We planned it, and they came.

In honour of NaNoWriMo, my teen librarian colleague and I hosted a teen writing event. Local published YA author and NaNoWriMo participant Denise Jaden would give a presentation, take questions and lead a writing exercise, and we would continue the experience with more creative writing activities. There would be door prizes, everyone would leave with some free swag, and as with any teen event, there would be snacks.

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We promoted the event on social media, plastered posters throughout the library and scattered handbills on every exposed surface. We bribed a few of our TLC members with service hours if they agreed to help set up and clean up for the event, which would ensure at least a few bodies in the room. But the real question was – would the teens come?

Well, come they did. 12 of them, to be exact. 12 participants, for a two-hour after-school writing workshop. We were impressed. And while some of the participants were familiar faces, there were a number of teens who had never been to a library event before, and who had heard about us from friends or through our marketing. Success!

The event itself went really smoothly. Denise is a very engaging speaker, and her writing exercise was pretty brilliant. I used the magazine clip out writing exercises I mentioned in a previous post, and the teens thought it was pretty hilarious. We shared our creations in small groups, and there was a lot of laughter, as the teens had come up with some pretty crazy characters.

We were also able to send every teen home with a book, which the teens were pretty stoked about. We get a lot of book donations from the public, which is pretty awesome. If we already have enough copies of a donated book in our system, we either sell the book in our book sale, which raises much-needed funds for the library, or we give the book away, either at a program or through outreach (at a food bank or shelter, for example). I love being able to send kids and teens home with their own books, particularly when working in challenged neighborhoods. The excitement in the teens’ eyes when I told them they could each pick a book was really pretty awesome. Adults may be wondering about the future of the printed word, but as far as most teens are concerned, there’s still something special about physical books.

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