I've always liked to spend money. I thought an ideal job for me would be a personal shopper, directing people to items them need or want. When I do Reader's Advisory I feel like a personal book shopper for my teens and their parents. Often, when patrons ask me for books, they don't provide me with a lot to go on. Sometimes, the parent isn't with their teen, and their only request was to bring them 'something good' from the library. Other times my reader has something in mind but they can't describe it well, or at all; or they don't know specific genre names. I don't think I've had a teen ask me specifically for dystopian or steampunk. I queried the YalsaHub Bloggers, and they sent me sample RA scenarios. For this post, we'll assume my hypothetical patrons are unable to provide more details.
Here are my suggestions for getting the right books into the hands of teen patrons, based on a variety of information they might provide.
"I would like some recommendations for a book that is a good action-packed romance. Like, I really liked The Hunger Games, because of the romance in it combined with all the action, but I am looking for something with a lot less death.
For this post I am going to assume my teen is a girl asking the above question. I do keep a lot of themed booklists in my Young Adult Department but I don't feel any of them are specific enough for this request to get me started. I do have a lot of read-alike posters in YA. I recently made one for The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins so I will glance at the poster first and see if any of those are romantic, available or are items the patron has already tried. I thought Divergent and Insurgent by Veronica Roth were a good mix of romance and action/adventure, however those titles are extremely popular and unlikely to be in. I really like the "now and later" approach to RA. I like to put something in the teen's hands for them to leave with, but I like to suggest something "on hold," so that they can come back. And when they return for the hold, I can find out what they liked (or didn't like) about the other items. I might test the waters. If the teen likes SciFi, a series like Across the Universe by Beth Revis or Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi would be strong on romance. Sticking with romance as a focus but leaning toward fantasy as a backdrop, Girl of Fire and Thrones by Rae Carson or Graceling by Kristin Cashore might work. When in doubt, I like to troll the new book shelf for something with a really tantalizing cover. We suddenly seem to have a lot of books that feature beautiful boys.
I'm a 12 year old boy who isn't a big reader but liked the Artemis Fowl Series.
I'd be curious to know what else this teen has read. If he's a little below the reading level for a 6th or 7th grader, I would consider more titles from the Juvenile section. A healthy dose of humor and snark sound like they might be appeal. Luckily for me Eoin Colfer's new series WARP just released its first title, I'd probably tell him about this new series so I can reserve it for him. For humor he might like a series like Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to Not Reading by Tommy Greenwald or Middle School the Worst Years of My Life by James Patterson. James Patterson has several teen series and has an upcoming tween/teen series Treasure Hunters due out this September. My patron might be a reluctant reader and knowing there are many books in a series can be comforting, since they just need the next volumes for awhile and won't always have to deal with my persistent questions. I definitely think we'll wander into the Nonfiction section for this RA, I have lots of great books on death (How They Croaked : The Awful Ends of the of Awfully Famous by Georgia Bragg), toilets (Poop Happened!: A History of the World from the Bottom Up by Sarah Albee) and spies (Can I See Your I.D.? : True Stories of False Identities by Chris Barton).
My 13-year-old son likes books that are like action movies. You know, aliens and stuff blowing up. Not too long, though, and with a guy that likes to do like extreme sports and stuff... He liked that book with the alien kid, "He was Four," or something...
This sounds like RA that will have me running all over the department. I do keep a booklist of books that were made into movies and it does have quite a few titles on it like Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz and I am Number Four by Pittacus Lore that blow up a lot of things in the process. Also there is a chance that 'He was Four' really is The Lorien Legacies Books One. I'd suggest a few title from the list and also see what other movies the teen has seen recently. This sounds like a good candidate for a trip down the graphic novel aisle which my teens also call The Wall of Manga even though it does have other comics. The graphic novelization of the Transformers movies or the Star Wars movies might be appealing. Depending on his reading level Department 19 by Will Hill is very intense and popular with guys. A shorter series with more spy style action would be Cherub by Robert Muchamore. I know I don't have a lot of books with extreme sports, so I'll try to focus on very athletic characters, possibly with a strange skill set; hence spy books. My teen might be a gamer, so Insignia by S. J. Kincaid, an ongoing trilogy could be appealing.
I hope those scenarios weren't too dizzying! I do have a thought process similar to a pinball machine, and I do, in fact, approach most tasks at mach 3... but I think the best tool I have for RA is in my coworkers. They are especially handy when I am having an "on the tip of my brain" moment where I can just see the cover but my memory stops short at the title or the author. Having booklists available for patrons will help other staff when you aren't around. And I highly recommend drawing your patrons to your "to be shelved" section, new book display, and other fiction displays if you have them. A number of patrons I have tried to help will spot the book they wanted before I have had a chance to help them.