Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Reader's Advisory for Kids & Teens

Monday, Oct. 4th, 8:30 - 9:30
Presented by Cindy Schilling of Wells (ME) Public Library

For something you can print and keep, Cindy provided a handout featuring her presentation in a nutshell, and a handout featuring a list of books and websites about and for RA.

Reader's Advisory (RA) is a conversation with another reader. Not an interview or a stressful test of your librarianship. RA is all about suggesting books, not recommending them. "Recommend" is a word that puts pressure on the reader to like something.

To improve your RA skills:
1) Read
With purpose, and across genres and age ranges.
As you read, think about:
  • the potential reader
  • plot v. appeal
  • how you would describe the book to a child or parent
If you can't, or don't want to, read the whole book, do the 5 minute read. This will give you enough of a sense of the book to be able to suggest it to a reader.
  • Look at the cover
  • Read description, reviews
  • Read 1st chapter
  • Skim the middle
  • Read last chapter
2) Record
Keep track of what you read. Can be on paper or on the computer, but keep track of what you and your coworkers are reading.

3) Rehearse
Practice RA with coworkers and friends. The more you do it, the better you will get.

The RA Conversation:
  • Get out from behind the desk!
  • Don't hand books to the reader, put them on a shelf or desk. This is less pressure for them to decide or react with you around.
  • Make several suggestions.
  • Give them space. Don't hover when they are looking through your suggestions.
  • Follow up. Check in to see if they need more suggestions or would like to see a booklist, website, etc.
Questions you can ask:
  • Are you looking for a specific book or do you want suggestions?
  • Do you read a lot?
  • What's a book you've liked? A book you've hated?
  • Is this for school or for fun? (if for school, get as many details as possible about the assignment)
  • Do you want something fun or more serious?
  • Do you like a fast story or is a slow start ok?
  • Do you like stories that are about action or stories that are about people?
  • Do you like books with a lot of dialogue?
RA Tips
A lot of us get questions from parents who have young children who read at a higher level. How do we recommend books that will be at their interest level but more challenging?
  • Folklore, fairy tales, mythology, and classics are great for this group
What about struggling or reluctant readers? How can we engage them and find the right books for this audience?
  • Ask about their hobbies and interests. What TV shows do they like? Movies? What do they do in their spare time? With friends? This can lead to nonfiction or fiction suggestions.
  • Graphic novels
  • Gaming guides
Displays are great "passive" RA. Mix nonfiction, graphic novels, chapter books, magazines, picture books, etc, around a common theme. They tend to fly off the display.

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