Keep Teens Reading

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A Week with Babies on the Brain Print Email
When is the right time to start a family?  Who has it hardest, teen moms or teen dads?  How do we get stereotyped by friends, family and strangers, and how does that change the way we see ourselves?  Does telling a lie matter if you are doing something for the greater good?  All of these questions came up when we spent a week reading aloud and discussing two books about teenage pregnancy at the Juvenile Detention Center.

We read The Pregnancy Project by Gabby Rodriquez the first half of the week and followed it with The First Part Last by Angela Johnson the second half of the week.   Reading these two books side by side ended up working really well.  Our book club was split over which title was their favorite and why.

When asked who had it harder, everyone went with Bobby in The First Place Last, who is doing his best to be a teen dad and finish high school.  When asked if the author Angela Johnson did a good job of getting into the head of a teenage boy, every teenage boy in the group answered “yes.”  The Pregnancy Project was a page turner, all but one of our teens read ahead and everyone had finished it by day three.

One of my favorite parts of book club is that often the guards will drop in to talk about the book.  They try to keep up on what we are reading and always have their own opinions they are willing to share.  It really feels like everyone at the JDC is into book club  that one week a month.

Our snack Friday was pickles and ice cream-you can guess why.

Aubri Keleman

Connecting with Teens Online Print Email

How do authors and publishers connect with teens and build up excitement about their next title?  Take a look at this article from Publisher’s Weekly to get a snapshot of the everse for young bibliovores right now.


Ereaders+Teens+Summer=Something Wonderful? Print Email

During our school visits at Meridian Middle School students would often say that they wanted to check out titles but couldn’t get to the library over the summer.  It’s understandable-the Meridian /Laurel community does not have a library at its center.

To help some of these students have access to more books over the summer-and to learn more about teens and ereading we’ve loaned 10 ereaders out to Meridian Middle School students for the whole summer.   Each ereader came preloaded with books that the students helped pick.  This fall we will be interviewing the teens to find what it was like having an ereader-and if it changed their perspective on reading at all.  

We want to compare this ereading experience with print reading for these teens, so we sent everyone with a print title that they have on their ereaders as will be really intersting to find out which format kept teens reading.

Special thanks to Whatcom County Library Foundation for the Airoldi Innovation Grant that allows us to ask big wonderful questions about books and teens.


June JDC: Into the Wild Print Email

Last week, we read Into the Wild with the teens at the JDC.  I was hesitant at first about bringing this book. Krakauer peppers his writing with words like “perambulation” that I was worried would keep kids at an arms distance and unable to delve into the book.  But, just like so many time in working with this group of teens, I was completely wrong.  They rocked this book.  They understood it, not just on the surface level, keeping track of the many flip flops in sequence, but on deeper levels as well.  They vigorously argued the case that Chis McCandless was not mentally ill or a fool, but really smart and willing to test his soul in ways most of us could never begin to think.  They thought that had he lived, he’d be president.  They did concede he was careless about his resources (Burning money! Ditching his car!  Not a good move.)  But they related to Chris’s journey both physical (hopping trains, sleeping outside) and spiritual (pushing away society to find out who they truly were.)


To start us thinking about the values inspired by Chris McCandless, we wrote down our “bucket lists.”  I shared mine: to teach my girls to sail, to practice yoga for more than 2 days straight, and they shared theirs: to get out of juvie, to be with my little sis, to build a house all by myself.


We read each day seminar style – sitting in a circle, close reading out loud with permission given to each person in the room to halt the reading if anything didn’t make sense or to make a comment.  I brought in my dog-eared Alaska atlas and taught them how to find the Stampede Trail and Healy and other spots Chris visited.  I also found, thanks to our terrific adult librarian, Lisa Gresham, a great book that was filled with the photos from Chris’s camera and journey. 


The last day we watched the movie.  They were excited about seeing Kristen Stewart.  Despite the great music from Eddie Vedder and amazing Alaskan tundra backdrop, I thought the movie too cinematic  and dragged for my taste. But they loved it. 


While we watched, we ate trail food: granola bars, cheese and crackers, fresh berries and a little chocolate to end our meal together.


Some of the comments we loved from the evals…

“This is one of the most touching, crazy, amazing books I have ever read.”

“Very exciting book that will pull the reader in and make you never want to turn away.”

“You never know what book your gonna need…and you can’t judge a book by it’s cover.  After book club I just picked up whatever book and read it.”


--- Tamar Clarke with help from Aubri Keleman

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