The flow chart display wall has quickly become one of my favourite work projects. It’s big, bold, and fun. People stand in front of it and laugh to themselves. People wander around the library with their personalized booklist gathering items. People get to participate with a passive reader’s advisory tool.
In the past I’ve done Find Your Next YA Read and Try a New Type of Book. This time I created Meet Your Next Literary BFF. A series of questions ask patrons what type of character they want to “hang out with” next, and leads them to a themed list fitting their preferences.
I noticed people of all ages interacting with the past charts, so I created booklists that include suggestions for: Children’s Fiction, YA Fiction, Adult Fiction, and a graphic novel. In a couple cases I also included Adult Non-Fiction too.
I don’t like to emphasize gender binaries – it makes some people feel alienated, and I don’t want to imply that girls need to read about girls and boys need to read about boys. However, when discussing characters with patrons, the gender of the protagonist is almost always brought up. Especially when requesting “strong female characters.” For that reason I did decide to make it the first question “I want my next literary BFF to be a…” with the options: “Girl” or “Boy” or Doesn’t matter.”
I like to add in a little whimsical touch to each flow chart. Last time it was a rhyming response to “Does poetry bother you at all?” This time it was magical cats. One questions asks patrons to describe their ideal BFF. The options are “Honest,” “Fun, spontaneous, and loud,” or “A cat.” If they select “A cat” they are treated to a BONUS QUESTION: “Is it a magical cat?” to which they can answer “Obviously” or “No, it’s just a regular cat” and receive booklists featuring either Animal BFFs or Magical Beasts. It’s gone over especially well with the library staff, some of which love cats as much as the stereotype suggests.
Questions and Answers
- Do you want your next literary BFF to be a (Girl, boy, doesn’t matter)
- (Girl) What do you want to do with your new literary BFF? (Laugh until our sides hurt / Work on a secret, creative project together / Fight bad guys!)
- (Boy) What would you most like to spend your Saturday doing? (pulling a genius prank / searching for a magical sword / brooding in the shadows)
- (Doesn’t matter) Describe your ideal best friend (Honest – they can tell me anything and I’ll still love them / Fun, spontaneous, and loud / a cat)
- Is it a magical cat (obviously / nope)
Make it Yourself!
I think public libraries should be working together and sharing resources as much as possible, so I’m happy to share my resources for free. If you use them, be sure to let me know in the comments or by email. I’d love to see pictures!