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Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

MakerSpace: 5 Low or No Tech Activities for a Teen MakerSpace

makerspacelogo1When I first began transforming my teen space into a Teen MakerSpace, I was adamant that the space had to be tech, tech, tech heavy. All tech, all the time. I pushed back hard against suggestions that I should do things like have gel pens or paint. Part of my concern was legitimate, cost and clean up. Having consumable materials increases your cost right out of the gate. But there are a lot of consumables in tech making as well; see, for example, the 3D pen. You constantly have to replace the filament.

The clean up concern is legitimate as well. We work hard to try and keep our surfaces and floors protected, but there have been accidents. Tables and counters are easier to protect than floors, we simply cover them with cutting mats and it works pretty well.

I have slowly changed my idea of what a makerspace can and should be, in part because of my teens. It turns out, they like to do a lot of traditional arts and crafts just as much as they like to do coding, robotics and electronics. And many of our teens don’t have access to the tools necessary to learn these traditional types of arts and crafts anymore than they have access to the tech to learn coding and electronics. So we – so I – have expanded my idea of what a makerspace is. If it involves making something, I will consider it for the space. So today I am sharing with you 5 of their favorite more traditional arts and crafts activities that we do in our Teen MakerSpace at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County (OH).

Sculpey Clay

Desiree making jewelry out of Sculpey clay beads

Desiree making jewelry out of Sculpey clay beads

sculpey2

Making things out of clay has turned out to be really popular for us. We have a toaster oven in the space that we use to bake the clay. They make anything from figures to jewelry using the clay. Desiree, one of our TMS assistants, has become quite good at clay art.

Teen Coloring

We have a dedicated teen coloring station with blank cartoon and graphic novel strips that teens can create, but we also just print off coloring sheets. We provide colored pencils, markers, and gel pens. I really pushed back against gel pens in the beginning because they are so expensive but found a great set at a reasonable price and we keep them locked up when the room isn’t staffed. It’s a relaxing activity and it’s pretty easy from a staff perspective, and the teens love it.

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Although many of our teens do use our supplies, we have a small handful of teens that come regularly and bring their own supplies and art books. They will also often draw pictures for us. A couple of times they have drawn pictures of us, which is an incredible honor.

Shrinky Dinks

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A bracelet made out of Shrinky Dink charms

A bracelet made out of Shrinky Dink charms

Who knew this childhood favorite would once again be so popular? We buy plain Shrinky Dink sheets at the local craft store and the teens are welcome to create anything they would like. They often trace and color their favorite manga characters. But you can also use Shrinky Dinks to do things like create jewelry.

Lego

today5 today6 Lego can be very tech savvy. For example, you can use Legos to create a Rube Goldberg machine. Legos can also be combined with tech like LittleBits or Raspberry Pi to make remote control vehicles or small robots. But sometimes, the teens just like to build with them. In fact, we now host a daily Lego challenge. We put up a sign with a small pile of Legos and ask teens to do things like build a car, make an animal, or even create a campfire scene. We get a lot of our daily challenges out of this book.

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Painting

today7I suppose in some ways this is just an extension of the coloring/drawing type of activities, but I have to go on the record as saying that I pushed back hard against buying pain and paint brushes. For one, we really do try and limit the amount of money we spend on consumables because you have to replace them a lot. But the truth is, it’s not as high of a cost as I thought it might be. You can buy a value pack of acrylic paint at Michael’s for $8.00. And a value pack of brushes for around $5.00. We don’t provide high quality materials by any means, but they get the job done. The teens not only paint on paper, but they will bring in t-shirts to paint, they paint their cell phone cases to personalize them, and more.

So here’s my takeaway.

1) The idea of a makerspace is always evolving.

2) Don’t be afraid of more traditional arts and crafts.

You Don’t Have to Use the Internet & Other Absurd Things Politicians Say in 2017

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Internet privacy is under attack with the current administration. This means that the things you say and do online can no longer be considered private in the same ways we thought of them a few weeks ago. Congress has ruled that Internet providers can sale your information in an effort to make more money. You, my friends, are for sale. But one law maker contends that it’s okay that you don’t have Internet privacy because YOU DON’T HAVE TO GO ONLINE!

But wait, is that true? Let’s count discuss just a few of the ways that people do in fact have no choice but to go online in the year 2017.

Do you want a job? Chances are you can only apply online. And in order to apply, you’ll need access to a computer, the Internet, and an email address.

Do you want paycheck stubs for a loan or to apply for college? Yep, you can probably only get those online as well.

If I want to know what grades my child is getting in school, I can only find out online. Our school district does not send out any paper report cards at all.

Need to go to the doctor? You’ll have to fill our those per-certification forms online.

Want to apply for the FAFSA to get financial aid for college? Online thank you.

Want to keep in contact with professional colleagues? Participate in professional development? Online classes? Webinars?

Keep in contact with military family stationed in far away places?

Want to participate in politics? Contact an elected representative?

What about contacting a business or corporation to get more information or file a complaint?

Are you a student who wants to graduate? Chances are you will have to submit homework and assignments online.

