Programs for Kids & Teens

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Success Stories

Boys' and Girls' Summer Book Groups: A Success Story and What We Learned

At my rural branch library (Greene County Branch of Jefferson-Madison Regional Library in Virginia) we've had a boy's summer book group for two summers and a corresponding girl's group for one summer. These were half book groups and half activity clubs... Each group met once per week for eight weeks. We alternated with book discussion nights and planned activity nights, beginning with a book discussion on the first meeting. By only having a book discussion every other meeting, kids had two weeks to read each new book. Ages of participants were 9-12 for the girl's group and 10 to 14 for the boys. Our goal with both groups was to encourage involvement with books, and also to bring kids together in a group where they could make new friends and socialize at the library. We hoped that by meeting eight times, rather than just four for the book discussions, that the kids would have enough time together to develop an identity, a small community if you will, or a club feel. We had good participation for both the boy's and girl's groups, and good feedback from parents and kids. We also made some mistakes, and heard about it, as you'll see below.

Some of the benefits of the programs: We got to know and formed relationships with kid's (and parents) that we never would have otherwise, which we loved. We also heard from parents that their kids did much more reading over the summer as a result of the clubs, and that the books they read in the clubs really stretched their reading and thinking skills. We felt great about that. Staff and volunteers also read many new childrens books as a result of being involved with the programs and got a better feel for what books work for what ages. Here are some of the things we learned:

  • Think Carefully About The Name For Your Program

Youth Services Success with Boys' Program

I am absolutely new to this (wikis, THIS wiki), but would like to start out by saying I'm a NON-LIBRARIAN ("clerk" and "library assistant" are job titles I've held), working 20+ years in public libraries, mainly in Youth Services. I've been a long-time library user (long before working in one) and am a parent of grown children (thus, the time to participate in this wiki, and take classes toward an LTA certificate).

Over the years, getting kids (especially grade school age boys) to read for pleasure (and to come to the library for programming) has been a challenge. This year, my library was awarded a grant for the purpose of bringing boys back to books.

The programming involved hands-on use of "building" materials, such as Lincoln Logs, erector sets, and a program (hired-out) involving designing your own video game. WOW! Was it ever successful (and yes, girls were included). We purchased some books to go with the programs (such as the "Wright Three" series as well as books about Frank Lloyd Wright, when we hosted an architect & people from the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust to talk and demonstrate building techniques using Froebel blocks, etc.). Parents (and kids) are still talking about our programs and hoping for more.

I'd be interested to hear other success stories involving boys and books and libraries. -- Alice Majka


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