Saturday, July 5, 2014

Agency 8336: The Conspiracy or Teen Summer Reading 2014!

Let's see,... intrigue, secrecy, affinity for technology, and a willingness to try just about anything.  Sounds like a teenager.

Agency 8336 is my brainchild for Summer Reading 2014!  A way to weave in very cool technology and activity, without boring the smack out of my teens.

I have much older teens, who use our library for more than reading and research.  They visit our space to interact with friends, find entertainment, and basically hang out.  They also visit the library of their own accord, without extensive parental guidance or interaction.  That said, my summer "reading" program has to be done a bit more fluid than the traditional programs.

One of the ways I encourage participation is by celebrating all the ways that teens stay active throughout the summer.  Participants in my program can check in for reading traditionally, but also for using social media, participating in physical fitness, listening to audiobooks, and even watching films.  The catch, is that every form of check in, still requires a written review.  I've had one or two parents question the lack of reading focus on the program, but thankfully I work with a staff that understands and supports my rationale.  It is my belief that my format provides a very unintimidating entry point for teens who may have otherwise run screaming in the other direction.

The teen who struggles with reading all year long is so relieved to hear that they can listen to a book.  The teen who has a hard time comprehending a written book, but can give you a play by play explanation of a movie, is grateful for the opportunity to do so.  In the summer, and throughout the year, I try to focus my programming on opportunities, in the belief that it is opportunities that encourage young people to want to learn more, which will of course, lead them to reading.  I also try and remind teens who for some reason love to say how much they don't read, that this is a lie.  Facebook requires reading, twitter requires reading, etc. It's the increase of their reading that I'm concerned with.

I have more theories on this, but in the interest of brevity, I'll move on.

Anyway, here's some highlights of my program this year!
Each week of the program this year has a cool "Secret Agent" topic behind it.  The activities during these weeks will all be tied into the theme.
Week 1 - Headquarters
Week 2 - Special Ops & Physical Training
Week 3 - The Lab
Week 4 - Communications 
Week 5 - Evidence Collection 
Week 6 - Field Work
Week 7 - Debriefing

For instance, during Special Ops and Physical Training, I booked a Capoeira instructor to teach the Brazilian martial art!  Some of the other cool programs built into the summer include a visit from a real FBI Agent, Candy Crime Scenes, Tech Free Tuesday, Lie Detector Testing, and a Murder Mystery Finale party!

The teen room decorations are always a part of my summer theme, and this year was no different.  This summer, Teen Territory has become "Agency 8336: Where The Wild Things Are", and the walls have been altered to look like headquarters.  I got the idea for a timezone wall from Pinterest, and ordered a map decal from Amazon.  The final touch was a custom Agency logo that I designed and had printed up by Fathead.
The teen service club helped me hang all the goodies, just in time for our kickoff day!

In case you're wondering, the time zones are a mixture of real and fictional locations.  Gotham and Raccoon Cities, Metropolis Paris, New York, and Karakura.

So for kickoff, I held an "Agents in Black" program, and screened the Men In Black Series.  I quickly found that Men In Black still has pretty good appeal for the teen crowd.  The humor is light enough for parents not to freak out, but still edgy enough to reach the teens.  

Every teen that signed up for summer reading received a gift-pack with their "Field Report Forms" (check-in slips) and other goodies, and a tasty cola ice-cream float. 

Sign-up Gifts for 2014: Check-in slips, Guide, Custom Badge reel, Agent glasses, and "Truth Serum" pen. 
Custom Agency Badge Reels
Infecting a teen with "Truth Serum"

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