Connect, Create, Collaborate: Teen-Created Summer Reading Program

Last month one of my Twitter friends tweeted that the administration at her library had just approved an entirely teen-planned summer reading program. A few weeks later, she posted a picture of some art in progress and I knew I had to get the full story. Below is an interview with Faythe Arredondo about her 2013 summer reading program, created in collaboration with her teen advisory group and featuring teen-created art, videos and more. All images are provided by her. [Note: the interview has been edited for length and clarity]

Hard at work on next summer’s SRP.

Emily: ‘ Let’s start by talking about how you and your teens made the decision to go with a teen-planned program.

Faythe: I was lucky enough to have a TAG meeting the day after the summer reading program ended and get their immediate feedback on what they liked and didn’t like. ‘ Internally, the staff was trying to decide what summer reading program to sign up for next year between the Collaborative Summer Reading Program and iRead. I wasn’t too thrilled with either theme, so when I met with my TAG I asked them if they were interested in coming up with their own theme and they were. ‘ When I met with them again, I gave them some hard deadlines and said if they couldn’t get it done in the time frame I wanted, we would go with CSLP. In the next hour they came up with the theme, the slogan and a basic outline of who they wanted it to run.

Continue reading Connect, Create, Collaborate: Teen-Created Summer Reading Program

July Eureka Moments

School’s out, I’m no longer sick, and the blog is no longer down! In honor of the evolving focus of this column, I’ve changed its title and broadened my scope. But don’t worry; I’ll still be trolling the various databases for hard-hitting research, too. The first month of summer is usually the busy one, in which students are still finishing school, are already in summer school, or have begun to embark on busy summer adventures, like camp and travel. So the ideas I’m offering you are a bit more low-key or focused on the librarian, rather than the patron, since I gather that your patrons are not exactly in the mood yet for anything that requires a lot of commitment.

  • Last weekend, PostSecret put up a (trigger warning) postcard from someone who dislikes being labeled intolerant for saying that certain types of people are, maybe, hypocritical about oppression. That made me think of a tumblr I found once upon a time called Oppressed Brown Girls Doing Things, whose tagline, “Because we’re still oppressed,” is awesomely readable in a multitude of ways. You might just find this fun to read when there’s a lull in your day, but I know I’d love to see some of these posts find their way into a collage on a library wall, a bookmarks list on a library computer, or into the meeting of any group that meets in your teen room. While the content ranges from NSFW language to sarcastic gifs, the blog also brings up a lot of pertinent points about what it means to be a woman of color. Continue reading July Eureka Moments
  • Trading Spaces: Visiting Each Other’s Libraries

    Gretchen came up with the idea of visiting Erin when we found out that our libraries (in southern Connecticut and southwestern Massachusetts respectively) are not terribly far from one another. We were looking for a cultural exchange: to see what was new and exciting in each other’s libraries and teen programs. It’s also just fun to meet Internet friends in real life. (Thanks for introducing us, YALSA and Twitter!) Here’s what we found.

    Continue reading Trading Spaces: Visiting Each Other’s Libraries

    Submit your summer reading program for YALSA’s new book!

    YALSA is planning a new publication, YALSA’s Complete Summer Reading Program Manual for Teen and Tween Services.

    Kat Kan, the book’s editor, is looking for information on summer reading programs and the other kinds of programming libraries do for teens and tweens during the summer.’  Want more information or interested in submitting your summer reading program? Visit the book’s website!

    Continue reading Submit your summer reading program for YALSA’s new book!

    30 Days of Back to School: Summer Reading Redux

    How many times have you wished you had the power to change your school’s summer reading program? Well, maybe you do! I had all but given up on making major changes to the long list (250+ titles) that had been in place for years, but when there was a shift in the English department leadership, I jumped at the opportunity to suggest some significant changes in the list and the program.

    In my first few years here, I had only managed to add a few contemporary YA titles. I also tried to move away from the paper-consuming process of printing a multi-page list for every one of our 700 students by creating a goodreads account with just the summer reading titles. It was a well-received shift and created a better visual impact – especially the “cover view” option – and also allowed for students to search for a book by genre and other tags. The paper version had been sorted alphabetically by title, with no other information except the author given. Goodreads was an improvement, but seemed like a tiny one. What I really wanted was to give students and teachers a place and time to talk books; for students to see that reading is a lifelong habit; that reading can actually be fun; AND that teachers read things that they don’t necessary teach about! To me, the writing prompt that had been used for years as a schoolwide assessment was unnecessary at best, and a hindrance to getting kids to read for pleasure, at worst.

    Continue reading 30 Days of Back to School: Summer Reading Redux

    “Classic” Novels in the YA Section: I’m excited, anyway.


