This is a reprint of my presentation handout for the MOLO Children's SIG Summer Reading Workshop. The theme for that summer was outer space. Many of these ideas are adaptable to any theme.

Summer Reading and Anytime Programs That WORK for Teens

Passive Programs:
Passive programs are programs that remain in place for a period of time so the teens can come in at their leisure to participate. Make it colorful and simple and the prizes fun. You can use the same basic idea and modify it to any season or theme. Any pictures you need can be downloaded from the internet or cut from discarded magazines. Make an attractive poster, a drawing box and entry slips; provide pencils. Advertise in your newsletter, and flyers or bookmarks at the main desk. On drawing day, choose your winners, give them a call, post the answers and the winners and put prizes at main desk for pick up.

Examples I have used are: Unmask the Celebrities, Unmask the Musicians, Play to Win, Love Match
For a Space Theme try: Name that Alien, Hailing Frequencies Open (Identify the Space Ship), Star Tracks (Identify the Constellations)

One Time Events:
A Lock In is a summer event that can incorporate games, movies and activities to any theme. With the Medieval theme we had last year, I had a Live Clue Game with the rooms and characters and weapons all Medieval in name and I made a few props to help the room settings. I had “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” for a movie and the rest of the evening was board games, pizza and a hide and seek game called Sardines.
For a Space Theme, try:
Adapting the Live Clue game to alien landscapes for each room, space characters, phasers, lasers, photon torpedoes, disrupters and so on for weapons.
This year I am planning a cake decorating contest at the lock in. We will decorate big cookies or one layer cakes as planets, aliens or space related scenes, judge them and then EAT them. Jiffy cakes are inexpensive or you could use refrigerated cookie dough rolls and decorate with premixed colored frosting in tubes and sprinkles that come in star shapes and a nice alien face green. Any science fiction movie would fit the theme. You could also make UFO pizzas with canned biscuit dough and a variety of toppings for a hands on project you can eat.

A Monopoly Tournament is a successful annual event we have every year. I don’t try to adapt it to any theme. We have a PIZZA lunch between the sessions. There is a Star Wars version of Monopoly.

T-shirt Decorating would be fun to do with a space theme. Using fabric paints, and glue on ornaments, the teens could make space uniforms or space scenes or icky aliens. The teens can bring their own T-shirts, and the library provides the paint. Don’t forget the snacks and games for when the shirts are drying. You could do this project at the lock in also.

Star Wars (or Star Trek or X-files) Trivia Contest in a “Win Ben Stein’s Money” format. The questions could be in categories for the teams, and first team with the answer to each question would earn points. At the end of the game, have refreshments, and maybe another round if you have a lot of players. Questions can be found by using and typing in Star Wars Trivia as a phrase (or Star Trek Trivia or X-Files Trivia).

Build a Space Station:
Last summer we had a Build a Castle project for the first month of the summer reading program. We covered a large table with cardboard and green paper and provided an assortment of small boxes of all shapes, packing materials, paper, glue, scissors, markers, string, pipe cleaners, straws, toothpicks, paperclips, and paper roll tubes on a cart by the table. We provided some pictures of castles and let the patrons use their imagination to build a fanciful castle.
For a Space Theme, add plastic disposable containers and aluminum pans and foil to build a space station and space ships. Photocopy pictures from books or print pictures off the internet of space stations, space vehicles, astronauts and aliens to assemble in a booklet for patrons to use for ideas.

Game Nights:
Last summer we held 5 chess nights for the Medieval theme for all ages. Any board games you can round up makes a fun social time for teens and always provide SNACKS. Snacks don’t have to be fancy: popcorn, chips, cookies, soda will do fine. Background music is nice to have, try a Sci Fi Movie sound track.

Coffeehouses: We have had a Teen Poetry Night Coffeehouse and a Teen Music Revue Coffeehouse. The atmosphere is important for a successful coffeehouse program. You can convert a meeting room with borrowed card tables covered with paper for doodling, posters on the walls, low lighting, menus, a relevant book and handout display for a great background for a poetry reading, karaoke, or improv type of program.
For a Space Theme, try decorating with stars and planets and space vehicles, Star Wars READ posters, sci fi movie sound tracks for background music and for a program try an alien costume contest, a sci fi character impersonation contest (Captain Kirk comes to mind) or have your game night in a coffeehouse setting.

Role Playing Games:
You can host a space related RPG with a purchased Star Trek How to Host a Mystery Game or contact some of your young adults that play D&D games to write a space adventure.

YA Room Decorating Idea:
I am planning on making a space mural around the top of the YA room with my YA board. A roll of dark paper decorated with glittery stars and planets either watercolored or printed from the internet. Also space ships, comets and other interstellar stuff will make an attractive mural and a fun activity for your teens.

Display Case Idea:
For Teen Read Week in 1998 I put together a display case called Signs of Intelligent Life: Young Adults at the Library. Starry paper, planets and a border with astronauts made a great background for books on space, a telescope, a star chart, a Star Trek READ poster, a Starship Enterprise telephone and a library card with Capt. James T. Kirk’s name on it. A little star confetti added some sparkle to the floor and shelves of the case. Make small comet shaped signs to promote the summer program events.

Reading Programs:
These need to have SOMETHING that changes every week to keep the teens interested. Unlike a regular passive program, it will be going on for a longer period and you want it to promote library use. Variations of trivia games are popular, we have tried: Cleveland Indians Trivia, and Library Trivia. Last year I had a Teen Reading Quest program. Each week there was a different word game such as a Castle Questword Puzzle (crossword), a Coat of Arms Quest, Late Book Quest, King Arthur Match Quest, YA Magazine ReQuest, YA Favorite Author Quest, Missing Author Quest (word search) and a Teen Questionnaire. I made one poster for the whole program and just changed the quests each week and had a drawing each week from the entries.
For a Space Theme, try:
Space related word games including crosswords, matching, cryptograms, word searches, surveys, questionnaires, word scrambles. etc is a site where you can make your own puzzles and games.

With all of these games, we always have Book Review Forms to fill out as entries too. The reviews have ratings following the summer theme. For example, the Medieval themed review had the following ratings: Fantas-tic, Some Magical Moments, It Took an Act of Heroism to Read This, and Feed it to the Dragons!
For a Space Theme, try: Moves at Warp Speed, May it live long and prosper, Meets Starfleet regulations, Highly illogical and Transport me to another book. OR
An awesome galaxy, a blazing sun, A habitable planet, A lumpy Asteroid, a Crater. OR
Out of this world, Technologically advanced, OK special Effects, Strictly for Aliens, Place it in suspended Animation and don’t retrieve it. OR
Discovered new worlds, successful moon landing, maintained an even orbit, countdown delayed indefinitely, blew up on the launch pad.

Tap your resources for Special Events:
Do you know an amateur astronomer that would bring his telescope and present a program?
Do you have a planetarium in your community where you could meet for a program?
Do you know anyone with an interest in model rocketry that would present a program and show the kids how to make water rockets?
If you have a display area for artwork hold a Space Art Contest.

Prize and Decorating Resources:
A wonderful source of space photos that can be printed for displays:
Astronomy Picture of the Day

Book Review Form Ideas From:
Simpson, Martha Seif. Reading Programs For Young Adults: Complete Plans for 50 Theme-Related Units for Public, Middle School and High School Libraries. McFarland & Company, Inc. 1997.

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©2012, 2001 RoseMary Honnold.