Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Middle Grade Monday – “I thought of you when I read this”

So, I’ve long understood the power of a confidential phrase whispered in the right direction, “I read this, and it made me think of you.” In fact, that’s the reason why my student supply area has a bottle of lotion. Let me back up. 

I’m on vacation, or I would take a picture of the corner of my library where I keep student supplies. Here is  list of what is available there:

  • lined paper
  • pencils
  • electric pencil sharpener
  • colored pencils
  • a manual pencil sharpener for the colored pencils, because they are murder on the electric sharpener
  • a stapler
  • scissors
  • glue sticks
  • a ruler
  • tissues
  • hand lotion

Because these are the items that students most often need to complete their projects. Tissues and hand lotion?

We’ve all learned about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, right? I have a lot of students for whom tissues and hand lotion are luxury items. They will get a pass from their classroom teacher to come to the library to use the hand lotion, even when they have no intention of checking out a library book. They do their arms, their legs, focusing on elbows and knees, as well as their hands. This takes some time. In that time, I am able to sidle up to them and begin a conversation. Eventually, I will be able to honestly say to them, “I read this book, and I thought you might like it.” The power of a personal recommendation combined with the personal relationship established by the provision of necessary supplies. Hand lotion. It’s an outreach tool.

So, since I’m on break, I’ve been trying to think reflectively about what I am already doing and how I can adapt these practices to new applications in a way that will increase my ability to meet student needs. Or, in other words, I’ve been thinking about Pinterest.

Every week or so, one of my friends or colleagues will come to me asking, “What should I get for my child to read?” Most of these children are not in middle school, but this has no bearing on the trust these people place in me. They feel that I, someone who recommends books to children on a regular basis, have more skills in this area than they do. Or sometimes they are just at a loss for time or ideas. Or sometimes it’s just easier to convince their child that something is worth reading because “Miss Robin said it’s a good book.” Whatever. Sacred trust and all that. My go-to response of late has been to build them an individual Pinterest reading suggestion board.

Pinterest has the lovely characteristics of being a visual bookmarking tool that is easily shared with multiple people and can be added to on an ongoing basis. Why am I not already using it to create boards for my students? I’m not sure. It’s not easily integrated with my OPAC, but my students use my research website on a regular basis, and it would easily integrate with that. I need to think on it more, but I believe Pinterest, or another tool like it, could be a valuable tool for book recommendations for at least part of my student population. Has anyone out there successfully used Pinterest as a book recommendation tool? What advice do you have?