Fandoms Unite! – Teen Summer Reading Club

Teen Reading Club launches June 1, and this year’s theme is right up my alley – Fandoms!

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Teen RC is all about celebrating teens’ passions for reading, whether they’re obsessed with manga, dystopian fiction, historical novels, or a little bit of everything. Teen RC is a predominantly online program where teens can post and comment on book reviews, participate in discussion forums and opinion polls, chat with authors, share their creative projects, find out what’s happening at different InterLINK libraries, and enter to win prizes. It’s run by Public Library InterLINK, though teens don’t need to be library members to participate in many of the online activities. Teens can also follow along on Instagram (@teenrc), Facebook and Twitter. I spent my morning making some of these awesome buttons, perfect for handing out to the branch Teen Advisory Group.

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I belong to a few fandoms myself, so it was hard to pick just one button to add to my lanyard, but I settled on the “Manga Fan!” button, in honour of my teenage otaku self. Teen RC is such a great program because t it allows teens to participate on their own schedule, at their own pace, and in whatever way they feel comfortable. Let’s face it, despite our best efforts, the library isn’t always the coolest (or most welcoming) place for teens to hang out. Now teens have the option of participating in great library programming without ever having to set foot in the library.

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Game On!

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Last night we hosted a board game afternoon for teens in honour of International Games Day @ Your Library.

From 4:00 – 6:00pm we took over the teen lounge and filled it with an array of board games and snacks (always the snacks). We tried to offer a variety of games that would appeal to all ages and levels of gamers, so we pulled out a little bit of everything, from Sorry! to Jenga to Apples to Apples to Monopoly.

We weren’t really sure what to expect – we’d had a very good turnout at last week’s writing event, but we’d promoted the heck out of that one, and the board game event hadn’t received as much buzz. The turnout definitely wasn’t as high as it had been for the writing event, but it wasn’t too shabby either – at one point we had 7 teens, though people came and went at different times.

The real star of the night wasn’t any of the fancy new games we found in the teen storage closet, but rather an old party favourite – Pictionary! We played an adapted version that got everyone playing and guessing, which increased the odds of someone correctly guessing the word. It was hilarious! No one was too competitive, and we used a flipchart as a canvas so the teens could make massive drawings.

Sometimes it’s the simplest games that are the most fun! Pictionary is great because it gets everyone involved (we just stole extra pieces from other games so we could add more players, and at one point we had 6 people playing), and the rules aren’t too complicated (we had a few teens who had never played before, but with our adapted rules they were able to jump in without hesitation).

In retrospect, it would have been nice to have had a bit more promotion for the event, so we could have spread the word to other teens (most of the participants were TLC members), but all in all it was a low-maintenance, low-key event that was lots of fun.

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.