Zine Making & Story Sharing

Heather Colby October 17, 2017

An event focusing on creativity,  writing, and zine making was centered around the teen graphic memoir Little Fish: A Memoir from a Different Kind of Year by Ramsey Beyer. This program was generously funded through a Teen Read Week grant supported by YALSA and the Dollar General Literacy Foundation.

Type: Active
Age: High school
Optimal size: 11-20
Estimated cost: $51 - $100
Planning time: 2-5 hours
Frequency: One-time

Learning outcomes

Participants learned how to create and publish their own zine, and they gained a sense of accomplishment and pride found in channeling their emotions into a work of creativity. Their communication and interview skills were enriched, and they found joy in working with their peers to tell their story and create a tangible work of art.

The program also encouraged teens to seek out non-fiction writing that engages them, and it demonstrated that zine making is an accessible, cost-effective means of sharing their own experiences. Participants had direct access to a published author who revealed the ways that writing her story and reading the stories of others have made a positive impact on her life. Most importantly, it let them feel the power in amplifying their voice. They found that publishing a zine -- or even a book -- is an achievable goal and that they will find support for this goal at their library.


As they registered, teens were given a copy of Little Fish: A Memoir from a Different Kind of Year by Ramsey Beyer to read and keep. Little Fish is a teen graphic memoir that documents Beyer’s first year of college through illustrations, diary entries, comic panels, and lists. It explores common themes in the lives of teenagers: finding an identity as a young adult, forging new friendships, battling insecurities, and adjusting to life’s changes. At the event, teens conducted an interview with Beyer via Skype to learn about her creative process and why it was beneficial to share her experience as a teenager through a graphic memoir.

The program then focused on creating pages for a collaborative zine highlighting the participants’ own voices. They browsed zines (self-published works of writing and art) to see the range of stories being shared through this medium, then discussed ideas for writing topics as a group. We talked about how writing can force you to be vulnerable, and what happens when you find writing that you relate to on a deeply personal level.

The teens chose to create a zine of different lists, with each teen creating a list title ("Things That Haunt Me" or "Things to Stay Clear of When Lovestruck"). To create a page in the zine, each teen used clip art for decoration (photocopied ahead of time from clip art books), then wrote their list title at the top of the page. They then passed each list around, with other teens adding their answer to each list's prompt in different colored pens. The lists were anonymous, and therefore I encouraged the teens to be open and truthful in their answers.

Copies of the finished zine were given to all participants and distributed to other teens within the library. Teens went home with materials to encourage them to continue writing and sharing, including a journal and a handful of zines.


A survey was given to program attendees asking if they are more likely to read a memoir, recommend memoirs to friends, or publish their own writing after attending the program, along with other questions to gauge their satisfaction with the event. Circulation statistics will be evaluated in the three months before and after the program to see if there is a rise in check-outs of materials in the teen memoir and biography genres. Participants were encouraged to attend a follow-up zine workshop which will be held in the weeks following the initial event. It will be noted to see how many teens from the first program are present at the second.

Other resources

How to Make a Zine: A Kid-Friendly DIY Guide by Celia C. Perez

How to Make a Zine

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