There is an old(ish) saying that goes “You get nothing for nothing!”
That can be adapted for attracting teens into your library or teen activity/reading group. As librarians we know the pleasures that reading brings, some teens are also aware of this – these are the ones that will come to the group anyway. Reward the group members – a big bag of Funsize Mars Bars is a relatively inexpensive way to do this. The idea is not to broadcast that there will be freebies but surprise the attendees towards the end of the first session.
Teenagers talk to one another, and when word gets around that they can get sweets /chocolate and possibly win cool free stuff in the library then their friends will start coming along. The good thing about readers is that their friends are also not averse to picking up books when the need arises. Teenagers are busy people and often need a reason (or excuse) to attend something that may cause them to lose face in the eyes of their peers.
The nature of the group will dissuade all but those most determined to get free stuff and those that are attending because they love reading, manga or whatever the group focus is (also those that may need a reason to eb there but can’t admit to liking books). It is a good idea to institute group rules – the first rule of reading club is that you must talk at reading club, if it is your first time at reading club you must talk, talking can be about books, magazines or any printed material.
Depending on the size of the group one bag of Funsize mars bars can last for a minimum of two group meetings. You do not have to use Mars bars if you have a manga group you can pick up a bag of White Rabbit sweets, Pocky has become unbelievably expensive compared to what it was a few years ago and I only use it for prize giveaways these days.
Over the years I have found that many group members may come for the freebies, books or magazines but end up staying for the community spirit and being with like-minded teens who enjoy what they like.
Once the group is established you can hold random giveaways if you are able to source freebies, these can include proof copies of books, interesting things that you pick up at conventions or cheap, shiny things that you can pick up at pound stores.