Summer Reading and Connected Learning

3240-puzzle-colors-WallFizz[1]Do you have a harder time engaging teens in your summer reading program than kids? Have you considered a different approach to connecting teens to the library during the summer? At the CSLP annual meeting in April, K’Lyn Hann from the Newberg Public Library in Oregon shared her new approach to teen summer reading that focuses on connected learning.

What is connected learning? Wikipedia defines it as “a type of learning that integrates personal interest, peer relationships, and achievement in academic, civic, or career-relevant areas. The connected learning model suggests that youth learn best when: they are interested in what they are learning; they have peers and mentors who share these interests; and their learning is directed toward opportunity and recognition.”

Instead of focusing on just reading, K’Lyn’s program focuses on having teens make a connection between what’s already going on in their lives with related resources the library has to offer. For instance, if you went fishing, you could locate a pamphlet on fish native to your state, a book on how to fly fish, an article how water pollution is bad for fish, or a recipe for cooking fish. Then you would list the activity on your log, along with the item and where you found it in the library. Reading counts an activity as well. For more details, visit her Teens Summer Program page to view her program flyer, entry ticket, and prizes.

Some of the common challenges of teen programs are that teens are so busy that it’s hard to get them into the library, or that they don’t have transportation. If you have an online catalog, teens with internet access can access your catalog from other locations. Even if you don’t have an online catalog, teens with internet access can either use their library card or remote access number to access the online library resources that the North Dakota State Library pays for all North Dakota libraries and citizens to have access to. If internet access is a problem in your town, perhaps this would work better as a program offered during the school year, in partnership with the school library.

For more information on connected learning, visit:

  • Connected Learning Research Network – This Network is “dedicated to understanding the opportunities and risks for learning afforded by today’s changing media ecology, as well as building new learning environments that support effective learning and educational equity.
  • Connected Learning Alliance – This Alliance envisions “a world where all young people have access to participatory, interest-driven learning that connects to educational, civic, and career opportunities.”
  • Connected Learning – Connected Learning “revitalizes the educational process by forging links between students’ academic studies, their personal passions, and opportunities to engage with peers who support and share their interests.”

For further insight into why libraries are ideal locations for connected learning and specific examples of what a few libraries are doing, check out the post “Connecting Youth Interests Via Libraries.”

Have you tried a connected learning approach to your summer programming? Share your stories in the comments!

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