One of my favorite activities as a TL is to recommend books to the students who walk through our doors. When I am talking to a student about finding a new book, I typically ask them a few standard questions. I created this flow chart for what my initial process usuall looks like.
You can see that my interview process always starts with the same question, "What was the last good book that you read?" This can tell you a lot about the student! If they can think of a title immediately, I'll bet you dollars to doughnuts that they are a big reader! If they struggle with coming up with a title, I'm willing to bet they don't enjoy reading too much. It's a great jumping off point to figuring out a genre that the student might enjoy.
Finally, you can see everything flows down to asking genre specific questions. Here are some examples. . . . .
Lets say the last good book a student has read is The Maze Runner. Do they enjoy the sci-fi/dystopian genre? Yes, they do? Have they read other similar books in that genre like The Hunger Games, Divergent, Legend, etc.? If they haven't read one of those series you can stop right there. You know what their next favorite book is going to be. If they have read those ones, you can dig a little deeper. You cold ask something such as, "Did you like all the action in The Maze Runner? Or would you like to try something more sci-fi? Or just suspenseful and action packed no matter what the genre?" All these questions can help to guide you. Maybe they are willing to try something different as long as it has action and suspense. Maybe you can land on something such as The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancy or The Eye of Minds by James Dashner. Perhaps if you get a sense they are a big reader, you can go for something beyond YA like Ready Player One by Ernest Cline or World War Z by Max Brooks.
You will always get those students though that just don't seem interested in *anything* and were forced to come to the library by their teachers. I always try to keep some books starred in my book list for those books that seem to appeal to everyone. Then you can try to guide them towards those types of books. For example, Hurricane Song by Paul Volponi is a perfect choice for nearly anyone walking through the door. It's short, action packed, and involves the real-life event of Hurrican Katrina. Find those books that work for anyone and keep those one starred for those hard-to-crack cases.
Jennifer Zimny has been a teacher librarian at Ponderosa High School for the past three years and previous to that, she was the drama teacher for 9 years. She holds a BA in Theatre from CSUS, a teaching credential in English, and a teaching credential in Library Media Services from Azusa Pacific University