Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Call for submissions: YA A to Z project

yaatozEvery year, TLT picks a project to work on in addition to our usual book reviews, professional discussions and makerspace and program recaps. Once we decide on our project, we ask you, are brilliant Teen Librarian Toolbox readers, to help us out. These projects began in 2014 with the Sexual Violence in Young Adult Literature Project. We have since then covered faith and spirituality, mental health, poverty, and social justice. You can find all the previous projects here at our projects index.

 

For 2018, we want to create an index of YA literature! YA A to Z will begin in January, which is coming up REALLY QUICKLY, so we need to get cracking on getting some guest posts lined up. 

 

There are 52 weeks in a year, that means every 2 weeks we will cover a new letter. For example, the first 2 weeks of January we will cover the letter A. The next 2 weeks we will cover the letter B. What will that look like? It can look however you want it to look.

 

You can guest post for us about book titles, authors and topics. You can make a book list or you can have an in depth discussion. You can talk programming. You can do an interview. You can be funny or you can be serious. You can be creative. In fact, if you have ever thought I have always wanted to talk about x, y or z but couldn’t figure out a forum for that, THIS is your forum for that.

 

Here is a Google Form that you can fill out to let us know what you would like to talk about here. We try to make guest posting as simple as possible here at TLT, but here is a simple guide if you have any questions.

At the end of 2018, we will have an A to Z guide of YA lit and it will be awesome! Please keep in mind that all previous projects will continue so if you want to write about sexual violence, faith and spirituality, mental health, social justice or poverty, those projects are ongoing.

Schedule: 

  • January – Letters A & B
  • February – Letters C & D
  • March – Letters E & F
  • April – Letters G, H & I
  • May – Letters J & K
  • June – Letters L & M
  • July – Letters N & O
  • August – Letters P & Q
  • September – Letters R & S
  • October – Letters T & U
  • November – Letters V & W
  • December – Letters X, Y & Z

 

Possible post ideas to jump-start your thoughts: 

A: Asexuality, abortion, abuse, anxiety

B: Barriers, bands, book clubs, biographies

C: Cover art, consent, class, courage

D: Disability, diversity, discovery, dance, displays, demisexuals

E: Erasure, exceptions, empowerment

F: Formats, favorites, fat, faith, families

G: Gender, grief, genderqueer, graphic novels

H: Hair, historical fiction, hate, horror

I: Identities, immigration, international YA, inclusion

J: Jobs, justice, jail, jealousy

K: Kindness, kissing books

L: LGBTQIA+, lesbians, lessons, labels

M: Mental health, music, Muslims, movies

N: New books, narration, neutral, normal, nonfiction, nonbinary

O: Orphans, optimism, opinion, organize, out

P: Programs, politics, parents, passages, pet peeves, periods, patriarchy

Q: Queer, questions, qualifications, quiet, quotes

R: Racism, rape, relationships

S: Sex, sexuality, social justice, suicide

T: Technology, teen issues, therapy, transgender, top ten lists

U: Unity, underground, unlikable characters

V: Value, victims, violence

W: Websites, weight, writing, writers

X: Xenophobia

Y: YA wishlist, YA of yore, You need to know about _____

Z: Zombies

Teen Politic: The True Politics of Being a Teen Services Librarian in Our Public Libraries

thingsineverlearnedinlibraryschoolTeens, as a culture, are pretty maligned and misunderstood. They’re loud, they’re lazy, they’re disrespectful, they’re dangerous – pick your stereotype. They like to travel in rabid packs, that’s my favorite. I believe lots of adults sit around and visualize teens as actual packs of wolves in their minds.

Teens get a bad rap. In the media, in community planning, and yes – in our libraries. I am a teen services librarian. I have been for 24 years. And I love public libraries, hands down. But I’m not going to lie, there is a lot of politics in being a teen services librarian in part because we are always fighting against stereotypes and a general dislike of teenagers. Yes, even in our libraries.

A group of teens can come in after school talking, and it feeds into the rabid pack of roving disrespectful teens mythos. They can be standing right next to a group of mothers with loud toddlers who have just run into each other at the same entrance, one is leaving just as the other is walking out and they then proceed to have a loud “oh hey how are you” reunion right there in the doorway. But only one of them will be called out for it, because the actions are only reinforcing one type of stereotype. That’s part of the politics we have to deal with and navigate.

Kids throw themselves on the ground and have tantrums, adults fume and threaten and yell at the circulation desk over ten cent fines, but one rude teenager continues to reinforce the firmly held belief that all teenagers are rude. It’s that one rude teenager that staff will often fume about behind closed doors (and it must be behind closed doors, never in a public space). That’s part of the politics we have to deal with and navigate.

Being a teen services librarian is a constant struggle against harmful stereotypes, the personal prejudices of your coworkers, and a fight to get support and funding when, if we’re being honest, a lot of coworkers want you to fail because they don’t like having teenagers in the library. It breaks my heart, but it’s true. That’s part of the politics we have to deal with and navigate.

When we talk about advocating for teens, what we often mean is that we have to advocate for teens inside the very public institutions which are supposed to serve them. We have to continue to put teen behavior in perspective, to highlight the positive, to cheerlead, to pep talk, and to re-form those damaging stereotypes. That’s part of the politics we have to deal with and navigate.

It often feels like our successes have to be bigger, our numbers have to be higher, and our teens have to be angels in order to justify the existence of teen services. Teens and teen services often seems like it is viewed through some type of skewed lens, in part because I believe that it is. 24 years, 4 library systems and 2 states have taught me that the hurdles are higher, the support is harder to gain and retain, and often our biggest enemies are not politicians or parents, but our very own co-workers.

So, what do we do? As we do in all jobs, we play politics. But what, exactly, does that mean in the library world? We have to be advocates, not just for public libraries, but for teens and teen services within our public libraries. And here are some of my tips for doing that.

1. Keep good facts and figures. At all times.

Be prepared to answer questions at the drop of a hat. I like to do a yearly infographic to help create a visual of what we did the previous year in youth services. Even if no one asks you for this, do it anyway so you have the information and can make it appear when someone questions teen services or when asking for increased funding. I kept separate YA circulation statistics for years in one position even though the library system I worked for didn’t. This information really helped when we got a new library director who was not very teen services oriented and helped me to get the support I needed from a director who was not predisposed to giving that support.

