Anne Harding

Anne is an independent trainer and lecturer. She specialises in effective provision for children and young people in the museums, libraries and archives and education sectors. Anne provides numerous courses every year on working with teenagers.

Recent clients for her teenage training include CILIP, Yorkshire Museum Libraries and Archives Council, the Youth Libraries Group and the National Maritime Museum, as well as many local authorities.

Anne tailors all her courses to requirements. These are the topics most frequently requested on her teenage training days for library staff: teenagers’ needs and strategies for meeting them; the strengths and weaknesses of current teenage provision; methods for encouraging library use; communication and behaviour; appropriate resources and ways to exploit them; Youth Matters, Fulfilling Their Potential and other legislation and initiatives; implications for policy and practice.

You can find more information about Anne’s training on her website,, and can contact her on

Jerry Hurst

Jerry Hurst is an experienced freelance trainer and consultant, working across the UK with libraries, museums, archives, schools, youth services and other agencies. He provides high quality consultancy and effective, inspiring training courses, workshops and seminars, focusing on reader development, learning, marketing and service planning & delivery. Jerry
contributes to work across the full range of service provision, but work with teenagers remains one of his specialisms.

Jerry was previously Head of Young People’s Library Services in the London Borough of
Southwark, where he developed Homework Help Clubs and Teenage Reading Groups and co-ordinated the initial planning and implementation of Reading Re:mix across south-east London. Jerry has also provided teenage reading training on behalf of The Reading Agency and he regularly delivers independent training and consultancy across the UK focusing on services for teenagers.

You can find Jerry online at, e-mail him on or telephone +44 (0)20 8364 6166.


Games are an important and interactive way for young people to learn, they can also be used to initiate a constructive discussion. No matter what the subject is, games are designed to be fun, so there is no reason why games and activities based around books can not be equally as enjoyable.

Introduction games

When working with a new group of young people the easiest way to break the ice is by playing a name game such as:

The ball game: using a ball around a circle, the person with the ball says their name first and then the name of the person the ball is going to before they throw it to them.

The sun shines on: in a circle of chairs (1 less than the number of people in the group) someone stands in the middle and makes a statement such as “the Sun shines on any one wearing red”. Everyone wearing red has to get up and change seats, leaving one person left in the middle to make another statement in order to sit down.

The fridge game: tell everyone to choose something they would find in a fridge that starts with the same letter as their first name i. e. ‘Claire, Cake’. Then they go round the circle saying their names, however, each person must say all the previous names before they say their own. (The lead worker should always finish last!)

These three name games can also be changed to include books. In the ball game they can substitute their names for their favourite book or magazine. In the fridge game they can substitute their names for books they would recommend. In “The sun shines on” you change the category to reading anything from novels to street signs i.e. “The sun shines on any one who has read Harry Potter” (everyone moves!)

Library games

Libraries are not commonly associated with playing games with young people, yet they supply CD ROM’s and Playstation games that are targeted at them. These games are rarely educational, involve little reading and no dialogue with staff. But when active games are used in the library there are many opportunities to get young people discussing books with you. It all depends on what you want to discuss and how loudly you want to discuss it.

For games that will utilise the space in libraries you can play Charades, only using books, or Concentration using different genres. For the more ambitious libraries there are word and book hunts where participants are given clues or titles of books and then search for them in the library.

For more stationary games you can play Chinese whispers with different groups in order to make up a story between them. You can also use games such as Pictionary, Taboo and Trivial Pursuit. These all involve an element of reading and could be changed to include more topics around books.

Tip: It is a good idea to look out for the latest book crazes and plan competitions and games around them. Look out for anyone else doing the same, e.g. after the success of the film Lord of the Rings there was a game workshop which uses characters from The Fellowship of the Rings. It is played in small groups and encourages young people to talk about the books as well as read them.

25 words or less

A game to show the importance of brevity and to widen reading. Each young person involved has to write an enticing description of his or her favourite book onto large postcards. No title or author must be mentioned in the description. Each description is placed on the wall/poster board of the library. The participants must then choose one book (not their own) from the postcard descriptions. Once they have chosen they are given the book. They have to read the book before the next meeting when they can compare their own response to the book with the original advocate’s.

Virtual games

Remember games and competitions do not always have to be on paper. There is a steady increase of young people using mobile phones and the internet, so games that use email and text messaging (short messaging system(SMS)) are another accessible way to get young people talking about books.

