Sunday, March 31, 2013

Top 10: 'Cause You Gotta Have Faith (a flashback post)

Happy Easter! For many people, today is an important religious holiday. So today I thought I would share this flashback post on the spiritual lives of teens with you.  Have a great holiday, however you choose to celebrate it.

Faith is a tricky business. As a child and teen, your parents want you to adopt their faith, which makes sense because it is what they believe in their heart of hearts to be true.  And yet, teens are on the pathway to individuality and adulthood and forming their own identity, which includes determining what they think about their faith.
Faith, or spirituality, is a journey.  It's not even a straight line journey but a journey full of peaks and valleys and forks in the road.  To help guide them on their journey, many people choose to read Inspirational (sometimes called Christian) fiction.  As I mentioned in yesterday's review of Waiting by Carol Lynch Williams, I have always found it personally difficult to read Christian fiction.  With the emphasis being on the Christian message - and being "appropriate' - it often fails to develop accurate, complex characters.  The message can over take the story and the plot in heavy handed ways.  As a reader, I prefer nuance over anvils. (Caveat: this is not always true, just a generalization.)

One of the most profound spiritual experiences I have had this year as a reader has actually been while reading the GLBTQ book Ask the Passengers by A. S. King.  You can read about it here.  But what you don't know is that I e-mailed A. S. King after reading this book and told her personally about how it spoke to me about my faith and the nature of God and how it reminded me how much God loves every person.  Every. Single. One. Of. Us. I was so thankful to read this book and be enriched not only as a human being, but as a person of faith.

That is also part of the beauty of Waiting.  Here are people that have supposedly done everything right and out of a deep abiding faith, but their lives spiral out of control and in the end they have to decide how this unravelling fits in with their spiritual beliefs.  They must also decide whether or not they can come back to that belief, even if it is in different ways.

Here is where it behooves us to remember that some of the greatest books about faith and the spiritual life were not written and published as "Christian fiction" or "Inspirational fiction", but as science fiction, fantasy and more.  Think of writers like C. S. Lewis, Madeleine L'Engle and Chaim Potok (My Name is Asher Lev).  The truth is that although our faith and spirituality may be the underpinning of who we are and how we live our lives, we still must live our lives in the context of a very real world.  (One of the best nonfiction titles I have ever read is Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art by Madeleine L'Engle, I highly recommend that you read it.)

And of course we must remember that when we discuss faith and spirituality, we are talking about more than just the Christian faith.  And sometimes, in the end, our main characters decide that they have no faith at all - just as some of our teens do.  And that is where authors take us on a real spiritual journey, when they are honest about the reality in which our teens live and understand the nuance of daily living.

So today, I bring you a Top 10 list of books that talk about faith and spirituality but are not necessarily labeled as "Inspirational fiction".  This list was compiled with help from teen librarians on the Yalsa-bk listserv.

"'Dear Jesus, dear Jesus.' This is a sincere prayer. 'Please let my brother hear me.' I tell Zach everything.  It's a repeat, these words, a cry of loneliness." - Carol Lynch Williams

Sunday Reflections: The sacred & the profane

To many of us, for many teens, the library can be a sacred space.  A place of refuge and quiet contemplation.  A place where the everyday expectations and pressures of life are lifted and teens are allowed to be themselves more genuinely, more authentically, more freely than they might be allowed to express at home, in school, or with friends.  We strive to provide this kind of safe space for creative and personal expression.  Sometimes, this sacred refuge will mean quiet, peaceful reflection.  Sometimes the sacred refuge will mean letting inner thoughts rise to the surface through expressive, even profane, language.

Recently, TLT received a reader request to address an issue related to this notion of sacred and profane that a lot of us have contemplated.  Megan writes:
I was hoping you could do a post on TLT on the topic of profanity in teen library programs. What can and can't be done in teen library programs? What rules (both spoken and unspoken) do people follow when setting their guidelines?

Friday, March 29, 2013

TPiB: Peel Away Book Quote Art (guest post by Erinn Batykefer from The Library as Incubator Project)

2005-03-10 03.01.18Whew! National Craft Month is drawing to a close, and I'm a little sad, frankly. As I said in my last post about Story Terrariums, I've really enjoyed test-driving craft ideas for this year's Beneath the Surface theme for the Teen Summer Reading Program-- there are just SO MANY good YA books that explore the idea of another world just barely contained within "reality."

Last time, we focused on Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone; this week I'm re-visiting a HUGE favorite of mine with a movie tie-in coming up this summer: Cassandra Clare's City of Bones. I have a pretty good feeling about the teen craze that's going to surround this release (The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones is slated to open on August 23rd), so why not capitalize on that energy and promote the book at your library? This craft is just one way to let your teens engage with the story by making something, and the technique is great for all kinds of craftiness.

Here's my picture tutorial for Peel Away Book Quote Art:

Dear Cassie Read Along and Twitter Chat with author Lisa Burstein

From author Lisa Burstein: I've never done one of these before, but I thought it would be fun to host a read-along for Dear Cassie. I am lucky to have both: help me with this as facilitators.  
Our event will end with a live Twitter chat with author Lisa Burstein as part of our upcoming Entangled Teen Week here at TLT.

