Teen Reading Lounge is an award-winning, nontraditional book club for teens ages 12-18. Teens help to create the reading list for their program sites and, working with trained facilitators, to design creative projects that bring the books to life. Participants report stronger interpersonal, communication, literacy, and critical-thinking skills, and increased confidence.
In Spring 2016, at the Community Library of Shenango Valley in Sharon, participants used three popular young adult novels (Reality Boy by A.S. King, Crank by Ellen Hopkins and In Real Life by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang) to explore identity, decision-making and how choices shape our lives.
In addition to book discussions led by Corri Hines, youth services librarian, participants took part in a field trip to Gallery 29, an art studio in the Shenango Valley. Working side by side with artists, youth created their own art that compares how they believe the world sees them and how they see themselves. They also held a poetry slam featuring participants’ writing, which was recorded with the help of Mud-Hut Records, a local recording studio. The group helped produce the record while learning how to edit, mix and record as they worked alongside Bill Dodd, the studio’s owner.
According to the director of the library, Robin Pundzak, the library wants to attract more teens for similar programs. Robin says, “Our goal is to expand the number of teenagers that use our library for both education and entertainment. We hope to demonstrate to local teens that the library is a safe, fun, and enriching environment.”
The program, which incorporated the humanities, arts and STEM activities to build communication, interpersonal, literacy and critical-thinking skills, concluded with a public celebration acknowledging the young participants’ creative contributions to the experience.
Learn more about Teen Reading Lounge and participating program sites across the state.