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Teen Fashion Show - Poetry in Motion: Runway and Rhymes

Johnson County Library
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Innovation Leader: Kate Pickett, Young Adult Librarian, Johnson County Library , pickettk@jocolibrary.org

Problem Statement

Statistically, reading for pleasure declines as readers enter adolescence. The Johnson County Library strives to inspire teens to read and to keep the written word relevant to their lives.

Innovation

To help teens identify with literature and the written word and to help celebrate April as National Poetry Month in 2008, the Johnson County Library created the Alternative Teen Fashion Show, now called “Poetry in Motion: Runway and Rhymes.”

The Johnson County Library had three goals for the fashion show: 1) Connect teens with literature and help them experience it in a new way; 2) Connect teens with the library as a creative space; and 3) Make the program as teen-driven as possible with teen designers, models, poets, and DJs.

Teen designers are required to find their inspiration from the written word: novels, poetry, picture books, etc. The designs are worn by teen models on the runway and accompanied by teen poets from Johnson County. Local schools have gotten involved by providing designers, poets, and DJs, making this one of the most successful partnership programs with schools in the service area.

Progress

In 2008, the fashion show involved six local teen designers and drew an audience of 200. In 2009, the fashion show involved two school districts, more than a dozen teen designers, two professional poets from the community, and eight teen poets – with a total attendance of more than 260 people. The April 2010 show will be The Third Annual Poetry in Motion performance, and as it grows, it continues to connect new teens to the library. Designers continue to find their inspiration in a variety of places – e.g., Twilight, “The Raven,” The Hungry Caterpillar – and both designers and models find a new way to connect with their subject.