Friday, March 11, 2016

Library GrabBag: Reading Fan Club - Dragons

Over the last several years, I've attempted to create a successful book club for teens at my library.  And I have failed.  Epically.  And while it's difficult to discern the exact cause of that failure (poor timing, wrong book selections, adding another "assignment" to the lives of our teens), I've come to the conclusion that perhaps it's just not the right kind of program for my community.  At least at this time.

So I've tried other kinds of programs to sneak in a book talk or two.  We've enjoyed Harry Potter club, going through all of the books twice with trivia, discussion questions, crafts, and games.  Then we moved on to a Tolkien club where we explored the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings series.  We've tried book genre club where all of the teens  could bring their own books that fit a gene and manga club (which spiraled into a highly enthusiastic but disorganized cosplay free for all).

This semester we've settled on the Reading Fan Club, where we explore a fun topic each month.  January's theme was Dystopias, after which I felt like I found my stride a little.  There was a bit of a learning curve.  How can I talk books without teens getting bored?  What's the right balance between activity and discussion?

And then there was February, which I took time to plan and re-plan, and I heard it went great (sadly I had to miss it at the last moment).  February we talked about dragons.

I noticed eyes glazing over when I book talked dystopias at the first meeting, so this time I put it in the hands of the teens a bit.  I picked out six titles featuring dragons that I thought they might be interested and made a match the blurb to the cover quiz.  The idea was to talk the books up a bit and maybe throw in some additional titles as I read off the answers.  It's a great opportunity to let the teens share what dragon themed books they've read and loved.

And I didn't limit it to book dragons.  We talked TV and movie dragons as well.  We followed up the blurb quiz with some discussion questions.  A few of them were pretty open-ended, hoping for some additional conversation.  "What has been your favorite fictional dragon?" "What traits do fictional dragons usually have?"  "Should dragons talk in books or movies?  Why or why not?  What is your personal preference?" "What do you think makes a great dragon story?"  "Do you prefer your dragons mean or nice?"

Conversation went well, so we shifted into our activity.  Dragon eggs - and they turned out pretty awesome.  I ordered egg-shaped styrofoam balls on Amazon, picked up a almost a thousand flathead thumbtacks, and stopped by the dollar store for some cheap fingernail polish.  Beware - this craft takes a LOT of thumbtacks.  But as you can see, they turned out pretty cool.

Next month we're talking Heroes and Villains.  It should be a good time :)

Do you have a book club that works in your Teen Room?  What's your secret?  Have you tried an alternative?

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