When I started this school year, I had no idea what a big part of my job reader’s advisory would be. The school I worked in last year had its share of heavy readers, but most of them were pretty self-sufficient; the most common question I heard was “Where are the Triple Crown books?” (Street lit was hugely popular there–we couldn’t keep titles like Black and A Hood Legend on the shelves.)
At my new job, on the other hand, I have quite a mix of readers–from students looking for books they’ve already read to use with essay prompts (testing my mind-reading abilities) to packs of girls asking for books like New Moon and Dear John before theatrical releases to a boy who raids the new book shelves every time I get a book order.
And, of course, there’s my personal book group.
It started off quietly enough. She’s a senior I see in the library fairly often, sometimes doing homework, sometimes just killing time at lunch or between classes. We chatted once about books we’d read, but I didn’t really make any suggestions. Then she saw Identical on one of my display tables–a purchase prompted by the Teens’ Top Ten, since I hadn’t read the book myself–and decided to try it. A few days later she made a beeline to my desk and asked “Have you read this book? You have to read this book.”
So when she finished Identical, I took it home–and suggested Wintergirls and The Adoration of Jenna Fox. (I knew she’d read Speak, and though I hadn’t read Jenna Fox I knew she was at least a little interested in sci-fi.) Fast forward a few days later, when we were both raving about Identical in way bigger than six-inch voices, and she demanded that I read Jenna Fox next.
To me, this is reader’s advisory at its finest. People are always impressed that I can suggest half a dozen books based on the most vague prompts from students, but half the time I’m just suggesting titles that I know are popular with other students or have gotten good reviews from Booklist or School Library Journal. It’s much more meaningful for me to be able to recommend a book I’ve read myself. Finding a student who actually wants to talk about the book is a delightful bonus.
What’s reader’s advisory like for you? Do you booktalk to classes or individual teens? Do you provide book lists, online or in bookmark and poster form? Have you acquired your own informal book club?