Reluctant Reader Session at MLA

Image by Rob Boudon. Retrieved in Flickr. Used under Creative Commons' licensing.
Image by Rob Boudon. Retrieved in Flickr. Used under Creative Commons’ licensing.

Last month, I blogged about my son who had become disengaged with reading in a post titled, Books & Boys. So, at this year’s MLA conference when I saw they were hosting a session titled: Reaching the Reluctant Teen Reader: From Creation to Circulation, I knew immediately that I wanted to attend. Because of the popularity of this session, I thought our readers would also find this information helpful. Here are my session notes.

This session was a structured panel discussion with an author, librarian (public) and editor.  First the panelists talked about why some teens aren’t reading which included the following;

  • Active adolescents are unable to sit still for long periods of time.
  • Some  teenagers struggle to make connections between the reality of their world and the world of books.
  • Books don’t have as strong of a pull than other forms of media (TV, video games, internet, etc.)
  • Reading may be perceived as uncool, anti-social or too much like an adult.

Another important conversation that occurred was the identification of books struggling readers might be more prone to read. The physical appearance of these books are generally catchy, action oriented, with larger print and greater amounts of white spaces on each page. In terms of fiction books, reluctant readers have a tendency to gravitate toward books that they can relate to, with a touches of humor, action rather than descriptive text, with limited but well defined characters. The panel also suggested ways in which librarians can help get books in the hands of reluctant readers through displays, shelving “quick reads” together, posting student book reviews, hosting book talks, taking the library (on the go) out into the community, and developing efficient electronic assess to books.

As a result of this session, CMLE would like to bring a reluctant reader event to our area. Watch for it in upcoming events with CMLE this December!