We kicked off our 2014 year of Reading Wildly with a reader's choice month, and we spent a chunk of our meeting time talking about reader's advisory and how to do a reader's advisory interview. I had a new staff member start last week, so I got him up to speed about our program and we all shared our booktalks.
To start our conversation, everyone had read this Readers' Advisory article from the Ohio Library Council. It gives a good basic overview of what reader's advisory is, so it was perfect to use with a new staff person. Our Winter Reading Club has been going on in December and January and one of the boxes on our BINGO sheet is "A Librarian's Suggestion". As our patrons began asking for suggestions, I realized that we maybe needed a refresher on how to start a reader's advisory interview.
My staff brought up several good points about the article:
- We talked about being approachable and ending each RA transaction by encouraging patrons to come back and give us feedback.
- We talked about how to start a reader's advisory interview. Although many people might be stumped when asked "What kind of book are you looking for?" we usually get results if we ask a kid to tell us about the last book he read that he really liked and why he liked it.
- We talked about how to continue the reader's advisory interview as you walk back to the stacks (ALWAYS walk back to the stacks!) and how new information might spark new suggestions.
- We talked about how readers might like books for different reasons and it's important to find out what a reader liked about a certain title before jumping to conclusions.
- We talked about the language "I suggest" as opposed to the language "I recommend" and why we should suggest and not recommend (recommending implies that we endorse that particular book and puts pressure on a patron to choose the book the expert recommends).
I also shared Becky's 10 Rules of Basic RA Service and I've tweaked our book review forms to include a place for writing down adjectives that describe the books we're reading.
And we shared booktalks. These are the books booktalked by my staff this month:
- Alexander Hamilton: The Outsider by Jean Fritz
- Dogs of War by Sheila Keenan and Nathan Fox
- How to Steal a Dog by Barbara O'Connor
- Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers
- P.S. Be Eleven by Rita Williams-Garcia
- A Question of Magic by E.D. Baker
- The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani
- Turn Left at the Cow by Lisa Bullard
- Wild Born (Spirit Animals #1) by Brandon Mull
Next month, we're talking about realistic fiction since we've had some requests for that genre lately. Realistic fiction is kind of a genre-bender and can include mysteries, funny books, sports books, and more as long as they don't include magic, fantasy elements, or science fiction. Some may consider historical fiction a part of realistic fiction, but we're doing historical fiction later this year, so I'm asking my staff to read contemporary realistic fiction.
Our article for next month is Keeping It Real: How Realistic Does Realistic Fiction for Children Need to Be? by Barbara O'Connor (Language Arts, vol. 87, no. 6, July 2010). Barbara O'Connor discusses several different elements of realistic fiction, including dialog, characters, and family relationships. I've asked my staff to keep those elements in mind as they read.
I definitely enjoy realistic fiction, so this will be an easy month for me. What are some of your favorite realistic fiction titles?