The truth is, if you want to communicate, learn, work, grow or anything in the year 2017, you do in fact have to get online. Very few people manage to effectively live off the grid because our world is designed to be very much on the grid. And now that we’re all there and need it to survive, the government wants to take away our reasonable rights to privacy. This is something that I think we should all be concerned about.

How to Protect Your Online Privacy Now That Congress Sold You Out

So what do we do? Continue to talk about the importance of online and data privacy. Contact your legislators. You can also look into building a VPN to help protect your privacy. But the important thing is this: We can not let the false narrative that being online is a choice stand.

And here is where I would like to add a note about the power and importance of libraries. Every day libraries around the world open their doors to those who don’t have steady, dependable access to the Internet for a variety of reasons. We provide the access they need to do all of the things we talked about above and more. And libraries have been stalwart defenders of patron privacy. Online privacy matters.

Rethinking How We Think about Cheerleaders

trampolineMy 8-year-old keeps saying she wants to be a cheerleader, something The Mr. keeps routinely saying no to. And when he says no, you can hear it –  there is an edge of disgust to his voice. The truth is, we have a lot of animosity towards cheerleaders, thanks in no small part to the ongoing media depiction of them as vapid, social climbing mean girls who just want to shake their booties in a short skirt and attract the attention of the star quarterback. And so many of us buy into it.

The Bestie is a cheerleader and I have watched her work hard to perfect her craft. She just spent months taking extra gymnastics classes to learn how to stick stunning acrobatic flips that could harm her body if she doesn’t perfect her technique. She has put in as much blood, sweat and tears as that star quarterback everyone lauds in the bleachers. And the truth is, many girls start their pursuit of cheerleading in the local gym long before their male counterparts ever think about walking onto that field. Gymnastics, dance lessons, running, stretching, conditioning – these are all a part of the behind the scenes life of a cheerleader.

This what the trampoline is used for when they're not perfecting their flips.

This what the trampoline is used for when they’re not perfecting their flips.

Are some cheerleaders vapid social climbers? Yes. And some football players are dumb jocks and some band geeks are, well, geeks. But the truth is, that like any group of people, stereotypes are harmful and counterproductive. Cheerleaders are cheerleaders, but they are also sons and daughters and friends and siblings and cousins and students and and and. . . They are multidimensional people and it’s time we stopped perpetuating harmful stereotypes. Yes, even about cheerleaders.

So here are 2 must read books that help break down those harmful stereotypes about cheerleaders, both of which I am making sure The Bestie reads because we love and support her and think she’s awesome. I’m proud every day of who she is and all that she has accomplished, both as a cheerleader and as an amazingly complex young woman. And when they 8-year-old is old enough, she’ll be reading them too as we support her pursuit of her passion. If you have more books you would like to recommend, please add them in the comments.

Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E. K. Johnston

exit-pursuedThis is one of my favorite books from last year. It presents a strong female friendship and a look at how we should respond when a girl is raped (as opposed to the awful ways people often actually respond). And it happens to feature an entire group of cheerleaders as strong, hard working, multi-dimensional people. This depiction of cheerleaders is one of my favorites because it highlights the sportsmanship and teamwork that goes into this sport.

Publisher’s Book Description

Hermione Winters is captain of her cheerleading team, and in tiny Palermo Heights, this doesn’t mean what you think it means. At PHHS, the cheerleaders don’t cheer for the sports teams; they are the sports team—the pride and joy of a tiny town. The team’s summer training camp is Hermione’s last and marks the beginning of the end of…she’s not sure what. She does know this season could make her a legend. But during a camp party, someone slips something in her drink. And it all goes black.

In every class, there’s a star cheerleader and a pariah pregnant girl. They’re never supposed to be the same person. Hermione struggles to regain the control she’s always had and faces a wrenching decision about how to move on. The assault wasn’t the beginning of Hermione Winter’s story and she’s not going to let it be the end. She won’t be anyone’s cautionary tale.

Moxie by Jennifer Matheiu

moxieThis book doesn’t come out until September of this year, but I have already read it and it is one of the best books 0f 2017 in my opinion. Moxie highlights a social revolution at a high school as the girls (and some boys) begin to realize how much toxic power certain groups of guys have at their school. They begin to stage a revolution calling out toxic masculinity, dress codes, and sexual harassment in their hallways. One of the characters is a cheerleader who becomes an important part of the movement and is presented as a fully fleshed out, complex and interesting character. Her peers eventually realize that the stereotypes they may hold about her are just that, harmful stereotypes.

Publisher’s Book Description:

An unlikely teenager starts a feminist revolution at a small-town Texan high school in the new novel from Jennifer Matheiu, author of The Truth About Alice.

MOXIE GIRLS FIGHT BACK!

Vivian Carter is fed up. Fed up with a school administration at her small-town Texas high school that thinks the football team can do no wrong. Fed up with sexist dress codes, hallway harassment, and gross comments from guys during class. But most of all, Viv Carter is fed up with always following the rules.

Viv’s mom was a tough-as-nails, punk rock Riot Grrrl in the ’90s, and now Viv takes a page from her mother’s past and creates a feminist zine that she distributes anonymously to her classmates. She’s just blowing off steam, but other girls respond. As Viv forges friendships with other young women across the divides of cliques and popularity rankings, she realizes that what she has started is nothing short of a girl revolution.

