“Books where stuff happens…but easy to read. Not a book for kids.” This is a common readers’ advisory question for reluctant or struggling teen readers (and their adults). Such readers often feel keenly the gap between the books they are able to read, and the topics they *want* to read. Must they read from the children’s section, with its juvenile topics and the same titles they would have picked in grade school? Not at all. This is a gap that hi/lo books aim to fill.
The term “hi/lo,” or “high/low,” refers to books that have a high interest level and a low vocabulary or readability level. These books won’t intimidate those reading below their grade level, but will not bore them to death, either. Michael Sullivan’s 2012 School Library Journal article is a great primer for this topic, touching on both the subjective (what makes a book really interesting?) and the scientific (what are the readability formulas used by hi/lo publishers?). Continue reading “Books Where Stuff Happens”: An Exploration of Hi/Lo Books
It happens to all of us. We’re trying to help someone find a book, but they’re not interested in anything and say they hate reading. That’s when we pull out the big guns: the books that even the most reluctant of readers might give a try.
What’s your favorite book to recommend to a reluctant reader?
Unwind by Neil Shusterman. I read this book when I worked as a middle school librarian and the eighth graders were reading it for class. I became obsessed with this book and thought it was completely amazing. I remember making a book trailer to go with the book and thought it fit perfectly with Linkin Parks’ song Leave Out All The Rest. I always recommend this book to reluctant readers because it has a fast pace and is very exciting. Unwind has an awesome storyline with amazing characters. – Kimberli Buckley
Continue reading Take Five: Favorite Books for Reluctant Readers
On Saturday afternoon at the 2014 YA Literature Symposium, I attended the presentation entitled Reaching Reluctant Readers: from Creation to Circulation. The speakers were Patrick Jones, a librarian and author based in Minnesota, and Zack Moore from the Austin Independent School District in Texas.
The presentation focused on why reluctant readers aren’t reading, qualities of good book recommendations for reluctant readers, how to ease in-library access, examples of what reluctant readers will read, and things that you can do to reach reluctant readers of tomorrow. One point to mention here is that both speakers stressed the importance of remembering that reluctant readers may be aliterate, not illiterate. There is a big difference between approaching a teen who can read, but chooses not to and a teen who cannot read.
I have listed a few examples from each section below. The full presentation can be found here if you wish to read more.
Why They Aren’t Reading Continue reading YA Literature Symposium: Reaching Reluctant Readers
I feel very lucky to have been able to attend YALSA’s YA Literature Symposium in Austin this weekend. It was a great weekend full of thought-provoking panels, amazing author interactions, and just a lovely time talking about YA literature!
One of my favorite panels that I got to attend – and sometimes you had to make some hard choices! – was Sunday morning’s “Keeping it REALLY weird (books for the fringe & reluctant readers).” This had a great lineup hosted by Kelly Milner Halls it also included Chris Barton, Andrew Smith, Lisa Yee, Jonathan Auxier, Bruce Coville, and Laurie Ann Thompson. These authors have a reputation for writing about subjects sort of on the fringe compared to other YA books. Their books involve cryptids, unstoppable giant insects, Star Trek geeks, gamers, oddballs who make change, aliens for teachers, and ghost gardeners among other things. But many readers connect strongly to these stories of outsiders and happenings on the edge of what may be normal or accepted. Not only was this a really informative panel but it was also so much fun. Why? Take a look…
See Lisa Yee in the middle? Jonathan Auxier bet her that she wouldn’t come to the panel dressed like Holly Golightly from Breakfast at Tiffany’s and said if she did, he would sing all of his answers to the questions to the tune of “Moon River.” So Lisa dressed up and Jonathan had to sing until he brokered a deal with the audience to do yo-yo tricks for a singing reprieve.
That’s the fun stuff, but what did we talk about? The panelists talked about the weird things they did as a child – Lisa Yee used to pretend she had headgear to fit in with her friends; Chris Barton jumped off a second story roof; Jonathan Auxier, after an obsession with Teen Wolf, tried to convince his mother he was a werewolf – and then moved onto to more serious fair.
Asked whether the publishing industry made it harder or easier for so called “weird” books currently Bruce Coville and others noted that publishers often just want to clone hits like the Hunger Games or Harry Potter. They often are trying to catch up to trends instead of create them. Andrew Smith noted that it was really the author’s fear of ‘going there’ that kept the strangeness out of books. Continue reading YA Literature Symposium: Keeping it REALLY weird