I even like to do a TLT Infographic to help us know how we're doing

I even like to do a TLT Infographic to help us know how we’re doing

Some of the statistics I recommend are: YA book circulation figures, YA program attendance, YA visits (if you have a way to measure this, we measure teen visits to our Teen MakerSpace), total spent on YA services, money spent on YA services broken down by category, money spent on YA services averaged to a per capita amount (so even if it’s a high total number, saying you spent $1.22 per teen visit helps it seem less daunting), and percentages of overall totals (What percentage of overall circ is YA circulation? What percentage of the overall budget is spent on YA services?).

If you can, find comparable numbers of other departments and other libraries. Numbers in themselves can be easily judged, but comparing them to other departments or libraries can help put them in perspective. Network with other area teen services librarians and share data to help tell your story and put it into perspective.

2. Share success stories

makerspaceeditorial2

And here I’m not talking about those facts and figures, but the personal stories we all have in our pockets about that one teen who said we made a difference, the one teen who we helped raise, the one parent who came in and told us what a difference the library made in the lives of their teenager. Everyone loves a good success story, and we’re full of them. If you don’t have success stories to share, then you are doing something wrong and should re-evaluate the what, why and how of what you’re doing.

3. Know key facts about adolescent development

Serving Teens in Libraries Infographic

When a staff member claims about behavior, help them put it in perspective. The teen brain is literally different then an adult brain, know how and why and be able to talk about it. We can talk about toddlers throwing temper tantrums because they lack freedom and choice over their lives and the communication skills to express themselves fully, and we should be able to do the same for teens. Understanding the why of teen behavior can often help us accept and deal with it.

4. Speaking of perspective, help staff maintain a positive one

teensread

If I have 24 teens that come into my Teen Makerspace on a Monday and 1 teen gives staff attitude, I remind them that 23 teens did not. It is human nature to hold on to and emphasize the negative, but we can help remold the way we view our patron experiences, even the teen ones. Be their cheerleader. If you can’t be their cheerleader, you’re in the wrong job.

5. Share what other libraries are doing

Again, this is about perspective. The truth is, people compare libraries and library services in the same way that we talk about Target vs. Wal-Mart or Amazon vs. Barnes and Noble. Help put your teen services in perspective for co-workers and admin by talking about surrounding and comparable libraries, the reactions to those services, and the positive impact on local communities. This is where networking and being up to date is really important. Don’t work in isolation, spend part of your time each week reading about other libraries. It will inspire you, and it will also help you help your admin and co-workers keep what you’re doing in perspective.

6. Be intentional in what you do as a teen services librarian and be able and willing to talk about it in professional terms

Tada: The Stupendously Amazing TEEN MAKERSPACE MANUAL

Tada: The Stupendously Amazing TEEN MAKERSPACE MANUAL

Have measurable goals and talk about the impact of your services and programs on teens, on the library, and on the local community. Don’t do a program just to do a program and check it off of your to do list, do a specific program and be able to talk about why you did THAT program. Be able to answer the questions why? how? how much? and what did you accomplish? Talk about impact.

7. Have a strategic plan and a budget

Again, this goes back to intentionality, but having a plan and being able to talk about your plan is vitally important. Be able to talk about what you’ve done, what you are doing, and what you are looking to do in the future. How, what, why, when and how much are great questions to keep in mind and be able to answer. If your admin don’t ask, tell them occasionally any way.

8. Be a team player, but thoughtfully

At the end of the day, we all work for the library and are working towards a lot of the same goals, so being a team player is important. Support your colleagues as you ask them to support you. However, I have been in situations where I kept getting pulled into other departments, in part because the work of teen services isn’t seen as valuable, and it can be hard to know when to draw the line. But sometimes you have to remind admin that if you keep getting pulled into other departments and projects, then knowing is doing the important work of teen services. Finding balance is hard, but stand up for your teens by insisting that they deserve qualified, dedicated services.

9. Don’t donate your time or money

I know this seems weird to say as someone who is saying we must advocate for teens, but donating your own time or money is harmful in the long term. Remember up above where we talked about having good facts and figures? Donating our time or money skews those facts and figures and harms teen services in the long run. Administrators making budgets and determining staffing levels need to know how much teen services actually requires to be successful, so don’t skew those numbers by donating your time or money. If you leave and a new person is hired, you are setting them up for failure because they will be expected to do the same with what you had not realizing that a lot of it came out of your own pocket and on your own time. Just don’t do it, be the opposite of Nike in this one instance.

10. Take pictures

teenprogram

People respond to visual images, so make sure you have images to share. Do an annual report and include positive pictures of teens using the library, attending programs, making art and more. Do a highlights reel, share memos after big programs or dramatic changes, and yes, even take pictures of teens just reading that graphic novel quietly over in the corner. A picture really is worth a 1,000 words. The pictures don’t even have to be public or have names attached to them, sometimes you just need a visual to share with admin or the library board. Be sure to follow whatever your library’s policies are regarding pictures, but take and use them to help tell your story.

In truth, you’re not just doing this for your admin and you’re coworkers, you’re doing it for you. Sometimes the politics of being a teen librarian can be overwhelming and discouraging, so use this information to not just advocate but to motivate. Keep yourself fueled for the fight. You’re doing great, keep going.

What other tips do you have? Please share them with me in the comments. And keep advocating.

What’s New in LGBTQIA+ YA November and December 2017

tltbutton7It’s time for another roundup for new and forthcoming YA (and sometimes not YA) books featuring LGBTQIA+ characters.  The titles I’m including here have LGBTQIA+ main characters as well as secondary characters (in some cases parents), as well as anthologies that include LGBTQIA+ stories. Know of a title I missed in this list? Or know of a forthcoming title that should be on my radar for an upcoming list? Leave a comment or tweet me @CiteSomething. This list covers November and December 2017 titles. Head over to this link for the previous post (October 2017 titles) in this series. All annotations here are via the publishers/Goodreads. I also have a 2017 master list and am working on one for 2018. I’m happy to send you the list if you’re interested. Tweet at me or email me to request the list. I’m amanda DOT macgregor AT gmail DOT com.

