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Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

My favorite tools: Slack

This is the second of a series of post on productivity and organizational tools that I’m finding useful in my library work.

slack logoIf you’re not currently using Slack, you’ve surely heard of it. There are gobs of ways to use Slack for communicating with teams of people, and it makes a great compliment to the other productivity tools that you’re already using.


What is it?

Like Trello is a collections of lists of lists, Slack is a tool that allows conversations within conversations.

  • Each group of people makes up a “workspace” with its own login. These workspaces are easy to toggle on your toolbar.
  • Within each workspace, you can create conversations around topics that are indicated with a hashtag.
  • You can create additional conversations between a subset of people in the workspace.

This is just the tip of the iceberg too. You can add files, link services like Dropbox, Twitter, and Google Drive, and enjoy all the emojis you care to throw around.

But how is Slack useful to a librarian?

Pull your (various & sundry) PLNs together

If your PLNs are communicating via email threads, secret Facebook groups, Twitter DMs and group texts, you’re probably bouncing around to check these various sources multiple times a day. Stop it. Pull everyone together in Slack channels and you’ll have everyone in one place. No one is going to get forgotten when you dash off an email, there will be a notification any time you miss something, and you can keep use your time more efficiently. Plus, those venting sessions can now happen outside of publicly searchable web! Since I started using Slack as a PLN tool, I’ve felt more connected, less frustrated by the noise on social media, and we communicate more often in a more practical way. It’s the best.

Plan big projects together

Are you working with a few other people on a big author visit at your library? Set up a Slack workspace and create channels for all of the various pieces. Your to-do list has just become an asynchronous meeting, and  you’ve kept all of your ideas and documentation in one place. Plus, it’s searchable. TLT uses Slack to coordinate projects. So does another PLN I’m a part of. Our big project, Everyday Librarians, is launching soon thanks to the collaborative planning platform that Slack provides.

Minimize your email

OMG there’s so much email. Sooooo muuuuch eeeeeeeemaiiiiiil! Pulling your coworkers into Slack for minor but important conversations (“FIY, I won’t be here when the garden group comes to use the meeting room. Can someone set up the room for them?” “I’ll be in a program. Sorry!” “Yeah, me neither” “I can do it!” “Thanks, Jane!” “No problem, Susan!”) is going to clear so much clutter out of your inbox. Put all of that in a #RoomSetup channel and then it’s there when you need in, and hanging out behind an unobtrusive little hashtag when you don’t. That’s going to let those messages from vendors, patrons, and other non-coworkers be the focus of your email time, which is going to make that time so much more effective and so much less distracting.


Like I said, this is the tip of the iceberg in terms of what Slack can do. Please share in the comments if you’re an avid Slack user with great ideas on how to make it work for you and your groups.

B is for Brothers *and* Sisters; a Take 5 List

Today is the last day of January, so it’s our last day with the Letter B (though we will still post something if we get it because we like this discussion). Today TLTer Heather Booth is discussing brothers (and sisters).


two boys and a girl sit on stairs with a golden retreiver

The rest of the dog is there; I promise.

If you are in a mixed gender sibling group, you might have noticed the relative lack of books featuring relationships between brothers and sisters as compared with books about sisterhood or the bond between brothers. I get it. As the parent of sisters, I see how their relationship is something set apart from what my brothers and I had. But whenever I read a book about brothers and sisters in relation to one another, I’ve got to say it tugs on my heartstrings.

We didn’t have many hobbies in common. We didn’t share clothes. We didn’t weren’t generally friends with each others’ friends but one of us did date someone’s best friend.  The typical bonding that you see in books about sisters or books about brothers doesn’t tend to happen quite the same way, but it does happen.

With shoutouts to my not-so-little brothers, here are my top five books with brother/sister relationships:


Book cover: an illustration of a light blue sedan is viewed from overhead, headlights on, with a double yellow lane divider to its left

Good and Gone by Megan Frazer Blakemore

Good And Gone by Megan Frazer Blakemore

When Lexi Green’s older brother, Charlie, starts plotting a road trip to find Adrian Wildes, a famous musician who’s been reported missing, she’s beyond confused. Her brother hasn’t said a nice word to her or left the couch since his girlfriend dumped him months ago—but he’ll hop in a car to find some hipster? Concerned at how quickly he seems to be rebounding, Lexi decides to go along for the ride.

