Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Passive programming ideas for "Beneath the Surface"

Passive programming is something I think a lot about. I've talked about it before at ALA, which included a lengthy list of ideas for passive programming. It's something I want to continue thinking about and implementing because the more opportunities you provide passive programming for your teens, the more they will engage in and with it.

While thinking about what programs I want to offer this summer to my teens, I've also kept a separate list of passive programs I want to implement. There are the obvious passive reader's advisory ideas, including book displays on mermaid books, on other worlds, on zombies, and on intergenerational stories (because our personal histories lie beneath our surfaces). Then there are a few others on my mind.

If you're looking for some easy passive programs to implement this summer, here are some of the ones I'm considering:

  • Scratch art. Make up a bunch of homemade scratch boards, leave them out in your teen area, and ask the teens to make their own art. Yes, this will require some cleanup, but leave garbage cans in the area for the teens to do some of the cleanup themselves. Then display the art in the teen area. If you want to, you could employ some of your teens to make publicity out of their scratch art for other programs. 
  • Black out poetry. But rather than use newspapers or magazines (which you can), why not rip apart some of those ARCs gathering dust on your shelves? Then if they happen to wander off, no one loses anything here. Leave out (or have a sign for where teens can ask for) markers, colored pencils, and crayons. Then display the art. Again, maybe some of your crafty teens can help you make some publicity for other programs through their own black out poetry. 
  • You know the incredibly popular "Blind Date with a Book" display going around the internet right now? Take a spin on it. Cover your books with paper bags or construction paper, and in addition to the short description you might include to entice readers to check out the book, ask them to design a brand new cover for the book ON the blank paper. Display those covers. Put them on your social media, and hang them in your teen area. You could make an entire gallery of new covers for older books. This is the perfect way to also move some of those books that are still great but have dated covers. It's sort of like peer reviews, but instead of writing reviews, the teens are offering peer cover designs. 
  • Something else that is "beneath the surface" is personality. How many of your teens know their Myers Briggs type? Pull together a bunch of personality tests in print or digitally and let the teens go to town. Let them share what their type is. Of course, provide information about what that means. There are great infographics floating around you could display in the teen area or share via your social media. 
  • Origami. Do I need to elaborate? Leave instructions for how to make anything that might be "beneath the surface." Put out paper. Let them go to town.
  • Trivia challenges. Let the teens answer a series of questions (and let them cheat, if they want to). Have them submit the answers and pick a winner or two every couple of weeks. Prizes could range from ARCs to earning extra points toward whatever the summer reading goals are or the chance to create a display of their favorite books or it could be just the sweet feeling of being victorious. 
  • Haiku contests. Pick a topic. Tell the teens they have x-amount of time (a week, two weeks) to submit their best haiku on the subject. Display the best. Or, display them all and let the teens vote on the best ones. Good topics for haiku trivia this summer include the outdoors, zombies, anything under the ocean, and so forth.
  • Post Secret. I introduced this to some of my teens a couple years ago and they loved it. They each made their own secrets using old magazines and pre-cut post card sized cardstock. Either let the teens do their own Post Secrets or give them a topic they have to do it on (you're a mermaid -- what's your biggest secret). 

This is a very small sampling of ideas. I plan on spending some time reading Austin Kleon's Steal Like an Artist and Phil Hansen's Tattoo a Banana to mine new ideas or flesh out some thoughts I've had which haven't come to fruition just yet. 

Do you have other suggestions for passive programs to try this summer that go along with the theme? Or which don't go along with it at all? 


  1. Fantastic ideas, thanks for sharing! I especially like the idea of a Myers Briggs test and I think our teens would respond positively to Post Secret.

    I found this idea online, and I think it fits with the theme:

  2. Waooow!!! Really very cool site of blogs. You can imagine what you have done for me. blind date