Looking for more information on LGBTQIA+ books or issues? Check out the hashtag here on TLT and go visit YA Pride and LGBTQ Reads, two phenomenal resources. 

 

November 2017

chainbreakerChainbreaker by Tara Sim (ISBN-13: 9781510706194 Publisher: Sky Pony Press Publication date: 11/07/2017)

Clock mechanic Danny Hart knows he’s being watched. But by whom, or what, remains a mystery. To make matters worse, clock towers have begun falling in India, though time hasn’t Stopped yet. He’d hoped after reuniting with his father and exploring his relationship with Colton, he’d have some time to settle into his new life. Instead, he’s asked to investigate the attacks.

After inspecting some of the fallen Indian towers, he realizes the British occupation may be sparking more than just attacks. And as Danny and Colton unravel more secrets about their past, they find themselves on a dark and dangerous path—one from which they may never return.

 

 

runebinderRunebinder by Alex R. Kahler (ISBN-13: 9780373212637 Publisher: Harlequin Publication date: 11/14/2017)

Magic is risen.

Three years have passed since magic destroyed the world.

Those who remain struggle to survive the humanoid monsters called Howls roaming the streets. The Hunters fight back with steel and magic, doing their best to protect what remains of humanity. They have used their elemental magic to keep the Howls at bay, but it’s never been enough to truly win the war. Humans are losing.

Tenn is one such Hunter, fighting for everything he once had, and for everything that could still be. With other Hunters, including his longtime crush, Jarrett, he struggles to find balance in a world of chaos.

But when Tenn falls prey to Tomás, one of the six original and strongest Howls in existence, he realizes that there’s more to fight for than survival. He’s become the pawn in a bigger game—one with potentially devastating consequences. And if he doesn’t play his part, and discover the root of his power, it could mean the end of humanity.

 

being fishkillBeing Fishkill by Ruth Lehrer (ISBN-13: 9780763684426 Publisher: Candlewick Press Publication date: 11/14/2017)

Fishkill Carmel fends for herself, with her fists if need be — until a thwarted lunch theft introduces her to strange, sunny Duck-Duck and a chance for a new start.

Born in the backseat of a moving car, Carmel Fishkill was unceremoniously pushed into a world that refuses to offer her security, stability, love. At age thirteen, she begins to fight back. Carmel Fishkill becomes Fishkill Carmel, who deflects her tormenters with a strong left hook and conceals her secrets from teachers and social workers. But Fishkill’s fierce defenses falter when she meets eccentric optimist Duck-Duck Farina, and soon they, along with Duck-Duck’s mother, Molly, form a tentative family, even as Fishkill struggles to understand her place in it. This fragile new beginning is threatened by the reappearance of Fishkill’s unstable mother — and by unfathomable tragedy. Poet Ruth Lehrer’s young adult debut is a stunning, revelatory look at what defines and sustains “family.” And, just as it does for Fishkill, meeting Duck-Duck Farina and her mother will leave readers forever changed.

 

doorway godThe Doorway God by Tom Early (ISBN-13: 978-1-63533-777-8 Publisher: Harmony Ink Publication date: 11/14/2017, Season Rising Book Two)

The Seasons are coming to Janus University, and Fay’s and Sam’s lives will never be the same.

Through last year’s deadly Trials, Fay and Sam gained admittance to the magical university, and the coming of autumn signals the start of the school year. But both of them have goals beyond their studies. For Fay, it’s finding a way to contain the ancient and evil spirit of Winter, which has no regard for human life. Fay has vowed to never let Winter kill again—but working with the school’s headmaster, Didas, is a risk. Didas cannot see past the potential power he can draw from Fay, and since Fay’s boyfriend and familiar, Tyler, is away at Tufts University, Fay might have to face his possession—and his dreams of four mysterious figures—on his own terms.

While trying to help Fay, Sam seeks information about her mother’s past in the magical world of Gaia, but will she like what she uncovers? To survive, Fay and Sam must make alliances, but it’s harder than ever to tell friend from enemy.

 

beulahBeulah Land by Nancy Stewart (ISBN-13: 9781945053450 Publisher: Duet Books Publication date: 11/169/2017)

Seventeen-year-old Vi Sinclair’s roots run deep in the Missouri Ozarks, where, in some areas, it can still be plenty dangerous to be a girl who likes girls. Her greatest wish is to become a veterinarian like her boss, Claire Campbell. Fitting in at school wouldn’t be so bad, either. Only one obstacle stands in the way: She may not live long enough to see her wishes fulfilled.

With help from her only friend, Junior, Vi unravels a mystery that puts her in conflict with a vicious tormentor, a dog fight syndicate, and her own mother. Vi’s experience galvanizes her strength and veracity as she overcomes the paradox of mountain life, in which, even today, customs and mores seem timeless, and where a person can wake up dead simply because of being who she is.

 

 

swimmingSwimming to Freedom by Robbie Michaels (ISBN-13: 978-1-63533-779-2 Publisher: Harmony Ink Publication date: 11/28/2017)

Once, swimming was a labor of love for Brandon. Now it’s just a labor.

When Brandon’s competitive, domineering father decided to cash in on his son’s hobby, he sucked all the joy out of the sport for his son. Now Brandon’s father spends every ounce of his energy training Brandon for one purpose: Olympic gold and with it the chance to experience success vicariously through Brandon.

Brandon falling in love with Tyler, another swimmer, was not part of his father’s plan. Luckily the two young men have Joel in their corner, a straight ally who helps them find time alone. When Brandon’s father finds out about the relationship, his reaction is sadly predictable, and soon, Brandon’s new home is beneath a bridge. He finds peace swimming in the river, but feels fear as wild animals pass by his shelter during the night.

But once again, his happiness cannot last. Torrential storms are threatening to wash away his future—maybe for good this time.

 

December 2017

sea ofSea of Strangers (Ryogan Chronicles Series #2) by Erica Cameron (ISBN-13: 9781633758285 Publisher: Entangled Publishing, LLC Publication date: 12/05/2017)

The only way for Khya to get her brother back alive is to kill Varan—the immortal ruler who can’t be killed. But not even Varan knew what he was doing when he perverted magic and humanity to become immortal.