Moxie is a book about high school life that will make you wanna riot!

App Review: Enlight

enlight1For months now I have been wanting to talk to you about a photo app called Enlight, the only problem is – I can’t figure out how to use it very well. This may sound like a dig at the app but it’s not, it’s an admission of my own lack of skills. The truth is, the app is an advanced app and I have seen people do amazing things with it, but I have not yet reached that level of skill.

But I want to tell you about the app anyway because the app team is doing a lot of smart things.

1. The Enlight Challenge

Weekly, the Enlight app posts a photo on their FB page and ask their followers to remix the photo using the app. The new photos are posted in the comments. First, this is a genius education opportunity that would make for a great MakerSpace type of program. Second, it gives me creative ideas and then I go back in and try and figure out how certain pictures were achieved. It’s both inspiration and education, plus incredibly smart marketing.

2. Tutorials

They also post tutorial videos on their FB page and these are incredibly helpful.

3. The Blog

They also occasionally post helpful general photography tips about things like composition and lighting. Even if you don’t use the app, it’s a good resource.

enlight6But what about the app?

The Basics:

 

  • Cost: $3.99
  • Category: Photo & Video
  • Updated: Feb 27, 2017
  • Version: 1.3.3
  • Size: 128 MB
  • Compatibility: Requires iOS 8.1 or later.

 

This photo app is a really comprehensive, advanced and sophisticated app. It does a little bit of everything including blending, masking, painting, sketching, adding text and – one of my favorite features – it turns your photo into a type of graffiti wall art. The developers clearly know they have a good but advanced tool and are smart to work so hard in engaging users and providing educational opportunities.

Here are a couple of pictures I made using the app:

enlight2 enlight3 enlight4

Please note, they are nothing compared to what I have seen people do with this app. I highly recommend it with the acknowledgement that you will have a steep learning curve.

More Photo App Reviews at TLT:

App Review: BeFunky

App Review: Aviary

App Review: Prisma

App Review: FotoRus

App Review: Fused (with an assist from the Silhouette app)

App Review: Candy Camera

How Did You Do That? Photo Apps Version

Sunday Reflections: Empty Bellies, Starving Hearts – What happens when teens see compassion die

sundayreflections1A teen looks up from a project she is working on and realizes that she has been working too long, she has missed it. She comes to our Teen MakerSpace every day after school and stays until closing. But she leaves every night around 6:00 PM to go to the local dinner. You see poverty is so high in our town that a different church hosts a community dinner every week night – and she realizes that she has just missed it.

I have some candy in my office so I give it to her. I’ve also given teens the remains of my pizza, cookies, and whatever else I can scrounge up in from my office. Today I’m coming up empty. Later today I will, in fact, go use my bank card to try and buy something and it will be declined. It turns out I only have $5.00 in my bank account until payday. Thankfully, payday is tomorrow.

This teen, however, has no payday. She is a teenager, but just barely.

Another barely a teen teen delivers newspapers to help make sure her family eats. The library staff bought her a hat and gloves as we watched her deliver newspapers in the falling snow and in subzero temperatures. We remind her to wear her coat. If she gets done with her route early enough, she’ll stop into the Teen MakerSpace to make something, stashing her newspaper pouch under a table while she pretends for a moment that the weight of the world doesn’t rest on her shoulder and she’s just hanging out and making stuff.

Recently a young teen boy expressed his rage about poverty. Not that he lives in poverty, that is common place around here. But he knows what people think of him for being poor, he reads the news. And as I asked him to be compassionate about a girl at school who was a cutter, he startled me as he began to rage against the idea of compassion. “Why,” he asked as he stood and began pointing, “should he show compassion to others when the world showed him no compassion.”

This moment was startling to me. Not because I thought the world showed him compassion, I know that we don’t, but because this teen not only knew it and it was effecting the way he thought about having compassion for others. It was here that the ripple effect was clearly made known to me. His rage was palpable and clear, because no one was showing him compassion he did not feel the need to show compassion to others.

It is Easter morning and I have just brought my children home from church. We made dinner and sat around the table. We searched for eggs full of chocolate. We played games. Thankfully, my check when in on Friday. I was able to go out on Saturday and get a little bit of candy and a decent dinner for my kids. We live paycheck to paycheck and struggle to make ends meet, but I know that the lives of my biological kids – the ones I gave birth to – are different then the lives of my library teens.

During this past election there was a lot of talk about rural poverty and how it influenced the election. I drove every day past Trump signs in yards of falling down houses where I knew teens that would later go to the community dinner lived. Free lunch, financial aid, healthcare, these are just a few of the things that effect their daily lives that many people just voted against.

Tomorrow the library will open and we will once again see our teens. Teens coming in for books and movies. Teens coming in to user the Wifi or Internet because they don’t have access at home. Teens who come daily into our Teen MakerSpace for a safe space where they can learn, grown, and be social with their peers. Teens who parents come to the library to apply for jobs or file their taxes or to check their kid’s school grades. If the president defunds the IMLS as he has proposed in his upcoming budget, these families struggling to survive will be hurt once again.

