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Friday, June 15, 2012

Stop the Presses...I Finally Start Reading The Hunger Games and BIG News about BPL RA

First, let me set the stage here.  In my job as a RA librarian for mostly adult patrons, I do not have to read everything, I just need to know about the possible appeal factors of everything.  It is a big distinction.  One that makes my job possible.  Having to have read everything in order to do Readers' Advisory would lead to certain failure.

When this comes to extremely popular books, I often do not want to take a copy of that book away from a patron in order to read it myself.  All I need to do is know who it would appeal to and why.  Often with runaway hits this is quite easy.  I can read customer comments on Amazon or GoodReads to get that "loved it" and "hated it" information from actual readers.  These books also have many articles and reviews available, as well as materials in the professional library journals meant to help in this exact situation.

For The Hunger Games this was easy.  I am very well versed in dystopian novels; they have always been one of my favorite subgenres of books, and I read plenty about the series.

Usually, when the holds die down, I will give the book a try for myself if I have time and/or think I would like it.  However, in this case, since my focus is on adult readers, I did not go out of my way to read this YA novel for myself.

But two circumstances have come up, like planets colliding, that has made right now the perfect time for me to begin reading The Hunger Games.

The first is quite innocuous.  My 10 yearr old, advanced reading daughter has been begging me to read The Hunger Games as all of her friends in the advanced reading class had been all year.  I agreed if we both read it and she answered questions after each chapter, verbally and wrote out answers to essays questions when she was done.  She agreed.  She is very excited.

But until yesterday. I had not yet given in to her desire to read it.  I was still on the fence.  And then...here comes the BIG NEWS part of today's post...our fearless leader, Kathy announced yesterday that after over a year of behind the scenes wrangling the BPL RA Department was given the official word that we will now be in charge of the Library's Teen collection!

These new responsibilities begin behind the scenes on October 1 with an unveiling in January.  We want time to work with our teen patrons so they can have a say in remaking their space and crafting their collection.  But it will be a mostly leisure reading collection and patrons from teen readers to adults will now all have their leisure reading needs served at one desk.

So, step one...Hunger Games here I come.  I will report on my experience of reading it with my daughter in a few weeks.  We will be taking it slow so that she can fully understand it.


Jo said...

This is an interesting post. I had read your previous posts about Hunger Games, and I guess I assumed you had read it, especially since you were so enthusiastic about the book (and it came across that you had read it). And I'm not quite sure why you were still reluctant to read it, especially since it's a fast read.

What I'd really like to know more about, though, is this: "I agreed if we both read it and she answered questions after each chapter, verbally and wrote out answers to essays questions when she was done."

Do you do this with every book your daughter reads? Or just the ones that she is excited about and wants you to read, too? I'm not trying to be critical, but this seems a bit heavy-handed. Is it because she's 10, and you want to make sure that she understands what she's reading?? A post just about this would be interesting, as I'm sure other librarians share books with their children.

John BPL RA said...

Hooray for RA! I too, was ecstatic when I was given the news about the teen collection. Although I'm not a huge fan of The Hunger Games, I do think that it is a good introductory to dystopian literature for teens. In the past, dystopian novels such as A Clockwork Orange and 1984 were pushed on teens (largely by academia) who were too young to fully grasp the meaning and historical significance of the books. The Hunger Games, which became popular sans assigned reading, is perhaps more in line with the level of understanding possessed by teen readers.

Christi said...

Enjoy it! I have lots of suggestions if you need more teen dystopians to fulfill a new addiction ;).

Also, exciting on the teen collection! Congratulations!

Becky said...

Jo, thanks for your comments. Let me say that first, I just never got around to reading The Hungers Games at the height of the craze and then I purposely waited figuring I would read it with my daughter.

And no, I usually never read a book with her, but multiple children's librarians told me that especially because she was young and an advanced reader that she may need to talk about this book as we read it. The chapter questions are just a discussion starter.

We are reading chapter 4 now and it is gong very well. She is also reading another book for fun.

In terms of the written essay questions, if you knew her you wouldn't be surprised to know that she asked to do this. I was willing to talk about over all themes and issues as a discussion, but she asked if she could write long answers like in school.