Beyond Booktalking: New Tools to Promote Reading

This month Jen Gilbert shared a critical look at the results of our One-Question Survey about the most effective ways to promote reading. We decided to lock this survey down to just one response, which may be why the tried-and-true booktalk and/or tasting received 50% of the vote. Another common theme in the responses was the importance of personal connections with students. In reality, none of us use just one method to promote reading. We talk to students, get to know them, their teachers, their families, and do what we think is most effective in our varying situations. A librarian with 2,300 high school students is going to approach promotion differently than an elementary school librarian with 230 students. With that being said, I want to focus on an area that seemed to be missing from the survey responses.

I believe it is crucial for us to look at modern practices going beyond the results of this survey. Although it wasn't offered as a choice, only 2 respondents, out of 650, even mentioned social media as a way to promote reading. It is likely many of you already use some amount of social media, or maybe a website, to tell the story of your library program. However, are we also using social media as an avenue to promote books, both print and digital, to our students and teachers? Platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, or even just emailed newsletters, can make it very easy to promote reading to our students and families.

To harness the full power of social media, we should use a variety of tools to enhance our book promotion. If you are feeling less than confident in your design skills, there is no reason to start with a blank canvas. There are some great web tools and apps out there that can help you.

Canva ( is an easy-to-use, Web-based, design tool that you can use to create promotional material. They have social media templates that make it easy to choose the right canvas size. Canva also has a great collection of design tips and strategies to help improve the look of your content (

Adobe Spark ( is another platform that can make the creation of effective promotional media a relatively quick and easy process. Adobe Spark Post has templates for creating eye-catching graphics. Spark Video is an excellent tool for quickly creating video stories. The Adobe Spark Blog ( is an excellent resource for learning more about designing for social media.

If you don't have photos for your creations, check out a copyright-friendly image-sharing site like Unsplash ( for high-quality content. For graphics and icons, the Noun Project ( has a robust collection of Creative Commons-licensed artwork.

Now that you have some design resources, let's talk about a few ideas for sharing your new reading and literature promotion creations. Considering your audience is essential. Some students will see your Twitter posts, while others might be more likely to follow your library Instagram account, and parents may prefer your school or library Facebook page. Working with the person in charge of your school website might also provide an opportunity to promote reading in your school. You may find that it's best to share in multiple locations. Here are a few more ideas to spark your imagination:

  • Photos of new titles available shared on Facebook (use a Canva template)
  • Create ten-second booktalk videos for Instagram (Adobe Spark would be great for this one)
  • Share a YouTube playlist of publisher or student-created book trailers
  • Use digital signage to scroll new books or publicize reading promotion activities
  • Share quick student book recommendations on your library Snapchat story
  • Embed samples of audiobooks or eBooks on your school or library website
  • Share short student-written book reviews on your library Twitter account
  • Make book promotion videos that can be shared on your school newscast
  • Schedule tweets that include photos of teachers reading

Regardless of the tools or channels you decide to use to promote the love of reading in your school community, social media is a powerful tool.I It can help create opportunities to cultivate those personalized interactions with students that were mentioned so often in the survey results. Take this a few steps farther, and get your students involved in creating promotional materials to share with a broader audience! Since we are "better together," be sure and share these successful ideas and creations with other librarians and teachers in your professional learning networks.

About the Author

James Allen is a teacher librarian and EDhub Director at Eminence Independent, a K–12 public school in Kentucky. He is an organizer and regular moderator of #KyLChat, which gives librarians across Kentucky a place to share and explore new ideas. He is also a co-founder of the #KyGoPlay movement, which is changing the way people think about libraries, makerspaces, and play in school. James is a Google for Education Certified Innovator. He is also a past president of the Kentucky Association of School Librarians.

MLA Citation Allen, James. "Beyond Booktalking: New Tools to Promote Reading." School Library Connection, November 2018,

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Entry ID: 2180395

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