Entangled Teen Week
April 29 - May 4
Book reviews, book lists, author posts and more! Plus, we'll be giving away a mini-collection of Entangled Teen titles for your personal or favorite library.
So what does a read along mean? It means you and other people read Dear Cassie at the same time on a schedule. Maybe you've already read it. Maybe it's been waiting on your shelf or e-reader, or maybe you've been meaning to read it. Whatever the case- now you can read it and WIN PRIZES and HAVE FUN!
How do you participate? Lots of ways.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Twitter Chat Review: Diversity in Legend by Marie Lu, cohosted by author David James

So, I read (actually I listened to) Legend by Marie Lu for last night's Diversity chat hosted by author David James.  You always hear great things about this series, but I had not yet read it.  To be honest: It was amazing. 

The Goodreads synopsis of Legend states: What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths—until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias’s death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

Legend is a superb example of storytelling where the details slowly unfold and you are stunned time and time again by the reveal.  In addition, the world that Lu creates seems not only possible, but a likely outcome if we continue on our current trajectory.  She takes class warfare to new, extreme levels and terrifies with this all too possible vision of what some people will do for power.  And in the midst of it all, she creates strong, rich characters full of complexity and emotion.  Definitely chech this one out.

Below are some of the Tweets from last night's Twitter chat.

Book Review: The Other Normals by Ned Vizzini

"All right," Ada says, "I want you to listen very carefully." She moves around the room with the confidence of an ER Doctor, opening panels on the walls, setting dials. The thakerak hums and purrs.

"Whoa!" Gamary yells as a sword jabs through the door.

"Open up!" a voice orders. The sword jerks up and down but, lodged in the wood, it can't get far. From the size of it I know it's Officer Tendrile's.

"Hurry up!" Gamary pleads.

"Peregrine." Ada takes my hand. "You have to go back to cdamp and kiss Anna Margolis, do you understand? We'll find Mortin in Granger Prison."

"How? You're trapped here."

"I have a service exit," Gamary says, "if you two don't get us killed by dawdling."

"If you don't kiss her, you won't free the princess, and the dark shroud of violence that you see will continue to befall us.: She holds up the silver figure. I look into the princess's eyes. The thakerak sparks, and I sear, for a second, the princess winks at me.

"Why can't we free her here?"

"Excuse me?"

"Open up!"

Ophisa- he's in the Badlands, right? We'll get an adventuring party together and defeat him. Me, you, Gamary . . . plus we can rescue Mortin and bring him. I've demonstrated my worth as a warrior, right? We'll kill the monster, free the princess, and all live happily ever after.:

"You're saying you would rather travel to the Badlands, infiltrate Ophisa's lair, try to avoid the poison that he spits from his unblinking eyes, run under him with a sword, and plunge it into his dark and distended heart . . . than kiss a girl in your summer camp?"

"Yes! That's exactly what I'm saying!"

"You have bowels, Peregrine, I'll give you that, but-"

"Excuse me?"

"You're brave. Bowels."

"Oh. Uh . . . " I'm embarrassed to correct her, and we are in a time-sensitive situation, but I remember what Mortin said: you should always correct a friend who mispronounces something.
"You're thinking of a different term, Ada. It's balls."

"Like male human testicles?"

"Yes. Well. Yes."

"That's not fair. What do you say for a woman, then?"

Body Image and Weight Loss, from our resident teen reviewer Cuyler

We've talked a lot here at TLT about body image and how popular culture and ya lit can influence it.  Today, our resident teen reviewer Cuyler shares his struggle with obesity and 5 titles that deal with the issue of being overweight well.

Did you know that there’s a threat spreading around America more deadly than any flu? More dangerous than terrorism or murder? Something so insignificant as it builds inside your body, you may not even know you’re under its spell until it’s too late. And even then, you may not care enough to fix it.

There are many names for it. But we usually just call it plain ol’ FAT.

Nine million teens in America can clearly be classed as obese, and that’s just those under the age of fifteen. This is a rate that has tripled that of obese teens in 1980.

It’s swiftly becoming a common way of life, be that a deadly one. One that can wreck irreparable damage on the self-esteem of teens. Deadly thoughts of suicide can infiltrate their minds. Feelings of worthlessness prevalent in their thinking. It is a way of life, but it’s not one I wish anyone to live.

Because I have lived it myself.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

In with the New: We survived our Freshman year!

From Freshman by Corinne Mucha
Being a Freshman is scary, and hard.  Here you are at the bottom of the social ladder and already people are asking you questions like, "What do you want to do with your life after high school?"  And you're thinking, "Dude, let's see if I can even survive my Freshman year before we start thinking about 4 years from now."  In the spirit of Been There, Survived That: Getting Through Freshman Year of High School (written by real teens) and Freshman Tales of 9th Grade Obsessions, Revelations and Other Nonsense (by Corinna Much), we present you real tales from our Freshman year of high school . . .

I Was in a Band!
My best friend Teri and I were obsessed with a little band known as Duran Duran.  Yes, we were basically One Direction obsessed, but the band was Duran Duran.  We ran home from school one day to make sure we didn't miss the world premiere of their newest video.  I saw them in concert - and hyperventilated.  And like any good Duranie (yes, that's indeed what we Duran Duran fans called ourselves), we started a band named after one of their more obscure songs: Crime and Passion.  Our friend Kristi was Izzy Krime and I was Pemar Passion and we were Krime and Passion.  It's okay, you can laugh.  I understand.  Here's the best part: none of us sang, none of us played an instrument.  Actually, I am not sure how we even remotely qualified as a band, but we were one!!

