Readers' Advisory

Using Flash Booktalks: 30 Books in 30 Minutes

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30 books in 30 minutes, and sometimes 15 books  in 15 minutes depending on the attention span of my audience is one of the main ways I use the flash booktalks. 30 Books in 30 minutes is 30 bare minimum book talks to help the teens identify books they might be interested in.

My goal with the 30 titles (unless I’ve been asked to do something specific) is a very balanced pack. In addition to the hot, new, and popular books I also like to include older titles with lots of teen appeal, especially if it’s a genre that isn’t hot at the moment like mysteries. I also like to make sure I have a good number of  books with clear boy appeal as well as a mix between light and serious, fantasy and reality.

Another important part of 30 books in 30 minutes are the transitions. I tend to group books together a bit. This means I may lose some audience attention on certain types of books so I try to grab them back with a quick introduction.

For example, I may do a run of books about “girls behaving badly”, followed by “real life drama”.  The next set has wider appeal so I’ll lead in by saying something like “We’ve talked about a lot of death and destruction, but you can’t have death and destruction without zombies, demons, and vampires.”

Of course I prefer to have the physical books to hold up while I’m talking, and when I do I have my booktalks taped to the back. If it’s not possible to do this, for example if I’m not at my location, I will print my talks very large and have them on a podium or table in front of me. Usually because they are so short I have enough of the booktalks memorized it’s just a safety net.

I  always provide a list of the books in the order I will talk about them so the audience can follow along and mark ones they are interested in reading. I also take a stop watch and give it to one of the teens, although more recently they just use their phone. I ask the audience not to interrupt because the teen will be timing me to be sure I get through all 30 books. This adds a bit of interest for my teens and also tends to put a lid on questions until the end.

I rarely use props, but have occasionally used things like my cellphone, a mini-basketball, or a length of caution tape to spice things up.

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