Links of the Month – May 2016

Links of the Month

Every month we’ll be rounding up some can’t miss online resources from the wide world of teen services and beyond. Here’s what we’ve been reading in May:

Public Libraries Online has a great article on gender diverse youth by Kathleen Hughes: Knowledge Is Power: Serving Gender Diverse Youth in the Library.

Over at School Library Journal, check out some how-to articles: How to Teach Internet Research Skills by Wendy Stephens and How To Use Snapchat for Readers’ Advisory by Alanna Graves.

Naomi Bates at YA Books and More shares some tips to Make Your Library Sizzle, Not Fizzle.

At the YALSAblog, Allison Renner writes about Career Prep for Teens with Disabilities.

Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D. at User Generated Education advocates using strength-based thinking when approaching teaching in Approaching Marginalized Populations from an Asset Rather Than a Deficit Model of Education.

Get some ideas for your library space with Library Makeover: What We Gained by Letting Go by Bridgette DaSilva Mackin: Transform Your School Library and Take a Virtual Tour of The Mix, San Francisco Public Library’s Ultimate Teen Space by Liz Bowie at Ideas & Inspiration from Demco.

We’ve got a bounty of STEM and Maker resources this month:

There are lots of higher-level professional development skills articles this month:

Some program ideas to get you started:

What have you read this month that’s been insightful, inspirational, or just plain interesting? Share in the comments!

YA Smackdown Roundup, May 2016

Welcome to our YA Smackdown Round-Up! For those of you who haven’t heard about it, YA Smackdown is an informal, guerrilla-style idea-sharing activity for teen library service professionals. It’s always fun, and there’s something to learn for everyone.

You can join in on a Smackdown at various professional events, start your own with our handy downloadable kit, or join in on a TSU-hosted challenge on social media every Wednesday! (Find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr.)

After each month, we’ll post a collection of some of the more noteworthy responses. We hope you’ll all join in every week!

What’s your biggest teen services pet peeve?

“People who say, “Ohhhhhh, I am so sorry,” when I say I am a Teen Services Librarian. I absolutely LOVE my job but the people who say that to me are also the ones that have no respect for teenagers or for my work and these people make me very tired.” – Frieda T.

“Adults who don’t understand why they can’t hang out solo/make their phone calls in the teen area (even though they’d never try to hang out in the children’s room by themselves).” – Darcy C.

“My biggest peeve is the always having to deal with people having unrealistic behavior expectations for the teens” – Cindy S.

“[People asking] ‘What do video games and anime have to do with the library?'” – Ryan P.

“The contradictory notion from some other staff that teens are loud and bothersome to adult patrons, therefore we should get rid of the teen room where the noise is contained and less bothersome to adult patrons, because somehow that will magically make them less loud and bothersome to adult patrons” – Aaron V.

“How about that our YA dept gets a LOT less budget? Is that only around here?” – Devera C.

“…When my Teen Advisory Board begs and begs for a program so I spend the time and money planning, promoting, and implementing it…and no one shows up.” – Caitlin S.

“My pet peeve is other librarians that insist the Teen Librarian has to be super hip and cool…it’s a lot of pressure, like, should I dye my hair a wild color or something?? I’m just a regular dorky librarian like everyone else!” – Ashley B.


What book do you wish every teen would read?

We had a lot of great suggestions, but the most popular were:

  • 13 Reasons Why (“…because we all need to understand our actions…affect those around us” – Samantha C.)
  • Dante & Aristotle Discover the Secrets of the Universe
  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
  • Winger
  • Persepolis
  • Eleanor & Park
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower
  • Stargirl
  • Ender’s Game
  • Speak

“My controversial opinion: I don’t believe there’s “one book” (or any number of books) that EVERYONE should read because I don’t believe in such a thing as CANON or classics – I think everyone, and maybe even especially teens, should read whatever it is THEY want, whatever it is that engages and fascinates and connects and satisfies them. Maybe it’s Dickens. Maybe it’s Proust. Maybe it’s Angelou. Maybe it’s Rowling. Maybe it’s TEEN WOLF fanfic. You do you and you love reading FOR YOU and on YOUR terms.

ETA: and, anyway, all too often “the one book everyone should read” usually translates to: the one book that really meant something TO ME … but that’s not always how literature works. So, instead I try to frame it that way “this is a book that meant a lot to me … what’s a book that means a lot to you … and why?” – Angie M.


What are some ways you’ve dealt with issues of teen body odor?