But can you imagine my telling this story as a comic book?

Freshman Tales by Corinne Mucha are Freshman tales told in comic form.  It is a quick and fun read for reluctant readers, but will be relate-able to all Freshmen.  The synopsis says this: Annie has just started high school and she's a mess.  Her older brother has told her that her freshman year will strongly affect the rest of her life, and if that's true her future looks grim: She's a loser at sports, jealous of everyone, and has totally fallen in love with her best friend's older brother.  When she gets cast as a moaning, hunched-over old lady in the school play, she starts to forget about the rest of her life.  Now she just wants to make it through freshman year.

Take 5: Out with the old . . . Great reads for those about to graduate HS

Everywhere you look our seniors are getting ready to graduate, trying to hold it together for just a few more months.  At the same time, one huge question hangs over their heads: What Now?  Nipping at their heels are the junior class, ready to jump into their place so that they can begin a year of prom, senioritis, and face that same big question.  Here are 5 amazing books perfect for seniors, those that love them, and those that remember being one - or are looking forward to being one.  Each of these novels explores that one huge question: What happens next?

Death, Dickinson and the Demented Life of Frenchie Garcia by Jenny Torres Sanchez
Frenchie has been looking forward to graduating and moving to Chicago with her best friend, but he doesn't know what happened; the thing that is making her so depressed.  You see, one night she ran into her years long crush BOB and went on a random adventure around town.  The next morning, she learned that after she left him he committed suicide.  What did she miss that night? Could she have stopped him?  So Frenchie finally realizes that the only way to answer those questions is to relive that night, this time hoping to see what she missed.  This is a raw, heartbreaking read. Sanchez capture the voice of Frenchie perfectly in this tale of depression and loss and confusion.  This is an early contender for the Printz Award in my book, reminiscent of the aweseomness that is A. S. King. (Full review coming but 5 out of 5 stars)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Crafting: It's not just about the duct tape

If you do craft programs at your library, you know it's a great way to bring people in and bump up your attendance statistics.  But crafting and libraries are an ideal match for many less selfish reasons as well.  As National Craft Month comes to a close, let's reflect on what crafts can bring to the lives of our teens and our relationships with them, and how this aligns with the mission of libraries.

Crafting builds community

"Let's build something together" "You can build it; we can help" It's no coincidence that slogans advertising building and creation often invoke a community effort.  Creating something is not a solitary pursuit any more than reading is.  We may do it alone, but even so, we do it within the framework of an entire community of support and shared interest.  Look at the prevalence of craft blogs and the wide network of followers these blogs attract.  Look at the popularity of knitting groups.  Look back to the traditions of quilting bees, barn raisings, and community gardens.  People want to come together to make things because making things together ties us to each other, to a place, to the process, to the product.

TPIB: Kitchen Road Trippin' - Eat (and Read) Around the Globe

If you have ever read my bio here at TLT, you know that I hate to cook. Loathe and detest it.  But - I have kids.  They insist on eating.  Several times a day actually.  They will in fact ask if they can have a snack WHILE they are eating dinner.  So, I got my hands on some cookbooks.  They seem to be easy to find where I work (wink wink).  I was particularly interested in a copy of The Mother Daughter Cookbook: Recipes to Nourish Relationships by Lynette Rohrer Shirk (Zest Books) because it said Mother & Daughter right there in the title.  So it had to be for me - right?  Well, I have yet to actually cook anything out of the book.  Or anything from another book.  But . . .

There is a section in The Mother Daughter Cookbook called Kitchen Road Trippin that is just screaming to be a TPIB.  This section calls for recipes from all over including: Hawaiian Pineapple-Ham Kabobs, Tex-Mex Corn Canoes, Georgia Pecan Peaches, Coast to Coast Pizza, and Baked Alaska Brownies.  They sound mouth watering delicious.  Especially the brownies, yum.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Let There Be Fanfare (and a Book Giveaway!)

This just in: Today TLT surpassed Half a Million Page Views.

As a thank you to our readers, I'm going to give away a box of 5 books.  Just leave a comment between now and Friday, March 29th to be entered to win.  Leave an email or Twitter contact so we can get in touch with you.  Because of shipping costs, I am very sorry but we have to keep it to US readers only.  If you live outside the US, please know I love you!!

Also, thank you to Stephanie Wilkes, Christie Gibrich, and Heather Booth who spend A LOT of time answering e-mails, writing posts, and just putting up with me in general.  They are the best co-bloggers EVAR. 

And thanks to Cuyler Creech, Chris Dahl, our Tween reviewers, Kearsten and more for their occasional appearances here.  

And, of course, thanks to the authors who have shared posts and the publishers who sometimes send ARCs for us to review.

Why YA? David James talks The Year of Ice

Author David James will be hosting our #TLTDiversity Twitter chat on Wednesday. Today, he is telling us "Why YA?"

