By Donna Cifarelli

Books Appeal: Get Teenagers into the School Library by Karen Cornell Gomberg has many fun ideas to promote literature that could be used in a public library program. One activity suggests reading the first line from various books while the young adults compete to guess the book being quoted (Gomberg 14). In addition to being a fun pastime, this activity might entice the participants into reading the books used in the game.

Another idea from Gomberg's book involves having different types of information about a book on separate pieces of paper. Each participant would pick a piece of paper and have to find the other related information about the same book (Gomberg 11). For instance I might have a paper with the author, a second player might have a paper with the title and the third might have a paper with the genre. These three would have to find each other among the players with information about other books.

Gomberg also describes many other activities including: a scavenger hunt where teams of players would have to find certain titles, authors or other information in the library (Gomberg 10); a game where the players would pick a title and have to draw a picture while others guess the title (Gomberg 6); and a game in which the players have to place titles in different genre categories (Gomberg 4).

These ideas made me think of other activities which might be fun but would also connect teens and books. Perhaps a game like twenty questions where someone is thinking of a book and the other players have to ask questions to try to guess which book that person has in mind. A game of charades using only book titles might be fun. I would also have a selection of the books that were mentioned in the games for the teens to check out.

According to Young Adult Services in the Small Library by Lesley S. J. Farmer, when developing a program " the keys for success are: meaningful content, thorough planning, teen and community involvement, effective and widespread publicity, and timely follow-up" (Farmer 6). Farmer also stresses the importance of youth participation when she states "the YA specialist should emphasize the interactive partnership between library and youth, rather than develop a sense of passive service" (Farmer 6).

With these concepts in mind, I would invite the young adults already active at the library to help me plan some type of program based on the games already mentioned. Guided by what the young adults wanted, I would plan a weekly "Game Night" or " Library Challenge" when I would have light refreshments and play a different book-based game for about an hour each week. Perhaps we would have small prizes for the winners to encourage attendance. The teens could help me decide which games to use, what kind of prizes and refreshments to get and what day and time might attract the biggest crowd. Perhaps we could play a different game each week for three or four weeks if the group thinks the interest could be sustained.

I would also enlist the teens' help with the publicity. Besides helping me design a flyer and poster, they could help me distribute these as well as pass the word to their friends about the event. Just before the program they could help me set up the room and even decorate to create a festive atmosphere. Depending on how many teens I have to help, they could divide into committees to take on the various tasks.

Since money is always scarce in libraries, some consider YA programs a waste of resources but Patrick Jones states in Connecting Young Adults and Libraries, "YA programs do serve a purpose. The purpose isn't reflected in attendance but in other outcomes. More than just providing entertainment, programs help YAs get through the process of being a YA" (Jones 157). While the program of weekly games would be quite inexpensive with only the refreshments and prizes to purchase, I hope the meetings would give the teens a sense of belonging and a feeling that the library is a place that welcomes them.

After the first week I would ask the teens involved in organizing the event what they thought about its success and what improvements we could make for the following week. Jones recommends that "after the program you should evaluate it in light of what you set out to accomplish" (Jones 173). I would try to judge the success of the program not merely on the attendance numbers but on whether those attending enjoyed themselves and left feeling that the library is a place they'd like to return to.


  1. Farmer, Lesley S. J. Young Adult Services in the Small Library. Chicago, London: American Library Association, 1992.
  2. Gibaldi, Joseph. MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing. 2nd edition. New York: Modern Language Associaton of America, 1998.
  3. Gomberg, Karen Cornell. Books Appeal: Get Teenagers Into the School Library. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., 1987.
  4. Jones, Patrick. Connecting Young Adults and Libraries: A How -To -Do- It Manual. New York, London: Neal-Schuman Publishers, Inc., 1992.

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This page last updated May 11, 2001
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