Blogger Gretchen Schulz

Reaching Tweens During COVID-19 At Your Public Library

Image of a bread pan with a loaf of chocolate chip banana bread in it.

When my public library first asked me to pitch ideas for online programming from home, I felt frozen. I literally did not even have different colored construction paper or Crayola markers in my apartment to make my own flannel stories. I felt like the worst children’s librarian on the planet. (We also do not have color ink for our printer–so that was out of the question, too.) Awesomely, my boss came to the rescue and helped us get some supplies delivered to our homes. Once I had a tripod for my iPhone, I felt much more prepared and was able to let my creativity kick in.

As the Tween Librarian (aiming to reach 9-12 year olds), I tried to think of what my tweens would be interested in watching. I kept in mind that I had heard that age group was pretty busy with “E-Learning,” and I didn’t want whatever I did to feel like school or homework.

One thing my tweens ask for at our monthly advisory group, is cooking programs. They’d like to make ice cream, pizza, pretty much anything. Due to insurance purposes, we as a staff are not permitted to lead any cooking classes at the library. To still meet their want, I have done things like order heart shaped cookies from a local bakery around Valentine’s Day, and provide frosting and sprinkles so they can “Decorate a Heart Shaped Cookie.” They love it.

Tween Tasters

I enjoy baking, so I had the idea of a “Tween Tasters” program while sheltering in place.

Using my trusty tripod, I have so far recorded myself three times teaching my tweens how to make a Key Lime Cheesecake, Chocolate Chip Banana Bread, and Rainbow Rice Krispy Treats. I was able to tap into offering something I know the tweens would enjoy watching, and doing something I was comfortable with. It has been great! I have gotten great comments so far that people are enjoying my videos.

The goal for my baking videos, is to use recipes that have easy equipment and easy techniques. We created programs on our library’s website for each of the Tween Tasters programs, with a link to the video on YouTube. The nice thing is that they live on YouTube, so even if the tweens missed the specific program date, the videos are still there for them to watch.

I use my iPhone, and then utilize the App iMovie for editing. It is so user-friendly, and if you are comfortable with technology, it is a breeze to use.

Book Talks

The other thing I have been doing, is book talks! We offer Hoopla as one of our eMedia platforms, and the materials listed on Hoopla have unlimited access/copies. I wanted to offer books that they could have access to right away, if the book talk interested them enough to read it.

Hoopla was better for this purpose, than Overdrive (or Libby, or whatever we are calling it these days), as popular books always seem to have wait lists.

I have book talked New Kid by Jerry Craft and Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi. In each video I told the tweens how proud I am of them for all the hard work they are doing from home.

I also encouraged them to take time to relax, as I will do here as well to you all. And what’s a great way to relax? Reading of course.

Have a good week everyone, be easy.

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