For kids in Northwest Philadelphia, there is an abundance of programs, many of which are offered by local branches of the Free Library of Philadelphia. According to JoAnne Woods, the teen librarian at the Andorra branch of the FLP, a big problem is a lack of activities for teenagers.
Woods has begun the process of changing that by introducing a new Teen Reading Lounge at the Andorra Library. The Andorra branch is one of three libraries in Philadelphia to receive a grant from the Pennsylvania Humanities Council to introduce a program such as this one.
According to a study done by Common Sense Media, 53 percent of 9-year-old children in the United States are daily readers, compared to just 17 percent of 17-year-old kids.
Woods, along with Susan Forbes, the facilitator for the group, are looking to increase the number of teenagers in the area who enjoy reading.
“If there’s one thing I wish was different, it’s that I wish we had more kids,” said Forbes.
Woods and Forbes said that in the early going, they have had anywhere from about 8-14 kids at each meeting. Despite what appear to be small numbers, both women said that they are very pleased with the early results.
“They’re readers, those are the kind of kids that we’ve attracted for this,” Forbes said. “They enjoy it, they like the books and they like the different activities.”
The Teen Reading Lounge is available to kids ages 12-18, and meetings are each Saturday through the beginning of May. Woods said that she also has more teen programming lined up for this coming summer.
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– Text, images and video by Jayson Loose.