As I write this post my youngest is pouring a box of Nerds into her mouth and watching Project Mc2 on a Netflix account that someone else generously pays for. Her belly is full, her mind is engaged, her heart is full of love.

But I know that for many kids across our country, their Easter looks nothing like this. Nothing. Those are my teens. Their bellies are growling, their hearts are screaming out for love, and we are failing them. Every time we speak in anger or judgment against those living in poverty, we are twisting the knife in their heart deeper and deeper. If we plunge it too far, they may never recover.

Because I am a Christian, I pray. And I pray this Easter is that we will prove that young man wrong and rediscover our compassion for the poor. And maybe, just maybe, we will start a chain reaction of compassion that will change his heart, and all of our futures.

MakerSpace Madness: Out of the 1, Many – Transforming Art in Multiple Ways

Makerspace Madness

I spent yesterday casually demonstrating to the teens in the Teen MakerSpace how one project can turn into many, many projects. Making isn’t just about making, it’s about re-making and transforming. It’s about thinking outside of the box. It’s about pushing the limits of what you know and learning new things. So yesterday we explored how far we can take one project.

To begin, I was exploring making my own templates. The first template I made was freehand, and it was . . . okay. I then downloaded a pre-made template of the police box which I altered slightly because it turns out that cutting out a template is tedious. Not going to lie, it was not my favorite thing. The key to a good (and easy to cut out) template is to have big spaces and not a lot of lines, straight lines are definitely better. The police box is an easy template to create from scratch because it’s just squares, long rectangles and a triangle for the top light. It doesn’t hurt that I and my girls are huge Doctor Who fans.

I then used my template and a word template (“dream”) that we already had in the space to make a painting. Note: when making your own templates, words are hard. The easiest way to make a word template is to print your word out from a computer, though you’ll want to be careful about fonts.

For someone who is not a painter, I thought my original art piece turned out okay.

tardis11

Next, I took a picture of my painting. I like to start with a picture that I have taken so that I don’t have to worry about copyright. I then use a variety of apps to transform my painting into ways that I can’t do freehand because I’m not really an artist. Apps are just my friend.

For example, here I used the Fused app to combine my painting with a galaxy looking background.

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You can then use almost any app, including Instagram, to try out different filters until you find a look that you like. Some of my favorites include Enlight, Hipstamatic, and BeFunky.

tardis5 tardis8tardis7

I then used Instagmag to make a photo collage. There are other photo collage apps that you can use including Diptic and PhotoShake, I just happen to be a fan of Instamag’s graphics.

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I then saved and printed my photo – after making it the proper size – to turn it into a button.

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There are other things I can do with this as well:

Print my remixed photo onto transfer paper and make it into a t-shirt or tote bag.

Print my remixed photo and put it onto canvas to make wall art.

Re-size my photo to make original postcards.

The thing is, when you create one type of art, even something like a traditional painting, that doesn’t mean it has to stay in that same shape, form or even color.

And that’s the journey of one piece of art.

tardis1

Sunday Reflections: That’s Me in the Corner . . .

TRIGGER WARNING: SEXUAL VIOLENCE

svyalit

This year was more triggering for me then I ever could have imagined. 8th grade, the worst year of my life. The year of betrayal at the hands of a man who swore to keep me safe, a man I trusted. The year my teenage daughter was now entering into. This was the year I dreaded since learning I would become a mother, and to daughters.

I thought at the beginning of the year, if I can just keep her safe this year then everything will be okay. If we just can make it through the 8t grade, she’ll be safe.

It turns out, that is a lie.

That’s me in the corner
That’s me in the spotlight
Losing my religion
Trying to keep up with you
And I don’t know if I can do it
Oh no I’ve said too much
I haven’t said enough

This election peeled off the scab that had formed over the wounds of my own experience with sexual violence. As election night drew near, my heart sank. I drove through my town and watched as more and more signs for Donald Trump went up, despite the fact that we had all heard the audio of this man openly boasting about sexual violence. I heard pundits and friends and family dismissing this behavior as locker room talk. I read the letter sent out by my church from Franklin Graham assuring me that the only right way to vote was for the sanctity of life.

But whose life?

You see that’s what this election has made clear, we do not value the sanctity of all lives equally. We made that clear when we put a man in the White House who is on record as saying that he can grab any woman he wants by the pussy. A man who filled his cabinet with at least 3 men who have been accused of domestic violence. A man whose first act as president was to sign a piece of paper in a room full of men that rescinded some of the rights of women both in healthcare and in the workplace.

Every whisper
Of every waking hour
I’m choosing my confessions
Trying to keep an eye on you
Like a hurt, lost and blinded fool, fool
Oh no, I’ve said too much
I set it up

So I look at my daughter and I realize, even if I get her safely through this 8th grade year, if she can get through this year without being touched by a man against her will, she still isn’t safe. Not really.