Besides, Lexi could use the distraction. The anger and bewilderment coursing through her after getting dumped by her pretentious boyfriend, Seth, has left her on edge. As Lexi, Charlie, and their neighbor Zack hit the road, Lexi recalls bits and pieces of her short-lived romance and sees, for the first time, what it truly was: a one-sided, coldhearted manipulation game. Not only did Seth completely isolate her, but he took something from her that she didn’t give him permission to.

The farther from home they get, the three uncover much more than empty clues about a reclusive rocker’s whereabouts. Instead, what starts off as a car ride turns into an exploration of self as each of them faces questions they have been avoiding for too long. Like the real reason Charlie has been so withdrawn lately. What Seth stole from Lexi in the pool house. And if shattered girls can ever put themselves back together. (Publisher description)

Book cover; Printz and Stonewall awards featured. The title is surrounded by a multicolored starburst pattern of lines

I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson

I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson

At first, Jude and her twin brother Noah, are inseparable. Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude wears red-red lipstick, cliff-dives, and does all the talking for both of them.

Years later, they are barely speaking. Something has happened to change the twins in different yet equally devastating ways . . . but then Jude meets an intriguing, irresistible boy and a mysterious new mentor.

The early years are Noah’s to tell; the later years are Jude’s. But they each have only half the story, and if they can only find their way back to one another, they’ll have a chance to remake their world.

This radiant, award-winning novel from the acclaimed author of The Sky Is Everywhere will leave you breathless and teary and laughing—often all at once. (Publisher description)



Book cover: the title looks like the leafless branches of trees; a girl's face is seen with blue lips and eyes closed

Lindsey Lost by Suzanne Marie Phillips

Lindsey Lost by Suzanne Marie Phillips

Even though Micah’s a star pitcher, his older sister Lindsey is the real deal—a runner so good, she has a shot at the Olympics. The two of them urge each other on, and are each other’s best support. Then the unthinkable happens: Lindsey is murdered, and Micah may have been the last person to see her. But he can’t remember what happened, no matter what their parents tell him, no matter what the police say. Did he witness his sister’s murder—or commit it? Can he recall the truth before his life is sentenced to end, too? (Publisher’s description)

More than anything, I appreciated the mourning that Micah does for his sister. Their love for one another is evident in a way that is uncommon in sibling relationship books. -hb






Book cover: the title is scrawled in black;

Ink and Ashes by Valynne E. Maetani

Ink & Ashes by Valynne E. Maetani

Claire Takata has never known much about her father, who passed away when she was a little girl. But on the anniversary of his death, not long before her seventeenth birthday, she finds a mysterious letter from her deceased father, addressed to her stepfather. Claire never even knew that they had met.

Claire knows she should let it go, but she can’t shake the feeling that something’s been kept from her. In search of answers, Claire combs through anything that will give her information about her father . . . until she discovers he was a member of the yakuza, the Japanese mafia. The discovery opens a door that should have been left closed.

So begins the race to outrun his legacy as the secrets of her father’s past threaten Claire’s friends and family, newfound love, and ultimately her life. Ink and Ashes, winner of Tu Books’ New Visions Award, is a heart-stopping debut mystery that will keep readers on the edge of their seats until the very last page. (Publisher description)



Book cover: A white background highlights the figure of a black girl with natural hair and jean shorts; her torso and the bottom of her face obscured by a protest style sign bearing the book title

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life. (Publisher description)

Among the many things I loved about this book is the way Starr and Seven have a complex relationship as similar-aged, opposite gender, half-siblings. What is never in doubt or ambiguous though is that their bond is strong and permanent. (hb)


Two men and a woman stand arm in arm

me & my big little brothers

My favorite tools: Trello

This is the first of a series of post on productivity and organizational tools that I’m finding useful in my library work.

