The first assignment I have the students do each semester is for them to create their own Reader Profile. They have to think about what they like to read and why.
They start by identifying 3 books they like and why, and then, equally as important, they need to think about 3 books they did not enjoy and why. Then they have to use the language of appeal (which I already spent the first few weeks teaching them) to describe all 6 books.
From these lists, they are asked to write their profile. They consider what the books have in common, grouping these by appeal, such as a preferred pacing or character centered books vs plot driven ones. They use titles and/or authors to support their opinions.
The focus is on the whys.
The idea behind this assignment is that it helps to build their foundation as a readers advisor. I honestly believe that you cannot help another person to find a book they will enjoy reading unless you understand why you like to read what you like to read. I know that is wordy, but think about it. If you cannot articulate why you like certain books and dislike others, how can you expect your patrons to be able to do it.
I know this by experience. I resisted physically writing down my reader profile for many years, but then about 6 years ago, I finally did it. Here is mine. It is old by this point, and could use some tweaking, but you get the point.
I hope that by writing their profile, the students can see how unique their habits, quirks, and tastes are. This will allow them to be more respectful of the preferences of others later. It will also help them to coax this information out of their patrons when they are working together.
Since this is for a class, I extend the learning opportunity further. After each student writes a profile, they blindly exchange them with each other. Thus giving each of them the opportunity to start helping another "patron" immediately.
This multi-week assignment finished up last week which each student presenting their patron and the titles they would suggest to him or her. After grading all of the assignments, I like to share the best pair with you to see how it all works.
So from this semester, here is Laura's profile and Katie's response to her.
If you ever wondered how we readers' advisors turn your reading preferences into a list of suggested titles, read Laura's likes and then Katie's explanation as to how you use the resources to get results.
I feel like I am lifting the curtain to reveal the secrets behind our work. But if it helps you to help a few more readers, it is all worth it.
If you decide to write your own reader profile, let me know how it goes.
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