Catch Me If You Can!
Come and Go Programming for Teens

By Lisa Youngblood, Rose Ramon, and Jeanine Madden


Come and Go Programming is ongoing programming designed to engage teenagers unable or unwilling to attend specific programs at the library at specific times. Many teenagers -- homeschoolers, teens with transportation issues, employed teens, teen volunteers, teens who want to be a part of something but are unable or unwilling to participate in group activities, shy teens, teens new to the area – enjoy opportunities to participate in library programming when it is appealing and convenient to them. The programs and interactive display options listed below can be offered for an entire day, a whole week, every morning for a month, or whatever best fits your library!

Come and Go Programming serves many purposes:

  1. Takes advantage of times when teens are already at the library
  2. Provides programming for teens in a non-structured environment
  3. Allows teens to become involved in the library even if they are unable to attend specific programs
  4. Provides teen volunteers with additional opportunities to work AND be a part of programs
  5. Provides alternatives to static programs presented only at specific places at specific times
  6. Provides alternatives to highly social programming for teens uncomfortable in crowds
  7. Offers less threatening alternatives for teens who want to ease into teen programming

Designed to meet needs of teens through non-traditional programming, these programs and display options offer teens opportunities to gain ownership in the library, its collections, and its services. While many are “laid-back” in nature, all require staff supervision even if some of that supervision appears to be “hands-off” or minimal.

Flexibility is key! Any idea listed can be changed, morphed, taken in part, expanded, condensed, etc. Your library is special. Make any of these activities your own. If you can modify an online activity to be done in the library or vice versa, then have at it! If you cannot have a program going all summer long, then feel free to provide it for one day or one week.

Books to Share

The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin by Josh Berk
Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
Jonas by Eden Maguire
The Lying Game by Sara Shepard

Books to Show or Booktalk

Aurelia by Anne Osterlund
I’d Tell You I Love You But Then I’d Have To Kill You by Ally Carter
Silverfin: A Young James Bond Adventure byCharles Higson
Skeleton Key by Anthony Horowitz
Spy High: Mission One by A. J. Butcher

Books With Blue Covers (Use To Start Off a Visual Rather Than Thematic Display)

The Anatomy of Wings by Karen Foxlee
Demon’s Covenant by Sarah Rees Brennan
Gone by Michael Grant
How to Ditch Your Fairy by Justine Larbalestier
Raised By Wolves by Jennifer Barnes
Totally Joe by James Howe
Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
Worlds Apart by Lindsay Lee Johnson
Zenith by Julie Bertagna

Bulletin Board

Ransom Note Booklist

Design a bulletin board or other flat display area to look like a large ransom note. Use words cut out from newspapers, magazines, old book title pages, etc., and paste on a heading such as “List of Books On Demand” or “We Demand That You Read These Books!” Allow teens to demand that other teens read their favorite books by cutting out words from the available materials to make the titles of the books on the booklist.

Read Wherever – However

Make a bulletin board collage display that will promote the reading in strange places or in unusual positions. Take pictures or use other pictures of individuals reading in a variety of different places, positions, etc. If you like, you can use this bulletin board idea along with the Read Wherever – However activity listed below. Place those pictures on a board along with information about the come and go activity. If you are unable to obtain permission to display pictures of the teenagers, then take pictures of your staff members  and/or teen advisory board reading underneath tables, while eating ice cream, at a nearby park, etc. 

Mystery Authors

Use your bulletin board to highlight popular authors of teen literature. Fold colored letter sized paper once. The paper will end up looking like a greeting card. On the outside of the folded paper on what would be the front of a greeting card, list a few clues about an author’s life. On the inside of the paper, write the name of the author and several of the titles written by that author that you own in your library. Place the folded paper on the bulleting board so that only the clues show. Allow teens to lift the flaps to reveal the mystery authors.


Interactive Displays

Interactive displays are designed to engage your teens in the library even if they cannot attend specific programs. They give teens opportunities to gain ownership of the teen area and the library. In many cases, teens are more open to marketing and publicity provided by other teens.

Teen Choice Book Displays

Teens are very interested in letting everyone know which books they do and do not like. If you have a slat board wall, endcap displays, display tables, or room in your shelves for front facing displays of books, allow the teens to choose those books. Make small signs explaining that books on display are chosen by teen patrons. If teens see books they do not like, they replace those books with other “good” books. If they see an open space, they are free to fill it with any book or books that they want to recommend to other patrons.