I’ve been using Trello off and on, for professional and personal projects, since 2014. It’s visually appealing, simple to use, and dovetails nicely with Google apps. Trello, at its most basic, is a collection of lists of lists. Imagine a digital cork board with post-its that you can move from section to section. Here’s a board my coworker and I use to share our planning and ideas for the department:

Screen Shot 2017-12-13 at 10.18.14 AMNote that within each list is a “card”. Cards can be dragged and dropped from one list to another. So from our “ideas” list, we can easily pull something from a brainstorming session into our list of programs to schedule out for the next season. Each card can then contain its own list, conversation, to-do, attachment, or link and you can also push notifications on cards to people who are members of the list, as I did with this card for a teen service learning project:

Screen Shot 2017-12-13 at 10.25.19 AM

The boards get really fun when you start adding images!

Screen Shot 2017-12-13 at 10.20.58 AM

Trello will save your boards until you archive them, and it allows you to duplicate boards and move lists from board to board. This comes in handy for yearly planning tasks, like summer reading, or big events like our town’s annual summer party. I copy the board, change the year, and already have a to-do list to adapt for the current year.

On the main landing page you’ll see all of your boards. This includes those you create and those other people add you to as a collaborator. Star the boards you want to see at the top. Active boards float up too, with less active boards floating down to reduce visual clutter.

Screen Shot 2017-12-13 at 10.20.35 AM

Note here that I have two “Gathering On The Green” boards as I mentioned above. Because you can color code boards, I’ve greyed out last year’s board. Note also, that my personal board for Christmas can live here too — all of the sharing happens on the boards themselves, so I can keep my gift list, my family’s clothing sizes, and holiday dinner menu brainstorming in a similarly tidy and organized fashion and it’s not connected to my work boards.

Keeping on with the visual aids, you can color code cards themselves, as I did here. Each list is a reminder of items to acquire and then pack for an outreach event. Green meant “packed and ready to go,” yellow was “in progress,” and red still needed to be done.

Screen Shot 2017-12-13 at 10.46.33 AMI like that Trello can work this way on a very minute, granular scale, and also work to organize big idea brainstorming and “what if” kinds of conversations. Each board and each list has its own flavor, and the flexibility that offers is very helpful to me. If you’re a Bullet Journal user wishing you could share your lists and work collaboratively within the Bullet Journal structure, take a look at Trello. Trello also offers a blog with productivity tips and suggestions for making the tool more useful for you, in addition to highlighting new features.

I highly recommend Trello if you’re trying to juggle multiple projects and roles (like most of us do) and you like the flexibility of having an online platform that can go anywhere with you and plays nicely with your other cloud based work. It’s also available as a mobile app. And it’s pretty.

TPiB: Emoji Fortune Tellers

Sometimes an amazing craft idea has to change direction to make it work. That’s what happened with this project, for a few reasons. First, the inspiration:

How cool is that?! A DIY Magic 8 Ball is something my coworker and I stumbled upon while preparing for our superstition-filled Friday The 13th escape room, and it sounded like the perfect October drop in craft program for my middle school visitors. My coworker went to town creating the piece for our escape room while I just chilled, thinking about how cool it would be for my drop in program later in the month.

Problem 1: cost

When my coworker told me that she had to special order the container from an Etsy seller at something like $6, I scoffed, thinking that surely I’d be able to scrounge something workable up at a lower cost at a craft store. The thing is, for this to work, you need a few particular qualities for the container. It has to be water tight, have round sides AND one flat side. When I started browsing, I realized that I couldn’t find anything quite right, and the things that came close were glass and still over $1 each. Not my first choice. Fortunately, I found some workable metal and plastic containers on clearance at 75 cents each.

Problem 2: drying time

See how in the demo video she draws her words on with paint, then later, at 1:45 she explains how she painted it “in two layers over two days”? Yeah. That’s no drop-in program there. Early on I decided to substitute black duct tape for the paint.

I tried using a sharpie to draw the words and it was a bumpy mess. That’s when inspiration hit. If I had to attach paper to make it legible, why not make it cute too?