Khya’s leading her group of friends and rebels into the mountains that hold Varan’s secrets, but if risking all their lives is going to be worth it, she has to give up everything else—breaking the spell that holds her brother captive and jeopardizing her deepening relationship with Tessen, the boy who has been by turns her rival and refuge since her brother disappeared. Immortality itself might be her only answer, but if that’s where Khya has to go, she can’t ask Tessen or her friends to follow.

 

freedFreed by Flame and Storm by Becky Allen (ISBN-13: 9781101932193 Publisher: Random House Children’s Books Publication date: 12/12/2017)

For fans of Tamora Pierce and Kristin Cashore comes the exciting and thoughtful social-justice fantasy sequel to Bound by Blood and Sand.

Revolution is nigh, and one seventeen-year-old girl stands at the head of it all.

Jae used to be a slave, laboring with the rest of her people under a curse that forced her to obey any order she was given. At seventeen, she found the source of her people’s lost magic and became the only person to break free—ever. Now she wants to use her power to free the rest of her people, but the ruling class will do anything to stop her.

Jae knows that breaking the curse on her people would cause widespread chaos, even unimaginable violence between the castes, and her caste would likely see the worst of it. Many would die. But to let them remain shackled is to doom them to continue living without free will.

How is one girl, raised a slave and never taught to wield power, supposed to decide the fate of a nation?

 

 

wounded heartThe Wounded Heart: The Grim Life Book Two by K. D. Worth (ISBN-13: 978-1-63533-781-5 Publisher: Harmony Ink Publication date: 12/12/2017)

Dating is tough… especially when you’re dead.

Teenage reapers Max and Kody thought they were settling into their afterlife, delivering souls to God in heaven—until their boss, the mysterious Slade, tells them that spirits stuck in limbo have taken an interest in Kody.

And the spirits’ evil counterparts—the wraiths—aren’t far behind.

Max would be livid if he found out Kody was still checking up on his family, but Kody’s sister Britany is struggling, her heart broken. She blames their mother, religion, and God for her brother’s death. Though it breaks all the reaper rules and may put him in danger, Kody wants to help heal her spirit before she’s lost forever. Unfortunately, the wraiths have found a doorway to the land of the living, bringing death and destruction with them. Max and Kody hope to stop them before anyone gets hurt, but they may not be strong enough.

Through devastating losses, an ominous prophecy, and a heavenly destiny revealed, Max and Kody must find a way to trust and accept each other if they want to heal the wounds of their past. Their enemies are powerful, but there’s a single force they cannot stand against—love.

 

 

three sidesThree Sides of a Heart: Stories About Love Triangles by Natalie C. Parker (ISBN-13: 9780062424471 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 12/19/2017)

You may think you know the love triangle, but you’ve never seen love triangles like these.

These top YA authors tackle the much-debated trope of the love triangle, and the result is sixteen fresh, diverse, and romantic stories you don’t want to miss.

This collection, edited by Natalie C. Parker, contains stories written by Renee Ahdieh, Rae Carson, Brandy Colbert, Katie Cotugno, Lamar Giles, Tessa Gratton, Bethany Hagan, Justina Ireland, Alaya Dawn Johnson, EK Johnston, Julie Murphy, Garth Nix, Natalie C. Parker, Veronica Roth, Sabaa Tahir, and Brenna Yovanoff.

A teen girl who offers kissing lessons. Zombies in the Civil War South. The girl next door, the boy who loves her, and the girl who loves them both. Vampires at a boarding school. Three teens fighting monsters in an abandoned video rental store. Literally the last three people on the planet.

What do all these stories have in common?

The love triangle.
tangle of​​A Tangle of Secrets by R. G. Thomas (ISBN-13:978-1-64080-043-4  Publisher: Harmony Ink Publication date: 12/26/2017)

Sequel to The Battle of Iron Gulch
The Town of Superstition: Book Four

Thaddeus and his family and friends have returned from Iron Gulch and Thaddeus’s summer of magical awakening to a very different life. For one, he has both his parents for the first time, though his mother is still haunted by terrors and powers she can’t yet control. Teofil, Thaddeus’s gnome boyfriend, is consumed with finding Thaddeus’s evil uncle Lucian and answers about what happened to his brother, and he spends his days sequestered in Leopold’s library, pouring over the old wizard’s journals. When Thaddeus starts school and makes friends Teofil doesn’t like, there’s tension between them for the first time ever.

Thaddeus’s problems don’t end there. It’s harder and harder for him to conceal his magic, especially when facing the school bully. He’s lost, confused, and lashing out, and for once, he finds no solace in those closest to him. His enemies are hiding in plain sight, biding their time, until the Bearagon reappears and instigates a fight not everyone will walk away from.

 

#ARCParty: A Look at Some January 2018 #YALit Titles

#ARCParty: A Look at Some January 2018 #YALit Titles// tltbutton7 The Teen, The Bestie and I met recently to take a look at some upcoming YA Lit releases. This time we looked specifically at January 2018 releases (yes, it's time to look at 2018 titles already, I know! Where did the year go.) For new readers, here's how this works: The teens take turn reading the cover copy out loud and then they decide which ones they are going to read and review and which ones they pass on. They were both particularly interested in As You Wish, The Hazel Wood and Truly Devious this round.

