Monday, May 20, 2013

Digging in For Reluctant Readers This Summer

The Summer Reading Program (SRP) 2013 is a wonderful theme this year. There are countless ways to get the librarian's mind thinking creatively on attracting all types of readers. The readers that is of most often spoken about but hardest to reach are the reluctant readers. They are the children that will say that reading is boring. Reading isn't interactive or exciting. These words might as well be a stake that drives through the librarian's heart. It really is a difficult task but one that is well worth striving to achieve. Not every child is the same, nor are every reader the same. With that in mind, here are some ideas that might help with finding the right touch to get reluctant readers to get excited this summer. First, let's get the idea packed away that all readers must read a certain number of books or pages for the summer. There are too many librarians and teachers who think this is a productive measure of reading and some even make it into a contest. Who can read the most. Let's face it, to some young readers you might as well tell them they are climbing Mount Everest for the very first time. By themselves. With no help from anyone. Game over, who care. They's rather be doing something else, like counting what level they've reached in Mario Cart or racking up points in another video game. Instead of counting the number of books or pages. Let's try for reading for fifteen minutes everyday. Let the young readers decide what they will read. It can be a book, magazine or even a website. Just as long as they are reading sometime during the summer. There are titles that are perfect for the reading is boring crowd. For example, The 39 Clues series has it all for reluctant readers who say that reading is boring. It is not only an action thriller that features two siblings on a chance for the family's treasure, it is also linked to a website that provides other outlets to finding out more about the characters, search for more clues and hopefully find the family treasure. It is a rip roaring romp around the world. Not to mention that fact that the Cahill family puts the fun in dysfunctional. Amy and Dan Cahill are determined to win their Grandmother's fortune but along the way of the fortune hunt they learn many things about their past and their parents. The masterful list of YA authors that write for the series keep the plots twisting and exciting. When the series first debuted the concept of bringing novels and a website seemed impractical. yet, it was just innovated enough to capture reluctant readers attention. What could be better than reading a book that is actually a game of searching for a treasure and solving riddles. This is definitely a must have on a list for summer reading program reader's advisory. When reaching out to the hardcore gammer, the one who will not put down the game controller or joy stick to take a few minutes to read, look for the opportunity to bring the games to the library. How? Consider a gaming day where young adults could compete for small prizes. Additionally, it would be a good idea to invest in "how to" books that provide information on the secret ways to move on to the next level and ultimately win a favorite video game like Halo. Be aware that these are often stolen from library collections. It is better to keep them at the reference/information desk. If the director or collection development librarian has a problem with adding these books to the collection, try "selling" the collection as another way to entice reader to come to the library. These types of books are excellent introductions to non-fiction reading as "pleasure reading". These books can be used as incentives/prizes during SRP which will be a good draw for the gamer to not only join SRP but to get a library card. On a side note, if a librarian has the time and talent, playing the games that the young patrons like can provide the icebreaker to getting to know the patron. If the library/librarian shows an interest in the young reader, chances are they will come back. However, not knowing how to play okay, so long as the librarian knows the games and the characters. Which can lead to reading gaming magazines as professional development. (Try that one with your library director!) Finally, if all else fails in getting the reluctant reader interested in digging further into reading, try graphic novels. Leonardo DiCaprio's recent work in The Great Gatsby is a wonderful way to introduce classic literature and graphic novels. Sure this sounds a little bit like school work, however, sell the idea to the patrons as a way to impress their English teacher next fall. Not only have they read the Great Gatsby, but other great novels such as Dracula and Hamlet. This is reading beyond what they would normally try. The format of the graphic novel works well because it is visual, quick and accessible. For too long, reluctant readers have felt they were not smart enough to understand such classic titles. With graphic novels, the complex has been made simple. As an added bonus, understanding the classics might help them on their ACT scores too. This summer should be loaded with fun for children of every age at the library. Don't worry, the digging for SRP ideas has just begun. There will be lots more ideas and fun coming in the next couple of entries. Hope you'll stay tuned.
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