[Grantees] 2014 Teen Read Week Grantee Space

This space is intended for the use of the grantees of the 2014 Teen Read Week activity grant.

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The Covina Public Library is almost ready for Teen Read Week! We will be offering several opportunities for teens to participate including a writing and art contest, teen survey, reading challenge and the anticipated Teen Volunteer and Career Fair. We have confirmed 11 organizations at the event and include a local college and non-profits who offer volunteerism in the area. We will also be having a speaker from City Council talk about Turning Dreams Into Reality. All of the promotions have been sent to the local middle and high schools and some of the teachers have given students the option to get extra credit if they participate. This is our very first volunteer and career fair, so we are hoping it is a big hit!

It looks like it's coming together really nicely!

Kayla Kuni said:


This is the article we had in the paper prior to our play. A reporter form the Suncoast Times also plans on coming to cover the event on Monday night.

We had our play tonight. I will post all of my thoughts on it tomorrow when I have more time to figure out what happened. I had over 30 teens involved and over 60 people in attendance. I am still trying to figure out my defense for why there is green and red glitter all over the floor. (I have a reason, but I am not sure if the maintenance guy at my library will believe me or let me live to see Wednesday.)

Greetings!  We started last month with our Teen Read Week Program ("Books to the Big Screen").  We read The Maze Runner and took a field trip to the movie theater to see the new released film.  This month we are reading The Hobbit and I will screen the first two parts of the film in the library (DVD).  Come December we will take another field trip to see the last part of the film. We are beginning to meet as a group to work on our reviews and developing our blog.  I am excited because there are some gifted writers in the group!

How do you do your field trips? Do you meet the students at the theater or do you rent a bus and have permission slips signed?

So I am going to give you the run down of what happened (beginning to end) and hopefully I will be able to get some pictures up here before long. Overall, I am proud of them and hope that they can build upon this experience. 

We started writing the play back in late June/early July. I had a team of about 8-10 writers that were very dedicated to getting the script together and making the stories their own. ***None*** of my writers wanted to act in the play because they were too shy. I did not push them to act, but I did send out numerous emails to local schools, their drama clubs, and put ads out on Facebook about open auditions.

Auditions were at the beginning of September because school was just getting back into session and I was pushing the play at a local high school open house. I had quite a few kids show up to auditions, although not as many as I really needed. After auditions were technically over,  I had a wave of teens and tweens show up to participate. (At one point, I had more actors than I did parts. We had to add in a whole act to accommodate additional roles.) I let the kids look over the script during auditions and had them let us know what character(s) they wanted to play. (I had one young man very excited about being a female character.) Most kids got the roles they wanted; a few we had to move around a bit.

We had rehearsals anywhere from 2 to 4 days a week. Initially, we were aiming at Tuesdays and Thursdays; however, this eliminated any band teens from coming to rehearsals. I added a few Monday practices in and, at some point, we had four rehearsals (per request) a week. Many of our meetings took place in a small meeting room (and in many instances in the international room) because we allow outside organizations to use our meeting room space. Due to space limitations at these meetings, we did not get to have much practice at where each character would be on the stage. Either way, we were planning on having meetings at the local high school's drama room to start prepping the stage and getting the kids familiar with which way they would be going. 

Three weeks to the date of the play's premiere, the school that we were to perform our play at told us we would not be able to use the drama room because of a scheduling issue. I was initially a bit panicked, but I was also happy that I had booked the meeting rooms at the library as a back-up plan. We had to change our marketing and redo some posters, but overall it was not a total disaster.

The same week the school backed out, my main character (the only teen who had stage experience) said she wanted to do a smaller role. We, thankfully, had an understudy that had been memorizing those lines and she just moved into that role. Again, it was not a total disaster.

Rehearsals were hard, I am not going to lie. We had anywhere from 10-20 teens ranging in ages from 11-17 in a very tight area. Everyone had ideas and I did have to remind them to be respectful of others from time to time. Teen programs at my library have not been getting a huge turnout lately, but this one really brought in tons of kids. I had teens showing up on random nights just to practice with me. I was really confident in most of the kids as far as memorizing their lines went although there were two that I was concerned about. I knew on the night of the show (with people in the audience) stage fright might happen...and it did.

