I’m embarrassed to admit I don’t read as much as I should for a teen librarian. I check out a lot of books that I never end up reading. I start a lot of books that I never finish. Far too often my response to “have you read ________?” is no. Maybe I’m a reluctant reader. I was certainly reluctant about reading Dead Run by Sean Rodman (Orca Soundings).
If I’m not in the middle of something already, or if I walked off and left my book at home, I’ll often grab something that’s not really my style to read during my lunch break. I figure this way I’m still broadening my horizons in YA lit without tying myself down to something I’m not sure I really want to read. Does that sound crazy?
Anyway, that’s how I ended up with Dead Run. I’ve been ordering Orca books, especially Orca Soundings, for a few years but had yet to read one. This one was in our “New YA” display so I picked it up and read the back. It immediately made me think of a movie that came out a while back, Premium Rush (2012). I never saw it but I’ve been crushing on Joseph Gordon-Levitt since 10 Things About You (1999), so it was on my radar. That was good enough to make it lunch time reading, so down to our dungeon of a break room I headed.
By the end of my lunch break I was pleasantly surprised to find myself more than halfway through the book and actually enjoying it! I felt like I was watching an action movie, something my husband would probably pick. It wasn’t that I suddenly wanted to be a bicycle racer, or find myself a seedy courier job but I was into the story and I did want to know how things would turn out for Sam.
I took the book home and finished it later that night. I had a feeling of accomplishment for having finished a book and I enjoyed it! No one had to guilt me into reading it. It didn’t take me a month to finish. It opened my eyes up to what it might feel like to be a reluctant reader picking up a high-low book.
That’s exactly what I think we’re looking for when we purchase and recommend books for reluctant readers. We want to give them something they’ll enjoy so they’ll stick with it. But sometimes books with subjects that interest a reluctant or low level reader aren’t written at a reading level they can really succeed at. Orca Soundings manages to provide both a fast paced action filled story with high teen appeal at a reading level that many of our struggling readers can fully comprehend.
I’ll definitely be booktalking Dead Run and adding more Orca Soundings to my “To Read” list.
Cassie Jones is the teen librarian for the Morgan County Public Library in Indiana. She got her start in libraries during high school while working at one of MCPL’s branches as a page. She returned to MCPL as a circulation clerk in 2009 and took her role in teen services later that same year. In May 2012 she finished her Masters in Library Science at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. She lives in Monrovia, Indiana with her husband and their bloodhound, Josie.