Summer reading might be over, but the librarian at Mashpee Middle-High School found a new way to keep students’ noses buried in books this school year.
Librarian Lynn Weeks started a new library subscription service called “Falcon Finds” for students to receive personalized book recommendations.
Interested students can fill out an online questionnaire with their interests and the books and movies they have enjoyed, and the librarian will deliver new material for pleasure reading right to their English classroom.
“I’m trying to encourage them to become lifelong readers,” Ms. Weeks said.
The librarian was inspired by book recommendation platforms that she herself subscribes to. She said she explains to students that they do not need to like everything that they read, but it is worthwhile to find books that actually interest them.
So far, two students have used Falcon Finds. One boy listed in his questionnaire that he likes action and adventure stories, Star Wars and the Percy Jackson series.
Ms. Weeks delivered three novels to his English classroom: “Peter and the Shadow Thieves” by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, “The Adventurers Guild” by Zack Loran Clark and Nick Eliopulos, and “Destiny’s Way” by Walter Jon Williams.
She said all three of the books she chose had adventure and reminded her of the Percy Jackson series. “Destiny’s Way” is a book that takes place in the Star Wars universe.
The novels come with a letter from Ms. Weeks with short summaries and an explanation of why she chose them. She reminds students to give the books a try, even if they think they may not like them. The letter ends by encouraging students to give her feedback on their next Falcon Finds so that the librarian can tailor her recommendations even more.
Another student who used Falcon Finds in the first few weeks of school listed that she liked cooking, cheerleading, sports and skateboarding. She also wanted to read books about girls her own age.
Ms. Weeks set out on her mission. She delivered “The Insigificant Events in the Life of a Cactus” by Dusti Bowling, a book about a 13-year-old girl with a disability who moves to a new school; “Roller Girl” by Victoria Jamieson, a graphic novel about a girl who discovers roller derby; “30-Minute Meals,” since the librarian figured the student is busy and might not time for elaborate recipes; and a QR code linking to a cheerleading e-book.
“It’s a way to get them to try books that maybe they wouldn’t have chosen on their own if they were just to come in and pick one off the shelf,” Ms. Weeks said.
The library is not yet open for in-person browsing, but students can still request to borrow books online outside Falcon Finds if they are looking for something specific.
Ms. Weeks said something else the library is focused on this year is diversifying the bookshelves so that students can find novels they can relate to regardless of their background or identity. She also believes it is important for children to read about diversity so that they can learn about other people.
“I’m a little biased, but I think the skills that they get through reading for pleasure will grow with them for the rest of their lives,” the librarian said. “Besides vocabulary and comprehension, nothing is better than the simple enjoyment of a book.”