Jocelyn Jimenez of the Princeton Public Library and her program “I Read This Book” is the 2018 Miss Rumphius Award winner. Jocelyn received her citation and award at the Honors and Awards Reception at the New Jersey Library Association’s Annual Conference on Thursday, May 31, 2018 at Harrah’s in Atlantic City.
Her innovative program is targeted to a particular group of public library users – teens. The I Read This Book program can be replicated across libraries, especially as the Princeton Public Library’s (PPL) staff has volunteered to help other libraries create the program in their sites.
One of the most outstanding features of this program is that the Princeton Public Library’s existing Teen Advisory Board became a motivating force to get other teens to read a book and report on it. These are not traditional book reports, but address what the book means to the participants and their thoughts on whether it was a fun, entertaining read or inspired them on a deeper level. In the past, members of the Advisory Board were expected to complete 30 hours of community service in one school year. When the I Read This Book program was introduced, it was awarded 10 hours of service credit to emphasize not only the importance of the participants’ influence in encouraging others to read, but also the importance of reading to the community at large.
To provide a prominent public place for the teens to share their reflections and have community exposure, a broad range of guests, including local community leaders, the library’s director, board members, school librarians, and two persons selected by each teen were invited to hear the participants’ readings. The program was also open to anyone who might want to celebrate reading and literature. Widespread collaboration with the town’s people and civic leaders brought new audiences into the library. A local bookseller was so impressed by the event that she created a prominent book display in her store window showcasing the teens’ book selections. The library also developed an annotated list of the participants’ selected books as an additional tool to advise teen readers about what their peers were enjoying. Refreshments were the only cost for the program. This social engagement also allowed generous time following the event for the teen authors to make contact and interact with community leaders.
As the judges stated in their selection letter, “ Youth Librarian, Jocelyn Jimenez, the inventor of I Read this Book learned that this experience was a step for the teens in learning to become reading advocates and in providing them with a new opening line to reach out to others — “I read this book….” If Miss Rumphius were here with us, she would applaud.”
Photo: Carol Phillips (l), Jocelyn Jimenez (center), Sharon Rawlins (r)