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Using the NC Young Adult Book Award to Encourage Students to Read for Pleasure

When I was in library school, I thought I would spend my days helping students find books that they would enjoy reading.  I really didn't know that much of my time would be spent as a tech trouble-shooter, online research detective, and web 2.0 guru.  I think all of us can relate to the days when we don't have the opportunity to talk about reading.

So, when I have a chance to talk about books, it makes my day!  I have been fortunate to become involved with the NC Young Adult Book Award in the past year.  I was thrilled several years ago when NCSLMA made the decision to begin offering an award for middle and high school books.  Becoming involved has made me more aware of what students are reading, the trends in YA fiction, and trying to get books into the hands of more students.  Those of you who are middle and high school teacher librarians know how difficult it can be to get students to read for pleasure.  In a small way, the creation of this award has allowed me to talk with students about reading by showing them the books that teens and librarians have nominated.

What do I do to encourage pleasure reading?  

•   display books (often centered around some kind of theme) 

•   book talk new books

•   create book trailers

•   bookmarks and handouts with new books

•   sponsor a book club

•   create a contest for students trying to connect teachers with their favorite books

•   get your faculty talking about what they like to read

It is an amazing feeling when you connect a student with a book that they love.  One of this year's YA High School nominees is Black Hole Sun by David Macinnis Gill from Wilmington.  I recommended the book to one of my students who stops by the library every afternoon on his way out to the bus lot.  Pablo reads voraciously, and his question every day is "Did you get any new books in today?".  Pablo read the book, loved it, and immediately wanted to know if there was a sequel.  I emailed David Gill and he replied that he had just sent off the first draft of the sequel to the publisher.  

In September as I was preparing a presentation for the NCSLMA convention, I visited Mr. Gill's website and saw that he had a few ARCs (advanced reading copies) of the sequel, Invisible Sun which comes out in April 2012.  I emailed him and asked if I could surprise Pablo by having Mr. Gill send him a signed copy.  To my surprise and pleasure, Mr. Gill did!  Pablo was thrilled to get a copy "before anyone else has read it!" and sent him a thank you e-mail.  Mr. Gill replied to that e-mail telling Pablo that a third book was in the works and asked if he could name a character in that book Hernandez after Pablo.  Wow!  This is not what I expected to happen when I introduced Pablo to a new author.  All of you will have the opportunity to meet David Macinnis Gill at next October's annual NCSLMA  conference in Winston-Salem.  He has agreed to be one of our featured authors! 

By the way, Pablo let me borrow the book to read.  As Pablo says, "It was awesome!"

April M. Dawkins, MLS, NBCT
Media Specialist, Porter Ridge High School
President-Elect, NC School Library Media Association

Pablo holding his ARC of Invisible Sun with April Dawkins, PRHS media specialist, holding Black Hole Sun.
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