Why the Book Talk Project is a BIG Deal

It’s January at Harborfields and people are just beginning to get back into their routine. This time of the year tends to be stressful for all students, but especially for the APLAC students.This is because it is not only winter season, but Book talk season too.

Each year the AP Language and Composition students endure the infamous book talk project. The book talk project is a hefty assignment in which students are told to select a book from the New York Times top 50 Non fiction books. The competition is tense as students struggle to claim the book they want. Only one student can read each book and the juniors race to take what they’d like. Being absent or not having access to amazon is NOT an option on book talk day. Missing class means you are the last to get the list and may wind up with a 800 page book on something as boring as the color gray.

Not only is there pressure in getting a good read, but the selection of when you’ll present too. Each student is graded on a 15 minute ted talk like presentation in which they must entertain, analyze, and explain their book to the class. One APLAC student claims, “It is better to go at the beginning because the people will listen and it ensures a good grade,” whereas others claim, “By the end no one cares, including the teacher, so you get a good grade by default.” So what is the truth? I guess we will have to see when each student has given their talk and proved their points.

This project is infamous for many reasons, but mostly because of the amount of unnecessary stress it causes. Joe Interrante says, “Kids panic and begin comparing their projects to others.” No one wants to have the worst project and with everyone taking notes on each presentation it is hard to forget who wasn’t properly prepared. 90 percent of the project is completed over winter break and presentations begin the day class begins in the new year. For the students brave enough to present on day 1, like Joe, there is no comparison to be made. This may be a smart move as they set the bar high for the rest of the class.

If there's any tips I could give to someone prepping their project, I’d say to know your facts. The teacher will interject and ask questions. He’s a smart man and reads many of the books on the list. Do not be caught off guard and remember to take it slow. Everyone is given 15 minutes which is more than enough time to make solid and coherent points without talking 80 miles an hour. Lastly be honest,If your book was terribly boring and poorly written tell the class. Justify your hatred and save them from attempting to read it. Your honesty will be respected and a nice refresher from the boring, “Read my book it was good, Iiked it.” The truth is not everyone likes every book and your honest opinion is more real than anything else.

The book talk project is one that everyone remembers in horror, but it teaches students how to speak in front of their peers. It is remembered because it is a well thought out good project.  Harborfields alumni have all felt the wrath of this burden of an assignment and it is only tradition that you do too.


Sarah DeVitoComment