Power to the People (Selection to the Students?)

In a perfect world, I would have a mighty council of students who would choose, research and tell me what fiction to buy. But let’s face it, if I had enough students reading regularly (and willing to research stuff for me) to make a mighty council, then I probably wouldn’t need to worry about getting students to read as much as I do.

I do, however, have a mighty big group of students willing to tell me what to buy for our graphic novel section. After all, we do have a manga/anime club run by my lovely colleague and one of the Japanese teachers.

We’re very lucky. The previous librarian was very committed to builidng up the graphic novels and she purchased all of them from one supplier- Zombster in Toowong- who has a specialist in school libraries. He knows everything we have in the way of manga (I think our graphic novels of the western persuasion have been sourced from other suppliers in the past), brings in the new editions of series and makes suggestions on what’s new and appropriate for school-aged children.

Earlier in the year we did a selection day: invited students received three post-its and could place them on items they wanted. We bought the most popular, considered the ones with a few post-its and became quickly aware of what was trending (Adventure Time and Avatar kicked arse).

This is the event winding up. You probably can't tell from the photo, but there were quite a few girls as well, which is nice in a medium that is stereotypically male-dominated.

This is the event winding up. You probably can’t tell from the photo, but there were quite a few girls as well, which is nice in a medium that is stereotypically male-dominated.

I loved watching kids try and talk their friends into putting post-its on their favourite items and how selective they had to be knowing they only had three votes. As someone who reads the adventure manga heavily, having girls tell you about the teen romance manga (ALWAYS: She was just a normal girl, he was the most popular boy in school/a pop star/ a film star…) makes me aware of what my kids want.

Which is the most important thing when attracting recreational readers, don’t you think?


6 thoughts on “Power to the People (Selection to the Students?)

  1. As an avid reader, I can’t really relate to those who don’t really want to read. I guess I just have the intuition to know the people that I can encourage to read. Similarly, I just stop when I sense that a person really had no interest in reading.

    • I used to feel that same way, but have found that I’ve developed a lot of patience for helping students find something to read, even if they don’t want to. I was super impatient but now I ask them about what TV shows, films and video games they like and straight up ask them “Do you want a high, medium or low text?” If a student looks uncomfortable, I let them know I often read super easy things because they’re enjoyable, not because I can’t read well.

      I always tell kids that books are like dating; There’s the right book waiting for them, we just have to look through a few to find the right one. I have mental lists of books on lots of topics that kids say they want (horror and scary are always popular) so I can spout off some ideas and if I can’t think of anything, I tell a student to leave it with me and next time I see them I let them know some ideas. Even the nastiest of resistant readers eventually soften (if not to reading, then as least to me!) if they see someone going off and researching something just for them.

      One of my key strategies I get our teachers to think about is “I thought of you”. It’s really powerful when a sports or science or drama teacher says “I was reading this over the weekend and straight away I thought that you’d like this. Would you like me return it and get it checked out under your name for you?”.

      As you can tell, it’s an area I’m passionate about- it was one of my key tasks when I was given this role!

      • That’s great to hear. You have more experience and patience than me. Perhaps I’m still in the “I don’t really care” stage. Well, I hope that I’ll be able to have more patience to encourage others to read in the future.

        What you do is admirable. Keep on doing what you’re doing. As I love books, be they novels or manga (Japanese comics), I certainly want others to share my love for reading. Thanks. Cheers!

    • Hi,
      First I have to apologise for editing your comment (I avoid using my name on my blog. I go by the Notbrarian or Nb for short!)

      I have an awesome (and easy to use) software package called Snagit. Basically, it’s like taking a screen shot, but you crop straight away and you can edit the photo, highlight, add words, etc. It can also do video recordings of your desktop, which is perfect for informational How-To videos. If you have a corporate card and a budget, I highly recommend getting it (less than $100) or buying it personally and tax-deducting it. I’ve actually been meaning to do a post about tools I couldn’t do without. Snagit saves me a heap of time! Otherwise, I used to open the photo on Photoshop and just put coloured boxes/scribble over students faces/uniform logos. I hope this helps.

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