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Success! RA Experiences and Strategies from NoveList Staff

Post by NoveList
Posted July 17, 2014 in Readers' Advisory News

Success! RA Experiences and Strategies from NoveList Staff

*This blog post originally appeared in the August 2014 issue of Kids & Books.*

NoveList is all about matching readers with books.  Meshing book knowledge with approach is something NoveList juvenile staff has experience with. 


Miss Reeves was a bespectacled young teenager who was staying with her grandmother for the summer, skinny and sure of herself. She came in looking for ‘something good to read’. I tossed some choices her way without success until she declared “I like SAD BOOKS. Like, really sad. Just terrible.” My heart leapt, because, I too, am a fan of those dark teen books about kids with capital P problems. “How about this?" I said excitedly, handing her Touching Snow by M. Sindy Felin. “This girl is getting beaten up at home and her parents are really strict and one day, she just can’t take it anymore.” Miss Reeves’ eyes lit up at the prospect of such a dark journey. She took that one, and about fifteen more once we got rolling -- wrenching stuff like The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton,Broken Chinaby Lori Aurelia Williams and Money Hungry by Sharon Flake.  Miss Reeves returned to pick up a two-foot stack of books every other Saturday all summer long, always insisting that I accompany her to the stacks to pick out the good ones. --Autumn Winters, Juvenile Content Specialist

 

A casual chat with a coworker at my not-library job a while ago turned to the subject of a nephew’s birthday, and how my coworker was despairing at finding just the right gift.  “A book!” is usually my first suggestion, but she was hesitant. The nephew in question was turning 10, and he was willing to read some nonfiction but turned his nose up at anything fictional.  He’s an avid fan of documentaries about World War II, so  Bomb by Steve Sheinkin seemed like a perfect fit. I recommended it immediately, stressing the depth of content (Nephew had a history of rejecting books for being “for little kids”) and the engaging format (since Nephew generally prefers documentaries to books).  My coworker was sold, and she picked up the book that evening.  But more importantly, Nephew loved the book and according to his mother, wants to read everything else that Sheinkin has written because he writes about “adult stuff for kids, but doesn’t make it too easy.” --Alina Gerall, Associate Juvenile Bibliographer

 

After 15 years as a K-5 school librarian, and many more working with college students and adults, I am now -- in addition to other duties -- the unofficial (but very enthusiastic!) librarian at a summer camp for girls. For eight weeks, I have the chance to make connections with young girls, tweens, and teens, as well as their twenty-something staff. After only one week, they are starting to turn to me in anticipation of my “Hey, there’s a great book about that!” and “That reminds me of a picture book that would make a great cabin read-aloud.” It’s Readers’ Advisory in all its forms, from quick “shout out” book talks to 150 campers and staff during after-meal announcements, to one-on-ones with staff dealing with a cabin issue (Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson was a recent success story), to chance encounters with girls of all ages as we walk from tents and cabins to the dining hall for meals. “What have you read (or your teacher read) that you loved?” leads to all sorts of openings for me to suggest other titles. Another tactic is providing the tent or cabin staff with a small array of great read-aloud novels -- and the two-minute book talks to promote them -- so she can present them to her cabin for them to choose what they’d love to hear at bedtime. I love to model reading aloud in cabins, especially with picture books for older kids. It reminds the staff that even tweens still love the collective experience of hearing stories and admiring illustrations together. Last night, a cabin of 12 year old girls made connections between Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909 by Michelle Markel and Kadir Nelson’s Nelson Mandela. I love summer camp! --Nancy Margolin, Juvenile Editor

 

One RA slam-dunk was Gorilla! Gorilla! by Jeanne Willis and illustrated by Tony Ross.  This is a book I did not know before picking it up at the library—drawn largely by the dramatic cover.  My nieces and nephews ended up loving it and it has now become a permanent read for our annual beach trip gatherings.  I think the cover is one attraction that hints at the rest.  There is suspenseful drama and a great wow factor present here.  Who can resist a chase scene that lasts an entire book?  The good and the bad seem clearly drawn at the start when a scared small mouse screams as a giant gorilla begins to chase her.  The tension only grows as the chase proceeds, until the end, when the mouse discovers that the gorilla was only trying to return the mouse’s baby.  For a bit of grand excitement in 32 pages, try Gorilla! Gorilla! --Lisa Chandek-Stark, Senior Cataloger
 

 

At the beginning of each year my best friend and I pick 12 books from 12 different areas to read in-these areas range from genres, time periods, to themes.  One of the primary goals of our reading group is to expand our reading interests, so we often read outside of our comfort zones. With this is mind, I decided that one month we would read a juvenile book. While my first inclination is to reach for a juvenile book, my friend wouldn’t even consider picking one up to read the back cover. She would much rather read adult literary fiction or a classic. I knew I had to be careful with my selection for that month and decided to choose a book based on appeal from her favorite adult books. I ended up picking The Giver by Lois Lowry and my friend was surprised to find how much she enjoyed reading it. She found it to be very thought-provoking and it offered some great discussion for our reading group. While my friend still prefers adult works, she now will no longer dismiss a reading recommendation just because it is juvenile book and we now try to include a juvenile book on our list each year. --Amy Morgan, Senior Cataloger