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Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Sunday Reflections: Brexit and Helping Teens Understand the Importance of the Political Process

sundayreflections1The recent UK referendum vote on exiting the EU (and its results) are a useful starting point to help teens understand the importance of being involved in the political process. At least it has that. If you need to read up on the situation, the BBC has a thorough explanation of the vote and its potential consequences here.

We hear a good amount of buzz these days about how (and why) younger voters are feeling politically disaffected, and about both low voter registration and low voter turnout for these demographic groups, at least in the U.S. We actually have chronically low voter turnout in the States, and that is just the count of registered voters, not people eligible to vote. The Brexit referendum voter turnout in the UK was right at 72.2%, which I find breathtaking. Imagine how our country might be different if we had similar voter turnout.

But what our teens need to see most is the sharp distinction in the breakdown of the vote by age or generation. While the ‘leave’ vote won in the EU referendum by a slim margin, it’s estimated that around 75% of those voters 29 and under voted for ‘remain’. Much has been made of how the older generation, who will have to live with the consequences of this vote for significantly less time, have made a decision that will disproportionately affect the lives of younger UK citizens.

My fear is that the same will be true in our upcoming presidential election. Regardless of your opinions on the potential outcome of the election this fall, however, it only can benefit all of us to have more active and politically engaged citizenry, and that needs to start before they are eligible to vote. If you’re looking for a starting point for discussing political involvement with your teens, you could do much worse than asking them to listen to this short Planet Money podcast on Brexit with you.

Friday Finds: June 24, 2016

fridayfindsThis Week at TLT

Sunday Reflections: How Do I Talk to The Teen About Orlando?

Thank God It’s Monday! Blog Tour with Jessica Brody

Middle School Monday: Making Our Own Seat by Julie Stivers

Book Review: All The Feels by Danika Stone

Scenes from a Teen MakerSpace Open House

#MHYALit: This Book Will Save Your Life, a guest post by author Kathleen Glasgow

The Making of Our String Art “READ” Sign

No room for a Makerspace? Try circulating tech tools

Around the Web


This one common childhood experience can traumatize you well into adulthood

Extreme poverty has halved since 1990. Here’s what’s needed to defeat it entirely

Teachers Write! is Back


8 Books Every Girl Needs To Read If She Wants To Be A Badass

Teens Contend With Women’s Financial Literacy Gap

Growing Up in YA

No room for a Makerspace? Try circulating tech tools

makerspacelogoI work in a beautiful stone building with historic significance, much beloved in the community. But, like anyone who works in an older building will tell you, the beauty and ambiance come at a definite price: space, connectivity, and quirks. My library doesn’t have a Makerspace, and chances are, we won’t have one anytime in the near future. But just like we find workarounds for the sub-optimal placement of electrical outlets, we’ve found a workaround for this gap too.

Our circulating technology collection debuted at the beginning of the year, and while it’s always had some devoted fans, this summer has seen a big increase in its use. The collection, cataloged as “YA Tech Tools” allows teens (and others!) to check out an item and experiment with it at home for three weeks at a time. I’ve found that most items don’t stay out for the full checkout period. Kids play around with them, get excited about the possibilities, then return them to check out another tool!

What’s in the collection?

Initially I sought to include items that could be used in creative ways that embraced STEAM (yes, with the A for art) without any additional equipment. This meant items like:

  • littleBits
  • wooden figure models
  • 3Doodlers
  • an Artograph projector
  • Geomate geocaching GPS
  • extra hands for small detail work

Then I added in items that can be used with computers or require a smartphone or tablet, like:

  • Sphero robots
  • Finch robots
  • Scribbler II robots
  • Edison robots
  • Makey Makeys
  • Green screen
  • Wacomb drawing tablet
  • a DJ Mixing table
  • an audio mixing setup including a microphone
  • a digital audio recorder

Each item circulates with an instruction sheet and a review sheet. The review asks brief questions and has given me some good ideas for how to improve the collection.