The day of the show was a bit crazy. We had to assemble the stage, hang up some curtains to separate the front stage from the back stage, and get everyone in costumes. Because the teens were spending about four hours at the library, a volunteer helped us prep sandwiches and we fed them before the show started. A mom of one of the teen actors is a photographer and she brought in equipment from her studio for us to use as the stage curtains which would close between each act.

The introduction was a bit rough, but I feel the first three acts went well. All of the characters knew their lines and, as far as time went, those acts took a lot longer than they did in practice. I was very happy with the first three acts even though "back stage" was a bit cramped and busy. One of my more difficult teens during rehearsals was amazing the night of the show. He played his character well and he then took over responsibility of the music (which he created using GarageBand), the background scene changes (made with PowerPoint), and played his guitar during intermission.

After intermission things were a little difficult. Two acts that challenged us (The Great Gatsby and The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy) were right after one another and our main character missed many of her lines. As a result of her forgetting, or skipping lines, other characters were a bit lost as to where they should be. They did a great job of keeping up with the script, but our poor main character (who is 12) had some issues.

The Tampa Bay Times and our local Suncoast News mentioned the play in their press release section. We had over 65 people in attendance, many of them children and many of them friends with the teens involved. I would say about half of the audience was composed of people I had never seen in our library before, but there were plenty of people who are library regulars and had watched the teens working on this play over the past few months. The teens, children, and adults in the audience were having a great time in spite of our hiccups.(At one point we were having some serious issues with the stage curtains so two teen boys in the audience volunteered to help with that.)

Instead of admission, we asked all attendees to bring a can of food to be donated to a local homeless shelter prior to the holidays. (We got three full boxes!) It was nice to see the teens excited about giving back not just in the form of a play, but also in the form of food for the hungry.

A few of the teens who were involved with this project were also using their experience  from the play as part of a school leadership project. I have the unique opportunity to read what they had to say about the meetings and what they would have done differently. I have to say, this has been a great experience for me as well since I get to see the play through their eyes. I got to read that one of the girls gained a ton of confidence in her public speaking skills. One boy (who was not enjoying the rehearsals so much) earlier said he didn't see how this play was going to get people reading. In his final entry, from last night, he stated that he got what this play had to do with reading: he saw the joy in the faces of the audience, specifically the younger people there. These young people will be teens and tweens one day and this play might be what keeps them excited and dreaming about their own stories.

There were some things that didn't happen that we really tried to make happen. We did incorporate some Spanish into the play, but we didn't have the poetry during intermission. (Nick played his guitar instead.) We are going to make culture boxes with the props that we bought for the play so that they do not go to waste. We were also considering donating the jackets that some of the characters used to a local job agency so that unemployed locals will have something nice to borrow to wear for job interviews.

The kids were all smiles afterward, and one of the teens said he wants to write another play...like this week. I have considered forming a drama club, and this play leads me to believe such a club would be successful here. We had a very diverse group of teens working on this play...and in my opinion they did well. Everyone in the audience clapped and no one left early.

The teens had fun, the audience had fun, and a local reporter was there to report about what Teen Read Week is and to show case local teens in a positive manner. I feel this event was a success and have planned a wrap party/ vote for the YALSA top ten party tomorrow night. 

Side note: A few teens who could not make it in to watch the show last night came in today and asked how it went. I told them we did well although there were some issues. The response I got was: "So? I can't even talk in front of my classmates. They got up and acted out a play. They are awesome."

My teens are awesome.


Also, YALSA will be getting about 27 photo consent forms since that is how many teens participated with this play. :)

Hi Kayla,

We're glad the play went well! We can't wait to see the photos! :)

Kayla Kuni said:

Also, YALSA will be getting about 27 photo consent forms since that is how many teens participated with this play. :)

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Join this site!

Join this Teen Read Week website for great resources and opportunities such as:

  • A low-res download of the 2014 TRW themed logo (found under the planning tab - must be signed into account)
  • Free access to a webinar about leveraging TRW to promote career & college readiness with your teen patrons. The recording can be found on the Webinar page under the Planning tab. (Must be signed in to view)
  • Alerts about grant opportunities
  • More perks to come so be sure to register and check back for updates!

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