“Legit BO, pulled aside for a private conversation. On the other hand if we’re talking about the “Axe effect”, letting them know that dousing themselves in fragrance is having the opposite of the intended result and actually negating any chance they had at romantic opportunity by creating a funk cloud that no person would enter.” – Joe M.

“I’ve not encountered this at my library, but funny story (that could be helpful). My 13yo son wanted to buy cologne, so I took him to the store to pick something out. I was explaining that he doesn’t want to put too much on, little goes a long way, etc. He wasn’t paying any attention to me. A young 20-something guy was next to us looking as well, and he pulled my son aside and said “You want the ladies to see you before they smell you.” It was such a cool man-to-man moment, and I didn’t need to say anything else. Honestly, that could be a really cool program if you can find the right person to lead it. That moment for my son was cool, because he thought this young guy looked much cooler than me or my husband. smile emoticon Some kids don’t have a male role model at all – so it may be that no one is teaching them how to be a man.” – Lisa U.

“We are creating “summer survival kits” with sample size deodorant, sunscreen packets, and mosquito repellent. We’re creating 100 packs with donated funds, and looking for a community partner to make it a sustainable project. We’ll have the kits with a cool display saying something about Summer in the City, and books about hygiene, skin cancer, zika virus, etc…Because we don’t want to embarrass anyone my saying, or even implying, ‘you stink.'” – Andria A.


What program was your greatest failure? What lessons did you learn from it?

“Book Bingo. It was my first lesson that no matter how excited kids are when they hear about a program, no matter how good the prizes, if you don’t provide continuous in-your-face reminders and sometimes practically shove them into taking part, they won’t.” – Semoy G.

“Cosplay day. No big programs the week of Fourth of July.” – Cindy S.

“Had my own college fair for Teen Read Week and I had colleges come from 2 hours away to have no teens show up. Next time don’t do a college fair…My teens are not ones who like programs that could even be close to educational. I think they get it drilled into them at school that they try to stay away from it. Plus, we tend to have college fairs at the local high school and at neighboring counties. It is kind of sad really because when I was in high school I loved learning about different colleges. I have a teen non-fiction section that is loaded with books about college readiness that takes them step by step through things they need to do before college for example; when to apply, what they should bring with them, etc.” – Amanda K.

“We thought that we were being so smart when we scheduled a teen song/poetry writing program at the same time as our anime club which draws 40-60 each time. We had the (frankly kind of cute) young published song/poetry writer come into the room where we had anime club and invite teens to join him next door. <crickets> we ended up have 2 teens attend while 50 stayed in the other room watching anime. Lesson learned: our teens want to hang out and chill, not attend another school like class. Positive: the two kids that did go are passionate about music and writing. They got a ton out of the basically one on one with a published young person.” – Heidi H.

“Kept trying to schedule free practice tests over the summer but was silly enough to use a company that had a minimum number of signups before they would run it for us. Cancelled every. single. one. Lesson learned: use a different company.” – Kelsey P.

Let ’em Color

My library has had a beautiful little kids coloring table since long before I came. It’s constantly stocked with a varied pile of coloring sheets and a large selection of crayons (including some Lego brick, Darth Vader and stormtrooper shaped ones). It’s also constantly used. When I started, we had a group of high schoolers that came in with very idle hands and minds. One of the things I noticed was when they got bored, they were often go on the computer and print coloring sheets. Plus, last winter was when the adult coloring phase was really starting to hit its stride. I donated all of my old colored pencils (which was a lot) to the cause and set up a coloring station at a high top table in the middle of our Young Adult section.

Initially I went for more complicated things. Mandelas and other pictures labeled online as ‘adult’ or ‘teen’ coloring sheets – a lot of landscapes and realistic looking pictures. I also found a bunch of harder (some too hard!) mazes and dot to dots, which were often started but rarely finished. At first, they went like hotcakes but then I noticed they were being used much more slowly. So I started peeking in on the high schoolers who were printing out their own and realized they were also borrowing pictures from the kids’ table. They wanted pop culture things and things that reminded them of their childhood. So I started printing out Star Wars and My Little Pony and Doctor Who and suddenly they started to fly again and I was updating my stack ever 2 days instead of once a week.

When I stopped doing my daily sudoku puzzle – my personal interest had finally waned – I started putting stacks of those out, which, since the pile ran up, have been requested a couple of times.