These items are stored in a locking cabinet on wheels that can be rolled into a program space when needed, or can sit in a section of the Teen Lounge at other times. I’d really love for the items to be out and touchable, but we just don’t have the staff coverage for that, so there’s a BIG sign at the case that tells people to ask for the cabinet to be unlocked whenever they want to play. A low table is positioned near the cabinet so that people can easily gather around and experiment together.

Are you in a library without a makerspace too? What are your workarounds and methods for feeding this important and growing way of interacting with information?

The Making of Our String Art “READ” Sign

This year, I am pretty excited because not only did we debut the new Teen MakerSpace, but I was able to hire two MakerSpace Assistants to help keep the area staffed after school and on weekends. One of my assistants is Morgan Durfee, who was an art major in college and is an awesome cos-player. In fact, she has done a couple of cosplay programs for us here at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County. You can follow her on Instagram: @nightingale_vixen


Teen MakerSpace Assistant Morgan Durfee (Nightingale Vixen) as Wonder Woman

Because of her artististic talents – which are awesome! – she gets recruited to do a lot of projects. To be fair, it’s what she signed up for as the TMS Assistant. She recently made a fantastic string art “READ” sign for us to put on display in our Teen MakerSpace. We got the idea while looking for string art information online. Here’s the how of it if you are interested. It takes several days, but it is very much worth it because the sign has high visual appeal and impact. Also, Morgan made the sign in the Teen MakerSpace because we like to model making behavior as well as being open to provide assistance to anyone who may need it while using the space.


  • 2 1/2 foot by 1 foot piece of plywood
  • 250 small nails
  • Mod Podge
  • Sponge brush
  • Template for the letters READ (we printed ours off easily in Word)
  • String (we used craft floss)
  • Discarded book

Step 1: Preparing Your Board

Morgan decoupaged the background using Mod Podge and pages of a discarded book. This step took about an hour and then we left it to dry overnight. She is now working on one made with comic book pages which I think will look stunning.


Decoupaging the board

Step 2: Setting the Nails

To create the word READ, we printed off letters from Word on our computer. Each letter was the size of an 8 1/2 by 11 sheet of paper. For visual effect, we wanted strong, bold letters. Morgan then cut each letter out and used a black marker to outline the letter with little dots to guide where she would put the nails. It took her around 3 hours to get all of her nails in place. We are exploring the option of using a nail gun if we repeat the project.


2 Hours Later (say this in your best Spongebob narrator voice)


Yay – Finally done hammering nails!

Step 3: Stringing the Letters

The next step took about an hour. Morgan weaved the string – we chose red for visual impact – in between and across the various nails, tying off each end of string with a solid knot to prevent unraveling.


The stringing part is so much quicker!


Also, it looks amazing!

Voila! Here’s our completed sign. I love it so much.


The completed sign up in the Teen MakerSpace

#MHYALit: This Book Will Save Your Life, a guest post by author Kathleen Glasgow

Today we are honored to host author Kathleen Glasgow as part of the #MHYALit Discussion. Her book, GIRL IN PIECES, releases in September from Delacorte Press. You can read all the #MHYALit posts here.


I could not feel my fingers. And then I could not feel my arms. And then my shoulders, and then, and then, and then….how does the body do it, anyway? I’m still not sure, but it was something, a gift, really, that my body gave me at an early age, in order to escape what was happening in my home. Dissociation made it easier for me to do things that caused me great fear and stress. And I was about to do something that was going to cause me great fear and stress. I was going to be brave. I was going to ask for help.

I had been up all night, pacing my room, listening to music on my headphones in an attempt to calm down, to plan my strategy, my line of reasoning. The minutes stretched into hours, which stretched into black periods of sobbing, of scratching and pinching myself, of waiting, waiting, for bravery.

My mother’s favorite nighttime ritual was settling into her big bed with a glass of wine and a thick book.  When I walked into her room, the sun was rising outside the patio door, pink and creamy orange. The perfect Tucson sunrise. Her book was splayed on the nightstand. There was still some wine in her glass. I drank it. Then I reached out and shook her shoulder until her eyes blinked open.


“Mommy,” I said, my voice sounding strange and far from me. “If you don’t take me to the hospital, right now, I am going to kill myself.”  I was sixteen. I meant it.

