Monday, April 11, 2011

Asked & Answered: Teen Activities

I've hinted at some of the activities we've done for the high school book club, but I've been asked to talk a bit more about my use of unconventional methods for discussion. I'll let you know about two methods that have been huge hits.

First up, this:

For our discussion of Courtney Summers's Fall For Anything, I wanted to try something different. The book covers a heavy topic, and I wanted some way for the kids to talk without feeling put on the spot. Considering the success of our recent youth Lego club, I thought I'd try out a little construction with the teens. Little did I know that dropping down a table cloth and pouring out a couple of buckets of Legos would be like Christmas for teenagers.

The discussion involved having the teens depict a scene from the book in Legos. What they came up with totally delighted me and made me laugh so much. Not all of the kids finished the book -- I tell them if they make it to 50 pages and don't like the book to move on -- so those kids were able to build whatever they wanted. When they finished, I let them take their creations upstairs to our teen department and put them on display. They were incredibly proud of what they made.

I cannot believe how popular the Legos were with the teens. The Legos were so popular, in fact, they begged me to offer a teens-only Lego program and they begged me to do this kind of discussion again.

Fair enough.

A couple of weeks later, we were ready to discuss Blake Nelson's Paranoid Park at the library, and while I knew the kids wanted to do Lego discussion again, I wanted to change it up. So I did what I thought was only a natural progression:

If Legos were like Christmas, then Play-Doh was New Year's. I had a few containers of different colors, as well as a number of little tools for cutting and shaping the dough. Like with the Lego discussion, I asked the teens to depict a scene from the book with the Play-Doh. The results were hilarious and brilliant -- you wouldn't believe the amount of blood a teen boy can create with a little Play-Doh.

Both of these book discussions were successful and a lot of fun for both me as a facilitator (or enabler) and for the teens. I'm not a believer in keeping a book discussion rigid because the truth of the matter is that the kids don't always read the book. Things come up and they get busy, especially on a biweekly basis (that was their scheduling decision because my once-a-month suggestion was not enough meeting for them). Using fun, creative means of discussing means everyone can take part in the club, whether or not they finished or even started the book.

Next up, we're reading A. S. King's Please Ignore Vera Dietz, which they've all already told me they're enjoying greatly. I think we'll be making post cards Post Secret style with a bag of old magazines I have in my office -- an idea I got from Angie -- and I might even have the kids share some of their comments on the books we've read to make shelf/book talkers for those titles.


  1. Definitely terrific ideas. Sometimes I think that staff meetings would be a lot more effective with a few Legos or cans of Play-Doh included!

  2. Thank you for sharing these! I was wondering about what y'all did at your book discussions! :D

  3. I love the Post Secret idea. (I used Legos during "City of Bones" and had them build cities, haha.) I'm going to have to keep my eye out for Playdoh sales.