Additionally, my boss got a hold of one of Barnes & Nobles’ 500 Drawing Prompts books, which I put out with a small sign taped to the front saying to keep it PG-13 and polite or else their drawing would be erased or torn out. Although I’ve had to erase maybe 3 things, about 400 of the prompts have been filled out in the past year. Once summer comes, I’ve gotten one of those ‘complete the picture’ books from Barnes & Noble which I’ll be putting out as fresh paper for them, as the filling of the prompts has definitely slowed the fuller it has become.

The Timberland Regional Library in Washington State also posted an amazing idea on their Tumblr, which I will be respectfully borrowing come summer as well. They took a table – I’ll use my round high top – and covered with a whole page of drawing paper, decorated with brilliant designs (they look homemade). They included in the design, the rules: Share and respect others’ coloring, Don’t color over parts already colored, and Have fun!

Overall, coloring is an easy passive program that can use any bit of space, big or small. Teens will color with any kind of crayon, colored pencil or marker so the cost there is not too steep. Plus, the cost of printing the pages. I find them off free sites online, but I know librarians have also taken pages out of coloring books before to use from donations. Also, I found that other things – the sudokus, mazes and dot to dots – can find the right audience too and appeal to the kids who might not want to color but want to do something easy with their hands while they are at the library.

Work Smarter, Not Harder

Planning for summer programs can be a chore that even the most organized YA librarian dreads. However, with a few tips and change of attitude, summer program planning can be a breeze.

For some of us, myself included, we are fortunate to work in a library system with multiple branches with each branch having a YA librarian. Others work for smaller organizations which may consist of only one or two branches with a single librarian, who may or may not be a YA librarian, that is responsible for program planning and execution. Depending on the type of system you work for, there are several tips you can employ to make your summer program planning effortless.

First, having a good frame of mind and a positive outlook will go a long way. Keep in mind that many teens do not get the opportunity to go on vacation or attend summer camps therefore, your summer programs may be the only chance they get this summer to have fun with their peers. Make it exciting and worth their while! Your excitement about your programs will be infectious and the more you talk about them, this excitement will spread.

Secondly, take a look at your calendar and decide when you want to have programs. You want to keep in mind other events at your library. It might be a good idea to do a teen program at the same time that a children’s program is happening because a parent will be more likely to bring their teen for an event if they are already headed to the library for a toddler time. In addition, keep in mind what events are happening in your community. If there is a fun teencentric event happening on a specific day, then you will want to refrain from planning any programs that day. Always keep your eyes on the community calendar. You want to supplement community events, not compete with them.

Once you ave decided on your timeline for programs, it is time to plan. This is where it is important which type of organization you work for. If you work for an organization with multiple branches and YA librarians, set up a time to discuss program sharing ideas. A great way to share programs among branches is to create movable bins. Each YA librarian develops a program from the ground up. All of the materials for this program are placed in a bin to be shared among all of the branches. Each YA librarian chooses a date that this program will be executed at their branch. The bin will then rotate among the branches. Therefore, if a system has five branches with five YA librarians there will be five unique program bins created. Each branch now has five programs while the YA librarian only had to create one! share-all-the-things_h

Should a branch want more than the number of programs created by bins, then they can supplement programs with their own program ideas. However, this type of shared programming allows the YA librarian to put more time into creating fewer quality programs while still offering the same number of programs.

On the other hand, if you are a YA librarian who works for a smaller organization and shareable programming isn’t something you can execute, you can still work smarter. Take a look over past programs that you have done successfully at your branch. These programs can be easily repeated and billed as a series. In addition, determine which programs showed the most promise and may have had a larger turnout if it weren’t for some external problem such as weather, school conflicts, or other personal obligations. By taking the time to make some simple tweaks to these programs, you can use these programs as fresh, new programs that your teens will be happy to attend. Remember, you don’t have to recreate the wheel every time—sometimes, oldies are goodies!

Summer program planning doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Reach out to your fellow librarians. Borrow ideas from your past programs. Share and share like. The most important part about program planning isn’t whether or not you are sharing the newest or coolest idea that has been circulating the web or has been seen all over Pinterest. What matters is that you are excited about your programs and your teens want to attend them.

What ideas do you have for making summer program planning easy?



School Library Year-End Checklist

It’s late May, and many of us in the school library world are wondering, “Where did all the time go?” while simultaneously thinking “How many days are left?” and “How am I going to get all my work done?”

This time of year three years ago, in my first year as a school librarian, I was bewildered at what I should do to close out a school year with efficiency and sanity. Over the last few years, with the advice of other librarians, I’ve built a set of procedures for the end of the school year that help me finish strong while setting up my program for a positive start next school year.