I printed off a bunch of emoji pics, cut them to size, affixed them to the cube with double sided tape, then covered it all with book tape.

emojiscissors emojidoublesided booktapeemoji






Problem 3: It’s not water tight

And I did find it out the hard way. At this point, I was less than 24 hours away from program time and couldn’t buy different containers. The only solution was to seal the gaps in the tin, right? After rifling through my craft cabinet for the E-6000 leftover from a long ago program, only to find that it had long ago dried up, I threw the towel in and headed home for the night. Sometimes you need a little distance from the problem and a good homecooked meal. While measuring out the rice for dinner, it hit me: if I couldn’t change the container, I’d have to change the medium.






After experimenting with lentils and rice, I settled on instant rice, which my daughters helped me color with food coloring before school. Word of caution: regular long grain rice will take the coloring more easily but takes longer to dry. Instant rice dries fast but has a less even distribution of the coloring.

So here’s where we ended up. They’re definitely not Magic 8 Ball, but the kids seem happy with Magnetic Emoji Fortune Tellers nonetheless. Since this is a drop-in DIY program, I made a quick little photo tutorial with the emoji fortune teller instructions to have at the station, which you’re welcome to use as well. fortuneteller2

TPiB: Soldering with teens: just like hot glue, but metal

tpibBefore I did it, soldering seemed like some kind of Super Advanced Tech Stuff that was way out of my league for teen programming. The only soldering I’d done was using a wide tipped soldering iron in stained glass work which, a friend observed, was more like using a bulldozer than the garden trowel required in soldering printed circuit boards. I’m here to tell you, folks: if you can use a hot glue gun, you can use a soldering iron.


Soldering does require a good number of supplies. The startup costs are moderate, but easier to swallow when you keep in mind that most of the supplies can be purchased once and used multiple times. I started with this Elenco Learn To Solder kit which includes nearly everything you need and can be found for less than $12. This includes the project and a soldering iron. Additional items that you’ll need to pick up:

a kitchen sponge or high quality paper towels that can be dampened

a “helping hand” or “third hand” (optional)

non-slip shelf liners   that can be used as anti-static placemat style workspaces

a box fan if your meeting room has less than awesome ventilation


Like with all programs, you want to be prepared. Take an afternoon and work on the project yourself. Watch some YouTube videos to see the techniques that other people use. Read some tutorials. Ask a friend to lend a hand if you know anyone who is into HAM radio or electronics or uses soldering in their work. You can do this.

When the day of the event comes, I suggest setting up each participant’s workstation before hand. There’s something about walking into the room to see tidy individual workspaces that immediately sets the tone for the group and says it’s not a free for all. It’s a focused class.


Some of the projects are going to work. Some are not. When they don’t, encourage the teen to look at all of the contacts and see if any solder is shorting out a connection. Check the direction of the pieces — are any inserted backwards? Make sure that they assembled the kit right side up… not upside down like I did the first time! Troubleshooting is part of the process and as valuable a lesson to work through as the soldering itself is. Not everything works the first time, and that’s ok.


Yes, it seems scary to give teens hot metal pointy sticks. But if you can imagine the group using a hot glue gun to attach seed beads, you can give them soldering irons. Make it clear how to be safe: the tips always need to rest in their holders when they’re not in use. Always watch where the iron is and be conscious of the cords (I attach a multi-outlet strip to the table with duct tape so that there aren’t cords trailing off of the table.) Unplug the iron and let it cool before you move it. Have a first aid kit at the ready just in case someone does get burned. If you are soldering with a large group in a room without good ventilation, setting up a fan to circulate air will make for a more comfortable experience.


I’ve used several different kits, and in addition to the above linked learn to solder kit, I really liked Adafruit’s Game Of Life kit. This is great for beginners because there are multiples of most of the pieces and you get a lot of practice at the actual soldering without needing to know a whole lot about the different components. Plus, you can connect them together, it flashes cool lights and there’s no obnoxious alarm!

Beyond kits, there are lots of small projects that you can tackle from basic circuits to light up corsages.

