Although they may not have any difficulty in reading technically, some students are extremely reluctant readers and may need guidance in recognising their reading interests. Pupils can be shown a number of selection criteria, including looking at the book cover, reading the reviews in the blurb or the back cover and reading sections of the book.
Talk to students - if you are genuine about your need to know their reading tastes, they'll respond to this. Personal interaction, observation, surveys, suggestion boxes, requests, online polls on the school/library website, etc can tell you what students want to read.
Start from where readers are, not where you would like them to be. Once you've shown your interest in their present reading choices, they'll be much more willing to accept recommendations, either from you or from fellow students.
- Students may lack reading stamina and only 'dip into' books. Start with short stories, poetry, jokes and riddles, urban legends, and other bite-sized reads, then build up.
- Tempt students with lots of high-profile TV and film tie-ins. In recent years, we've had more and more notice of coming movies based on children's books, so why not start a 'Read it First!' campaign, before the movie's release? Replace older copies of paperbacks, when you can, with those bearing the film or TV cover.
- Make connections between reading and other things students do in their lives - gaming and sports, for example - with non-fiction, fiction and magazines.
- Comfy furniture such as large beanbags, and sofas can encourage library visitors to stay - and you can leave inviting books nearby.
- Enthusiasm about books by librarians, teachers, and other students is essential. You could read a dramatic opening, or an exciting episode early in the book, to invite students to continue reading.
- Humour (e.g. Michael Lawrence, The Two Steves, Andy Stanton, Eoin Colfer) is a strong draw.
- Involve a range of students, including reluctant readers, in exercises like involvement in book selection.
- Provide graphic novels, comics, manga, and picture books for older readers.
Barrington Stoke specialises in publishing books for reluctant, disenchanted and under-confident readers, from young children to teenagers and adults. The website features extracts of all children's titles, as well as interviews with authors, competitions, games and news. Titles are by popular authors such as Malorie Blackman, Terry Deary, Michael Morpurgo and Jeremy Strong and aim to feature great stories and gripping plots.
Whichbook contains a book selection tool which starts with the reader - choose what you want for a good read - funny or sad? Short or long? What kind of character and plot, where in the world you want the book to be set, etc. 'Whichbook' will then give you a list of suggested reads that match your criteria.