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PeRLs are Worth More than Gold

stacks-of-booksAs April showers give way to May flowers, we’ll be making visits to 4th and 5th grade classes to talk up our amazing Personalized Reading List (PeRL) program. I know I am biased, but there probably isn’t another public library out there that offers such an outstanding service for readers of any age. (Sorry adults, we don’t have a PeRL program for you!) During these school visits we’ll be urging young readers to sign up for “Early Bird” PeRLs, an opportunity to beat the crowd and get a customized reading list at the beginning of summer.

I love going into the classrooms to ask the kids what they’re reading and what they want to read during the summer. My question is always greeted with multiple raised hands and a raft of titles – some familiar and some I’ve never heard of. What kids don’t realize is that while they’re telling me about their favorite books I’m getting educated about what’s hot and what’s not for their age group. In fact, I always tell kids that they’re the real experts on children’s books, not librarians – they like that.

Our goal as children’s librarians is to connect readers with books they will like. If kids read for pleasure, we want to keep them reading by supplying more books they will like. Unfortunately, young readers are often faced with an overwhelming array of choices, and since reading ability, emotional development, and tastes are constantly in flux during the middle grades, finding those “just right” books can be challenging. That’s where the PeRL program comes in, and here’s how it works:

• Any Mill Valley resident in grades 4 through 8 can decide they want to have a PeRL. Their parents or caregivers call the library and set up a 30-minute appointment with a librarian.

• At the appointment kids meet with one of the children’s librarians and talk about books – what they like to read, what they’ve read, whether they like short books, long books, series, realistic fiction, adventure, mythology, graphic novels…. You get the picture.

• The notes from that interview are shared with all the librarians in the Children’s Room and we each recommend books we think are a good match. All of our children’s librarians love reading, love reading kids’ books, and talking to kids about books, so we have a lot of ideas about what to read next.

• One librarian reviews all the recommendations and selects the 10 books she thinks will be the best picks for the interviewee. Then we print up a cute card listing the authors and titles of the selected books and present it to the reader.

• The whole process takes about two weeks. Set up an appointment now by emailing or calling (415) 389-4292 x4741

In the Children’s Room we want kids to enjoy reading and to help them become life-long readers. This is not about being told to read the “classics” because they’re good for you. This is not homework, it’s not to please parents, and it’s not an obligation. The PeRL program is about supporting young readers by giving them books they will love.


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