At The Seattle Public Library I often provide reader’s advisory services to children looking for books similar to their favorite title. I sometimes utilize resources like NoveList, but more often will browse the shelf for familiar titles that have elements that the patron has enjoyed (magic, real kids, animals, etc). This is especially helpful in branch libraries where titles are often checked out.
“Your Next 5”
Working with one of the teen librarians at The Seattle Public Library, I created a list of 5 recommended titles for a teen patron looking for dystopian and realistic fiction. The list is available in bibliocommons.
Young Adult Literature
In my Young Adult Reources course, I created an annotated bookmark of titles for young adults that focused on the particular area of supernatural (specifically ghosts). I selected the titles based on their awards, reviews, thematic elements and appeal to reluctant readers in addition to the enjoyment of reading them.
This exercise caused me to examine the books and resources based on possible curricular tie-ins and adolescent development. One challenge I faced was a requirement that I added on top of the assignment – to include books that were multiculturally relevant and accurate. The selection of a book about ghosts that depicted an American Indian was difficult, but I was able to find one depicting a modern day Mohawk girl who encounters a ghost as a freshman in college.
Bookmarks are a great way to do passive readers advisory and I enjoy the marketing element. I would like to work with public libraries in developing similar bookmarks for summer reading programs or other programs. I can also see having youth involved in creating their own bookmarks and having contests to determine winners. Another idea I’ve had is to start a topical blog that would feature 10 titles on a topic with annotations and additional resources.
Adult Reader’s Advisory
I love suggesting a new book for a patron. It was one of my favorite activities at The Seattle School, where numerous staff and students would discuss their favorite book titles with me. I often suggested books that we owned, but sometimes would send the patron to the public library for must-read titles. It was fantastic to develop those relationships and get a deeper sense of what someone loves to read.
For my MLIS, I took both “Reader’s Advisory” and “Genre Fiction” from Nancy Pearl and benefitted greatly from these courses.
As a part of the course work, I developed the following Discussion Questions for the Science Fiction novel The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell:
- The main plot of The Sparrow takes place on another planet in an alien civilization. Does this make it Science Fiction? Which genre would you assign to this book?
- Does The Sparrow differentiate between sex, love and celibacy?
- Emilio Sandoz believes that the discovery of Rakhat by the people best suited to make first contact is a sign from God — a “turtle on a fencepost.” If the first contact is the will of God, does this mean that the tragedy at the end is also God’s will? Do you think the title of The Sparrow (from Matthew 10:29) indicates this?
- There seems to be a parallel between the Jesuit mission to Rakhat and missions to South America and other “unexplored” countries. How does the Science Fiction setting enhance or detract from this comparison?
- How do you feel about the two storylines? Was the convergence successful?
I also wrote a sample “Reader’s Shelf” column and created lists of suggestions of materials for mystery, romance, western, and speculative fiction readers.