I can be fearful of things in the way we all can be when the words “what” and “if” are squeezed together to create uncertainty. When separate, those two little words are harmless; together, they may be reason enough to make the world shake. What if I can’t? What if I’m wrong? What if this doesn’t work? Pushed together, those two little words can be scary, but they are why I love to read YA. You see, to me YA isn’t about following reason. Like Brian Malloy’s The Year of Ice, most YA literature is about following your heart. Instead of living through reason or fear, YA is about living through love and hope.
St. Martin's 2002 ISBN 9780312313692
The Year of Ice is a dance between who one boy thinks he should be and who he wants to be. Kevin Doyle is lost. His mother is gone, and his father might as well be. Stuck in a world where everyone knows him but where he doesn’t know himself, Kevin’s life is filled with self-discovery, secrets, and sexuality. Family and divorce and prejudice. Young loves and old loves. But like those two little words we can sometimes fear, when everything in Brian Malloy’s symphony builds and comes crashing together, The Year of Ice is about much more than the uncertain fears of one boy. This is a story about life, love, and loss. A story about finding possibility in a place where it’s not usually found. About living when life is difficult. And here, this quote from The Year of Ice, is one of the reasons why I read YA so often: “I won’t regret what I didn’t do. That’s important too. Not second-guessing yourself. Because you can make up this whole life based on what you didn’t do. And it’s always a wonderful life, better than the one you have.”

Book Review: Prophecy by Ellen Oh

Fire shot up from the ground like geysers, and all around them fiendish figures danced about in wild abandon. Kira screamed again, over and over, but her screams excited the demons further, sending them into a rampage as they clawed her clothes and raked sharp talons against her flesh. Ahead, a figure grew to immense proportions in the midst of the dancing creatures. She knew immediately what it was: the Demon Lord.

Grayish-black skin gleamed as it filled her vision entirely, until all she saw before her was a face. Black eyes with red pupils stared at her while the great slash of a mouth turned into a large, gaping hole that pulled itself into a bizarre semblance of a smile. This creature looked nothing like she'd imagined. It was far worse.

Kira looked into the black eyes and found horror and death staring back at her. She tore her gaze away and saw the cavern had changed into a battlefield. Kwas and Jaewon fought Yamato soldiers of incredible speed and strength. One soldier looked directly at her, his skin melting away to reveal the demon underneath. Grinning, the demon stabbed Jaewon through his abdomen, while other creatures dragged Kwan from view.

The battlefield went up in a blaze of fire and then burned out to reveal Taejo alone, surrounded and outnumbered, but fighting bravely. A horde of half-breed soldiers rushed him all at once, engulfing Taejo until he disappeared.
"Taejo!" Kira screamed. "Taejo!"

She turned to the Demon Lord. "What do you want?"

The monster laughed. Smoke billowed from its mouth. 

"The end of you all!" it replied, the voice bellowing as the enormous mouth grew larger and closer, until it surrounded her in darkness.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Things They Don't Teach You in Library School: Sexual Harassment? Yes, it can happen in the library

In my now almost 20 years as a librarian, I have either directly or indirectly been involved in numerous incidents of people viewing porn on the computer and, more disturbingly, 5 men being caught masturbating in the library.  One of those times occurred in my YA area and the person in question left behind "physical evidence" that required us to remove the chair and store it until the case went to trial.  This happened when I was in my very early twenties.  At that time, there was this guy, around my age, that worked with me and we were pretty decent friends.  Then one day, he jokingly asked me if I wanted to go down into the basement and sit in "that" chair with him.  This made me pretty uncomfortable and forever changed our relationship, but it was years before I spoke to anyone about it.

Many years later, I would tell my mentor and friend that I kind of thought that maybe I was being sexually harassed by him and mentioned the incident and she said yes, that is what that was and she wished that I had come talk to her when it happened.  The thing is, we don't like to think bad things about people.  And it seems kind of conceited to think that someone would be doing that to you; I mean, I'm nobody special or anything.  But after that incident, I went out of my way to make sure I wasn't alone with this man. My work environment and experience of work changed.

Fast forward to another time, another library. 

Friday, March 22, 2013

How do you know you work with teens?

The TLT Staff: We love working with teens!
10.  You find yourself trying out program names to make sure they can't be turned into some type of sexual joke.  In your day to day life, you realize that you can turn ANYTHING into a sexual reference.  Sometimes at a dinner party an adult will say something and you start giggling because it instantly has become a sexual reference, it's best to keep the reason why to yourself.

9.  You notice every time someone say "Do Do" in a sentence.  "Yes, I do do that sometimes" the pastor says in church, and you have to keep yourself from giggling.

8.  You know all the best slang.  And sometimes find yourself using it.

7.  You know all the best fart jokes. And you know exactly who "Seymour Butts" is.

6.  Your water cooler talk involves shows like The Vampire Diaries, Teen Wolf and The Secret Life of the American Teenager.  Your favorite TV stations include ABC Family, the CW, and various forms of MTV.

TPiB: Instagram crafts

Every Friday in March we're sharing crafts with our favorite website, The Library as Incubator Project.  Check their site out for awesome ways to incorporate art into your library and programming.  This week, I am sharing with you some of my favorite things to do with Instagram pictures.
Instagram is perhaps one of the hottest tech (social media) tools being used right now.  If you aren't familiar with it (are there people who aren't?), it is a photo app for a smart phone that let's you take and manipulate pictures quickly and beautifully and then easily share them online.  I love Instagram pictures hard core, take dozens or more a day, and use them a lot right here on this blog.  I am always trying to find new ways to use them and have found a variety of enchanting crafts that you can incorporate them into.

