Young Adult Programs Chapter

by Sara Bracht, WyLaina Hildreth, and Christine McNew

Sail Away With Your Imagination!

Target Age Group

This chapter features eight programs on topics related to exploration, art, literature, astronomy, history, and marine life, based on the theme, “Sail Away With Your Imagination!”  The programs are for preteens and teens in sixth through twelfth grades with varying levels of maturity.

Developmental Needs of Teens and Positive Developmental Assets

The programs in this chapter, and the relationships librarians establish with teens in their communities, fulfill the seven developmental needs of teens for physical activity, creative expression, and self-definition, clear structure and limits, positive social interaction with peers and adults, meaningful participation, and opportunities to learn and achieve.  They also support the development of positive assets that help young adults become healthy, caring, and responsible.  For more information about positive developmental assets for young adults, visit the Search-Institute web site at

A Safe and Engaging Space for Teens

Community leaders recognize the importance of programs for young adults. The high priority of library programs for teens is made very clear in the report, Long Overdue: A Fresh Look at Public and Leadership Attitudes About Libraries in the 21st Century, available online at The report identifies four specific challenges that libraries can help communities meet, allowing them to fill a vital community need while simultaneously positioning themselves as funding priorities for elected officials:

  • Providing a safe and engaging space for teens;
  • Supporting adult literacy and other components of workforce development;
  • Expanding access to the Internet and other uses of technology;
  • Becoming a community hub, making government forms and services easily available.

This chapter features engaging programs and activities for teens that may be hosted in the safe environment of libraries during the summer months.

The programs can be adapted for large or small spaces and for varying levels of attendance.  Sources for additional programming ideas and support for serving this population are provided.

Teen Brain Research

PBS Frontline aired a program, Inside the Teen Brain: What’s Going On In There? How Science May Explain the Mysteries of the Teen Years. Librarians who serve teens are encouraged to read about the teen brain research and view this PBS program online at This information will also help other library staff and volunteers understand why teens behave the way they do and how positive support from caring adults is beneficial to their growth and well-being.

Recommended Books for Teens

In addition to the books recommended in this chapter, librarians serving teens are encouraged to display and booktalk outstanding titles for teens recommended by the American Library Association (ALA) and the Texas Library Association (TLA) on the following websites.

Award Titles and ALA’s Young Adult Library Association’s (YALSA) Best Books Lists

TLA’s Young Adult Round Table (YART) Lone Star List and TAYSHAS Lists

Michael Sullivan, who wrote "Connecting Boys with Books," suggests that librarians create programs and collect materials with young boys in mind. He states that the reading skills of teen boys are lagging at least a year and a half behind those of girls. The Report to the Board of Higher Education - Task Force on Graduation Rates reveals that in 2005, 51% of white females and 40% of white males graduate college in 6 years. The rates are lower for minorities: 37% for minority females and 32% for minority males. To read more of this report, please see To learn more about the reading habits of boys, see the article “Boys and Books” by Jane McFann, published by the International Reading Association, online at Books boys like to read may be found on the following websites.  Librarians are encouraged to display and booktalk these books in addition to those featured in the programs in this chapter.

Guys Read by John Scieszka

Boys Will Be...The Unique Reading and Development Needs of Boys in Libraries compiled by the Association for Library Services for Children

A great resource for reader’s advisory and collection development for girls is the Middle School Girls' Selected Annotated Reading List and Resource Guide developed by the Center for Women's Studies at UT Austin. This culturally diverse, selected, annotated reading list and resource guide is intended to help middle school teachers, librarians, and students in Texas. The list features fiction and nonfiction books about girls’ and women's lives in the areas of literature, social studies, the arts, sciences, and math. The list also includes themes and curriculum areas supported by each title. The guide is available at Many of the titles are also appropriate for high school girls.

Planning, Preparation, and Promotion

Teen participation in the planning stage is essential to the success of the young adult programs. The sense of ownership and pride will lead to sincere promotion and to increased participation. The best method for promoting teen library programs is word of mouth, and if teens participate in the planning they will be excited about the programs.  Posters, flyers, bookmarks, presentations at schools and other community organizations, e-mails, instant messaging, and other promotional venues are also important.

For many of the programs in the chapter, the amount of preparation depends on the number of young adults attending the program. Unnecessary preparations can be reduced if teens are asked to sign-up in advance, but keep in mind that by their very nature, teens are unpredictable. Welcome unregistered teens, and remember that some registered teens won’t show up. 

Teen volunteers and advisory boards will be very helpful in planning, preparing, and promoting these programs.  For more information about teen volunteers, advisory boards, teen reading clubs, and teen collection development, please see No Limits Read! Young Adult Reading Club and Programming Manual by Lisa Youngblood at

Celebration: Get Physical @ your library

Stay Cool with Origami

Celestial Scavenger Hunt

Arggh Matey: Got Pirattitude?

Water Legends and Lore

Nautical Knots

Paint the Sea

Terrors of the Deep

Cool Clear Water



Texas Reading Club 2007 Programming Manual / Sail Away with Books!

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

Page last modified: June 14, 2011