At Crockett Middle School reading isn’t just something students and staff do in class, but a passion that binds them together. The passion these Crockett cougars have for reading is apparent in the popular “book talk” videos students and staff create about the books they are currently reading.

Librarian Christina Estrada started book talks in 2019 in collaboration with the campus digital learning coach. These short videos started as an opportunity for students to talk about the books they love, and why they recommend their classmates read them too.

For Principal Bianca Johnson, book talks are an important way for students and staff to grow as readers and as a community. 

“At Crockett, reading is how we connect! Reading the same books allows us to build community as we discuss our shared experiences with the characters, setting, conflicts and/or themes,” says Johnson. “We have seen our students be able to grow in empathy, regulating their own emotions and learning the power of their voice because of experiences with books. This is the power of literacy when it is leveraged with community.”

When the pandemic hit, these videos became an even more important way for Estrada to create a sense of community. All book lovers – students or staff – are invited to share about their current reads and what they are learning from their favorite stories.

“One of our teachers, Mr. Hernandez, shared a book about people coming to the United States from different countries from Central America,” says Estrada. “I tweeted that he talked about it, and I had a couple students request the book right away and a teacher shared that several of her kids were interested in reading it.”

Book talks are now a vital part of daily life for Crockett students and staff. QR codes linked to the book talks are sprinkled throughout school hallways, in the library and classrooms, and on the school announcements. Students can learn what their teachers are currently reading, discover a new genre, and share their favorite reads with their classmates.