Resolve to Read: Helping Teens Make New Year’s Resolutions that Include Reading
Believe it or not, the new year is just around the corner. I know you are thinking, but no I am just getting ready for Teen Read Week. And yet even as we do our current programming we must always be thinking 4 to 6 months ahead to the future; part of successful programming is making sure you give yourself enough time to plan, organize, and – most importantly – promote upcoming programs.
Here’s a tip: Because most library material due dates are 3 to 4 weeks, you should always have promotional materials out 3 to 4 weeks in advance (minimum) to catch the eye of those once a month library visitors. And of course you should avoid promoting in-house only, there you are basically preaching to the choir. Get the word out beyond the walls of your library building, your schools are of course a great way to do this but don’t forget about the community at large. But I digress.
What is Your New Year’s Resolution?
Every year at the beginning of the year people everywhere begin to make New Year’s resolutions: I will lose 10 pounds. I will eat healthier. I will train to run in a 5K. I will give up (insert vice here). How many people include resolutions about reading in their resolution making? Well, beyond us librarians. And what about our teens?
January can often be a slow time programming wise. Teens are right in the middle of the school year and we are all just coming off of the holidays. Teen Read Week is over. We begin thinking about planning our TSRCs for the summer. This is a great time to do some fun programming in the form of a Winter Reading Club! So make it your New Year’s resolution to help teens make it their New Year’s resolution to read more.
Resolve to Read
Our children’s department had decided to do a winter reading club, and to great success. So I decided to piggy back off of their success and do a winter reading club called Resolve to Read. My goal was simple: encourage teens to make it their New Year’s resolution to read more and then provide some fun ways for them to do that. Your WRC does not have to be as involved as the SRC; remember your teens don’t have the same amount of free time that they have during the summer.
Amount of Time vs. Number of Books
Year after year I do surveys at the end of my TSRC and teens always indicate that they prefer reporting amount of time reading as opposed to number of books read. This makes sense to me as it takes a lot longer to read a Harry Potter book then it does, say, the newest Orca paperback. So I recommend picking a time unit – let’s say 30 minutes a day – and asking teens to resolve to read 30 minutes a day. Then for every 30 minutes they read, they can fill out a prize entry form and enter into a random drawing. If you have the money, you can offer a small prize for teens once they reach a certain amount of time.
Have a Read In
As part of your programming offer a day where teens can come visit you in the library and do a “read in”. Saturday can be a good day for this. Set up your programming room nice and cozy like (think rocking chairs, butterfly chairs and beanbag chairs) and offer teens the opportunity to drop in and read for as long as they like. For each half hour they are there that day they get an entry form. You can also have a bonus drawing for that day: a special prize that is only available to teens that drop in to the read-in. Make sure you have a variety of snacks on hand throughout the day and staff to give you breaks.
31 Days of Reading
For a variation you can put together a type of bingo calendar that asks teens to read through the genres and formats. So you can put a different activity for each day on a calendar and ask them to complete a certain number, say 2, a week for entry. So one time you ask them to choose and read a Science fiction book and another time you ask them to read Sports fiction. You can also ask them to read books by various authors. Make sure you have displays set up (or end cap signage) that gives them some titles to choose in each genre). Teens may just discover a new author or genre that they like.
|A template for 31 Days of Reading|
Like I said, this can be as laid back as you want it to be. It doesn’t need to include a lot of additional programming as the emphasis is on the reading and it is pretty self-directed on the part of the teens. For you the work comes in organizing and planning and yet it frees you up to have January (and if you choose February) to work on putting together your TSRC. Any prizes you offer can also be on a smaller scale then what you might do for your TSRC; you can offer a simple pre-paid $50.00 gift card or perhaps left overs from your supply closet that you turn into a gift basket. Actually, a gift basket full of movies, popcorn, candy and pop would also be a good prize for this time of year. Or see if your administration will let you give out coupons to “read off your fines” (another program I have done with great success and will write up in the future).
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About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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