The South Lafourche Branch of the Lafourche Parish Public Library is located in Cut Off, LA, about an hour’s drive from New Orleans.
Lafourche Parish is home to more than 96,000 people, and the South Lafourche Branch provides library services to residents in southern Lafourche Parish, many of whom rely on commercial fishing and jobs in the oil and gas industries for employment.
Our library received a YALSA Summer Learning Resources grant, which we used to enhance a planned summer video gaming club that we held during our 2017 Summer Reading Program. Our aim was to use gaming as a way to encourage reluctant or struggling readers to read during the summer.
We decided to host six gaming sessions throughout the summer – three in June and three in July, as well as host movie afternoons during which we’d show movies that related in some way to video games. We used our grant funds to purchase books related in some way to gaming that we would distribute to those who attending our video gaming sessions.
The rationale behind this was that if teens were interested in gaming, they might be interested in books related to gaming. Traditionally, our library has had some difficulty in attracting teens to participate in our summer reading program. We thought that by introducing a gaming club, we could interest more teens in our program.
The following is a list of books that we purchased with our grant funds, to be given to video gaming club attendees:
- Minecraft: Diary of a Wimpy Zombie
- Legendary Minecraft Diary: An Unofficial Minecraft Book
- Pokemon Pocket Comics: Legendary Pokemon
- Super Mario Adventures
- Angry Birds Comics Volume 1: Welcome to the Flock
- Angry Birds Movie: The Junior Novelization
- Sonic the Hedgehog Archives, Vol. 0: The Beginning
- Trapped in a Video Game, Books 1 and 2
- Game On! 2017: All the Best Games: Awesome Facts and Coolest Secrets
- Insert Coin to Continue
- Guinness World Records 2017 Gamers’ Edition
- History of Video Games
In our selection of books, we included both fiction and nonfiction titles, as well as novels and graphic novels and comics. We wanted the books to not only be relevant to our program, but also appeal to participants with varying reading interests and abilities.
“I don’t want it.”
We soon learned that a few of our participants were not interested in reading at all, which we expected. After our first gaming session in June, we tried to hand a copy of Super Mario Adventures, a collection of comics inspired by the video game, to one teen participant, but he was adamant that he did not want the book.
Shaking his head, he said, “I don’t want it” several times. He was certain he wouldn’t read it.
We explained that it was a comic and that since he enjoyed the game, he might enjoy the book, but he was having none of it. His mother, however, was with him and encouraged him to take the book and give it a chance. This participant was one who attended most of our gaming sessions during the summer and, after his initial reluctance to give reading a chance, accepted every book he was given and was able to communicate effectively about them during later sessions. We consider this a win.
Throughout the summer, our gaming sessions attracted 24 teens and 44 tweens, with 37 adults accompanying their children to our gaming sessions. We also held two movie afternoons, showing Wreck-It Ralph and The Angry Birds Movie, which attracted another 4 teens, 10 children, and 11 adults. As sometimes happens, as the summer progressed, attendance at summer programs declined, as families were going on vacations, getting ready for the upcoming school year, and attending to a host of other things that kept them busy.
However, we believe that the participants who did show up to these programs during the summer really enjoyed them. Many were excited about receiving the free books and those who initially were not eventually came around.
This was a good program to introduce to our slate of summer reading offerings, and we believe it was successful in that we were able to get more teens to participate and more teens to read – particularly a few who would not have been reading otherwise.
Katina Gaudet is the area librarian at the South Lafourche Branch of the Lafourche Parish Public Library and oversees the operation of three library branches in southern Lafourche Parish.