What followed was my mother slipping into robot-mode. She made calls, she smoked cigarettes, she argued with my father on the phone, and by the end of the day I was a new patient at small and somewhat seedy psychiatric hospital.  I was lumped in with adults. There was no separation by disorder, age, or “problem.” As one of my new colleagues put it during a dinner of slimy green beans and something resembling partially-heated Salisbury Steak, “We all fucking crazy in the same fucking crazy salad. You the tomato, she’s the lettuce, I’m the damn dressing.”

I had never felt so safe in my entire life.

When I was younger, growing up in a house filled with violence and fear, I found my solace in books. I read and re-read books obsessively, looking for anything that could lift me away from the darkness of my daily life. I should have been a prime candidate for fantasy or science fiction, but that wasn’t my thing. I latched onto anything that even vaguely resembled what was happening in my life and at that time, the queen of all things realistic was Judy Blume. Being bullied at school? Blubber became my tome. Having body and anxiety problems? Deenie. Curious about sex? The holy grail was, of course, Forever.  Fuck the whole tesseract business (though that was cool, too): I latched onto A Wrinkle in Time for Meg Murry, the lonely outcast.

When I found my mother’s 1954 copy of The Catcher in the Rye, though, Holden Caulfield spoke to me like no one else had. Here was someone who was clearly depressed, suicidal, afraid  of the world, afraid of himself. I still have that book. I still reread that book, every year, because it was the first book that taught me that I was not alone. I saw myself in Holden. It was a salve, a balm, for a long time.

catcherintheryeUntil it wasn’t.

I started cutting myself at fifteen. Little nicks no one could see. Then bigger. Then deeper. It became a relief, a solace against what was eating me up in my mind and heart. My mother sent me to therapy. There were medications. I was expelled from school. My depression and harm were spiraling somewhere dark, somewhere very frightening.

There were no books for me for this, not then. Had I had a book like Girl, Interrupted, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, All the Rage, Cut, It’s Kind of A Funny Story, or All the Bright Places, even Speak, whose main character’s silence mirrored my own selective mutism, where would I be today? Would things have been different for me if I’d been able to find myself in a book and see just a glimmer, just a tiny smidge of creamy pink and orange, over the horizon?



Those books, and others like them, didn’t come out until I was in my twenties and well after. I’d already been hospitalized numerous times and damaged myself in dozens of ways. When I found them, though, I devoured them. I became 12 again. I became 13. I became 14, 15, 16, 17, 18.  They talked to the teen I was and told her she was not alone, ever, even in retrospect. They talked about what it was like to be depressed, to be hospitalized, to have horrible things done to you, to feel horrible things, to do horrible things, to feel lonely, but that above all, you could survive.

I still struggle every day with depression. It’s lifelong, and I accept it. I haven’t harmed myself in over 20 years. When I decided to write Charlie’s story in Girl in Pieces, I wrote the book I wished I’d had when I was teenager and living in my own hell. I wrote the book I wished I’d had when I was in my twenties and thirties and crawling back to the light. I put the whole crazy salad in there: the tomato, the lettuce, the damn dressing, because I want readers to see themselves in there, somewhere, and feel that creamy pink and orange smidge of hope.

That’s the thing about books. You never know which one will save your life. Or when.

Meet the Author

Kathleen Glasgow’s debut novel GIRL IN PIECES will be published August 30, 2016, by Delacorte. She lives in Tucson, Arizona and write for the radio show, The Writer’s Almanac. She likes stand-up comedy, books, Tyrion and Shireen, and her kids. She is not team Captain America or Iron Man. She is Team Furiosa, all the way. You can find her on Twitter: (@kathglasgow), Instagram: (misskathleenglasgow), or (


girlinpiecesCharlotte Davis is in pieces. At seventeen she’s already lost more than most people lose in a lifetime. But she’s learned how to forget. The thick glass of a mason jar cuts deep, and the pain washes away the sorrow until there is nothing but calm. You don’t have to think about your father and the river. Your best friend, who is gone forever. Or your mother, who has nothing left to give you.

