Outcomes, Social Readers, and Totally Wired

I mentioned something about eventually talking about the outcomes project, yes?

[Since explaining the difference between outcomes and outputs is a whole post itself, I’m going to assume you are already familiar with the terms.  Anyone that isn’t can find an easy explanation at this website.]

In deciding what kinds of questions to include on their surveys and focus group guides, the committee wanted to make sure that they were going back to the main goals of summer reading.  First, to encourage kids to read over the break and maintain, rather than lose, the reading skills they had gained the previous school year.  Secondly, to encourage more children and families to come to the library all throughout the year.
But how does one determine if the kids that are reading over the summer are doing so because of the library’s programs – or simply because they would be anyway?  To help answer this question, the committee looked to recent research* about youth that showed that while a certain percentage of youth are, like most librarians, are solitary readers who will pretty much read no matter what, the great number of adolescent readers or social readers – what they read and how much they read is greatly influenced by either peer groups or other social interactions.  So the questions they** fashioned are largely about reading as a social activity, the extent to which the library and the summer reading program fosters a sense of community.

I know a lot of people are worried that always being online will end up cutting into the amount of time people spend reading for pleasure.  However, aside from the fact that being online often IS reading for pleasure, I think that social media can – and often already is – a great way to encourage reading among social readers.

It can be argued that part of the reason for Harry Potter, and especially Twilight’s popularity, is the ease at which youth can share what they are reading on the internet.  Just as tweens and teens find friends and support and like-minded peers online where they may have difficulty finding it offline, fans of certain books can find communities online to help feed and foster their love of reading even if no one at their school is currently reading the same book.  Just as online chat rooms for gay tweens helps foster confidence and consequently GSA’s across the nation, so do fan sites about various books and other media help the fandom grow offline.

Not everything about the internet is full of rainbows and lolcats, but I do think there is a lot of potential for using it to solve some of the problems we think that it’s causing.

*Howard, V. (2010). Teacher- peer influences on young teen readers an emerging taxonomy. Young Adult Library Services, 8(2), 34-41.

(I’m not sure if this is the same article we were given to read, but the article we read was clearly based on this research.)

**we?  except that I came in on only the tail end; they had the foundation all figured out before I was asked to join, I only participated in the later discussions where we tweaked the language.

Programming, Advocacy, and Media Literacy

There are all kinds of ways that programming and advocacy are intertwined, not the least of which is that programming makes patron populations visible, and visibility often means more resources allocated. Even more importantly, though, the programming itself is often a type of advocacy, when done right.

The gold standard for for teen programs are ones that are run by teens themselves, programs that give them a chance to not only make decisions, but also plan and organize, which meets several of the needs discussed at the beginning of the semester. Programs for younger elementary students should engage the imagination and give children a chance to model and practice skills, but are generally highly structured. So where does that leave tweens?

Although it gave programming examples, discussed the needs of tweens, and stated that the former should inform the latter, it felt like the chapter in Serving Young Teens and Tweens didn’t really give useful advice for doing that. When I’m at our “teen” craft (full of mostly tweens) I can see how certain crafts give enough instruction for tweens to master the craft themselves, while still allowing for a plenty of creativity, exploration, and personalization. Just as I can see how running their own club is exactly what the older teens need – and enjoy.

But how do I translate the loose structure of our “teen” crafts to other types of programs for tweens?

Sadly, despite hours of searching, the internet is not helping with this one.

Show Off

cover image for Show OffStephens, S. H. & Mann, B.  (2009) Show Off.  Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press.


Can you stand on your head?  Predict a rainstorm?  Bake a cake over a campfire?  Build a catapult?  Would you like to?  This book will show you how to do all this and more, step-by-step, and with each feat fully illustrated.

This book is just tons of fun and the stylish pictures make the already appealing activities even more so.  It also has a huge range of not only types of activities but also level of skills needed.  Several of the more intriguing and complicated tasks would likely require further investigation before accomplishing correctly, but I personally like the fact that it will probably encourage kids to find even more information elsewhere.  It’s also the perfect range of activities for tweens.  Not only is the easier stuff the kinds of things they can do without supervision while the harder tasks are perfect for stretching their planning skills, but the whole book is this perfect blend of the type of imaginative play that children revel in and the the kind of do-it-yourself mentality that teens love.  Aside from being a great book for kids to browse through, it also gave me lots of great ideas for library programming; it’s a must for any library.

Note:  I found it really amusing that several of the activities involved dangerous stunts, cooking, or using construction tools – and yet it was only the few involving matches that instructed readers to get their parents.

Best for ages 10-15

Book Website:

Craft Idea!

I went to Michael’s site to see if CriCuts were on sale (patience Jenny, it’s not close enough to Christmas) and I saw this ad:

ad for craft supplies and project

That would make a pretty decent kid or tween craft, yes?  Instructions can be found here.

Hmmm….how to switch it up so it will appeal to boys too….