Tag Archives: reader’s advisory

Summer Outreach to Middle Schools – GIFtalks!

One of the lovely bloggers at Teen Services Underground (which, if you are not a member, you should be!) linked to this post about using GIFs with booktalks.

I had signed myself up for several school visits at the end of the May and start of June so I was really excited to see this idea (I didn’t even know you could use GIFs in PowerPoint – this feature will be abused from now on, whether I’m talking to 5th graders or our library staff). I had my booklists, created from titles my coworkers and I had enjoyed plus ones that were well reviewed in School Library Journal and a few I just knew about from word of mouth from our regular teen readers.

My presentation was about 45 minutes long. The first 20 minutes was my basic Summer Reading Club plug, talking about programs we would have going on all summer long and reminding them that the public library is a place that is totally FREE to get into and also has air conditioning. I didn’t pretend like it was the only place they should want to be this summer. That’s ridiculous. But I pointed out that there were going to be summer days when they would need another activity because of weather or being stuck at home. I kept the presentation light and funny and told them how easy it was to get a library card.

After we got through that, I did booktalks for about 30 minutes. I broke them down into vague genres and did about 3-4 books per genre, with a GIF behind me while talking. The kids were on the edge of their seats when I would change slides, standing up to see what characters were up there.

ANYWAY, I haven’t seen any statistics yet but I have seen a lot of older kids and teens sign up for our program and so many have come in to get the books I talked about. And just as many have said “Hello” to me when they visit, which just makes me feel like a rockstar.

So I can totally vouch for this. If you want your Readers Advisory to be a bit more fun when you visit schools, this is a great way to go, especially when talking to a large audience. My groups about 100 kids each and I was impressed by how closely they listened. I talked to over 1000 kids in about 3 weeks and it was amazing to hear them say they wanted to read something I had suggested!

If you want to see my presentation, you can download it here!

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Librarian’s best friend: Earlyword

Ever since I learned about the epic blog EarlyWord I have made a point to look at it at least once week, if not once a day (depending on the season).

If you want to be ahead of the game on all things Reader’s Advisory, this blog will be a big help, especially if you are short on time to read through all the starred Library Journal and School Library Journal reviews. EarlyWord keeps you abreast of the next book set to hit the big screen, the titles that book clubs will be fighting for, and just some fresh new authors and award winners that you can recommend when someone’s favorite writer is on break.

EarlyWord also mentions any books or authors doing the rounds on tv shows and radio so you’re prepared when that patron comes to the desk to ask about the book she heard about on the Today Show.

I always tell any new staff I’m training to check this blog when it’s slow on the desk. A quick glance can take you from giving your patron a confused look as they fumble for a title to being a superhero for knowing it before they could even complete their thought.

RANT TIME! Lexiles – just stop

Seriously, who ever you are out there telling kids that they need to read on “their lexile level”, just stop. That is NOT how you teach people to read. It does not help improve their reading. All it does is make them unable to pick up the books they want to read and struggle with titles that they are uninterested in.

When I’m helping a reluctant reader find a book and I hear the word “lexile” I want to scream. If you want your child to enjoy reading, match them up with a book that is interesting to them and fits into their life.

Let’s be honest, you’re just telling your kid they are deficient in some way. It’s like the parent that tells the child “that’s too hard for you”. Now they have an *approved* way to make their child feel bad about not reading on a certain made-up level. Instead of saying “you’re too dumb/slow/below the grade level” now parents can say “it has to be on a lexile of” blah blah blah.

Guess what, the Lexile is generated by a computer, and we all know how great *those* work. It scans the text, calculates the vocabulary, and makes up a number. Meaning the writing in a classic novel by Ernest Hemingway is on par or lower than Hunger Games. Yeah, THOSE are the same reading experience. (Go ahead, search some of your favorites and see how ridiculous this thing is. Think about what kind of reader you would have been with this restriction placed on you.)

(oh and surprise surprise these are the geniuses behind the new Common Core that everyone is so excited about)

Please please please – do not enforce lexiles! If you need it for your behind-the-scenes paperwork, that is fine, but don’t mention it to a parent or child. They will obsess over it and there will be no gray area. I just had a young girl ask about the lexile level of a book and – guess what – the publisher did not get it submitted for a lexile rating so it doesn’t have one. So she is not allowed read it. And when it comes to reading and school, kids can really only fit in what “counts”.

Do yourself and your child a favor: Find a librarian that loves to read and knows how to do reader’s advisory for kids, tweens, and teens, they can find a book that will connect with your child, not just fill in another standardized test way, but on a level that will make them get why people get excited about reading. We are out here, Reader’s Advisory is one of our favorite parts of the job.

Okay…my rant is over. For now…

But if you want more READER!WRITER!RAGE check out these posts:
How the Lexile system harms students

Guess My Lexile (this one has lots of great links at the bottom too)