 

#ARCParty: A Look at Some January 2018 #YALit Titles



  1. Now talking (and tweeting) January 2018 new #YALit releases with The Teen and The Bestie #ARCParty

    Now talking (and tweeting) January 2018 new #YALit releases with The Teen and The Bestie #ARCParty


  2. New paranormal from Holly Black. Featuring the fae and civil war and, well, cruel princes #YALit #ARCParty

    New paranormal from Holly Black. Featuring the fae and civil war and, well, cruel princes #YALit #ARCParty


  3. Spencer and Hope have SOMeTHING at first sight. Tourette's Syndrome. Science. Spencer tries to map their relationship using science. Told in various forms, including texts and chat. #ARCParty

    Spencer and Hope have SOMeTHING at first sight. Tourette’s Syndrome. Science. Spencer tries to map their relationship using science. Told in various forms, including texts and chat. #ARCParty


  4. FTR: they love this cover Fairy tales come to life. Stay away from The Hazel Wood! Alice must venture into the Hazel Wood and the world of fandom to find her mother. #ARCParty

    FTR: they love this cover

    Fairy tales come to life. Stay away from The Hazel Wood! Alice must venture into the Hazel Wood and the world of fandom to find her mother. #ARCParty



  5. Shalia is a daughter of the desert, desperate for the end of violence. In a land where magic is outlawed, Shalia learns that she is a Elemente. Save your family, save the Elemente or save yourself? #ARCParty

    Shalia is a daughter of the desert, desperate for the end of violence. In a land where magic is outlawed, Shalia learns that she is a Elemente. Save your family, save the Elemente or save yourself? #ARCParty


  6. Everyone gets one wish on their 18th birthday and it always comes true. What is happiness? Eldon has 25 days to figure it out, and the rest of his life to live with the consequences. #ARCParty

    Everyone gets one wish on their 18th birthday and it always comes true. What is happiness? Eldon has 25 days to figure it out, and the rest of his life to live with the consequences. #ARCParty


  7. Just in time for the movie! The Black Panther is sent to school in America. Takes place in Middle School. A fellow classmate is rumored to be involved in dark magic and T'Challa must stop an ancient evil. #ARCParty

    Just in time for the movie! The Black Panther is sent to school in America. Takes place in Middle School. A fellow classmate is rumored to be involved in dark magic and T’Challa must stop an ancient evil. #ARCParty


  8. "When Earth intercepts an alien message" The Teen: I can tell I want to read this from the first sentence. Rival scavenger gangs trying to decode ancient messages among dying temples. #ARCParty

    “When Earth intercepts an alien message”
    The Teen: I can tell I want to read this from the first sentence.
    Rival scavenger gangs trying to decode ancient messages among dying temples. #ARCParty


  9. Love this cover! Two teens take a one week break and Chris vanishes. The police thinks he has run away, but Jessie doesn't believe it. Chris is a black kid who has been harassed and bullied, and Jessie starts to tell his story. This is a story about racism in an industrial small town. Sounds heartbreaking. #ARCParty

    Love this cover!
    Two teens take a one week break and Chris vanishes. The police thinks he has run away, but Jessie doesn’t believe it. Chris is a black kid who has been harassed and bullied, and Jessie starts to tell his story. This is a story about racism in an industrial small town. Sounds heartbreaking. #ARCParty


  10. New Maureen Johnson! Set in a private academy for gifted students. Stevie begins her first year at the academy and wants to solve the 81 year old mystery that has haunted the academy. But a new murder occurs and Truly Devious is rumored to return! #ARCParty

    New Maureen Johnson!
    Set in a private academy for gifted students. Stevie begins her first year at the academy and wants to solve the 81 year old mystery that has haunted the academy. But a new murder occurs and Truly Devious is rumored to return! #ARCParty


  11. Brooke is going to spend more time with her stepsister, who has Asperger's. This sibling story is set in the theater world over the course of a summer. #ARCParty

    Brooke is going to spend more time with her stepsister, who has Asperger’s. This sibling story is set in the theater world over the course of a summer. #ARCParty

 

The Importance of School Visits, by Kate-Lynn Brown

As a teen librarian, I’ve done three school visits for two different libraries. The first was while I was still in college. I spoke to the sixth graders about volunteering for the Summer Reading Club during their lunch.

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A middle school cafeteria at lunchtime. I was thrown to the wolves. Even the most seasoned veteran would be scared by the gossip, the hormones, the frenzied atmosphere created during the teens’ social hour. It was a moment that made me realize I was cut out to work with teenagers: yes, my palms were clammy. No, I was not afraid to stand in front of this group and convince them volunteering at the library would be the best part of their summer. I got on the microphone and scanned the tables for familiar faces. I caught a few and smiled. The speech I had rehearsed all week came out naturally. Students waited for me to finish (and were relatively attentive while I spoke), then swarmed me for fliers. I stopped by each section of tables to make sure they didn’t have any questions. I nailed it.

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My subsequent school visits have been in more official capacities: with a full-time teen librarian, I spend all day in a classroom or media lab performing book talks. We each pick three or four books to present to the teens, offering variety with at least one nonfiction title, one graphic novel, and one fiction book. To prep we read the books, pick passages to read aloud, and create and practice a presentation to get the teens interested in each selection. My coworkers who have been doing this for a while have impressive Google Doc archives of their go-to book talks.

The day is exhausting–and I don’t know how teachers run through a lesson multiple times in a day or week!  Bright and early, we run through our library spiel: Who has a library card? Here’s how you get one! Who comes to the library? Here’s why you should! We let the students pick the order we’ll talk about the books in, taking questions and initiating conversations about each title throughout the class period. The bell rings, and we start over again.

So why are school visits so important?

  1. We get out into the community! I have been thinking a lot about outreach lately, and it’s something that successful public libraries all seem to do and do well. That being said…
  2. The library is much more than its building! Someone said this to me at a graduate school event recently, and it resonated. You might know that the library is more than a building with books in it, but you should remind the members of the community you serve of this, too. So, as a teen librarian, going to the schools serves that purpose. I directly serve the teenage population, so they should see me in spaces important to them.
  3. We reach students who we might not have otherwise! Some kids might never come into the library–and if they do, might not approach the librarian and ask for a recommendation. This ensures we’re reaching a much wider audience and getting more teens excited about different things the library has to offer. If they recognize us, they might even feel more comfortable coming up to ask a question.
  4. We are given a captive audience. Teens hear about titles we have, events we’re running, and programs we’re starting. It’s one of the few times we’re guaranteed a captive audience! What we have to say isn’t lost in their social media feeds or irrelevant when compared to their after school chatter. Whether they doze off at their desks or hold on to every word we say, for that class period the teens are ours. Of course, in a classroom we’re not going to see every teen patron that visits the library; but over the course of a semester worth of visits we hope to reach a good percentage of them.
  5. We get so much out of it.  I see the teens in a new environment where they’re more comfortable. I’m going into their workspace instead of having them come into mine. I see kids get excited about reading who might not be big readers! That’s the point of book talks for me: how can I sell this book so even a reluctant reader might be drawn in enough to pick it up? What can I tell an avid reader to make him go for this title over any other other? It’s one of the challenges of this job that I love.
  6. We get to read outloud- and the teens get to listen! I love reading to them. One of my favorite parts of creating a book talk is picking out what passages to read aloud.Teens love being read to. Even the teachers love being read to! I’ve gotten to the end of a passage only to look up and see every eye in the room is on me, at full attention. While younger kids are read to all the time, it really doesn’t happen often for teens. I think being read to is a totally underappreciated art, and a great way for people to experience a story in a different way.

