The end of summer and the beginning of a new school year often mean an uptick in public library visits from a specific kind of young patron: the summer reading procrastinator.  

They arrive in the library — often dragged there by a caregiver — looking sheepish, frantic, or annoyed (maybe all three!). School’s starting again, and they still haven’t finished their summer reading assignments. Perhaps they put it off on purpose; perhaps they started and never finished, or perhaps they just clean forgot. Whatever the reason, reading just isn’t a priority for these patrons until it has to be. And while many of them may be looking for specific assigned books, others may need your help in finding the right reads to start their school year off strong. That’s where NoveList can help — we’re ready with tools and strategies for working with reluctant readers.


Nontraditional readers often require an equally nontraditional approach. Reframe your thinking and energize your readers’ advisory with strategies from NoveList’s reluctant reader-focused articles. To find them all, simply search for “reluctant readers” in NoveList and then click the Lists & Articles tab of the results list.


These Recommended Reads lists provide an easy starting point for helping reluctant readers find books that might speak to their reading styles. To find the lists in NoveList, search for them by title, or use the included UI searches to go directly to a specific list.

  • For teens: Skinny Books (UI 439881), Novels in Verse (UI 439880), Hi-Lo Realistic Series (UI 439916
  • For kids: Skinny Books (UI 440521), Novels in Verse (UI 440663), Plenty of Pictures (UI 444103
  • For all ages: Search “For Fans of…” and click on the Lists & Articles tab to find lists based on popular media (since many kids might be more willing to pick up a book that’s similar to something they already like).  
Search strategies

Although the right search strategy will vary based on the individual patron’s needs, these simple searches provide a starting point for reluctant young readers. Just copy and paste the search string into the NoveList search box, then use the Refine Results panel to limit your search to the appropriate age group.

  • GX “Books for reluctant readers” (This is one of NoveList’s library search helper genres, designed to help you find a wide variety of books with powerful reader appeal) 
  • AP Browsable (This nonfiction search will only work in NoveList Plus or NoveList K-8 Plus) 

Learn more about field codes here.


Never underestimate the power of self-directed readers’ advisory when it comes to reluctant readers! Flyers, bookmarks, and shelf-talkers can empower kids and teens to make reading choices on their own terms. LibraryAware customers can access ready-made flyers (all editable, to reflect your library’s collection) — by searching LibraryAware for reluctant readers or skinny books.

Stay strong, librarians — your dedication could be the thing that puts this month’s reading procrastinators on the path to becoming year-round library users.

Rebecca Honeycutt is a Readers' Advisory Librarian at NoveList. She is currently reading A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking by T. Kingfisher.