Wednesday, November 19, 2014

How Not to Recommend a Book

I don't know what it is about this week, but we have been busy in the school library. More and more kids are asking me for book recommendations. I've vowed to become more familiar with the middle-school fiction by reading (or at least skimming) selected books. (This after I recommended a harmless-looking book called "The Winter Pony" -- we have five copies and I thought, "Well, if we bought that many it must be good!" -- but only later heard from a fellow librarian that it's about horses that go to Antarctica on an expedition and get eaten by the explorers. Fortunately the girl who checked it out got bored and returned it before she got very far.)

I really need to know more about what I'm recommending.

Kids are so funny. Yesterday a 5th grade girl came in and wanted a book. Not too long, she said, because if it was too long she'd get bored and want to quit and her mother would nag at her for not being persistent. And it had to be a mystery, preferably a sad mystery, and it would be nice if it were told from the perspectives of two different people.

Well, good grief! I felt like telling the girl she may need to write that book.

I and another librarian came up with at least six recommendations for this girl, and she eventually left with a book and a desultory expression. About an hour later she plunked the book into the return bin. So I guess we failed. Sigh.

I seriously wish kids would be a bit more open-minded and just try new types of books, rather than wanting the same sorts of stories and characters over and over. I wonder if that attitude is a byproduct of so many books coming in series these days.

Our last faculty/staff choir rehearsal, before our performance tomorrow, was yesterday. I don't think I will stick with singing after this performance. I'm in over my head with harmonics and whatnot -- I can't really read the music so I sing what the people next to me are singing, and I'm good at picking that up quickly, but I still feel like I'm flailing around a bit. Besides, the schedule is too disruptive. I have to switch shifts with my coworker in order to accommodate rehearsals, and that's not really fair to her. It's been a fun learning experience, though.

Finally, I am still trying to kick off the additional work I've pledged to do for Bleeding London. Argh! There's a lot going on.

(Photos: A groovy van in Neasden, Northwest London.)


Gary said...

Have you read the book Wonder? It is one of the best things I have read in a long time. Amazing book.

Steve Reed said...

I have read Wonder. I loved it! I recommend that one frequently but a lot of kids have already read it.

Ms. Moon said...

Do the kids like Neil Gaiman?
That van certainly is groovy!

Sharon said...

Groovy is the perfect word to describe that van.
The girl with the specific requirements for a book made me chuckle. When I was young, a book was an escape. It sounds like for her it's just another chore.

ellen abbott said...

I finally got my son hooked on reading in middle school by giving him two books...More Than Human by Theodore Sturgeon and Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card.

mary i said...

"Nancy Drew" and "The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe"? These are dated but timeless. At least to me :)I read every thing as a child,still do.Escape and knowledge.I believe these are for that age group.Also they come in sets.Memory is fuzzy,hopefully I can come up with more.

Linda Sue said...

Snow Child is a good read for that age , though the boys would probably think it is corny...but what do I know, My son was reading x rated stuff at age seven...he cut his teeth on Beetlejuice and Priscilla Queen of the desert, and had memorized The Rocky Horror Picture Show by age eight. He is not warped, so I guess It's OK.

Steve Reed said...

Ms Moon: We have several books by Neil Gaiman, but I wouldn't say the kids check them out often. Maybe I need to take a closer look at those.

Sharon: A surprising number of the kids seem to see reading that way, especially as they get into upper middle school and high school.

Ellen: We have "Ender's Game" but I haven't heard of "More Than Human." I'll check it out!

Mary: I tried Nancy Drew. This girl wanted none of it. As for the Narnia books, we DO have them, but again, I wouldn't say they're current faves.

Linda Sue: I don't know "Snow Child." But "Priscilla" couldn't hurt anyone!