Sunday, March 1, 2009

Keeping my Readers' Advisory skills sharp

I want to post today about a local middle school assignment that I think is really interesting. I don't know the exact parameters of the assignment, but the kids are required to go to a library and/or bookstore and ask for three book recommendations - two fiction and one nonfiction. They'll take the recommendations to their teacher for approval and do a book report on one of the recommended books.

As a librarian, it's a great opportunity to speak with kids about what they like to read and to recommend some of the great books we've been reading. We don't always get a chance to do readers' advisory for these middle school kids because a lot of them are able to find what they want to read on their own. It's interesting to see what diverse subjects and genres they like and hopefully we can suggest something great that they might not have found on their own.

It's also a great chance to brush up on our readers' advisory and practice impromptu booktalks. I've booktalked The Hunger Games, Phineas Gage, Perfect You, Freeze Frame, Bodies from the Ice, Into the Wild, and others this week. I make sure to tell them that we're always happy to make book recommendations, either for book reports or pleasure reading.

There are two things that I really like about this assignment:

1. It brings kids into the library, so of course I love that. It gives us a chance to talk with kids and it gives them a chance to see what we can do for them. Hopefully they'll keep coming in to the library to get books or just to say hi.

2. It gives the kids a chance to read and write about a book that hopefully they will really like. I can't think of a better way to inspire a lifelong love of reading than helping kids find books they love and giving them school credit for it!