Got Books?At the beginning of every school year we see loads of students returning to the library looking for reading material. The first week of school they receive from their teachers a number of required reading pages for the term. Moms want to get them started early on those book reports so we are kept hopping. We suggest titles, give directions and help with using the card catalog. I always give suggestions on books I have read and liked but find them to be popular and almost always checked out. We do have a couple of written resources in the form of binders, with reading lists both by age and topic, called "What to Read". We also have "read-alike" lists, so if a student has a favorite title we can suggest something similar in theme or writing style.
Most of the avid readers that come in don't have trouble picking out a book. They will read so many titles that the choice doesn't seem so critical. But what about the others? They fall into three major reading styles:
Dormant Reader: People who do not find the time to read but who like to read.
Uncommitted Reader: People who do not like to read but indicate that they may read more in the future.
Unmotivated Reader: People who do not like to read and are unlikely to change their minds.
Each of these types of reader will use the library differently and our challenge is to help them all to find a book that will help them complete those reading assignments. One challenge that I have had this week is the reader who has read every single title that I suggested. I think this child should choose books at random, she would probably enjoy the surprise of choosing a book this way. For everyone else, consider using the following criteria for selection of a book:
1. Is it on my reading level or slightly above.
2. Am I interested in the topic?
3. Do I like this author?
4. Is it recommend by someone?
5. Does it look interesting?
6. Do I like this genre/type of book?
I usually suggest that readers, especially those in the Uncommitted or Unmotivated categories, take 2 or 3 books. Then if they read the first 25 pages and don't like the book they can switch without another trip to the library. My philosophy is: If you don't like it in the first 25 pages, then don't waste your time, because there are plenty of others to choose from.
The final thing that I see often at the beginning of school is a parent selecting books for their children, which may work for small kids and early readers but I don't suggest it for kids beyond 1st grade. Kids are more likely to read and enjoy a title that they selected themselves. So mom, bring them, make suggestions, talk about the books to them, but let them choose.
Happy reading everyone! Don't forget to finish your book reports on time :)
Michele, Children's Librarian