SHELF TALKERS-Book Promotion in the Village

Shelf Talker of SSYRA Title

What do Wimpy Kids, Captain Underpants, and the Sunshine State Young Readers Award list have in common? They are all titles that have been previewed in a writing project by my fourth graders called, Shelf Talkers. As a result, reluctant readers and other students have a peer to peer enticement to check out and read new books from our school media center. A Reading-Writing-Win Win.

After crafting a prototype based on a class favorite, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, I presented the idea to a few of my more avid readers. They jumped at the chance to write book previews that would then be placed on the library shelves. Through trial and error, collaboration, and agreeing to NO SPOILERS, two students took over the project leadership.

On their own time they prepared an advertising plan (hallway posters) and designed teacher invitations. They were interviewed on the school news show by our school Media Specialist, who was an early adopter of the idea. Finally, they pitched it personally to their classmates. My students dazzle me daily with their relationships and resilience. On the Shelf Talker project, they even thought of the younger students and previewed books at the Kg-2 level. They are helping to build a community of readers. Since the project’s rollout in January, over twenty Shelf Talkers have been published in our school media center.

Educators must infuse dreams into their problem-solving tasks as they plan for student success. As I observed the active engagement the Shelf Talker project encouraged, I decided to take it outside of our campus to local bookstores. A local indie bookstore, Inkwood Books in downtown Tampa, jumped at the chance to support the project. They are already showcasing some Shelf Talkers created by the students. They even donated a few ARCs for students to read and preview. Thanks, Inkwood Books!  Shop there--go today:)
Awesome Austin, Middle Grade book manager at Inkwood Books shows off two Shelf Talkers

My students’ gains are priceless. They’ve learned that positive action is a win. When one of my reluctant, struggling readers voluntarily reads and writes, it is a win. When she whispers to me, with a hesitant smile, that she saw another student read her Shelf Talker and then check out the book, it’s a win. When my reading leaders proudly ask their parents for signed permission to have their Shelf Talkers placed in a local bookstore and on social media, it is another win. It is fourth graders-building a reading community outside the four walls of their classroom.

Please share and comment--Be Well!


  1. Love this idea. I think the non-readers will be more likely to respond to recommendations by another kid than to one made by an adult. Plus, it gives the avid readers another outlet in which to express their ideas - as well as encouraging them to look deeper into the books they review. Kudos!

  2. Thank you, Sandy. If you are an educator, please let me know if you try it with your students.

    Be Well,


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