Trapped between the freedom of a child and the responsibility of an adult, teens the world over can often find themselves at a loss of their place in the community. To remedy this, the Kutztown Community Library hosts a program created by the Pennsylvania Humanities Council, Teen Reading Lounge.
The goal of the Pennsylvania Humanities Council is to inform residents and lawmakers of the importance that humanities have in our lives, even when it might seem minimal, and rally for the resources to keep them available to everyone—big or small. According to their website, their “programs and grants focus on areas of need where the humanities can have the greatest impact in Pennsylvania today: civic engagement and education.”
Teen Reading Lounge offers sessions where teens can engage with literature and chase their curiosity in a library setting. This is done through the exploration of various genres ranging from fantasy to post-apocalyptic. Participating teens are expected to read a book for the session and come to the group with any questions or commentary they would like to make.
It is important that teens are able to express themselves and know that their opinions matter, and by making a “teen space,” they are encouraged to share their ideas.
“We have the opportunity to communicate with [our] peers, make friends, and express feelings,” said one teen. “We talk about books with other people who like them.”
Teen Reading Lounge is a program of enthusiasm and kindness, but most importantly, respect.
By including teens in discussions with each other, we instill a sense of kinship and allow them to explore new topics, come to an understanding of this information, and carry it with them into other aspects of their lives. Teen Reading Lounge also plants the seeds of involvement in the community and develop important, trusting relationships between library staff and their teen patrons.
Teen Reading Lounge is prized for its commitment to not just literacy, but civic and social activity as well. Teens are highly encouraged to plan and participate in a service project to their local area. As a start, a group of teens recently held a game of bingo to raise money for youth programs at the library.
But Teen Reading Lounge is not all work and no play; Kutztown Community Library likes to incorporate fun into learning.
“We have painted with water guns, used journals to write stories, and heard from informative visitors,” said youth librarian, Taylor Kutz. “Shelby Schwoyer, the group facilitator, comes up with great ideas, and I can’t wait to see what’s to come.”
Another exciting event was an escape room held in the library Community Room, challenging teens to use their logic and problem-solving skills to find a way out.
This program is offered weekly on Wednesdays from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Snacks and copies of each book are provided by the library.