We’ve done our library subscription box program for about 1.5 years and it has evolved since its first year. If you want to read how we used to do it, please visit this blog post.
Our new subscription box program is called The YAASS Box (Young Adult Awesomely Super Subscription Box)-please excuse the name; we aren’t good at making up program titles.
How Does it Work?
- We run the program (subscription) every other two months so there’s a Jan/Feb box, an April/May box, a July/Aug box, and a Oct/Nov box. It is open to 6th-12th graders.
- Teens must register separately for each two-month subscription.
- We want new teens every subscription so teens who already participated will be put on a waiting list. If all of the boxes aren’t fulfilled, teens will be taken off the waiting list in the order they signed up.
- They can register via Instagram DM or email.
- We ask for their name, grade, and their book selection.
- Sometimes we offer a MG and a YA book but we’re currently trying to find one book that is suitable for all ages.
- They are given a last day to pick up their box, otherwise they forfeit the box to someone on the waiting list.
- We do this because they have to have enough time to read the book and it’s a test to see if they are responsible. If they can’t pick up their box in time, it’s likely they won’t read the book or do the discussion.
- There’s an insert in each box that tells teens what the expectations are.
- They have to agree to read the book by the due date which is usually the last day of the month.
- They have to participate in the discussion question which is posted in our Instastory/feed, our Facebook story/feed, or through email. They have 48 hours to answer the two discussion questions.
- I also tape a discussion date reminder to the outside of the book.
- I post the discussion questions on IG and FB. If they don’t have social media, I email the questions.
- Their insert also tells them that their answers must reference the book.
- They can DM their answers or post them in the question box for everyone to see.
- One question is directly related to the text; the other question is indirectly related.
- An indirect question for example, in The Poet X there was a chapter called Names where Xiamora talks about her name, its meaning and five senses she feels when she hears her name. For the second question, I asked them what how their name feels; tastes; looks like; smells; and sound like.
- If they didn’t quite relate to the text, I ask them a follow up question. I always ask if they liked the book.
- If teens don’t participate in the discussion, they can’t get next month’s book-this is in their insert.
- Before teens can take next month’s box, I have them fill out a YAASS Box Survey If they are return participants, they don’t have to fill it out.
- Same procedure as above for the next box.
What’s in the Box?
- Every box is themed and the goodies and book are related to the theme.
- We usually put something big in each box such as a t-shirt; headphones; a nice journal; etc.
- We always put candy or a snack
- Other items are usually under $2 and they include a vinyl sticker or socks or a writing utensil, etc.
- We order our boxes from Amazon.
- Since I know they are going to throw the box away, we don’t spend a lot of money on it. We have used colored parcel envelopes before.
- We do try to make it look nice with a sticker of the name of the program and nice tissue paper on the inside.
Isn’t This Expensive?
- YES IT IS!
- Each box costs between $15-$25/teen
- We limit the participation to 15 teens/two-month subscription
- Because we have to limit it, we prefer to get new participants every two months.
- The book is the biggest expense. We always choose a paperback.
- We get the other goodies at Five Below or the dollar section at Target
- I apply for grants, reach out to the Friends of the Library, etc to cut costs.
- If you like this program but can’t afford the expense, many libraries put library books in their “boxes or bags” and teens have to return them before getting the next box. They do get to keep the other goodies in the “box/bag.”
- We live in a low-income community where teens don’t have disposable income to buy books so we do it this way so that they can build their own library.
- Teens love free books and they like to brag about all the free books they’ve acquired from the library through book club, the YAASS Box, and our annual author festival.
- We only get one male participant.
- Of the 14 participants, 11 of them are usually in high school.
- This is shocking because most high school teens are too busy to read for fun.
- Most of the participants comment on the survey that they are too shy to discuss books in person or they think their answer is “stupid.” The latter really saddens me because I hate that they don’t have confidence in their answers. The ones who say this are usually the teens who write incredibly insightful answers that I didn’t think of.
- If they DM their answer, which is all of them, I ask if I can post their answer to the feed for all to see. They usually say yes.
- None of the participants attend in-library teen programs.
- On the survey, many of the teens said the are trying to read for fun and this program is perfect for that. They also said that this program has opened them up to new genres that they would never choose on their own.
- More than half are repeat participants.
- All of the participants correspond via Instagram.
- During our Ship in Volume program, we have over 30 participants/month but since we added a discussion component, participation dropped to approx. 10 participants/two-month subscription.
- I changed the program because I wanted accountability. Our in-person teen book club has had the same four girls for four years and they are all junior and seniors. I wanted to add a discussion to try a new book club strategy-it worked.
- Only about 3/14 do not do the discussion question.
Overall, I’m very pleased with this program and decided to invest $$$ into it as it is a literacy based program. The participants really like the program and almost all of them pick up their box within two days of being notified.
If you have any question regarding this program, please feel free to comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.