Serving Teens Through Readers’ Advisory is targeted toward the librarian who is motivated to help teens find the books and materials they really need and want. It is laid out in five main parts, as follows:
- What do we do and why do we do it? (covers the history of RA, teens in the library)
- Foundations (Why is RA for teens different; tips for the generalist librarian who may not already be familiar with teens and/or YA lit)
- Taking Action (How to get the RA interview started, how to talk about appeal with teens)
- Special Circumstances (How to deal with situations where the teen in question is not present or when you’re helping the teen with an assignment book)
- Resources (how to move beyond lists of award winners, how to create meaningful resources to be used in-house, and an intriguing section on indirect RA / Marketing)
Following these, an Appendix section is chock-full of useful lists: (popular authors, “sure bets,” and teen-selected book awards).
The section that is of most interest to me is Part 3, as I feel that I already have a basic understanding of the foundations of RA and also of how and why teens use the library. Below I have laid out a few of the tidbits that one can glean from a careful reading and reading of this section.
Part 3 – Taking Action
This section has three chapters, entitled Opening the RA interview, Detecting Interest, and Articulating Appeal. As I read the first, I found myself nodding in agreement as Booth describes ways to convey that one is open and interested in helping the teens, but without being too forceful. She also makes an excellent point when she points out that we as adults tend to monitor the teen area when we think something is going wrong, but that “it is imperative to be a positive, proactive presence as well if we hope to have positive interactions.” (p. 49) This is a strategy that I take to heart: although I believe I already practice this, I find myself thinking I should keep this in mind as a “best practice” and endeavor to keep this in mind every day.
Booth also provides a short list of conversation starters to use when trying to connect with teens while at the shelves. I won’t list them all here, but they include statements like “Have you read this one? I’ve been hearing a lot of people talking about it,” and “Looking for something for fun or for school?” All of these are excellent suggestions and should help the librarian who is a bit nervous about jumping in!
In the Detecting Interest chapter Booth gives wonderful advice, in the form of four questions that we can ask teens as a part of the RA interview. These are:
- Do you read a lot or not so much?
- Are you looking for a specific book that you know of?
- Can you think of a book that you’ve liked recently?
- Have you read anything recently that you really hated? (pp. 54-58)
Below each of these, she gives a rationale for the question and explains how one can read the answer to provide better RA service to teens. It’s brilliant advice, and I intend to reread this chapter several times, in an effort to make this a more intuitive part of my current RA interview strategy.
In the last chapter of this section, Booth covers the art of how to pitch books to teens — watching one’s language so that it is neither too erudite, nor dumbing it down (teens, as all of us, hate condescension.) She also has excellent advice about how to “form your pitch,” meaning how to couch the book talk that you may do with teens about a particular book. She explains, for example, that the same book can be pitched in widely varying ways to emphasize different appeal factors for different types of readers. She gives the example of the book I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak, and provides three different “book talk pitches,” each one emphasizing a different appeal factor.
This is another section I would like to keep bookmarked, for rereading. In fact, it would be a great activity, in a YA services meeting, to have several YA librarians get together and practice writing out pitches for the same book, to hit on the various appeal factors in a collective setting.
In this entry, I have only covered one section of Booth’s book; but even in this one slim section, this book proves its mettle, and I believe it’s worthy of the YA librarian’s hard-earned dollar. While the copy I’ve been perusing is an ILL book, I plan on buying my own copy!