Magazine article American Libraries

How to Get Teens in the Library This Summer: Innovative Summer Reading Programs Explored

Magazine article American Libraries

How to Get Teens in the Library This Summer: Innovative Summer Reading Programs Explored

Article excerpt

Teen patrons of the Lexington (Ky.) Public Library can step inside a popular book this summer when they participate in a technological scavenger hunt called BattleKasters. Using their smartphones, readers can virtually experience Alane Adams' book The Red Sun by visiting "beacons"--or points on a scavenger hunt map-- around the city of Lexington, gaining virtual cards that give game advantages until completing their journey at a final location. The concept was developed by Artifact Technologies and Adams.

Colleen Hall, Lexington Public's youth services manager, hopes that having beacons placed in the city's retail establishments will get the whole town reading.

"We've been targeting the middle schools because that's the target audience of the book," says Hall, of outreach efforts. "But I think we're going to get a lot of people who aren't middle schoolers who want to do this."

When faced with the prospect of encouraging teen participation in summer reading programs, librarians often find themselves thinking outside the box--or the book, as it were. To spur teen summer reading, and, more broadly, summer learning, the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), in conjunction with Dollar General Corporation, offered 20 grants to libraries across the country. The Summer Resources Learning Grants of $1,000 each were awarded to organizations that developed unique programs to spark the interest of underserved teens in their regions.

The Alcona County (Mich.) Library in tiny (population less than 500) Harrisville wanted to focus on science education, a daunting task for a teen summer program. The staff came up with a creative twist: Use a trip to an amusement park to learn about physics. Grant money would pay for the teens' admission to the park.

"That age group is pretty dam fickle with what they want to do," says Lynn VanderLinde, Alcona's assistant director. "But we're hoping with the enticement of a trip to the amusement park, they're going to learn in spite of themselves."

The library is working with a STEM coordinator from Michigan State University, who will accompany the middle schoolers to the park, teaching them physics terms--such as terminal velocity, kinetic energy, friction, and gravity--that align with park rides.

Tyler (Tex.) Public Library chose to focus on building reading skills for teens with behavioral issues. After talking with staff at an alternative school for teens with these issues who also often read below their grade level, Youth Services Librarian Linda Gray decided to find books that students could both read with ease and find interesting. …

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