The Intersection of #Ownvoices, Genre Fiction, and Empathy: Guest post by Shaila Patel

sjyalitIn a recent ruling by a Virginia court, five teens (described as two whites and three minorities) were sentenced to read one book a month for an entire year as punishment for defacing a historic black schoolhouse with racist and anti-Semitic graffiti. The books assigned were mostly works of literary fiction with diverse characters and/or racial themes like To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Night by Elie Wiesel, and Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe.

Judging by the conversations I’d seen on the internet, most people thought it was a great idea. I think it’s genius. But could it be taken a step further?

The purpose of the sentence was to impart a lesson in compassion and empathy—the idea that you can put yourself in another person’s shoes and see things from the other person’s perspective. Reading about diverse characters gives these teens the opportunity to realize that even though circumstances and appearances may be different, we’re all the same at heart.

This is the magical part of storytelling, and what drew me to writing in the first place—the ability to cast readers into a thousand different roles in a thousand different places.

I’m often asked if choosing to make my young adult debut as an #ownvoices novel was intentional, as if they’re really asking whether I’d purposely set out to teach teens a lesson on diversity, empathy, and racial equality. My answer, in case you’re curious, is no. I wrote my Indian-American character Laxshmi Kapadia because it’s what I know. Who better than me, an Indian-American, to show a sliver of what it’s like to grow up straddling both cultures. It’s what the #ownvoices designation is all about—authenticity.

If a teen can relate to an elf going on a quest, they can surely relate to an Asian heroine going on one.

soulmatedMy novel, Soulmated, is a young adult paranormal romance about empaths and psychics—it’s the farthest thing from being preachy—but maybe that’s not such a bad thing. After all, for most teens, genre fiction would rank quite a bit higher than their school’s required reading list. Part of me intuitively knew that setting my novel in a paranormal world might even attract someone who ordinarily wouldn’t have picked up a contemporary novel about an Indian-American girl because—let’s face it—some non-Indian-American readers might have looked at that book and thought they couldn’t relate.

That’s a learned response, because clearly, teen readers are connecting with hobbits, monsters, and vampires.

labyrinthlostIf a teen can relate to an elf going on a quest, they can surely relate to an Asian heroine going on one. (The Reader by Traci Chee or Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon.) And how is a werewolf trying to save her pack any different than a Latinx bruja trying to save her family from a spell gone wrong? (Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova.) Even in my own novel, Laxshmi’s empath abilities are emerging, somewhat like superheroes who are just learning to use their powers. The only difference is that I’ve peppered references to my Indian-American culture, portraying her as any other girl struggling against pressures from home and expectations she balks at.

So why might teens find characters from marginalized groups, like mine or any others, difficult to relate to? Maybe it brings up uncomfortable issues they don’t want to face or don’t think affects them, like racism, bullying, and bigotry. Maybe their family has unknowingly taught them that our differences are more important than our similarities. Maybe they’ve learned that “other” is equivalent to “less than” and therefore not worth the effort. It all comes back to empathy and using compassion and understanding to connect with a fellow human being despite our outward differences.

According to the Melbourne Child Psychology Journal, the ability to empathize is a skill that is still developing during the teenage years and is on the rise beginning at about 13-15 years of age. It makes it even more important to provide stories from different perspectives to these teens. It’s like exercising the emerging skill. From my own experience with my 16-year-old son, reading, paired with the appropriate analysis and discussion, is definitely worth the effort. The only drawback, however, is that he quickly loses interest when he sees it as a lesson.

No one argues that a diet high in vegetables is healthy, but as every parent knows, sometimes smothering the broccoli with cheddar cheese is the best way to get it to go down. While comparing this to reading is a bit oversimplified, it does illustrate the idea that some “lessons” are more effective if we make them more palatable.

Laura M. Jiménez, PhD, in an interview with the blog Reading While White, describes her experience teaching diverse children’s literature to a group of mostly white women who were studying to become teachers. She said that they had a difficult time connecting with stories outside their lived experiences, but she also observed that the more stereotypical and trope-ful the book, the easier they were able to connect with it.

If adults find diverse fiction easier to relate to when staged in commercial wrappings, it only reinforces an idea that we’ve already accepted: Sometimes it’s just easier to get a teen to enjoy reading if it’s genre fiction. And if it’s filled with characters written by #ownvoices authors? Even better.

