Celebrate Teen Read Week

Celebrate Teen Read Week!

Naomi Bates has been an educator for 27 years, with 17 of them as a school librarian.  She is an adjunct instructor for Texas Women's University teaching graduate courses in library science and works for Follett School Solutions.  Naomi is an active member of TxLA, ALA, and YALSA and has served on many committees for both associations.  You can contact her at naomi.bates@gmail.com

If you work with teens on a regular basis, you can definitely spot a teen reader.  They’re the ones that constantly ask when the next new YA bestseller is coming out, still gushes over the time they met their first author, and knows where your secret stash of books you hold back for them are.
As librarians we have a long battle ahead when it comes to teens and reading.  Research done by Common Sense Media shows reading rates declining not only as kids get older, but also how large the gap is in the last 30 years.  In 2014, 22% of 13 year olds and 27% of 17 year olds said they “never” or “hardly ever” read for pleasure.  Girls tend to dominate pleasure reading with 30% say they read daily to the 18% of boys who do. 
Image by ALA/YALSA

That is why programs such as Teen Read Week(http://teenreadweek.ning.com/ ) are so important to implement in your school library.  TRW (Teen Read Week) happens in October and is an important way to let teens know the library is for them.  But how do you get started?
First of all, jump in and start.  Results from participation will vary, but the most important thing is that you’re interacting with the readers you already have and best of all?  You may even have created new readers because of TRW participation.  That’s the most rewarding part of putting the effort into one week dedicated to them. 
Second of all, don’t expect publicity to do the hard work to make it happen.  Planning is essential as well as follow-through.  YALSA, a young adult division of ALA, has made it simple and easy to not only create publicity but also have activities throughout the week.  The theme this year is “Unleash Your Story.”  Create booklists, bulletin boards, and display that embrace the theme.  Use your library website, Twitter and other social media to share that you’re participating and to also create anticipation.  The more TRW is seen, the more readers you are going to capture.
So, what do teens do during Teen Read Week?  Activities are endless, and this is where the fun happens.  Some ideas from the website (http://teenreadweek.ning.com/page/activity-ideas ) include something as simple as extending library hours to more dedicated activities like a cake decorating contest from a YA book to a comic book swap.  Activities can also embrace the theme, so encourage teen readers to read books that tell a personal story, whether fiction or non-fiction. 
It’s not so much about the theme as it is putting the teen reader first.  Whatever your teens do for TRW, display it.  Ask them to write reviews to share in different ways.  Get them to create unique reading displays with the books you already have in the library.  Create a breakout edu game or scavenger hunt based on YA books.  Create Sphero mazes teens have to code and complete and give each participant a reward (we all have or know someone who has YA books you can donate as prizes).  Create a fun and unique “have you ever read” checklist and give to all participants to check and share with each other (ie Have you ever read a book with a unicorn in it?  Have you ever read a book with more than two diverse main characters in it? etc).  Get students to write short mystery memoirs from books they’ve read and have them guess who the person is behind the words during lunch or any other time they can meet. Incorporate Teens’ Top Ten voting into TRW (more info here:  http://www.ala.org/yalsa/teenstopten ).  The possibilities are only limited by your imagination.  And there is always help online.  Just type in “Teen Read Week” into Pinterest and BOOM goes the dynamite! 

Another reason to do this?  Nothing says I care more than getting involved in your students’ lives, both academic and personal.  What better way to connect than through sharing books and perspectives?  To end with complete honesty and Trekkie geekiness, as Captain Picard is so fond of saying,  “Make it so….”

Celebrate Banned Books Week

by Brooke King, Middle School Librarian in Humble ISD, TxASLTalks Editorial Board

Artwork courtesy of the American Library Association

Banned Books Week is quickly approaching. This year it is September 24-30. Banned Books Week is the perfect time to show how your library advocates against censorship, promotes free access to information, and celebrates the student’s Right to Read.

According to the American Library Association’s Banned & Challenged Books site, a challenge is “an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group.” While a banning is “the removal of those materials.” Because challenges try to restrict the access to others, they are a threat to the freedom of speech and choice. (ALA, 2017).

Although I have always thrown together a display to highlight Banned Books Week, this year I really wanted to promote the week more. I decided to use my PLN (personal learning network) to cull some ideas. I hope you find these ideas as inspiring as I did and perhaps can find a way to incorporate them in your library.

Banned Books Week FlipGrid
FlipGrid is one of my new favorite tech tools. If you are not familiar with FlipGrid, it is an app/website where students can record short video responses and view others’ responses about a certain topic or question. I am finding so many uses for it in the library, but I particularly liked Janice Conger’s idea of creating a FlipGrid to celebrate Banned Books Week. She created a station where students can browse through books that have been challenged. She then asks the students to respond to these questions using the FlipGrid app: Which Book most surprised you? Which will/did you read? How will you celebrate your RIGHT TO READ?

I Read Banned Books Snapchat Geofilter
So I’m not on the Snapchat wagon yet in my library, but I do use other forms of social media with students. I think students will really love Charles Scadina’s idea of creating a Snapchat Geofilter to impose over his students and faculty’s pictures. A Snapchat Geofilter is just an overlay for your Snap. You can learn how to create your own Snapchat Geofilter. I think I may try some of the other apps out there to create my own overlays for many different events.

Rebel Reader Twittter Tournament
The American Library Association Office for Intellectual Freedom invites you to join their Rebel Reader Twitter Tournament to complete actions for the chance to win literary prizes. During Banned Books Week, tweet from the list of challenges using the #RebelReader hashtag. Challenges range from taking a selfie with a banned or challenged book to tweeting “some love” to an author on their Banned Author Twitter List.