An idea could be to describe a book or a character and condense it into text form, then using a text messaging facility on the internet, send each message to one phone per group and see which group gets it first.

Ball Game

We did a language game in a circle throwing a ball; the person throwing the ball said a colour (e.g. green) and the person catching had to say an object that was the colour (e.g. frog) . Next round the thrower said any adjective (e.g. amazing) and the catcher had to say a noun (e.g. library! )Then we moved on to alliteration; the thrower (for example) said ‘wild’ and the catcher “wombats”. Then the thrower said a line (e.g. there was a frog) and the catcher has to say a line which rhymed (who ate a dog). This last one has a tendency to go a little off track as you might imagine (there was a duck who had a…. and so on!) All the others worked really well though.

With these ball throwing games it is helpful to establish a throwing order at the beginning, e.g. you always throw it to the right of the person who threw it to you, ensuring that everyone is equally included. This takes a little effort to establish but getting it wrong can be fun and in the end it’s worth it.


Each person was given a piece of paper and then wrote a sentence at the top. They then folded the paper to hide what they had written and passed it to their right, this person also wrote a line hid it and passed it on and so on until the paper was full. Then we all opened the piece of paper we happened to be holding and read out the abstract poem written there. This may sound odd but the result is often hilarious, sometimes beautiful. (Best to state at the beginning that no personal comments about others in the circle are allowed!)


podcast n. a digital recording of a radio broadcast or similar programme, made available on the Internet for downloading to a personal audio player.OED

Why Podcasting?

Podcasting has been around for a few years and is slowly becoming more mainstream, Podcast creation events can be run over a number of sessions
beginning with an introduction to and learning how to do it. The software to create it is freely available online and is (fairly) easy to use.

How to Podcast

Audacity free audio recorder & editor

Online Photo Albums


Flickr is an online photo album owned by Yahoo.

website and web services suite, and an online community platform, which is generally considered an early example of a Web 2.0 application. In addition to being a popular Web site for users to share personal photographs, the service is widely used by bloggers as a photo repository. Its popularity has been fueled by its innovative online community tools that allow photos to be tagged and browsed by folksonomic means.

Flickr allows users to categorize their photos into “sets”, or groups of photos that fall under the same heading. However, sets are more flexible than the traditional folder-based method of organizing files, as one photo can belong to one set, many sets, or none at all.


Picasa is a computer application for organizing and editing digital photos owned by Google, it is similar to Flickr, it also offers several basic photo editing functions, including color enhancement, red eye reduction and cropping.


A blog (short for web log) is a website where entries are written in chronological order and displayed in reverse chronological order.

Blogs provide commentary or news on a particular subject such as food, politics, or local news; some function as more personal online diaries. A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, web pages, and other media related to its topic. The ability for readers to leave comments in an interactive format is an important part of many blogs. Most blogs are primarily textual, although some focus on photographs (photoblog), sketchblog, videos (vlog), music (MP3 blog), or audio (podcasting), and are part of a wider network of social media.

The term “blog” is a portmanteau of the words web and log (Web log). “Blog” can also be used as a verb, meaning to maintain or add content to a blog.


blog publishing tool. Users can create a custom, hosted blogs with features such as photo publishing, comments, group blogs, blogger profiles and mobile-based posting with little technical knowledge.


LiveJournal is an online journaling community, where people from around the world share stories, discuss topics and keep in touch with friends. It’s a free service that you can use for meeting people and creating bonds through writing and sharing.


Moblog is a mobile weblog. A moblog. A blog for people with camera phones. A photoblog. You take photos, shoot video or capture audio with your camera phone and then email them to your site, direct from the phone, where-ever you are.

Social Networking

Social Networking explained:

Social networking services usually allow users to create an online profile for themselves. Users can upload a picture of themselves and can often be “friends” with other users. In most social networking services, both users must confirm that they are friends before they are linked.

For example, if Alice lists Bob as a friend, then Bob would have to approve Alice’s friend request before they are listed as friends. Some social networking sites have a “favorites” feature that do not need approval from the other user. Social networks usually have privacy controls that allows the user to choose who can view their profile or contact them, etc.

Some major social networks have additional features, such as the ability to create groups that share common interests or affiliations, upload videos, and hold discussions in forums.


