elementia is a magazine for teens produced by teens. The publication connects published artists with talented young adults through submissions of original poetry, fiction, nonfiction, graphic stories, photography and illustrations. Library staff working with the teen volunteers offer workshops on graphic design and critique skills to help committee members hone their judging skills.
The publication’s editorial and design committees include high school students from all over Johnson County who volunteer their time to read and discuss each submitted piece. Since its inception in 2005, elementia has included the voices of more than 650 creative young adults.
6 by 6: Ready to Read
Recognizing its unique role in brain development the Johnson County Library Foundation created 6 by 6 Ready to Read, an early literacy program in English and Spanish designed to be applicable and approachable for everyone. 6 by 6 focuses on six pre-reading skills to help kids get ready for formal education. This includes storytime, activity spaces and outreach, all designed to make learning to read easier when the time comes.
Each week, the Library plans and presents multiple day and evening storytimes for babies, toddlers and preschoolers to demonstrate early literacy and pre-reading skills through songs, rhymes, movement activities and, of course, high-quality children’s books. A team of the Library’s early literacy specialists also plans the activities in our 6 by 6 activity spaces. These areas are more than a random assemblage of toys. Instead, each center includes activities designed to reinforce one more of our six pre-reading skills.
Race Project KC
Whether we want to or not, we all live inside filter bubbles. Our experience of the world is limited by filters beyond our control. This happens online and in every aspect of our lives. Our physical locations, jobs, interpersonal networks, cultures, and much more not only give us our identities, they also limit, and segregate.
We do, however, have choices about how we respond to those filters. The book Some of My Best Friends Are Black: The Strange Story of Integration in America helps us make those choices. The book relates author Tanner Colby’s explorations into racial filters in the U.S., and delves into the Kansas City metro area’s history of racial segregation.
Tanner Colby discussed his book at Blue Valley North High School, Johnson County Community College, and Johnson County Library in the Fall of 2014. Race Project KC emerged after this visit, as local educators and Library staff were inspired to extend his work into experiences for area teens for them to learn how our community has come to its current state of racial segregation and for them to break out of some of their bubbles. The initiative has been expanding since.
The initiative now consists of a series of opportunities for students to learn our area’s history of racial segregation and how it continues to impact us today. Students hear from experts on the topics, learn vocabulary for talking about race, build relationships with peers they might not otherwise meet, and share their own stories as they relate to the issues.
Studies show that students who read at least six books during the summer can avoid the loss of critical reading and cognitive skills that occur over the summer months known as “summer slide.” Additionally, having books at home is strongly linked with academic achievement.
From mid-May until the end of July, Johnson County Library helps combat summer slide by providing a free book to every child who comes into the library. By growing children’s personal libraries and helping them find intrinsic value in reading, the library bridges that summer learning gap and invests in the future of our community.
Generously funded by the Kauffman Foundation, R.A. Long Foundation and the Flo Harris Foundation, Homework Help provide students with supplemental homework help through an after-school program at the Central Resource Library.
This service directly serves three of the four Title 1 Shawnee Mission elementary schools within walking distance of the Central Resource Library. Cumulative results show 80 percent of the students served through the program demonstrate increased independence in completing homework assignments and report learning new skills and information-gathering tools.