Weaving ‘Book Talks’ into Science, Weaving Science into ‘Book Talks’


Over the past several months I have been participating in a district-based book club centered on Pernille Ripp’s, “Passionate Readers: The Art of Reaching and Engaging Every Child.” The club has been facilitated by our literacy coach, Renee Sacco and has boosted my leisure-reading by 1000% while connecting me with several educators across the district whom I previously did not intersect with on a consistent basis.

Perhaps most importantly, the club has brought a heightened awareness in me around my role in encouraging passionate readers and supporting the educators who do this important work day-in and day-out. While I do not have a classroom where a library can draw in students, nor regularly connect enough with our students to know their personal reading-tastes, I can use the time I have in front of our students during my grade-level programs to heighten their awareness of one of our school’s most important resources, the library media commons!



Today marked my first step into this realm, leaning on the expert knowledge of Burlington librarians, Cathy Myer and Rachel Small. Hearing Pernille’s charge to “be a spokesperson for your classroom library” and that “most things can be adapted or squished in order to book talk a great book or show a new book trailer.” I shortened my “Superfish” aquarium preview for Kindergarteners to make time to point out several marine-based titles available at the Pine Glen and Memorial libraries. This required me to make a few cuts to the long-standing program, including my bit on mollusks at the touch-tank (… and can you guess which one is Mr. Musselman’s favorite?!) and a Horseshoe Crab skeleton that had seen better days.



Cathy Myer shows her Kindergarteners where to find all of her genre-fied “Ocean” titles in the Memorial LMC during my “Superfish” aquarium preview.


While Kathy was generously able to join us and share her favorites between the Shark and Octopus bit, I was on my own due to a scheduling conflict at Pine Glen. Luckily, Ms. Small has rolling, genre-fied bookshelves which made it easy for me to bring the entire collection to our Kindergarten while picking a handful to display and discuss!

The program went off without a hitch and the book talk was well received by teachers and students alike. I present this photo of smiling faces at the conclusion of our program as evidence!


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Smile for the Superfish!

A post shared by Burlington Science Center (@burlingtonsciencecenter) on


In the short term, I hope to bring more book talks into my programs, especially as I connect more titles with specific topics or segments that best align with the phenomena we commonly investigate. Looking longer term, connecting with more children’s books and our teachers’ desire to include them in their classroom routines is a goal of mine as I work with several elementary science coaches from the surrounding communities to develop a course supporting teachers understanding and awareness of the Crosscutting Concepts and their prevalence in children’s literature.



A working document outlining our goals is already taking shape and I’m hoping to have a meeting with my interested counterparts some time in the next few weeks to hammer out some of the details on how its going to work. We already received a boost from Michigan educator and general consultant for the Manistee Intermediate School District, Kim Rinehart, whose current work using the book “Sharing Books, Talking Science” by Valerie Bang-Jensen and Mark Lubkowitz she so generously shared freely with us. Safe to say this #NSTA20 session is going to be a must for me!



About Sean Musselman

Teacher Dad and Burlington MA Schools K-5 Science and Social Studies Curriculum Coordinator. NSTA Professional Development facilitator and author of "Think Like a Scientist: Investigating Weather and Climate" NSTA Kids ebook.
This entry was posted in 3-5, K-2, Professional Reflections and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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