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

 

Flops, Duds, and Bloopers – When Programming Isn’t Perfect

I tell myself all the time that the success of a teen program is more than “just” attendance. I know I’m not alone in that. A YALSA committee has even created a living document – Teen Programming Guidelines – that includes a section on evaluation and measurement. But still, it doesn’t take the sting out of a near-empty room, or eliminate the dread of explaining to your supervisor that your teen programming budget should remain static (dare we say increased?), regardless of attendance stats, in the continuing saga of library budget freezes and cuts.

Many colleagues have lamented the lack of attendance at a program for which they had such high hopes – the teens ASKED for it, or HELPED plan it, or it DREW double-digit attendance at another library, or was ALL OVER the listservs to which we subscribe. Sure, we tell ourselves and coworkers that “at least the kids that came had a good time,” but in that same moment we’re also thinking “what did I do wrong?” or the more self-defeating “maybe I should just be a reference librarian, they don’t have to deal with this kind of rejection” (apologies to my reference/adult services friends & colleagues – you know I love you and the work you do!).

If you take only one thing from this post, it must be this: we’re all programming rock stars. I believe it, and occasionally have to say it out loud to convince myself, but it’s true. If you’ve been in teen services for more than three years, you know the unspoken secret of our demographic – it changes, seemingly overnight! Sometimes, sooner than a pop star’s shimmer fades. Older teens graduate or are lost to the extracurriculars they need for their college apps; you might see them for volunteer hours, always in demand but in short supply. And yesterday’s tweens are today’s teens. Add in the constant evolution of technology and pop culture, especially the advent of YouTube celebs (seriously, there’s a whole con devoted to them!), and you’ve got the jist of the revolving stage upon which we play. A program you did last year for mostly seventh & eighth graders just won’t fly for the same group this year, but that gaming lock-in you did five years ago with the high-schoolers, tweaked ever so slightly, will. We’re like Madonna – continually reinventing our programs. Or maybe I should say Beyonce? Yeah, make it Beyonce. Madonna makes me sound old.

We need to break this cycle of self-doubt and shed light on the “real” problem: we don’t talk about our “flops” at all, and we really should! Our ideas are as fabulous as we are, but just might not be right for our current crop of teens. Comment here to share your story. Let’s create a blooper reel and share those “big” ideas that never really worked with our kids. They might work for someone else, or they might not. It never hurts to share. Also, please help us make Teen Read Week materials and resources better for you by completing the YALSA survey https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/trw15
Carolyn Aversano is the Teen Services Librarian at The Ocean County (NJ) Library, Jackson Branch.

Get Away @Your Library: Setting Goals to Reach Underserved Teens

With our youth patrons returning to school, now is the perfect time to re-evaluate your community’s demographics and set goals to “Get Away” and connect with those underserved populations. As you consider where to start, the first step may seem daunting, but tackle the unknown in a way that is most comfortable for you. We’ll be sharing our ideas about setting goals during our Teen Read Week Twitter chat Setting Goals to Reach Underserved Teens onFriday, September 11 at 2 pm EST. If numbers and statistics read like a first language, you’ll probably have your own plan of action in which to gather information and compile results into charts and graphs. However, many of us need a different approach in order to ease our way into such unfamiliar territory and we offer a few ideas here.

Demographics from an insider view

Consider your teen patrons’ habits as a diving board into better knowing your community. For instance, if your teens often ask library staff for change to spare for food, comment about not eating breakfast, or are eager to attend library programs especially for the free snacks, you may want to further explore this trend. Start by investigating the nearby school’s stats on free and reduced lunches, the city’s poverty percentages, or the state’s caseload counter for food stamp families. The location of these resources will also provide other relevant data that may offer a more detailed view into the issue. Once you have a baseline of data, connect with local food pantries and other social service providers and start a conversation. You may discover any number of ways to partner with these organizations from creating a bookmark for the public listing the location of these services to facilitating meal programs.

Demographics from a bird’s eye perspective

Map the government, parks, nonprofit, and other community agencies within your library’s service area. If a particular trend in services exists, investigate its related statistical topics and connect with those organizations. Also, the types of businesses in your service may offer a starting point into better understanding your community. If you notice an unusual number of liquor stores in your area, you may check the location of rehabilitation centers or AA groups and connect with them. Another way to address your map of agencies, is to first connect with the organizations located nearest to your library, as those service are directly targeting your immediate area.

Take action with us in better understanding your community by joining the Teen Read Week Twitter chat on Friday, September 11 at 2 pm EST. Come ready to share your goals and gain new ideas and resources from your peers. When joining the Twitter chat, be sure to use #TRW15. See you there!

