Teen Read Week: Community Involvement at Meadowcreek High School

IMG_9908_polarrThis year for Teen Read Week we celebrated and awarded students for “Reading Woke.”  The Read Woke Challenge is a incentive based reading program that rewards students for reading books that:

• Challenge a social norm

• Give voice to the voiceless

• Provide information about a group that has been disenfranchised

• Seek to challenge the status quo

• Have a protagonist from an underrepresented or oppressed group

I started the challenge last year but this year I was able to really expand the program thanks to the Teen Read Week grant sponsored by Dollar General and YALSA.  Last year, many students were not able to receive the prizes they earned but this year I made sure all students who completed the challenge received their prizes.  This year’s program was different because I had more community involvement.  In past years, I have worked alone and not really involved others.  When I opened the doors up to the community, it made my program even better.  I have established relationships and connections that have helped me to make a bigger impact.  Because of the Teen Read Grant, I reached out to the manager of Dollar General.  He was very supportive of the program and he was excited to be a part of our event.

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Teen Read Week at Montville Township Public Library

We at Montville Township Public Library were very grateful to be awarded the Teen Read Week Grant this year and used it to do a four program series relating to Constructed Languages in Science Fiction and Fantasy. First, a book discussion related to this concept, choosing books in which a constructed language is major part of the story, in our case, the invented languages of Christopher Paolini’s Alagaësia, Newspeak from the novel 1984, and the future English of Riddley Walker. Then, virtual guest lectures by Christopher Paolini, the author of Eragon, and David J. Peterson, the linguist for HBO’s Games of Thrones. Finally, we ended with a Conlanging Workshop devoted to creating new languages, using the rules of David J. Peterson’s The Art of Language Invention. Throughout, we touched on the theory of linguistic relativity, the idea that the structure of a language actually affects how each speaker thinks and views the world. Further, as attendees were introduced to the workings of myriad languages, they saw that things that seem obvious to English speakers are not necessarily the case.

Over the four programs, attendees learned language and culture are intrinsically tied together, and were able to see its impact on a variety of different worldviews. The possibilities of language are vast, there is no set way to do things. For example, the attendees learned that English uses dummy pronouns, the ‘it’ in “It’s raining,” yet most languages do not work this way, simply opting for their word for ‘raining’ (Afterall, what is the ‘it’ referring to?). Similarly, I showed them an example of a constructed language that didn’t even use verbs. They learned that the word ‘butterfly’ used to be ‘flutterby’ and someone made a mistake hundreds of years ago that stuck. Not only is that an amazing fact, but the realization that most words have stories behind their formation was of great interest to them as well. Lastly, learning all the ways that one’s language affects their worldview and behavior, from speakers of tenseless language being healthier and more financially stable, to speakers of languages that used cardinal directions instead of left and right being able to navigate better, was especially interesting to them.

Personally, I find language fascinating, and I knew many of our teenage patrons thought the same. But what I found in doing these programs is the widespread appeal of the topic of language. People I would’ve never guessed attended some of the programs. Some patrons, for example, who had only ever attended our Super Smash Bros. Tournaments, eagerly attended the Conlanging Workshop. People who had no real interest wound up attending out of curiosity or to accompany a friend, and left amazed and intrigued. To see them speechless as they learned each mind blowing linguistic fact was wonderful.

Language is something so natural to us, so ubiquitous, that we often pay it no mind. But to see behind the curtains, to see the impact it has on us and we on it, is where I think the appeal lies. The newfound interest could lead to them investigating further, to possibly delving into related topics of psychology, philosophy, education, language teaching, sociology, anthropology, computer science, and even artificial intelligence. If a library is looking for an educational opportunity for its teenage patrons, language is an excellent starting point.

Jeff Cupo is the Young Adult/Community Services Librarian at Montville Township Public Library.

Gimme a C for Collaboration: Meeting the Needs of Special Education Classrooms through Outreach and Advocacy

Last fall, I was approached by a teacher at Asbury Elementary, a public, K-5 school in my library’s service area, about bringing library resources into his special education classroom. As someone with almost no training in special education, forming this partnership has given me a greater awareness of how to best meet the needs of children who experience disabilities, both in the context of school outreach as well as in a traditional public library setting. I’m inspired to gather and share resources with my colleagues on how to effectively reach and serve children who experience a range of developmental, emotional, and physical disabilities, and how quality intersectional literature can aid educators and caregivers in understanding complex identities.

