Teen Read Week is a good time for young adult librarians to reflect and reinforce why they have chosen to serve teens in libraries, school or public. Many of us who have committed our careers to the field can point to a person or persons in our youth that made a significant impression upon us. Maybe a youth group leader, a scout leader, a teacher, a coach, a band or choir director, or maybe it was a librarian, who took the time to connect with us. And it made a difference.

Becoming a young adult librarian allows us to “pass it on” to generation after generation of teens. We only get a few short, fast-paced years with each of our teens, so the time we spend with them is often intense, high-energy, and, for some of us “more experienced” librarians, exhausting. But what a satisfying feeling it is to put forth the energy and effort to reach out and then a teen takes the time to reach back! It might be immediately, like when they remember to say thank you when you hand them a book or ask excitedly after a program (when all you want to do is sit down and take your shoes off), “When can we do this again?” Read More →

One of the ways we celebrated Teen Read Week at Piscataway (NJ) Public Library was to createmonster cupcakes with our teens — using plain cupcakes, frosting (and food coloring!), licorice, candy corn, candy eyes, cookies, pretzels, sprinkles, and whatever else we could find that was FUN. Scary, friendly, and creepy creations were in abundance, and the program brought more teens into our two branches than we had previously seen for a food-decorating program. We had some great giveaways of ARCs, super creative monster bookmarks for all to put together, and even some gaming . . . and it all came from the library!

Hopefully many of you were able to make it to the #TRW12 tweet-up to share great ideas and a lot of enthusiasm. Often our teens get excited about what we’re doing because we’re excited ourselves! What are you doing in your schools and libraries to encourage your teens’ enthusiasm and creativity?

– Kate Vasilik, Piscataway (NJ) Public Library, Teen Read Week 2012 Committee

It is a wonderful thing when science confirms what librarians and book lovers seem to know instinctually. In March, a New York Times article noted research being done in the field of neuroscience about the effect that reading fiction novels has on the brain. See “Your Brain on Fiction”.

When we read stories with detailed descriptions, metaphors, and sensory words, beyond the language parts of our brains, other parts are reacting the same as they do during an actual experience, which is why some writing feels so alive. For example, reading words like lavender or cinnamon can evoke the same response in the parts of our brains that understand smells. Reading an emotional exchange between characters can affect the same areas of our brains as if we were doing the interacting. Particularly textural metaphors activate the sensory cortex, so that descriptive phrases using words that have touch meaning for us, like leathery hands or a velvety voice, makes our brains more active, more involved in what we are reading.
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School has just ended this week, but plans are already afoot for next year – particularly working with my student library assistants on monthly programming ideas. After reading Teen Read Week posts from Courtney and Kate, I thought of ways I could collaborate with staff and students on projects that will have people in our school community saying “It Came from the Library.”

Students are planning a series of DIY projects for Lunchtime Learning Lessons (L3). They found a lot of great ideas on the TRW Pinterest board: personalizing bland book ends, découpaging picture frames, and creating paint chip bookmarks to name a few.

One of the big events we are collaborating with district high school librarians on is the Second Annual All School Read-In that I shared for last year’s TRW celebration. This day-long event combines a cozy spot to read with great books and fun treats. Considering how well zombies lend themselves to this year’s theme, I will make sure to have VooDoo doll doughnuts on hand – perhaps with some extra icing so students can customize these culinary creations.

To promote the Read-In, we are planning a silk screening session that will incorporate student artwork. One of my students, along with teachers from the art department, will be volunteering in the library to help make this program a success. Our main inspiration for this DIY-craft came from an event at the end of this school year. In preparation for a protest march decrying budget cuts, students designed a logo and spent time during lunch and after-school helping the school community print posters and t-shirts with this design. Having a central image helped create a shared message that united all the public schools in our city. We are looking to forward to creating the same buzz for recreational reading.

Our hope for all the L3 projects next year (whether we are sporting our rad silk-screened t-shirts or slipping an awesome bookmark into library books) is that people will stop us and ask “Where did you get that fabulous creation? ” to which we will exclaim “It came from the library!”

Paige Battle, NBCT Librarian, Grant High School, Portland, OR and Teen Read Week Committee Member

I just returned to work after spending three invigorating days participating in the New Jersey Library Association’s annual conference. I was able to catch up with some good friends and colleagues, meet some new people who traveled far and wide to present and attend the conference programs, and attended some fabulous presentations. And from all different corners throughout the conference, there seemed to be a resounding chorus of “Say YES!”

