RoseMary Honnold, Teen Read Week Committee Chair

Editor-in-Chief, VOYA Magazine

Happy Teen Read Week!

Time is our greatest gift, and giving your time to the people and things that matter most to you creates a satisfying life for you and the recipients benefit in many ways. The Search Institute lists asset building ideas for youth workers and the key to all of the ideas is quality time spent engaging teens in conversation, meaningful activities, and providing space and materials that they need. ( As teachers and librarians and parents who care about teens, giving your time to do these things is one of the most important parts of your jobs.

Yet, it is not always an easy task to inflict yourself upon teens in the library. Teens can be a bit leery of adults, sporting a well-earned paranoia that the adults are suspicious and watching them for misdeeds. So, finding ways that make it easy and comfortable for teens to talk with you is a big step to building relationships with them and making the library a more welcoming place.

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For the entire month of October, high schools in the Portland Public School District are celebrating Teen Read Month.’  This year’s celebration will involve an all high school Read-In. The idea is simple: students come to the library to curl up in a comfy chair with a good book and a yummy treat and get to focus solely on reading during class time.’  This program started with one school, Cleveland High, a few years ago.’  CHS teacher librarian Theresa Quinn, who got her idea for this library program from YALSA, has had such success that her secondary colleagues wanted to have their students get in on the fun too.

Coordinating an event across ten different schools is no easy feat.’  One librarian was in charge of sending out a press release and contacting the media so we could spread the Teen Read Week message “Read for the fun of it!”‘  Another helped create graphics so we could all use the same promotional materials. Read More →

Seize the opportunities!

Teen Read Week is a terrific opportunity to continue or begin a wonderful school and public library collaboration. October is a great month to implement good TRW programming as the school year starts to settle into its groove and students are interesting in getting involved. The sooner you plan your TRW program – even just brainstorming in the springtime, the better!

Some helpful tips for initiating that school and public library relationship:

  • Write a letter to your middle and high school librarians and school principals at the beginning of September.’  Introduce yourself if you are a new hire – and welcome everyone back to the school year! It will be a whirlwind for everyone in early September so allow ample time for response.
  • Follow up with a friendly email or phone call. Think of a good time to meet and enjoy a school/public librarian chat!
  • ‘  Remember: flexibility is key from the first phone call through the actual TRW programming!
  • ‘  If the school district has a librarians’ meeting, ask the coordinator or leader of the group if you may drop in and talk about the public library.

Brainstorm! Be sure to check out TRW activities and planning timeline!

  • Connect with teachers and librarians on judging a writing or “picture-it” contest. Allow time for creating the works, submission deadline and judging. Announce the winner(s) at a TRW party!
  • Hold a joint book discussion group after school at a library.
  • Present book talks in schools – have students film their own booktalks!
  • Public libraries and school libraries may be able to share resources such as equipment, meeting space, extra book copies for discussions, extra TRW bookmarks and posters, free books, whatever!
  • Host a joint author event! See if you can book the author for a two part program – a writing workshop at school and a large-scale author talk in a bigger meeting area (public library meeting room, school auditorium, teen rec center, etc.).
  • Teen Advisory Boards can bridge the gaps from the public library to the school library! TABs and teen school volunteers can help plan TRW events.
  • And one BIG incentive for teens: talk with teachers about offering extra credit on any TRW programs they attend.

Share what YOU are doing to make that school/public library connection during Teen Read Week.

Leave a comment and let everyone know!

Every librarian has experienced it.’  The heady rush of the weeks leading up to Teen Read Week where you promote the theme to patrons and staff, excitedly pull items for display, unleash your creative genius with promotion, and plan well-attended programming.’  Wait.’  Programming?

*Record needle screech*

Actually programming seems to be an aspect many librarians say does not come as easily as other aspects of the job, possibly because when it comes time to put people in the seats, putting ourselves on the line with the money or time investment in a program can be downright intimidating.

The first law of programming is Know Your Audience.’  YALSA and other librarians can give seven thousand great suggestions, but you are the one best equipped to determine what is going to fly in your library.’  You could read about an amazing anime tie-in to the Teen Read Week theme of Picture It @ Your Library, but if your patron group doesn’t know anime from animals and are all NASCAR fans, this is not going to work and, even worse, you’ve lost their trust because now they believe you have no idea what they like.’  Not good.

But those same patrons might be enthralled with a technology tutorial on Photoshop Elements where they “Picture It” by creating the car design for their favorite driver, right?’  Now you are a technology god or goddess who can name the top ten drivers and who even encourages them to send a copy of their design in a fan email to their hero.’  You know your audience and you have their respect and trust.’  Congratulations.

With your font of wisdom bubbling behind you, you may wish to consider these ideas as possible options for your fabulous audience.