Background

Enacted in 1975, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) establishes the provision of a free and appropriate public school education for eligible students ages 3–21. According to the The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), 13 percent of public school students received special education services in the 2015-2016 school year (National Center for Education Statistics, April 2018.) Given the significant number of students receiving special education services in our public schools, now is a critical time for both school and public librarians to evaluate how we can better serve this population in every context. More importantly, now is a critical time to examine intersectionality and its role in the perception and portrayal of minority and traditionally underrepresented groups of children who also experience a range of disabilities.

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Stories to Service at the Johnson City Public Library

The Johnson City Public Library (Johnson City, TN) began a new teen program called Stories to Service after receiving the YALSA Symposium Programming Challenge Award in 2018. Stories to Service is a teen volunteer program that combines literature with volunteerism through service projects and book clubs. The projects are both planned and implemented by teen volunteers between ages 12-18. Participants will gather to decide what service area they would like to focus on. Then the participants will read a book centered on their selected topic, discuss it together, and complete a project related to the book.

JCPL’s Teen Services Manager, Katelyn Wolfe, drew inspiration for this program from various discussions at the YALSA Symposium in November 2017, including presentations on teen volunteers and an author panel discussing Rudine Sims Bishop’s essay Windows, Mirrors, and Sliding Glass Doors. Her goal was to create a program that accommodated the large number of teens who needed volunteer hours but also gave them an opportunity to connect with their community in new ways. Upon returning to the library, Katelyn brought the idea to the Teen Advisory Board members, who were immediately on board and began brain-storming possible ideas.
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Gimme a C (for Collaboration!): Making Connections to Award Winners

A close friendship between two librarians, a school librarian and a teen services librarian, led to the creation of the Jane Addams Book Club, a collaborative program between Southold Free Library and the Southold Junior/Senior High School Library, featured in the Public Library and School Library Collaboration Toolkit. Students in grades 5-7 read the winners of the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award, which recognizes children’s literature that encourages young people to think critically about “peace, social justice, global community, and equity for all people.” Through lively discussion, database research, and making connections to their own lives, students learned how social justice and equity can impact their lives and the wider global community.

The book club met at the public library and book club members used both the public and school library resources for their research. The subject matter of the books wasn’t the only topic up for discussion. Book club members did research on, and discussed their findings about, the authors and illustrators of the award winners in preparation for a trip to New York City to attend the award presentation. Penny Kelley, the Teen Services Librarian at Southold Free Library and co-creator of the book club, observed that, “meeting the authors and illustrators and hearing their stories, had a lasting effect on the students.” Students were inspired by the connections they had to the authors and were motivated to use art as a platform for change.

When asked for tips and tricks for building a collaborative relationship between public and school libraries, Ms. Kelley said an important thing to do is get school administration involved. She has developed an excellent relationship with the school principal and works closely with the school social workers and the guidance counselor. The school librarian is her most important ally. They collaborate on a number of additional projects including an Escape Room program and a talent show.

The Jane Addams Book Club hasn’t met since 2016, but Ms. Kelley mentioned that it’s time to reconvene. She is inspired to start the program again and is excited to get students together to talk about the newest award winners. “It really was a remarkable experience for the students and for the adults, too.”

Abby Moore is Associate Professor and Education Librarian at University of North Carolina Charlotte, and a member of the Interdivisional Committee on School and Public Library Cooperation.

Apply Now: New Innovation in Teen Services Award!

The YALSA Board is excited to announce a new member award – the Innovation in Teen Services Award. The award, funded by Friends of YALSA (FOY), was established in 2018 by the YALSA Board to recognize a  member who has developed an innovative program in their library that has benefited teens in their community and that illustrates YALSA’s vision for teen services as outlined in the report: “The Future of Library Services for and with Teens: A Call to Action” and “Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff.” Innovation includes leveraging creative thinking, problem solving, and/or identifying novel solutions to challenges.  Innovation often involves risk-taking.

Nominations for this $500 award are open now through December 1, 2018. Self-nominations are welcome. To be eligible the nominee:

  • Must be a current personal member of ALA &YALSA.
  • Must work for and with teens in a library setting.

More about the award criteria and application materials can be found here.

Submit an application by December 1.

If you have any questions please contact Letitia Smith at lsmith@ala.org or at: 800/545-2433 x 4390.