Kick it up a notch: Rotate the themes of the books to be added in certain display areas. For example, label one area of a wall or table as “good mysteries” or “spy a good book.” Ask teens to recommend books only on specific topics or even with covers of a specific color. Effective displays are often visual in nature. Label one area of a wall or table as “blue books,” “red books,” and/or other colors. Have teens find books with beautiful covers and group them by main color. For examples of a colored theme book list, take a look at the Books with Blue Colors list under Books to Show or Booktalk.

Teen Choice Book Reviews

Teens want to know what other teens like and dislike. Use a simple binder to collect the short reviews from teens. Attached is a simple form that can be filled out and added to the binder. Make sure that the forms are reviewed by a librarian before they are added. Just about any binder will work. You may even have teen advisory board members decorate the binder. Place the binder in a visible, well-trafficked area. You could even place it on a table decorated with a tablecloth, streamers, confetti, etc. Let teens know that they are welcome to add to the binder by asking them to do so. Teenagers liked to feel like their input is wanted. You could also produce press releases, fliers, and more to increase interest in the project. 

Kick it up a notch: Raise the tech value by making a quick online review available on your website. The reviews could be immediately sent to your staff member in charge of the review notebook. The reviews could then either be made visible in the binder, on your website, or both. Provide links to your online book discussion or review blogs and websites on computers in your teen area. Add national review sites such as

Poetry Slam

Set up this interactive display in a highly visible place, and teens will flock to it. Use school locker, an old refrigerator door, or a magnetic board. Create a sign that says Poetry Slam and under it write the directions for whatever theme you would like the craft to follow. For example, if you were doing haikus you could have the definition and an example of a haiku posted for teens to use as a guideline. Have teens “slam” the words onto the magnetic surface and see how many different writings they can make.

Kick it up a notch: Try using word formats where the first letters create a word or even an entire sentence. Here are some examples:

R evolutionary
E vocative
A mbitious
D electable

L ive each day
I  n wonder.
B e each moment
R esolved to investigate an
A rray of possibilities.
R ead to be the best
Y ou.

Spine Lable Poetry

Provide a cart of books with clearly readable spines, or let the teens find their own. Let the teens stack the books to create poetry. Take pictures, and put the best entries on display. Thank you to Karen Ellis from the Taylor Public Library for suggesting book spine poetry-or “spinies.” 

The Taylor Public Library has examples on their library’s Flickr page at   

Kick it up a notch: Instead of poems, have the teens work up their own riddles. When you display them, have the answers either available at the front desk or on the display inside a closed card.


Almost any of the crafts, activities, and even displays above can be turned into contests. The winners could receive gift certificates for bookstores, books, reading related items, display in particularly visible areas, mentions in the local newspapers, etc. Prizes can be attached to the completion of any of the activities, crafts, etc. Sometimes, though, tongue and cheek “glory” is enough.

Songs and Audio Recordings

Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary Pearson
The Boxer and the Spy by Robert B. Parker
Edgar Allan Poe Audio Collection by Edgar Allan Poe
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Paper Towns by John Green
Sabriel by Garth Nix


“Lost and Found” Items Art Projects


  • Found items like rocks, beads, buttons, pompoms, sequins, googly eyes, feathers, sea shells, whatever you have left over from other crafts, etc
  • Glue
  • String or necklace cord
  • Acrylic paints


Here’s a chance to use whatever you have left over from other craft projects to make works of art. You can even publicize that teens can bring their own left over supplies to use and leave for others to use.

For a rock necklace, cut a 1 yard piece of cord. Attach to the back of the rock with the glue. Wrap cord several times around rock, securing as necessary with glue. Tie ends together to form a necklace. When using buttons or beads, just string them along in any order or pattern you choose.

Make rock or pompom buddies. Use one rock or sea shell as the base for a small masterpiece. Use feathers, pompoms, googly eyes, sequins – whatever – to decorate the new creation.

