Passive Teen Programs- Decorate an old book

Programming is hit or miss with teens. One week they are crazy about something and the next week it’s the lamest thing ever. I have been looking for creative ways to engage the teens at our library beyond regular programs. Our branch is not near a school and someone has to drive them to us or they have to drive themselves. Pretty much everything I do has to be special or “in” for them to attend.

Since I am still sorting out a plan for active programs I decided to experiment with the passive side of things for a while. Our Outreach Librarian gave me a great idea to take an old book and let the teens draw all over the pages. She left a book out with a sign that said “Draw in me” at her branch. She said that it took a while but eventually they started filling the pages. For my program I used an old dictionary that had been donated for our annual book sale and made a brown paper cover. On the cover I wrote (in my horrid handwriting) “Draw.. write.. and decorate my pages.” I also added a small note about keeping it appropriate.  Next, I set it on a table in our teen area and waited. 

It took a few weeks for them to bite. I would see it moved to different tables or I would watch them pick it up and pass it around their group of friends. They would flip through and then put it back. Kids it was like fishing. Sure the lure looked tasty but was there a catch? You mean I can actually draw in this? Trust me if I looked at them picking it up they would drop it like a hot potato. Finally, one took the bait.

The first drawing was this fab little fawn in ink and it was adorable. Once that arrived the others started showing up here or there. They needed someone to start the process before the program really took off. Each day was a new surprise waiting for me in the pages. I decided to tag a few with tiny post-its to show off their work. The next few days I noticed the tags had been moved to new drawings. Ah ha!! They wanted to show off! So, I added a strip of tags to the inside cover with a note that said, “use the tags to show off your work.”

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The dictionary is now filled with beautiful, funny, and quirky drawings. There are even a few encouraging notes. So far nothing inappropriate has shown up. The great thing about the dictionary is that can rip a page out if that happens and there are still plenty left to decorate. I thought I would post a few of my favorites so far. There is lots of space left so who knows what they will create next.

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Notice that it’s next to the word.

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“Strength will find you soon that you ever thought it would. Stay Strong”

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The Fawn

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Coffee is the theme on many pages..

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Don’t judge the grammar!

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This one is my favorite. They put it on the light page.

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Lungs on the appropriate page.

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You need flames to start a fire.

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Yep.. I totally understand!

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All I need today is a little bit of coffee and a whole lot of Jesus!

Has anyone else tried this program? How did it turn out? I would love to hear more ideas that are similar to this one and what worked or didn’t. I plan to keep experimenting with passive programs in the next few months. Next, up is a post about our lovely chalkboard door.

1 Comment

  1. ccplteenunderground

    What a fabulous idea, and I love all the art your teens created! We have a group of tables covered in white paper that the kids can doodle on and a chalkboard wall for chalk art, but the idea of putting your drawings and words all together permanently—in a book of all things—is undoubtedly tempting. Thanks for sharing!!


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