With many summer camps and activities on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, parents may be looking for ways to keep kids and teens entertained and educated this summer. The UNLV Teacher Development and Resources Library (TDRL) has more than 30,000 books available for checkout, including many contemporary, inclusive books for young people that reflect the diverse identities and needs of children and young adults.
“Offering young people a variety of literature options is key to developing a lifelong love of reading. Now more than ever, it is vital that we expose youth audiences to diverse stories of the human experience,” said Amanda Melilli, head of the TDRL.
For educators, students, and families alike, finding the "right" book to spark a child's interest can be hard. To keep from becoming overwhelmed with the number of book choices available, the TDRL recommends conducting a group or family book tasting.
“Seeing yourself reflected in the books that you read is an empowering experience, but at the same time, being immersed in the lives of individuals who are different from yourself expands your understanding of the world and the people in it," Melilli said. "Book tastings are a fun way to give children and teens a choice in reading materials and to share reading experiences with their friends and families."
Below, Melilli outlines the steps for how parents can adapt this successful school library activity for their own family.
- Look for and identify books that would be of interest to your child/children as well as books that they may not normally think to pick up. Variety is key. This is a chance to support known reading preferences as well as to expand into new genres/topics. Pick out a lot! You want to provide a number of books to “taste”.
- Not sure where to start? Try using our Children's & Young Adult Literature Guide or searching by book appeal and age range in our new database, NoveList which allows you to search for diverse and inclusive books by character or author identities.
- Check the University Libraries’ collection for availability of individual titles and request them through our Curbside Pickup Service.
- Once you have a healthy pile of books, sit down as a family and make this a fun event. Fancy beverages and snacks are encouraged.
- Set a timer for 2-5 minutes. Each member of the family will select a book that looks interesting to them and start reading independently. Once the timer goes off, everyone stops.
- Share what you've read! Ask each other:
- What was your book about?
- Would you want to keep reading it? Why or why not?
Make sure everyone gets a chance to share (including you!) and have your child/children hold onto any books that they want to keep reading.
- Repeat steps 4-6 with additional books until all the young people have found at least one book that they are interested in. Hopefully, they find more than one! Keep in mind that not every book will be tasted; in this case, it’s fine to judge a book by its cover. This is all about what they find appealing.
- Return any books that didn't suit one's taste to the dropbox outside of Lied Library.
Then just make time to read as a family. It’s important that children see you modeling reading as well!
If you have little ones that are too small to read on their own, try the above but read the books out loud to them or ask them to pick books out based on the artwork. Always have the conversation of what they liked or didn’t like about each book. You can also spread the activity out over a week; every time you read an old favorite make sure to read a new book as well! Reading variety is important to everyone, and you never know when you might stumble across a new family favorite.
For more information or assistance with finding books from the TDRL, email TDRL Head Amanda Melilli.