Participants asked me five questions after my group's session at the Rizal Library International Conference last October 22-23, 2014. I will be posting these and my answers one at a time in the blog. The first one is about young adult readers and how to encourage them to read books.
Note that I am going to include additional information on my answers. So, if you were there at the conference, reading this post is still worth your time. :-)
How to Encourage Young Adult Readers to Read Books
First, the school librarian must know who his or her readers are. Generally, there are three kinds: the avid reader, the reluctant reader, and the non-reader. The avid reader is the easiest to lure. The reluctant reader is the choosy one, undecided and at times, hesitant to make a choice because they do not know the available reading materials as well as his or her own reading choices. The non-reader as the term implies, is not at all reading either by choice (aliteracy) or by nature and nurture factor. Non-readers may have negative experiences in reading or their brain functions in a way that reading can't be easily accommodated. Non-readers are students who were not diagnosed or assessed early on of their reading disability or learning challenges.
Knowing the reading materials available for them and written for them is the next strategy to make them visit the library and read books. So, the school library's collection development program needs to be sensitive to these kinds of readers.
For avid readers, book displays and book activity announcements during assemblies, through the library bulletin board and electronic means are enough to make them read. These readers are perfect book ambassadors too! They can help spread the word that reading is fun and that it is good for you! These readers enjoy talking about the books they've read and even writing reviews about it. Since teenagers rarely listen to the adults around them, they are more comfortable with peers. Avid readers can inspire and convince the reluctant readers to read.
Presenting an array of reading materials of varied formats and genre to reluctant readers is another way to make them read. Combining books with media and technology can entice them to jump into books and reading. Book trailers, FB and Twitter post on new books, book to movie adaptations are some of the promotional techniques that can be employed. I like blending technology with printed books.
As for the non-readers, their needs are special. So I work with their teachers in creating a book list for them. With the help of teachers, I am still able to reach out to these students.
I think the key here is knowing the reader and what book he or she likes. Ranganthan is still correct: to every book a reader; to every reader a book.
And this principle has plenty to do with how you build your school library's collection.
Lastly, there is also the matter on non-fiction books and how teens conduct research. The young adult reader doing research is another topic worthy of discussion.