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.

Call for Volunteers for the Reenvisioning TRW/TTW Taskforce

On September 24th the YALSA board approved a Board Document that calls for the formation of a taskforce to reenvision the Teen Tech Week and Teen Read Week initiatives and create a larger advocacy/awareness campaign to promote the importance of year-round teen services. If you are interested in being a part of the discussion and creating a new awareness campaign to elevate the importance of year-round services to teens, please contact me to volunteer crystle.martin@gmail.com.

Teen Read Week: Planning a School-Wide Read Program

When I read Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds for the first time last year, I was completely overwhelmed–this story was about my students! So many of them have lost family and friends due to gun violence, and many of them have been faced with similar emotional tragedies in their lives. So I wanted them to see that their feelings and experiences are valid by reading a book written by a man who looks like them and understands them and IS them. But being a Title 1 school means funds are tight, and purchasing class sets of books (especially enough for all classes to read at the same time) is just not in our budget without help. YALSA’s Teen Read Week Grant is that help, and I am incredibly grateful.     

When I saw that the Teen Read Week Grant was open for applications in May, I immediately texted my reading teacher and asked her what she thought about the potential of doing a school-wide read next year with a Jason Reynolds book. She responded with a resounding “YES” and I filled out the application. And then we were selected, and the brainstorming began.  

But how do you plan a reading program for students who are reluctant readers? You make it relevant!

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Teen Read Week: Board Game Collection Encourages English Language Learners To “Read For the Fun of It”

Every year the Teen Read Week Committee selects the recipients of the Teen Read Week grants funded by contributions from YALSA and Dollar General.   Cynthia Shutts at the White Oak Public Library (IL) was awarded one of this year’s Teen Read Week grants to create a circulating board game collection that focused on literacy skills to encourage the English Language Learners in the community to ‘Read for the Fun of It’. I spoke with Shutts recently to discuss the Teen Read Week Grant process, and evaluate the outcomes of the grant-funded program.

Shutts used Teen Read Week Grant funds to purchase a circulating board game collection focusing on literacy-based games. The White Oak Library plans to market this new collection to English as Second Language classes and other patrons who are learning English. The Library held a game night launch program during Teen Read Week. Shutts expects word to grow slowly but steadily about the game collection. The Library has promoted this new collection through many avenues, but the hope is that word of mouth will help increase knowledge of this service.  By launching the board game collection during Teen Read Week, the hope was that teens and their families would come to the launch night.

The Illinois state budget crisis has hit White Oak Library hard, and because of this the programming budgets had been cut deeply. It would not have been possible to start this program without the generous grant from YALSA and Dollar General. Shutts used the Teen Programming Guidelines, and focused on aligning programs with community and library priorities. The White Oak Library has recently updated its strategic plan to include increased support for second language learners. The Library started conversation clubs and are adding a lot of books in Spanish to the Library’s collection. The next step in this plan was creating a collection focusing on literacy games.

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Reaching Teens through Passive Programs

Do you have trouble getting teens into your interactive programs for your teens during Teen Read Week? Are you still trying to understand your teen demographic? Teens are busy students, especially during their final high school years, but they can certainly still participate in other planned activities on their own time whenever they visit your library.  Here are a few suggestions for easy and simple passive activities that you can use during Teen Read Week to encourage teens to “Read for the Fun of It”:

  1. Post a sign encouraging teens to add their favorite book to your library book display.
  2. Offer 24 hour reading suggestions by creating an accessible jar of book titles that contain short excerpts. Teens can pick out a book to read by chance.
  3. Decorate a bulletin board with magnets of famous lines and phrases from books. Allow teens to make up a poem or story using those famous lines/words.
  4. Place a blank bookmark inside popular titles with a short message that encourages teens to write their own review of the book.  Place these books in a special area “Reviewed by teens” where teens can find them so that they can share their reviews.
  5. Create accessible polls (Jelly bean jar, or M & M jar, or use dots on a poster size paper with their favorite titles). Teens can vote for their favorite title.
  6. Have all the supplies for black out poetry and display examples and finished work.
  7. Design a new cover for your favorite book on a Post-It note or have teens completely redesign a book cover.

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Do You Speak Game?

At the White Oak Library District, I helped work on my library’s district wide strategic plan. The one place I knew we were failing our patrons was with families who were learning English as a second language. We always talk about ways to better serve our patrons in this aspect but never really got around to doing anything. Once the plan was released we finally started making an effort.  Seeing the families coming in for conversation clubs, I noticed the children and teens were always left behind. The teen services staff quickly realized the teens needed something of their own, as a way to learn and to help their family members learn. We thought about how language is learned and realized that playing games increases language comprehension skills.  Games add an extra component of fun to learning, making it active learning. We plan to buy Scrabble, Bananagrams, Upwords, Scrabble Slam, Scattergories, Catch Phrase, Taboo, Balderdash, Jenga, Apples to Apples, Anomia and Superfight!. These games will become a circulating collection that families can borrow. We hope it will help them bond, learn, and play together.

