It’s been two months since I have posted to Skipping Through the Stacks. Usually I have a min or two even in the busy months to post a book review or two. This fall, life and personal illness took a front seat over any of my social media commitments. Thankfully I am on the mend and looking forward to sharing what our library has been up to during my absence from the blog.
2015 has been a tough year for our world in so many ways. Terrorism, the political climate and mass shootings have made things tense. Instead of waiting on the magic of Christmas everyone seems to be waiting for the next horrible breaking news story to invade our screens. I have even noticed this among my teens at the library. In the past month I have had to take away several of my passive programs like the Art Dictionary due to the commentary and hate speech in the pages. Teens are under so much pressure from general life that adding more world drama and uncertainty puts some of them over the edge and they lash out at anyone who might slight them. It has been a rough few months.
To combat this in the department I have been on a mission to promote kindness. Through books displays on activism, social justice, and courage from teens in tough situations, to display boards with encouraging quotes; we have worked hard as a department to focus on the positives of life. We have hung up teen art and created silly writing prompts and my lovely coworkers have been a wonderful help with decorations and providing a friendly face when I am not in the department. It has been slow to pick up but I am finally noticing more smiling faces among my teens.
While I would love to say that we embarked on a huge exciting activism project that will blow your mind.. instead we focused on small changes and making our teen department the most encouraging and supportive place in the library. Here are some ideas that have been working really well:
Display: Hope, Courage, and Love
For my display for the months of November – December I chose books from our Non-fiction collection that focus on one of the above topics. I looked for books about teens that were involved in creating a better world or had been through really tough spots. I also found some biographies about people that had been through some really tough times in history and how they overcame their difficulties. We added some books about being an activist, avoiding bullies, poetry, human rights, and anything else that would show that you can overcome evil. I also put books out about world religions on the top shelves of our Non-Fiction section. I am pleased that many of the display books have checked out and I have seen lots of teens stop to look at what is offered. It is a simple way to address world topics that tend to cause strong reactions without being too in your face.
Books that I recommend:
- Words Wound: Delete Cyber bullying and Make Kindness Go Viral
- Dear Author: Letters of Hope
- America Dreaming: How Youth Changed America in the 60’s
- Breakthrough: How one Teen Innovator Is Changing the World
- The Letter Q: Queer Writers’ Notes To Their Younger Selves
- Yes You Can: Your Guide To Becoming An Activist
- Positive: A Memoir
- Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations
- People Who Said NO: Courage Against Oppression
Passive Response Prompts:
As teens come into the department they are greeted by a sign with upcoming programs and general announcements. I moved the sign to just outside the department so that teens and adults could see it. We also have a chalkboard that they can draw all over. I put simple messages throughout the month about being thankful, sharing kindness, or what makes you happy. These got the most responses.
I have another white board that I used to encourage notes about what makes you feel loved. I did not get a picture of this one. But you get the idea.
Yarn Bomb the Library-
What does yarn bombing have to do with the kindness? Well, nothing really except that it’s lots of fun and generated a ton of laughs from my Teen Tuesday group. They spent over an hour wrapping everything they could get their hands on in yarn. The bright colors and festive look have coaxed out some smiles even during finals week. I still have the yarn out and they keep adding to the support pole. While it is just a silly activity it does promote sharing and helping each other as they wrap things up or look for things to wrap. Sometimes the silly things bring the most joy.
One boy spent the whole hour wrapping my desk!
Furry yarn was by far the favorite wrapping material.
The support pole and ugly cushion now improved with fuzzy yarn.
The catalog computer pole.
While none of this is really that groundbreaking it is very simple to do and will fit with pretty much any space. As the months go on we will keep changing things up as we look for ways to bring joy into the department. Even if you do something small you never know who it might reach.