BookTalk volunteers provide an enhanced literature curriculum for advanced readers in 3rd, 4th and 5th grade. The program operates like a book club, with participants reading at home and meeting at school on a weekly basis to discuss the assigned selection. In this way, students improve their ability to read critically, think independently and express themselves clearly with the guidance and support of volunteers.
BookTalk groups typically consist of 6-12 students and two volunteers. (We use teams of two in order to keep more easily manage the kids– they can get pretty excited about books! – and to ensure that there is coverage every week.) The students are selected by their teachers to participate in the program on the basis of their ability and willingness to do extra reading at home, to come prepared every week, and to participate in the group discussion.
In the first part of the year, most BookTalk groups read short stories drawn from either the Junior Great Books anthologies (which are leveled by grade) or the America Street collection of multi-cultural stories. In the second part of the year, most groups switch to paperback novels that include both traditional children’s classics and contemporary fiction. Many of these novels have won the Newbery Medal or other literature prizes.
The training for BookTalk consists of a single 2.5-hour session, at which volunteers are introduced to the objectives of BookTalk, learn how to prepare for and conduct a book discussion group, participate in a mock BookTalk discussion, and practice preparing interpretive questions based on a short story. Where possible, new volunteers are paired with experienced volunteers, who provide guidance and support.
To learn more about BookTalk, contact 212-213-3370 ext. 369 or send an email to email@example.com.