Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Draw It: Teen Summer Reading Challenge art contest

Teen librarians are always trying to find a way to get teen involvement.  The 40 developmental assets tell us that having teens involved in the planning and creation of activities geared towards them helps self-esteem and decreases their participation in risk taking activities.  We also know that since teens are so peer oriented, having teens involved increases teen buy-in and participation.  That is why I decided to hold an annual conference to let teens produce the artwork for my teen summer reading challenge.

The way the contest works is this:

In February I put together my promotional materials.  This includes a contest entry sheet with very specific guidelines and a letter to all my area art teachers asking them to help promote the contest.  I also secure a good prize; typically a $50.00 prepaid gift card.

In March I distribute all my entry forms in the schools, in-house and online.  This give teens the entire month of March to come up with their artwork.  In order to get the best artwork possible, I do not limit the number of times a teen can enter.

In April we pick a winner.  You can do with with a teen advisory board or upload your top 5 choices and have teens vote online.  I always make sure and pick my winner by middle April so that I have plenty of time to create my posters, flyers, and entry forms.  The artwork is depicted on every piece of promotion materials that we put out with the winners name, grade and school.

In May I launch full blown publicity for my TSRC.  Teens are always excited to see that the artwork for the program was done by one of their own.

Entry Guidelines:
All artwork must be original (and I have teens sign certifying that this is the case).
No copyrighted images can be included without proper authorization.
Digital or hand drawn artwork is accepted.
You must use 4 colors, one of which should be black.
The artwork must include whatever that year’s slogan is: Get a Clue @ Your Library, for example.
The artwork must somehow clearly represent the year’s slogan.

The benefits to doing this type of a contest are many:
By promoting the TSRC in the art contest, you are generating some good pre-publicity.  It’s like a presale.
By allowing teens to generate the artwork, you are generating teen buy-in into your programming and giving teens an opportunity to express themselves creatively.
By involving the school art programs, you are building networking and community partnership opportunities.
By getting the contest into the press, you are generating good publicity for the library and demonstrating that the library is a positive force in the community and in the lives of teens.

You will need access to a scanner to scan your winning image into your computer system to use in your publicity materials.  After the first time you will have all your information formatted so all you will have to do each year is upload and change the image and the dates on all your materials.


  1. I would like to try this contest out. Would you be able to post your entry form ?

  2. Let me search for it.

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