Educating and empowering teen activists in public libraries: A case study of the impact of reading on young adult social justice actions


This participatory case study, which consisted of a co-designed virtual program through the Camrose Public Library, investigates how teen readers engage with the social justice themes in YA fiction, how and if they find these themes useful for understanding and engaging in activism on their own, and the influence of public library programming on these actions. I approached my research from a teen-centred perspective, inviting the youth who participated to make adjustments to each stage of the process. My research design, data collection, and data analysis were informed by critical ethnography as theory and reader-response theory. This case study found that, on their own, neither social activism narratives nor library programs motivate teens to conduct social justice actions; instead, they contribute to a network of learning opportunities and information that leads to teens becoming motivated to make a difference in their communities. Thus, public libraries can provide teen programming that uses social activism narratives and collaborative discussions to teach teens more about social justice issues, show them how to get involved in social justice movements, and instill in them the confidence to do so.

Jun 10, 2021 3:00 pm — 3:30 pm