Kick it up a notch: Painted rocks are a lot of fun to decorate. Have teens find large rocks from outside and wash them. Then, using acrylic paint, have them paint designs on the rocks. These designs can be animals, book covers, or anything that ties in with your craft theme. You can use them as paper weights or to decorate displays. You can even write hidden messages or overt messages on the rocks. For example, take four rocks. On one have the teens decorate an “R,” on the next an “E,” and then continue until you have four rocks that spell READ.

Trace Your Friend Craft (and Display)


  • Butcher Paper
  • Markers/Color Pencils/Crayons
  • Scissors


Set aside an area that allows teens the ability to lie down on the butcher paper. Teens will then trace each other’s body outlines onto the paper and then decorate it to match that specific person. Ask them to be as exact as possible when decorating the outlined person. Then have them carefully cut out the drawn person. You can either let them keep it or you can use it in a large teen wall display that interconnects the teen patrons to the library, to a certain book theme, or to a community theme. To increase visibility, put it up in an entry or area located outside the teen section. The choices are only as limited as your imagination.

Kick it up a notch: Have teens lay in different positions so that when you tape them up it looks like they could be reaching for a book, running, walking, sitting, etc.



  • Scrapbook album(s)
  • Scrapbook paper
  • Stickers
  • Markers
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • Recycled books
  • Decorative items such as sequins, ribbon, etc., pictures of library programs marked on the back with information such as program title, people in the picture, date, etc.


Have your teens make an ongoing library summer scrapbook. Make scrapbooking materials available at a table that is visible to staff members. As teens come into the library, they could make pages to be put into a library scrapbook album. The key is to have the correct size background already prepared. Pictures, newspaper articles, and publicity sheets should be grouped by program so that the teens can pick up a packet and begin working immediately. Of course teens could also make separate pages to put in their own album at home each time they come to the library. Each teen should be able to create a scrapbook page to put in an album within about 30 minutes. 


1. Create packets with 1 scrapbook page, stickers, and additional decorative items for teens to take home.  If you are doing a collective scrapbook for the library, have the teens return the pages the next time they come to the library.

2. Have a book signing party at the end of summer and have students sign their pages in the collective scrapbook.

3. Kick off the summer long program with a scrapbook “class,” and have teens add to scrapbook all summer long. The class could be a one time program, or you could coordinate with a local scrapbooking club to provide ongoing instructions for several days at the library.

Kick it up a notch: Have the teens do a booklist scrapbook in which each scrapbook page represents a favorite teen book.

Games and Activities

Ongoing Gaming

This is the epitome of come & go gaming! Either set up a regular table and use different board games on top of it or buy a designed game table that comes with all the pieces. Pieces will mysteriously disappear, so have a backup set to use as spare parts. For this program you can set up strategy games such as chess, checkers, and monopoly or challenging puzzles that are 1,000+ pieces. To go with the mystery theme, you could set up games such as Clue and games specifically taken from books like Twilight or Lord of the Rings. Another possibility is to purchase one of the many mystery puzzles. You have to put together the jigsaw puzzle to solve a mystery at the end. Display gaming related titles prominently in and around your gaming area.

Provide computer games and PS3, XBOX, and Wii gaming for an entire day throughout the teen area. Teenagers can interact with each other and library staff as they play video games. If your library has a circulating game collection, display those games prominently in the gaming area.

Kick it up a notch: Spread out a 10,000 piece puzzle and challenge the teens to see how long it takes for them to complete it.

Read Wherever -- However Activity

Provide Read Wherever – However Reading Log for teenagers. (The log is provided at the end of this chapter).  As they read in a variety of places, in several different positions, with different people, etc., they will place a check mark in the appropriate area. As they finish the entire log, let them choose prizes or let them place their favorite books on display.

Kick it up a notch: Make a wall display that will promote the Read Wherever – However program. Take pictures or use other pictures of individuals reading in a variety of different places, positions, etc. Place those pictures on a display with information about the come and go activity. One teen or staff member could be reading while eating. Another could be reading underneath a table. Still another could be listening to an audiobook while he or she is running.

Scavenger Hunt

Make available the below scavenger hunt handout. Provide prizes for the teenagers who complete the scavenger hunt. For fun, have your staff search to see who can come up with the answers the quickest. Feel free to make changes in the questions to suit your library and its needs.

