Developing Book Clubs – For Teen Boys

I’m in the process of transitioning my job duties at the library, changing over from younger/more generalized services to teen services.  It’s very exciting to be focusing my responsibilities (although I won’t be doing baby storytime anymore, which does make me sad – I’ve worked hard to grow my audience and I hope they continue to come after another librarian takes it over!), and one of the things I’ll be doing immediately is taking over some of the full-time teen librarian’s programs (especially on days when she’s double-booked, which really only happens on days that end in ‘y’).  This includes taking over the two teen book clubs.

So I’m now tasked with restarting and revitalizing the boys’ and girls’ book clubs that used to meet once a month, but petered out due to lack of participation.  Step one: re-branding them into something fresh, with an intriguing hook that will get teens in the door.  Step two: structure them in such a way that gives them control over the direction the clubs take.  Step three: get a repeat audience.

It’s a little daunting, honestly.  But I think I’m on the right track.

First off, I kind of hate that we have a “boys” and a “girls” book club, but I get why – our teens (as most do, I think) tend to segregate themselves into boy- and girl-groups, with some crossover but not a whole lot.  And the teens we have that would be prone to attending book clubs tend to hang out in small, tightly knit groups; marketing programs becomes about marketing to these groups, rather than to individuals (which doesn’t preclude any crossover audience, by the way – but we want teens to come to our programs, and if they can bring their friends we have a higher chance of getting all of them).  But I don’t want any potential participants to be scared off by an explicitly branded “boys” and “girls” club.  So when I started thinking about a way to re-brand the book clubs I tried to think of names/themes that would appeal to the two groups without alienating potential participants.

For the boys, I’m combining the ideas between two existing groups (the current boys’ book club, called Recently Returned Items, which encourages discussion on books/movies/games that teens have read in the previous month, and Talk Tights & Capes, my comic book discussion group which has a debate structure where teens can argue and defend their favorite heroes/villains/titles) and forming Recently Returned Items: Enter Thunderdome.  The idea here is that teens come ready to pitch me whatever book/movie/game they experienced in the prior month, and after a period of debate, I pick a winner and commit to reading, watching, or playing that item for the next meeting.  Anyone else who also commits to doing that gets a small incentive award at the next meeting if they actually do, and the winner of that day’s meeting also gets a small incentive prize.  The next month will start more like a formal book club, and the second half will be the next round of pitches.

The goal is to not only get my kids talking about books they’re passionate about, but to start picking reading material with a critical eye – “How can I sell this? Is this something worth debating?” I think there’s a lot of critical analysis skills that this is going to help develop, as well as getting them to think about why they enjoy the stuff they do in an analytical way.

I haven’t launched this yet – if all goes well I’ll be able to start it up on April 27, but I’m pretty confident about this structure.  It both encourages discussion, reading new things, and isn’t close-ended with a specific  book the guys would have to read (which would be a turn-off for this audience).  I’ll let you know how it goes.

Stay tuned for a break-down of what I’m planning for our girls!


One thought on “Developing Book Clubs – For Teen Boys

  1. Pingback: Developing Book Clubs – Teen Girls | Story Time, Ink.

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