 Stories designated as #ownvoices provide an authentic view of what the “other” side looks like, and placing that fictional setting in a spaceship, a dystopian world, or one with psychics and empaths, might just be your handiest tool in creating a more empathetic reader.

If you’re looking for ways to support more #ownvoices genre fiction, here are some suggestions:

  • Have your readers write and post a book review of an #ownvoices work in their favorite subgenre and have them show similarities to a more established work with comparable tropes or themes.
  • Start a book club for #ownvoices genre fiction, and don’t forget to tell the authors and publishers that you’ve chosen their books.
  • Contact #ownvoices authors and ask them to speak via video conference call to a class or a book club. Most authors would love the opportunity.

A far wider selection of diverse books and resources now exists compared to even five years ago, but finding a curated list of #ownvoices genre fiction has been difficult. One of the most helpful sites for diverse young adult fiction (including both literary and commercial) is Diversity in YA. Another site that’s a great resource for multiple age groups is We Need Diverse Books. You can also search Tumblr and Goodreads lists for #ownvoices works. Although the lists are unlikely to be curated, it’s a great place to start and familiarize yourself with what’s out there and meet bloggers who are passionate about promoting #ownvoices speculative fiction.


author: Shaila PatelShaila Patel is a pharmacist by training, a pediatric-office manager by day, and a writer by night. SOULMATED, her debut young adult paranormal romance won the 2015 Chanticleer Book Reviews Paranormal Awards in YA. A huge fan of epilogues, she also enjoys traveling, craft beer, tea, and reading in cozy window seats. She writes from her home in the Carolinas.


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TPiB: 3 cheap and easy after school programs

I’m always looking for small program ideas that don’t take a lot of planning time, are inexpensive, are flexible, and appeal widely. Here are three to try.

Sci-Fi Stitches – or – Embroidered notecards

You can be silly or serious with this one. I did both and both were fun. For the “sci-fi stitches” I printed a bunch of different old timey photos onto cardstock (check Pinterest, there are gobs of people who have boards full of quirky and interesting old black and white photos). For the embroidered notecards, I supplied some adult coloring sheets to use as templates.

IMG_20170112_165822354 IMG_20170112_163628900

IMG_20170124_210229700 IMG_20170124_203629464


  • embroidery floss
  • embroidery needles
  • small pieces of corrugated cardboard
  • cardstock
  • tape
  • thumbtacks
  1. Draw your pattern onto the cardstock
  2. Place the cardstock on top of the cardboard. Using the thumbtack, poke holes along the pattern. If you’re using a coloring sheet as a template, you can punch right through the sheet itself.
  3. Thread your needle and start stitching into the holes. Use the tape to secure the floss at the back of the card.

Zenstones, aka draw on rocks

Seriously, drawing on rocks sounded kind of boring, but if you call it zenstones… or maybe rock-dalas… or meditation nuggets…  suddenly it’s a THING!

IMG_20170126_160502185 IMG_20170126_160509579 IMG_20170126_155408110











  • bag of rocks
  • permanent markers (black for light colored rocks, silver for black rocks)

This one was stone simple [lol!]. I had a bag of rocks left over from a gardening craft and I borrowed a few of the silver sharpies from the Tech Processing department and that was it. The kids did this for close to an hour. It was kind of amazing. This would be an easy pick for self-directed programming and could dovetail nicely with a number of seasonal themes.

Emoji Spelling Bee

Hey look! It’s not a craft! I heard about the “First Ever Emoji Spelling Bee” that happened at last fall’s Emojicon (a celebration of all things emoji) and it seemed like an activity begging to be turned into a teen program.

emojis: snail, minus sign, shell


  • a list of silly words and phrases
  • teen supplied phones OR a computer projected onto a shared screen that can access an Emoji Keyboard Online
  • a timer

Have the teens come up with the words and phrases to challenge each other or make a list ahead of time. For each turn, give a teen one word/phrase clue and set a timer. When the timer is up, they are done and the rest of the group gets to decide if the phrase is “spelled” correctly or not.

