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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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….”