Book Tasting – it sounds like an odd concept but the general idea is that you offer children an exciting opportunity to explore a range of different genres of books and authors to those which they would normally choose.

Sessions are typically set up in the form of a ‘Cafe/Restaurant’, in our case we decked the dining hall with table cloths, flower arrangements, and place settings. It really helps to add that layer of intrigue and engage the children, who had all been given ‘invitations’ in the days prior to the book tasting and we’d displayed countdown flyers and posters in the room to create some ‘hype’. You might also like to play some ‘cafe music’ in the background for a more authentic experience.

    

Each childtook their seat, based on our table plan (presented a bit like at a wedding) and place settings, where they found printed menus on top of their plates, cutlery etc.

The adults donned waiters aprons and chefs hats and introduced the concept to the children (using our best French accents as we pretended we were a French Cafe…this provided much amusement!). Essentially each table has a different genre of book – e.g. fiction, non-fiction, poetry, comic books, magazines etc. They’ve given 5-10 minutes to explore a book within the genre on their table. There was SO MUCH EXCITEMENT in having a chance to explore these, the discussions the children were having about books was SO wonderful to hear!

  

After reading a few pages of a book they were asked to complete one page of their menu.

The menu is split in to 5 columns with a copy of the same text/questions in each (so you can do 5 different books/genres in one ‘sitting’). The questions centre around what the genre of the book is, what their judgements of the front cover was, and then their opinion of the book after reading a few pages. They’re also asked some comprehension questions too, such as “how did the author created intrigue in this story?”

It was interesting to read some of their children’s reviews…some will make incredibly hard to please book critics in the future! Although this proved to make it all the more interesting as the children were excited to read what each other had written about the books that they had all just started to read.

The genres of books are then swapped tables (it’s easier to move the books rather than 30 children), so that each table experiences a range of genres across the session. Then repeat as above.

Throughout the session we encouraged the children to make notes of any books/authors they found really interesting. We had provided them with colourful bookmarks to record this information on.

  

At the very end of the session, we had ‘reflection napkins’ too, so that I had some feedback about what they’d enjoyed, what they’d learnt, what they thought about the session etc. I was delighted to read that so many of them had enjoyed reading genres of books which they said they wouldn’t normally have chosen….BRILLIANT!! No feedback was given about the quality of my French accent though…

We ended with the class enjoying a few little snacks and some juice, it was meant to be a cafe after all! They then took their bookmarks and menus home, along with a collection of the books (to borrow) they’d just enjoyed reading.

We all loved this activity, and are actually thinking of even running it as for our school staff too! And I look forward to running this with my class once a term 🙂

 

You can download the resources for this activity from the people who created the paperwork for it here – (it costs about £4.40 – but unquestionably worth it!)

 

Feedback from the children:
“I enjoyed reading the books I didn’t expect to like, I liked being introduced to new books.”
“I didn’t like comics at first but when I started reading I love it, the magazine surprised me!”
“I found new books that I had seen before but didn’t like the look of. It was surprising which books I liked!

 

A couple of helpful little pointers – the kids also absolutely loved the Ocado money-off vouchers found inside the magazines…probably best to go through and remove these before hand!

And if you include some food for them, you’ll need your camera ready, they’d demolished the lot before I could get one picture of them!

 

If you have any questions, comments or feedback at all then please do let me know; tom.ritson@thewroxham.net

All the best, Tom