#4. You Know More about Teen Authors than Teens. You Keep Talking about Reading and How Great YA Books Are Because You Want to Share the Joy of Reading-But These Teens Just Don’t Care.
This actually came up a lot during my interview with the YA librarian. She explained that most of the teens who attend her teen programs are not “readers” or very interested in books. They either don’t have library cards or cannot utilize them because of fines. Her strategy has been to give them books to keep. By reaching out to a variety of publishers she receives boxes of ARCS and giveaway books every month. During each program, whether it’s video games, henna tattoos or jewelry making she takes a few minutes to help each participant select a free book they can keep. As the programs become more popular, they trust and respect her opinion and suggestions more.
I am not a YA book expert. I have learned a lot from my colleagues and from the classes I have taken here at Queens and I am reading more YA than ever before but this does not make me an expert.
I think because I started working in the library running programs and outreach, my focus was not initially on books. Especially working with kids and teens with disabilities, the main focus was on socialization, fun and engaging activities, and building a relationship with the library. Like Velasquez says, “Our job is not to proselytize and convert teens into readers. Our job is to facilitate the relationship teens want to have with the library, whatever form that takes” (Velasquez, 2015, p. 105). The books are there and are always included, but definitely not the only thing the library has to offer.
Velásquez, J. (2015). Real-World Teen Services. Chicago, IL: ALA Editions.