Advice on Book Selection

Choosing a book for the Reading Program is not always an easy task. Where do you begin? You have probably received advice about choosing books in the past. More than likely, this advice has come from your teachers, tutors, parents, maybe even your friends.

  • You should choose a book that is a Classic of literature.
  • You should read books by one author.
  • You should read books by many authors.
  • You should read books within one genre of literature.
  • You should read books across a wide variety of genres of literature.
  • You should choose a book that is within your zone of proxiomal development (ZPD).
  • You should choose a book that close to your Lexile level.
  • You should choose a book that interests you. 

So, which advice do you follow? What is best? All of the advice above is excellent advice. In order to develop a better understanding of which particular advice to follow you need to understand your own personal reading goals. 

  • Is it to develop vocabulary?
  • is it to further your reading comprehension?
  • Is it to become a lifelong lover of literature?
  • Is it to learn how to analyze literature?
  • Is it to read the most appropriate books to get into university?

Our Reading Program at Shanghai American School has two main goals:

  1. Foster a love of literature.
  2. Develop your literary analysis skills.

So, back to the original question, how do you go about choosing a book?

  • Have a disucssion with your teacher.
  • Have a discussion with the librarian.
  • Select a book from our Destiny Catalog book list. There are a variety of Wilson book lists that have been created for middle school students.
  • Utilize one of the many social book sites such as Goodreads, Librarything, Amazon, Scholastic, Openlibrary. Each of these sites has vibrant communities discussing literature.

But you say, "Just Tell Me What to Read! Can't you just give me a book list of literature that will ensure my success?" Well, no, I can't give you a book list that will ensure your success because I first need to better understand your interests, better understand your strengths and weaknesses as a reader, and your current reading level. I can then provide direction and guidance to help you select appropriate literature that you will most likely enjoy and that will challenge you.

Although I would recommend that our SAS Middle School librarian should be your trusted resource, another excellent resource is The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA). This a national association of librarians, library workers and advocates whose mission is to expand and strengthen library services for teens, aged 12-18. The resources available are of high quality. 

In the next post I will be discussing how we are using our STAR and MAP scores to guide student's selection of books.


Outstanding Books for the College Bound

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From the American Library Association website,

“Students and lifelong learners can use this list to broaden their horizons in preparation for college entrance exams and courses, to increase and update their knowledge in various subject areas, or to develop an appreciation for other cultures and times,” said Sarajo Wentling, committee chair. “The committee worked hard to create a list with something for everyone.” A YALSA committee of public, secondary school, and academic librarians selected the 2009 list in collaboration with the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL). Revised every five years, this list is intended as a tool for several audiences: students preparing for college, parents, educators, and librarians."


Top Ten List from the YALSA

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YALSA’s Best Fiction for Young Adults Committee presents fiction titles published for young adults in the past 16 months that are recommended reading for ages 12 to 18. The purpose of the annual list it to provide librarians and library workers with a resource to use for collection development and reader’s advisory purposes.