It is always hard to find a way to tell our library users about all the services we have for them. We plan to launch the collection during Teen Read Week and have a special game night kick-off program at all three of the branches called “Do you Speak Game?” The purpose of game night is to introduce our patrons to the game collection and use it as an opportunity to teach patrons how to play the games.

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Rural Virginia Celebrates Teen Read Week 2016

p1050105-1-2My school librarian and I are still kicking around a ideas for our school’s Teen Read Week celebration October 9 – 15. This year’s “Read for the Fun of It” theme focuses on multilingual youth. In our rural corner of the world, where only three students are English language learners, we feel this year’s theme is especially important. A great number of connections, activities, and displays are piquing our interest as we plan for a week of celebrating cultural diversity and reading for pleasure.

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Our school system’s acceptable use policy changed this year, and students now have access to their electronic devices during school hours. Book spine poetry, a bookface showdown, and a where do you read? contest are all in consideration. We want to focus on drawing students to the library using the phone and social media power couple that is so influential to tweens and teens. We are also really digging a play on Silent Library, especially something like this around the world version which connects perfectly with this year’s theme.

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Teen Read Week: A Time to Come Together

Teen Read Week at our school, Findlay High in Findlay, Ohio, has become a time when the library opens wide its doors and invites in a huge variety of people to come share themselves with the school. Last year this included culinary students one day and a menagerie of animals another day. This year we are bringing together the international students from a local university together with our high school students to explore language and culture in a variety of ways in our library.

The networking that comes about from coordinating these events is fantastic. I made contact with the Japanese Outreach Initiative Coordinator at the university. This contact has opened up the opportunity to involve Japanese exchange students to our programming events. The more the merrier! The JOI Coordinator also asked if we would be interested in having a Korean student do a bit of programming, and we were thrilled to welcome her, as well. Once we connect with the student organizations when they return to campus, we will include students from India, Saudi Arabia, and Nepal, as well.

As a high school with 82% of students identifying as White, in a city where 91% of the population in the 2010 census identified as white, there is not a lot of opportunity for students to talk to and learn from people who grew up in other countries and speak different languages. This experience will be good for our students, and I hope it will be enriching for our staff, as well.

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Teen Read Week: An Immersive Experience

This year I am extremely honored and thankful to be a YALSA Teen Read Week grant recipient. I took my time this year deciding what I would do for Teen Read Week. My past Teen Read Weeks had been small in scale. Last year I had teens write a short book review and enter it for a raffle prize (a set of books related to last year’s theme). What could I do this year to really encourage a wide variety of teens to participate, and get excited about reading? I decided to combine a reading program for the month with a fun incentive: Read 1 book for the month of October, get an invitation to our International Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre!!

This year’s theme is “Read for the fun of it”, encouraging multicultural reading and involvement. For the month of October, teens can sign up to be part of our online reading program where the goal is simple: Read 1 book for the month! I wanted an achievable goal, to encourage teens of all reading interests and levels to take part. Upon registering, they will receive a bookmark with suggested multicultural YA books. They won’t be required to read these books, as I really want all teens to be able to participate.  I also wanted a non-reading related incentive, to encourage teens who wouldn’t normally read to do so, thus the murder mystery! I will probably give everyone an Applebee’s Ice Cream Coupon for finishing their book too, for those who aren’t into mysteries. I decided to extend Teen Read Week to a month long celebration, as many teens would find 1 week a daunting time constraint to read a book.  Finally, I will be adding a Teen Foreign Language collection, as part of the grant, to encourage ESL students to become involved as well. I will be working with the school literacy coaches to spread the word and encourage as many students as I can to participate.

Once we have our ‘guests’ invited, it’s time to put on the show! Upon completion of 1 book read, teens will receive the highly coveted and illustrious invitation to the event of the year- An Assassin in Our Midst: An International Interactive Murder Mystery. Thanks to the grant, we will be able to serve a variety of foods from different cultures for our dinner. Guests will be given programs with their team number, a list of the suspects, space to write notes, and a tear out for their team’s murderer guess. Suspects will be played by members of the Teen Advisory Board, with whom I will have at least 2 practices ahead of time. The TAB members will receive character descriptions, and then they will improvise based on who their character is. Each team will get to speak with and question all of the suspects to determine who was involved in the assassination of an important diplomatic figure. Intrigue, fun, and suspense are sure to ensue!

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Blog Post Round-Up: Inexpensive and Easy Programming

 

The MaKey MaKey

The MaKey MaKey

Blog post round-up is a series of posts that pull from the great YALSAblog archive. The topics have been requested by YALSA members. Have an idea for a topic? Post it in the comments.

Inexpensive Ideas:

Back to Afterschool: Tech Resources

Pop Up Programming

30 Days of Teen Programming: Low Stress Making through Crafternoons

Easy:

30 Days of Teen Programming: Evaluate Outcomes

Developing Creative Programming for Teen Read Week

Keep These Things in Mind When Creating Programs:

30 Days of Teen Programming: How Do You Know What’s Needed

30 Days of Teen Programming: Programming for the Platform