August 31st, 2015

reading ladders

What next?

As the school year gets underway there are lots of blog posts about books and reading. In the last week there have been talking about various strategies to teach kids about selecting books. I do not recall ever being taught any strategy (I-PICK, 5 fingers, etc.). I simply went into the library and selected books. What "method" did I use? My current method of selecting the next book to read is not much different from any method I used in the past.

1. First up are book I need to read for reviews. I currently review at least 5 books a month for journals (VOYA, Booklist, SIGNAL). These have to be at the top of the TBR stack because of deadlines.

2. I also write a monthly blog post for Follett, so I generally try to have some sort of short reading ladder of books for each month. The next one for my deadline is October, and I think I will talk about the NBA Award for Young People's Literature.

3. If I am on a selection committee (right now that is the NBA Award for YPL), those books take priority.

4. Once deadlines are all met, I employ a method I think is similar to one that many others use
a. cover--is it interesting, attractive
b. title--does it suggest interesting content
c. author--is this someone whose books I automatically read because of my past experiences
d. format--I need to mix it up. Picture books, graphic novels, chapter books, etc.
e. genre--again, I try for a mix. Historical, realistic, fantastic.
f. blurbs--if Neil Gaiman is blurbing a book, I generally want to read it. Ditto any of my favorite authors. the endorsement implies the promise of a good read.
g. packaging--sometimes the books arrive in such an interesting package that I have to place them on the top if the TBR stack.
h. length--yep, sometimes I just need a short book. I know that does not mean an easy read or even a quick read, but...
i. opening paragraph--is there a promise of a great read right at the outset?
j. flap summary--have you noticed how well these are written?

I think showing kids how we select books (or how they select US) might be a good thing to model early on. Forget a "method," and aim for what readers in the wild do.