Here’s a checklist to help you to end the school year well. I’ve formatted this as a checklist you can download, too, so that you can add your own to-do items for a more customized list.

Conduct library inventory. Some librarians I know do this every few years, but I find an annual inventory is important. This is a great place to enlist volunteer support. Without help, I wouldn’t be able to make an annual inventory happen. Some school districts have specific policies about inventory procedures, so check in with your district supervisor as needed. 

Coordinate book return. Make posters, make a game of it, offer incentives, wear costumes, go class-to-class — whatever works for your school. But, if you can, enlist some help with this from teachers, parents, and other volunteers because support is critical to a good book return rate.

Communicate with your community about summer reading. If your school has a summer reading program or works with a local public library for summer reading, let students and families know! Connect with your local public librarians to promote their summer reading programs in your school, too. 

Submit grades and final student reports. If you are responsible for grading students, follow your school’s procedures for submitting your grades and any comments that might accompany them. 

Gather data and send it to stakeholders via a year-end report or newsletter. Consider including the number of classes you’ve taught, Make sure you have great pictures from the year, too. After all, the library is about seeing students reading, working, and creating!

Show your appreciation to volunteers, teacher collaborators, administrators, and student workers. Small gifts or gift cards are great but thank you notes and emails are just as appreciated.

Write up summer instructions for those who might use the library, whether they are summer school librarians or teachers, groups or camps, or students and families. Send the instructions out as needed.

Communicate the library’s summer contact info and hours. If you are not in the library over the summer, put up an email responder that provides your summer contact information or an alternate contact in case of urgent needs. 

Set up any summer cleaning and maintenance. Talk to your school maintenance team if there are any special cleaning instructions for the library over the summer. For example, cleaning shelves or carpets are common summer maintenance jobs. 

Plan special summer projects. There are some things, like genrifying or major collection shifting, that can’t be easily done when the library is full of students. Summer can be a great time to schedule these projects. In my library, student interns are trained over the summer or come in to help with big projects or computer updates. 

Reflect on successful projects and lessons and areas for improvement next school year. When you are in the weeds at the end of the school year, it can be hard to honestly assess how you’ve done. Even harder? Remembering the changes you promised you’d make to a lesson plan or other aspect of the library after time passes. Even if it’s messy, write what you are thinking now about how things went and what you’d change. 

 School Library Year-End Checklist

ICYMI: Golden Boy


Sometimes we judge books by the cover. I know we all say not to, but I find myself doing it all the time. I’ll admit that the cover of this one never quite caught my eye. In fact, I only picked it up because it was on a state awards list one year and I was booktalking it to the schools. Once I read it, I absolutely fell in love.

The story is all about Habo and his family. Habo has always been different from everyone he knows. Light eyes, yellow hair, and white skin. Many in his African village call him a zeruzeru, a ghost boy, a nothing. It’s not until his family goes to live with his aunt in Mwanza that Habo learns zeruzeru has another meaning, albino. Of course, even in this new town, he finds out being a zeruzeru is bad. Here he won’t be ignored, instead he’ll be hunted because albino body parts are thought to bring new luck.  And one hunter, Alasira, has gotten way too close and has already made one attempt on Habo’s life.

On the run, Habo finds himself in Dar es Salaam where albinos are supposed to be safe. The only problem is the city is HUGE and Habo doesn’t know where to go next. When hunger takes over, he tries to exchange an old man’s meal for money, but Kweli, a blind carver has other plans. Instead, he offers Habo a place to stay and food in exchange for helping him around the house. As Habo settles in, for the first time in his life, he finally feels at home! He even learns he has a talent for carver. But when a demon from his past returns, he realizes his running days may not be done after all.

The beautiful thing about it is that while the situation is unique, there are emotions that everyone can relate to. Those feeling of belonging somewhere are universal. While the teens may not understand what it’s like to albino, they’ll understand what it’s like to fit in or be bullied/teased. It’s wonderful to see Habo grow as a person; from this fearful boy to one that knows what he’s good at and knows where he belongs.

The sad thing, though, is that albinos are truly hunted in Africa, so while it is fiction there is a spark of truth behind it. You can even see a 30 min documentary called Fear & Loathing: Albino Africans Survival in Tanzania. My hope is that this book with spark teen interest to learn more as they see how other teens live their lives in other countries.

Ask an Agent: Low Cost, High Interest Coding Programs

askanagent2You’ve got questions,  we’ve got answers! This week we YOUR help….

