The Pass the Book program at Howard County Library (Columbia, Maryland) uses the “power of peer recommendation” to promote reading among teens. Librarian Katie George said, “The fastest, most effective way to promote reading…or anything else…among teens is for a teenager to make a recommendation to another teenager.” The program’s result in 2010: 324 teens read The Secret Hour, and the accompanying Pass the Book website received 13,600 hits.
Launched during Teen Read Week, Katie George and her colleagues released 600 copies of The Secret Hour by Scott Westerfeld to the teens of Howard County. Teens who read the book could register the book’s number and track the book on a the library’s Pass the Book website. The book could then be passed on to a friend for further enjoyment. Participants could return to the website to see where their book had traveled. There were opportunities to participate in online discussions and challenges as well as attend special Pass the Book events at the library branches. Not only did the library collaborate with local teachers to promote and support the program, but even the author, Scott Westerfeld, passed a book!
The newest title in their Pass the Book 2011 program is Pay the Piper by Jane Yolen and Adam Stemple. Howard County Library's Pass the Book program was inspired by the Pass the Book website and Pass the Book at Cuyahoga County (Ohio) Public Library. The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) of the American Library Association named Katie George the winner of the 2011 MAE Award for Best Literature Program for Teens. The MAE Award provides $500 to the recipient and $500 to the recipient’s library and is sponsored by the Margaret A. Edwards Trust.