Expand Your Readers’ Palates With a Book Tasting

A perfect way for kids to nibble on a book.

Sponsored By Penguin Young Readers
Book tasting sample books on a picnic background

When it comes to reading, just like eating, some kids have pickier palates than others. Pique their appetites for a good read with a book tasting! This activity gives students the opportunity to sample some juicy reads in a short period of time and come away with a wish list of titles. No more choruses of “I don’t have anything to read!” They’ll be introduced to different authors, genres, and even series.

We’ve put together this resource with ways to set up and run a book tasting. You’ll also find book tasting packets for all ages from our friends at Penguin Young Readers that you can download and print for a classroom tasting, or send digitally to students for a virtual tasting.

Setting Up Your Book Tasting

Source: Sassy, Savvy, Simple Teaching

Your book tasting can be as simple or as fancy as you’d like. Set it up in your school’s media center, cafeteria, or in your classroom, but to make it the most fun, consider including a restaurant-like ambiance. Play classical music in the background. Place tablecloths and vases of flowers on the tables. Include place settings at each student’s seat and, on top of each plate, place a book. Include extra books in the center of the table. Students will each take a seat and “sample” the book in front of them.

If you don’t want to purchase books ahead of time, or you’re worried about sharing materials, another great option is to print out Penguin’s sampler packets, linked below. Then each student has their own to read, write on, and save.

Source: Teaching With a Mountain View

Students Get a Taste

If you’re using books, students can record the title and genre of their book on a note-catcher (like this one). They then spend the next few minutes checking out the front and back cover, reading the inside flaps, and browsing the book for a first impression. When time (about 3–5 minutes) is up, students write down observations and make note of whether or not they want to add the book to their wish list.

If you’ve printed out the Penguin packets, they actually contain questions at the end of each chapter sampler for students to answer about what they’ve read.

Source: Miss Liberry Teacher

For the next round, students either return their books and choose another one, rotate seats at the same table, or move to a different table. The process repeats as many times as your total allotted time for the activity allows.

Book Tasting Sampler Packets

Sampling of the Penguin Young Reader book tasting covers

Penguin Young Readers has put together a great set of book tastings that allow students to read chapter starters of many of their favorite books. Find book tastings for all age groups, including:

  • Chapter Books: Includes Jada Jones, Astronaut Girl, Unicorn Rescue Society, and more!
  • Middle Grade Paperback Books: This set of book tastings allow students to explore Harbor Me, Shouting at the Rain, and more.
  • Middle Grade Book Tasting: Another middle grade set! Check out Stand Up, Yumi Chung, Tornado Brain, and more.
  • Middle Grade Summer Reads: Even more favorites for summer. Explore The Many Meanings of Meilan, Samira Surfs, Rez Dogs, and more.
  • YA Books: Includes Patron Saints of Nothing, The Stars and the Blackness Between Them, and more.
  • Wicked Reads: For those readers that love horror! Add on to your book tasting with Thirteens, Small Spaces, and more.

Book tasting questions at the end of the chapter sample

Each packet contains the images of the covers and a description of the book, as well as the first 20+ pages of each. At the end of each book sample are a few questions for students to answer about what they’ve read. Schedule this as an in-class assignment or as part of a virtual book tasting! We know many students are still learning virtually or social distancing, so a virtual tasting may be the perfect way to implement this project. You can even open it up to families and encourage parents to set up their dining rooms in a tasting style for everyone to enjoy.

Book tastings are a fun, easy way to get kids out of their comfort zones and engaged in new genres, authors, and styles. After all, books are a lot like food—you won’t know if you like something until you try it!

Expand Your Readers' Palates With a Book Tasting