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Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

MakerSpace: Here There Be Stations, an overview of activities offered in the Teen MakerSpace at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County


Because it is the beginning of the new year – and the end of our first full year of our Teen MakerSpace – we are in the midst of evaluating what we’ve done and what we want to do going forward. One of the things that has become abundantly clear is that we aren’t necessarily using all of our stations to their full potential. So we have set for ourselves five goals for this year, and one of them is to rotate our stations in and out more efficiently. The specific goal is to rotate 2 tech related stations/activities and 2 traditional craft stations in and out each week. In order to do that, we did an inventory of what stations/activities we currently have. This will also help us as we look to develop more stations and activities for this year; now we have a better idea of areas that we may want to focus on.

So for today, I am sharing with you a quick list of the various activities and stations that we offer at the Teen MakerSpace at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County. I am pleased to see that there are 45 different options and that there are a pretty good balance between traditional arts and crafts and technology. If we have done a post on that activity here at TLT, I have linked to it as well for additional information.

Teen MakerSpace: Activity Stations Overview
Station/Activity Focus (Education Goals)
Chalk Art (see also this) Arts and Crafts
Sharpie Art Arts and Crafts
Fingerprint Art Arts and Crafts
Teen Coloring Arts and Crafts
Post it Note Art Arts and Crafts
Lettering Arts and Crafts
Paper Crafts Arts and Crafts
Stamp Crafts Arts and Crafts
Tape Crafts (Duct &  Washi) Arts and Crafts
Map Art Arts and Crafts
Book Making Arts and Crafts
Bottle Cap Crafts Arts and Crafts
Fiber Crafts Arts and Crafts, Design
Jewelry Making Arts and Crafts, Design
Ornament Hack Arts and Crafts, Design
Rainbow Loom Arts and Crafts, Math
Nature Crafts Arts and Crafts, Upcycling, Eco Friendly
Coding Apps Coding, Tech
Makey Makey Go Coding, Tech, Programming
String Art Design, Math, Fiber Arts
Squishy Circuits Electronics, Circuits
Little Bits Electronics, Circuits
Paper Circuits Electronics, Circuits
Make: Electronics Kit Electronics, Circuits, Design
Strawbees Engineering, Math
Felties Fiber Crafts
Knitting/Crochet Fiber Crafts, Arts and Crafts
Origami Paper Crafts, Design, Math
Ozobots Robotics, Coding
Brushbots Robotics, Electronics
Dot & Dash Robotics, Coding
Ollie Robotics, Coding
Mechano Robotics, Coding
Tech Take Apart Tech
Shrinky Dinks Tech, Arts and Crafts
Osmo Tech, Coding, Math
Button Making Tech, Creativity, can combine w/digital media
Stop Animation Station Tech, Creativity, Film
3D Pens Tech, Design
Rube Goldberg  Machines Tech, Design, Cause & Effect
Green Screen Photo Booth (see also this) (photo booth prop making) Tech, Digital Media, Photography
Music Making: Digital Media Tech, Music
Digital Media/Photo Manipulation Tech, Photography
Legos Various
Typewriter Word crafts (can combine w/book making)
Playing with the Green Screen Studio in the MakerSpace

Playing with the Green Screen Studio in the MakerSpace


Legos in the Teen MakerSpace


Stop Motion Animation in the Teen MakerSpace


Duct Tape Crafts in the Teen MakerSpace

Sunday Reflections: This is what happened when they showed a picture of the “Real Jesus” in church today? A discussion on why Representation Matters.

Today has been a weird day for me. Yesterday, I took the girls to see Hidden Figures. We waited for months to see what turned out to be one of the best movies I have seen in a long time. We were excitedly not only because I want to signal boost girls in science to my girls, but because it highlights the struggles that women of color face in our world. It is part of my commitment as a parent of young women and as a conscious consumer to invest in both women and POC in all forms of media. We’re voting with our dollars. That’s not the weird part of my day.sundayreflections1

As a parent, and as a citizen of the world who wants to actively practice love, acceptance and basic humanity, I work hard to practice conscientious consumption and parenting. We talk about gender norms, religious and ethnic stereotypes, and more. My teenage daughter will watch a movie and exclaim, “Of course the one black character dies first.” These are kids that have been taught to think about what is happening in the media they consume and what it means about how both they and our culture think and feel about a wide variety of topics, including how we view other human beings.

