Saturday, September 25, 2010

Getting noses into books

One of the best parts of my job is getting books into young peoples hands, and getting their noses into those books.

I really like helping the students find a new author, series, or genre to read and be excited about, and I love it even more when they come back and ask if there are more like it.

To able to do this requires three factors :-

1. Knowing the collection almost inside out, this can be achieved by
a. being personally involved in the selection of what is included,
b. reading as much of the collection and being aware of what the books are about,
c. knowing what is being borrowed and read by others,
d. talking to the readers about the books they are reading,
e. for those books not read by me, I need to be reading reviews and the blurbs on the books to know the basic plot, characters, genre and possible interest.

2. Knowing the students :-
a. by being familiar with their past reading - genre, reading level, interests ...
b. if the above is not possible (knowing every students reading habits is quite a task in a school of over 900 students) I try to find out by asking the student questions - what was the last book you read you enjoyed? What do you like to read about? Animals? Spies? People? Relationships? Action, Fiction? Non-fiction? etc ...
c. asking - do you like reading? this gives me an idea of the level of reading and if they need a high interest book to hook them

3. Being a salesperson :-
Once I have a few ideas on which books to offer, I then need to sell at least one of these books to the student, I do this by
a. firstly selecting a range (5-6) of books that I am familiar with and preferably ones I have read, along with some that I know of that I am not so familiar with that fit the profile from all the above questions.
b. selecting books of various thicknesses, with different font sizes and various authors.
c. offering a brief synopsis of one sentence about the books along with offering the book to the student,
d. giving the student some time to look at the cover (note publishers: these are judged harshly), measure up the contents - font size, thickness of the book, type of paper, illustrations, physical size of the book, hard or soft cover, condition of the book (brown or yellowing pages, damaged covers, etc are also judged harshly - however all this is overlooked if they are extremely interested in trying the book, and, I do weed if I find ones that are in bad condition!)

Once this is done, I suggest they take some more time to look again at the three they are most interested in from the process above, and hopefully they will pick one, maybe two or even three to try.

There are however those students who ask for help to find a book and then reject all suggestions and ideas and anything that I offer them and go off and find something on their own. Last week I had one year 3 girl tell me after my best efforts that she "had read everything in the library". I think she meant she had read everything she wanted to read that was in the library. She eventually left with a handful of cook books. I will remember that for next time!

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