Every new scar hardens Charlie’s heart just a little more, yet it still hurts so much. It hurts enough to not care anymore, which is sometimes what has to happen before you can find your way back from the edge. (September 2016, Delacorte Press)

Scenes from a Teen MakerSpace Open House

Yesterday in celebration of The National Week of Making, we officially introduced our Teen MakerSpace at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County (OH) to our community by hosting an open house. Our Teen MakerSpace is normally only open to teens ages 12 through 18, but we wanted to let the public know what we are doing with (and for) their teens, so we spent the day making with our community.

The Set Up


We spent the better part of the last 2 weeks getting prepared. I designed and ordered cool TMS (Teem MakerSpace) backpacks to hand out. We made logos to put on water bottles. We made lists and checked them twice. We bought supplies. We made signage. We organized. We recruited. We stressed. And then we celebrated.

The Welcome Table


Teens could enter to win a Maker Kit and we handed out our backpacks.


A teen volunteers at the TMS Open House welcome table

The backpacks proved to be incredibly popular

The backpacks proved to be incredibly popular

The Activities

Because our Teen MakerSpace is small, we held our event on two floors. Some activities were upstairs in the TMS, but many were downstairs in the large meeting rooms to accommodate a greater number of people.

For every activity we do, we made sure to have a variety of books available on the various topics for our guests. In addition, we made sure and included some higher tech making with more arts and crafts, in part to accommodate the large number of anticipated guests without totally destroying our yearly budget, but also because we have learned through the course of the last six months of being open that our teens like to do arts and crafts just as much as they like to get their hands on technology.

String Art

We just discovered string art. Actually, it came about because my assistant director had a HUGE amount of craft string in her basement that she handed to me and I have never been good at making friendship bracelets so I needed a way to use these. Seriously, I have always found friendship bracelets hard to make.

Supplies: Foam core board, straight or push pins, templates, string.

Note: We found it easier to glue the pins in place using a hot glue gun.

Glue your pins and place and just string it up. It’s time consuming, but everyone was happy with their completed projects.


A butterfly made by The Teen


A string art heart in process


She was very excited by her completed project. Also note how she filled in the background to make a complete art project.

Lego Fun

The best part of all our Lego fun was the Rube Goldberg machine that we created with the help of a Klutz Lego Chain Reactions kit.


A teen tinkers with Lego


Another teen tinkers with Lego


The amazing Lego contraption made with the Klutz Lego Chain Reaction kit

And here’s our Lego Chain Reaction in action.

Shrinky Dink Jewelry

I was surprised by how many teens asked, “What are Shrinky Dinks?” Honestly, introducing them to Shrinky Dinks was the greatest community service we could provide.


This necklace was designed in honor of a video game. The charm apparently represents the character in the game’s soul. Bonus points if you know the game.


Another fine necklace. Teens really liked to spell out their names in Shrinky Dink charms.

Post It Note Art

I am obsessed with Sharpie’s. Even more so since we got this cool Sharpie art book in our Maker Collection (more on this soon). So we thought a simple activity to do would be to create a Sharpie Post It Note Gallery. This turned out to be both incredibly fun and extremely popular.


The Post It Note Art Gallery


I asked someone to draw me a Tardis. I got two!


The Post It Note Art Gallery with filters


Teen drawing Post It Note Art


More Post It Note art

3D Pens

Our 3D pens have proven to be very popular. In fact, they go so much use that we keep breaking them, which is not awesome. But here are our pens in action.


A 3D creation in process


More 3D artwork in process

Coloring Stations

You may have heard, but teen and adult coloring is all the rage. My co-worker hosts a monthly teen and adult coloring night and they get around 40 people at each event, so it was a no brainer for me to include a coloring station.


The coloring station: We made bookmarks with templates we found in the book Words to Live By (Dawn Nicole Warnaar)


A completed bookmark

Final Thoughts

It was a lot of work, but completely worth it. Our event was open from Noon until 7 PM and we were exhausted at the end. BUT it was so much fun and we enjoyed seeing all the cool creations.


We are still loving our fingerprint art buttons!