Bebo is the next generation social networking site where members can stay in touch with their College friends, connect with friends, share photos, discover new interests and just hang out. (taken from the Bebo website)

Bebo is the 86th most popular English-language website


Create a private community on MySpace and you can share photos, journals and interests with your growing network of mutual friends!(taken from the Myspace site)

MySpace is currently the world’s fifth most popular English-language website and the fifth most popular website in any language.


Facebook is a social utility that connects people with friends and others who work, study and live around them. People use Facebook to keep up with friends, upload an unlimited number of photos, share links and videos, and learn more about the people they meet.

Teen Group Activity Ideas


This is an ideal workshop as all you need are squares of paper and some origami designs  there are a number of books available in most libraries and a number of the designs are simple enough to pick up and are still challenging enough to prove interesting.

The story of Sadako Sasaki and the 1000 Paper Cranes makes a good topic for discussion for more information visit the Sadako website here.

Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl was, and still is one of the popular writers for children and adults. He has written about Revolting Rhymes, Fantastic Foxes, Marvellous Medicines and more. There is a wide range of subjects that can be adapted for a reading group session. A successful idea is to hold a play reading event (Fantastic Mr Fox is good) normally just one of the acts is long enough for then to become acquainted with the words and read it out.Chocolate Eating Competition

You will need a plate, slab of chocolate, gloves, hat, scarf, dice, knife and fork.

How it works: the group sits round a table, they each take turns in throwing the dice the first one to roll a 6 has to put on the gloves, hat and scarf then open the chocolate and cut off a block using the knife and fork and then eat it. While this is happening the other members will be throwing the dice, the next person to throw a 6 will then get to take the hat, gloves and scarf from the previous person and proceed to try and eat the chocolate in the same way. This goes on until all the chocolate has been eaten.

Dragons & Fortune Tellers

This is an ideal workshop for the Chinese New Year or the designs can be used for the Origami workshop. Designs of folding dragons and fortunetellers are readily available on the Internet.

Paper Aeroplanes

This can also be used for an Origami session although it is more fun to hold it as a separate event. Looking at different types of paper ‘planes that can be folded as well as making them is great fun. Holding a flying competition to see whose plane flies longest and furthest can take quite a bit of time. There are many different types of paper aeroplanes that can be folded: from darts to aerobatic planes, the possibilities are many and varied.

Mummy Wrap

Finding out how mummies were made can be a fascinating (and slightly disgusting) process. Learning about how the Egyptians used to preserve their royalty can be educational and fun! Making ones friend into a mummy (without removing their organs) can also be an enjoyable experience. All you need are some rolls of toilet paper, sticky-tape and teams of two people  a wrapper and a wrappee.

Word Searches

These are usually best when used in conjunction with another main event but at a pinch are good for an event on their own. Tie them in with a book or series of books depending on what words are being sought.

Real Life Careers

Invite someone with an interesting career to come talk about his or her job.

Possibilities: The police officer who trains sniffer dogs or administers lie detector tests, a fire fighter who investigates how a fire starts, an EMT, the undercover security at a department store, or a funeral director. Provide a display of career related books and resources.

Scrap Books

Help teens make their own scrap book from scratch. Have them to bring photos and mementos and provide supplies for them to create their book. Invite teens to display their finished books in the library. Or give the program a creative writing angle. Help teens make or decorate their own journal or diary.

Another diary-based idea is to approach banks in January and ask them to donate a few diaries that they give out to customers to the group to give to the members to use during the year.

Photo Essay

Buy a pack of disposable cameras and distribute to teens. Have them take pictures of their everyday life, and then turn the cameras in. Process the photos then invite all teens to a program to create a “real life photo mural”. Enhance the program with a display of books on photography and famous photographers.


Invite members of your Teen Group to write non-fiction book, music and/or film reviews to post on the library web site, blog, or newsletter. Help teens create and film book-talks to air at the library or at local schools.

Films from Books

Create a display of books that have been turned into movies. Have teens vote on the book they would most like to read. After they have read the book, host a screening of one of the movies, then lead a discussion comparing the book versus the movie. Serve popcorn, drinks, and give out bookmarks that list other books that have been made into movies.

Music and books

Partner with an English or literature teacher and have teens prepare a soundtrack to their favourite book. They can play the music while they talk about their book and explain their musical choices

Stop the Press!

Read news articles to teens – some true, some false and have teens decide which one is which! You can use articles from The Onion or a tabloid and the local paper. Then offer a creative writing class where teens create their own library tabloid.

