It was the week after winter break and my class was about to begin a unit on characters, which would eventually feed into book clubs. I wanted to find a way to engage students to excitedly seek out new book characters in our book library and had always wanted to try a book tasting. So without a second thought, I decided to go for it, but with a twist (to fit our curriculum)....hence, a Character Tasting!
In case you are unfamiliar with book tastings, a book tasting can be done many ways including by genre, new books, or characters but no matter how you do yours, it is a really fun way to engage students in literature! The book tasting in my room centered around characters and characters in a series. I chose to focus on this because I teach 2nd grade so students are learning how characters respond to major events and challenges in a story (CCSS ELA Literacy RL.2.3). To better understand this, students can study characters over a period of time or through a series. A teacher could also structure this with the beginning of book clubs by focusing on characters in a series. This tasting is my introductory lesson(s) that I use with students, typically over a period of 2 days. Be sure to check out how we did it in my classroom by continuing to read on!
I set up 5 tables, corresponding to the 5 courses in the meal. I choose a bin of books to put on each table. Each bin of books has a different series in it for students to explore (ex. Bin 1 = Appetizer = Mercy Watson Books). If you don’t have enough books with the same character(s) to fill a bin, try your local library, send an email to other staff members, or fill the bin with 2 character series choices. At each table, I put a sign that says “tasting menu” and place a menu on the other side of the sign. On this menu, I highlight the course name and write the book series on the line. However, you could also fold a paper in half and write the book title or series character on the half sheet of paper.
Next, children are given a plate with their name on the back. On the front side of the plate, I cut out the paper plates (included at the end of this product) and staple them on the paper plate. You could also use them as a placemat, if needed. Students travel to each station and they look at the cover, back of book, and flip through a few pages of each one. This gives them a “taste” of the character. Then they fill out the pamphlet that asks them to respond to various questions about the characters they are reading/exploring.
I loved seeing my students engagement grow as they worked through their courses, all the while studying each book character in a different series. The reflection page allowed students to discuss book characters with their peers and analyze their own thinking. One of the goals of this character tasting was for students to choose the book character or series that they would be reading over the next few days/week! One of my favorite parts was hearing students explain which character was their favorite and watch them explore NEW characters they may otherwise never have chosen!
If you choose to try this in your classroom too, with the focus on character study, check out this product on TPT here:
To make this tasting possible, I found:
Clear Sign Holders (found on Amazon HERE)
Book Box Bins (found at Dollar Tree HERE)
A few character series ideas:
Junie B. Jones
Henry and Mudge
Mr. Putter and Tabby
Magic Tree House
Frog and Toad
Pinky & Rex
If you're able to try this in your classroom, I'd love to see how it goes by sharing it with me on Instagram @schoolwithjules
Happy Planning & Happy Reading!