Teens make up some of the most passionate readers I know, but they seldom ask for help in the library, let alone for reading recommendations.
This summer I tried something different. Inspired by a post on the YALSA blog I held a “Breakfast of Books” at the library. I wasn’t expecting a great turnout, but 28 teens got up at the crack of 10:00 am to come to the library and hear about the books they should read over the summer.
From 10:00 am to 11:00 am teens stuffed their faces with unhealthy breakfast foods (donuts, baked goods, etc) and listened to me tell them about a stack of books. During the hour program I blitz booktalked 20 new young adult novels and gave away a bunch of prizes. I had stockpiled all of the new teen books that arrived in the library the month before the program. I read as many as was possible and came up with quick booktalks (no more than two minutes each) for each title. Teens tend to be comfortable with what they know and are reluctant to try something new. They will happily re-read Harry Potter or Divergent over again and over again rather than pick up something unknown. If the book sounds like familiar territory they’ll be more likely to give it a try. When introducing new books, I aim to connect it to another popular book or movie and list as many read-alikes as I can.
To promote the “Breakfast of Books” I printed out invitations and gave them to any teen who would listen. I also scattered the invitations around the teen area for teens that didn’t come to the desk.
I made a poster using a picture of Ron Swanson with breakfast food from the television show Parks and Recreation and posted them through the library.
Every teen program includes lots of dead air. Teens awkwardly come to library programs but then don’t want to seem dorky by participating. This was no exception, after the teens had loaded up their plates, they sat at their tables to eat in awkward silence. I challenged each table to find three things they all had in common. This broke the ice and got the teens more relaxed. Interspersed through the booktalks I gave away prizes through a draw and trivia questions, and we played a game called “Purses, Pockets, Wallets“. I had book prizes, movie passes, gift cards and lots of little prizes to give away. Most teens left with something.
The program was lots of fun, and several teens commented on their end of summer evaluation form that they enjoyed the breakfast. I will definitely offer the program again. Next time I will start the program at 11:00 am (turns out 10:00 am is too early!) and incorporate more games in between the book talks.
Teen books are fun to read and promote! Read some books, put out some food and share both with some teens. It’s actually pretty easy, and tasty. For help finding book titles and other teen programs the YALSA blog and website are great resources.
–Dana Ionson, Librarian and Summer Reading Club Coordinator, Fraser Valley Regional Library