Last year, as the election drew to a close and it was announced that Donald Trump would be the 45th president, I wrote a letter on my FB page to the church universal. I poured out my heart to the universe about how I would not be able to go to church the following Sunday knowing that the church didn’t care about me, a survivor of sexual violence. It was me pouring out my pain and my fear and the rejection I felt from my safe place, my faith, because they had just voted a man into the highest office who said out loud the very things victims of sexual violence have to live with. It was angry, it was real, and it was raw.

My best friend unfriended me. My church abandoned me. I was told I was a sinner who needed to get right with God. I was left standing, alone, in my despair as I realized that power, a Supreme Court judge, and a few key issues were more important than the safety of women, the safety of my daughters. It was in this moment that I truly I understood my place in the Christian faith, and my sorrow knew no bounds. I was an outsider in this place I was supposed to call my home, my family.

That’s me in the corner
That’s me in the spotlight
Losing my religion
Trying to keep up with you
And I don’t know if I can do it
Oh no, I’ve said too much
I haven’t said enough

All of those feelings came surging back again this week as more and more news came out about Bill O’Reilly. I have never personally been a big viewer of Fox News, but I know that it is the channel endorsed by my church and most of my Christian friends. I also knew about the sexual harassment accusations and ousting of Roger Ailes. And now comes news of Bill O’Reilly. And I am reminded again, many people are willing to sacrifice the safety of women for whatever it is they perceive they gain by propping up these men, by looking the other way. For Bill O’Reilly, it’s rating and money. For Donald Trump, it’s power and money. The safety of women, it appears, can be easily bought.

What do I tell me daughter as she reads, once again, about the sexual harassment of women? Brock Turner. Bill Cosby. Donald Trump. The Baylor football team. Bill O’Reilly. It’s everywhere. A new name comes up before the old name is even able to leave fully formed from our lips. The list grows longer. The world grows less safe as we become more aware of how prevalent sexual harassment, abuse and violence really is.

This world feels fundamentally unsafe for women. We’re willing to look past crimes against them because we want comfort, power, a conservative Supreme Court judge . . . We are willing to sacrifice women at the altar of male power. The truth of it burns deep into the core of me; I am a fire that can not be quenched any longer with platitudes and niceties. I am rage. I am despair. I feel like I might finally understand what it means when we describe God as a vengeful God, as a heartbroken parent, as a rejected bridegroom . . . I feel cast aside, and I alternate between despair and a need for vengeance. I want to rain down a cleansing fire and hold our daughters in our hearts and whisper to them, you are loved, you are valued, you are safe.

How do I help my daughter feel like she is precious in the eyes of God when the church is willing to sacrifice her to the wolves? How do I make her feel valuable in this world when men in power call her a host and pass laws that make her powerless over her body? How do I make her feel safe when legislators and judges try to explain away rape by trying to say it’s not legitimate rape? How do I make her feel confident and motivated and worthy of an education when schools punish girls for having bodies and put the responsibility of boys education on them somehow by calling girls distractions? How, how, how . . .

How do I raise a daughter who is whole and healthy and confident and chosen when everything about this world seems designed to tell her that she is none of those things, and doesn’t deserve to be?

The Vice President of the United States recently revealed that he can’t have dinner alone with a woman, preventing women from being involved in business and government as his equal. We are lesser objects, temptresses, bodies to be feared, not minds and heart and voices to be included and respected.

When I was twenty, I was engaged to the man who is now my husband. We have been married 22 years this year. But at the time, I was living in Southern California, renting a room from a family in my church. They called me their daughter. Their children called me sister. This arrangement was made because I wasn’t safe in the house I was living in. For two years, I called their house my home and I called them family.

One day, the mother came to me and told me that she and the kids were going on a two week vacation and I would have to find somewhere else to live while they were gone. It was then that I knew that it was all a lie. I was not family, I was not a fellow Christian, I was as I have always been a female body that couldn’t be seen as anything more than a sexual object, a temptation, a lesser being. I packed up my belongings and went to the only place that was open to me, the place that they had supposedly been keeping me safe from for the last two years.

That was 24 years ago and the world feels less safe now than it did then. Then the church universal still pretended to care about the sanctity and safety of women, but now the curtain has torn and the sheep have taken off their costumes to reveal the wolves underneath. The church no longer feels like a sanctuary but a pit of vipers thriving off of my fear.

I close my eyes at night and I see the leaders of the church as monsters, gnashing their teeth at the tether of female safety, willing to sacrifice us all for power. The 44-year-old sexual assault survivor, the 8th grader whose mom just wants her to be safe, the 8-year-old who doesn’t yet understand what it means to have wolves in office. Women are all on the sacrificial altar when it comes to maintaining money and power.

svyalitgraphic

In this lifetime, 1 in 4 women will be the victims of sexual violence of one kind or another. Many of us have been fighting hard to raise awareness and to help lower these statistics. But now, we have put a predator in office who has surrounded himself by others who appear to hate women, and most days it feels like we have lost the fight. How do we tell the current generation of boys growing up how to treat a woman when we have contradicted ourselves by the men we put in power? How do we tell them we value consent and respect when they can go on YouTube and hear their president speaking the way he does about women? We have legitimized the very thing I have been fighting again.

