What do you offer these kiddos who aren’t little kids anymore, but aren’t quite teens yet? Do we give them their own collection or space in the library like we have done with teens and young children? What about the kids in Kindergarten through 3rd grade? Won’t they feel left out, too? These questions and more were tackled and answered by Lisa Kropp of the Lindenhurst Memorial Library. Kropp identifies tweens being between the ages of 9 – 12 years. Today’s tweens feel the pressure to grow up sooner, with the increasing demands of academic requirements and social media. Libraries have become a safe haven for many. Tween spaces can be as simple as a corner with comfortable, movable seating and interactive elements on the wall that can be used for passive programming and encouraging them to take ownership of the space. Tackable boards, vinyl flooring to make clean-up from soda spills easy, and lightweight furnishings were suggested (think IKEA or investigate local furniture store). If they are moving things around, that means they are using it!
What about programming for this age group? Kropp suggests passive or drop-in craft/building activities. Some ideas suggested include “blackout poetry,” nostalgic activities (playdoh!), “take apart” day (giving them old phones, computers, cassette players, etc, to take apart and discover), Sharpie design art, yoga, and giant-size board games (Twister, Hungry Hippos).
Getting the word out about your tween space or programming is important. The Lindenhurst Library offers “bulletin boards in a bag” to promote library happenings in the schools. Don’t forget about those other places in the community that tweens frequent. Ask if you can post flyers on bulletin boards in community hotspots like Starbucks. It was also suggested that you have “ticket” handouts for kids to pass out at school.
A variety of suggestions for libraries of all shapes and budgets = a great program providing us some food for thought on an important part of our young community.