Teen Come and Go Scavenger Hunt

Hunt through the library for the answers to these questions. Some are harder than others. If you need any help, ask a Librarian or consult the computers. Feel free to work in groups.

Some sample questions could be:

1. What are the hours of the library?

2. What is the name of the Library Director?

3. What is the title of a young adult program offered at the library

4. Where is the City of Angels? What is the name of at least one television show that takes place in that city?

5. When and where was the Magna Carta signed?

6. Who wrote “The Black Cat”?

7. Who wrote the words to the song “Who Let the Dogs Out”?

8. Who said, “Life was meant to be lived, and curiosity must be kept alive. One must never, for whatever reason, turn his back on life?”

9. How many stories were SUPPOSED to be in The Canterbury Tales?

10. How can you drop an egg without breaking it?

11. Who is Ender (a character in a book)? In what book does he appear?

12. What author coined the term “cyberspace?” What famous book used this term?

Web-Based Activities 

Make available computers with Internet access to the following websites.

5 Minute Mystery

Solve short mysteries online in about five minutes.


Teens and adults solve mysteries online.

Second Life

Libraries can design their own online worlds in which teen participants can interact.

Sleuth Mystery Games

Play mystery games online.

Web 2.0

Online Book Clubs and Blogs

Online book clubs, blogs, and other sources like are wonderful come & go programs. It is up to the teens to comment and keep track of the discussions and they have the freedom to do it wherever and whenever they want. They can use these “book talks” to also integrate community happenings and current events. The best way to start off this type of come & go program is to pose an insightful question or a teaser chapter of a book if the copyright allows. These will get the teens started and then they can take it from there. Just make sure to have your rules posted and let the teens know that in order to post/comment they must agree to those rules. An online book club will help.

The Harker Heights Public Library Teen Book Discussion Go to and search for Harker Heights Public Library Teens or go directly to If you prefer a blog discussion version, take a look at the Harker Heights Public Library Book Discussion blog at

Kick it up a notch:Have your teen volunteers start a blog! A blog is a wonderful way for teens to keep in touch with each other, the librarians, and whoever else comments on the blog. Please be advised, though, that some issues may come up and the best thing to do is speak with your IT personnel and directors to see if having a blog is allowed in your library and fits within your policies.

Online Mystery Search

Allow teens to search online for the answers to the questions listed in the “Where In The World” mystery search below. If you like, you can give prizes for each teen who finished the entire search.

Where in the World- World Wide Web Scavenger Hunt

Find out where in the world each animal is from using the websites provided or use your own ingenuity.  Write the country, continent, or area in the box provided. 

Good searching!


Brimstone Butterfly

Two-toed Sloth

Wooly Tapir

Knight Anole


Rock Pipit



DVDs /Films

Provide an all day showing of a particular movie or provide a film festival in which several movies will be shown throughout a day or a two to three day period. Films would be shown several times in the hopes that teenagers may just happen upon them. Be sure that you have obtained the appropriate license to show these movies in a public setting. 

Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker (93 minutes)
Catch Me If You Can  (141 minutes)
League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen (110 minutes)
The Mummy (1999 version --125 minutes; 1932 version – 73 minutes)
National Treasure (131 minutes)
The Westing Game (95 minutes)

Web Sites for Teens

5 Minute Mystery

Solve short mysteries online in about five minutes

Figment: Write Yourself In

Patrons share your writing, connect with other writers.

Teens read and review literature for each other.


Teens and adults solve mysteries online.

Second Life

Libraries can design their own online worlds in which teen participants can interact.

Sleuth Mystery Games

Play mystery games online.

Professional Resources

Crash Course in Teen Services by Donna R. Miller
This book provides practice introductory information about teen services.

Library Teen Advisory Groups by Diane P. Tuccillo

Teen Spaces: The Step-by-Step Library Makeover by Kimberly Bolan Taney.

Web 2.0 & Libraies YALSA WIKI

This wiki provides a plethora of information about social networking and the use of technology for teen programming.

Gaming Lists and Activities YALSA WIKI

This wiki provides an extensive list of possible gaming products and programming ideas.

A checklist of places where you can read a book. Title says Read Wherever and Whenever. Examples are: Read at the Park, Read on your Bed, Read on your couch, etc.

Page last modified: December 12, 2011