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Creating a Digital Book Tasting

This week, my students chose novels for literature circles. Under normal circumstances, I stack piles of books around my classroom and students circulate, pick up and preview each book, and then choose three for closer examination before choosing the book they'll read.

It's fun and exciting. I play light music as students circulate and put on the YouTube fireplace as students preview books. It's always one of my favorite days... so how would I replicate our book tasting event during COVID?

I started brainstorming and found a way to go virtual. I implemented our book tasting (we called it a book fitting and made it comfy-clothes themed) this week, and although it was much quieter, kids were ENGAGED and just as excited to start their new books!

Here's how I implemented a digital "book fitting" for my hybrid (mostly online) classroom:

  1. Replicate the experience of previewing the front and back covers of each book.

This sounds hard, but thanks to Amazon and Google, it's not. Simply copy and paste an image of each book cover along with the summary found on Google into a Google Slide. Based on the cover image and summary, students can easily make predictions and get a feel for the tone and subject of each book.

2. Provide a link to LEARN MORE.

Along with each book cover and summary, I provided my students with a link to each book's Goodreads profile so they could learn more. Goodreads is an AWESOME tool for students with thousands of book reviews and, the best part, PREVIEWS of most novels. Normally, I instruct students to preview the first few pages of each novel to get a feel for the author's style of the book's reading level. Students still had the ability to flip through the first few pages of each book. This time, they previewed books on their computers.

3. Find the "just right" book.

Similar to our in-person learning experience, after students preview each book, they rate books based on the fit (is this book at their reading level), the style (is this book written in a style you enjoy), and the comfort (is this a book you feel comfortable with). After examining the fit, style, and comfort of each book, students rate the book on a scale of 1-5 stars. After students preview and rate at least three books, students choose their favorite book to read.

I always tell my students: there's no such thing as a person who doesn't like reading. They just haven't found the right book. Not only are book tastings fun, but they also help students to find the just-right books for them.

Try a virtual book tasting (or book fitting) in your classroom and be sure to let us know how it goes in the comments section below. Enjoy!


Short on time? Like a book tasting, a book fitting is a fun-themed way to help students "try on" multiple books before choosing books for independent reading or literature circles. Grab this book fitting template that's already made for you. Includes tips for implementing, a lesson plan, and a video tutorial for setting up a digital book fitting for Google Classroom. Check it out!

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