For example, after we watched Hidden Figures, we had conversations about how it was hard for these women not just because they were women who wanted a career in science, but because they were black women who wanted to pursue careers. When The Teen wanted to talk about the challenges women faced in that day and age, I reminded her that these particular women had additional challenges because not only were they women, but they were women of color. I think it is important for my children, and for us as a culture, to understand that although yes there is a lot of discrimination against women, there is even more so against women of color.

In my family, we actively parent in ways where we try to break down gender roles, stereotypes and more.

Which is why what happened today in church surprised me.

Our pastor was preaching and he showed a picture of what he explained was an accurate representation of Jesus according to forensic scientists. It looked like this:


My 8-year-old turned to me and said, “he looks like a criminal.”

I tried to ask her why she thought this and her response was, “I don’t really know.”

It’s interesting to note that when I shared this story on my personal FB page and expressed concerns that my child saw a man of color as a criminal, many of my friends said that no, it looks like a mug shot. I even posted several other examples of painted portraits to demonstrate that this was, in fact, a typical painting portrait style. (And for the record, I find his eyes to be expressive and inviting.)

So what does this mean? Does it look like a mugshot because of something stylistically? Or does it look like a mugshot because we have internalized racism and our first response when we see a picture of a brown skin man is to think mug shot?

The truth is, of course, is that Jesus was – in fact – a criminal. He was a radically compassionate refugee who challenged the current political and religious institutions of his day. He asked his followers to feed the hungry, heal the sick, forgive their enemies, and serve one another. He called the religious leaders of His day Pharisees, and it wasn’t a compliment. He said to pray in private, turn away from greed, and to not store up for yourself treasures on Earth. He ate with sinners, washed the feet of his disciples, and proclaimed that the first would be last. He was so radical, they killed him. They killed him in very public ways to make an example of him. When we consider criminals, Jesus was public enemy number one during his lifetime.

But when we look at this picture and see a mugshot, is that the reason why? Or is there something else at work here, like internalized and institutional racism? Do we see a standard portrait painting of a man with brown skin and automatically think criminal because of something in us, something we have been taught to do through cultural indoctrination?

So in the interest of research, I googled “Portrait Paintings” and did an image search. Here’s a screen gab of what comes up.


I then did a Google image search for “Portrait Paintings Jesus” and this is what came up.


As I said, the picture of the “real Jesus” shared in church today is, to me, a pretty standard depiction of a portrait painting. I don’t see mug shot. (Although what the heck is up with that picture of smiling/laughing Jesus on the third from the bottom right? That’s just terrifying to me.)

What it means to me is this: as a parent and a librarian, I have to continue to do the work of challenging and breaking down stereotypes. There is a very real possibility that my child, despite all the hard work that I have tried to do, looked at this picture and thought criminal because in all honesty, we tend to depict people who look like the real Jesus as criminals and terrorists. I will continue to seek out positive representation for all people groups. I will continue to talk with my kids about the images they see, the tv and movies they consume, and the books that they read. I will continue to ask them questions and make them think about what they are taking in and how they are processing it.

In contrast, look at this amazing story that Diego Luna shared earlier this week about Star Wars Rogue One:

Representation Matters.

Friday Finds – January 6, 2017

Hello TLTers. Today Friday Finds is being brought to you by me, Karen, because Robin Willis is at a training session on food insecurity and some other youth related issues. I’m sure she’ll be sharing what she learned soon in an upcoming post. So here are this weeks Friday Finds.


TLT this Week

What’s In Your Teen MakerSpace Manual? : Forms Edition

Book Review: The Truth of Right Now by Kara Lee Corthron

Book Review: Because of the Sun by Jenny Torres Sanchez

Book Review: Love and First Sight by Josh Sundquist

Sunday Reflections: The Cybils are Here!

Also, don’t forget the first #SJYALit (Social Justice in YA Lit) Book Club/Twitter Discussion is coming up soon.

Around the Internet

The Next Generation Of Farmers Is Being Trained In New York City High Schools

On a personal note, I’m really upset about this news. GIRLS MEETS WORLD was a strong, empowering show for young women and a personal favorite in my household. I’m hoping it gets picked up by Netflix.

Here’s some important, and quite distressing, news about teen pregnancy and mothers. Keep in mind, this is a horrific abuse of power imbalance and is legally rape.

