Kids, Mentors, & the Library

While there are many formal (i.e. Big Brothers/Sisters or Kinship)  and informal means to connect with or be matched with a mentee, there is the question of what sort of activities to do with the kid or teen.  Mentors can take their mentees to concerts, outside activities, play board games, meet for cocoa or soda pop,….  But what about libraries?

Libraries may seem irrelevant to the mentee with their nose in whatever electronic device(s) they have access to but they may be surprised with what is available to them.  Especially since it’s free.  If you don’t have knowledge of a topic for homework or good resources for something else they are interested in then the librarians will happily point them towards great books, DVDs, electronic resources,….  In many libraries there is also homework help from elementary through high school.  Storytime, sometimes in various languages, is usually available at some point during a week.  Teens may not know that some libraries offer book clubs or discussion groups for books and shows they may be interested in.  The St. Paul Public Library, for example, has a “Dr. Who” Discussion group.  The St. Paul system also has concerts occasionally, movie discussions, etc.

The author of the article “Mentoring: How a trip to the library benefits youth” remarked that youth may think they have to read an entire book if they check it out.  I don’t know if he’s aware of Nancy Pearl but in one of her books she has a guideline on whether to continue reading a book or not.  Her guideline is that if you’re under the age of 50, read 50 pages and if you like it, then keep going.  If you don’t, put it back; life’s too short and you can always pick it back up again another time.   Her guideline for anyone over the age of 50 is to subtract your age from 100 and read the difference.  Likewise, keep going or put it down.

Perhaps your mentees will be reluctant to go to the library but if you know their interests and corresponding library offerings, they may become willing to go.  All it takes is the first few steps to get in the door and peak their excitement.

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