The library I work in is on a very busy side of town. Our tweens tend to become very involved in after school activities and homework during the school year. While they still use the library, they tend to be here for tutoring, homework help, or just running in quickly to grab a book. Sometimes our programming for tweens can be hit or miss. But one thing that has become a popular hit with our school age group are passive programs.’ We put out passive programs several times a year and these are great for tweens on the go who only have a few minutes to spend with a program. A few of our recent ideas:


This has become a holiday tradition for both Halloween and Christmas. Many years ago the library received a Madeline dollhouse that my staff transform into a large I Spy House. The interior changes every year with new items to find. Sometimes it’s a list of items, sometimes it’s a puzzle with rhyming text, but no matter what the tweens love searching for all the times and seeing how fast they can find everything. Here’s a peek at what our Halloween house looks like this year:

I Spy House


Our tweens love scavenger hunts. They would do them all day if we had enough! We tie scavenger hunts into a lot of our programs because of their popularity. I’ve used them for our Hobbit Birthday celebration (find the hidden Hobbits around the library) or to kick off summer reading program (find the pyramids using various clues). Read More →

My library is full of Star Wars fans and we can’t keep anything to do with Star Wars on the shelf. The enduring popularity of the franchise, plus all the toy, movie, and book tie-ins, make it perfect for tween readers. The second annual Star Wars Reads is happening this year on October 5.



Star Wars Reads is an initiative to bring together bookstores, libraries, publishers and readers to celebrate a love of reading through Star Wars. It’s the perfect time to reach out to those Star Wars fans at the library. Try giving your Star Wars fans some of these titles:

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger (and sequels)-Dwight is the strange kid in school and no one is sure what to think of the Origami Yoda he brings to school. This series now has four titles included and there’s even an origami companion, Art2-D2’s Guide to Folding and Doodling, if your fans want to give some Star Wars origami a try.

Star Wars: Jedi Academy by Jeffrey Brown-If you have comic book fans and readers who enjoy humor, this title is perfect. Imagine all the angst and confusion of middle school only set inside of a Jedi Academy where learning to use lightsabers and the Force are key classes. Read More →

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.

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In January, my library held an author chat with Maggie Stiefvater, author of Shiver, Ballad and Lament, via Skype.’  My library is located in Southwest Missouri’ and authors typically opt for the much larger Kansas City or St. Louis on their tours.’  My teens have been begging for an author event, and Skype turned out to be the best budget friendly’ option.

I was lucky enough to come across an advance copy of Shiver last year and reviewed the book on my book blog before I attended ALA.’  Ms. Stiefvater’ ended up sitting at my table at the YA Author Coffee Klatch hosted by YALSA and we talked about the book and her writing.’  This was a great networking opportunity and it opened the door for our Skype event.’  I highly recommend the YA Author Coffee Klatch to every YALSA member!

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My first ALA conference was last year’s annual in Chicago and I was hooked.’  I wish I could attend every ALA conference, but for this year’s Midwinter in Boston attendance just wasn’t possible.’  Luckily technology helped me experience’ Midwinter vicariously through those who were there.’ 

I’ve never been a big fan of Twitter, but after Midwinter, I think I’m addicted.’  I couldn’t get enough of following Midwinter attendees and reading their tweets about sessions they’d attended and what ARCs everyone was eager to get their hands on.’  I even woke up early (and on my day off!) to watch the live Twitter feed of the ALA Youth Media Awards.’  Reading everyone’s reactions and being able to chime in my own at the same time was the next best thing to being there.’ 

I kept up with the YALSA blog and was incredibly grateful for the video and Twitter feed from the BBYA session.’  I was still able to get the teen’s feedback and added many books to my library order list as well as my own “to be read” pile.’ 

I also read many blogs from librarians that were in attendance and made a giant wish list for the library’ from their Midwinter ARC posts.’  I’ might be a little sad I didn’t get my hands on some of those’ ARCs, but seeing their lists gave me a great heads up of what I need to be on the lookout for.’  ‘ 

Even though I would have loved to be there in Boston, keeping up with the events via Twitter and various blogs helped me feel like I wasn’t missing out.

I’m sure many of you are like me and are faced with a limited budget. Long before I started in my current position, the teens were conditioned to expect prizes at our monthly teen night events. They look forward to our prize drawings and it wasn’t something I really wanted to take away. So I’m always looking for fun and affordable prizes and program supplies for my teen events. Here are some of my favorites:

Target’s Dollar Spot -This is my regular place for Teen Night prizes. I’ve found cloth bags, mini pens, and stickers that all work well for Teen Night.

The local dollar store -Every once in awhile I can find program supplies at our local dollar store. This is where I looked for craft supplies for a Girl’s Day Out: Room Makeover program and found wooden paintable frames for $1. It gave me a great craft and also helped keep the supply cost down. -I love Fred Flare and so do my teens. It’s more expensive, but if you’re looking for unique and wacky prize ideas, this is the best place to look. There are lots of great finds under $20 and be sure to check out their clearance items. This is a great place to mix up your prizes for Summer Reading Program and offer something really different.

Sushi Erasers-I first got sushi erasers to give away as a prize for an anime club event and the teens went crazy over them. I found mine at a Scholastic Warehouse sale, but has sushi erasers for $1! Take a look around the site for other anime club prize ideas.

Operation Anime-Operation Anime is a project by Funimation.’  If your anime club has 20 or more members, you can sign up and recieve a free anime DVD each month from featured titles.’  The request to view the DVD includes screening permission from Funimation for the event date.’  The DVDs can then be added to your library collection.’  The packages also come with bookmarks and postcards that are great anime club giveaways.

Signed Author Bookplates -Two summers ago I came up with an idea to ask authors for signed bookplates to use for our summer reading program. My teen library council helped come up with a list of authors to write to and I sent them e-mails asking them if they would be willing to sign bookplates for us. Then with the help of community relations, we sent bookplates and a self-addressed stamped envelope to the authors. We got a great response and we used the bookplates to make signed books to give away for summer reading. The teens loved finding autographed copies of their favorite books and it made our book giveaway that year extra special.

What are some of your favorite steals and deals?

I, like many others, saw Twilight over the weekend.’  Actually, I will admit that I was at the midnight showing with my fellow co-workers.’  But I wasn’t there for Edward and Bella.’  I was there with my hopes high that there would be a new Percy Jackson and the Olympians trailer.’  Luckily for me, that was the first trailer they showed.’  I squealed loudly and my co-worker called out “read the book first” when the trailer finished.’ 

From what I’ve seen in the previews’ so far, I’m really looking forward to this movie.’  I’ve read the books, and waited eagerly for the casting announcements.’  The excitement from my teens on the other hand isn’t as apparent.’  Many of them don’t even know that a movie based on the books is being released.’  They all get excited when I tell them the movie will be out in February.’  The Lightning Thief and Sea of Monsters won our state book award two years in a row, so I’m sure they’ll be racing to the theater to see it on the big screen.’ 

Maybe the movie just needs some more marketing to go with it.’  It’s been relatively quite so far.’  Do your teens know about the upcoming Percy Jackson movie and are they looking forward to it?