Passive Readers’ Advisory for Teens in the Library

By nature, I’m not someone who seeks out help from others. I’d rather find information myself than ask someone for suggestions or assistance when browsing for books. It’s maybe a little ironic, since I love helping people and chatting about books when asked even though I would never be one of those patrons myself. Perhaps for this reason, I’m a big fan of passive readers’ advisory.

Here are two (of the many) methods we use in my library to help readers find books that they’ll enjoy.

Reading Lists in a Binder

reading list binder

We used to keep book lists in a box with hanging file folders. When I imagined that a binder would allow for easier browsing, I didn’t realize it’d get to be quite so cumbersome.

Printed reading lists are kind of a pain to keep updated, but I think they can be a great resource both for staff who may be less familiar with certain genres and for patrons who don’t want to ask someone in person for a suggestion.

Some of ours are traditional lists, but most of them are at least contain book covers, and many of them are the flowcharts and other graphics I make (most of which you can find under readers’ advisory resources).

We keep a spreadsheet that contains the subject/genre/theme of the list, who is responsible for it, and when it was last updated. It’s something that staff work on when they have down time.

Shelf Talkers

When we moved into the old Border’s building while the main library was undergoing renovation and expansion, we inherited some shelf talkers that had been in the old bookstore. Currently, the Teen Zone is the only area of the library using them, and I think they’ve been a great addition to our space. Every month or two the rest of the staff and I switch out our suggestions to keep them fresh. We include our logo on the sheet and a brief recommendation that will hopefully hook new readers.


What self-directed methods do you use for readers’ advisory in your library? How do you choose your next book? Molly signature

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7 thoughts on “Passive Readers’ Advisory for Teens in the Library

  1. I’ve been stalking your site for a while and love it! I work in a library system and do the YA reader’s advisory for my branch. I have a J/YA binder, but it is nowhere as cool as yours! I have been looking for a way to make it more visually appealing (more than just book covers and a summary), and I think flow charts just may be the answer! I will definitely be using your suggestions soon. I do have one question though. While I do plan on making my own, do you also have printable versions of some of your flowcharts or would you rather people not use them? All credit would go to you of course. I have looked through the site, but cannot find a clear answer. Thank you for all the great ideas and reviews. Please keep up the good work! Using suggestions from your site, I hope to get teens and tweens in my area even more excited about reading.

    1. Hi Natalie,

      I don’t mind at all if people print off my readers’ advisory stuff to use in their classroom or library. I don’t even really care about credit, because it doesn’t really matter to a kid or parent who made a list that helps them find a book they’ll like. If they are reposted online, I appreciate a link back either to my library’s website or my blog. People email me all the time at work asking for them if they see them on the library’s site, but I should make that clear here, too. I’ll post that, and when I can get organized, upload the pdfs. Thanks for your kind words and for asking.

  2. I love the look of the shelf talkers. I saw your readalike flowcharts on Pinterest and I love them! I want to do something similar for adults at my library. We don’t really have any readers’ advisory stuff on display in our library and it is something I hope to remedy. The visual lists are fantastic and eye catching and our patrons would probably appreciate them more than wordy lists. Thanks for sharing your ideas. Looks like you have a pretty cool library section for teens.

    1. We are really liking the shelf talkers, too. They will be moving from the Borders building back to the newly renovated library with us!

      Thanks! I want to develop some readalike lists for adult titles/graphic novels, too. It’s on my-to list, but I want a distinct (and more grown up) design. I think less text/more visual is a great way to catch attention, and people can always look up the book for more info after their interest is piqued.

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