Young Adult Programs

Wild About the Written Word!

Length of Program

1 hour

Program Description

Some teens feel that writing is more of a chore than a pleasure, while others may associate writing with school assignments rather than individual expression or creativity. This program explores creativity, individuality, and self-expression through focusing on writing as a hobby and on the writing process as an enjoyable activity. Teens also explore creativity through making uniquely decorated, marbled paper that can be used in various writing activities, including personal correspondence, pages of a journal, or a book cover.


To advertise the program, create displays in the library that highlight writers, the creative process, and that focus on writing as a fun and productive pastime. Display or booktalk titles featuring the published works of teen writers, such as Amelia Atwater Rhodes and Christopher Paolini. Feature books specifically for budding writers that highlight the various methods of writing and self expression, including journaling, online journaling (blogging), and descriptive scrapbooking.

Books to Display

  • Blogging for Teens by John W. Gosney.
  • How To Make a Journal of Your Life by Dan Price.
  • How Writers Work: Finding a Process That Works for You by Ralph Fletcher.
  • It’s My Life! A Workout for Your Mind by Tian Dayton.
  • Totally Cool Journals, Notebooks, and Diaries by Janet Pensiero.
  • A Writer’s Notebook: Unlocking the Writer Within You by Ralph Fletcher.
  • You Are Here This is Now: Poems, Stories, Essays, and Art from the Best Young Writers in America edited by David Levithan.

Books to Booktalk

  • Blood on the Forehead: What I Know About Writing by M. E. Kerr.
  • The Black Book: Volume 1, Diary of a Teenage Stud: Girls, Girls, Girls by Jonah Black.
  • Heart on My Sleeve by Ellen Wittlinger.
  • How My Private, Personal Journal Became a Bestseller by Julia DeVillers.
  • Past Perfect, Present Tense: New and Collected Stories by Richard Peck.
  • Please Don’t Kill the Freshman: A Memoir by Zoe Trope.
  • SLAM by Cecily von Ziegesar.

Bulletin Board

Wild About Words

Cover your bulletin board with lined notebook paper. Write “Wild about the Written Word!” in a cursive script across the top of the board with tempera paint or large markers. Hang markers or colored pencils from strings around the bulletin board, or place some in cups nearby. Encourage teens to write their thoughts on the paper-covered board.


Purchase the young adult author posters and bookmarks available from Upstart.

Prizes and Incentives

Spiral notepads and pen sets are available from Oriental Trading Company. Each notepad comes with a plastic cover and a coordinating pen.

Smilemakers at offers a variety of notepads.

Laser notepad key chains are available from Upstart, as are Bentcils (bendable pencils) that proclaim “Get Wrapped Up in a Good Book!”



  • A large plastic tray (at least 8.5” x 11”)
  • Oil paint, one or more colors
  • Mixing bowls, one for each paint color of oil paint
  • Turpentine
  • Paintbrush, knitting needle, or pencil
  • White paper
  • Newspaper
  • Water

Marbling is a simple method of decorating paper by adding oil-based paint to water. Marbled paper can be used for written correspondence or as a cover for a book or journal. Here is how it is done.

  • Step 1: Fill the tray with water.
  • Step 2: Add about one squeeze of oil paint (about 1-inch) and one tablespoon of turpentine into a mixing bowl. Mix well. Repeat for each paint color.
  • Step 3: Test the paint by swirling the turpentine and paint in the bowl with a paintbrush, knitting needle, or pencil, and then flicking it on the water. If the paint sinks, add turpentine. If it spreads too thinly or too quickly, add more paint. Do this with each paint color.
  • Step 4: Empty the tray and fill it with clean water. Using a paintbrush, knitting needle, or pencil, flick paint onto the water and drag into swirls. Repeat if you use more than one color.
  • Step 5: Place white paper gently onto the surface of water. After a few seconds, or when the edges of the paper begin to curl, carefully peel the paper off of the water and lay it flat on newspaper to dry. You can use this same tray of paint to make a second, paler sheet of marbled paper.
  • Step 6: Empty the tray and begin again. Before you empty the water, use a sheet of newspaper to soak up the oil paint so that it is not discarded down a drain.
  • Step 7: Let the paper dry for at least two hours before writing on it or using it to cover a book.


Free Association Poetry

A great way to encourage a group of teens to talk and share their thoughts with one another is to let them write a free association poem. Surprisingly, the result is often as revealing as it is poetic. Free association means writing down the first thing that comes to your mind. To begin, one person writes down the first line that comes to him or her. It can be anything; there really are no rules. Once the first person has written down his or her line, the “poem” is passed to the next person. After reading the first line, the second person freely associates his or her thoughts and adds another line of poetry. The first line is covered up and the poem is passed along. The third person reads only the second line of the poem and then free-associates the next line. Continue until all participating teens have had a chance to write a line of the poem. When everyone has written a line, let a participating teen read the finished poem aloud. This activity works best when the adult facilitator acts as the scribe. When the activity is finished, make a copy of the poem for each participating teen.

Guest Speakers

Invite a local author or poet to talk about the writing process.

Invite an artist, bookmaker, or archivist to talk about various methods of bookbinding.

Invite an avid scrap booker to talk about the process of creating a photo journal scrapbook.


The Bookmaking Kit by Anne Morris and Peter Linenthal includes an assortment of bright papers, interior images, cardstock covers, and fasteners to make five complete books. Also included is a 20-page instruction guide with directions for more than twenty bookmaking projects. You might be able to purchase this kit at a local bookstore or craft store. If you do not have a local craft store, or the store does not have the kit in stock, you can always order it online.

Web Sites

Teen Ink

This site, created by and maintained by the Young Authors Foundation, is devoted entirely to teen writing and art.

Teen Lit

On this site, teen can publish original poetry, short stories, essays, and more.

Teen Open Diary

On this site young people can create, edit, and update their personal, online journals (a.k.a. blogs.)


  • Cicada.
  • Stone Soup: The Magazine by Young Writer’s and Artists.
  • Teen Ink.
  • Teen Voices.

Professional Resources

The Freedom Writers Diary: How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them by the Freedom Writers and Zlata Filipovic.

Papercraft by Meryl Doney.


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