  • The book to movie connection is a natural tie-in to Picture It programming, so what about a poll of the best adaptation?’  It can be either paper or posted on your library website using your blog software, a Google Docs form, or a service like Surveymonkey.’  The culmination can be a Saturday night viewing of the movie that won, with a discussion afterward about whether the film managed to convey the emotion of the book.
  • Poetry and writing groups can find inspiration in using images to inspire their work.’  Whether its encouraging them to bring in their own original artwork or photos, pulling those glossy color art books off the shelf, or using a cool service like PicLit, showing the connection between writing and images can get creative juices flowing.
  • Book trailers are another natural tie-in to this year’s TRW theme.’  Actually teaching movie making software is certainly an option, but using super easy sites like Animoto and Glogster are also great ways to showcase the teen vision of a specific book, with far more instant gratification.’  If there aren’t enough computers to go around for your patrons, what about just having a viewing of book trailers, maybe recent releases?’  A discussion about which elements make readers want to pick up the book in question could be a great jumping off point for understanding reader tastes in your library.
  • Book to Picture is a quick way to get your readers looking at themselves (younger audiences love this).’  Have readers pose with the favorite book and print or post the image in a collage near your library entrance. This is a popular programming idea for schools, particularly when faculty can be coaxed to pose with a recent read (even better if it’s actually a YA book).’  You’d be amazed at how many previously reticent students will run up to a teacher with the breathless comment, “You really read the Vampire Academy series?”
  • The now-defunct Borders bookstore used to have a promotion where they would “catch” you reading a book you hadn’t bought yet and give you a 10% off coupon.’  Genius!’  Make your own coupons for prizes, food or otherwise, or partner with your local movie theater for free concessions or ticket vouchers.’  Maybe your local art museum would offer a few free admission tickets when you tell them your theme?’  Just the food reward of a cookie for getting caught reading is enough to get someone to flip open a book or magazine and you’ve captured a moment as a librarian where you can talk to them about their likes and dislikes.’  It’s golden collection development time that no survey can extract.

Even better than knowing your audience is asking them.’  Hopefully you have a great Library Advisory Board who can brainstorm ideas best suited for your library, but feel free to use some of these as a jumping off point for programming.’  And don’t forget to post your good ideas on the Teen Read Week wiki so others can benefit from them!’  Then we can all enjoy Picturing It @ Your Library.

Many thanks to the Library Advisory Board of Wyoming Seminary’s Upper School for some of the great programming ideas in this article. To paraphrase author John Green, LAB members are full of awesome.

So, your library (or your school) has all sorts of wonderful programs, book displays, lists of recommended reading and media, contests, and teen involvement geared up for Teen Read Week in October — you know it, and some of your more observant library users know it, but how can you let everyone else know about it, too?! Here are some tips:

1. Talk about it!

Make sure your CO-WORKERS all know and understand what you have planned, so that they can both answer questions about upcoming events, and so that they can help spread the word. Some of our front-line staff members are better at getting the word out than we are. Make sure your TEENS know by fitting in a mention of TRW in casual conversations — “Hey, did you know…?” Add all of your program announcements, book trailers, and event teasers to your Facebook and Twitter accounts. Word-of-mouth among teens is the best way to ensure participation and attendance. Make sure your COMMUNITY hears about all that the library has planned for TRW by emailing or calling local schools, local press, and other local libraries and colleagues. Download the TRW PSAs and spread the word: ttp://

2. Write about it!

YALSA has a ton of sample press materials that can be used to help promote all aspects of Teen Read Week on the TRW Publicity webpage. Take advantage of these incredibly useful tools:

3. Picture it!

Put up posters and program signs in areas of the library teens are likely to hang around in — including near computers, group study spaces, by the front door to the Teen Room or the library building, and in the bathrooms! Display any teen-designed artwork prominently, whether it was created for promotional purposes or as part of a library-sponsored TRW contest (past or current – hey, why not!). Displays are also an integral component of promotion, and great display ideas were already discussed on this blog to steal and use ( Highlight materials that are related to this year’s Picture It theme, or display the titles of the Teens’ Top Ten nominations.

How are you publicizing and promoting Teen Read Week in your school and/or public library? Leave a comment and let everyone know!

This year’s theme “Picture It @ Your Library” is a great time to recommend books that either have a picture based format, such as graphic novels, or those that include comic strip types of illustrations, such as the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney or The Accidental Genius of Weasel High by Rick Detorie. Besides just those types of books, you can also use this year’s theme “Picture It @ Your Library” to focus on giving book talks or creating book displays that have to do with art, drawing, photography, movies, and films. There was a recent discussion on the YALSA Book discussion listserv in which many of those in the teen services library world, who I must give credit to, put together a fabulous list of books that go hand in hand with this year’s theme. Here is what they came up with:


Stitches: A Memoir by David Small
Metamorphosis: Junior Year by Betty Franco
The Day My Mother Left by James Prosek
Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Page by Paige by Laura Lee Gulledge
Plain Janes by Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Art/Art School:

Pieces of Georgia by Jen Bryant
Same Difference by Siobhan Vivian
See What I See by Gloria Whelan
Heist Society and Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter
The Vanishing Point: A Story of Lavinia Fontana by Louisa Hawes
A Map of the Known World by Lisa Ann Sandell


Exposed by Kimberly Marcus
Flash Burnout by L.K. Madigan
Hold Still by Nina LaCoure
Razzle by Ellen Wittlinger
Rain is Not My Indian Name by Cynthia Leitich Smith
A Summer to Die by Lois Lowry
The Photographer by Emmauel
Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Mystery of the Fool and the Vanisher by David Ellwand


Carter’s Big Break by Brent Crawford
Monster by Walter Dean Myers
Boy Proof by Cecil Castelluci
Violet and Claire by Francesca Block
My Life Take Two by Paul Many
Geek Charming by Robin Palmer
Viola in Reel Life and Viola in the Spotlight by Adriana Trigiani

By: Jessica Skaggs

With summer reading coming to a close, you might have room on your bulletin boards and display fixtures for something new. Why not get ready to Picture It @ Your Library? Creating displays have always been a great way to promote Teen Read Week, and can boost your circulation tremendously! This year’s theme naturally lends itself to a visual representation, so what’s holding you back?

Looking for Teen Read Week display inspiration?’  Enjoy these “picture perfect” ideas! Read More →