There has been the most amazing conversation happening at the YALSA general discussion listserv about two of my favorite things – FOOD and BOOKS. Someone asked for ideas about books with food themes so that teens could come to book club and actually cook the meals made in the books. I love these and really wanted to share. It’s a fun idea for any age.
(The post that started the conversation) We are going to try changing our teen book club to a cooking/book club for the summer. Each time they meet they will cook a recipe related to the book (i.e. Chicken Enchiladas and Twilight). We are having a hard time coming up with some book/food choices. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.
Below are the some of the ideas that were shared – names and libraries excluded:
It might be fun to read one of the survival type books (i.e. How I Live Know, Life as We Knew it, Hunger Games, Hatchet) and make a meal out of some of the types of foods the characters lived on.
You could read The Fold by An Na and make bibimbap (spelling varies) as Joyce does.
Soul Enchilada by Gill
Nothing to Lose by Flinn (some kind of carnival food)
Cupid: A tale of love and desire by Lester (ambrosia)
The first thing that came to mind was actually the Percy Jackson series and for food you could make Ambrosia. I also thought of /13 Little Blue Envelopes/ and making food relevant to the countries she visits. Also, /Al Capone Does My Shirts /and lemon cake.
What about cooking a diner-style breakfast to go along with “The Fortunes of Indigo Skye.”
Maybe you could make something that you think the character would probably eat, based on everything else in the story or the location, even if it is never explicitly stated. A story taking place in Philadelphia could = Philly cheese steaks, for instance.
For younger teens, you could do Project Mulberry and have them eat KimChi.
Another good one that combines growing up and food is Hope Was Here by Joan Bauer.
So, here’s a crazy idea. I think that what MLA or the Michigan division of PLA needs to do is set up a deal with large Michigan companies for summer reading goodies. Can you imagine ALL of Michigan public libraries going up to Kmart, Jiffy Mix, or Vernors or even some of the bigger museums in the state and saying “Hey, can you give us free products or swag or cool stuff from your museum store that we can give as prizes for summer reading?”
What a great way to bolster businesses and provide reminders of the things that are distinctly home-grown brands while also helping libraries boost summer reading. Public libraries already work closely with community businesses, but large corporations are community businesses too.
Public library patrons are fiercely loyal (usually) and I’m pretty sure that a bit of free stuff would help improve sales in the long run for Michigan companies.
I would like to see MLA help member libraries in that way…let’s see what happens as this year moves towards a fresh batch of summer reading programs!
If you are a foodie, then at some point you have heard of the Ann Arbor, Michigan based delicatessen known as Zingerman’s. I was fortunate to meet one of the owners a couple of times when I worked at a business incubator. He would come in and give talks to meetings filled with eager entrepreneurs who had visions of success, fame, glory, and eventual corporate buy-out.
Okay, my point…
The success of Zingerman’s relies on it’s strict training. Employees are trained for months before being allowed to work. They must know every type of exotic, stinky cheese, every variation of olive oil, every grain in the multi-grain bread. To train properly, they are given “passports”. And like a real passport, after learning a section and passing a test, they get a stamp on the page dedicated to that particular topic. There is more to the process than that, but you get the idea. In the far back of these passports are quick notes and cheat sheets as well as a brief guide about who to ask questions of. I think they also helped people track their days off to ensure accountability.
So, a few applications of this:
Ensure library employee training in the same way…provide concise passports to track new employee training.
For schools, use passports to train kids about different aspects of the library. My teacher friends say that rewarding them with a prize for a completed passport would not be good (contrary to today’s teaching methodology) but somehow make completion a big deal.
Or, somehow include the use of passports and info literacy into summer reading.
I see so many ways that this could be a fun and unique tool for tracking accomplishment and learning in a short form way!
To learn more about the Zingerman’s training process, visit their training website at http://zingtrain.com/home.php
I was at a public library in Kansas over the weekend and they had a neat idea for adult summer reading. They create grab bags with two or three books of the same genre and patrons can just grab one on their way out the door. They had mystery, romance, historical fiction, Christian fiction, and some non-fiction in addition to many others. The books are just donated paperbacks and have no due date. And smarty pants that they are, they put that big ol’ basket of bags and a catchy display right in the hall between the children’s section and the exit.
Now, if they manage some sort of drawing along with it, I’m not sure, but I bet you could drop a postage-paid postcard in the bag and then the folks could just drop it in the mail if that was easier for them.