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

Virtual Road Trip: New York

“Read It Forward” is Moving Forward!

One of the most popular tables at the Youth Services Section’s Table Talks Workshop [during the 2013 NYLA Annual Conference] was the “Read It Forward” table.’  This presentation was given by Deena Viviani, a Young Adult, Programming, and Circulation Services Librarian for the Brighton Memorial Library in Rochester, NY. ‘ Deena credits the idea to a presentation she attended at the YALSA Symposium in St. Louis, MO, in November of 2012 – given by YA Librarian Carrie Dietz – so it appears that this idea has quite a bit of forward momentum already! ‘ ‘ ny

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Virtual Road Trip: Kentucky

Read One Book, Change Two Lives

Krista King-Oaks, Boone County (KY) Public Library

Learning is a year-round process that begins and never ends, even when a child has learned to read.’  Regardless of a child’s age, whether they are just starting kindergarten or embarking on the beginning of their senior year of high school, research shows that even reading just a handful of books over the summer months lessens the dreaded “Summer Slump” effect. kentuckyHowever, we all know that reading is more fun when you not only get to choose your own books, but when you can share them with a friend – and that is exactly what makes the library’s Read with a Teen program a smash hit!

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Library Test Kitchen: Call for YALSA Feedback

by Paulina Haduong

Hey YALSA!

I’m an Ed.M. Candidate in Technology, Innovation, and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. This semester, I’ve been a student with Library Test Kitchen, a library innovation class at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. I’m working on a class project right now that’s designed for teens and YA librarians, and I’d love to get some input!

library test kitchen

For the last few months, I’ve been fascinated by the YA GoodReads community, and the recent trend of using GIFs in book reviews. To that end, I’ve been developing a kind of “photo booth” for use in a library’s teen room. The gist of the concept is that teens (or anyone, really), would be able to scan a book and make a selfie-GIF as a #bookfeel. I’m playing around with the idea here, and the outputs are on this Tumblr. In theory, the app would sit on a computer inside of a cardboard photo booth.
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Have You Started Your Own Revolution?

on behalf of the MAE Award Jury

The MAE Award for Best Literature Program for Teens recognizes an outstanding reading or literature program for young adults. Learn more about the 2013 winner–you could be next!

Kristen Pelfrey, a teacher at Foothill Technology High School, won the 2013 MAE Award for Best Literature Program for Teens with her program “Best Fiction (about) Young Adults Revolution.” She has continued the Revolution this school year, and spoke by email about her experiences with the MAE Award:

How did winning this award affect how you were viewed at your school or community? How did your students react?

My kids were not surprised at all. They were “Well, yeah, that’s cool” and then immediately made requests for books they want to read. I, on the other hand, went shrieking into the main office and danced down the hall with a copy of the notification email. The entire Underground Library is funded by grant money, and we always need more books. I think that winning this award has helped me get other grant monies. I asked for a matching grant from our parent organization, for example. People seem more inclined to award grants if they see how an organization like ALA/YALSA ‘ put the stamp of approval on it. Continue reading

“Welcome to Battle School”: Ender’s Game Party

by Mirele Davis and’ Elizabeth Savopoulos

In order to spark more interest in recreational reading, our school library decided to throw an Ender’s Game party in anticipation of the release of the Ender’s Game movie. Our library at Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School had never had an event like this in its history, and we were proud to be the pioneers. ‘ The goal, we decided, was to stimulate student interest in reading the book and in reading for pleasure in general. ‘ We began preparing a month in advance, posting announcements on our website, putting up flyers around the school, and making special announcements during lunch-time and advisory meetings.

Mirele and Liz_2

We selected a student who was enthusiastic about the project to take on a formal participatory role in planning the event. He attended planning meetings, helped with advertising, and contributed to the overall vision and goals of the event. We advertised a space-themed party that would include neon snacks, space-themed video games, a spaceship Lego building contest, and a simulated laser-tag battle based on the tournaments in Ender’s Game. Continue reading

Winding Down or Gearing Up? Fall Months in a Public Library

After the Summer Reading Program Ends…

This year the teen summer reading program ended August 1st, giving the teens six weeks of reading and earning prizes and lots of programs to attend. I held about three programs a week. The rest of August is spent helping teens track down their summer reading books – at this point, most of the books are out, so it’s a struggle finding something they want to read and that’s on the list.

Once school starts, the library will be quiet until the afternoon when teens start coming in to use the computers. During the day, I’ll start inventorying the collection. Doing an inventory also counts as shelf-reading as I make sure everything’s in the right place. It also helps with weeding. I check to make sure the book’s circulated in the last three years. If not, then I make a decision to keep or toss that book. I don’t have extra shelf space and with all the great new books that keep coming out, I need all the room I can get. Continue reading

The Roadtripping Librarian: Austin! and the Surrounding Cities

I’m in Austin!

(Okay not really anymore, I am home now, I couldn’t really write coherently from my iPhone while on the trip…)

In Austin, I was lucky to be able to spend a few day with my friend Jenny and her husband George. Jenny is a former blogger for Forever Young Adult and currently blogs for Writers Out of Bounds. She is working on her first YA novel, so we have a lot in common and a lot of YA to talk about…we’re both hardcore fans of Michael Grant’s Gone series and hadn’t seen each other since before the last book came out.

OutYouth Center for LGBT Teens in Austin

OutYouth Center for LGBT Teens in Austin

While in Austin, I visited three libraries, ate LOTS of BBQ and was lucky enough to meet with Natalia Ornelas, the program coordinator at Out Youth, a nonprofit in Austin that serves LGBT youth. Before I describe my experiences, I want to quickly go over my method of identifying libraries to visit and what I do once I am there. Continue reading

The Roadtripping Librarian: On the Way to Austin

The road trip has begun! It is hard for me to write a ton while I am on the road because I only have my phone but here are my thoughts so far:

1. Texas is really hot. I was expecting the heat, and I was prepared because we just had an awful heat wave in Boston where I live, but Texas is something else entirely. It also didn’t help that I waited outside in the sun for three hours at Franklin’s BBQ for lunch. Although it was totally worth it. Now that I have eaten Texas BBQ I can never go back to what we eat in New England.

2. The libraries I visited on the way to Austin were very varied in their size, collection, set up etc. (no surprise there) but mostly really awesome in their own ways.

I’ve been to eight libraries with plans for a bunch more in the next week or so. All the libraries I’ve visited have had at least three novels on the shelf in their teen collection with LGBT characters and at least one nonfiction title discussing being gay in a positive way. Of those eight libraries, four have had at least ten titles and multiple nonfiction titles (either in a specific teen nonfiction section or in the regular adult nonfiction section.)

Laman Public Library in Little Rock Teen Space

Laman Public Library in Little Rock Teen Space

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