Young Adult Programs

Wild About Symbols and Signs

Length of Program

1 hour

Program Description

The teenage years are a time of development of self-awareness and personal identity. During these years, young men and women often find themselves in the process of figuring out who they are and what they believe. As a direct result of this internal process, teens often externally portray their newly discovered awareness via symbols, signs, and logos on their clothing, body art, and jewelry. Symbols and signs have been used for thousands of years to represent various belief systems and ideologies. In today’s pop culture, symbols, signs, and logos are pervasive in mediums as varied as bumper stickers, clothing insignia, and tattoos on rock stars and rappers. Rather than simply wearing someone else’s logo or brand, this program provides an opportunity for teens to create their own trademark image that communicates who they are and what they believe to the rest of the world.


Before the program, gather clothing, jewelry, bumper stickers, flags, and other items that feature familiar trademarks, logos, or symbols. Display these items, along with books about symbols and signs, in a prominent place in your library.

Books to Display

  • Give Me a Sign: What Pictograms Tell Us Without Words by Tiphaine Samoyault.
  • The New Big Book of Logos by David E. Carter.
  • 1,001 Symbols: An Illustrated Guide to Imagery and Its Meaning by Jack Tressider.
  • Smileys by David W. Sanderson.
  • Wan2Tlk?: Ltl Bk of Txt Msgs Edited by Gabrielle Mander.

Books to Booktalk

  • The Alchemist: A Fable About Following Your Dreams by Paulo Coehlo.
  • Born Confused by Tanuja Desai Hidier.
  • Feed by M. T. Anderson.
  • Green Angel by Alice Hoffman.
  • Sign of the Oin by L.G. Bass.

Bulletin Board

Copy the list of characteristics in the “Animal Symbolism from the Zuni Indian Tribe of the American Southwest” in the Design Your Own Logo craft below. Format it using a variety of font sizes and types, and print the words on a variety of paper colors. Cut out the words, and attach them to the bulletin board. In the middle of the board, add a sign that says, “How do you describe yourself?” Add a smaller sign with the details of the program.

If you like, add emoticons on your bulletin board. An emoticon is a series of keyboard characters grouped together to represent a facial expression or an emotion. The Web sites section of this program features a site with examples of emoticons.


Street signs, flags, pendants, and clothing with various logos are all good examples of appropriate decorations for this program. The more examples of symbols, logos, and trademarks displayed, the better idea participating teens will have when it comes to designing their own personal logo or emblem.


Sugar cookies and icing in tubes are a great snack for budding logoists. They can practice their design skills and eat the finished product.

Prizes and Incentives

Tribal and Henna Tattoos from Dover Publications are inexpensive booklets of temporary tattoos.

LOL stands for laughing out loud in online chat-speak. Upstart offers t-shirts with LOL followed by the smiley face emoticon. The back of the t-shirt features additional emoticons.


Design Your Own Logo

  • White paper
  • Markers and colored pencils
  • Computer and scanner (optional)

Discuss logos and symbols and show a variety of them to the teens. Provide each teen with several sheets of white paper and an assortment of markers and colored pencils. Encourage them to create their own personal logo, beginning with their initials. Encourage them to draw inspiration from a variety of outside influences, including hobbies, recreational pastimes, favorite colors, and favorite symbol such as the peace sign, the yin and the yang sign, a star, the symbol for anarchy, emoticons, etc. In many cultures, animals have long been associated with specific character traits such a bravery, strength, joy, wisdom, loyalty, etc. Distribute the list below. These animals can also be incorporated into a teen’s individual logo. If you have access to a computer and a scanner, scan the drawings of each teen’s logo and print them onto specialty papers to create an individual logo sticker, logo magnet, or an iron-on t-shirt transfer for each participating teen. Special papers are available from Avery at and from many other office supply stores.

The following list of “Animal Symbolism from the Zuni Indian Tribe of the American Southwest” is from the book Nature’s Art Box. Text copyright 2003 by Laura C. Martin. Permission to reproduce from Storey Publishing, 210 MASS MoCA Way, North Adams, MA 01247.

Strength, Healing, Introspection

Power, Strength, Abundance

Beauty, Balance, Transformation

Teaching, Humor

Agility, Speed, Gentleness

Illumination, Vision, Clarity

Nobility, Inspiration, Energy

Courage, Speed, Safe Journey

Joy, Beauty, Thankfulness

Wisdom, Silence

Longevity, Loyalty, Peace

Commitment, Sociability, Stamina

Games and Activities


Sit in a circle. Pose the following question to the group as whole: “What animal best represents you, and why?” Be prepared to answer first, both to serve as an example and to get the ball rolling.

Guest Speakers

Invite a local graphic designer or marketing person to drop by and discuss the process of creating a logo or thematic design for an individual or a company. Ask the guest to discuss the design process and provide tips on what makes a good logo.

Web Sites

Computer Knowledge

Emoticons (emotional icons) are a fun and interesting way to use the keyboard to express an array of emotions. This site lists more than most people will ever use.


This site offers a free online graphics generator on which teens can create logos, buttons, and text images.

This site is an online encyclopedia of graphic symbols on which teens can search more than 2,500 western signs arranged into 54 groups according to characteristic.


Texas Reading Club 2005 Programming Manual / Go Wild...Read!

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

Page last modified: June 14, 2011