The Board is looking forward to learning about the wonderful innovative projects our members are engaged in!

Thanks for all you do for teens and for YALSA!

Sandra Hughes-Hassell
YALSA Immediate Past President

YALSA Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff: It’s Not a Competition!

cover of the YALSA Teen Services Competencies Do you ever say to yourself or others, “We are in competition with <insert name of an out of school time or school-based program>?” If you do, it’s time to stop. To serve teens successfully we have to stop thinking we are in competition with others and instead focus on what others are already providing, where there are gaps in what’s available, and what libraries can do with others in the community to fill those gaps.

Frequently I hear staff saying they can’t get anyone to come to this or that program because so and so is also doing it. So, that should be a clue to several things:

  • First the program may very well not be needed if someone else is already doing it.
  • Second, it could be really useful to meet with those that are already providing that program or service and find out what they would like to be able to do but can’t, and/or how the library can provide support for that program or service.
  • Third, it’s time to look at where the gaps are in serving teens in the community and focus on working with community to fill in those gaps instead of doing something someone else is already doing, simply because it seems like a topic or activity the library should be focused on..

I think a lot about Josie Watanabe, the Student Success Program Manager at the Seattle Public Library.   Josie manages an afterschool homework help program. A few years ago she discovered that at one library branch, which was a homework help site, numbers were going down. Josie did some investigating and discovered that a nearby elementary school received funding to start a school-based homework help program. What did Josie do? She said to herself, and others, “OK in that neighborhood the need for afterschool homework help is now being taken care of by another community organization, that means the public library can stop this service in this neighborhood, the library can support the school-based program by providing training to tutors, and hey let me see what other needs there are in this neighborhood that we can help fill without competing or duplicating.”
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Teen Summer Internship @ Laurel Public Library

We had a very successful Teen Summer Internship program last summer at the Laurel Public Library and when we received a grant through the generosity of the Dollar General literacy Foundation and YALSA we knew we would do a similar program again for our teens. We have a very strong teen volunteer program already in place so we knew this would be a great opportunity for our teens.

The process to be considered for an internship for the summer of 2018 started by requiring the teens to attend a mentoring program offered by a local community leader. The course was designed to run for eight weeks and during this time the teens learned many skills such as life skills, leadership skills, personal presentation, and public speaking. We initially started with eight teens, but regular attendance was an issue with the majority of the teens and we ended up with only three who completed the mentoring program and of those three, only two were selected for the internship. We also brought back one of last year’s interns, for a total of three for the summer.

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Young People Know Their Afterschool Programs, Do You?

This post is written by Charlotte Steinecke, communications manager at the Afterschool Alliance.

Photo of youth working together at the Kent County (MD) Public Schools

Libraries and afterschool programs just click. We share so many passions, like fostering lifelong learning, encouraging family engagement, and serving the members of our community with the greatest need. It’s not uncommon for many libraries to host their own afterschool programs or to partner with local programs to make the most of their pooled resources and expertise. Together, we become champions for engaging children and young people in exciting, engaging learning opportunities during the school year and beyond.

That’s why we want to invite library staff to Lights On Afterschool!

On Thursday, October 25, approximately 8,000 afterschool programs across the country will open their doors to one million Americans in the nation’s only rally for afterschool. It’s a day to celebrate out-of-school time learning programs and everything they do to keep our kids safe and engaged after the school bell rings.
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Summer Learning @ Octavia Fellin Public Library

The Octavia Fellin Public Library (OFPL) in Gallup, NM used the funds from the Summer Learning Resource Grant to purchase equipment to begin a Youth Media Lab where tweens and teens would have access to film and audio equipment as well as editing software. At the end of May OFPL was approached by the Miss Navajo Council, Inc. seeking help for creating a multimedia project to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of 1868, which allowed the Navajo Tribe to return to their ancestral homelands after being deported to the Bosque Redondo Reservation. We partnered with the organization utilizing our new equipment and community members to create an intergenerational reading of the Treaty accessible to a modern audience.

The resulting project involved 14 community participants (youth and adult) from the community, and historical photographs from the Library of Congress and National Archives. It was shown at 3 commemoration events in Flagstaff, Arizona; Farmington, New Mexico; and Gallup, New Mexico. OFPL also hosted an exhibit detailing the importance of the treaty and its lasting impacts.

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