    Before my summer is over and I have to go back to school (tomorrow) I wanted to post about something I’ve noticed in my local library.

    Recently, I’ve noticed that some ‘classic’ books are being moved into the YA section; titles like To Kill A Mockingbird, The Catcher in the Rye, and The Great Gatsby. I wanted to comment on this because I think it’s a really good idea. Typically, summer reading assignments in high school aren’t something anyone gets excited about. While I’ve read my share of assigned reading that I hated (don’t even get me started on The Awakening) I like that summer reading assignments force you to read outside of your normal choices. It’s a chance to read something you would never pick on your own, and while sometimes you hate them (like Their Eyes Were Watching God) there are always a few that you end up really loving (like Catch-22).

    I also like that once you start to read classic novels you realize all of the cultural references that always went right over your head. Having just finished Catch-22, I really can’t believe how many lines in movies or books or songs finally make sense to me. One of my favorites is being able to use the Holden Caulfield complex in arguments about whether or not a character is likable. And, I mean, at the very least, you’ll finally understand what Wuthering Heights or Romeo and Juliet has Bella so excited about (although I still don’t understand that one).

    What I’m trying to say, in an apparently really long winded way, is that I’m glad the YA librarian at my library is moving some older, classic novels into the YA section because I think it might get more kids to read them just because they look good and not just because they have to for school. I think it would be cool to see how they’re compared to more contemporary fiction, and moving both into the same section is kind of an experiment I’d like to see the results of. I think librarians encouraging summer reading assignments, even in a small way like this, could be really helpful in the long run. Or, at the very least, all the high school kids might have an easier time finding their assigned reading.

    Tell Time How Your Library Helps Offset the Summer Slide

    This week, Time published “The Case Against Summer Vacation,” a cover story on summer learning loss for children and teens. Author David von Drehle’  focused on how students, particularly those in low-income areas, lose important reading and learning skills over the summer due to a lack of intellectual activity. He highlighted a number of camps, academies, and community programs with fun, engaging activities for kids and teens that encourage achievement and get youth interested in reading, writing, drama, math, science, and other academic areas.

    In the article, von Drehle laments that these camps and academies have tuition costs and waiting lists, and those lists don’t even take into account the overworked or disengaged parents who haven’t even thought how they can prevent their kids from suffering from isolation, boredom and inactivity over the summer. And then he worries that Americans have no hope in offsetting the summer slide other than a ragtag coalition of volunteers, entrepreneurs, and camp counselors.

    Of course, we know one other group that can make a huge difference when it comes to the summer slide. And that’s librarians. Libraries offer free programs year-round that do exactly what von Drehle calls for and they’re nearly absent from the article, save for a mention of ALA’s homepage as a place to find book recommendations.

    As you are finishing your summer reading program — which, as a recent IMLS-funded Dominican University study shows, can make a huge difference in the achievement gap — please take a minute and let Time know about the programs your library offers, how they encourage children and teens to become better, more engaged readers — and how anyone, of any background and from any region, can be a part of it for free at your library.

    Time has shut down comments for this article online, unfortunately, but you can still send a letter to

    Summer Reading School Visits

    It’s almost May, which means I’m gathering my books and goodies for my Summer Reading Program School visits.’  This will be my third year doing school visits and I’ve been lucky enough to add new classrooms to my roster this year.’  But that also means that there will be some students that have heard my song and dance about the Teen Summer Reading Program before.’  So I’m always looking for ways to keep my visits fresh and new.

    Continue reading Summer Reading School Visits

    Reminder! YALSA’s e-chat on summer reading programs tonight

    Join YALSA President Sarah Cornish Debraski tonight as she leads an online chat on summer reading programs, 8 p.m. – 9 p.m. Eastern. We’ll be chatting in YALSA’s space in ALA Connect. You must be a YALSA member to access YALSA’s area in Connect.

    How can you participate? Log into ALA Connect at YALSA members should use their login for the ALA website. If you’ve lost your password, you can recover it through the ALA website. Once logged in, head to the YALSA area (it’s or you can navigate there within Connect by choosing “YALSA” from under “My ALA Groups”) and then click “Chats.”

    Can’t make it? We’ll post the transcript tomorrow.

    Summer of Service

    On June 22 the White House is set to launch an initiative tentatively called the Summer of Service. This initiative will be run through the Corporation for National & Community Service and the goal is to encourage Americans to take some time this summer to volunteer in their local communities. One area of focus will be summer reading. Americans will be encouraged to volunteer at their local libraries to help with summer reading and library card registration programs in an effort to prevent the ‘summer slide‘ that many students experience. Continue reading Summer of Service