A teen creating something with duct tape


Rainbow Loom and Post It Note art in action


Exploring the Teen MakerSpace


From the outside looking in to the Teen MakerSpace

Book Review: All The Feels by Danika Stone

Publisher’s description

all the feels2College freshman Liv is more than just a fangirl: The Starveil movies are her life…and her last tangible connection to her deceased father. Thus, when her favorite character, Captain Matt Spartan, is killed off at the end of the last movie, Liv Just. Can’t. Deal.

Tired of sitting in her room sobbing, Liv decides to launch an online campaign to bring her beloved hero back to life. With the help of her best friend, Xander, actor and steampunk cosplayer extraordinaire, she creates #SpartanSurvived, a call that ignites the fandom. But as her online life succeeds beyond her wildest dreams, Liv is forced to balance that with the pressures of school, her (mostly nonexistent and entirely traumatic) romantic life, and her disapproving mother’s new boyfriend. A trip to DragonCon with Xander might be exactly what she needs to get away from it all… and figure out what (and who!) she really wants, in this geeky romance by Danika Stone.


Amanda’s thoughts

We sure are seeing an uptick in books about fandoms, fanfic, and cons, aren’t we? It’s about time.


Liv is in her first year of college. She’s living at home with her mother, who doesn’t approve of her involvement in the Starveil fandom. She thinks Liv dedicates too much of her time to it—it’s what ruined her grades senior year and it’s what’s threatening to tank her first year of college. But the Starveil fandom is Liv’s whole life. In her not-online life, she really only has one friend, bisexual steampunk cosplayer and “Victorian gentleman” Xander, whom she met at college. Xander has a girlfriend who shows up from time to time, but let’s be real: even without reading the book you know Xander and Liv are going to probably have a thing. They have a great friendship, though I’m not sure how Liv manages to look beyond Xander’s annoying as hell way of speaking (see: Victorian gentleman). Anyhow, Liv creates a super popular video/movement positing that maybe Spartan didn’t actually die at the end of the movie. She enlists Xander to act in her call-to-action film and asks fans to find further evidence that Spartan survived. The movement gets crazy popular. Liv keeps quiet about being the person behind the vid and watches the internet go wild for her idea. Even MRM, the creator of Starveil, seems to have paid attention to it. He’ll be at Dragon Con and is planning to make a major announcement. That all seems pretty cool, right? Except Liv is low-grade miserable. Her mom’s always on her case about her Starveil interest, the boy she likes rejects her, and the break she tried to take from vidding only makes her more depressed. So what will change things for her? A bunch of awkward dates? Further involvement in the fandom? Going to Dragon Con? Revealing her secret as the creator of the #SpartanSurvived movement? Meeting her idols? You’ll have to read it to find out. 


This will appeal to readers who like a little bit older characters, relationships that are like 98% sexual tension and 2% finally getting together, and anyone who identifies with any fandom. Want to make a display with other similar books? Check out Gena/Finn, A Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love, Scarlet Epstein Hates It Here, The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You, Kill the Boy Band, and Fangirl. 

ISBN-13: 9781250084095

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Publication date: 06/07/2016

Middle School Monday: Making Our Own Seat by Julie Stivers

MSM11At my 7th grader’s school award ceremony several weeks ago, I watched a long line of teachers and administrators give out various recognitions. Core subjects and electives. Extracurriculars. Character awards. All I could think was…I wish the librarian had been up there, too.

That school librarians need to advocate for their library and its programs is not news to us. We are used to advocating to administrators and teachers about and for our library program. Where do I also want us to be? Standing there as librarians amongst school staff? Parent programs and award ceremonies! During the last month of school, I was able to advocate in front of parents at several of our school events and I realized what a mistake I had made in the beginning of the year by not speaking to large groups of parents at other opportunities.

The first was for our BookFAIR where students and families visited our school at a night-time event to choose new books to keep. It was a Title I event and we served pizza in the cafeteria—making a perfect (i.e. captive) audience before we welcomed everyone to the library. I only spoke for about two minutes, but knew I wanted to hit on some high points concerning literacy and reading, including the necessity for reading over the break to counteract a summer slide. The bulk of my talk to parents focused on the awesomeness of reading—that all reading is good for us and our students. I included examples like fan-fiction, magazines, and graphic novels.

