Blogger Alyson Feldman-Piltch

Reader’s Advisory Fun


A text message conversation about the type of book a child is looking for

About a two months ago now, I left my job at the Boston Public Library and moved to Pennsylvania.  One of my favorite things to do while working at the BPL- and one of my favorite things about being a librarian, actually- was reader’s advisory.   When it comes to Reader’s Advisory (RA), I’m like a Dr. Seuss book.  I would do RA with a mouse, in a house, with a goat or on a boat.  I am grateful that it is one of those things that has always come naturally to me.  It’s also why I always loved purchasing books for my branches, because it allowed me to keep an eye out for books that could appeal to my most voracious, yet picky readers.

As I’m sure you can tell from the above image, the move has not ended the RA questions, in fact, it’s actually caused a bit of an uptick in them.  This text is from one of my favorite patron’s in the world.  She is entering the 3rd grade and has always preferred older books to newer books.  I didn’t include any more screenshots as I’m sure no one wants to read about our postcards to one another or the tv show Nailed It! Anyway, it was nice to be able to do a Reader’s Advisory session, even if we weren’t in the same place.

Typically my RA questions start broad.  Fiction or Non-Fiction?   If it’s fiction, then I follow it up with “What kinds of things are you interested in?” People or Animals?  Adventure or Funny? Funny Adventure?  The questions go on and become more specific- sort of like a choose your own adventure book, except at the end the reader walks away with a big pile of books to look through. What’s really neat though, is that depending on if another librarian was asked, you may get a different set of recommendations.  There may be some overlap, but I would be shocked if they were all the same, because each of us comes to librarianship with different perspectives, preferences and ideas.

This leads me to my questions!  What are your go to Reader’s Advisory questions?  What are your go to titles? Is there a genre that always stumps you?  Please reply in the comments, I would love to hear your answers!


This post address ALSC Core Competencies around Reference and User Services, as well as Commitment to Clientele 



  1. sarabayva

    My go-to recommendation for boys from middle school on is Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card. I’ll recommend it to girls, too, but I typically have a harder time coming up with books that appeal to boys, and I’ve never known a boy not to like Ender’s Game. My favorite elementary-age recommendation is The Wild Robot, by Peter Brown. It’s an especially good one for families looking for a book they can read aloud with kids spanning a wide age range because it is fascinating to four-year-olds and twelve-year-olds alike.

  2. Melissa

    My go to suggestion for reluctant readers of any age is “Why Dogs Eat Poop: Gross but True Things You Never Knew About Animals” by Francesca Gould. That usually gets the patron’s eyes to light up (including the caregivers, but in a more alarmed way.) The title is beyond intriguing and the book itself has a bunch of short sections about all sorts of animals that makes reading it in small chunks the preferred way to go!

    1. Alyson Feldman-Piltch Post author

      Melissa, this sounds like a great title! I feel like the kids who are really into the “versus” books (Shark Vs. Lion, etc) and Nat Geo’s Wacky Facts would love this. Will definitely have to check it out!

  3. Kary

    I love to ask a child, “What’s the last book you read for fun?” Using that as a springboard to other titles is helpful. One of my go-to fiction titles is Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage; everyone always loves it! I also find the books of Tom Angleberger, Grace Lin, and Jason Reynolds to be surefire wins.
    The hardest genre for me is always science fiction!

  4. Margaret K

    Great post! I also ask, “What’s the last book you read for fun?”, or, “What is the last book you read?” (and hope that they remember the most recent book they read)! This was really helpful- thanks!

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