Last week, Courtney wrote about the importance of collaboration. Discussing ideas and perspectives with others – both inside and outside of librarianship – can allow for the creation of some unique and creative ways of doing programming, building collections, and interacting with teens in our libraries. Sometimes these unique and creative ways of doing things can be intimidating, whether because we ourselves are hesitant to try something new, or our administration is holding us back, or our building, staffing, or schedules are less-than accommodating. But at some point, we need to bust out our advocacy skills and stop taking “no” for an answer when we want to do something cool in our libraries for teens! And Teen Read Week is a great opportunity to create some fun within our libraries and our communities.

Take all of the creativity from your professional peers and your teens and start thinking outside the box. Host an after-hours or all-night event to kick-off (or wrap-up) Teen Read Week this October! Incorporate Banned Books Week and start discussions or demonstrations about censorship and the freedom to read what we want. Collaborate and host joint programs among schools, public libraries, and community groups outside the physical building. Expand to mobile spaces and incorporate technology in ways that will entice your teens to not just attend a program, but also actively participate in its development and execution. Big displays like library flashmobs, emptying shelves, zombie crawls, read outs, and library hugs all created buzz last year. What will your library do in October 2012?

Don’t JUST say “yes,” say “yes, and . . .” and keep thinking of bigger and better ways to create ways to promote reading and library usage to our teens. It is during this week that we take so much pride in encouraging teens to “Read for the Fun of It,” so let’s make sure to make it FUN! Interact with your teens, interact with your colleagues, interact with your administration, interact with your community and really DO something to create some fabulous opportunities to connect during Teen Read Week. Take a look at these slides from a presentation seen at the Connecticut and New Jersey Library Association Conferences; if you can incorporate these 50 Awesome Things into everything you do, be proud to share all of your ideas about programming, collection, displays, contests, services, and advocacy efforts . . . and loudly declare that “It Came from the Library!”

– Kate Vasilik, Librarian, Piscataway (NJ) Public Library, Teen Read Week Committee Member

Our public library regularly hosts film festivals for teens, offering them a choice of a variety of movies and allowing them to decide which to view that evening. We provide snacks and some quality company. For Teen Read Week, we focused on movie choices that were stories that originated as novels, including I Am Number Four and Flipped (the latter title was a huge hit with summer reading this past year). The focus of the PICTURE IT Film Festival was to point out that movies and books are two different perspectives on telling a story. For many readers, stories are told beautifully with words that allow us to create our own scenery and become connected to characters in our own ways. For just as many viewers, stories are told through images, colors, actions, and emotions portrayed directly through our physical senses. The stories are the same, but the perspectives are often vastly different. Some readers (and viewers) simply enjoy a different method of storytelling over another. It’s up to the readers and viewer to internalize the story in their own way, whether it’s read, seen, or both!

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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. (http://www.search-institute.org/content/asset-building-ideas-for-youth-workers) 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 →

Last week, Hillel Italie of the Associated Press profiled Walter Dean Myers, one of a few authors to win both the Printz and Edwards awards from YALSA, on his enduring popularity with teen readers. Read on to see why YALSA chose Myers to be a featured speaker at Give Them What They Want: Reaching Reluctant Readers, YALSA’s half-day Annual preconference in New Orleans on June 24, 12:30 – 4:30 p.m.

Among the kids at the Promise Academy and around the country, Walter Dean Myers is a must-read whose books have sold millions of copies and have a special appeal for the toughest of people to reach, boys. He is able, like few writers, to relate to his readers as they live today.

And he is old enough to be their grandfather.

Myers, 73, has written dozens of novels, plays and biographies. He has received three National Book Award nominations and won many prizes, including a lifetime achievement honor from the American Library Association and five Coretta Scott King awards for African-American fiction. He is also the most engaged of writers, spending hours with young people at schools, libraries and prisons, giving talks and advice on life and work, his own rise from high-school dropout to best-selling author, a story that translates across generations.

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YALSA has selected five books as finalists for the 2011 William C. Morris Award, which honors a book written for young adults by a previously unpublished author. YALSA will name the 2011 award winner at the Youth Media Awards on Jan. 10, at ALA’s Midwinter Meeting in San Diego.

The 2011 finalists are:

  • Hush by Eishes Chayil, published by Walker Publishing Company, a division of Bloomsbury Publishing, Inc.
  • Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey, published by Little, Brown and Company/Hachette Book Group
  • Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride, published by Henry Holt
  • Crossing the Tracks by Barbara Stuber, published by Margaret McElderry Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division
  • The Freak Observer by Blythe Woolston, published by Carolrhoda Lab, an imprint of Carolrhoda Books, a division of Lerner Publishing Group

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