“Nevertheless, She Persisted” A Take 5 List, plus 1

IMG_4145Last night, Senator Elizabeth Warren was warned, then given an explanation, but neverthelessshe persisted in reading the words of another woman who was warned, given an explanation, and persisted: Coretta Scott King. In honor and in recognition of these and other women who, despite warning and explanation, persist in their efforts, we offer you this list of persistent young women.




Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith

Book cover: against the backdrop of a cloudy sky with planes overhead, a young woman in pilot garb faces forward with her eyes looking skyward

Ida Mae Jones dreams of flight. Her daddy was a pilot and being black didn’t stop him from fulfilling his dreams. But her daddy’s gone now, and being a woman, and being black, are two strikes against her.

When America enters the war with Germany and Japan, the Army creates the WASP, the Women Airforce Service Pilots – and Ida suddenly sees a way to fly as well as do something significant to help her brother stationed in the Pacific. But even the WASP won’t accept her as a black woman, forcing Ida Mae to make a difficult choice of “passing,” of pretending to be white to be accepted into the program. Hiding one’s racial heritage, denying one’s family, denying one’s self is a heavy burden. And while Ida Mae chases her dream, she must also decide who it is she really wants to be. (Publisher description)

Dime by E.R. Frank

Book cover: black bricks in the shape of a D over a red background reveal the profile of a young girl looking resolutely aheadLost in Newark, New Jersey’s foster care system, Dime is persuaded into sexual slavery by a sweet talking older man. The family-like dynamic of their home is appealing for a time, and the services she is forced to perform seem the understandable price to pay for such safety and security. But her eyes are opened to the grave reality of her situation when Lollipop, a new, younger girl is brought in and the incomprehensibly awful truth of her situation is revealed. Dime takes solace and strength in the written word and stops at nothing to seek safety and justice for Lollipop, even as she understands that there might not be a way out for herself.



Evolution, Me, and Other Freaks of Nature by Robin Brande

Book cover: spiral bound notebook paper shows the book title in loopy scriptSpeaking up is hard. It’s even harder when speaking up for what you know is right loses you friends, family, and your church. Mena starts school as a pariah after standing up to the minister of her church in defense of a gay peer. She knows she did the right thing, but everyone around her is telling her it’s wrong.

Ten Days a Madwoman by Deborah Noyes

Book cover: a photograph of Nellie Bly wearing a high necked lace collar and looking forward, stylized in a deep teal

Young Nellie Bly had ambitious goals, especially for a woman at the end of the nineteenth century, when the few female journalists were relegated to writing columns about cleaning or fashion. But fresh off a train from Pittsburgh, Nellie knew she was destined for more and pulled a major journalistic stunt that skyrocketed her to fame: feigning insanity, being committed to the notorious asylum on Blackwell’s Island, and writing a shocking exposé of the clinic’s horrific treatment of its patients.

Nellie Bly became a household name as the world followed her enthralling career in “stunt” journalism that raised awareness of political corruption, poverty, and abuses of human rights. (Publisher’s description)

I Am Malala
Book cover: Malala Yousafzai wears a magenta hijab and looks at the camera with an expression that is peaceful and resolute

Do we even need to explain this one?


And because we just can’t get enough women who persist…

Rad Women Worldwide

Book cover: Black and white illustrations in front of bold swaths of red, teal, and orange, depict a soccer player with a ponytail, Malala Yousafzai, and Frida Kahlo

From the authors of the New York Times bestselling book Rad American Women A-Z, comes a bold new collection of 40 biographical profiles, each accompanied by a striking illustrated portrait, showcasing extraordinary women from around the world.

In Rad Women Worldwide, writer Kate Schatz and artist Miriam Klein Stahl tell fresh, engaging, and inspiring tales of perseverance and radical success by pairing well researched and riveting biographies with powerful and expressive cut-paper portraits. Featuring an array of diverse figures from Hatshepsut (the great female king who ruled Egypt peacefully for two decades) and Malala Yousafzi (the youngest person to win the Nobel Peace Prize) to Poly Styrene (legendary teenage punk and lead singer of X-Ray Spex) and Liv Arnesen and Ann Bancroft (polar explorers and the first women to cross Antarctica), this progressive and visually arresting book is a compelling addition to women’s history.

