Nancy Keane's Booktalks -- Quick and Simple

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What is a booktalk?
I like to use the analogy of a movie trailer. The purpose of a booktalk is to "sell" the book. You want to give enough of the plot to interest the listeners but you are not giving a summary of the book. You don't want to give away the important parts of the book. You certainly never want to give away the ending. You want to highlight the interesting points. You may want to read certain passages to your listeners. The main purpose of a booktalk is to grab the audience's interest and make them want to read the book. It's always a good idea to end the booktalk with a cliffhanger. Booktalks are usually presented to groups of students. The booktalker presents the booktalks orally and usually has the book as a visual prop. For tips on how to present a booktalk, see Booktalking Tips.
How do booktalks differ from book reviews?
Although similar, they perform different functions. In a book review, the reviewer is judging the book. The book is recommended or not. Criticism is often given in book reviews. A summary of the plot may be included. In a booktalk, a recommendation is assumed.
So, all booktalks in this site are recommended?
Inclusion of a title in this database does not imply a recommendation nor guarantee that the work is suitable for all situations. Books that I would recommend in one situation would not work in another. It is up to the individual using this database to determine the suitability of the books.
Why was Booktalks -- Quick and Simple begun?
The impetus to put the booktalks on line came when I was asked to do booktalks for a class with very little notice. When I searched the web looking for help, I found none. Shortly after, Booktalks -- Quick and Simple was born. There were barely 100 booktalks when it started. It has grown considerably since then.
How many booktalks are included in this database?
As of August 2003, there are over 1,400 titles -- some with multiple booktalks -- in the database.
What age group are the booktalks geared toward?
The books included in the database are geared toward students in grades K-12. Some adult books are included if they have an appeal to school age students. The majority of the booktalks that are included here are written for books that appeal to middle school age children. Since I work at the middle school level, a majority of my reading is at this level! I hope that others will help expand the offerings at the other grade levels.  I have recently begun to include PK titles as well as many of these would appeal to primary students.
How are interest level and reading level determined?
I use standard sources to determine interest level. I rely on publisher catalogs, reviews from recognized library publications and Internet sources to determine levels. The levels are indicated by IL (interest level) and RL (reading level) and are listed by grade level not age level.
How often is the database updated?
The database is updated monthly. I try to add the monthly updates as close to the beginning of the month as possible.  I post messages to several listservs when the update have been loaded.
Are the booktalks available in print format?
No, this is an ever changing site so it is not availble in print. That being said, I have published several books about using booktalks in the K-8 grades. The books  contain many booktalks not available through the online database. Be sure to look for BOOKTALKS AND BEYOND, Upstart Publishing, 2001. BOOKTALKING ACROSS THE CURRICULUM, Libraries Unlimited, 2002. TEACHING SCIENCE THROUGH LITERATURE, TEACHING SOCIAL STUDIES THROUGH LITERATURE and TEACHING LANGUAGE ARTS THROUGH LITERATURE (Grades 4-6 and Grades 6-8), Linworth, 2002.
Are you available to do workshops about booktalking?
Yes. I have been giving workshops in the area on booktalking. Workshops cover booktalking techniques and suggestions for use.I also give booktalking presentations to groups. Please feel free to contact me about presenting to your group or conference.
Is there a listserv available to discuss booktalkling?
Yes. I started an online discussion group in 2000. is devoted to sharing booktalks and discussing books used in the K-12 environment.
I have some booktalks that I would like to contribute. How do I do that?
To submit a booktalk of your own to the database, simply send it email to me, Nancy Keane.There is now a link on the main page that will call up a form to use to submit your booktalks.   I ask that you supply author and title and any other information that will be useful.  I will add the booktalk and give you full credit. I will also include your email address. Many users like to thank those who contribute so have asked for email addresses.
Do I have permission to use these booktalks?
Permission is granted for the noncommercial duplication and use of this resource, provided it is substantially unchanged from its present form and appropriate credit is given. Since I spend a lot of time adding to and making improvements to this site, I ask that you do not rely solely on a print out or a "whacked" copy of the site.
How do I use these booktalks?
These short booktalks are intended to be used primariliy by school library media specialists and teachers to hook students on books. There are as many ways to use this database as there are users. Some may have predetermined titles they are searching for. In this case, the best way to search is by using the author or title index. Some users may want to find books on a certain theme. They may want to use the subject index. Others may want to search by interest level. When I am using the database, I use a copy and paste technique so that I have to print out only those booktalks that I am using at the time. I find the booktalk I want, highlight it, use the copy command, open a word processing document and then use the paste command to copy the booktalk. When the booktalk is finished, I keep a copy of the authors/titles used along with a note on when and where the booktalks were presented. 
Can I add a link on my page to this site?
You certainly can add a link to this site. I would love to know about it so I'd appreciate it if you drop me a quick email to let me know. When the time comes to talk about web space allocation on the server, it's always good to let the "powers that be" know how widely used the site is!
Is keyword searching of the database available?
Yes it is. I am currently using a site that is doing a good job of indexing the booktalks. If this service changes, I will have to look for another resource. But for now, this is working well.
I have an idea on how to improve the site. Do you take suggestions?
Many of the changes that occur on Booktalks--Quick and Simple are a result of suggestions made by the people who use the site. If you have suggestions, please let me know. If they are doable, you may just make the site a better resource. I cannot take suggestions on which books to write booktalks for however. I read books and write booktalks for my own purposes. If you would like to see a title added, you can write the booktalk and have it included. This will help the database to grow.


Permission is granted for the noncommercial duplication and use of this resource, provided it is substantially unchanged from its present form and appropriate credit is given.