Goals of Reader’s Advisory 1 To promote reading, teachers teach reading, public librarians promote it. 2 To make youth avid readers. Librarians are less concerned with making them capable readers, and more concerned with making them lifelong readers. To show that reading is a pleasurable experience. Public librarians have the opportunity to show that reading is fun. To put books in the hands of youth. To pull books for youth they might actually want to read and might not have discovered on their own. 3 4
Nature of Reader’s Advisory: In many ways the conversation during the Reference Interview and a Reader’s Advisory interview are the same: Get the youth to talk!
Readability and Reading Levels Finding a book at a comfortable reading level is both an important and delicate issue. Grade level may be an indicator, but even in the same grade there are different reading abilities. If you are unsure about the reading level, ask the child to “try it on.” Open the book in a random spot and have the child read it. This is particularly helpful when selecting beginning readers for a child.
Readability and Reading Levels (CONTINUED) Another approach is to offer several choices in a variety of reading levels and let the youth pick one to their liking. Remember you are not only helping them choose something to read but you are “selling” a love of reading. If you have read the book, share a little about the plot or talk about one of the characters from the book. That sharing will pique their interest and desire to start reading! Mostly excerpted from The Fundamentals of Children’s Services by Michael Sullivan.
Tips When Assisting Parents with Reader’s Advisory
Try to solicit the same information from the parent as you would the youth but this may be colored by the parent’s perspective. This goes for choosing a genre or subject the youth might like.
Parents are open to your suggestions or they would not have come to the desk for help.
Parents are likely to be limited in their own knowledge of how youth read, however, and may have received filtered information from their youth.
Tips When Assisting Parents with Reader’s Advisory (CONTINUED)
Some parents may want to choose a book based on the age or grade level. Or you may have a parent who wants to believe their child is at a higher level than they are or who wants to constantly challenge their child to read at a higher reading level.
You must rely heavily on what the youth has read recently that they enjoyed.
Ask open questions. Get the parent to talk about what the youth does, enjoys and what they talk about that interests them.
Tips When Assisting Parents with Reader’s Advisory (FINAL)
Speaking with a parent one-on-one allows for you and the parent to speak freely about issues that may affect the youth. For example the comfort level of a youth who might like a scary book.
Parents will be more open to talk about topics they want dealt with or avoided in a book. Remember that the parent has the right to guide their youth’s reading.
When assisting parents without the youth, you must offer a greater range of subjects, reading levels, genres and any other characteristics that come up during the interview. Encourage the parent to take them home for the child to choose from.
Tips for When Parents and Youth Are Together
Always address the youth as much as possible and try to get the youth to talk.
If the parent insists on answering all of the questions, remain gracious and try to address both the needs of the parent and youth.
When the youth is answering your questions keep in mind that they may be colored by the presence of the parent.
The youth may choose to answer in a way to either please or displease the parent. Watch the body language and tone while the youth is speaking.
Tips for When Parents and Youth Are Together (CONTINUED)
Knowing that the parent and youth may not come to the same decision offer a wide range of titles. Booktalking as you pull books can be very helpful when making choices.
Be careful not to take one side or the other. You are guiding them by showing them the collection and giving them information about some of the title within the collection.