I recently started going to another church. I listen every week waiting to hear someone say that what is happening in our world is not okay. I’m waiting for a man – any man –  to stand at the pulpit and say, without hesitation or doubt, but in the boldness that comes from speaking the truth, that sexual violence against women is not under any circumstances okay. That women shouldn’t be given a numeric value, that women’s health matters, that consent is the only acceptable option.

I’m waiting for the letter from Frankly Graham that says the only right way to vote is for the candidate that values the sanctity and safety of women. That it is never acceptable to have a sexual predator in our highest government office.

I’m waiting for the world to tell me that my daughters deserve to be safe and loved and respected.

I’m desperately waiting.

faith and Spirituality

I need to know that my church, that my faith, values me. Values my daughters.

I need to know that moving forward, we will no longer continue to tolerate propping up men who abuse women – not for ratings, not for profit, and not for power. Not for a Supreme Court justice. Not for a majority in Congress. Not for the power to make laws that make men richer.

That’s me in the corner, sitting on a pew, waiting for my church to tell me that I am safe among them. But slowly, so slowly, I am losing my religion. Because I refuse to take my daughters to a place of worship that thinks their value and safety is something that can be sacrificed.

And now, I finally understand the song. I’m losing my religion, though I am trying desperately to hang on to my faith.

Title and quoted lyrics are from LOSING MY RELIGION by R.E.M.

#SVYALit (2014)

The Sexual Violence in YA Project, using YA literature to discussion sexual violence in the life of teens

#FSYALit (2015)

The Faith and Spirituality in YA Lit Discussion, using YA literature to discussion a diversity of faiths in the life of teens

MakerSpace: Low Tech, Low Cost “Screenprinting”

screenprinting

We used several processes to make this example t-shirt. The Design Life words are part of our screen printing trials.

For some time now I have been on a quest to get a screen printing station into my Teen MakerSpace. My research involved reading a ton of books, a lot of trial and error and visiting a local art studio that did traditional screen printing. The big stumbling block for us is that to make screens for screen printing, you have to do a technique that involves emulsion. This was a no go for us. The second stumbling block is that screen printing can take up a lot of space, something which is a very hot commodity for us; We are a small space.

We also tried several low cost kits, some of which sere made by Klutz and Alex; these also proved to be less effective than we liked. Though we did keep the screen part of one of the kits because although you don’t need it for the method we chose to go with, some teens like to use it because it has a more authentic feel. But in a pinch, you can also make your own screens (more on that in a minute).

silkscreen

The paints in this kit were awful, but I did keep and re-use the screen successfully

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Some exhaustive research and a lot of trial and error led us to a couple of low tech, low cost scenarios that do indeed work. It’s not truly screen printing, but it is a low cost, low tech way to achieve the same effects.

What You Need:

  • Stencils (store bought or you can make your own, see below)
  • Fabric paint or Speedball ink (you want something that will stand up to multiple washing)
  • Sponge brushes (or you can use an ink roller or flat edged screen printing scraper thing)
  • 202 No Pins spray fabric adhesive
  • T-shirts
  • A screen (not necessary, but it makes it feel more authentic)
  • A clean, protected surface to work on (you’ll want to cover your work surface to protect it)
  • A hair dryer, fan or heat gun to speed up drying

Getting Started with Stencils

Stencils are used to make your design on your t-shirt. In true screen printing, there is a multi-step process that is used to make your stencils that involves emulsion. We just don’t have the means for this in our library space. But you can achieve some of the same effects by using stencils. And to give it a more authentic and hands on feel, you can make your own stencils in a couple of different ways.

The key to successful “screen printing” is to use simple prints and block lettering. The less intricate your design, the easier it is to get a clean image, especially when you are just beginning.

1. Freezer Paper Stencil

You can use freezer paper to make a stencil if you have access to a printer. Follow the instructions here: Stencil Shirts With Freezer Paper – Instructables. Using this method teens can design their own stencils in a graphics program to make truly unique t-shirts. It involves the most amount of tech in our low tech process. You’ll want to make sure and design a simple image without a lot of lines and details to be effective; also, cutting the stencil out with an exacto knife can be tedious so simpler is quicker, easier and cleaner.

This method is also good because you can then just iron your stencil on to your t-shirt and remove it when you are done.  Some tutorials we read/watched said you could use wax paper but we did not find this to be true – it absolutely works best if you use freezer paper. Using this method, you will only be able to use your stencil once.

2. Card Stock Stencil

You can also make your own stencil using a heavier card stock. You can find those instructions here: Make Your Own Stencil – Instructables. You’re basically going to do the same thing as above: design, print an image, and cut it out with an exacto knife.

3. Buy Stencils

Folkart makes a series of large stencils that fit nicely on t-shirts and tote bags. You can buy them here. This is the easiest method by far, but it eliminates a lot of the tech as teens are no longer engaged in designing and printing out their own stencils.

Preventing Bleeding

When using a stencil, it can be easy for the paint or ink to bleed under the stencil, which makes your design look like a muddy mess. At the screen printing studio they use a temporary glue that helps hold the screen in place and acts as a resist. You can use 202 No Pins fabric adhesive spray to temporarily hold your stencil in place and act as a resist. Once you are done applying your paint/ink and allow your design to dry a little bit, you just lift off your stencil.

