August 20, 2019

Reluctant readers

The end of summer and beginning of a new school year often means an uptick in public library visits from a specific kind of young patron: the summer reading procrastinator. 

They arrive in the library, often dragged there by a caregiver, looking either sheepish, frantic, or annoyed (maybe all three!) because school’s starting again, and they still haven’t finished their summer reading assignments. Perhaps they put it off on purpose; perhaps they started and never finished, or perhaps they just clean forgot. Whatever the reason, reading just isn’t a priority for these patrons until it has to be. And while many of them may be looking for specific assigned books, others may need your help in finding the right reads to get their school year off to a strong start. That’s where NoveList can help with tools and strategies for working with reluctant readers.

Nontraditional readers often require an equally nontraditional approach. Reframe your thinking and energize your readers’ advisory with strategies from NoveList’s reluctant reader-focused articles. To find them all, simply search for “reluctant readers” in NoveList and then click the Lists & Articles tab of the results list.

These Recommended Reads lists provide an easy starting point for helping reluctant readers find books that might speak to their reading styles. To find the lists in NoveList, search for them by title, or use the included UI searches to go directly to a specific list.

  • For teens: Skinny Books (UI 439881), Novels in Verse (UI 439880), Hi-Lo Realistic Series (UI 439916)
  • For kids: Skinny Books (UI 440521), Novels in Verse (UI 440663), Plenty of Pictures (UI 444103)
  • For all ages: Search “For Fans of…” and click on the Lists & Articles tab to find lists based on popular media, since reluctant readers might be more willing to pick up a book that’s similar to something they already like

Search strategies
Although the right search strategy will vary based on patron input (or lack thereof), these two simple searches may provide a starting point for reluctant young readers. Don’t forget to use the Refine Results panel to limit your search to match the desired age group.

  • GX “Books for reluctant readers” (This is one of NoveList’s library search helper genres, designed to help you find a wide variety of books with powerful reader appeal)
  • AP Browsable (This nonfiction search will only work in NoveList Plus or NoveList K-8 Plus)

Learn more about field codes here

Never underestimate the power of self-directed readers’ advisory when it comes to reluctant readers! Flyers, bookmarks, and shelf-talkers can empower kids and teens to make reading choices on their own terms. Start by printing and posting these flyers that highlight YA hi-lo books (skinny reads that keep things interesting AND readable) or outside-the-box middle-grade books (for kids who love graphic hybrids and browsable nonfiction). 


LibraryAware customers can edit these flyers to reflect their library’s collection — just search for “skinny books” or “reading your way” in the LibraryAware’s “Flyer-Books” templates. 

Stay strong, librarians — your dedication could be the thing that puts this month’s reading procrastinators on the path to becoming year-round library users.

Rebecca Honeycutt is a Readers' Advisory Librarian at NoveList. She is currently reading The Lost Coast, by Amy Rose Capetta.


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