In general, providing food is a huge draw for this growing and grazing group. Other incentives such as small give-a-ways are also popular.
Popular program ideas from around the country include:
Recently the Star (Idaho) Branch Library and its “parent” Ada Community Library hosted the mystery game program (one actually entitled Barbeque with a Vampire), which proved to be a great success with local teens. In this program, participating teens (limited to eight in this case) each received a well-written, humorous role and were guided in interactions with one another to discover which one was the vampire.
Boise (Idaho) Public Library has had great success with a creative teen board who recently wrote and performed an original play based upon the highly acclaimed Louis Sachar book Holes during the citywide “What if Everyone Read the Same Book” campaign of which Holes was the 2002 children’s choice. I am sure you have heard of other local success stories too. Remember: using other libraries ideas is not against the rules rather it is encouraged.
For public libraries, “Summer Reading” should be a specially designed program. Remember, YAs work very hard to establish an identity. They do not want to participate in the kids program. In 1995, 57% of public libraries offered summer reading programs for YAs. In addition to encouraging YAs to read for pleasure, summer programs reinforce the library as a destination and ideally keep the YAs returning throughout the summer and beyond.
School libraries are encouraged to assist their public counterparts by promoting summer reading, it benefits everyone involved.
Your TAB or teen volunteers can assist in planning this as well. When asked what they would like to see in a summer program a group of YAs had the following suggestions:
It is important to watch current trends, both local and national, and know the local shops and organizations that YAs visit, for they are the portholes into the YA’s world. Inviting someone from an area skateboard shop to do demos, or a local artist to assist YAs in creating a mural for the library, is very effective and makes an all-important connection (which we will discuss further in another section on partnerships) not to mention it provides an easy, popular program for overworked staff.
To find out what really works, design a simple evaluation form or ask your teen volunteers or advisory board to poll participants after each program. They will be honest.
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