For example, you can Mod Podge them onto anything, including a canvas to create stunning artwork for your walls.  Coasters, book covers, votive candles - I am not kidding, you can use them to decorate literally anything.  There is an entire blog dedicated to Mod Podge, so check it out.

If you get really ambitious, you can try and do this photo transfer craft that I found at A Beautiful Mess. I was possibly less successful at it then they were.

Quick Tip: Instagram is not the only awesome app out there.  You can use TypoInsta to add text, WordFoto to make your picture into a word photo, and FilterMania 2 has a ton of easy overlays (frames) that you can use.  You can run your picture through several different apps to maximize creativity.  Here is a look at some of my personal favorites. 

You can also create a variety of unique mini-scrapbooks that capitalize on the tiny size of Instagram photos.  (If you have ever tried to print them you know that a standard photo printing lab can not in fact print them because they are smaller than 4x6 and they don't format correctly).

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Tweens in the Library: Getting Them Involved in Summer Reading Programming

I am a huge believer of keeping my patrons involved in our library.  If they're invested in the library and the community, they have a reason to come back, and feel like they belong.  I've always felt that way, no matter what library I've worked in- large branch or small.  Libraries are such a huge portion of the community, and when the community is invested in it, it takes on a life of it's own.

I apply this heavily in my tween programming.  I'm heavy in the middle of summer programming, and we (Texas) just switched from having a state program to investing in the Collaborative Summer Reading Program, so our theme for the tween set (which I define as eight through twelve years old, YMMV) is Dig Into Reading.  If your tweens are anything like mine, it didn't exactly inspire much enthusiasm (flowers, Miss?  REALLY? Plants? WORMS?)  So, it's my job to GET them enthused- this is the age where reading goes to aliteracy, and they're not old enough for the lock-in and teen things but old enough to WANT them.  These are the ages where they get so BORED with summer reading, so to get them invested is the BEST thing we can do.

Take 5: Pinterest Boards for Crafting with Teens

Love it or hate it, Pinterest collects a wealth of ideas in a graphically pleasing way, and is an especially popular way to access craft ideas.  For National Craft Month, we're highlighting five great Pinterest boards that focus on teen crafts that can be done, have been done, or we dream of getting done in libraries.

1.  Fargo Public Library: Book Crafts

Focusing on projects using repurposed books, this is a tidy page of individual projects as well as links to other sites with multiple projects.
(A word of experience regarding the books-into-boxes project featured - if you try it out, make your life easier: spend $20 and get an oscillating multitool.)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Things I Never Learned In Library School: Weeping over Weeding

In the US, people are always using the term "Spring Cleaning." We get it from being locked away for months at a time by the awful, nasty winter weather, and having needed to clean and dust when we could open the windows and let clean, fresh air in the house- usually around March.  (Obviously these people never lived in Texas, where there would be pollen everywhere.)  

In my library, I always equate spring cleaning with spring weeding; we've survived winter break, we have time before summer reading beings, and it's the perfect time to take a look at the collection and see what's circulating and what's not.  I've had the classes at school and know that weeding a library collection is needed, just like weeding a garden: you have to take out those that aren't doing well so that your collection can bloom and flourish.  If you're at a loss for how to start weeding, the Texas State Library and Archives Commission has some awesome online materials that you can use.  However, what library school never taught me was that I need to educate three separate populations about WHY we need to weed: our patrons, our library friends/board, and our library staff.

TPiB: Renovate Your Room - and more Duct tape crafts! (inspired by Where's My Stuff? The Ultimate Teen Organizing Guide)

Today is the first day of spring. It is also a good day to think about spring cleaning. I know: groan.  But, helping teens get organized can be fun.

One of my favorite programs I have ever done was called Renovate Your Room, and it is exactly what you think it is, a program to help teens do a quick but fun room makeover.

To help with this program, I invited a local interior decorator to come and talk about things like colors, space design and layout, and even things like Feng Shui.  Then, we did a couple of quick and easy crafts to create unique elements for their room.  Where's My Stuff: The Ultimate Teen Organizing Guide is a good companion book for this program (and your teen area).  Written by Samantha Moss and professional teen organizer Lesley Schwartz (who even knew there was such a thing), Where's My Stuff? has an entire section on organizing your room.  It includes helpful tips such as how to maximize a small space, how to decide what to keep and what to toss, and how to create cheap storage.

For example, here are some of the storage on the cheap ideas they recommend:
Turn an old wicker basket into a magazine storage bin
Use a juice glass for make up brushes
Organize art supplies in a silverware tray
Turn a wooden milk crate on its side and use it to hold CDs (page 99)

Your Dream Room Activity

What, exactly, would your dream room look like? Why not have teens tell you.  You probably have a ton of discarded magazines laying around (I save them).  Teens can create a collage space of their dreams using a piece of cardstock, discarded magazines and some glue.  This will help your teen participants get an idea of their personal taste so they can make some good choices for the craft activities below.

Here are 5 sample craft activities you could do for the hands on portion of your Renovate Your Room program.  The Internet is full of great craft ideas, so don't limit yourself to these, but I have done these and recommend them. 

Craft Activity 1:  Pen or Make up Brush Container

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Shadows on the Rainbow: Not including the spectrum in GLBTQ YA

So Karen was emailing me this morning about Malinda Lo (oh, I love her and her tweets and blogs and books) and her blog about David Levithan's new cover. If you haven't seen it yet, click here.  And Karen's all, I didn't know there was a male privilege effect in GLBTQ books. And I'm like *head smack* it's EVERYWHERE. Duh.

