Young Adult Reading Interests: What to Ask

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On September 28, 2014 at QUINNLOOK, Young Adult Reading Interests: Going to the Source contained a list of highlights learned from interviews with teens, identified here as E (a young man) and T (a young woman).

The experience of interviewing teens about reading was a pleasure, thoroughly engaging, and enlightening as well.  It is important to go to ‘the source,’ (i.e., the people we prepare to serve), ask for opinions and feedback, and listen carefully; young adults have enthusiasm and profound things to say.

The following questions were prepared for those interviews, and a few of the responses are shared here:

CORE QUESTIONS

1.  Can you tell me about a favorite book, or a book you like a lot, and why?

E:  No favorite book. Likes “post-apocalyptic science fiction.”

T:  “A lot of favorites.”  Divergent (Roth, 2011) — because it is emotional and has lots of action.  The Testing (Charbonneau, 2013) — because it is “a mix of Divergent and The Hunger Games (Dashner, 2009).”

2.  Who is your favorite author, or an author who you think is a good writer?

T:  Margaret Peterson Haddix.  James Dashner is a good writer and “one of a kind.”

3.  When school is out (for example, during winter breaks, spring breaks, or summer vacation), do you read, and if so, what do you read?

E:  Likes to read while on vacation. Preference for reading print books.  “I like the feel of a book.”

T:  Likes very much to read when school is out, and looks for “a really big book.”  Looks for new books by authors read before.  Likes to read books in series, especially during summer vacation.

4.  Is there a specific title or book you would like to read in the future?

E:  The Maze Runner (Dashner, 2009) — Likes to read a book before seeing the movie.  Movie trailers inspire reading.

T:   My Faire Lady (Wettersten, 2014).

5.  Have you ever read a book you didn’t like?  If so, why didn’t you like it?

E:  Can’t remember the title(s), but “the contents were probably too young.”

T:  Dewey’s Nine Lives: The Legacy of the Small-Town Library Cat Who Inspired Millions (Myron & Witter, 2010) — in part, because it involved abandonment.  Also, Galileo’s Daughter: A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith, and Love (Sobel, 1999) — required for school and it was boring.

6.  What kind of book is good for a teen to read?

E:  Books with characters similar in age to themselves.

T:  Books that do not remind you about school.  Books that let you “get lost in the story.”

BACKUP QUESTIONS

7.  What do you think about going to the library to borrow books?

E and T:  It is good.  They want to own copies of books they like.

T:  Dislikes when library books are in bad or “disgusting” condition.

8.  Do you think librarians can recommend a book that you will like?

E:  Yes, but usually looks [online] at Goodreads.

T:  Emphatic “Yes.”

9.  Do other people in your family like to read, and do you see them reading?

E and T:  The whole family reads.

E:  Wants to read books in a foreign language someday.  Has seen his grandmother reading an Italian translation of The Hunger Games (Dashner, 2009)

10. Who do you talk with about the books you read?

E:  His mother — and they share book recommendations with each other.

T:  Her mother and a friend.  Conversations about books are often spontaneous.

11. Should graphic novels be considered books?

E:  Yes. “They involve reading and a story.”

T:  No.  Does not really know what they are, but wouldn’t read them anyway.

12. What else would you like me to know?

E:  When choosing a book to read, “tends to stray away” from books assigned at school.

T:  Students would read more if they could read for extra credit in school.

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