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One of the times I feel most important as a librarian is when I leave the physical space of the library and go out into my community.  As a teen librarian, going on school visits is a huge part of that. I love any chance to interact with my teens and try to create a meaningful experience for them, especially when a book or another resource we have is a part of that experience!

Meet Kate-Lynn Brown

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Kate-Lynn is a teen services information assistant in New Jersey. She is currently a student in the Rutgers Master of Information program, which she will complete in May 2018. She loves reading thrillers and creative nonfiction. You can find her digital portfolio here and follow her on Twitter, @katelynnbrown95.

Sunday Reflections: The TLT Gift Giving Guide

tltbutton5This is the time of year when people start thinking about buying gifts. In particular, communities will do drives like Toys for Tots and Angel Trees to make sure that needy families in local communities have presents during this holiday season. So today I want to talk with you about donating gifts.

As we are a blog of librarians, you are probably expecting this to be a list of recommended books, but it is not. Make no mistake, I have a list of books that I recommend, we all do. I myself will be giving copies of The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas and Moxie by Jen Matthieu and Ghost by Jason Reynolds and more. But I don’t want to share with you a list of specific titles, instead I want to share with you a list of TYPES OF GIFTS I recommend for donating and sharing and why I recommend them.

1. Diverse Books

So not surprisingly, my list does begin with books. I am a librarian after all. And the gift of reading is a profoundly important one. Many kids don’t own their own books, and I can not stress enough how profound a gift a book can be. But not just any book, diverse books. Books written by and about people of color, people from marginalized religions, books that feature characters with a disability. Books are not just about education and vocabulary, but about develop complex worldviews and compassion, and we need diverse books on our shelves to do that.

Reading by phone flashlight in an empty apartment Christmas 2014. #Resourceful #DedicatedReader

Reading by phone flashlight in an empty apartment Christmas 2014. #Resourceful #DedicatedReader

And I want you to discard any notions of gender when it comes to books. There are no girl books or boy books. There are just books. In fact, buy the boys on your list a book featuring a female main character, let them know that girl’s stories have meaning by making sure the books on their shelves are diverse and non-gendered.

So yes, buy books. Diverse ones. There are lots of great lists out there to help get you started.

2. Dolls and Action Figures of Color

If you pull that family off of an Angel Tree or donate to a children’s home, you’re probably going to be buying dolls of some sort: baby dolls, Barbies, action figures. They are a popular holiday staple. But before you buy, make sure you aren’t just buying white dolls. It doesn’t matter who the doll is going to, buy dolls that have skin that isn’t white. And, buy dolls that have different body types (Barbie has a new line of dolls that help fill this bill). And maybe even buy dolls that don’t reinforce other conventional body standards. Say, instead of a doll with make-up and high heels, buy the dolls that are doctors or scientists. Instead of buying Captain America or Thor, buy the Falcon or Black Panther.

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I heard last year while listening to NPR that a majority of dolls donated to Toys for Tots are white, but not all of the kids receiving are white and they want to have dolls that look like them. And white children need dollars of color as well, to help broaden their world view. Diversity in all things is good. Diversity, inclusion, a realistic world representation – whatever you are buying, especially if you are a white person like me, make the choice to buy dolls and action figures that don’t look like you. The world is not white, it’s not even predominantly white, so it’s time that we start decentering the white normative.

3. Arts and Crafts Sets

When money is tight, arts and crafts can often be neglected. It is usually the first thing that administrators cut in financially strapped schools, and the same is true for our homes. A box of crayons can be purchased for under a dollar, but arts and crafts is about more than just coloring. Some art sets can be purchased for around $20.00 and include things like paints, small canvases, and a variety of different mediums. And specific craft sets can be purchased for $5.00 and up. These sets include things like bracelet making, jewelry making, painting bird houses and more. They help teach concepts like planning, problem solving, sequencing, elements of design, and more. They also give kids and teens and outlet for creative self expression.

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One of the best Christmas gifts I ever gave to my kids was an old train suitcase purchased at a thrift store and filled with a variety of craft supplies found on $1.00 shelves. I called it their Maker Kits. It came with no instructions and no examples, just a bunch of stuff and the freedom to create. Each of my kids still has their train case and when we get new stuff, they put it in there.

4. STEM Kits

STEM Kits are basically arts and crafts kits with a specific science focus.Like arts and crafts, science kits are often not found in the homes of families that are struggling financially. I’m not going to lie, these can be expensive, though they don’t have to be. Snapcircuits, for example, have quite a price range. Sphero now makes a mini-robot (though please note you need some type of device like a smart phone or tablet to make this work). But there are also things like make your own volcano kits, slime kits, and more, that fall into the less expensive range. They give kids and teens the opportunity to explore basic science concepts and develop an interest in science that many won’t have in their homes.

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As an added bonus, a cooking kit is a STEM kit (cooking is chemistry!) that produces food that a family in need can consume.

Like the maker kits I mentioned above, you can make your own STEM Kit. Take, for example, a slime kit. Just today Thing 2 received a Nickelodeon Slime Kit for her bday that I am pretty sure cost $30.00 (not from me I might add). As a librarian who does programming and runs a MakerSpace I knew immediately that I could buy a couple of tubes of glitter, a bottle of glue, contact solution, little containers, and Popsicle sticks for stirring and put together a cute and less expensive kit pretty quickly.

