Book Tasting: A Recipe for Success!

Today I had the first ever Brew Review at James T. Alton Middle School (more on that later) and I could hardly wait to get some of their awesome ideas out there for you guys to see.  

This idea is brought to you by one of the most innovative, open-minded Library Media Specialists I have ever met.  I talk a  lot about being “Purple Cow” or creating “Purple Cow” experiences for our students…well Ms. Katie Newton at JTA is most certainly “Purple Cow.”  (Read this quick Wikipedia analysis of Purple Cow if you are curious.)booktasting2

To introduce her students to the library and books offered there, she created a remarkable experience:  A Book Tasting.  Students walked into the media center and were transported to a gourmet restaurant complete with menus, place mats
and “utensils.”  Before ever checking out a book, Ms. Newton taught her students how to select books in the library.  She gave them an interest inventory, which she keeps on file for those moments when students plead they “can’t find a book they like.”  (Genius!)  The menu was complete with nine “choices” (or genres) for book selections as well as instructions for how to “taste” each.

For four minutes the students “tasted” each of the genres:

  • Scan the book with a mindful eye.
  • Check the back or inside front cover for a synopsis of the book.
  • Simply open the book and read a few pages to see if you like the style of writing
  • Be an open minded taster!

As they were “tastibooktasting3ng” they rated the selection out of five stars and provided a reason.  These were intentionally created in the shape of bookmarks for the students to hold onto and reference when they came into the media center the following week.

Once the “tasting” was complete, students filled out a “feedback” form just like your neighborhood Cracker Barrel. 🙂  


While Ms. Newton was describing this event, I’m sure you can understand why I was practically salivating with excitement.  I wish I was a student in her class!

Ms. Newton has already began brainstorming on how to improve her next Book Tasting, slated to occur as a refresher after Winter Break.  I personally think she did amazing, but according to some of her most esteemed patrons, she should have provided appetizers and mints. 😉

Thanks for making an #HCSimpact, Ms. Newton!

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