We like to think that the GLBTQI world would be inclusive of everyone.  In our world in general, and especially in publishing specifically, that's rarely the case. Those with the bigger names and those whose works will fit broader target audiences and thus make more money will get published, even though they may not have the best quality. There are stories out there that need to be told that aren't reaching our youth- stories of color, stories of trans, stories of queer. We have imprints that are picking up stories, but new GLBTQ authors are finding massive hurdles in their way, and only a few make it to big imprints. Those that do worry that the next book might be their last.  Authors who have a huge backing like Levithan are rare in the GLBTQ world, and there need to be more.

And the fact that publishers and bookstores and even libraries can just put GAY or GAY AND LESBIAN on the entire section and feel happy that they've done their job means that there needs to be more education within the entire system. GAY does not cover everyone within the Rainbow- far from it- and by slapping on labels you're actually doing a huge disservice to those in and out.

Even the award winners for youth do not cover the spectrum. 

Book Review: The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr

Since Angie Manfredi is talking about Sara Zarr today, I thought I would review The Lucy Variations.

Publishes May 7, 2013 by Little, Brown
Lucy Beck-Moreau was a world renowned pianist at a young age, and the pressure from her family to be the best was intense.  That's why one day in Prague, she simply walked off the stage.  Not quite a year later, a new piano teacher named Will comes into the family for her brother Gus, and he challenges Lucy to think about what music means to her.  It seems such a simple question: What do you love?  But as in all of life, the answer is never that easy.  But Lucy things that one of the things she may be in love with is Will.

In true Sara Zarr style, The Lucy Variations is an exploration into the inner workings of a teenage girl, told with insight and flourishes of genius.  Where The Lucy Variations differs is in our main character.  Lucy is a child born into a family of privilege, where money isn't really an issue and she has always had access to the best piano teachers and support for her passion that money could buy.  When she walks away, terms like "ungrateful" and "spoiled" are used.  But coming from this life of privilege also means that Lucy must really dive into self discovery and and gives her the opportunity to choose what she wants to do and who she wants to be in ways that many (most?) teens don't have.

My Writing Hero: Sara Zarr, a guest post by Angie Manfredi for Women's History Month

March is Women's History Month, so when I put the call out for guest bloggers (we love guest bloggers here at TLT, you can write one too), I was so excited that Angie excitedly answered that call wanting to write about Sara Zarr.  I read my first Sara Zarr book last year, Story of a Girl, discussed here by author Lisa Burstein.  Later, I reviewed How to Save a Life.  But this post is not about me, so read what Angie has to say about Sara Zarr.

These days it seems you can’t turn around without running into another young adult fantasy/dystopian/post-apocalyptic series or even stand-alone featuring a strong female heroine.  They’re wielding swords, leading rebellions, learning magic, saving lives – you name it.  And isn’t that fabulous?  Isn’t that fantastic? 

But it can be somewhat harder to find teen girls in contemporary fiction that have the same kind of realistic urgency to them.  They don’t often get the chance to save their societies from destruction or carry heavy weaponry across planets.  Yet their struggle to define themselves, to find out what their power in the world is, is just as important, and just as compelling. 

That’s one of the reasons I love Sara Zarr and her well-written and beautiful books: she writes contemporary young adult fiction about those teen girls – the ones you know from your

Monday, March 18, 2013

Malinda Lo on Two Boys Kissing (coming in the fall from David Levithan)

I just stumbled across this excellent post from Malinda Lo and wanted to make sure everyone reads it.  The most interesting part to me was in the comments where she discusses how few GLBTQ titles are actually being published.  Read the post here:

Coming in the fall

What do you think of the cover for David Levthan's new book?  What do you think of Malinda Lo's post?  Talk with us in the comments.

More on Sex and Sexuality on TLT:  

Bring the Power of Music Into Your Library: a guest post by Guitar Notes author Mary Amato for Music in Our Schools Month (March)

Although March is many things, like National Craft Month and Women's History Month, it is also Music in Our Schools Month.  As school budgets get cut, music and education are some of the first to go, especially with today's emphasis on STEM education.  But there are those who advocate STEAM: Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math.  By adding the arts, you increase creativity and innovation, along with innovation, problem solving and more.  Today, in support of music in our schools, Guitar Notes author Mary Amato writes a guest post about The Power of Music.  And for more information on how you can help Save the Music, stop by the VH1 website.

Listening to a song I love can turn around a bad day or make a great day even better. I love music, and about five years ago I made a promise to myself to actually learn how to play the guitar. Along the way, I kept imagining the powerful connection that two characters could make if they really started to share music together. That’s how Guitar Notes was born.

Book Review: Permanent Record by Leslie Stella

She's peeling what's left of some green nail polish off her pinkie. She says, "Bud, I'm still worried. You know, about that letter. That douche bag Dylan was telling his idiot friends that you were a weirdo- I heard him in History. And what about Trevor? He was whispering with his little pack of panting dogs that he thinks you wrote it, and you're trying to mess with the paper because you're jealous of him."

"You don't think I really wrote it, do you?" I ask.

"You know I don't, but listen: you don't want these guys on your bad side. They can make life really unpleasant for people they don't like."

