The Collinsville High School library featured checkered table cloths, violin music and soft lighting as students from Mrs. Westphal’s English classes arrived for the first-ever “book tasting” at the school.
The menu featured a selection of books for the teens to sample. The students had five minutes to try a book chosen from a stack served to them on a tray by Mrs. Westphal or librarian Tracey Schmidt. They were able to test several different books (courses) during their time at the book tasting.
At the end of the period, they were asked to record their thoughts about each book and rate it between 1-5 stars. If they found a book they liked, they could place a “to go” order from the library and take it with them.
English teacher Kristin Westphal discovered the idea in a teacher forum where educators share innovative ideas to motivate students. She enlisted Mrs. Schmidt in the library and the two collaborated to identify a smorgasbord of books students might otherwise overlook.
As Schmidt welcomed the students, she encouraged them to try a genre they would not normally consider. The menu at each place around the tables said “Try it. You might like it.”
Students were asked to comment on things like, “What did the author do to hook your interest in the book?’ and “After reading a few pages, what are your thoughts on this book?”
Each table had a bowl of animal crackers or pretzels so patrons could actually munch on something as they read. Students could order a complimentary beverage — hot chocolate or water – from the library’s Kahok Cafe.
When the book tasting concluded, students were asked to provide feedback about the activity. Most rated it 4-5 on the enjoyment scale and would recommend it to others.
Reviews for the first CHS book tasting:
“Had fun. 10/10. Would book again.”
“I actually really enjoyed this activity. I found some good books.”