The Library - identity

Tweens, youth between the ages of 9 and 12 often find themselves overlooked while they endure the hardships of surviving middle childhood limbo. In fact, the term “tween” is a blend of the words “between” and “teen,” signifying the transition tweens experience from early childhood to early adolescence. This group of youngsters are too old for the Children’s Department but too young for the Teen Zone. They are uninterested in children’s programs and StoryTimes, but they’re not quite ready for teen programs.

My tween years are a blur of awkward middle school dances, new friendships and mysterious changes. When I think back to being a tween, I cringe when I remember how awkward, shy, self-centered and out of place I felt. I no longer wanted to play with my little brother and his friends, but the teens avoided me like the plague. All I wanted was to fit in with my peers. ‘Tween you and me, my tween years were awful.

The Library strives to alleviate these difficult circumstances for tweens by providing them access to information as well as age-specific programming that offers them a structured environment, a secure space and an opportunity to express themselves and their creativity. Attending tween programs is a great way for tweens to meet other tweens, make friends and socialize. At the Library, tweens come together to support one another in a safe, neutral location while developing a sense of belonging.

Research has shown that there are seven developmental needs for adolescents: physical activity, competence and achievement, self-definition, creative expression, positive social interaction, structure and clear limits and meaningful participation. The Library offers tween programs that meet these needs. Programs such as Tween Cooking Club, Galaxy in a Jar, Minute to Win It, Life-size Clue, book page poetry and Deal or No Deal Christmas Edition are structured but encourage creativity, collaboration and participation. Tween Cooking Club instills confidence and independence while Minute to Win It games are competitive and physical, and book page poetry is creative and expressive. All tween activities encourage positive social interaction and promote self-discovery.

The Library also offers Tween Book Club, which meets the last Monday of the month. Tweens can stop by the Children’s Department to register and pick up a copy each month’s book. Later, at book club, they participate in meaningful discussion, sharing feelings, interpretations, opinions and more. Afterwards, there is an activity that ties in with the book.

The Library welcomes tweens’ participation at tween programs. Held every Monday at 4 p.m. in the Crawford Room, the Library’s tween programs—generally geared towards students in grades four through six—offer tweens a place of their own, where they will discover both independence and connection while enjoying cooking, painting, games, crafts and more. Tweens are encouraged to share their feedback with staff to improve tween services and to embrace the time they have as a tween.

Chelsie Troutman is the Youth Services Specialist at Natrona County Library.

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