Wednesday, April 1, 2009

What kids really want to read

I loooooove my job in so many ways, but the one thing I loathe about it is that I'm not in a branch any more. Not only do I no longer have funny/startling/frankly horrifying patron anecdotes at my fingertips (just a bunch of old and dusty ones), but - gasp - I don't know what the kids are reading!! My own kids are teens, so they're no help at all, and my young niece and nephew (whom I do question with great interest when I see them) live thousands of miles away.

As 100 Scope Notes points out in this blog post, bestseller lists are misleading because parents are doing the purchasing, and of course medals are wonderful but only the kid-choice awards (for instance my own state's California Young Reader Medal) are voted on by kids, and even these often feature a slate of adult-chosen books. Kids will ask librarians for particular books, but many kids bypass us and go straight to the shelves for their reading material.

100 Scope Notes wisely turns to books that kids have placed on hold in the school libraries where he works. When I worked in branches, I looked at the sorting shelves, where returned books wait to be reshelved. It was always an eye-opener to see what had been returned recently - sure enough, there were all the mission books and history of medicine books that kids had swarmed in for a few weeks ago, but there were often surprises, particularly in fiction. And kids would always take out their favorite paperbacks, no matter how tattered and torn.

Although I don't call any branch home these days, I still visit branches several times a month in the course of my duties. From now on, I'll make it a point to cruise by the sorting and hold shelves first thing, and to question the children's librarians about kid favorites.

1 comment:

  1. I appreciate your insight on the eternal "what are kids reading" question. While my hold shelf scheme isn't perfect, it will be interesting to see what gets drummed up.