The great thing about talking to parents about our library program—or whatever topic we want!—is that parents are not the only stakeholders in the room. Overwhelmingly, other teachers are in the room. Administrators are in the room. Making any message we give parents have a second purpose and benefit. We can also use this time to both show our expertise and showcase an aspect of our program. All of us are experts in different aspects of libraries, literacy, reading, and books. I happen to know a lot about literacy research regarding graphic novels, so with my two minutes at the BookFAIR, I dropped some interesting statistics (not an oxymoron!) about the literacy power of graphic novels. Not only did the students love having their chosen format backed up, but I knew it would sound impressive to the listening staff members and administrators. [Have YOU met an administrator who didn’t love hard data wrapped up in shiny numbers?]

That experience made me realize that talking to parents is a perfect forum for also showing our school stakeholders what we can do AND what we know. Come ON. We’re librarians! We know a lot.

I also spoke to parents at our 8th Grade Moving Up and Award ceremony. Again, it was only for a few moments, but, in addition to giving out library awards becoming one of the highlights of my year (!), it was an opportunity to remind everyone what their library can do. To counteract this idea that all we do is check-out books, I think award ceremonies are great outlets to showcase what else is going on in our libraries—whether that is writing, doing a cool project in a subject-area, creating on-line content, learning an amazing digital tool, or any of the thousands of activities we’re doing!

No one invited me to speak at these events. For both the 7th and 8th grade award ceremonies, I reached out to the staff organizer and simply asked for my name to be added to the list of staff members already listed for giving out awards. You know we can’t wait to be invited. We have to make our own seat.

Julie Stivers  @BespokeLib

Thank God It’s Monday! Blog Tour with Jessica Brody



Guest post by Jessica Brody


ELLISON “ELLIE” SPARKS: An idealistic, ambitious sixteen-year-old junior with a lot on her plate.


Those were the first words I ever wrote about Ellie Sparks. They were written in a synopsis for my publisher when I was first trying to sell them on the idea for a book called A WEEK OF MONDAYS.


Of course, you can’t write an entire book about a one-sentence character. Just like you can’t live your entire life as a one-sentence person. But every character has to begin somewhere. And this is where Ellie began for me.


As an idealistic, ambitious sixteen-year-old junior with a lot on her plate.


In my mind, this is who she had to be. I thought, if you’re going to write about a girl who relives the same horrible Monday over and over again, trying to “get it right,” these are the adjectives that must describe her. She has to be idealistic enough to think she can fix everything in her life. Yet, she also has to be ambitious enough to try it. And how else are you going to fill seven Mondays with interesting storylines if the main character doesn’t have a lot on her plate.


So there was Ellie. And there was me, ready to write her, thinking I understood her. Thinking I knew everything I needed to know about her.


This is the writing process for me. I start with an idea of who someone is. I draw a box around them, like an identity fence. I stuff them inside and I lock the gate. I tell them, “This is who you are. Don’t try to change that. Don’t try to be or do anything else. I don’t have time for detours. I’m on a deadline.”


I never learn.


A WEEK OF MONDAYS is my tenth published novel and I’m still trying to lock characters inside fences. Eventually, though, they always break free. They always get bigger than their boxes. And even though I try to adjust, I keep drawing bigger and bigger boxes around them, trying to contain them to the world I built, the world I envisioned, they never quite want to stay inside. Just like people. You can try to identify them, label them, build a fence around them that makes you feel safe, and yet they’ll always surprise you. Because no character—no human being—fits inside a box.


One of my favorite reviews of A WEEK OF MONDAYS says, “Watching Ellie relive her horrible day is something like peeling an onion. Each Monday, a piece of her people-pleaser facade melts away, revealing more of her real self.”


I smiled when I read that because it wasn’t until then that I realized exactly what had happened in the writing of this book. I had done it again. I had tried to put yet another character in a box, and she had slowly, word by word, page by page, Monday by Monday broken free.


This book is ultimately a story of self-discovery.