Banned Books Trading Cards
This idea comes from the Chapel Hill Public Library. They invite local artists to create small works of art inspired by a banned/challenged book or author. The artwork is judged and seven winners are chosen. These seven pieces of art are turned into trading cards with the artwork on the front of the card and the artist’s statement and information about the highlighted book on the back. All entries are displayed in the library, and the winning entries are printed as trading cards and distributed to patrons. You can even purchase the trading cards to help support the Chapel Hill Public Library.

Additional resources about/celebrating Banned Books Week
While I was searching for ideas, I came across several videos and resources you may want to view yourself or share with students:
Germany’s “Parthenon” of Banned Books (The Kid Should See This, 2017)

I also pinned some display ideas from Pinterest that have inspired me to create a better display this year in my own library.

I hope one or more of these ideas will be useful to you as you plan to celebrate Banned Books Week. I would love to know your ideas for the week. Please share in the comments.
How Do You Power Up Your Library?

The first week of October marks the 2nd annual Power Up Library week sponsored by the Texas Library Association and now marked by an official Declaration from Governor Abbott. While this is a state-wide event involving all types of libraries, it provides a fantastic opportunity to showcase the wonderful ways your library powers up your school community.

Need some ideas?  Try any of these:
The Powered Libraries website is another great resource that has marketing materials such as flyers, postcards, bookmarks, and promotional videos to help you kick-start your campaign.  The Power Up Tool kit contains lots of great programming ideas, suggestions on who to invite as special guests to your events, and even a sample press release. You can also view some videos of the Powered Road Trip from this past summer and see truly unique and creative programming happening in some of our public libraries.
Much of the campaign will happen online and you can contribute or follow along throughout the week by following the hashtag #poweredlibraries. Be on the lookout for social media giveaways for those participating in this year’s campaign.
Last week during the #TxlChat  on Twitter numerous ideas were shared for ways you can promote the many wonderful things happening in your school library. Thanks to librarian, Sharon Gullett, you can read an archive of the chat here.
Another quick reference is the timeline pictured below with ideas for each day of this week-long celebration.

While the need to advocate for our positions as school librarians is always a continual focus, this is a great time to feature the numerous ways the library supports your school community.  If every school librarian participates in this campaign, just imagine the impact of our thousands of voices speaking up and promoting our libraries. So, you have 18 days to prepare to show the world what you do to Power Up your library!

Recovery: Moving Beyond Harvey Towards Normal (whatever that may become)

By Dorcas Hand, Editor of TASLTalks

After over a week of nonstop news and weather obsession, the Rockport, Houston and Beaumont/Port Arthur areas are beginning to move into a long, slow and painful recovery phase. We are all reading everywhere of the devastation, and not all flooding is resolved even as I write. As the flood waters continue to recede, our students need us more than ever as librarians with compassion who can read aloud and offer information to families needing support. But there are many devastated libraries, too – and the Aransas IndependentSchool District has closed indefinitely. Other campuses in hard-hit districts will be shuffling students among undamaged campuses. Librarians have been personally impacted in their homes and extended families, even as they want to work to support the students they will meet when schools open.

So, here are some resources that may be of use.

Hurricane Harvey Bookclub began as a Facebook page where folks could post videos of someone reading aloud from a favorite children’s book. The idea was to offer a chance for anyone of any age to offer creative support to K-12 students who may be stuck in shelters for an indefinite period. Now it has been continued as a Twitter Feed. Follow @HurricaneHarveyBC to join in! Even your students can participate! And anyone with an internet connection can enjoy the pleasant respite of a book being read aloud, and the comfort that comes with that from the reader(s).

If you need tips on support techniques with stressed students, the American School Counselor Association offers Helping Kids Deal With Hurricanes/Floods

Author Kate Messner has opened a GoogleForm to fill out if you lost books to Hurricane Harvey and would welcome new book donations.

Or perhaps you or your students from other parts of TX want to support a specific school classroom – or library – with a donation. Or you manage a library in need of help. Check out www.DonorsChoose.org for information about supporting a specific library classroom or about listing your library. There are people across the US who will step up – your student’s far flung families included.

And there is Principals Helping Principals for schools affected by Hurricane Harvey.

Houston ISD is offering for this year three free meals a day to ALL K-12 students, given that so many area families lost everything in the storm. Likely other districts will do the same. Hunger and homelessness will be bigger issues than usual. You might also support the Houston or other area food banks. The Houston Food Bank is offering a program to send kids home with a backpack of food for a weekend; that will fill the gap the schools can’t.

If you live in the Houston area and have time to volunteer, or resources to offer to a shelter, Where you can do the most good is a live map showing where shelters are and exactly what support or resources they need right now. My guess is that coverage will expand to include other shelters in affected areas beyond metro Houston.

And finally, not least but more long term, the Texas Library Association offers a wealth of disaster related resources on their website. There is also the TLA Disaster Relief fund which is both accepting donations and requests for help

If you need books with more depth on any disaster recovery topics, look at
  • Kaaland, Christie. Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Recovery in School Libraries: Creating a Safe Haven. (Libraries Unlimited, 2014). this book has large sections on how to help kids deal with disasters such as loss of home, separation, even loss of pets. 
  • Halsted, Deborah D., Library as Safe Haven: Disaster Planning, Response and Recovery: A How-to Manual for Librarians. (ALA, 2014)
TASLTalks will continue to offer support resources as we discover more. Above all, know that the community of school librarians - well, all librarians - stands together for the benefit of students and families of Texas. Recovery is beginning; we can make it happen.

Do you have any resources you know of to aid libraries in recovery? Add your thoughts to the comments.