Keeping teens interested can be one of the trickiest parts of working with adolescents, says Sarah Bean Thompson, youth services manager at the Library Center. But despite having to compete with sports, homework and friends, Sarah’s staff found a way by letting her Teen Library Council take the lead. It started two years ago when a teen suggested reading books in the children’s department.
“I wasn’t expecting the reaction I got from the teens,” Sarah wrote in a recent library magazine article. “I thought they might roll their eyes at me when I suggested planning a full storytime, not just reading a book or two, but they jumped at the chance to be in charge of a program for kids. They wanted to give back to the library, and not just in a teen program… They wanted to share their love of the library with younger kids.”
After some lessons on how to create a good storytime, 12 teens arrived on a Saturday morning to read “The Mitten” and “Snowy Day,” entertained with a snowman rhyme and some snowy songs. Together they built giant snow forts with huge foam packing blocks from the computer services department. Most of all, each teen took time to talk to each child and get acquainted.
Next, the teens put on a “Stuffed Animal Sleepover.” Children were invited to bring a stuffed animal to the Library for a sleepover just for stuffed animals, which were left in the care of a teen “babysitter.” The children briefed us on the animal’s favorite activities, bedtime stories and snacks.
After the children went home, (Shhh, don’t tell!) the teens roamed the library branch with cameras and stuffed animals, taking photos of, as Sarah says, “what happens when you let stuffed animals loose in the Library.”
When the children returned for storytime the next day, they were tickled to watch a slide show of their stuffed animals reading books, watching videos, dangling from shelves, swimming in a baby pool – even sitting on the copier machine. Wonder where they got that idea…
Teen councils are full of fun volunteer opportunities and chances to plan programs just for teens, as well. Know a teen who would like to check one out? The Library can help find a council for them.
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