Out of This World Library Programs

Using Speculative Fiction to Promote Reading and Launch Learning

by Joel A. Nichols
Foreword by Denise E. Agosto


Tap into the popularity of speculative fiction for young readers ages 10–21 with this collection of innovative programs.

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Cover image for Out of This World Library Programs

February 2017

Libraries Unlimited

Pages 157
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Children's and Young Adult Programs/Literature Applications
  Children's and Young Adult Programs/General

Focusing on the most compelling—and in many cases the most accessible—titles across the vast area of imaginative fantasy and science fiction literature and media, this book showcases creative ways to build on existing interest in these genres and promote reading, literacy, and critical thinking.

Science fiction and fantasy stories captivate the imaginations of youth and adults—even today, when real-life technological developments often border on unbelievable. We see evidence of the universal appeal of sci-fi and fantasy-themed tales in popular books, movies, and television series—from The Hunger Games, The Martian, and Star Wars to Jessica Jones and The Man in the High Castle. This guide provides avenues for making use of what naturally interests young audiences pre-teen through emerging or new adult with some 50 programs based on speculative fiction.

For each of the literature-based programs, the book provides a description of the project that identifies the appropriate age level and its goals and learning objectives as well as the duration of time and materials needed. While the selection of titles is diverse, special emphasis is given to media and books created by women and people of color. The step-by-step directions, annotation of the book on which the project is based, list of related titles, and special tips ensure that you'll be able to easily implement the program in your classroom or library. Most of the programs have a technology-related component but can be adapted to be done as traditional crafts. All of the programs are appropriate for students in English and creative writing classes as well as for youth or young adults in a public library setting.


  • Presents ways for librarians connect to young patrons with enriching and entertaining workshop ideas
  • Models deep engagement with reading and texts, focusing on leveraging high-interest popular fiction and media to engage young people in critical thinking and reflection, thereby increasing their understanding of the world and themselves
  • Stimulates children of various learning styles and age ranges to think creatively and critically through curricula that ties into STEM/STEAM learning
Author Info

Joel A. Nichols, MSLIS, is the data strategy and evaluation administrator at the Free Library of Philadelphia, where he has previously worked as a children's librarian and branch manager. Nichols holds a Master of Science in Library and Information Science from Drexel University, a master's degree in creative writing and English from Temple University, and a bachelor's degree from Wesleyan University. His published work includes Libraries Unlimited's iPads® in the Library: Using Tablet Technology to Enhance Programs for All Ages and Teaching Internet Basics: The Can-Do Guide. His Twitter username is @joelanichols.



"The activities discussed would be perfect for public libraries, but could also be used as everyday projects in middle and high schools. . . . You could literally pick up the book and be ready to do a lesson in minutes. These are great lessons that focus on Common Core Skills, not just simply having fun. . . . This book doesn’t just tell you what to do; it tells you how to do it. Highly recommended."—School Library Connection

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