5. Movie Gift Cards

This past Friday I took my girls and The Bestie to see the movie Wonder. For the four of us and popcorn and a drink which we shared, it cost almost $50.00. A few years ago, when our money was much tighter, we almost never went to the movies. We still tend to go about 20 minutes away to the dollar movies, but on occasion we will treat ourselves. For a lot of families, a treat like this is not in the picture. If you can’t afford to put food on the table or gifts under the tree, the movies can be a real stretch. And in this day and age when we talk about making memories as opposed to buying more stuff, a trip to the movies can be the best memory we can give a family. Just make sure if you purchase a gift card to the theater in the community in which you are giving that you include enough money for snacks at the theater, it’s an indulgence that many have to skip and it can be the highlight.

While your giving gift cards, I also recommend gift cards to the local grocery store to help stock the shelves or to the local Target or store for those moments when you have to buy a kid new shoes and the money just isn’t in the bank. Unwrapping a big present can be glorious, but for a family in need an emergency gift card can mean a night of escape or food on the table.

Whatever you may or may not be celebrating this year, give when you can. Giving doesn’t have to be just this time of year. Give as often and as much as you can when you can, and know that we all have to ask for help sometimes. My family has had to ask for help in years past and I can’t promise that we won’t again in the future, so while I can, I give. And I’m trying to teach my kids to give as well. And make no mistake, they are very much aware of the times when we have had to ask for help, because I think one of the greatest gifts I can teach my kids is that we are all better when we work together to make the world a better place.

YALLFEST Recap by Michelle Biwer

I had the pleasure of attending YALLFest a few weeks ago in Charleston, South Carolina. YALLFest is the largest Young Adult literature festival in the US, featuring over 70 Young Adult authors and numerous publishers.

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I had a blast at this conference for a few reasons:

  1. ALL YALLFest events are out in the city of Charleston, not cooped up in a convention center.
  2. YALLFest is open to the public, so in addition to networking with teen librarians I met a lot of teens and their parents and talked to them about their favorite authors. Even though I’m a teen librarian, I don’t usually get to spend much time just chatting to teens from all over different parts of the country about books so that was a valuable perk!
  3. YALLFest is mostly free! There were a couple keynote events that required a small fee but other than that, really truly free! This definitely added to the fun and diversity of the event-a bunch of folks just stumbled across author signings and talks with their kids while walking downtown and just joined in the action.

On Day 1 I attended “YALLCrawl,” a Friday afternoon book signing extravaganza as well as a special event featuring Marissa Meyer and other authors hosted by the “Fierce Reads” imprint.

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Day 2 was jam packed with educational panels and author meetups. First thing in the morning I waited in line to meet Maggie Stiefvater, and during an author breakfast event was given a chocolate doughnut by none other than fabulous YA author and editor David Levithan. I attended a variety of panels throughout the day–some focused on genre literature, how to love/criticize problematic work, and creating worlds. What I valued most about the conference lineup was that there were a lot of diverse authors invited, and they weren’t pigeonholed into a “diversity panel.” Instead, every panel lineup I saw was diverse and thoughtful about the importance of representation in YA literature. And of course because YALLFest is truly great and speaks to my soul, the day ended with the only YA author rock band in the world performing a Hamilton cover.

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Panelists: Veronica Roth, Leigh Bardugo, Sabaa Tahir, Renée Ahdieh, Stephanie Garber, and Victoria Aveyard

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YALLFest really was a great conference but like any large event there were a few issues that affected my experience. Some miscommunications about events were kindly resolved by staff. I just hope it gets expanded from 1 ½ to 2 full days! There was so much to see and very long lines not just for author signings, but even just to get to an ARC at a publisher’s booth. This was compounded by the vast and somewhat ingenious number of teens with parents sitting in lines for them so they could attend other things.

I very much hope to attend again in the future-and if you aren’t on the east coast check out YALLFest’s sister festival, YALLWest.

Book Review: I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez

Publisher’s description

i am not yourThe Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian meets Jane the Virgin in this poignant but often laugh-out-loud funny contemporary YA about losing a sister and finding yourself amid the pressures, expectations, and stereotypes of growing up in a Mexican-American home. 
 
Perfect Mexican daughters do not go away to college. And they do not move out of their parents’ house after high school graduation. Perfect Mexican daughters never abandon their family.

But Julia is not your perfect Mexican daughter. That was Olga’s role.

Then a tragic accident on the busiest street in Chicago leaves Olga dead and Julia left behind to reassemble the shattered pieces of her family. And no one seems to acknowledge that Julia is broken, too. Instead, her mother seems to channel her grief into pointing out every possible way Julia has failed.

But it’s not long before Julia discovers that Olga might not have been as perfect as everyone thought. With the help of her best friend Lorena, and her first kiss, first love, first everything boyfriend Connor, Julia is determined to find out. Was Olga really what she seemed? Or was there more to her sister’s story? And either way, how can Julia even attempt to live up to a seemingly impossible ideal?

 

Amanda’s thoughts

Julia is blunt, funny, sneaky, and also fairly miserable. Her sister, Olga, was recently killed and Julia feels more off-kilter than ever. She’s grieving, of course, but also intensely feeling her parents’ disappointment in her and trying to find ways to get a little breathing room, especially in respect to her judgmental and strict mother. All Julia wants to do is graduate and move to New York City to pursue her dream of becoming a writer, but it’s hard to feel like that dream could become a reality since her parents think a good daughter would be happy to continue living at home and attending community college. That’s what Olga did, and especially as far as her mother is concerned, Olga was perfect. Julia, who talks back, is unabashedly a feminist, and isn’t particularly concerned with consequences, knows she is far from her parents’ ideal. She carries that weight while trying to just live her life in spite of her grief and her increasing depression. And while Julia certainly doesn’t think she has her own life figured out, she did think she had Olga’s nailed: boring secretary who attends one class at a time and was her parents’ pride and joy. But while trying to get to know her now dead sister a little better, Julia must face the fact that she didn’t actually know her sister at all–that no one in their family did. Julia assembles clues based on her limited findings and follows them until she is able to put together a more realistic picture of who Olga was. 

