Young adult programs

Young Adult Reading Club Theme:

Color Me Cool!


Color Me Cool! includes a Young Adult Reading Club and eight programs for teens on topics related to movies, art, cartooning, body art, poetry, computer art, and Mardi Gras.

Target Age Group

This chapter has been developed for library staff who work with youth in the seventh through 12th grades. In most cases, teens in the sixth through 10th grades will be most interested in attending the programs and older teens may choose to volunteer to help with the programs.

The programs suggested in this chapter have been successfully presented at Texas Libraries. They can be expanded or condensed to meet the available time by reducing the number of activities, substituting demonstrations for hands-on activities, allowing additional time for presentation of finished projects, etc. Do not hesitate to adapt these programs to the needs of the teens you are serving or for the parameters of your library resources.

Planning and Preparation

Involve teens in planning their reading club to ensure that the programs interest them. The kids know what they want to do and what they will not do even for a bribe, so solicit their help. Even if there is just a few years difference in age between the library staff and the young adults, library staff may no longer know what is currently "cool."

Teen volunteers can also help with programming for younger children. They can prepare skits, puppet shows, and other shows. They can prepare and assist with craft programs or help with a film showing. Often teens, especially younger teens, welcome an excuse to participate in an activity that would otherwise be considered "babyish." Remember that teens are still children and they want guidance, approval, opportunities, and attention.

Refer to No Limits -- Read!: Young Adult Reading Club and Programming Manual by Lisa Youngblood (Texas State Library and Archives Commission, 2002), available online at or 101+ Teen Programs That Work by RoseMary Honnold for additional programming suggestions and information on promoting teen programs.

Promotion of Programs

To get the most ownership in your teen programs, involve teens in planning and promoting them. Establish a separate calendar for teen activities and tailor posters and flyers to their interests. Colorful graphics can be used to create bookmarks and mini-posters. Ask the teens to help develop promotional flyers.

If you have a teen advisory committee, you probably are already planning to involve them. If you do not have one, create an ad hoc committee. Solicit help from a couple of library regulars and teen volunteers from the past year. Your teen advisory group will be your best advertiser as they tell their friends to join them at the library.

Depending on the size of your library and how you design the program, you might want to sign teens up in advance. Keep in mind, however, that many teens will not commit to participating in anything until they know whether they are getting a summer job, going to summer school, or participating in other activities. Give them the option to participate at any time.

About a month before the Teen Reading Club begins, visit middle schools and high schools to distribute flyers about the program. If possible, give something to the teens such as a bookmark, a pencil with the library’s name and Web site imprinted, or another small item. This gives them a reason to approach you and offers you the opportunity to smile and make contact. Whenever possible, visit during free time such as lunch or before school so that you have time to mingle with the teens. The objective is not so much to give your message to every teen as to reach those who want to hear what you have to say. It may feel lonely at times, but you are reaching kids even though they may not acknowledge your presence.

Reach out to other community organizations and businesses that serve teens. Comic book store managers, coffee house staff, and the staff at music stores can be strong allies in promoting teen programs. Talk to them about the activities in the library and ask them for donations for prizes. They, in turn, may post flyers on the library programs and tell the teens about them.

Media coverage and listings in the community events section of the local newspaper is important, but most teens do not read the newspaper so you are really reaching out to the community and to those who influence teens. To reach teens, try to get programs announced on the radio programs and television stations that are teen oriented. Flyers and word-of-mouth work well, also. Enlist your teen advisory committee and volunteers to spread the word.

Kick off the program with a contest or special event that appeals to teens. This could be an art exhibition that would not require judging or a poetry-writing contest. Post all entries in the library, on the library’s Web site, or in a nicely decorated binder. If desired, ask that entries reflect the theme, “Color Me Cool!”

Many teens don’t have the time or won’t spend the time reading books. Make sure that you provide magazines, comics, and graphic novels to entice them. Keep multiple copies of popular paperbacks around.

Web-based activities can be bookmarked on the library computers or printed on webliographies that are distributed at programs or posted near the computers. These Web sites provide related games or activities for teens looking for something to do on the Internet.

If you show videos or DVDs, include teens in deciding upon titles. Set parameters for ratings, length, etc., but allow them to help decide what they will see. Read the copyright information in the Bibliography of this manual. There is also information about copyright in the program, “In Technicolor.” Within this chapter, the “Videos to View” sections include videos that are either in public domain or readily available with public performance rights for libraries through system offices, the producer, or other sources without a separate license.

Goals, Prizes, and Incentives

Establish goals at a variety of levels and let the teens choose how they will participate. For example, teens might receive a small prize for submitting reviews of books they read or Web sites they visit. They might receive incentives or chances to win larger prizes by attending library programs. Contests and counting the number of books read are also options. Keep in mind that teens are less motivated by certificates and “winning” than they are by personal attention and meaningful interactions with the library staff and their peers. For more information on goals, prizes, incentives, please Refer to No Limits -- Read!: Young Adult Reading Club and Programming Manual by Lisa Youngblood (Texas State Library and Archives Commission, 2002), available online at

Participation should be its own reward, but teens also like prizes and incentives. Select prizes and incentives that are in line with goals of the program and appeal to teens. If you cannot get a prize for every participating teen, provide tickets for a drawing for a few larger prizes.

Ask local businesses to donate gift certificates for books, music, or movies. Many small prizes are relatively inexpensive. For example, plastic CD holders, slim “bookmark” pens, and colorful squeeze light key chains can be imprinted with the library’s name and Web address. Ask your Friends of the Library to give coupons that allow the teen to select a “free” book from the book sale.



Texas Reading Club 2004 Programming Manual / Color Your World...Read!

Published by the Library Development Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission

Page last modified: June 14, 2011