Getting beyond "Interesting": Teaching Students the Vocabulary of Appeal to Discuss Their Reading

Getting beyond "Interesting": Teaching Students the Vocabulary of Appeal to Discuss Their Reading

Getting beyond "Interesting": Teaching Students the Vocabulary of Appeal to Discuss Their Reading

Getting beyond "Interesting": Teaching Students the Vocabulary of Appeal to Discuss Their Reading


"Getting Beyond "Interesting" Teaching Students the Vocabulary of Appeal to Discuss Their Reading" is a practical application book that gives librarians all the tools they need to implement the teaching of both appeal terms and Book Hook writing and sharing. When students know how to write Book Hooks and have access to an easy-to-use system for allowing students to share Book Hooks, the result is greatly increased reading through the power of peer recommendations.

This book not only supplies a detailed plan for teaching appeal terms and Book Hook writing, but it also provides two extensive appendices containing all the black line masters and forms needed to implement these lessons. As a result, practitioners will be able to enhance their students' reading culture through increased sharing of reading--and most importantly, by empowering students with the ability to clearly define their reading preferences.


In the best of all possible worlds, the development of personal reading preferences takes place organically, over a lifetime, and is advanced primarily by voracious and broad reading. If we are fortunate, we are raised in a print-rich environment, surrounded by adults who love to read and share this joy openly and ceaselessly with us from our earliest days. We are read to every day. We are taken to libraries and bookstores. We are encouraged to begin our own collections of books. Over time, we grow naturally into our reading lives. Somewhere along this path, if we continue to be motivated to read and if we are lucky indeed, we may discover the one special book that changes reading from a pastime into a compulsion. Upon discovering this book, we want desperately to find as many more like it as possible—to recreate the experience and the emotions and sensations of escaping into the world of that first most perfect book—the one the author surely wrote with only us in mind.

As a middle school librarian, a large part of what I do is help students find that one perfect book and then find as many more like it as possible. Indeed, the goal of all good readers’ advisory is to do just that: extend for readers the experience of their last great read. Like any trained school librarian, I turned to the tools of the readers’ advisory trade: print and electronic “what to read next” resources. Beyond these, I relied far too heavily on genre- and subject heading-driven recommendations— despite being fully aware of the fact that not all books of one genre “feel” the same when they are read. Nor are books on a common subject necessarily written the same. Would you ever recommend Bram Stoker’s Dracula to a child who just read and loved Twilight by Stephenie Meyer? Probably not—despite the fact that both books are about vampires.

Beyond this, I assumed fully the burden of being telepathically able to predict what my students might enjoy reading … and therein lay the flaw. Without the expectations that students would take ownership of their particular reading preferences and learn how to verbalize them intelligently, I was largely doomed to doing a lot of “nearmiss” readers’ advisory, punctuated by the occasional purely accidental hit. a critical piece was missing: appeal terms.

In search of direction, I turned to Professor Mary K. Chelton—cofounder of voya and my mentor from the Queens College Graduate School of Library and Information Studies. She suggested I familiarize myself with Joyce Saricks’s writing on articulating appeal in Readers’ Advisory Service in the Public Library (ALA 2005). There I learned . . .

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