Getting teens interested in reading is difficult, but it's taught me a few things: when I was a teen, I would at times cut school to just to read. Why?! (If any teens are reading this, please don't cut school.)
And: no matter how much I make flyers, display or talk about a great book that I recently read, I have to accept that some teens just do not pick up a book. Which leads me to lesson 2. I had to keep track and befriend the teens that did come in and check out books.
Last June, I reserved some LGBTQ books, made a flier proclaiming "Celebrate Pride" and displayed the books. Then I held my breath not knowing how this would go over. The books got some circulation but barely.
I watched as my plan was going up in flames right before my eyes. I was not to be undone! I was going to give it another try! I decided to go on my daily hunt, which is my daily hunt for books from other branches. I would magically have them come to me. Okay, so it's not magic! It's just a lot of pieces working together to achieve a goal. A goal that consists of the wonder of living in a city that has over 80 neighborhood branches that citizens of New York City are able to request books from. Yep, it's magic! I go to work requesting a variety books and I request as many copies of a title as possible. By the end of May, I had a book truck load waiting to be displayed for June.
The school year was slowly coming to an end. Some teens that I hadn't seen all year came in to show their face. One by one, I got hushed conversations asking, "will you have a lot more books this year, the kind you had last year?" Or "will you hold some books to the side for me to check out, books that you had last year?" I quickly realized that there were two kinds of teens that enjoyed the books I displayed.
One group, we will call them Group A, had no problem going to the display, choosing a book, and checking out books. The other group, we will refer to them as Group B (and there were much more of them), were a little bit more leery to pick from the display. So being from a crafty descent, I asked myself, "What Would Martha Stewart do?"
Yes, she would make bookmarks of course! Which I promptly did and placed them in books within the shelves. Teens would ask "could you get me a book?" I would reply "Look for the bookmarks." They caught on quick and liked it. The bookmarks were a hit! Which worked out even better because teens picks up a book, a book with a bookmark. Whether they checked them out or not didn't matter. What did matter was, the fact that I started to get asked to put bookmarks in books about a particular subject. Realist fiction, dystopian, books that are a series and should be checked out as a series, and so on...
All the while, I keep thinking to myself, "but I displayed those books! I had them all in one spot!"
Getting teens to read can be difficult, but it's the little things that makes it worth the work! Who would have known, all I had to do ask "What would Martha Stewart do?" Bookmarks, and plenty of bookmarks.
Material for bookmarks
- Pages from old comics/graphic novels
- 5 sheets of cardstock paper (more depending on how many bookmarks you want to make)
- Bottle of aleene's tacky glue
- Old copy card or hotel key card
- It's best to find a page that has a full picture and cut a little extra on each side.
- Line up the cardstock with the picture and fold to mark the extra picture.
- Glue the back of the picture and place the cardstock in place.
- Turn over and use the copy card to smooth the picture in place.