Bring the HEAT to your Book Talks

The Reading Roundup - Bring the HEAT to your Book Talks title

Hi. My name is Melissa, and I'm here to talk to you about Book Talks.... 


Long gone are the days of the traditional book talks. The ones where the students simply recite the same script: introduce themselves, state the book title, tell a fact about a book, and encourage the audience to check it out. Our students are way too creative for that, so we need to give them a chance to let their creativity shine through their book talks! 

Dr. Brad Gustafson, an elementary principal, encourages students to "Bring the Heat" to their book talks. His strategy moves students beyond the same old script in order to create more engaging book talks. Isn't the purpose of a book talk to spark interest and make someone want to read the book?

Check out Dr. Gustafson's YouTube video below explaining the concept of bringing the HEAT to book talks. 

Book Talks: Bring the Heat

Let's take a quick look at each of the elements of the HEAT method.

The Reading Roundup - Bring the HEAT to your Book Talks poster


Grab the attention of the audience to make them want to know more about your book. Some ways to do that include: asking a question, stating an interesting fact, or getting the audience to imagine something. I've even had students have a snowball fight to hook in the audience!


How will you show energy in your book talk? Can you change your volume, talk with an accent, use props, or add lots of emotion? This will help create an engaging book talk for your audience.


Consider who is your audience and how can you connect with them. Why should they care about your book? It is helpful to make a connection by mentioning a place they might have been, things they might have done, or people they might know.


Keep it short! The ideal book talk is less than a minute long. Teach your students the art of adding a cliffhanger to leave the audience wanting to know more. 

Scaffolding Book Talks for Students

In order to support my students with creating their own book talks, I created graphic organizers based on Dr. Brad Gustafson's Bringing the HEAT method. These scaffolds walk the students through the process in order to create more engaging book talks.

Heat Planning Guide

The first graphic organizer helps the students plan out the strategies they want to implement to make their book talk engaging. It provides suggestions and prompts for each of the HEAT elements. The QR Code leads to the YouTube video explaining how to "Bring the HEAT to Book Talks." For students who need additional support, it has sentence stems that they can fill in the blanks. (Example: Imagine  a scary event . That's what it was like for  character  in this book.)

The Reading Roundup - Bring the HEAT to your Book Talks graphic organizer

Book Talk Rough Draft

The rough draft graphic organizer walks students through the creation of their actual script. It provides suggestions for the book introduction, talking points, and closing. Several sentence stems are also provided for students who need additional scaffolding.
The Reading Roundup - Bring the HEAT to your Book Talks graphic organizer

Book Talk Final Draft

The last document allows students to write out their entire script. If students are working with a partner, I have each student write the exact same script on their paper. They then highlight their individual lines on the script. This just helps make it easier when rehearsing their book talk. 
The Reading Roundup - Bring the HEAT to your Book Talks graphic organizer

Finalizing the Book Talk

Students can perform their book talks for their classmates, but I highly recommend making it into a video. My students used iPads to record their own book talks and edited them using WeVideo. Our school also has our own YouTube channel where we can post the videos. It just adds an extra level of excitement for the students.

Examples of Engaging Book Talks

Currently Dr. Brad Gustafson is hosting a Book Talk Tournament featuring 30 second Book Talks from 8 Lead Learners and 8 Literacy Legends. Check them out for some inspiring book talks to get you and your students excited to start creating your own! You can also vote in the tournament. Be sure to check out my principal, Andy Jacks, really bringing the HEAT in his book talk!

Have you implemented book talks in your classroom before? What tips and strategies have you found beneficial in help your students create engaging book talks?

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  1. Thank you! I can't wait to use this with my students!

  2. I signed up for your list and the link in the email didn't direct me to book talk resources, instead it gave me a PDF about student book recommendations. Could you please help?

    1. Oh no, I'm so sorry about that. Thank you for letting me know so I can fix it!

      The email should have also had a link and password to access the Free Resource Library where you can also download the file. If that does not work, please feel free to email me at and I'd be happy to send you the file directly!

  3. Got it from the resource library!! Thank you :) It's a GREAT resource, I can't wait to share it with my students!!!


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