Bleeding is bad

Bleeding is bad

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Applying Your Medium

As I mentioned, you do not actually need a screen to do this process. But if you want a more authentic experience, you can make your own screens using either an embroidery hoop or building one out of wood. I found the results to be the same whether I used the screen or not.

To apply your paint you can use either a sponge brush, an ink roller, or a screen printing wedge. I liked the sponge brush the most because I felt it gave me the most control regarding the amount of paint/ink I used. Also, you can buy a bulk pack of sponge brushes fairly cheaply so that multiple teens can make t-shirts at once. In comparison, a wedge can run you around $5.00+ and the ink roller was around $7.00.

spongebrushes

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After you apply your paint/ink, you’ll want to let your design dry a bit before removing your stencil. We used both a fan and a hair dryer.

It also works well on tote bags, in case you were wondering.

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 For more information, check out these resources:

gigposters

I read a lot of books on the topic, and this is one of my favorites.

D.I.Y. Screen Printing – Instructables

Down and Dirty Screenprinting for Under 10$ – Instructables

A 5 Minute Guide to Screen Printing Ink

Video Games Weekly: Legend of Zelda, Breath of the Wild

Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was the launch game that was simultaneously released with Nintendo’s newest console, Nintendo Switch, which came out in mid-March.  In my opinion, Breath of the Wild is by far the best game in 2017, although I have been playing it on my Wii U, not the Switch.  I still am not wholly convinced to spend $330-$400 on a Switch, but I’ll keep you posted if I ever cave.

YouTube Trailer:

Platform: Nintendo Wii U and Nintendo Switch

Rated: E10+

Single or Multiplayer: Single, but the kind of game where friends can come over and enjoy watching you play

Storyline: Like any other Zelda game, you play as Link, a destined soldier/hero who was just woken up after a 100 year slumber.  100 years ago, Link and Princess Zelda attempted to seal away Calamity Gannon (the bad guy) with the help of Divine Beasts (imagine steampunk-ish robots), but failed to do so and now Calamity Gannon rules Hyrule.  When Link wakes from his 100 year long slumber, he has discovered that he has lost all of his memories of the people he fought with and the events that happened 100 years ago.  The only tool Link has to recover this information is a Shiekah Slate (which looks strikingly similar to a Nintendo Switch or a smartphone…) which can help players find towers (which unlock areas of the map), shrines (gives players spirit orbs which can be redeemed for hearts or stamina), and items.

zelda

Gameplay: Unlike former Zelda games, Link is not given a sword that lives permanently in your inventory.  This game is more like a survival game where players have to forage around in order to find any weapons, shields, bows and arrows, and cook food for hearts.  These weapons deteriorate as you use them, so players have to be extra strategic when fighting enemies.

This game is long because players don’t have to follow the main storyline.  In fact, I’ve sunk in about 30-40 hours of gameplay and I think I’m only 25% through the main storyline.  This is because the game encourages you to explore the vast and gorgeous world of Hyrule, and I find it even more fun to explore rather than follow the storyline.  There is plenty to do besides the storyline, ranging from locating the towers/shrines to a large variety of side quests.  I don’t think I’m going to “beat” the game anytime soon because there is so much content and beauty to get through!

Controls: I’m playing the game on the Wii U, so I have no idea how the controls are on the Switch. In my experience, the controls on the Wii U are a little difficult to grasp because it utilizes every single button on the Wii U GamePad, and that can get very confusing.  It took me awhile to get used to, and even then I tend to confuse the – and + buttons because they bring up different menus.

Audience: I recommend this game to teens and adults who are fans of Zelda games, because I think it’s one of the best Zelda games in the last 10 years.

Verdict: Highly recommend for circulating collections. I don’t recommend this for Teen Game Nights because it’s only one player and not easy to pick up for amateur players.

Pricing: $60 on Amazon

Questions? Comments? Tweet them at me!

By: Alanna Graves
Twitter: @LannaLibrarian

The Power of Humor in YA, a guest post by Jeff Strand

By way of introduction, I present to you dear reader Jeff Strand. Jeff Strand writes funny, irreverent, slap your sides humorous YA. It’s the kind of humor I don’t think there is enough of in YA, though if you like Jeff Strand I do recommend Lish McBride,  Sarah Rees Brennan and Lance Rubin as well. I am a huge fan of Jeff Strand’s books and today we are honored to have a guest post by him discussing humor in YA.

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First of all, I do believe that kids should be forced to read the classics in school. I certainly don’t want a new generation to get out of something I had to endure.

“Endure” isn’t always the right word. I loved Lord of the Flies and Catcher in the Rye. But Wuthering Heights? If you genuinely enjoyed Wuthering Heights, I salute you, but for me that book was constant “Gaaaahhhhh!!!” I have scarring memories of lines like ‘Wretched inmates!’ I ejaculated, mentally, ‘you deserve perpetual isolation from your species for your churlish inhospitality.’ And right after that, ‘T’ maister’s down i’ t’ fowld. Go round by th’ end o’ t’ laith, if ye went to spake to him.’

