Thursday, February 05, 2009

Relating to Teens

Two things happened yesterday that make me glad I'm a YA librarian. Don't get me wrong, I'm usually glad of this career choice, but these were especially good.

1. A teen who was in my original Teen Advisory Board, which started 10 years ago, wrote me that she has finished college and could I please write her a letter to get into graduate library school. I am glad that perhaps I made this job look like fun, and something she'd enjoy. And now that I'm passing the wand, can I retire? How would I pay for my Disney trips?

2. Last night we had a reception at the library to unveil a table that some local students from Schaumburg High School redesigned. I promise I will post pictures soon on that. We had purchased this table last summer, and it was soon carved up and ruined. My husband had the brilliant idea to ask the teens in an art department for help. A few years ago we did this with a mural in the teen area and it is astoundingly beautiful. The table is no different - five young ladies painted puzzle piece sections in themes, from detailed 'fashion dreams' to a sports scene with a scoreboard and more. All of their proud families were there. The teacher was moved to tears as we gave the art department a gift certificate as well as all artists and the teacher.

What does this have to do with writing for teens? When someone tells me that they 'relate well to teens', I am not inclined to hire them for a program at the library. It may be true, but it's the old show, don't tell policy. How do you know you relate well to teens? How do you enlist teen input? Do you have teens outside of your family read over your manuscript? Do you solicit ideas for programs from young people? Getting teen input is not always easy, but perhaps you could offer a teen contest on your website or blog to find some interested in the craft. You could offer the naming of a character or a free copy of a book or a small bookstore gift certificate as a prize.

Do you know about and/or honor teen achievement in your community? Meg Cabot just had a tiara auction to celebrate her last Princess Diaries book to benefit the Teen Services Department of the New York Public Library. Maybe donating a small amount to your local library's teen services or high school creative arts programs would be advertising that would pay off in many ways. You could be asked to be involved in upcoming events, more people would learn about you and your books, and the win-win cycle would continue.
-Amy Alessio


©DGreer said...

Great post, Amy! You must be one of those well-loved librarians everyone wants at their library.

Do you write, too? Is there a link to your books we could check out? Please let us know. :)


Mary Cunningham said...

Great thoughts, Amy!

We all need to consider how we can help our local libraries.

J.R. Turner said...

I love the whole win-win thing myself :) And supporting locally is so very important as well. It helps get you connected with the community you live in and makes everyone truly "neighbors" in the most wonderful sense of the word.

Great post!

Michele Scott said...

I visited the library all the time as a kid and loved it. i'm grateful for librarians like you who really care about kids and promoting writing amongst them!

Kudos, Amy!


Regan Black said...

Love the post, Amy! I first got interested in writing fiction because of a library program, so I love to return the favor these days and truly appreciate librarians!


L. Diane Wolfe said...

That is wonderful that young lady was inspired to pursue a librarian career! You must've made a big difference in her life.

Teen input is important. I've had assistance from local teens and those at our church, but another great resource has been a lessor-known social site. I'll post questions aimed at teens in the forum and get hundreds of replies from all over the world. Some would really break your heart...

Guess that's a whole new topic though...

L. Diane Wolfe

Norm Cowie said...

Teens are awesome!