Developmental Assets for Teens

Young people are constantly expected to make big decisions. What classes should you take? How do you handle cyber bullying? What do you do when school is out for the summer – or even over for good? Thinking of our own opportunities and choices that we’ve encountered in our own lives can help give us a better perspective on the influence we, as adults, have on teens. Who do you remember or who is helping guide you now? It might have been something seemingly small that made all the difference. While it’s the job of each teen to sort out the answer to life’s difficult questions, you can help by providing a positive, supportive role model through providing teens with character-building developmental assets.

Never heard of development assets? Created by The Search Institute, a nonprofit group dedicated to supporting healthy communities for youth, the Forty Developmental Assets provide a guiding framework in the form of a check list of behaviors and personality traits to help teens avoid risky behavior and grow into healthy, compassionate, and civic minded adults. The 40 Internal and External Assets are categorized as:

  • Support
  • Empowerment
  • Boundaries and Expectations
  • Constructive Use of Time
  • Commitment to Learning
  • Positive Values
  • Social Competencies
  • Positive Identity

Research has shown that youth with the fewer assets are more likely to engage in patterns of high-risk behavior. On the other hand, having more assets increases the chances that young people will have positive attitudes and behaviors. For example, the average GPA for students with 0-10 assets was 2.1, going up steadily with each increase in the level of assets.

In addition to families and schools, public libraries are positioned as one of the best places in the community for a teen to safely interact with their community and gain these critical assets. Libraries play a key role in building assets in youth by:

  • Making connections and fostering meaningful relationships
  • Building skills for future success
  • Providing opportunity for meaningful involvement in the community
  • Recognizing youth for their contributions to the community
  • Creating a supportive environment for learning and self-discovery

These assets can be gained through engaging in hands-on library activities such as:

  • Building research skills
  • Volunteering
  • Using the computer for Internet browsing or building their first resume
  • Researching special interests and helpful aids like the best colleges and universities and how get student financial aid
  • Reading a book from a display of on positive social and emotional skills
  • Attending a program with friends based on their likes and hobbies
  • Taking on a leadership role within the library’s Teen Advisory Group!

For more information about the Search Institute’s Developmental Assets, including resources you can implement in your own family or organization, visit:


Krista King-Oaks has worked in public libraries for the past ten years, where she started out as a volunteer tutor and reading buddy while in high school. She is currently the Teen Librarian at the Main Library of Boone County Public Library and the co-convener of SWON Libraries Teen Services Special Interest Group. Krista is always happy to discuss all things youth services and is available for training opportunities; she can be contacted at


Young Readers Ready for More

Has your young reader mastered beginning reader books?  Is she able to recognize most common sight words and easily sound out more complicated words? Is he ready for longer sentences and more complex vocabulary? Is she eager to read a chapter book but not yet ready for the longer books that older children are reading? If you answered yes to these questions, then your young reader is probably ready for a First Chapter Book.

First Chapter Books bridge the gap between basic beginning reader books and longer chapter books that children commonly read beginning in third or fourth grade.  First Chapter Books cover a wide variety of high-interest topics and story plots that appeal to boys and girls in early elementary grades.

First Chapter Books have these basic features:

  • 50 – 100 pages in length
  • 6 – 10 short chapters
  • 6 – 12 words per sentence
  • A combination of sight words and new words that must be sounded out
  • Large and consistent font
  • Ample white space around the text
  • Illustrations on at least two pages per chapter

Many First Chapter Books are part of a series.  Children especially enjoy series books because once they have read the first book in the series, they feel comfortable with the characters, topic, and writing style.  They naturally want more!

Here are some of the most popular series books that are classified as First Chapter Books at BCPL:

  • Junie B. Jones series
  • Magic Tree House series
  • Cam Jansen series
  • Mercy Watson series
  • Jake Maddox sports series
  • Field Trip Mysteries series
  • Ghost Detectors series
  • Victory School Superstars series
  • Zigzag Kids series

Most First Chapter Book titles are part of the Accelerated Reader program, usually in the 2.0 – 3.5 book level range.  The Accelerated Reader website ( is a quick and easy way to find the book level of most First Chapter Books.  Simply type the title in the search box, and the website will give you the book level and point value of the book.At BCPL, First Chapter Books are shelved with the juvenile chapter books, but they are easy to identify by the bright green dot that is affixed to the spine of the book. Or, ask your friendly BCPL librarian to help you find a First Chapter Book that is just right for your young reader. You can view the complete list of our First Chapter Books on the the children’s webpage; look in the Books, Music & More box.

It’s an exciting moment in the life of a child when he picks up his very First Chapter Book.  Let BCPL help you make that experience a positive one that will result in a lifetime of reading pleasure for your young reader.


Elaine Demoret has worked at Boone County Public Library for five years as a Youth Services Associate in the Children’s Department.  Her mission is to bring quality children’s programs and performers to the library from a variety of community resources.