Ten Passive Library Programs for Tweens

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Ten Passive Library Programs for TweensKids ages 8 to 12 are often too busy with scheduled activities of their own to make it to library programs in the afternoons or evenings. For librarians who wish to increase attendance at programs for this age group, this can be very frustrating, but it also opens up an opportunity to offer passive programming.

Passive programs can be left out in a designated area of the library to be completed by kids on their own time, whenever they happen to visit the library. Though they can be enjoyed by groups or families, they also work just as well to engage individual kids with the library and its materials. Here are ten examples of successful passive programs.

  1. Form Poetry
    Provide instructions for writing different types of form poems – cinquains, haiku, acrostics, etc. – and leave paper and pencils out for kids to write their own. Leave a place for them to deposit their poems if they’d like to have them “published” to a bulletin board or other library display.
  2. Celebrity Guessing Game
    Cut out pictures of well-known celebrities (or authors, or political figures) from discarded magazines, but cover their eyes with black construction paper. Number them, and mount them on a poster or bulletin board, then have the kids guess who is who. Offer a prize to the child who guesses the most names correctly.
  3. Bookmark Challenges
    Choose a theme (Fall, football, the Titanic, biographies, food, etc.) and come up with a list of tasks (looking up facts, drawing pictures, writing poems, etc.) related to the theme. Print them on a cardstock bookmark and challenge kids to complete all tasks by a given deadline. Provide a small prize for all finishers.
  4. “Pocket” Book Reviews
    Leave a book review form where kids can easily find it. Invite them to write anonymous reviews of books they have enjoyed. Type up the reviews and leave them inside the books (in pockets, if your books still have them, or just among the pages) for other readers to discover.
  5. Scavenger Hunts
    Hide clues around the library. Create a handout for kids to use to help them keep track of the clues as they find them. Have them bring their completed form to a service desk to claim a small reward for completing the hunt.
  6. Designing Book Covers
    Encourage kids to design their own covers for books they have loved, or for books whose covers need a desperate makeover. Display the covers with their books, and give credit to the artists.
  7. Adopt A Shelf
    Allow kids to claim a shelf to dust and straighten each time they visit the library. Provide community service credit for kids who participate.
  8. Word Search Puzzles.
    Use a tool such as Puzzlemaker to create your own word searches related to popular books or information literacy (or find ready-made printables on Google or Pinterest). Provide crayons and colored pencils for circling the words.
  9. Origami Yoda Paper Folding
    Print out the directions for folding Origami Yoda, Darth Paper, and other Star Wars characters from Tom Angleberger’s website and display them on a table. Provide appropriately sized paper and challenge the kids to make each character.
  10. Board and Card Games
    Have a stash of games that kids can request from the desk when they’re bored in the library. Provide instructions for various popular card games – and for solitaire games, too.

Busy kids might be hard to pin down to a specific day and time, but this does not mean that librarians need to give up on serving the upper elementary age group. By setting up a small space, providing a few materials, and checking in daily to see how they are being used, librarians can increase their programming statistics for tweens and provide them with positive library experiences.

Image background credit: MyCuteGraphics.com

About Katie Fitzgerald

Katie Fitzgerald holds degrees in English and library science, and has worked in small town and big city libraries, serving both children and teens. You can read her book reviews and posts about story time, picture books, and early literacy at Story Time Secrets. Also follow her blog on Facebook for kidlit quotations, story time suggestions, and interesting links.


  1. Some great ideas – I love the ‘adopt a shelf’ one! Will share this with our school libraries. Thanks! 🙂

  2. Darlene lozada says:

    I love these ideas I actually think I am going to use them at home with my kids. They love the library

  3. barbara letourneau says:

    Good ideas! I like the “adopt a shelf” idea, too.

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