Program encourages young readers to expand genres

LIHUE — How many times have readers judged a book by its cover, asked Sierra Hampton-Eng, the Lihue Public Library’s young adult librarian.

“Studies have shown that many readers make their selections based on covers,” Hampton-Eng said. “Decisions would be different if they couldn’t see the covers.”

This discussion led to the birth of the Blind Date with a Book program that is hosted by the Lihue Public Library’s Teen Advisory Board and is part of the National Library Lovers Month observance in February.

“Blind dates (books) are available, now,” Hampton-Eng said. “The members of the Teen Advisory Board have been selecting and wrapping books with art and brief descriptions about genres and themes to help participants make a good book match without seeing its title or cover. This is done by wrapping books in brown paper, and the teens had to figure out how to promote the book in ways that would get them checked out without relying on the cover images.”

Blind dates are set up at a special “blind date” with a book display across from the library’s reference desk through the month of February.

“I’m paying attention to detail in my artwork,” said Camryn Calderon, a TAB member. “I want readers to get the message by looking at this piece.”

Under terms of the program, readers pick a book, check it out and take it home to unwrap and read.

“Whether you hit it off or not, fill out and return the Rate Your Date form enclosed with each book by Feb. 28,” Hampton-Eng said. “This allows the reader an opportunity to win a $20 Amazon gift card. Other prizes include a $10 Amazon gift card and free library DVD rentals.”

The program adds fun and mystery to book selections.

“The Pearl City (Public) Library is hosting a program like this right now,” Hampton-Eng said. “In addition to adding some fun and mystery to book selection, the Blind Date with a Book reading program encourages readers to discover new genres and new authors. We want readers to fall in love with a book they might not have chosen based on viewing its cover.”

The program is free and open to teens and adults with a valid library card.

The Lihue Public Library TAB is a group of library-loving teens who meet once a month, usually on a Wednesday, to help plan and host programs that promote reading and life-long learning at the library.

“We always welcome new members,” Hampton-Eng said. “Interested teens can just find out when we meet and drop in.”

More info: 241-3222.

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