Best Practices Assignment Topic Introduction Teen-‐Led Story Times in the Library By Rebecca Buckley LIS 506 As my Best Practices assignment topic I decided to choose Teen-Led StoryTimes in the Library because I have recently started one of these programs in myown high school library. My Student Library Advisory Council (SLACkers) andI came up with the idea to serve the preschoolers in my campus’ ChildhoodDevelopment Center. I had really done no research or reading about otherlibrary initiatives and was curious as to what other librarians were doing insimilar programs. I was pleased to find so many articles in the databases aboutprograms like my own and am excited about implementing some of the newprogram ideas I read about with my students. Teen-led Story Times with preschoolers is an ideal way to get adolescentsinvolved in library programming, whether in their school library or publiclibrary. I have found from my own experience of 15 years as a high schoollibrarian that teens are often hesitant to get involved in library programming,especially in the public library where they may not know a lot of people. I haveasked my students why they are hesitant and they have told me that they oftendon’t know what to expect or what will be expected of them during an event;some say that they are shy around new environments and new people; otherssay they aren’t really interested in more social engagements as they have enoughfriends and social events from school already. I have found that I get the mostinterest in involvement from my students when I offer them a serviceopportunity. This is surprising to some adults but many students are verywilling to serve in their community; they find it rewarding and fun and lessawkward than participation in a social gathering. Many high school students arein need of community service hours for National Honor Society, Key Club oreven for graduation requirements in some school districts. If libraries offer teenstraining, are clear about expectations and give teens well-defined duties,
students are often very excited about serving their community on or off theirhigh school campus. My program for Teen-led Story Times started with a Children’s Library BookDrive last January. My Student Library Advisory Council (which consists ofnearly 100 students) and I came up with the idea for the Children’s Library andwe hung flyers around school, promoted the drive on the school announcementsand with the PTSO and were excited to receive over 400 children’s booksdonated! The next step was to get the books sorted, cataloged and labeled. Irecruited a group of about 15 students from the SLACker Leadership Panel andthey cataloged and labeled the books during their lunch hours and before or afterschool in the library. Once we had a good set of books ready for circulation, Istarted to schedule in the four preschool classes from our campus’ ChildDevelopment Center. Each of those four classes consisted of about 20 kids, somy students and I were serving around 80 preschoolers with book circulationand Story Time programming. After we got the Children’s Library started, I decided to reach out to mycommunity’s area public library for assistance. My local branch’s Youth Servicesperson was excited to get involved. Jennifer was willing to help with some of theStory Times and even provided a Storytelling Workshop to 16 teens this schoolyear! Those teens now know some of the basics of the benefits of reading storiesaloud to preschoolers and ways to make a Story Time session fun andeducational by using music, dance, vocabulary, games, etc. The end goal is forthose students to take over the planning and implementation of some of the afterschool Story Time sessions later this school year. They are excited to do so! Most of the articles I read for this assignment point to the benefits of havingteens take ownership in library programming by taking the lead in preschoolStory Times or other events. Almost all of the articles examined programming inpublic libraries and I was pleased to see that much of the research fell in line withmy own findings with my SLACkers and my high school’s Children’s Library.Teens really blossom when given some authority and ownership. Two of thestudents involved in our Storytelling Workshop were students receiving Special
Education services and I could see that they were so excited about reading to thepreschoolers and taking a leadership role in the program. Those two studentseven arrived early to re-read their book selections ahead of time so that theycould pronounce all of the words correctly. That was touching and heart-warming to see! I have seen such good come about from my own high school library’s Teen-ledStory Time programming and can definitely see why this type of initiative ispositive on so many levels. Teens get a huge benefit by taking leadership roles,learning about early education, being involved in community service,blossoming with new social interactions and having some great fun with cutepreschoolers. Preschoolers benefit by having teens get involved in reading tothem, playing with them, singing to them, dancing with them…all in thepromotion of literacy. Librarians benefit by having the opportunity to train andeducate teens, build relationships with them and by allowing teens to serve andvolunteer in their libraries. My own students love the Story Times, but theywant to help with basic library duties as well. It is inspiring to see them take apersonal stake in their library. My Student Library Advisory Council isconstantly giving me book and programming suggestions, fundraising ideas, re-decorating ideas, etc. They have taken ownership of their school library and Ihave many, many students that return often after graduation to tell me howmuch they were impacted by my small, under-funded school library. Theyremember the books I introduced them to and the fun we all had in clubs and atevents, but most of all they remember the friends they made and therelationships they built. My new Children’s Library initiative is just another wayfor kids to make connections and have impactful experiences. I am excited aboutwhat the future holds for my high school library’s Teen-led Story Time program.