Teen Read Week is coming up October 12-18, and libraries are encouraged to use the theme “Turn Dreams into Reality” to share our knowledge, resources, services, and collections with teens in an effort to promote reading for fun. As professionals working with teens in the library, each of us curates our own personal collection—in folders and binders, dog-eared books and browser bookmarks, or just in our haphazardly cataloged heads—of resources that guide us in promoting reading. Yet as we inform our patrons about the epic books in our collection, the multiple formats in which they can check out our materials, and the research on the college success of avid readers, let’s not forget that some of our greatest resources are the very subjects of our resource-sharing: the teens themselves.

It’s an easy thing to forget since, as library professionals, we like to think of ourselves as the experts. In many things, we are. And in some, we aren’t. You know that book that won dozens of awards but you just can’t get any teens to pick up? How about the poorly-written piece of fluff that they can’t get enough of? In the end, we can only guess at what will go over well. Each person has his or her own individual taste, but more often than not, teens’ tastes will be more similar to one another’s than adults’ tastes will be to teens’.

Our goal during Teen Read Week is to promote reading for pleasure, and the only way to do that is to help connect teens with books they like. There may be a time and place for encouraging teens to read “healthier” books than the ones they want—that’s up for debate. But this week isn’t that time. If we want teens to learn that reading is fun, we need to think like teens. And while we can’t entirely re-wire our brains (and probably wouldn’t want to, having been through that angsty stage of life once already), many of us are lucky enough to spend enough time around teens that we have easy access to two simple techniques: observe and ask. Read More →

Today we wrap up our Teen Read Week posts with our final Dollar General Literacy Foundation Grant Recipient, Patricia VanArsdale. Patricia is Teen Services Librarian at Hussey-Mayfield Memorial Public Library in Zionsville, Indiana. Isn’t it a beautiful library? Keep reading to see how Patricia involves the teens in her library and what she did for Teen Read Week.

Hussey-Mayfield Memorial Public Library Zionsville, Indiana

1. Describe your TRW YALSA/Dollar General Literacy Foundation Grant.

Our library had one TRW program on the calendar, but the grant allowed us to offer three additional programs to our teens.  The first is a Hunger Games meal based on passages in the books.  Over the summer, teen volunteers poured through two cookbooks based on the book series.  It was a challenge since our library does not have a stove or an oven, but we found some great recipes.  The second program will bring in Barbara Shoup, a young adult novelist and Executive Director of the Indiana Writer’s Center.  Teens will learn what it takes to be a writer and how to navigate the realities of a writer’s life.  The third program is a reading marathon.  This will take place over fall break and get teens out of the house and into the library.  Each teen attending will get a free book and a free bookmark.  While many teens think they cannot read for three hours, they will learn how easy it is to accomplish something like this when you have stretching breaks, snacks and activities to break up a large chunk of time.  The fourth program gives us an opportunity to reach out to the schools by making “blinkybugs.”  These spider-like creatures have LED lights, a battery body and guitar string antennae.  Vibrations and movement cause the antennae to touch the LED lights, which light up the eyes of the bugs.  It is a great opportunity to do outreach and collaborate with schools and help reinforce the STEM initiative.

2. Tell us a little about your teen patrons. Read More →

Karen Allen, Teen Services Librarian, and Molly Wetta, YA Library Assistant

Karen Allen, Teen Services Librarian, and Molly Wetta, YA Library Assistant

Molly Wetta and Karen Allen of Lawrence Public Library are the innovative minds behind one of the Dollar General Literacy Foundation grant winning projects. Their Choose-Your-Own-Apocalypse scavenger hunt styled program kick starts their Teen Read Week celebration with a real life version of an alternative reality game whereby participants must “Seek the Unknown” throughout the city in order to survive the terror that awaits them.

You have read the introduction of the Choose-Your-Own-Apocalypse program and wonder about the basic rules for participation, thinking it might interest your library’s teen group.
In order to solve all of the clues for the hunt, participants must have transportation and some type of tech that will take digital photos. Teams cannot exceed the number of 6 teens but can be made up of the teen’s parents and/or siblings. Teams must also choose one hunt from the list of apocalypse themes of zombies, aliens, super volcano, or civil war. Three hours is the total time allotted to obtain the necessary items and successfully survive the apocalypse. All clues lead participants to items that will help them survive the apocalypse such as food, water, and medical supplies. In some cases, clues are released through the participation of community partners. One clue is announced over the air by a local campus radio station, another is positioned on a local business sign, and yet one more can be found in the ad section of the local paper.