Seven days. Seven chances to completely reinvent yourself. Wear different clothes, make different choices, explore different paths, say different things, be different people.


Because sometimes it takes a whole week of Mondays to figure out who you really are. And when you finally do, you may find yourself thinking ‘Thank God It’s Monday’ after all.


For the next five Mondays, blogger friends across the internet will be sharing their best and worst Monday. Follow along with us online with #TGIM and #AWeekofMondays, because whether a Monday is memorable for good reasons or memorable for bad reasons, we stand to learn a lot about ourselves.


Meet Jessica Brody

Jessica Brody - High Res_credit Brian BraffJessica Brody is the author of several popular books for teens, including the Unremembered trilogy, 52 Reasons to Hate My Father, and The Karma Club, as well as two adult novels. She splits her time between California and Colorado. Find out more at Jessica is on Twitter @JessicaBrody.





week of mondaysEllie is having the worst Monday of her life. She messes up her school  speech for the class vice presidency position, she manages to take the world’s  worst school picture, she bombs softball tryouts, and the icing on top  of this awful cake: her perfect boyfriend who is in a high school rock band dumps her. At the end of  the day, Ellie wishes she could redo everything. When she wakes up the  next morning, she discovers that it’s Monday again! She has six more chances to redo the day in the hopes of having everything go exactly the way she wants. But in the process, she just may find out that what she really wants and what she actually needs are two very different things.

Sunday Reflections: How Do I Talk to The Teen About Orlando?

sundayreflections1On May 19th of this year I got to interview John Corey Whaley, so I took The Teen with me. I remarked to him then that I was pretty sure this was the first time that my teenage daughter had gotten to talk to an openly out adult and that I thought this was a pretty significant event for her, for us both.


I was born in the 70s and grew up in the 80s. Around 1990 I became a born again Christian. Everything about my life involved the stigmatization and rejection of the GLBTQ population. And to be honest, that has been a hard mindset to shed to become the imperfect ally that I am.

So as we were driving home for that interview The Teen asked me about a story that Whaley had shared about coming out to his parents at the age of 26. I shared with her then that coming out as GLBTQ was one of the leading causes of teenage homelessness as many families kick their children out and shun them. I mentioned to her that it was all also a leading cause of suicide. And then she looked at me and asked, “what would you do if I told you I was gay?”

I always try and take the road of honesty with my children so I told her, “I am a 43 year old woman who has a youth ministry degree from a conservative Christian college. I would struggle with this in a lot of ways, but no matter what happens in this life, I WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU AND YOUR HOME WILL ALWAYS BE WITH ME AND YOUR DAD. I want you to be happy and healthy and comfortable in your own skin and to know that you are safe with us, always. We are your home, your family.”

But what I did not tell her was that this revelation would terrify me. Not because of my faith or my personal beliefs, but because I understand that we still live in a world where many people are angry and hostile and actively wish members of the GLBTQ community harm.

And then Orlando happened.

I did sit down and talk with my daughter about Orlando. I cried as I told her that a man had gone into a nightclub and fired his gun, killing 50 people and harming many more. She is a teenager, she has a variety of devices that give her access to the Internet, and I wanted to make sure she processed this information in a way that was accurate – it was a hate crime against the GLBTQ community – and in the context of our faith. I can’t speak for God and I stopped trying a long time ago, but our God, the God of my faith, commands us to love above all else. I want her to know that love is the way we should always approach each other.

The reality is, some of the people I love most in this world identify as GLBTQ. I adore them and slowly, sometimes painfully, I have been able to shed the hatred that I was taught in the past. Some of my loved ones try to reconcile their faith with who they are, others have left their faith all together. But I was awakened to the fact that they all live in constant fear. Fear of losing loved ones who don’t approve of their lifestyle, fear of being fired or discriminated against, and a very real fear of being physically harmed or killed by those who label them sinners and pariahs and more. It’s 2016, and many Americans still live in fear from their fellow citizens.

So what do I tell my daughter about Orlando? And when will we live in a world where I no longer have to sit my daughter down and help her process these type of horrific events?

My heart weeps for Orlando.