We’ve been in 4th and 5th grade classes in the last week to talk about the Personalized Reading List (PeRL) program. The PeRL program is straight-forward and, in my opinion, amazing.
I visited Tam Valley, Old Mill and Strawberry Point last week (our Edna visits will be tomorrow and Friday) and, during my conversations with the classes, I consistently found that the kids were passionate and enthusiastic about reading. When I asked, “What are you reading?” every hand would shoot up—they were excited to talk about books and share their enthusiasm.
And all the hands shot up again when I asked, “Do you ever have a hard time figuring out what to read next?”
Because that’s one of the difficult things about 4th and 5th grade – kids’ reading ability, emotional development and tastes are changing quickly and kids (at least here in MV) generally spend a lot of time reading, which means there is a constant need for more – and different – books.
The PeRL program is designed specifically to address this conundrum. Here’s how it works:
• 4th or 5th grade kids decide they want to have a PeRL. Their parents or caregivers call the library and set up a PeRL appointment
• At the appointment the kids meet with one of the Children’s librarians for 30 minutes to talk about books–what they’ve read, what they like to read, whether they like short books, long books, series, realistic fiction, adventure, mythology, graphic novels . . .
• The notes from that interview are then shared with all the librarians in the Children’s Room and we each recommend books that we think are a good match. One thing I always point out to kids is that all of the librarians on staff love reading, love reading kids’ books, and talk to kids all day long about books–so we have a lot of ideas about what to read next.
• One of the Children’s librarians then reviews all the recommendations and selects the top 15 to recommend to that child.
• We print up a cute card and give it (or email it) to the child.
• The whole process takes about two weeks.
The most important thing for kids (and their parents and teachers) to know is that they should only do the PeRL if they want to. This is not homework, it’s not to please parents, it’s not an obligation.
In the Children’s Room we want kids to love reading, to continue to love reading, we want to help children become life-long readers. Which means that our goal is to recommend books that kids will actually like, whether they’re classics, graphic novels, award winners, poetry or paperbacks. The PeRL program is about kids reading for pleasure.