Thursday, August 1, 2013

Reading Wildly: How's It Going?

We're about halfway through the year and I wanted to check in and let you all know how our Reading Wildly staff readers' advisory program has been going. Of course, you can take a look at each genre we've discussed over the past couple of months, but how has it been going in general?

Well, awesome, actually.

Brief back story:

I started Reading Wildly, a monthly staff book discussion, to encourage my staff (and myself!) to read children's literature in a wide variety of genres. Each month, we feature a different genre and I ask staff to read one book from that genre and booktalk/discuss with the group. You can read more about our program here.

And what results have we seen?

My staff have reported to me that they really like the program that we're doing and that it's been useful in their jobs. Each month, I type up a list of the titles everyone has shared along with the readalikes they suggested. One of my staff members has printed out the lists and keeps them at the desk for an easy starting point when people are looking for genre fiction. It's easy to draw a blank when someone comes up and asks for suggestions, but having heard about some great books at our discussions and having a "cheat sheet"* in front of them has really helped give my staff more confidence.

Dedicating time each month to talk about books has been fun for staff and I often overhear them talking to each other about the books they're going to read for the next meeting, etc. This past month, my librarian who thought she would have the most trouble finding time to read (she has a toddler at home!) reported that she was surprised by how much she ended up reading this month. She said that it's become fun and she no longer sees it as a chore. Score! Everyone's been sharing books and practicing booktalks every month, often reading multiple books. I still only require everyone to read one book per month, but I encourage them to read as much as they want. It's only going to make their jobs easier!

I keep reminding them that I'm going to try to get us into the schools more this year, which may mean they're assigned to a booktalking program. Writing booktalks throughout the year as we're reading genre fiction will give them an arsenal for when these programs come up.

Next steps...

I've got our genres chosen through the end of the year. Once we get towards the end of the year, we'll decide together whether we want to keep doing Reading Wildly and how it will proceed. I will definitely require staff to do SOME kind of reading program, but I want to make changes as necessary if people think it could work better in a different way. If we do continue the program as-is, I will ask my staff to help me choose the genres we will read. I know we all have weak areas and I've already asked my staff to be thinking about where those weak areas are for them. (For example, one genre I will probably suggest is sports books, a definite weak area for me!)

I would also like to incorporate more RA interview practice into our meetings. We've done some role-playing before when gearing up for the Summer Reading Club rush and that might be what we need to do here. So far our meetings have been pretty packed and then summer hit and there was barely time to do anything, but this is something I'm going to try to add in the fall.

I'm thrilled to hear about librarians in other places who have started a program like this (either based on what I'm doing with my staff or on your own!). I would love to know how it's going. If you do a readers' advisory or genre book club with your staff, what has worked for you?