I've Been Having the BEST Book Talks

But before I tell you about those I'd like to give you a little personal background.

In 2004 I graduated with my masters degree (boy, was that a TON of work!).  It took me 4 years of part-time classes and working my buns off during summer holidays.

My final project (think classroom research and my first, only and last book) was about critical literacy in the primary grades.

It was a very cool topic. In a nutshell, what I did was explore whether or not 6 and 7 year olds were capable of becoming more critical readers and thinkers.  I wanted to know if they were able to adopt a critical perspective towards social issues texts.

One of the ways I tried to determine this, was by reading them a book that in some way pushed the socially accepted boundaries. After listening to a story we sat in a circle (me with my tape recorder in hand) and we had book talks that revolved around the children's thoughts, comments and questions.  I was seriously amazed at how insightful some of these children were.

Here are some of the books I used:

You're probably wondering why I'm even telling you this.

To be honest, after I finished my degree I was so burned out that I just wanted to teach and forget about all this stuff. While I often read books that will challenge my students' perspectives, I haven't seriously gotten back to those wonderful book talks we had, full of amazing questions that mostly came from the students. I know, I know....

UNTIL....this last week.  Here's why: CM School Supply contacted me about a month ago and asked if I'd be interested in reviewing one of their products. Well of course I said yes :) because I'm a teacher and I love free stuff!  However, I had no idea what they'd be sending me.

When I opened the package last week I found these:

 A.S.K. cards (Actively Seeking Knowledge).

Well, guess what? These little cards pushed me into having book talks with my kids again. I'm talking about the BIG, DEEP book talks, where everyone expresses their opinion, they talk to each other, they respond and react to their friends' comments and they don't put up their hands! They just talk. I feel like I should have been handing out appies and glasses of wine ~ ha ha ~ okay, maybe pop.

We've now had two fabulous conversations about two amazing books (I'm going to write more about these books later):

All I did was pick a couple of very-open ended questions from the ASK cards and the kids flew with them!

Here's what you GET:

* 12 laminated cards attached to a ring (English on one side, Spanish on the other)

*  8 of the cards have key questions for easy reference

Question categories:

* 3 Essential Questions

* Open Ended Questions

* Asking How and Why Questions

* Encourage Problem Solving

* Encourage Prediction

* Classifying-Comparing Questions

* Questions to Foster Creative Thinking


1. The cards can be used with any subject (I personally prefer to use them with literature)

2. They come on a ring so they're easy to hang on your chart stand, ready to use at a moment's notice

3. The cards are sturdy and relatively child-proof

4. The questions are very open-ended and are best used as a way to jump start a genuine discussion around your chosen topic

5. The cards can be used by older students if you're interested in reciprocal teaching. Once the younger children are used to hearing these types of questions they'll start using them on their own.

I hope this didn't sound like an ad, but I really do like these cards. If you click on one of the links above you can visit CM School Supply and check them out yourself:)

Take care, friends, and have a great day!


  1. I love hearing the kids freely talk about their ideas and thoughts. They really have so much to say. Thanks for these great discussion ideas and book suggestions!

  2. I love having deep discussion with kids about their books. They really are capable of thinking deeply and have lots of opinions. Can't wait to hear more!
    Conversations in Literacy

  3. This is so great! I LOVE having book talks with my kids and it is amazing what they can contribute and how they can make even me see a different side to a book. Anthony Browne is one of my favourite authors. Have you read Voices in the Park and The Tunnel? - both awesome. Thanks for sharing:)

  4. The Piggy Book has always been one of my favorites... thanks for reminding me about it!

    Granny Goes to School

  5. These cards seriously sound fabulous. I'm going to go check them out.
    I cannot wait to hear more about those two books! Not to judge a book by it's cover or anything... but they look fabulous!

  6. These cards look wonderful! I have a dice that I use to prompt discussions on books designed for upper elementary, but my firsties don't know that! ;)
    Owl Things First

  7. I am going to have to check out some of those books - time to push my k kids a bit.

    rubberboots and elf shoes

  8. Thanks for the recommendations--I just added some of them to my Amazon wish list!

    Your Masters work sounds really interesting. I gave up on getting my Masters--I had hoped to study Educational Technology, but then my school stopped offering the program. Oh well, being a mom keeps me too busy now, anyway!

    Now I want to hear more about those books! :)

    Teach On.

  9. I'd love to sit in on some of your classroom conversations. That's one of the things that I'm striving to get better at!
    ❀ Tammy
    Forever in First

  10. Definitely sounds like something right up my alley! :) I also love to hear the kids voice their opinions and the why of it all. :)



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