Teen literacy programming can be found throughout the Omaha metro area, encouraging young adults to engage with literature and dive into a good book. However, incarcerated teens are isolated and often miss out on reading programs. A joint project between the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) College of Education Library Science program and Papillion’s Sump Memorial Public Library, seeks to change that by bringing book bundles to adolescents in the Sarpy County Juvenile Justice Center.
With grant funding from the Nebraska Library Commission and UNO’s Service Learning program, books were acquired to build book bundles for the teens in the detention area, alternative school and reporting center. Totes donated by Oriental Trading Company were filled with four books, a therapy-type coloring book, and colored pencils
For many of the teens, access to media is very limited and they often have little but the clothes they were wearing when they arrived.
College of Education students enrolled in the undergraduate young adult literature course created video book trailers to promote the books and developed bookmarks showcasing read-a-like books (for example, if you liked Maze Runner check out Lockdown!). Future plans include visits to Sump Memorial Library with youth services librarian Cathy McMahon for literacy programs and to raise awareness of the library as a lifelong resource for the teens.
For many of the teens, access to media is very limited and often they have little to call their own but the clothes they were wearing when they arrived. The book bundles are theirs to keep and take with them where ever they are sent next.
Not only does the book bundle program encourage reading skills but it nurtures a love of reading and promotes the public library as a refuge they can visit wherever life takes them.