How to Give Students Better Book Recommendations: Part 2

How to give students better book recommendations: Part 2/4

Hey there! If you’re here, you must be my kind of teacher: A reader committed to recommending better books to your students and cultivating a community of lifelong readers! I love to see it. You probably clicked on over from my last post, which is actually part 1 in my series about how to get better at recommending books to your readers. If you missed that first post, head back there because it’s full of book recommendation tips you don’t want to miss. This second posts builds on everything I mentioned there, so read that first and then come right back here for more tips on giving better book recommendations!

Today, I’m sharing 5 more tips to help you serve your readers the next time they ask, “What should I read next?”

1. Join our new Facebook group for middle & high school book recommendations.

Looking for an endless supply of book recs and a likeminded community of teacher-readers? Join our new Facebook group that is solely dedicated to giving and getting book recommendations for middle and high school readers. This group is a place to share middle grade and young adult books, ask for specific recommendations, see what’s trending among our readers, and get better books into the hands of our students. The Facebook group has been on FIRE lately, full of various recommendations like: what to suggest to kids who don’t like to read, best sports books to recommend to readers, ideas for book clubs & literature circles, and more! You can join HERE! Please make sure you answer the initial questions. 🙂

Join our new Facebook group for middle & high school book recs.
Come on over to our new Facebook group for middle & high school book recs. You can join HERE!

2. Follow publishers, “bookstagrammers,” and teachers on Instagram.

One of the best ways to get better at recommending books is to surround yourself with them–and fellow readers! If you’re on social media, you might as well add some books to that scroll. That way, you can call scrolling productive, right? In all seriousness, I get major inspiration for my to-read list and classroom library on Instagram. Anytime I’m scrolling, I end up having to pull up Goodreads or my private Amazon wishlist to add books to my list. I follow a healthy mix of publishers and teachers who read. Here are a few great teachers reading and reviewing middle grade and young adult titles:

You can find me at @writeonwithmissg on Instagram. I share lots of MG & YA recs, too!

3. Team up with voracious readers & ask them to read & review books for you.

Another way you can get around the problem of never having enough time to read and recommend all of the books is by recruiting students to do it for you! As you get to know your students at the beginning of the year, pay attention to the kids who inhale books and read anything you throw their way. I call them my “wild card” readers and my “guinea pigs.” You’ll know who they are! When you find them, form an alliance! They get to read new (or any) books and report back to you with their honest thoughts.

Their feedback will help you decide if/when you should read the book, what type of reader might enjoy it, and if it’s worth a recommendation in some way, shape, or form. (Maybe a book talk, a Book Trailer Tuesday, a First Chapter Friday, a book display, etc.) You can also recruit these kids to share their book suggestions with other students, because a peer recommendation is always worth its weight in gold. Whether you call them guinea pigs, product testers, or book influencers, let those kids do some of the reading, reviewing, and recommending for you!

Team up with voracious readers & ask them to read & review books for you.
Form an alliance with voracious readers and give them the chance to be “book influencers” who read & review new (or any) titles.

4. Befriend a librarian and discover what your public library has to offer you and your students.

If there’s one thing that I’ve learned as a reading teacher, it’s that LIBRARIANS WANT TO HELP YOU. You don’t have to do it all alone. After all, librarians have the exact same goals as you, and they will move mountains to help your students fall in love with reading, too. Whether you befriend your school librarian, a public librarian, or a librarian friend online, find a librarian BFF who enjoys sharing book recommendations. Many public libraries have programs where teachers can request text sets organized by theme, topic, or skill, tailored recommendations for students, and even class sets of books. If you’re unsure of what your public library offers, head to its website or chat with a librarian the next time you’re checking out books.

For example, both my school and local librarian will gather text sets and deliver some book talks for me, as long as I ask in advance. This takes some of the book rec weight off my shoulders, especially when it comes to genres I don’t love, books I don’t own, “hidden gems” I’ve never heard of, and those “always-checked-out” favorites. Librarians have a wealth of experience and checkout history to draw from, so it only makes sense to rely on them! All you have to do is reach out and ask. 🙂

5. Use apps like Goodreads, Likewise, and Storygraph to find new books to recommend to students.

With today’s technology, it’s getting easier and easier to discover new books and get tailored recommendations.

Goodreads

One of my favorite ways to do just that is through Goodreads, an app and website that’s like social media for books. You can add books to your TBR, track your progress on current reads, post updates, set a reading challenge, connect with other readers, and get personalized book recommendations.

But perhaps the best feature of Goodreads is what pops up when you search any book: the “Readers Also Enjoyed” section at the bottom of the screen. Not only is this how I find many of my own leisure reading books, but it’s often one of the first methods I use to find new books for students. (I also teach students how to do it, too). It’s actually quite fun to go down a rabbit hole and click through book after book, adding many new titles to your list.

Likewise

Two other tools I’ve recently discovered and am dipping my toes into are Likewise and Storygraph. Likewise is an app/website that offers personalized book, TV, movie, and podcast preferences. You plug in your preferences, books, shows, movies, and episodes, and Likewise generates suggestions for you. You can also see recommendations from fellow readers, viewers, and listeners. When you log into the app, you can see a new recommendation each day (in 3 categories: TV/Movies, Books, and Podcasts). 

Storygraph

I’m also trying to get into Storygraph after hearing great things about it on Instagram. According to its website, Storygraph will “help you track your reading and choose your next book based on your mood and your favorite topics and themes.” It sounds super cool but I still need to upload my library from Goodreads to use it to its full potential. I’ll keep this blog post updated once I figure it out more. 🙂 If you use it and love it, feel free to leave me a comment below.

Use apps like Goodreads, Likewise, and Storygraph to find new books.

I HOPE THESE TIPS HELPED! STAY TUNED FOR MORE SOON. 🙂

I hope you found these tips helpful! Remember, next week’s post in this series will have 5 more tips, so make sure you stay tuned for that!

LOVE THESE TIPS, BUT WANT GOOD BOOK RECS RIGHT NOW?

Lucky for you, I’ve worked hard to curate lists, systems, and resources full of book recommendations for middle and high school readers. 

  • Free Book Trailer Tuesday Links for the Entire Year: Find it HERE.
  • Free Middle & High School Book Recs Facebook Group: Join our free community for book recommendations for grades 6-12 readers HERE.
  • Book Recommendation Brochures: These book brochures are designed to help students answer the question of “What should I read next?” Through interactive reader personality quizzes, these brochures automatically suggest personalized book recommendations to your students. It’s a magical, self-sustaining system that will get good books into the hands of your readers! Click HERE to learn about the brochures, HERE for ideas on using them, HERE to find the middle school set, or HERE to check out the high school version.
  • Visual Book Recommendation Posters: Help your middle school readers find their next favorite book with visual book recommendation posters. Organized by topics like sports, survival stories, mental health, what to read if you don’t like to read, and MORE, these posters make it easy for your readers to find the perfect book. Click HERE to read more about the posters. You can check out the middle school version HERE and the high school poster set HERE.

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