Reader’s Advisory Challenge Redux

Ever since I saw the Reader’s Advisory Challenge for 2013 posted on Angelina41’s tumblr, I’ve been turning the idea over in my head. Reader’s Advisory is a tricky business, and those of us who’ve been around for a while can easily fall into the trap of recommending the same old books again and again. After all, Librarians can’t really spend our entire day reading (wouldn’t that be great, though?), and it’s so easy to fall behind in terms of new releases. It’s even easier to fall behind in those genres you’re I’m not drawn to.  And for Librarians brand-new to Youth Services (by choice or by chance), the sheer volume and variety of Children’s Literature can be… overwhelming.

I fell into Children’s Librarianship after spending my two years of Library School focused on the techie side of things, planning to become a Systems Librarian. Instead, I discovered how much I love working with kids, and just how rich Children’s Literature is. In 2008, I moved into a position where I work with Children’s Librarians at 10 other branches in addition to my responsibilities at my own branch. Not long after, my very large public library system went through several years of staff shake-ups, with early retirements, lay-offs, transfers to fill the vacancies left behind, and re-hires. Working with some of these new-to-Children’s Librarians, I’ve heard their questions about how to get up to speed.

I think something like the Reader’s Advisory Challenge is a great idea, and one that I can adapt into something that will work in a live group setting. The Children’s Librarians in my area already have a regularly scheduled meeting, and collection development is one of the topics we discuss. In 2013, I’m going to add a Booktalk Roundtable to our agenda, with a monthly theme for which each Librarian will pick a book to read before the meeting and booktalk to the group. We’ll all find out about new books, get to hear examples of booktalks, and practice our own booktalking skills. I’ll definitely be using some of the (sub-)genre’s from the original challenge, but some will be replaced.

Themes for 2013:

January – Past Newbery Winner
February – Fantasy
March – Funny
April – Novel in Verse
May – Sports
June – Science Fiction
July – Graphic Novel
August – Realistic / Contemporary
September – Mystery
October –  Scary
November – Historical Fiction

All books will be Children’s Books, which, for us, means written for kids roughly age 12 and younger. (There are some Newbery winners that we consider YA, so those would be exceptions for January.) Want to read along with us? I’ll post my reviews here, and I’d love to hear some suggestions of titles for the different themes!