Amanda Barnhart is the current chair for YALSA’s Teen Read Week committee, an MLIS student, and a Young Adult Associate for the Trails West branch of The Kansas City (Mo) Public Library.

 

Get Away @ Your Library!

Get Away @ Your Library can mean a lot of different things to different people. When I think of it I think about why I read. One of the best things about reading is how it takes you to new and exciting places. Whether it is books about other cultures, time travel or historical events, books take us beyond our everday lives.

I love to read historical fiction, fantasy, and science fiction because I love being taken outside my normal day-to-day world. With historical fiction, I learn so much about other time periods and get some insight into what it must have been like to be in that period. Certain periods are so far removed from our current world that they may as well be classed as Fantasy or Science Fiction. Speaking of which, when it comes to Fantasy and Science Fiction I am amazed by the worlds created by the author.

My newest interests are reading about books that take place in other cultures or countries. Sometimes you don’t even have to go very far away from home. Reading books about people from rural areas when you yourself live in an urban area or vice versa can take us into a place we have never experienced. Other cultures also help us to be more empathetic and knowledgeable about what we do not understand.

Some of the books that have taken me to other places that I highly recommend include The Precious Stone trilogy be Kerstin Gier, The Colours of Madeleine by Jaclyn Moriarty, The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton, Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater, The Grisha Series by Leigh Bardugo and so much more. Please check out the TRW Pinterest page for more recommendations!

 

Kristyn Dorfman is a School Librarian at Packer Collegiate Institute, Brooklyn, NY.

Develop Creative Programming for Teen Read Week

I’ll confess that there have been cycles in my ten years of teen services where my creativity to develop innovative library programs suddenly depletes itself. It takes time until I kick my own butt back into gear. I’m sure you’re familiar with this feeling that can result from the graduation of most of your teen advisory group, or your programming budget substantially shrinks, or your energy lags after delivering an outstanding summer reading program. If you are a newly minted teen librarian, you may not have experienced this sudden loss of drive to deliver 100% amazing library services. We all have our secrets for how we regain that equilibrium, especially when feeling depleted from intense summer programming.

Here are just a few tips to energize your programming creativity before, during, or after Teen Read Week:

Challenge yourself to explore their interests. Have those card playing teens who are always in your library after school teach you how to play Vanguard or Pokemon. It’s easier to understand and own the argument that these games make reading, math, and strategy fun when you are actually having to do it yourself. Once you comprehend the reasons for their enjoyment, it becomes easier to develop creative programming because you GET IT. For instance, our middle school anime and manga group will make Pokemon balls out of styrofoam and bring in a favorite stuffed animal. They’ll create a new Pokemon name and ability for their animal and have them spar against each other.

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Teen Read 2015 Program ideas

I have two new favorite teen program ideas – Blind Date a Book and Food Truck Menu Challenge.

Ok, Blind Date a Book isn’t very new; more often than not, you’ll see this in February for Library Lovers’ Month. Librarians across the country have taken this idea out for a ride and given it their own personal spin. Some benevolent librarians will give potential readers clues, by listing the genre or even a few spoiler-free sentences describing the plot or main character. Some have even successfully applied the speed dating concept to book choice – setting up tables with books at each station, allowing teens to sit with each book for a few minutes, then allowing teens to choose the book date to which they’re most attracted.

For my Blind Date a Book programs, I opt for complete “blindness” – offering up no hints at the contents of the wrapped tome. The “dates” I select tend primarily to be best sellers or YA classics that appeal to a broad range of ages, but I do include the occasional “acquired taste” titles. I decorate my stable of dates with stickers, stick-figure & smiley face drawings, and even phrases like “Short but sweet” (for the thinnest books) or “Can I hang out at your house?” The official rule is that the book must remain wrapped until it is checked out. Once checked out, the reader is free to unwrap the book – even if they’re still in the library. There are no penalties for returning their selected date right away. Sometimes, you just know you won’t be compatible, and that’s ok. I’ve included “rate your date” review forms and bookmarks that double as contest entries; both with varying degrees of success. However, my greatest satisfaction occurs when the books STAY checked out. To me, that means that the teen is reading something he or she would not necessarily have chosen or is re-reading a favorite. Either way, a teen is reading for fun – objective achieved!

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Learning from Teens: Thoughts for Teen Read Week

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. Continue reading

TRW 2013: Dollar General Literacy Foundation Spotlight on Patricia VanArsdale

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. Continue reading