Question:  How can you take coding, engineering, etc. offerings for teens to a higher level and keep the format of drop-in or one-shot programs. When I offer the Hour of Code, I can do Scratch. When I break out the Arduino kits, I get can you offer Java. Is there a way to find low-cost but high interest programs that can take my teens and tweens to a higher level but not seem like school


If you have a question about anything teen services related ask it here! Your question will be featured on the blog with answers from our agent volunteers or TSU team members. If you’d liked to be a volunteer agent, please submit your info here.

Break it Down: Teaching Teens Music Production Through Remixing

There’s been a massive democratization of music production, and that’s been spreading to services at public libraries. Along with maker spaces, digital media labs are popular ways for libraries to further support their mission of supporting life-long learning experiences. Even without a set media lab, there has been enough advancement in available technology that the only tools really necessary for decent music production is a laptop or tablet.

Too often, these spaces only attract people already interested and active in musical production: musicians recording demos, amateur filmmakers, etc. It’s such a high learning curve that teens with a passing interest feel intimidated. Not everyone has the innate talent, or past experience, to be capable singers or instrumentalists. And programs geared at education – “Learn Music Production” or “Open Lab!” – are also intimidating. I can learn to use the tools, but what can I do with it? Nothing is more imposing than a blank page, or a pressed “record” button in a silent room.

Programs geared towards remixing an already-existing song can bypass that problem and attract new and diverse teens to discover a new passion, in addition to appealing to teens predisposed to music production. By providing pre-existing elements to experiment with, teens are able to easily provide their own creativity and skills to changing it. This takes the same philosophies behind blackout poetry or Art Attack and applying them to music production. Teaching the skills of song writing aren’t the easiest, but so much of the indelible and memorable parts of pop songs come about in the production stage, and not the original writing. Indeed, it’s often the doing of something that really gets the creative juices flowing.

In my program “Become a Remix Master!” I partnered with a coworker from my library’s Digital Services department. During the program, teens worked in both our computer lab and the digital studios. This program can easily be scaled to smaller libraries without these specialized spaces, though. All you’ll really need are some laptops, headphones, and a pre-recorded song.


  • Teens learn basics of music production, and develop familiarity with new software and techniques
  • Teens deepen their cultural literacy, gaining an understanding into the process of creating the music they enjoy on a daily basis
  • Teens develop a broader understanding of available library services
  • Teens’ understanding of the library as a place for creation and making

Time: 3 hours (1-1.5 hours for learning the ropes, 1.5-2 for remixing)

Participants: 6

Materials & supplies:

  • Computers or laptops, preloaded with music production software (My program used GarageBand, but a great free alternative like LMMS would work great, too.)
  • Pre-recorded original song
  • Headphones (recommended)
  • Instruments & microphones (optional)


Self Care for Summer Reading: Permission to Be Just A Little Selfish

For those of us in the public library, summer can be one of the busiest and most stressful times of the year. In addition to managing the summer reading program and all its events, there are other things to contend with including staff shortages due to vacations, increases in visits and circulation, problems with unattended children, and staff negativity about all of the above.

How can you make it until August without burning out? Take care of  yourself. It’s just like being on a plane when they tell you to secure your oxygen mask before helping others. You can’t do all you want to do for teens if you are running on empty.

Take Your Breaks

You deserve to take your breaks, you deserve to eat lunch. There might be a few days this summer where those things are difficult, but if it’s happening several times a week then you need to speak up. I know that it can feel like things will implode if you step away, or you’re worried about how other staff might treat teens, but you have to draw the line.  You should not be required to sacrifice your physical or mental health so that the library runs smoothly.

Next, make sure those breaks are actually breaks. Read a favorite author, watch cat videos on your phone, listen to music, or just step outside for a little fresh air. If you start to sound like Ross, then you definitely need a break or twelve.



Look Out For Your Health

Hard work takes a toll and making sure your basic needs are met is the baseline of self-care. Don’t let all the things on your mind make you forget to take the medication you need. Choose food that will give you energy instead of a sugar crash is a good start, and have little snacks on hand to keep going throughout the day.  Get the sleep you know you need, even if it means finding out what happens to the main character of that book tomorrow. Get moving and get some sunshine when you can, you’d be surprised how much a trip around the block helps.

penny need help

Show Gratitude 

Concentrate on the good. Every time a teen raves about a book you suggest, a teen that seems lonely participates in a program, or you surpass your registration goal write it down. Take time to review those wins and then show gratitude to other staff as well.

