Professional Reading Titles on Reluctant Readers, Readers' Advisory, and More

Look no further for advice on how to tempt reluctant middle school readers, how to lead a school library, and more.

Gaffney, Loretta M. Young Adult Literature, Libraries, and Conservative Activism. 162p. Rowman & Littlefield. Jan. 2017. Tr $85. ISBN 9781442264083.

Gaffney, a former school librarian who teaches on topics such as intellectual freedom and youth services librarianship, takes a broad look at YA literature, examining its history, its readership, censorship, and more. Structured as a series of essays, with subheadings that help avoid the textbooklike monotony of a typical reference work, this title will be extremely helpful to library school students and first-time young adult librarians. Librarians who have been interacting with teenagers for years will find the later sections—such as those dealing with the pro-family movement, which has called out novels with sexual or fantastical themes as offensive or even pornographic—particularly relevant and insightful. Gaffney provides numerous examples of materials that have been challenged, including the often contentious “Harry Potter” series, and instances of how different libraries have dealt with book challenges. Though the text is occasionally dry, it is also succinct and generally avoids overly academic language. VERDICT A highly recommended volume for library professionals who work with or are thinking about working with young adults.–Ryan P. Donovan, Southborough Public Library, MA

Reid, Rob. Reaching Reluctant Young Readers. 262p. bibliog. further reading. illus. index. Rowman & Littlefield. Apr. 2017. Tr $78. ISBN 9781442274402; pap. $35. ISBN 9781442274419.

Known for compiling appropriate read-alouds for a variety of listeners and occasions, Reid, who teaches children’s and YA literature courses at the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire and has contributed to publications such as American Libraries and School Library Journal, offers a wonderful resource for anyone working with reluctant (or not so reluctant) middle grade readers. The introduction describes the characteristics of reluctant readers, along with a list of book features that will appeal to these kids (for example, clear writing, a straightforward plot, relatable characters). Reid then presents 150 selections, grouped by genre. Each entry includes the book’s recommended grade range, its attention-grabbing opening sentence, a succinct booktalking script, a suggested excerpt to read aloud to a group, and several similar titles. Chapters on science fiction, fantasy, and animal fiction are typical for volumes on readers’ advisory, but the sections on “Humor Hybrid Chapter Books” (e.g., Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid; Ursula Vernon’s Dragonbreath; Tom Watson’s Stick Dog), novels in verse (Margarita Engle’s Mountain Dog; K.A. Holt’s Rhyme Schemer), and mildly frightening horror (for instance, David Lubar’s The Gloomy Ghost; Dr. Roach’s Night of the Zombie Goldfish) add significant value. VERDICT A definite purchase for youth services professional collections.–Deidre Winterhalter, Oak Park Public Library, IL

Weisburg, Hilda K. Leading for School Librarians: There Is No Other Option. 157p. index. ALA Editions. Apr. 2017. pap. $45. ISBN 9780838915103.

According to speaker, author, and former school librarian Weisburg, who teaches at William Paterson University, librarians no longer have a choice: If they want to remain relevant, they must become leaders and advocates. The author offers valuable first steps, challenges librarians to develop student-friendly spaces, and inspires readers to exercise their leadership abilities by becoming involved with state and national library organizations. Like any good instructor, Weisburg reviews the concepts established in previous chapters before building on them; each chapter concludes with a bulleted list of key ideas and sources. The book also realistically addresses obstacles, though the refrain that school librarians are constantly being judged may seem like overkill to some readers. Resources for cultivating a dynamic library that’s indispensable to the school are abundant. One caveat: Readers may be confused at Weisburg’s advice to become familiar with the standards associated with the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), as ESSA removes the mandate for states to adopt the Common Core State Standards but does not create alternate standards. Regardless, the message that librarians should be knowledgeable about the various education standards is important. VERDICT Useful for librarians entering the field and those who may not be as well versed in the research on leadership; a great read for teachers who have transitioned into librarianship but lack certification or a library school background.–Jodeana Kruse, R. A. Long High School, Longview, WA

Syndicated from LJ

Cooke, Nicole A. Information Services to Diverse Populations: Developing Culturally Competent Library Professionals. 224p. illus. index. Libraries Unlimited. Dec. 2016. pap. $65. ISBN 9781440834608.

This latest work by Cook (assistant professor, MS/LIS program director, Graduate School of Library & Information Science, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; coeditor, Teaching for Justice: Implementing Social Justice in the LIS Classroom) is a fitting capstone to an extensive career focusing on diversity and inclusion. Here, she highlights her expertise in the area of diversity within librarianship. Chapters address the theory and practice of serving a variety of populations. The work is organized as an ongoing discussion, beginning with an overview, moving through a sampling of populations and services, and ending with practical advice on how to serve an array of clientele. The focus is not just on patrons, however. Cooke is keen to include the LIS profession as a whole within the diverse populations upon which this book is based. VERDICT Although written for LIS students, this work is also essential for all information professionals and will be particularly valuable to library managers looking to recruit a more inclusive workforce.–Jennifer A. Townes, Georgia College, Milledgeville

Moyer, Jessica E., ed. Crossover Readers’ Advisory: Maximize Your Collection To Meet Reader Satisfaction. 182p. index. Libraries Unlimited. Nov. 2016. pap. $55. ISBN 9781440838460.

Moyer (School of Information Studies, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; a 2008 LJ Mover & Shaker) says this work will help improve a librarian’s ability to assist patrons without increasing their collections. Various readers’ advisory (RA) librarians share their expertise by authoring individual chapters, each providing a genre description and a discussion of its audience appeal. The authors suggest librarians serving adult patrons may not be familiar with teen titles, while librarians dealing with teens may be less knowledgable of adult titles. This resource attempts to bridge this gap in RA service. The first half of the book focuses on promoting adult books to YA readers, while the second half discusses YA books of interest to adults. Contributors identify resources to assist with RA and collection development. Chapters end with a brief description of subgenres and a list of representative titles with summaries. For teens, the authors consider mystery and detection, sci-fi, fantasy, horror, nonfiction, romance, and new adult. For adults, they delve into thrillers, suspense and adventure, sci-fi, fantasy, romance and chick lit, mainstream literature, nonfiction, and graphic novels. VERDICT RA veterans will not find much unfamiliar information here, but librarians new to RA will discover a basic guide to broaden their knowledge.–Lydia Olszak, Bosler Memorial Library, Carlisle, PA

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