I recently read Daniel Willingham’s The Reading Mind: A Cognitive Approach to Understanding How the Mind Reads. The book leads readers through each aspect of cognition that contributes to being a successful reader. And, perhaps of no surprise for librarians, the constant message was that folks who are good at reading are folks who read a lot. So, I was particularly interested in Willingham’s suggestions on how to get students to read more. It boils down, in many ways, to this: kids need to have books in their space all the time, it needs to be easy, otherwise the things that are easy (tik tok, anyone?) will win their attention. What I’m sharing here is one small step I’ve taken to help smooth the path between “I have some time on my hands” and “I’m reading.”
There are readers who always have a full TBR queue, and then there are those who go deer-in-the-headlights when they close the back cover on their latest book. While some of us are skilled at articulating what we like about the books we love–intense worldbuilding, deep character development, particular storylines, found family, etc.–there are also those who have a harder time putting their finger on what part of a book caused a connection. What better way to help figure that out and find their next book than a bit of gentle prompting by way of a decision tree!
Another way to reduce friction is to find the right attention getters. When we meet our students where they are at, like getting excited to see the next installment of Dune, and guide them to options that they may not have considered, we make it just a little bit easier to get a book in their hands.
My goal for now is to build out decision trees and mind-map style book finding aids for each of our genres. Genrefication made it easier to get out students to a subset of books they might find interesting, hopefully these diagrams can help a bit more.
What are you doing to make books easy for students? What are the books that win your students’ attention?