A good summer program usually means more work for all public serving staff, so take the time to let the clerks and pages know you appreciate the extra work they are doing to make the summer successful for teens.

pusheen thankyou

Leave Work at Work

It’s hard, and there is this idea that if you love what you do then you’ll just give, give, give. Nope. Take a deep breath and only work the hours you are paid to work. If you are one of those salaried, non-hourly librarians you should be documenting your time at least. So, how can you worry less about work once you’ve come to the end of the day?

Take a few minutes at the end of the day to tidy up your desk, jot down what you accomplished today, and make a prioritized list of what you need to do the next workday. Don’t check your work email at all hours. If you are a manager, or in another position where you probably should take a look, then set one time to check for urgent messages only and then put it away.

Lea I'm done

Feed Your Soul

Whether it’s running, knitting, fandom, yoga, or something else figure out what helps you relax and recharge. Even if you only have a couple minutes a day then make the most of it and take those couple of minutes and make sure they are only about you.


This Too Shall Pass

Summer doesn’t last forever! Just take it one day at a time and concentrate on those smiling, or at least slightly less jaded looking, teen faces.


TLDR? It’s okay to be a little selfish and put yourself first once and a while

permission slip

Tips and Tricks for Promoting Summer Reading at the Middle School Level

As the middle of May rolls around, there is a feeling of excitement in the air! As a student, you have that antsy feeling knowing summer is around the corner and there are only a few weeks until your freedosr picm. As a teacher, you are tired and stressed, just counting down the days until the last finals are complete and grades are posted. But as a librarian, you are gearing up for the peak time of year—Summer Reading! Programs are being prepared, prizes are being ordered, and school visits are being scheduled.


School visits can get tricky, especially at the Middle School level. Visiting the school is the public librarian’s way to encourage and invite the students to participate in Summer Reading. With a grand spiel on the greatness of our programs and the wonderful prizes that may be won just by reading, our goal is to lure preteens and teens to the library during their summer away from school, books, and learning. Unfortunately, unlike Elementary School students who are excited for Summer Reading, Middle Schoolers are at an age where they are sometimes too cool to participate. Those who are regular readers don’t admit it and those who aren’t can be difficult to convince even with prizes.


So in order to make what can be an awkward situation into a best case scenario, here are some guidelines. First things first, work with the school media specialist or librarian and establish a good rapport. The time constraints of the school’s schedule must be observed which means working around lunches, special activities, early dismissals, and final exams. Flexibility is essential! By accommodating the school’s needs and schedule, the more willing they will be to meet your goals and agenda.


Be sure to visit the school early enough to provide summer reading information to the school and the students but not so early that they may forget about it. The best time for a visit is usually during the last two weeks of May. This is time enough to spark an interest and allow teachers to promote summer reading. By reminding teens that the required reading they will be doing over the summer counts towards their reading logs, they will be encouraged to participate.


At the school, there are a few tips to keep in mind for a successful Summer Reading Visit. First, attention spans are short so mevery-day-at-school_o_679855ake your presentation to the point and concise. It will surprise you how much information can be fit into ten minutes. And frankly, after the first 10 minutes, it is quite possible that many of the teens are lost to you anyway.



Second, don’t just limit your presentation to talking about library programs, take an example! Students get lectured at all day in school. In order to gain their attention and tempt them to come to one of your well-planned programs, bring something cool and engaging to show them. Are you planning a Star Wars crafternoon? Bring a lightsaber craft example. Doing a cool STEM program on robotics? Take the robots along with you to pique interest. Any tangible item that may get them thinking is a great way to pull them in.


Third, don’t just mention your prizes…talk them up! If your teens are anything like the ones I work with, they want to know “What’s in it for me?” Their time is precious and if there isn’t something in it for them that they think is worthy, then forghedaboudit. So whatever you have as prizes, be it gift cards, movie passes, or specialized gift baskets make them sound so good, the teens are left salivating!


And last but not least, remind the teens that Summer Reading isn’t just about books. As soon as the students hear that you came to talk about Summer Reading, there may be a portion of them that tune out immediately. BUT….if you let them know that reading also includes graphic novels, comic books, newspapers, magazines, blogs, and fanfiction then… Hold up! You have just raised some attention.


“You mean, I can read my favorite gaming blog online and that counts towards my Summer Reading?”

“Sure thing!“

“And I can possibly win a gift card if I sign up?”

“You sure can!”

“Well, sign me up!!”won awesome prize

That is all it takes! Keeping your presentation upbeat, engaging, and to the point, enables you to draw in students and encourage participation in your Summer Reading Program. What tips do you have for successful school visits to promote your Summer Reading program?