Friday, May 6, 2016

All Secondary Schools NEED this: a Quick Reads Section. Seriously.

If you work in a secondary school/school library, I am going to strongly suggest that you have an established Quick Reads Section.

What is a Quick Reads Section?

This a special section in your library where you place all kinds of texts that are short, easy-to-read and highly engaging for secondary students. The target audience of this section is any student who does not like to read or who does not read well. Think: Reluctant Readers, Struggling readers, ELL, Boys Readers

As a side note, elementary libraries usually do something like this by having a place for EASY books or by having books sorted by reading level. So, what I am speaking about is a similar kind of section, but one that is much more hip, so as to provide some motivation for our secondary kids to want to pick up a book and attempt to read it.

The Reading Agency (a UK organization) promotes Quick Reads in the UK and writes on their website the following as their rationale: “some people say they find books intimidating, that they struggle to find the time or that books are difficult or boring. Quick Reads sets out to challenge these beliefs and to show that books and reading can be for everyone.”  Although The Reading Agency's target demographic is adults, the ideas are very translatable for secondary school students.

After I have a Quick Reads Section, what do I need to do?

The most important thing to do after you have created the section is tell every staff member in the school about it. Everyone needs to know about what the section is, who it is trying to target and some of examples of what kinds of books are actually in the section. They need to know this because we can’t expect  all school staff to know what books are right for what students. But we can help all staff be able to direct kids to a place where there’s a lot of Quick Reads that would be a potential good fit for students who are struggling with reading. That way all staff can help with the effort, even if a particular  teacher isn’t that familiar with HI-LO books and/or reading  instruction.

EDIT: This section should be easy-access, easily located, highly visible THINK: first display tables in a Chapters store. 

What kinds of books go into the Quick Reads Section?
Your school's Quick Read section should reflect the school's student population, but here are some ideas and lists to get you started:

  • Anything High Interest, Low Vocabulary (HI-LO).
    • The HI-LO book is a book that deals with more mature ideas, plots and themes, (higher interest) but is written at a lower reading level (low reading demands). This is an area more book publishers are looking into. Two publishers that specifically publish HI-LO are Orca and Saddleback Education.  Orca has sports, fine arts, and teen issues HI-LO collections.  Ocra also publishes books in French.
  • Shorter Books
    • This is NOT the place where we put books that look old, long and/or daunting. This is the place for short, quick reads.  Books that look light and engaging can be shelved here.
  • Anthologies and Collections
    • This is sort of a contradiction to what I just said, but books that have a collection of short, episodic and/or image based chapters are good for this section. THINK: The Chicken Noodle Soup collections, or list books like, 1001 Albums You Must Listen to Before You Die.
  • Magazines  about cool stuff and comics
    • Magazines have a great appeal of not being a huge reading commitment. There are easy ways to circulate these, without having to catalog each issue.
  • Books About/Involving Video Games, Pop Culture, or Counterculture
  • Books About Careers
  • Anything you can get that targets areas of interest in future possible careers is great.
  • Audiobooks
  • Dual Language books to support students in learning English.

I could write on and on...but I think you get the picture: the Quick Reads section is a whole section (the bigger the better) of reading material that is not intimidating and looks highly engaging.

I am available to help school libraries with developing this kind selection to help support our secondary  readers. There are also several resource lists posted below.

Happy Reading,

P.S. Here are some links you may find interesting: 

  • Quick Reads for Reluctant Young Adults - American Library Association

The Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers list identifies titles aimed at encouraging reading among teens who dislike to read for whatever reason. The list selects both fiction and nonfiction.  Select a link below to view the full annotated Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers lists.

  • Reluctant Reader Book List - Alberta School LIbrary Association(ASLC)

If you are  interested in books for schools, check out the ASLC’s website and sign up for their awesome reviews which have written about here. But here are two of their lists that are particularly relevant to the Quick Reads section:

  • The Reading Agency Quick Reads List

Quick Reads sets out to challenge these beliefs and to show that books and reading can be for everyone. Each year we commission big name authors to write short books that are specifically designed to be easy to read. They are the same as mainstream books in most respects but are simply shorter and easier to tackle for adults who are less confident in their reading skills. Learning Resources are available for the Reading Agency Quick Reads List

P.P.S. Read on if you want to get library-geeky:
Creating a Quick Reads section can be a messy process in terms of library cataloging. But my take on that  is SO  WHAT? School libraries, more than any other  kind of library, need to be set up to support students and teachers. Period. We have some ideas over here on how to create and catalog a Quick Reads section, so if this is a concern, please me know and we can help!

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