Encouraging All ReadersPosted: December 19, 2019
By: Tom Malinowski, Middle School Librarian
Working in a library, I hear lots of conversations among people browsing “the stacks.” Many of these conversations are positive:
“Hey, I found it!”
“Mom, can we get this one?”
“Wow, look at how many they have about (insert a topic).”
But every once in a while, I hear a conversation that criticizes someone’s choice of what to read—or not to read. Here are a few examples.
“What? Why haven’t you read (insert a title here) yet?”
Though you may not believe that someone hasn’t chosen your favorite book on their own, it’s okay. Instead of making it sound like the end of the world, say, “Oh, I hope you have a chance to read it. If you do, let me know what you think.” The rules about which books to read and which movies to watch can be our own.
“Graphic novels aren’t books.”
Graphic novels are definitely books. They’re stories told in a sequential format but with a focus on graphic art. These books are much more prevalent than they were a few years ago. Some, such as Dog Man, have particularly rich storytelling. With strange villains like Flippy the Psychokinetic Fish and fun, reliable narrators like George and Harold, the books are entertaining and even reference classic literature, such as A Tale of Two Kitties (inspired by A Tale of Two Cities). Instead of making graphic novels seem trivial, ask, “Do you have a favorite? Maybe I’ll read one.”
“I want my child to read more books and fewer graphic novels.”
Your idea of a “perfect” reader might be someone who totes around long novels, but readers come in as many shapes and sizes as books do. Is your child engaged? Can they tell you what a book is about? Do they read with vigor? Variety—prose, comics, fiction, non-fiction—is (also) good reading. Instead of imposing restrictions, expand what you are reading. Say, “You know, I don’t usually read (insert something new here), but I’m going to try one.”
The reading options that the library provides are almost endless, and all readers are welcome. Help us encourage other readers’ choices to build their love of reading and give them confidence to create their own list of favorites.