Young Adult Programs Chapter

By Jeanette Larson



The theme, “Reading: The Sport of Champions!”, offers plenty of opportunities to involve teens in library programs and activities. The theme taps into the idea that young adults who read succeed, while also recognizing the popularity of sports and competition. Literacy, educational success, and reading are compatible with physical activity, achievement, and winning. The activities in this chapter are related to writing, short stories, photography, poetry, team building, and recreational activities. The suggestions generally include more activities than you may want to include in a program that lasts an hour or two. This provides options for you to tailor the program to fit the interests of the young adults who are coming to the library, and your library’s budget and staffing capacity. Suggestions are also provided for on-line activities that can be used to extend programming or provide “on demand” programs and activities for teens.

Working with teens can be challenging, frustrating, and very rewarding. Librarians may find recent research findings concerning the teenage brain interesting. An excellent web site with research findings is Inside the Teenage Brain. For additional ideas for teen programs, refer to No Limits: Read!: Young Adult Reading Club and Programming Manual, available on the Texas State Library and Archives Commission web site.

Target Age Group

This chapter has been developed for library staff working with preteens and teens in grades seven through twelve. Maturity levels and interests vary widely; use those activities and program ideas that match the needs of the young adults you serve.

Planning and Preparation

It is essential that teens be involved in the planning and implementation of their programs. This fosters a sense of ownership of the programs, and teens are more likely to attend programs they have had a hand in designing. You may be surprised at what teens are interested in doing, and they are usually willing to share their ideas with you. If teens are helping the librarian decorate the library or they are making something for a parent, they will generally even participate in activities that they consider “uncool.”

If possible, set aside an area that is teen-friendly and comfortable. Purchase or borrow furniture that is comfortable and allows teens to lounge around. For teens to want to be in the library, they must feel at home, comfortable, and welcome. Companies like U. S. Toy Company sell inexpensive inflatable youth chairs, including several with sports motifs. Demco and other suppliers, including local stores, sell beanbag chairs, floor rockers, and other more durable seating. Replace decorative posters frequently so that the area always looks fresh. Contact information for these and other companies are included in the “Suppliers” section of this manual and web sites are provided in the Professional Resources for each program.

Provide leisure reading materials such as magazines, comics, and paperback books. If possible, buy a few issues of teen magazines from a newsstand. As teen interests change regularly, do not worry about having subscriptions or back issues. Just provide tempting materials that teens will pick up and read. Get to know the owner or manager of local comic book stores and newsstands. Often they will provide a substantial discount, donate older issues of magazines, and help promote your programs. Magazine titles are suggested for each program, although some may not be targeted specifically for teens.

Food is a vital component in programming with this age group. Although theme-related refreshments have been listed for most programs, general snacks such as soda, chips, or pizza will always work for all teen programs.

When appropriate, suggestions have been made for movies that can be displayed for circulation during your program. Time generally will not permit a movie to be shown as part of a program that is already going to run 60 to 90 minutes. However, if your library has public performance rights, show some of these films to provide additional young adult programs. Especially during the summer, the library is cool, thanks to air-conditioning, and can be made even cooler by showing movies and serving popcorn.


As with the planning and implementation of the programs in this chapter, it is important to allow participating teens to be directly involved in the promotion of the programs. Word of mouth among teens is the best advertising for upcoming events for teens.

Goals, Prizes, and Incentives

Suggestions for individual prizes and incentives are included with each program. If you are not sure about what to give as prizes, ask the teens. Give guidelines about price and any other concerns, give them some of the catalogs to review, and let them select several options for your final decision. Young adults will appreciate the prizes more if they had a say in the selection.


Each program recommends a selection of books to display or booktalk. If you have never tried booktalking, consider that it is one of the most effective ways to encourage teens to read for fun. Booktalks introduce potential readers to a book through a short, dramatic “commercial.” The booktalker introduces one or more of the main characters, sets the stage for the theme of the book, and leaves the listeners eager to discover what happens. A short introduction to booktalking, “Booktalking Basics,” is available at and includes a nice bibliography of professional books on the subject. Although you should never booktalk a book you have not read, you can find sample booktalks by consummate booktalker Joni Bodart on-line at The BookTalker.


Texas Reading Club 2006 Programming Manual / Reading: The Sport of Champions!

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

Page last modified: June 14, 2011