found helpful:

Host a Book Tasting in Your Classroom! by Musings from the Middle School – This teacher went all out and got fancy with tablecloths and battery operated tea lights, I love it! Her method was picking the same book for each place setting at one table. Each table had a different book. I think this would be very effective for middle school and high school students because they are all reading but probably tend to pick books in their comfort level.

Host a Classroom Book Tasting! by Teaching with a Mountain View – I loved the way this teacher organized her book tasting to have each table set with a different genre and several books on each table from that genre. I also loved her “menu;” the kids wrote each title and rated them from 1-10 and at the end picked out their “must read” book. This method would probably work for all grade levels.

Host a Book Tasting! by Sassy, Savvy, Simple Teaching – This book tasting had several great elements to it. Five books were chosen for the whole class to sample. Each table had the five books. First they watched book trailers for each book. Then the teacher discussed different ways to preview books and the students took turns looking at the books on the table. They also had a menu to write their thoughts.

In the homeschool group that I lead we always have a gym class, an art class, and a book class each session. The kids are divided in two main groups, the 4/5 year olds, and the 6 to 14 year olds.

Yes, that is a BIG age range… we only have 4 kids ten and older. So during gym class the ten and older kids can choose to play board games instead, most like running around though. And during book class the ten and older split to do a book club style class.

This session I’m teaching our 6-9 year old “book” class. Our main objective in book class is to build a reading culture. Usually we read aloud a longer or “older” picture book and give the kids time to talk to each other about the books that they are reading at home.

I was looking for a creative way to conduct class to mix it up a bit. Enter… the Book Tasting!

Since I have a range of non-readers to reading chapter books it took a little preparation and creativity to put together. I loved this class! The kids seemed receptive to the change and some were super excited about the books they sampled. I’d say it was a win.

What I did to make this happen in our homeschool group was I looked through my shelves at home for books from early early readers (like the Biscuit books) all the way through chapter books like Little House on the Prairie. Then I went to our local library and did the same. I put index cards in each book on the first page for the kids to easily find where to begin reading.


I probably ended up with too many choices but it all worked out (the above picture is what I had on my shelves, I probably checked out 50 books from the library but returned them all so I wouldn’t lose track of them all, ha!).

I divided my students in four groups (I only have 12 students) based off of what the parents said was the reading level of their child. The groups were: non-reader, early reader level 2/3, early chapter book reader, and chapter book reader.

Most parents expressed that their child has the ability to read at a certain level but the child is resistant or doesn’t have the confidence. That’s exactly my daughter. She can read the early chapter books with bigger text but wouldn’t pick one up herself, yet.

Once the kids came to the door of the class I told them we were doing something a little different today, we were going to be doing a book tasting! Sampling new books!

I explained that they would have a pile of books, they would choose one to read for three minutes, and then we would switch books and read for another three minutes. After the kids picked out their first book to sample I started the timer on my phone.

It took less than a minute to help the kids understand that it was “quiet reading time.” We (my teacher helper and I) helped the non-readers by reading a few sentences with them and encouraged them to continue looking through the book. We walked around to make sure the kids were actually reading…

I caught one student flipping through the pages rather quickly, so I read the first sentence and asked him to continue reading to me. He did, and I’m pretty sure he felt encouraged by what he was accomplishing– reading a “real” chapter book.

Class lasts for forty minutes and I was able to have the kids sample 3 books for 3 minutes each, we took a break and discussed the books the kids were interested in. Then we sampled one last book for 5 minutes (I gave the kids the choice to sample for 2, 3, or 5 minutes).

Finally we had about 10 minutes of class left so I gave the kids the choice to continue reading or sampling books of their choice or to talk quietly with their friend about the book they brought to share. I asked them to tell me what book they most wanted to check out from the library. And, of course, I made a note so I could let the parents know later.

I had a couple of kids really get into this book tasting. One was pretty quick to finish the book he sampled and was so excited to tell mom after class. One found a couple of books that she’s so excited to check out from the library – and I made sure to return my piles so that the kids could get them next. And another was really into the book he sampled, which was one of mine, so I gave it to him to borrow.

Next class I’d like to try this book tasting again. I’ll bring a few less and I’ll try non-fiction titles. 

This can easily be done in any co-op or classroom setting. You just need to have an idea of the reading level of your students so you can pick the right books. I tried to have each group with books at their level and some just above their level, to prove to themselves that they are capable.

Even if you host a little Book Tasting event at home for your children and a few friends, or just your children, I think it could work very nicely. I love how this has inspired the kids to want to read.

Have you done a book tasting with your students? How did it go? What creative ways have you inspired your students to read?

Portrait of cute girl sitting on pile of books with raised arms


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