Teenagers are one of the most difficult age groups to get involved with the library, and often it takes some truly innovative thinking to devise programming and events that will attract teens to the library. Combine those barriers with those facing teen parents and the challenge becomes even bigger. Although teen pregnancy occurs in all cultural, racial, and socio-economical groups, many teen parents are themselves low-level readers. (Fesko, 2010) But even teen parents who are academic achievers may not have the maturity or the knowledge to understand the importance of reading to their children. The rationalization for this program is that teen parents are an underserved part of a difficult to engage demographic.
The outreach/teen librarian should collaborate with homeless shelters, churches, schools, and various other local programs designed to assist teen parents, and offer a story time program designed to teach teens the importance of reading to their children, and instruct them in reading and story telling techniques. Because teen parents may not often come to the library, or may even believe that the library has nothing to offer them, the librarians must search for resources that will help them connect to the target audience. Librarians should be sure to network, advertise the program not only at the library and online, but in places teen parents are likely to spend time or receive help from. The benefit of a program like this is two-fold: first, it gets new parents reading to their children. And second, it gets teens involved with the library and gives those with lower reading skills the opportunity to improve with encouragement and support. With many of the barriers to literacy that children face being rooted in inter-generational issues, a program such as this could improve parents' reading skills, foster bonding between parents and children, and nurture future literacy.
Fesko, S. (2010) Reaching out through outreach: Providing service to teen parents. Voice
Youth Advocates 33(3), 227.