Teen Read Week, a celebration of reading for young adult readers initiated by Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) in 1998, has become a favorite annual event in our high school library and has elicited the support of our students, faculty and staff, as well as our small, but enthusiastic Teen Read Advisory group. The past three years our event focused on fantasies and used the Hobbit theme of “Make a Hobbit of Reading,” but this year we showcased mystery stories to build on the popularity of the Sherlock adaptations in TV and film. This article shares some tips to create a mystery week in your library.
Which Mystery is Your Cup of Tea?
It began with the tea. Morning tea and cookies for students arriving in the library has always been a popular part of our Teen Read Week, but our students in the Teen Read Advisory brainstormed a new twist–theme the books to the tea. Here are some suggestive pairings for your reading palate:
Earl Grey: Match this tea with classic Sherlock Holmes tales as well as reinterpretations such as Moriarty by John Gardner, graphic novel The Hound of the Baskervilles by Ian Edginton, or The Seven-Per-Cent Solution by Nicholas Meyer. Add a dash of the suspense writer Daphne Du Maurier with the novel Rebecca and the homage to Sherlock in Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time.
Irish Breakfast Tea: Detective tales with an Irish flavor include the Dublin mystery series by Tara French, In the Woods and The Likeness. Add a touch of suspense and danger with Maggie Stiefvater’s The Scorpio Races.
Cardamom Tea: Sip this aromatic brew with a favorite African or Middle Eastern mystery such as Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Nile, Cynthia Voigt’s The Vandemark Mummy, or G. Willo Wilson’s graphic novel Cairo. Cardamom tea is also a favorite drink if reading the Botswana detective series, The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith.
Green Tea: Feeling a little peculiar or hollow, try a soothing green tea while reading Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. Green tea also takes the edge off battling dystopian societies (Maze Runner, Hunger Games) or surviving apocalyptic events (Fifth Wave).
Calming Chamomile: US teens know stress first-hand, and this comforting herbal brew will ease tensions of school life, such as in the mystery The Art of Secrets by James Klise and will curb rebellious feelings toward a corrupt training school for teens in How to Lead a Life of Crime by Kirsten Miller. Mysterious abductions and killings of adolescents feature in the Edgar Award nominees All the Truth That’s in Me by Julie Berry and Far, Far Away by Tom McNeal.
221B Baker Street Décor
To add to the library’s décor for Teen Read Week, my library office became a Sherlockian parlor, complete with a door decorated as 221B Baker Street. For about thirty dollars, I scavenged Victorian drapery and chair throws from a thrift store, purchased black acrylic paint, number decals, doorknob, and silver ribbon for the cardboard door and cardboard fireplace hearth (the hearth was my office desk transformed with plug-in fireplace logs borrowed from the theater department). Students enjoyed posing by the Sherlock door for photos, and our library book club met in the Sherlock parlor for our book discussion.
A favorite part of Teen Read Week is a luncheon for faculty. Faculty and staff are encouraged to come to the library with a favorite book to read while enjoying their lunch. One year, a science teacher could not decide on just one book, so she brought towering stacks of books to share with other faculty readers. This visible sign of the love of reading is a great motivator for student readers, and I post a list what teachers are reading on my library LibGuide.
See this video for more photos of faculty and students reading, and I look forward to reading your ideas for celebrating reading during Teen Read Week.