"Unpleasant?" I laugh. It's a harsh, barking sound. "Unpleasant? Don't forget who you're talking to, Nikki."
"I know it was bad at Sullivan, but these guys can be ruthless."

Then it comes.

Not the panic attack. It's the rage, and it's on slow burn.

"Ruthless," I say, "is being cracked in the face with a cafeteria tray, and the teachers on patrol don't notice because they're busy calling the riot police to break up a gang fight. Ruthless is being beaten with a golf club on a public sidewalk underneath the Safe School Zone sign. Ruthless is seeing towelhead and sand nigger Sharpied on your locker. Ruthless is watching am ambulance cart away a dead fourteen-year-old as you wait for the bus." I tell her, "I can handle Magnificat's brand of ruthless."

She watches me. Those eyes are an astounding shade of green, and I have to turn away.
"All that?" she asks. "All that happened . . . to you?"

"To me."

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sunday Reflections: If Sex Sells, part II - the curious case of the movies

You know you read all the good parts
A couple of Sundays ago, I wrote a piece called Sex Sells . . . But What are We Selling?  Here, I talked about my concerns about 1) are women really in control or are men still controlling the message and women being fooled into thinking they are empowered when they use sex to sell their brand and 2) how these messages effect self-esteem.  Christie then wrote about the same subject from the viewpoint of guys, who are definitely also being bombarded by these same types of messages.  But then a curious thing happened: I stumbled across this article on Entertainment Weekly: Hollywood sex? Does it still sell?

Friday, March 15, 2013

Dear Cassie: booktrailer debut and exclusive excerpt

What if the last place you should fall in love is the first place that you do?

Last year, we introduced you to one of our favorite new authors, Lisa Burstein, and her debut novel, Pretty Amy.  Today, we are pleased to bring you her companion novel, Dear Cassie.  It is our honor to bring you the official book trailer, followed by an excerpt that illustrates how raw, honest and compelling Burstein's writing can be.  Join us the last week of April for Entangled Teen Week (April 29 - May 4 - we'll be giving away books!) and our Twitter Book Club chat with Lisa Burstein (@LisaBurstein) on Wednesday, May 1, 8:00 PM E #TLTCassie.

Read the Excerpt

TPiB: Story Terrariums (guest post by Erinn Batykefer at The Library as Incubator Project)

Every Friday in March we are teaming up with The Library as Incubator Project to bring you a new craft idea that you can do with your tweens and teens.  Today, Erinn Batykefer is walking you through making Story Terrariums.  Next week: Instagram crafts.

"Beneath the Surface" is such an evocative theme. Some of the most captivating YA literature I've read in the past few years delves into the idea of everyday reality concealing a mysterious other world--a world that is just barely hidden beneath the surface.

Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone has become one of my favorite books (as has the brutal and nuanced follow-up, Days of Blood and Starlight) precisely for this reason. Now, when I see art students with wildly colored hair carrying sketchbooks around at coffee shops or at the library, I wonder if perhaps they wished their hair green or pink, and what strange other worlds their sketchbooks might illustrate. It makes my world more exciting to wonder if there really is an Eretz, and whether Karou might be opening a magical door and stepping out into our world, onto my street, right this moment.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

TPiB: Quick and Easy Crafts

If your schedule is anything like mine, you are always pressed for time.  There are meetings, book orders, programs to plan, staffing emergencies, desk time....  Things always eat up what time you have, and I can always use easy crafts when it comes time for "crafternoons" or movie nights with my tweens and teens.  I'm usually flying solo with a group of ten or more, so the less involved the better.  Here are some of my favorite easy go-to crafts that have as few steps as possible.  Have some go-to crafts that you absolutely love?  Share in the comments!  We're sharing ours this month as part of our National Craft Month celebration with The Library as Incubator Project.

What's it take to run a book club with teens? Author Teri Brown shares her experience

When I set out to run a book club for teens at a community center in a low income apartment complex, I thought it would be a piece of cake.

I know, I know. Naïve much?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Teen Tech Week: More Than Just a Game

If you were to ask me to make a list of my Top 10 books, one of the books on that list would be Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card.  I know that a lot of people are not fans of Card the author because of some of the statements he has made in the press (there is an overview of that discussion at last week), but I am a fan of some of this book.  Ender's Game has never let me down as a go to rec for male and female readers alike who are looking for some fast paced science fiction with a touch of heart.  And it is definitely a great read for Teen Tech Week.  But Ender's Game is not the only book out there about video gaming gone bad.

Take 5: More Than Just a Game
What happens when you can't get out of the game?

Take 5: Teen Tech Reads (Karen's picks)

This week is Teen Tech Week! So we'll be sharing some of our favorite tech reads, tech resources and more. Please share your favorites in the comments, we love to hear what others are reading, doing and thinking.

Here are 5 of my favorite tech reads. Okay, it is technically six because I include both books in this companion series.  Others are simply the first in a newly developed series.

Top 10: Books for the Geek in Us All

The second week in March is reserved for Teen Tech Week in teen services everywhere.  Sponsored by YALSA we take the whole week to celebrate the formats of tech in the library- databases and online help, text reference, ebooks, movies and much more!  Yet, there is no reason why we can't celebrate Teen Tech Week with some sensational hard copies, either!  Below, find 10 (in one base, not binary) books that celebrate this year's theme while enticing teen readers....

