Teen Tournament of Books 2015@Niles Library

graphic teen tournament of books

At ALA Midwinter 2015, eight members of the Niles Teen Advisory Board were selected to participate in the Best Fiction for Young Adults Session on Saturday January 31, 2015 along with other lucky teens from Chicago area libraries. As a qualifying element to participate, teens posted reviews of books on the BFYA list to the Niles website. Some of the teens had also participated in the BFYA session in ALA Conference in Chicago in 2013 so the teen librarians had many excited motivated readers who wanted to join the team. All the teens were superstars at the ALA Midwinter session with their presentation and reading. After the fun of the  presentation with excitement high the idea was presented to the Niles team to initiate a Niles Teen Tournament of Books for National Literature Day in April. The teens had read and reviewed a great number of books for their participation  at ALA so they had a head start on reading and reviewing. At the March Teen Advisory Board meeting books were picked and judges assigned. Teens in  high schools in our district were contacted and other teens joined the members of the Teen Advisory Board.

Eleven teens volunteered for the tournament and twelve books from the BYFA list were chosen. Each teen judge read and reviewed two books and then picked their choice to go on to the next round of reading and reviewing. Dates for each bracket were assigned but with AP Exams, Spring Break, spring sports, exams and graduation parties the Tournament extended from spring to summer.

In August the complete bracket tournament, reviews and winning book Panic by Lauren Oliver were posted to the Niles Website. http://blog.nileslibrary.org/teen-tournament-of-books-2/

This fall the second Annual Tournament of Books featuring the Abraham Lincoln Award Nominees and Read for a Lifetime Reading Lists will offer more reading fun for Niles teens. The Teen Department recently acquired six Kindle Paperwhites and the complete 2016 Abraham Lincoln Book Award and 2015-2016 Read for a Lifetime Reading lists will be uploaded to the devices. The thirty teens who are signed up for both reading programs along with the over twenty teen advisory board members were contacted to join the tournament. At the September Teen Advisory meeting books and judges will be chosen. This tournament will run from Teen Read Month in October to Teen Literature Day in April – plenty of time to read and review two books. The game plan is to post the Tournament on the Niles Website on Teen Literature Day during National Library Week 2016.


Judge A Book By Its Cover

As librarians, part of our job is to make sure that we sneak little life lessons into our patron interactions.  Lessons in copyright, when we’re talking to teens about finding an image for their “band flier” or adding music to a YouTube video.  Lessons in ethics, when we are setting up a Smash Bros. tournament.

What about the old idiom, “Don’t judge a book by its cover?”   When it comes to the teen sitting at the back of the room afraid to speak up in a Teen Advisory Board Meeting, it still applies.  Your YA  fiction collection is an entirely different story.

One of the first things I did when I was hired as the Young Adult Librarian was weed the YA Fiction section.  I was brutal.  I removed anything that hadn’t circulated in the past 3 years.  (We had titles sitting on the shelf that hadn’t been checked out since 1998!)  I weeded titles with dog-eared pages and covers that were falling off.  I tossed entire series where one or two books had gone out recently but more of the titles hadn’t gone out in years.  When I was finished, I had four full carts of books ready to be deleted from the collection.  Some of the books I replaced with newer, more attractive covers but most of them are gone forever.

It is hard for librarians to get rid of books.  We love them.  We hand them out for free to whomever we can.  We promote them.  We talk about them.  We create displays and book lists.  We beat our heads against the wall because teens won’t admit to reading for pleasure.   We need to remember is that it is part of our job to get books into the hands of our patrons.  If they come into the library and see three ugly books for every appealing book, they won’t come back.  If all the books on the shelves are attractive, they won’t know where to start.  The Young Adult Fiction statistics went up by almost 3,000 circulating items the year after that I weeded the collection.

So, go ahead.  Judge a book by its cover.  Your collection and your teens will thank you.

Additional Reading:
Operation Facelift: Cover Makeovers Can Be the Fountain of Youth for Many Titles by Leigh Ann Jones — School Library Journal, 9/1/2009