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Archive for the ‘Teens’ Category

Bringing the Boys In

This past Monday I experienced something I’ve haven’t experienced yet in my nearly one year as a youth & teen librarian, I had twice as many boys at a program than girls. *Gasp!*

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All it took was bringing in a local comic book artist and pizza. Anthony Oropeza the creator of the Amigoman comic book visited our library to do a comic book drawing class. He presented on how his character was created and what inspired him to create the Latin Avenger. Several kids who attended my program are working on their own comic books so he talked about what goes into producing a comic book.

The second half of his presentation was showing the kids how to draw comic book characters. Most of them are already really good artists and thought that going back to square one to draw a face was frustrating but in the end I know they were really proud of themselves.

Overall, it was a great program. I know the pizza brought in a couple of kids who weren’t that interested in drawing but like comic books and had a good time. As far as how much this program cost, it was along the lines of some of my more expensive craft programs. Between the artist and pizza it came in just over $100.

You probably have comic book artists in your town and I highly recommend doing this sort of program. We’ll have Anthony back for a more extensive drawing program because there are definitely interested teens.

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Lately I’ve been struggling with my teen programs. They seem to be hit or miss and programs the teens are excited about seem to go completely unattended or only have two teens. My Teen Tech Week Bowling Tournament last week was very well attended with four kids signing up at the last minute. The Texting Contest a few days later was me and an empty room. This is the second month in a row of no attendance. The programs that I’ve had are programs that have been successful at other libraries and that teens were excited about.

We did a teen survey in December and I got a lot of good feedback, though there are questions I wish I had asked, such as how do you find out about teen programs at the library? Starting in April, we’re going to ask teens to sign up so that I have an idea how many are interested and also it gives me the opportunity to call them and remind them of the program.

With these hit or miss programs, the director and I have been talking a lot about days of the week for programs this summer and times. Our school district has had to make some significant cuts and summer school was one cut they made. I have a feeling we’ll have a lot more kids in our library on the computers than we did last summer. Hopefully, they will be interested enough to come to some of the programs I’ve planned for the summer.

I would love to hear about your successes and failures and things you’ve done to draw the kids into the library.

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National Gaming Day…

…and what I would do differently.

NGD2009-logoToday my library participated in National Gaming Day. I was so excited and hoped that more than 10 kids would show up. The program was from 2-4pm and kids showed up anywhere between 2 and 3pm.

I had this super idea of dividing the kids up into groups mixing up the younger kids with the teens.  So I divided them up with a fair representation of ages in each group of four and figured they would rotate around the room to different game tables I’d set up with everyone also having a chance at playing the Wii. We started with 10 kids exactly and by 3:10pm we’d grown to 18. Each time we rotated I had to separate kids who were fighting, kids who were giving each other a hard time and adding the kids who had come in later. There were some hurt feelings with two 8-year-old girls who came in best friends and left not speaking to one another. I had to console one of the girls who was in tears over a checkers game. All in all the afternoon was a success but a bit more than I could handle alone.

We received a total of five new games from various vendors, which were very generous donations! One of the problems I ran into was that all but one of the games were for kids eight and older and my programs have to include kids as young as six. Also some of the games were a bit more complex than I could explain in a quick five minutes. I’ll definitely save the more complex games for a group of teens.

So what will I do differently next year or on other gaming afternoons we’ll be having soon when the kids are out of school? I will have an assistant! I’ll also only put out games that the kids already know or that I can explain quickly. Having a drop-in afternoon makes it difficult to put together teams, so I’ll have to think about how to organize the kids into groups that can fluctuate.

If your library participated, what are some things that worked or didn’t work for you?

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Last week when I held my Teen Writing Group, a reporter from the local newspaper visited the group. I wasn’t sure how the teens would feel about it but they were definitely showing off at times. Today the weekly paper came out and we were the feature story. It feels so great to have our efforts recognized in the community.

I also did my first elementary school visit today. I think the kids had a great time. The elementary schools here have bi-weekly community meetings where the whole school gets together for these meetings. I talked to them about getting a library card, not letting their friends use their library card (because you never know when your friend’s little sister might drop a library DVD in the toilet) and promoted my kids’ programs. They seemed really excited about my Read to the Dogs program next week and were definitely excited about helping break a record on National Gaming Day. Then I read Scaredy Squirrel Makes a Friend. One very valuable lesson I learned today at my school visit — it’s very hard to turn the pages of a book while holding a microphone in one hand. My next school visit on Monday will feature a story without a book. Time to get practicing on the Large Mouthed Frog!

In my post last Friday, I mentioned my YA conference that was held this last Tuesday. I came away so energized and with tons of book lists and program ideas. Another conference is tomorrow so it’s definitely a great week to connect with other librarians!

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Teen Writing Club

This summer, I was approached by a teen who frequents the library. She proposed that we start a Teen Writing Group. After a quick meeting with her about what she expected in this group, I set out figuring out how to put together a group. Summer programs had already been planned when she approached me so I knew it would have to happen in the fall.

Fast forward to September. Having been a member of a couple of writing groups in the past I had an idea of what works and doesn’t work in writing groups. But I needed just a bit of a confidence booster to make sure that what I had in mind was really going to work with teens. About three weeks before the first meeting of my Teen Writing Group, I came across a fabulous book The Teen-Centered Writing Club: Bringing Teens and Words Together by Constance Hardesty. I devoured this book and came away with so many ideas and meeting plans. It gives you example meeting agendas and approximate times, which were extremely helpful in putting together my first meeting.

Our first meeting consisted of setting group ground rules and group values. We also discussed fan fiction and plagiarism, how what you read can influence your writing and a couple of writing exercises. The teens were most eager to share their own writing with the group, which was really cool. They were a bit disappointed that I didn’t have anything to share, so I need to go prepared for the next meeting.

Another book I came across I  added to the collection called Seize the Story: A Handbook for Teens Who Like to Write by Victoria Hanley. It’s been checked out several times since my first group meeting, which is what every librarian loves to see. I thought it would be a great resource outside of the group. I’m also using some of the tips on creating characters for our next group meeting.

In the Hardesty book, she mentions that a group at a medium-to-large library will have approximately 3-5 members. So my expectations were a bit low, I was going to be happy if three teens showed up. Much to my surprise I had six teens at the first meeting and a couple more have told me they want to come to the next meeting! The teens have definitely taken ownership of the group, which was my plan, and they have also renamed it amongst themselves to “Writing Club.” I’m thrilled with their response and also thrilled to hear that they are disappointed when they know they will miss a meeting.

In November, we’ll have a guest “speaker” via Skype. Sarah Darer Littman, the author of Purge, will be talking to the group about writing and getting published. I’m really excited that the teens will have this opportunity.

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