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Book Review: Period.8 by Chris Crutcher


Period 8. An hour a day. You can hang out. You can eat your lunch. You can talk. Or listen. Or neither. Or both.

Nothing is off-limits. The only rule is that you keep it real; that you tell the truth.

Heller High senior Paul Baum--aka Paulie Bomb--tells the truth. Not the "Wow, that's an ugly sweater" variety of truth, but the other kind. The truth that matters. It might be hard. It often hurts. But Paulie doesn't know how not to tell it. When he tells his girlfriend Hannah the life-altering, messed-up, awful truth, his life falls apart. The truth can get complicated, fast.

But someone in Period 8 is lying. And Paulie, Hannah, and just about everyone else who stops by the safe haven of the P-8 room daily are deceived. And when a classmate goes missing and the mystery of her disappearance seeps beyond P-8 and into every hour of the day, all hell breaks loose. (Synopsis from ARC copy, read more at

The Review:

Contest: Caption This! with YA Authors Chris Crutcher and Charlie Price

Long before Chris Crutcher or Charlie Price were award winning, YA novelists, they were hippie teachers, wrangling kids at a "last chance" alternative school in Oakland, California. 

Caption this picture in the comments!

To celebrate their shady history and their new book releases, Chris and Charlie are asking three bloggers to help them give away a few books -- and inspire a few laughs at their expense. Visit:

Monday, March 11, 2013

Book Review: The Last Apprentice series by Joseph Delaney

The Last Apprentice series by Joseph Delaney is being cast for filming as we speak.  It looks like Jeff Bridges has just been cast to play The Spook.  Today, sometime TLT reviewer Chris Dahl tells you why you should be reading this series.

The Wardstone Chronicles (known as The Last Apprentice in the United States) is a dark fantasy series of books written by British author Joseph Delaney.  The series chronicles the adventures of Thomas Ward in his apprenticeship with the county “Spook.”

The “Spook”, John Gregory has been fighting the dark and evil forces that are constantly assailing the village of Chipenden and the surrounding area.  In need of an apprentice he seeks out Tom because he is the seventh son of a seventh son.  As a seventh son of a seventh son, Tom has acquired many gifts, including being able to see and hear ghosts and masking his "scent" from the long-sniffing of witches. As well as these, Tom has inherited gifts from his mother, such as being able to (although with difficulty) slow down and stop time and smell the presence of death on someone.       

TTW: Pop goes the information, everything you wanted to know about pop culture

Did you hear - Justin and Selena broke up?  Sound the alarm! This is just one bit of recent pop culture news that you needed to know about.  Not because you care, but because you work with teens and let's face it - some of them care.  I know who One Direction are, who Rob and Big is, and more.  Some of it I even care about.  Some of it I just know enough to be able to acknowledge its existence in the life of my teens.

At the same time, the number of magazines in my teen area are dwindling, going out of publication.  (I still miss you Sassy magazine!)  More and more teens are getting all their information online.  To be honest, I do, too.  So here are some of my favorite sties to help me serve my teens.  Please share yours in the comments.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Sunday Reflections: A Tale of Two Libraries

It is the best of times in the midst of the worst of (financial) times . . .

A few Sundays ago, I shared about how library budget cuts had personally affected libraries that I had worked at and revealed that in the past year and a half we had moved to another state and I am now working part-time.  The move was because of my husband's job, the part-time is because of the economy.  The plus side to that is that I have started this website and have written a professional development book with my co-blogger Heather Booth.  The downside to that is, well, I make a lot less money and am living a very different lifestyle now.  But it has also been a stark reminder about the lives that many of the very people that I serve live.  So today, I want to share with you a tale of two libraries.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

TPiB: Poster Frenzy

All the month of March, which is National Craft Month, we are joining forces with The Library as Incubator Project (@iartlibraries on Twitter) to bring you a new craft activity each Friday that you can do with your tweens and teens. As part of our National Craft Month collaboration, this post originally appeared at The Library as Incubator Project.

Earlier this year I took the Paris obsessed tween to a Posters of Paris exhibit at the Dallas Museum of Art. After we went through the exhibit, they had an area set up with a hands on exhibit where we were invited to create our own Posters of Paris inspired posters.  At Teen Librarian Toolbox, I'm always looking for new and creative ways to incorporate art into library programming and encourage teens to tap into their creativity and this process was so unique I immediately knew that it would be an awesome hands on craft to do at the library with my tweens and teens.  It was easy, but produced the most amazing end products.

Here is a look at the posters we created using the process I will outline below

Some of the things you can do with this type of project:
Create freestyle posters
Create book and graphic novel covers
Create graphic novel style pages
Create magazine covers or pages
Create examples of ads
Create zines


Not on REX MANNING DAY! A Song List for The Bumps in the Road

I happen to be a devout devotee of the movie Empire Records. If you haven't seen it, go do so.  I'll wait.

If you didn't notice, this film has a nice little cast that became famous.  The adults were the top billers, and while I love Debi Mazar, the teens are the ones who's careers exploded after this movie.  Two went on to have starring roles on CSI: Miami.  One stars on The Mentalist.  One was in That Thing You Do, Sweet Home Alabama, and keeps racking up credits. One went on to be an elven princess in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy.  One was Bridget Jones and got to say "You had me at Hello" to Tom Cruise back when he was sane.