Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Teen Read Week: A Rookie's Second Run.

Our "It Came From The Library" display of scary & spooky books.
When I started at my current job last fall, Teen Read Week had not previously been part of the programming schedule in our school library.  Considering I had about a month to pull together a range of activities that work with our very crowded school schedule, I felt that our first ever TRW celebration went really well.  I hit on a few easy but fun programs that work well with our population and started giving the library an even more prominent and (I hope!) positive presence on campus.

This year I knew that the planning and implementation process would be a little different, especially because we now have a Student Library Advisory Board.  Our SLAB (as they've taken to calling themselves) was formed at the very end of the school year in May; I put out an application and was thrilled to get great responses from some fabulous kids.  However, since the group is newly formed and they are all busy kids with a somewhat jammed school schedule, our meeting times have been somewhat rushed and infrequent.  So I knew that Teen Read Week would be a bit of gamble in terms of their levels of involvement, especially in the implementation.  However, despite time crunches, bad weather, and crazy schedules, TRW2012 went really well if I may say so myself.  To perhaps inspire your future TRW programming, here's a little breakdown of what was happening at our humble library during TRW this year!

What makes a good Teen Read Week at our library?

  • LOTS OF SUGAR!  If there's one thing that nearly all the students and faculty now know about me, it's that I love to bake--and I am unafraid to utilize my skills in the kitchen to "encourage" involvement and participation in library-related activities!  One sugar-related activity we held during the week came directly from one of my very enthusiastic SLAB members: Book Checkout Trick or Treating.  We filled a plastic cauldron bucket with candy and kept it at the central desk all week; every time anyone checked out a book (or DVD, etc), she could grab a piece of candy.  Note that using a cauldron bucket instead of a plastic jack o'lantern allowed me to label it the Checkout Cauldron, which satisfied my deep enjoyment of cheesy, alliterative titles.    
  • STUDENT CREATIONS! One of the simplest but most enjoyable activities we've done during Teen Read Week for the last two years combines a couple of our students' favorite things: cookies AND creativity.  I created templates of mini-posters with the following questions on them:
    • What do you read for fun?
    • When do you read for fun?
    • Where do you read for fun?
    • Why do you read for fun?  
 I copied these templates on colored paper and then I proceeded to go home and bake my little heart out!  Several of my students baked cookies as well.  On the appointed day, we ran our Reading Is Sweet campaign from the beginning of classes through the library closing at 5pm.  Throughout the day, students (and faculty!) decorated posters with words and/or drawings in response to one of the questions--in exchange for a delicious homemade cookie.  I've now hung all the posters up as a garland through the library and I see students and teachers suddenly pausing to look up at them all the time--our student tour guides point them out while showing potential students around the school!
Get a taste of the awesome responses we got from this activity! 
  • CONTESTS AND LOTS OF FREE STUFF!  We continued to provide opportunities for students to tap into their creative instincts by running a scary story writing contest, open to both middle and upper school students.   Additionally, I held raffles for copies of several recently released books--a consistently popular and easy to run activity.  
  • MOVIE NIGHT--AND MORE FOOD! As requested by my advisory board, we concluded our TRW celebration with a scary movie night in the library.  One of my board members suggested that we let the upper school student vote on the movies and so we created two short lists--one of traditional horror/scary movie and one of nostalgic, Halloween classics.  Then I sent out a Survey Monkey with both lists about two weeks in advance.  As the same student suggested, we added a bonus question to the survey: students could choose to type in their name and be entered a raffle for a half dozen homemade Halloween cupcakes.  Using our library and a nearby lounge space, we were able to show the winning movies from both categories simultaneously, allowing attendee a choice.  I purchased drinks and snacks--and baked more goodies, of course.  And despite a sudden rainstorm and cancellations of earlier evening sports games, we had around a dozen kids come out to this first ever evening movie night.  Most importantly, all who attended had a wonderful time and the buzz--even from a smaller group of attendees--was highly positive! 
But how do we really measure the success of our Teen Read Week celebration?

The plethora of positive responses from our teens! 

We had lots and lots of excited teens passing through the library all that week.  Students continue to look up at the little posters waving above their heads in the library, pointing their own out to friends or giggling at particularly funny creations.  Best of all--the positive student responses have continued.  The recent issue of the school newspaper included TWO articles about the library: a piece about Teen Read Week that included interviews from me and from a couple students and a piece about our Student Library Advisory Board that contained quotes from me and from one of our Board members.  

How did all of you celebrate Teen Read Week?  

And a Happy Thanksgiving to all!