Reading Wildly

In January 2013, I posed the following question to my Twitter followers:

@abbylibrarian: Can you give good readers' advisory without reading widely yourself? Please discuss.

In response to the ensuing awesome Twitter conversation, I developed a reading program for my staff to encourage all of us to read widely in different genres. I call this program Reading Wildly and here's how it works:

Each month, my staff members are required to read one book from a certain genre. Books must be from our Children's Room or Teen Scene, and they must be chapter books, nonfiction (applicable for some genres), or graphic novels (and, of course, audiobooks and ebooks are fine, but not picture books or easy readers). We each read a book and share a booktalk at our monthly Reading Widely meeting. This meeting is separate from our monthly department meeting if at all possible. Everyone is welcome to read more than one book, but only required to read one. I allow them work time to read only if their date-sensitive work is done.

This used to be a program for my Children's Room staff, but in July 2015 we combined Children's and Teen Services into one Youth Services Department. Now, both Children's and Teen staff participate monthly and everyone is encouraged to read books from either and both rooms.

In October 2013, I started providing a genre- or reader's advisory-related article for staff to read each month. This has really helped spark our discussions and has helped staff develop their reader's advisory skills. You can see which articles we've read in the recap posts for each month (linked below).

For the first year, I selected genres based on what our patrons are frequently asking for, on seasonality, and on areas I saw that my staff needed to expand their horizons. I also provided a list of suggested titles to give my staff a starting point. After that, I turned it over to my staff to brainstorm and select genres for the next year.

Here are our genres/topics for 2016:

January: Reader profile swaps (basically reader's choice, but you can read about what we're doing in this post)
February: Sports
March: Survival
April: Sad/Tearjerkers
May: Funny
June: Reader's choice, but Teen staff read something from Children's and Children's read something from Teen (and if you read equally, then you pick!)
July: Graphic Novels (always accepted, but my staff don't always choose them)
August: Transitional chapter books (2nd/3rd grade)
September: Nonfiction
October: Thriller
November: Gentle ("Clean" reads, although I hate saying "clean")
December: Fantasy

* I like giving everyone free choice during times that will be really busy (i.e. the holidays and summer).

When we started, I asked everyone to fill out a book review form so that I could track that everyone was participating. As we got more comfortable with the program, I lifted that requirement, although staff are certainly welcome to use the form if they find it useful. Here's the book review form that I developed. Please feel free to use it and to edit it as you wish.

Reading Roundups by Genre/Topic
Looking for a place to start with a genre or need a book list? Here are our reading roundups by genre/topic:

We've had way more meetings than this, but the ones not linked are either months I missed blogging about our meetings or months that we had reader's choice or some other activity. You can find all the posts about Reading Wildly by clicking on the Reading Wildly label.

Any questions about our program? Leave them in comments!