When young readers are able to put their thinking about text into words, they are working at a higher level of analysis. Readers need time to approximate this skill. It's not going to be perfect in the beginning. Readers will try their hand at discussing books. But when they frequently have time to engage in conversations about text their discussion skills will develop as their comprehension building skills strengthen.
Young readers need expectations to guide their talk about books. They are not going to be able to automatically have deeply insightful discussions about the texts they read.
Young readers need guidelines and conditions to facilitate their book talk. When readers have guidelines and expectations they will be better equipped to build and develop their book talking techniques.
First and foremost, young readers need discussion starters. They need some stems to frame their talk about books. It seems so minor, but when readers KNOW how to frame a comment to add to a discussion about books they will be better equipped to actively engage in the book talk.
Readers need time to practice discussing books they are reading independently and reading together with others.
Readers need to have a model of good book talk and the kinds of points to bring to a conversation. And most importantly, readers need to know how to respectfully disagree with a point in the conversation. (Isn't this a social skill every person needs...how to respectfully disagree!)
So, once your readers consistently engage in conversations about what they are reading with others or independently it's time for you to figure out how to facilitate those conversations and nudge your readers to do more.
Observation notetaking during book discussions is an essential part of monitoring your readers' progress. When they are engaging in talk and putting their thoughts into words, this is a valuable piece of data that will richly inform your instruction.
Expectations You MUST Have For Student Book Talk
Readers should be expected to have a plan for framing their talking points within a discussion. So, readers need discussion stems and starters to help them frame their book talk. When students have discussions starters to frame their talking points, they will better equipped to engage in the book talk.
Readers should be expected to understand how to participate in book conversations. Readers need to know what you are looking for within a book discussion. Show them a rubric for book talk. When your readers know what is expected during a discussion, they will know what active engagement looks like.