Being Yourself with Teens

Question 3: “You Try to Relate to Teens in a ‘Cool Way,’ Often Using Teen Lingo. You Sense It Is Tragic. You Might Be Right”

by Deborah Takahashi (p 103)

I personally cringe whenever I see adults who try too hard to be “cool” around teenagers. It always seems to come off as awkward and forced, and teens usually feel the same way. I think that there are many reasons why YA librarians often fall into this trap. It’s human nature to want to be liked, and teens aren’t that easy to win over. I will freely admit that I was very intimidated the first time I had to do a YA program alone.

Many teens have a preconceived notion that adults “don’t get them,” and society’s portrayal of librarians adds to the cards that are stacked against us. How is a teen supposed to get along with some stuffy person who is constantly trying to get them to be quiet and read books? I think that this causes teen librarians to try to overcompensate in an effort to show teens the library can be a fun experience.

I do think we make teens out to be scarier than they actually are. At the end of the day, they’re just kids transitioning into adulthood. Of all the points Takahashi makes, the one about listening to the teens is the most important, especially when it comes to figuring out what they want in the library. Takahashi brings up a great point when she states that “when teens see that they can benefit from the library, they will realize that the library is actually listening to their suggestions and making changes to suit their needs” (p 104).

So basically, stop trying to use the word fleek in conversation, be yourself, and actually ask the teens what they want so they’ll come back. A little listening can go a long way.

References

Velasquez, J. (2015). Real-world teen services. Chicago: ALA editions.

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