You understand the basic rules and desire to know how this program connects with the idea to “Read for the Fun of It”, so you continue reading. Read More →

Deena Viviani, TRW grant recipient

Deena Viviani, TRW grant recipient

Continuing with our Teen Read Week grant recipient interview series, I chatted with Deena Viviani. Deena is the Young Adult, Programming, and Circulation Services Manager at Brighton Memorial Library in Rochester, New York.

Deena’s winning proposal centers around the Fourth Annual Greater Rochester Teen Read (GRTR)being  held during Teen Read Week 2013. This year’s Greater Rochester Teen Read features three MCLS library visits and one MCCDC visit by Printz Honor winner A. S. King. Starting in June 2013, MCLS librarians encourage teens across the county to read and discuss EVERYBODY SEES THE ANTS by A. S. King in preparation for her visits. There is also a bonus read: DEAR BULLY which includes Ms. King’s essay, “The Boy Who Won’t Leave Me Alone.”

What motivated you to become a librarian? My library career started when I was 15 at the Parma Public Library in Hilton, NY. Going back even before that, I attended the story times and kids’ summer reading programs at that same library where Sue the Librarian (as I knew her then) “hired” me and my sister as tween/teen volunteers to help with those same summer programs that we had attended for years. Then when I turned 15, I was hired as a Page, and I remained there through the rest of high school and undergrad, moving up to Page/Processor and helping at the Reference/Circulation Desk, finally leaving at the age of 21 when I graduated from college and got a full-time job at a legal publishing company. I swore I was sick of libraries and would move forward with my new career and degree, whatever that may be! Um, yeah, after about 3 months in my cubicle office job, I missed the library. I went back to grad school that summer and got my MLS in 2 years. I also realized after taking the YA Services class that I wanted to be a YA Librarian. It took me 3 YA Services job interviews in 3.5 years to get hired in my current library, but it was worth the wait to find the right fit for me.

How did you hear about the TRW grant? On the YALSA e-newsletter! Read More →

It feels like destiny when you or your teen group discover the perfect match for Teen Read Week, pairing your creative library-themed program with the teen community. If your plans are met with disapproval or financial obstacles from fellow staff and/or management, it’s easy to get discouraged or it may become difficult to find the support to make their TRW plans come true. While our situations are unique and reflect different types of resistance, we are able to pull from each other’s experiences and implement a pro-active approach towards removing those barriers. In this post, we offer a mix of traditional and modern practices to help you strengthen support for young adult services.

 Prepare your advocate toolbox by equipping it with stats.

As librarians, we come to know our teen patrons by name and can recall their reading interests. We’ve heard their stories and have seen some of them grow up. These relationships enrich our work. Likewise, it is as important to know your community by their faces and background as it is to understand the community you serve (and don’t serve) through statistics. By having this additional knowledge, you will become a more experienced translator and better able to describe your community’s needs to management. Having numbers at hand will offer those success stories a background in which others may understand their values. Read More →

We often hear about amazing library programming-enormous board games, scavenger hunts, and stellar teen turnouts.  But what about the programs that didn’t exactly work out as expected?  Sometimes it happens! We can’t have perfect programs every time, but we can certainly make sure others don’t walk right into the same programming problems. Join us for the vent session, complete with goat poop, all-nighters, and a surprising amount of marshmallow-related problems. Please feel free to include your own Teen Programming Flop in the comments section-we’d love to hear. Let the commiseration begin!

By TTaylor (Own work) CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0 via Wikimedia Commons

By TTaylor (Own work) CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Top Things We Learned

If you invite a goat to the library, make sure he’s wearing a good diaper.

Marshmallows are probably better outside toys.

All-nighters are less fun than they sound.

When all else fails, Gangnam Style videos on YouTube are a proven win.

Our Horror Stories

Public Domain Movies and The Bothersome Buffering

“For Teen Read Week one year, we had to pick from a list of programs to have, but I found out days before the program date, which had by then been advertised for months (via annoyingly tiny posters), that we were on our own to put together the described-by-someone-else program. I picked a Halloween horror movie, but then I found out that it had to be a public domain movie only, which, it turns out, means Really Old and Lame. All of our public domain horror DVDs were checked out, so someone sent me a website streaming old horror movies that we could play from the laptop. By old, I mean like, from the 30s. All of the ones that looked remotely fun popped up with an error message that said the content had been taken down due to copyright infringement. So we ended up with some random, ancient, lame movie with a picture too dark and grainy to see, and to boot, since it was streaming, it kept stopping every couple seconds to buffer. Most of the teens looked in and smartly walked on by, but I had one trooper who was content to watch this movie anyway. Soon, though, the other teens realized (exactly what I thought they would realize) that laptop= internet, so they came in and bogarted it and instead put on Youtube videos of Gangnam Style. I didn’t even protest!” Read More →

LaVistamuralLindsey Tomsu, of the La Vista Public Library in Nebraska, is the unofficial queen of the life-sized board games.  She and her TAB already cooked up a life-size Candy Land board game, as well as an enormous version of their personal favorite, Arkham Horror.  Lindsey and her TAB received the Dollar General Literacy Foundation grant for her Teen Read Week programming, another colossal board game: a life-sized Life!  Here’s a bit more about her and her program:

Where did you get such a great idea?