Sunday Reflections: Greater words than ours


This week, TLT is taking a break from its usual Sunday Reflections. Instead of reading our words, please spend a moment reading or listening to words from The Honorable John Lewis’s long career.

Here is his  “Speech at the March on Washington” from August 28, 1963 when he was 23 years old.

You can view the speech below.

We invite our readership to share favorite words from or thoughts on John Lewis in the comments.

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Screening Ava DuVernay’s The 13th

Thinking About Ferguson

Sassy is gone forever, but lucky you, there’s Teen Vogue

Women of  a certain age are still lamenting the early demise of Sassy magazine. To those of you who are nodding your heads right now, I implore you: give Teen Vogue a chance, and while you’re at it, gift a subscription to a young woman in your life.

Yes, Sassy was pivotal…

Sassy magazine cover featuring Curt Cobain and Courtney LoveHelmed by Jane Pratt, Sassy provided a marked departure from the other teen glossies that we ogled in grocery checkout lines. Remember the ’90s? Remember the red ribbons and the flannel and how we chained ourselves to trees and Rocked The Vote with the help of R.E.M’s longboxes? It was a big deal and Sassy got it. It got that we were more than teeny boppers into fashion and trendy music. It got that we were people, on our own, outside of being coupled with someone. And that was kind of revolutionary for a glossy teen fashion mag.

but Teen Vogue takes it to the next level, and then some.

cover of Teen Vogue; headline reads While Sassy treated us like people, Teen Vogue is treating today’s young women like the thoughtful, powerful, political, engaged movers and shakers they are. There was something in Lauren Duca’s gaslighting article that struck a chord with a much larger readership. Was it the concise, clear way that it laid out an issue and made it relatable? Was it how it used a political issue to steer young readers toward an understanding of abusive relationships without specifically saying that’s what it was doing? Was it the tone, which was authoritative but still comfortable? Was it the historical background informed by linguistics, politics, and pop culture? Yes. It was all of that, and thinking that it only had to be one of those is the specific problem that Teen Vogue is addressing: young women are not to be underestimated. I’ve said before that, for all of their problems, glossy fashion mags are, for some, the bible of girlhood. This one respects girls enough to know that eyebrows and crunches are but one facet of the lived experience of young women, that they spend a lot of time thinking, talking, and acting on a wide range of political, social, and personal issues regardless of the color of their nail polish.

This didn’t just happen

It’s been widely pointed out that perhaps the incisiveness of Teen Vogue is due to being helmed by Elaine Welteroth as Editor in Chief, the first African American woman to hold that position and only the second to be Editor in Chief at a Condé Nast publication. While Beauty Editor, she pushed for more inclusive coverage, a move that has translated well to feature articles. The team approach to direction of the magazine also includes creative director Marie Souter and Phillip Picardi as the digital editorial director who recalls a realization that magazines can be used for social good when he read an Anna Wintour letter in Vogue about marriage equality. The magazine’s boundary pushing approach is by design and being actively managed by a team that gets it.

We want more of it – A GIVEAWAY!

We can praise the editorial direction and forward thinking, inclusive content that’s respectful of its teen readership all we want, but we all know that it’s the dollars that matter in publishing. For this reason, the writers of the Teen Librarian Toolbox are sponsoring ten more subscriptions to Teen Vogue. Get one for yourself, get one for your library, get one for a classroom, get one for a teen. The first ten commenters below can pick their recipient of a one year subscription. Must be US addresses. After you leave a comment, please email Karen at kjensenmls at yahoo dot com (we don’t want you to leave your address publicly). The first 10 comments/emails get a free subscription.  Thanks for the interest all — we have our 10 subscriptions all accounted for.

What Others are Saying

Teen Vogue’s Political Coverage Isn’t Surprising

Teen Vogue’s Trump takedown is not a surprise

If You’re Shocked Teen Vogue Is Great, You’re Not Paying Attention

A user’s guide to Teen Vogue, which is quietly doing very good journalism

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