what’s a tween?


Tween is a new word that describes youths who are roughly ages 8-14, who are “between” childhood and the teenage years. The term “tween” is a blend of the words “between” and “teen.”

The use and acceptance of this word became prevalent when marketing professionals used the term to help brand items for this growing demographic of 30 million individuals. In some research, tweens are lumped in with teenagers or children, making articles and program ideas hard to find.

Libraries can serve this unique population by creating programming that is geared toward tween interests. Tween programming should be less childish than programming for preschoolers or elementary-age children. Addressing the hyper-social needs of this group is important in order to make them feel welcome in the library. Programming can range from having a book discussion focused on fantasy literature, to do-it-yourself programs were tweens can make crafts that are customized to their liking.

Knowing your audience is extremely helpful. Asking directly what tweens want is a great way to initiate a relationship with them, and it gives you good ideas of what they want from the library. Remember that successful programming results from assessing the needs of the tweens and addressing those specific needs. Well-crafted programming can make the library an important and rewarding place for tweens to spend time, and give them an opportunity to connect with the community.

What if your library board or director wants evidence that tween programming is effective and worth the time and effort? On this website, you will find information on recent studies that demonstrate the importance of providing tween programming.

Amanda Crowley, Dana DeJong-Boots, and Michele Paladines


Faris, C. (2009). Betwixt and Between: Tweens in the Library. Children & Libraries, 7(1), 43-5. Retrieved November 5, 2009, from Library Lit & Info Full Text database.

Goodstein, A. (2008). What Would Madison Avenue Do?. School Library Journal, 54(5), 40-3. Retrieved November 5, 2009, from Education Full Text database.

So what is a “tween,” anyway?

take away

Tweens range in age from 8-14, or roughly 4th-8th grade. They’re “in between” childhood and adolescence.