 

Overall, I liked this book. Julia is a complex character. Her struggles as a first generation American teenager and as someone living in poverty are just as complex and well-drawn as she is. However, once I realized the part mental health would play in her story, I wanted more from it: I wanted it woven in throughout, instead of just kind of dropped in, and explored more fully. The plot suffers a bit from being overstuffed—not that she can’t have multiple things happening in her life at once (friends issues, grieving her sister, her first real boyfriend, mental health stuff, a trip to Mexico)—I kept wanting Julia to either really hone in on the mystery with her sister OR explore her grief and hopes for her own life more fully, something to make the plot feel tighter to me. Maybe it just needed to cover less time. At any rate, as a character-driven reader, Julia’s emotionally complicated journey held my attention even when the plot meandered. Her desire for something bigger in life as well as the reveal that people aren’t necessarily what they seem will resonate with teen readers. 

 

ISBN-13: 9781524700485
Publisher: Random House Children’s Books
Publication date: 10/17/2017

Book Review: Here We Are Now by Jasmine Warga

When I’m reviewing books for professional publications, I stay quiet about them on social media. I’m always really excited once a review comes out to be able to talk about the book, finally! Here’s one of my most recent reviews, which originally appeared in the November 2017 issue of School Library Journal

 

 

Here We Are Now by Jasmine Warga (ISBN-13: 9780062324702 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 11/07/2017)

here we are nowGr 9 Up—A deep dive into the history of a family she did not know she had shows 16-year-old Taliah Abdallat a great deal about things lost and found. Taliah has never known her father, but a few years back she began to suspect her dad was grunge god Julian Oliver (and not, as her mother, Lena, told her, just some guy back home with whom she had a fling). After sending him three years of unanswered letters, he appears while Taliah’s mother is in Paris, confirms his paternity, and whisks Taliah off to his hometown in Indiana, where his father is dying. Everything is happening so fast, and while Taliah doesn’t want to make it easy for Julian to suddenly be in her life, she is also desperate to learn the truth of her mother and Julian’s past. Taliah is a pianist and songwriter, and the two bond over music, as Taliah attempts to take her best friend Harlow’s advice and be open to letting people into her life. Julian and Taliah’s present and Julian and Lena’s past are woven together nicely, slowly revealing the full story of the parents’ romance and their falling out. Some secondary characters are underdeveloped and unnecessary, but the main characters are outstanding. The rushed ending, though not dissatisfying, leaves many unanswered questions. A music-packed look at how we grow, change, and define or redefine relationships. VERDICT This thoughtful look at finding one’s place, sometimes in the most surprising and unexpected ways, will have wide appeal.—Amanda MacGregor, Parkview Elementary School, Rosemount, MN

MakerSpace: Mixed Media Collage and Recycling Books

For a variety of reasons, libraries are just as much in the business of getting rid of books as they are purchasing them. One, having shelf space for the new means we have to get rid of the old. Many books become outdated, inaccurate, overly worn, and no longer popular. So yes, we discard books. In the Teen MakerSpace, we have been looking at ways to re-use some of these discarded books to make art. I’ve also been exploring the concept of mixed media, which I talked about some a couple of weeks ago.

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As the YA Services Coordinator at my library, I don’t just build collections but I have created our Teen MakerSpace and my job involves exploring, coordinating, and implementing new projects and stations to incorporate into the Teen MakerSpace to keep it fresh, interesting, and truly educational. Lately, because of the interests of our local teens, I have been looking at some more traditional art styles, including mixed media. Mixed media involves using a variety of techniques and tools to create a single piece of art. You can use basically anything, anything at all. For it to be truly mixed media, it has to by definition include more than one type of technique, tool or medium. The final product is often some type of collage. This is the example collage that I created (we have found that our teens like to have examples to help explain the project and inspire them).

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Supplies:

  • Book pages (here I used a couple of ARCs that I have received because you can’t resell them or add them to your collection)
  • Watercolor crayons
  • Watercolor paint
  • Acrylic stamps
  • Speedball screenprinting ink
  • A brayer
  • A Silhouette Cameo vinyl cutter
  • Permanent vinyl
  • Mod podge
  • A blank canvas

The glory of mixed media is that you kind of can’t mess up. I mean, there were individual pieces that I messed up, but then I just cast them aside and tried again. I painted pages and let them dry. After they dried I stamped on them using the stamps and screen printing ink. I ripped pages up and glued them down onto my blank canvas. I mod podged the entire thing. And then after it dried I used my vinyl cutter to make my lettering and then mod podged it again. I can’t draw and I can’t even read my own handwriting, so using stamps and the vinyl cutter let me create the effect I was looking for in a way that was stylish and I could proudly hang on my wall.

The picture of Emma Watson was a black and white illustration from the book What Would She Do? 25 Trailblazing Rebel Women. I used watercolor crayons to give them color. The words themselves are from a couple of pages of other books. It is important when doing something like this that you discuss copyright with your teens. I obviously couldn’t sell this piece, but it’s hanging right now on The Teen’s bedroom wall to inspire and empower her. She’s graciously pretending that she loves it until I hang it in my Teen MakerSpace.

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Taking it to the next level:

Because we are always exploring taking our projects to the next level in the Teen Makerspace, we never end with the creation of a piece of art. We then explore what else we can do with that art, and we like to involve technology if we can. So for every piece of paper art you create, keep in mind you can do multiple things with that art. For example, you can photograph your final piece of art and mix it with digital media tools to create a new piece. Use filters, add stickers and frames and overlays. Then you can take that new creation even further: print it out and make it into a button using a button maker or print them on card stock to make note cards or postcards. With mixed media collage such as the one I made above that include other people’s images you’ll want to be very careful about copyright issues, but on the whole if you create an original piece of art there are a lot of interesting ways you can use technology to enhance it, redefine it, recreate it and redistribute it. Some of our teens our using our TeenMakerSpace to build portfolios for college and create an online following. Teen MakerSpaces aren’t just about dabbling and learning, many of our teens are using the space in powerful ways to build a name and an audience for themselves. It’s not about starting their future, it’s about the here and now. It’s pretty amazing to witness.

And remember, making doesn’t always have to be about technology. If you make something, you are a maker.