What is a Book Walk and How To Create One

Have you thought about creating a book walk, but not exactly sure what it is or how to create one? The good news is that running a book walk in your classroom or library is pretty simple (and if you set it up just right, you can reuse your book walk materials for years to come).

What is a Book Walk?

A book walk is like a gallery walk, but for books! It works best with picture books or books with lots of graphics, like a graphic novel. During a book walk, students will move around the room and look at each page of the book.

This is a great way to incorporate movement into reading. If you have students who just can’t seem to sit still in their seats, this can be a great solution. It’s also just a nice way to change up your reading routine and helps students see that reading and learning doesn’t only happen at their desks.

How to Set-Up a Book Walk

Setting up a book walk is actually pretty simple. Here are the steps to making it happen.

Step 1: Cut.

You will need two copies of whichever book you choose. Choose one copy and cut the pages out. I know, it sounds painful! But it’s for a good cause.

Step 2: Reinforce the pages.
You can put the pages in plastic sheets, reinforce them with a sturdy backing, place them in picture frames, etc. The options are endless. But, I highly recommend reinforcing them in some way.

Step 3: Place the pages.

Now it’s time to spread out the pages. You can do this around the classroom, library, hallway, or another large space. Place the book pages along the floor or hang / tape them to the walls.

Ta-da! You’ve prepared for your book walk. Now, I wouldn’t be a good librarian if I didn’t warn you about copyright issues. Due to copyright laws, you cannot alter or change the pages in the book. That means you cannot scan or enlarge the images. You can add supplementary activities or information around the book, however.

What Books Should I Use?

For book walks, I find that books with lots of illustrations work the best. When a book starts to get text heavy, it becomes more of a challenge to do a book walk (because, well, there isn’t much walking when they have to stop and read for several minutes).

Choosing a story with a strong plot is also helpful. The hope is that students want to walk to the next station to see what will happen next. Also, consider the age of the students. What can they read without assistance? Do they need a wordless book?

For older students, you could always do a chapter book and paste the first few pages. However, I recommend starting with picture books and working up to these longer text pages.

Here are a few books I suggest using for book walks:

  • Old Lady books by Lucille Colandro (Ex. The Old Lady Who Swallowed a Frog, …Swallowed Some Books, …Swallowed Some Leaves, etc.)
  • Potato Pants by Laurie Keller
  • Legend of Rock, Paper, Scissors by Drew Daywalt
  • The Pigeon books by Mo Willems
  • Thank You book by Mo Willems
  • Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
  • Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Bill Martin
  • When You Give Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff (and her other books)
  • Duck on a Bike by David Shannon
  • The Bad Seed and Couch Potato by Jory John
  • Kitten’s First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes
  • Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert
  • Grumpy Monkey by Suzanne Lang

What Should Students Do During Book Walks?

During a book walk, we of course want to work on literacy skills. I have some go-to questions that I focus on during these book walks. You can write questions you want students to answer on the board, a poster, or even give them a worksheet with the questions. For younger students, you may ask some verbal questions during or after the book walk.

Additionally, you can add these questions near or on the page students are looking at. For example, printing the questions on a sheet of paper and pasting it next to the book page. Another alternative is using QR codes to direct students to online questions or activities.

Before we start, we always look at the cover of the book. I have students make predictions and inferences. What do you think the book will be about? What clues do you have about the book? We also talk about the author and any unfamiliar words students would not be able to figure out based on the book’s context.

Here are some of the questions I use during the book walk –

  • What do you see on the page?
  • What do you think is happening?
  • Is the picture trying to tell you something? Is the author trying to tell you something?
  • What do you think will happen next?
  • If there are unfamiliar words, what do you think the word means?

Phew! I know that was a lot. But now you are all set to bring book walks into your classroom or library.  A book walk would be a fun activity to incorporate during field day, an author visit, or a family reading night. You can even pair the book with a craft. Now that’s what I call fun!

One Response

  1. Where was this stuff years ago? What a great idea for picture walk alternative. And really it is almost exactly what we do when looking at a book to read (or those college classes). You know look at how many pages, and then the print, oh and lets not forget to see how it is going in the middle of the book. Thanks for sharing this approach. Now about the book pages being removed from the cover. For some reason every so often someone decides hey lets get rid of books in the library or classrooms that old or seem outdated (It cracks me up when administrators decide (yes I am one of those, but still a teacher at heart) books should go). They seem to ignore the fact that the book is always a favorite of a class (judging a book by the cover?). Suggestion before weed and toss what if you use these picture books for the book walk? If you have several repeat copies let each class have a shot and then switch. Okay so lets look at the same and different process, as in how are things the same or different now when compared to what is happening in a book walk.. Hang in there teachers, assistants, and others; always thinking, sharing, and doing what is best for kids.

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