Back in the summer of 2011, my TAB ended up doing a Life-Size Candy Land game for the kids at the library. It was a bunch of fun making the game props and such. We did the old school version pre-candy characters. So in the summer of 2012 we decided to apply for the TRW grant and do a life-size version of our favorite board game, Arkham Horror, which compared to Candy Land was way more work and more detail. Over the course of the two and a half months leading up to TRW my teens volunteered nearly 353 hours to make that program a reality. More information about this program can be seen in our article in School Library Journal. Read More →

Dawn Abron - Zion-Benton Public Library, Teen Associate

Dawn Abron – Zion-Benton Public Library, Teen Associate

Meet Dawn Abron. She WOWED the Teen Read Week Committee with her Dollar General Literacy Foundation Grant application this year. We’d like to thank Dawn for taking some time out of her busy week to tell us about what she did with the SEEK THE UNKNOWN theme.

1. Describe your TRW YALSA/Dollar General Literacy Foundation Grant.

Teens in our district enjoy writing short stories so we decided to showcase their passion of writing with an annual competition.  We used the grant to fund our First Annual ZB Inked Short Story Competition.  We had two categories: high school and middle school.  First, second, and third place winners were rewarded with a Kindle Fire, a Kindle Paperwhite, and a $50 movie theater gift card.

We began our TRW with a short story boot camp.  We invited a local author and creative writing teacher, Kathi Baron, to give teens tips for writing great short stories.

2. Tell us a little about your teens’ stories.

Teens used this year’s theme, Seek The Unknown, as the theme for their short stories.  Our teens really ran with the theme and entered fantasy stories about a girl who was given the gift of radiance through fireflies; men trapped in the Amazon with giant, deadly spiders; and a girl from Mars with an interesting past.  Read More →

One of the best things about using Pinterest for me is that I never know when inspiration for library programming is going to strike. Whether it happens when I’m actually surfing through my feed of pins from boards I follow (and following a diversity of interests is key here) or when I’m combing through my RSS feed in the morning, I invariably find ideas that would make great programs. But how do you use Pinterest when you are actively trying to plan specific programs, particularly with Teen Read Week in mind?

Curating Information

The first use for Pinterest is as a visual board to present pre-curated ideas, one I use quite frequently with my Library Advisory Board when we are discussing possible ideas for special events. When we planned our Night of Writing Dangerously last year (an evening where kids came to do nothing but eat and write in a fun environment), I first projected my Writing Tips & Tricks Board as inspiration for their thoughts. Not only did my students have fun picking out the t-shirts and mugs that would become our prizes, but the infographics and tips had them asking if volunteer teachers could be “grammar police” someone could flag down with a question, or if we could use one of our glass walls to chart the rise and fall of a short story. My Hunger Games Library Programming Ideas Board absolutely made our party when the first movie came out (over half our school came to it) since it enabled students to plan Capitol hair and make up stations, Wii archery tournaments, and a Facebook Profile picture corner with life-size cardboard cutouts of the actors – and I owe it all to Pinterest.

Adding students or other faculty (or librarians) to a collaborative board is a terrific way of putting the power of idea generation in their hands. YALSA traditionally adds members of the Teen Read Week committee to the Teen Read Week 2013 Board and you can see the theme of “Seek the Unknown” played out largely in the areas of science fiction and mystery-related pins, the two pieces the majority of librarians identify as their intended focus for next week. Many minds are usually superior to a measly single mind, so collaborative boards often build off each other, and you can set your account to notify you by email when someone else pins to the board in question. There have been many instances that I see what someone pinned in an email notification and it makes me think of a whole new search term to try, a fact which brings us to our next (and most crucial) point regarding Pinterest. Read More →

Wanna get involved in YALSA right now? YALSA needs your help! We’re looking for expert programmers, Teen Read Week gurus, Teen Tech Week geniuses, Road Trip afficionados, Common Core Standards experts and more!

Based on Board decisions at the 2013 Midwinter Conference, I’ll be making appointments to the following Super! Awesome! Taskforces! All you have to do is complete the volunteer form.
Read More →