Creating RA Reading Maps and Flow Charts
I’ve recently been exploring the concept of reading maps and reading flow charts. I’ve always wanted to create them to help reader’s find books, but found the idea of creating them from scratch overwhelming. But I’ve been tinkering a lot with them and am finally getting a better grasp on this process. Here’s what I’ve been learning.
Reader’s Advisory is the process of helping reader’s find new books that they would like to read. A RA reading map or flow chart connects readers from a starting point – a specific title or concept – with new titles by asking them a series of questions or connecting them with specific likeness factors in a visual format.
After looking at a lot of examples – and I mean a lot of examples – I then started doing some research to see what tools other reading map/flow charts creators might be using. This took me down the research rabbit hole.
Resources to Learn More about Reader’s Advisory Reading Maps and Flow Charts
Ontarian Librarian https://ontarianlibrarian.com/2015/02/13/interactive-readers-advisory-flow-chart-display/ – This is a great post about making a live version of the RA flowchart for a display. I highly recommend it.
A lot of tools were mentioned, some of which I was even already familiar with. Whenever you can, go with what you already know and feel comfortable with.
Resources for Making Reading Maps and Flow Charts
Canva – this is a free resource that I actually use regularly both professionally and personally and I highly recommend it.
Piktochart – I have used this to create an infographic in the past and it also is a good resource.
Excel Flowbreeze – This tool is not free and has a pretty hefty price tag on it.
You can also Google Online Flowchart Makers and several additional resources come up. I ended up sticking with what I knew to work well and was already familiar with – Canva.
I then began researching basics of design and design tips to help me get some basic fundamentals out of the way. I wanted to know not only what tools to use, but what were considered best practices for design.
Information about Making General Flowcharts That Can Be Applies to RA Flowchartd
21 Design Tips for Flowcharts https://visme.co/blog/flowchart-examples/
Flowchart Tutorial https://www.visual-paradigm.com/tutorials/flowchart-tutorial/
How to Make a Flowchart in 5 Steps https://www.zenflowchart.com/how-to-make-flowcharts/
Because I like making a concrete plan for myself, I then settled on this basic process outline.
To Create an RA Flowchart
- Determine your topic
- Research what books you would like to put on your list
- Determine what factors you will use to connect them on a flowchart and establish your flow
- Use a graphic tool to create your flowchart
- Save, print, share
With all of this research and information in hand, I then set out to design my first RA flow chart. I sat down with a piece of paper and kind of made a handwritten rough draft of what I wanted it to look like and what titles I would include and what selection factors would get me to those choices.
With my rough draft in hand, I then set out to create my tool using an online creator. This was made in Canva using an example that I found doing some basic web searching. To create the graphic I used dotted lines and boxes to create the flow. I entered them in manually and it worked. I built up a model that allowed me to create the tool I had in my head. After wrestling with it for a bit, some things clicked in to place and it went pretty quickly for me.
After completing this graphic, I got smart and created a template for myself. I removed the book covers and put in boxes that I could fill. I also removed the text, leaving the colored boxes in the background to fill. Now I have a flowchart template that I can easily go in and fill whenever I need. Everything can be changed and filled to recreate this tool using new topics and book covers pretty quickly.
Over time, I would like to create some more templates to have on hand for the creation of easy and quick RA tools on demand. But for today, I’m going to be satisfied with having made this! It was a bit of a learning curve for me and I’m going to take a moment to be satisfied.
Filed under: Reader's Advisory
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
SLJ Blog Network