For those weeks in English class, reading was a nightmarish activity. Consecutive words on a piece of paper? Ugh. Where’s my Playstation 4? (Playstation 4 did not exist when I was in school, nor did Playstation 3, 2, or 1, but I’m trying not to date myself.)

This is one of the funniest, LOL books I have ever read

This is one of the funniest, LOL books I have ever read

Again, it was right of my teacher to subject the class to that excruciating novel. It was good that he quizzed us on that miserable book. I retroactively admire him for making us write papers about it. This ghastly reading experience was good for our brains. We needed it. But we don’t want students to have post-traumatic stress disorder when they see a book, so there should be a balance of weighty books with fun ones. Humor!

I don’t mean humor as in the comedic works of William Shakespeare, which some say should have you holding your sides as you roll in the aisles with tears of laughter streaming down your face. ROFL!!! The footnote explains why that reference is hilarious! No, I mean books that would make an actual teenaged human being laugh.

I mean, you can’t gorge yourself on candy for every meal (sadly) but you want candy sometimes. Nobody can live on healthy food all the time. Actually, I guess they can. It’s not as if somebody’s going to say, “Since I only have nutritious dining options available, I’m just going to stop eating altogether!” So it’s a bad metaphor. Which is fine, because I’m talking about the kind of books where you don’t have to analyze metaphors.

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As a kid, I always gravitated toward the “funny” books, although they tended to be more “lighthearted” than joke-filled. Judy Blume’s Fudge series and Beverly Cleary’s Ramona series, which I read over and over and over and over and over and over, were filled with wacky antics but not necessarily “Bwah hah hah hah!” types of reads. I would tell my friends about the crazy trouble these characters got themselves into, but I wasn’t quoting zany one-liners.

hitchhikers

The first laugh-out-loud funny book I read was Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. My reaction was, “This is allowed? You can be this over-the-top goofy and funny and somebody will actually publish it?” I knew then what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to kidnap Douglas Adams, bury him in a shallow grave, assume his identity, and write his books for him. This plan turned out to be impractical, for a number of reasons, and I settled for trying to write like him.

Now, as a kid, I was most definitely not a reluctant reader. My parents were both avid readers and passed that on to me. Though the lighthearted romps were my favorite, I loved tales of adventure, mysteries…pretty much everything, old and new. I didn’t need anybody to dangle a carrot to get me to read. The reading experience itself was my carrot. (Again, I’m not here to do good metaphors. If you want good metaphors, Charlotte Bronte put plenty of them in Wuthering Heights.) (I’m here to do humor, like when you pretend that you thought Charlotte Bronte wrote Wuthering Heights, but of course it was her sister Emily. Charlotte wrote Captain Underpants.) (I apologize for that misinformation. Emily Bronte illustrated Captain Underpants but didn’t write it.)

But not everybody inherited a love of reading. And that’s why “fun” books are important. Sure, “fun” can involve swashbuckling pirates or high-speed cowboy horse chases, but humor is one of the strongest indicators that a book might be enjoyable to kids who aren’t predisposed to pick one up. “Hey, books don’t have to be gloomy! Books can make you laugh so hard that people give you weird looks!”

I don’t specifically write with a reluctant reader audience in mind, but few things are more gratifying than getting an e-mail that basically says, “I didn’t even know I liked to read! Reading to me was punishment! But your book, with all of its stupid jokes, made me realize that not all books exist to suck joy out of my life. What else have you written? What other books are like yours?”

Not all reluctant readers are going to discover nutty comedy novels and go on to develop a deep appreciation for deep complex literature. But at least it can be a step away from “Books! Ugh!”  Though I have not personally created a new generation of lifelong readers, I’ve at least converted a few of ’em, and it’s not through my brilliant character development or unbelievably gripping storylines. It’s ‘cuz they’re funny! There’s not just room for that kind of material in the world of young adult fiction—it’s a crucial part!

Of course, as an author of humorous young adult fiction, I would say that, but still…

To recap: Funny = Good. Impenetrable metaphor = Also Good. We need both.

About STRANGER THINGS HAVE HAPPENED

You can’t always believe what you see in this hilarious coming of age novel from the author of The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever and I Have a Bad Feeling about This

Harry Houdini. Penn and Teller. David Copperfield. Marcus Millian the Third.

Okay, so Marcus isn’t a famous magician. He may not even be a great magician. But his great-grandfather, the once-legendary and long-retired Zachary the Stupendous, insists Marcus has true talent. And when Grandpa Zachary boasts that he and Marcus are working on an illusion that will shock, stun, and astonish, Marcus wishes he could make himself disappear.

The problem? Marcus also has stage fright—in spades. It’s one thing to perform elaborate card tricks in front of his best friend, Kimberly, but it’s an entirely different feat to perform in front of an audience.

Then Grandpa Zachary dies in his sleep.

To uphold his great-grandfather’s honor, the show must go on. It would take a true sorcerer to pull off the trick Marcus has planned. But maybe he’s the next best thing…

Sourcebooks Fire (April 4, 2017)