Is it just me, or when you think of 2020 as influenced by COVID19, do baseball terms come to mind: 'Curveball'? 'Out of left field'? 

Many of you might be feeling that you've been thrown for a loop (not baseball but boxing, for those keeping score; interestingly, I follow neither baseball nor boxing).

Librarian duties are not exempt from this time of so many unexpected things. You might find yourself in an unexpected role. As a children's librarian turned branch manager, I found myself having to become a generalist to fulfill all aspects of readers' advisory for my patrons. What about the converse? Branch managers or department heads pressed into service providing reference for teens and older kids, or virtual storytimes for the very young? 

When it comes to providing readers' advisory for youth, it's important to bear in mind issues such as the ones identified by reading guru Donalyn Miller: if we do anything during these 'out of left field' times, it's fostering reader engagement, a great good thing.  

And, psst: you don't have to know everything about readers' advisory for youth! NoveList can help you in your efforts to provide choices at crucial times in your patrons' lives.  Use it as your SECRET WEAPON. 

Secret weapon #1: Recommended Reads lists

Things to know:

  • All age levels are included (Teen, Older and Younger Kids)
  • Fiction and nonfiction are included
  • Curated
  • Skew to newer titles (up to 20 titles per list)

ICYMI: check out these lists:
Teen: Quick Reads; For Fans of . . . 
Older Kids:  STEM fiction; All Kinds of Reads; If You Like . . . 
Younger Kids: Always in Demand; Classics; I Feel . . . 
*All age levels: Reading During a Pandemic; 2020 Faves (So Far)

Why you'll like them:

  • Printable
  • Can email them
  • Represent universal areas of need/interest
  • Great for book displays

Secret weapon #2:  Librarian Search 'Helper' Genres

When you think 'genre,' you probably think of traditional ones (Mystery, Fantasy, Science Fiction). Happily, NoveList metadata librarians have broadened that to points of access and created these library search helpers for those who work with youth:

  • Adult books for young adults
  • Books for reluctant readers
  • High interest-low vocabulary books
  • Movie tie-ins
  • Illustrated books
  • Multiple perspectives
  • Stories without words
  • Video game tie-ins
  • TV tie-ins
  • Storytime standouts*

    * Kathy's pick for MVP

Why you'll like them:

  • Easy to search (for each, type GN then the desired term. Limit to desired audience level)
  • Represent universal areas of need/interest

Secret weapon #3:  Themes

Grouped by genres, themes are a librarian's BFF. Why? They identify key tropes common to particular genres, ideal when faced with a question about an unfamiliar genre. So, while helping teens who like Dystopian Fiction featuring kids on the run, or those older kids who can't get enough stories about kids and pet dogs, you turn to these themes (along with a definition!) on our themes page. Bonus: Head right for the 'Just for Kids' page, which includes a variety of kid-approved categories.

Why you'll like them:

  • Browsable themes landing page
  • Easy to talk about
  • Can quickly become familiar with tropes common genres

#ICYMI: we did a thing (check out our webinar on using themes for readers' advisory)

Secret weapon #4:  Awards

We're moving rapidly to Youth Media Award season, and award books are always buzz-worthy. Our metadata librarians track more than 200 awards, so you don't have to. Check out our awards page, take a look at previous and new winners (once announced) as a great source for reading suggestions.

Why you'll like them:

  • We track regional awards (many are a source for school reading lists)
  • With the Newbery and Caldecott (two major awards for youth), we also track Honor Lists
  • Great for displays

Secret weapon #5:  Audiobooks

We're all spending a lot of time together; why not help kids' escape' with an excellent audiobook? 

Several ways to search: 

  • Type GN audiobooks into the NoveList search box for great lists (limit by desired audience level)
  • From the advanced search page, you'll see ways to limit by length of audio and abridgment
  • Search for a title from the NoveList search box, then click on the Audiobooks tab for Listen-alikes

#ICYMI: there are appeal terms particular to audiobooks! Find them here.

Want an assist from NoveList to help you knock your readers' advisory service out of the park. NoveList experts are available for your training needs, whether for staff development days for remote learning. Check out our professional development offerings here or email novelistservices@ebsco.com for information and pricing.


Kathy Stewart is a NoveList Consultant and is reading The Searcher by Tana French while waiting on her hold copy of Jerry Craft's latest book, Class Act.