By Dani Palmer
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. —
Anderson Public Library’s first-ever summer teen literacy camp is the place for self-proclaimed book nerds to hang out, chat and be creative.
“I like hanging out with other nerds,” Dalanie Beach, 14, said. “I don’t feel so out of place here.”
Teens at the camp write poetry and short stories, work on book trailers, play games, have book discussions and are working on a self-published magazine of sorts.
They’ll be publishing articles on their blog website at aplteenscene.wordpress.com, too.
The camp is a part of the TeenScene summer reading program, “Own the Night,” that also includes movie nights and other programs, and lasts from June 1 to July 31.
Those who signed up for the camp received a free copy of “Beautiful Creatures” by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohlz and got to Skype with the authors on Tuesday, one of Beach’s favorite parts besides the writing. She’s a self-published author of two books, working on a third, and said “literature is important.”
She’s also one of the WonderTeens, a teen advisory board that helps make decisions, develop programs and decide prizes to “make this a teen-oriented environment and to let them decide what they want from the library,” said Staci Terrell, the teen services librarian.
Terrell got the idea for the camp from the American Library Association and asked the WonderTeens what they thought of it.
With a grant from the Young Adult Library Services Association and Dollar General Literacy Foundation, she was able to purchase copies of the book, provide other supplies and offer lunch to the kids for free.
“It’s a fun way to get kids to come to the library, but to also (let them) use creative juices,” she said. “We just want them to keep reading.”
The kids receive prizes for reading anywhere from five to 15 hours. When they complete 15 hours, they receive an Own the Night T-shirt.
There’s also random drawings for those who read past 15 hours with prizes such as gift cards and book series.
And if the library gets 610 kids signed up for the reading program before July 31, the teens get to tape Terrell to a chair. That’s something they’re looking forward to, especially since they’re only about 30 teens short.
Karen Hatten, 12, said there are so many activities for smaller kids out there that she was glad to join the teen summer reading program because it “felt like I was in the right environment.”
She said it allows teens to get something more out of the fact they enjoy reading, such as the discussions they have and the opportunity to talk to the authors.
“This, specifically, is the perfect place to talk and meet new friends,” she added.
She said the library is a place with a good goal that is “fun and worth it.”
Kaylee Keesling, 15, said she’s at the library so much that her parents asked if she was getting an apartment there. She, too, is a WonderTeen.
With the summer reading program, instead of being the nerd reading in the corner, she said she’s the one in the middle of the room surrounded by other nerds.
Reading programs are important, she added, because a person has to be literate in order to do anything as simple as reading video game instructions.
“Books were here way before the Internet,” she said, “and they’ll be here after the Internet.” Terrell said other programs like the teen summer reading one are at no cost to kids and their families thanks to grants and Friends of the Library.
“It’s been very low-key,” she said, “but they’re having fun.”
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