Creative Writing

Get the group interested in writing short stories, prose, poetry with a view to publication in a library newsletter or booklet, this session idea could tie in to Urban Legends or Get Real or Get Fake.

Urban Myths

This could be a tie-in to the creative writing or just a general discussion of urban legends and creating some for the group itself.

Webs and blogs

With the advent of IT in libraries there is more scope for working with the youth and computers. Introducing the kids to website and blog creation. Creating a site or blog specifically for the reading group is one possibility.


Take a scene from a Harry Potter film and use the group members as part of the cast. The number of attendees would be important in choosing which scene you decide to read from.

T-Shirt design

Provide t-shirts and printer friendly iron-on transfer paper let the group members design their own pictures on the computer, then print them onto the transfer pages and iron them on to the t-shirts.

TRG X-Factor

A take-off of the television show, get the kids in to take part with singing, dancing or performing. Maybe make it book-themed with a reading from a favourite book, play or poem.

Teenage Reading Groups

Starting and running a Teenage Reading Group is not an easy task although it is a rewarding one. Too often when someone wants to start working with Teens in a Library they go all out to attract the non-users into the Library, and, while this can work, it is not always successful.

I have found in my experience that it is best to start with a few teens preferably ones that use the library regularly as they are usually more receptive to coming in for an hour for interesting book-related topics. It takes time, but building up a decent sized group over several months or a year is better than trying for maximum membership from the outset.

The key to building a rapport with teens is to be visible at times other than official TRG meetings as Teens (like most people), respond better to people they know and see on a regular basis (This helps combat the Lone Ranger Effect – When someone rushes in sets everything up, holds the event and then disappears, leaving everyone who attended wondering who the masked man was.)

It is also good that the person (librarian?) running the group gets to know the names of the Teens coming in so it does not appear as if they are always reading off a list. In this way it can further personalise the ‘Teen Library Experience’ and make Libraries seem more relevant to them. It can also assist in dispelling the view of Librarians as just another authority figure that does not really want them around.

It may be best if, for the first session anyway, you organise an ice-breaker – if you have a look at the event ideas section of the website you will find several easily organised events that can be used.

Manga Genres

Bishojo: Japanese for ‘beautiful girl’, blanket term that can be used to describe any anime that features pretty girl characters, e.g. Magic Knight Rayearth.

Bishonen: Japanese for ‘beautiful boy’ blanket term that can be used to describe any anime that features “pretty” and elegant boys and men, e.g. Fushigi Yukgi.

Ecchi: Derived from the pronunciation of the letter ‘H’. Japanese for ‘indecent sexuality’. Contains mild sexual humor, e.g. Love Hina.

Hentai: Japanese for ‘abnormal’ or ‘perverted’, and used by Western Audiences to refer to pornographic anime or erotica. However, in Japan the term used to refer to the same material is typically Poruno or Ero.

Josei: Japanese for ‘young woman’, this is anime or manga that is aimed at young women, and is one of the rarest forms.

Kodomo: Japanese for ‘child’, this is anime or manga that is aimed at young children, e.g. Doraemon.

Mecha: Anime or manga featuring giant robots, e.g. Mobile Suit Gundam.

Moé: Anime or manga featuring characters that are extremely perky or cute, for example Little Snow Fairy Sugar.

Progressive: “Art films” or extremely stylized anime, e.g. Voices of a Distant Star.

Seinen: Anime or manga similar to Shonen, but targeted at teenage or young male adults, e.g. Oh My Goddess!

Sentai/Super Sentai: Literally “fighting team” in Japanese, refers to any show that involves a superhero team, e.g. Cyborg 009.

Shojo: Japanese for ‘young lady’ or ‘little girl’, refers to anime or manga targeted at girls, e.g. Fruits Basket.

Maho shojo: Subgenre of Shoujo known for ‘Magical Girl’ stories, e.g. Sailor Moon.

Shojo-ai: Japanese for ‘girl-love’, refers to anime or manga that focus on love and romance between female characters, e.g. Revolutionary Girl Utena.

Shonen: Japanese for ‘boys’, refers to anime or manga targeted at boys, e.g. Dragon Ball Z.

Shonen-ai: Japanese for ‘boy-love’, refers to anime or manga that focus on love and romance between male characters. This term is being phased out in Japan due to references to pedophilia, and is being replaced by the term “Boys Love”