Reader’s advisory is a term I was fairly unfamiliar with before I entered the LIS: School Media program at the iSchool. Now I have a whole course under my belt, IST 605, that includes this very topic!
Reader’s advisory involves helping patrons find the materials they want to read for pleasure. Putting the right books and resources into patrons’ hands is an essential library service and involves both interviews with the patrons and work on the back end by the librarian.
My New Superpower
A lot of the behind-the-scenes work in reader’s advisory involves getting to know the vast amount of resources that your collection contains. So that is what I have spent a large part of my internship doing.
Reader’s advisory in schools can be particularly challenging, but it is also immensely rewarding. I have learned in IST 605 that being able to successfully put the right book in a student’s hands – the book that will ignite a passion for the STEM field, grow an appreciation for history, or even finally spark a love of reading – is a skill in its own right when it comes to being a school librarian.
It is a skill I am just beginning to cultivate in my internship. However, even though I am just acquiring this new ability, it already makes me feel like a superhero. A superhero whose powers are to get students excited about reading – and, as we know, reading for pleasure is one of the best indicators of success in school.
The Best Feeling
My biggest triumph so far in my internship has involved using reader’s advisory skills with a group of fourth and fifth grade students. The first week of my internship, one girl in the group came into the library. I conducted a quick reader’s advisory interview with her and she ended up leaving with Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson (an amazing book which you should read, if you haven’t yet!). The following week, she and her friends came into the library for book exchange, and they asked me for more like it.
We all sat down in my favorite section of the library, the graphic novel section, and began pulling books off the shelves. I searched my memory for the books in the collection that I had been browsing through – and even taking home and reading – in order to prepare for a moment just like this. Armed with my new knowledge of the library’s resources and what I knew about these students, I was able to make some recommendations that had also become personal favorites.
Since then, this group has been racing through series like Amulet by Kazu Kibuishi, Cleopatra in Space by Mike Maihack, and Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke. When they come into the library, they cannot stop talking about their favorite parts, whether it is Astrid’s new roller derby nickname or the fact that there was a skeleton with keys for fingers and toes in one chapter!
I am always excited to geek out over these books right alongside them. But my favorite moments are when I pull back and watch their eyes light up as they share with each other. I can see a community of readers and learners blooming right in front of me, and it is more incredible than I ever imagined.