Here is Some Other Book Info We Shared This Week:

15 of the Best YA Books for January 2017 : Bustle

60 Diverse Books To Look Forward To In 2017 – Bookishness and Tea

22 of Our Most Anticipated Contemporary YAs of 2017 : The B&N Teen Blog

26 of Our Most Anticipated YA Fantasy Novels of 2017 : The B&N Teen Blog

17 2017 YA Books To Have On Your Radar : Amanda MacGregor (Teen Librarian Toolbox)

And finally, last year TLT was so impressed with Teen Vogue we got 26 teens and libraries subscriptions to the mag. We also got The Teen and The Bestie a subscription. Their first issue came and they immediately started reading it. So excited to be able to do good things for teens through TLT. Happy New Year Everyone!



What’s In Your Teen MakerSpace Manual? : Forms Edition

This week, I have been desperately ill. It’s only a head cold and strep throat, but I will swear to you I have the plague. So yesterday I texted my boss and told her, “When I die, please bring the Teen MakerSpace manual to my funeral and tell everyone it was my greatest professional achievement.” She promised she would.

Tada: The Stupendously Amazing TEEN MAKERSPACE MANUAL

Tada: The Stupendously Amazing TEEN MAKERSPACE MANUAL

But it also reminded me that each time I tweet loving pictures of the manual – yes, I tweet loving pictures of the manual – someone will ask, “What’s in your manual?” So today, I will share that information with you. But first, some history.

I have been a YA services librarian for 22 years now. This is both the first and the fifth library I have worked at. That’s right, I’m working at the first library I ever worked at again. I cam here this time with a storehouse of experience to draw on and a manual that I have developed over those 22 years and adapted for this library and this community. It is now and always will be a work in progress.

The Table of Contents (it has been updated since this picture was taken)

The Table of Contents (it has been updated since this picture was taken)

Teen MakerSpace Manual Table of Contents

Teen Services 101

The first part of the manual is an outline of basic YA services and includes the following:

1. Our YA services mission statement and outline

2. Teens 101: A basic overview of adolescent development

3. The 40 Developmental Assets: A basic overview of the assets and how to use them with teens

4. Customer Service to Teens: A basic discussion of customer service to teens, what is means and what it should look like

5. Teen Fiction Collection Development Plan: An overview of what we purchase, from where, etc.

6. Collection Development Outline and Budget

7. Weeding Guidelines and Calendar

8. Social Media Policy

9. Programming Basics: An overview of what we do and why

Teen MakerSpace 101

The second part of the manual, and the biggest part, is exlusive to our Teen MakerSpace.

10. MakerSpace Outline

11. MakerSpace Inventory: You can find an outline of our various activities and stations here.

12. MakerSpace Opening and Closing Procedures Checklist

13. Directions for each and every Teen MakerSpace station, items or tool: This makes up the biggest bulk of the manual. I can not stress enough how important it is to keep a copy of the directions for each and every piece of tech that you put into a makerspace. I scan in the directions so I have a digital copy and I keep a copy in the manual as well.

14. The Teen MakerSpace Collection Outline: We have 2 separate collections. The YA fic collection, which is outside the Teen MakerSpace, and the TMS collection itself. We believe strongly that each station, tool or activity we do in the TMS should have supporting book materials for check out.

15. Circulating Maker Kits Outline and Inventory


16. Forms


Many of the items in the TMS manual are actually discussed at length in the book I edited with TLTer Heather Booth, The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services. The collection development forms and policies, for example, were handed down to me, adapted over time, and written right into the book. They have worked for me so I use them.

Overtime, however, I have also developed a wide variety of forms that I like to use. They tease me at work because if they ask a question someone else will reply, “give Karen a moment and she’ll make a form for that.” All teasing aside, I have learned over time that I am a visual person, not auditory. For example, if you tell me we need to buy new 3D pen filament in passing as we pass in the hallway, I am less likely to remember that we had that conversation then if you send me a text or an email. Or better yet, just keep a running form of supplies we need to replenish.

I particularly like to have filled out forms for activities and programs. For one, they help me make sure I am doing all the steps I need to be doing in order to have a successful program. And two, I then have a record should I need to go back and look and see what I did. For example, our local community has a First Friday where we like to go set up a booth and do activities with the teens and promote our Teen MakerSpace. Over time we have worked out an exact checklist of what we need to take so we don’t forget anything. It’s the little details – like trash bags or chairs – that can often get overlooked.

So today I am sharing with you some of the forms that I have developed. Exactly zero of these forms were developed exclusively by me. They are forms that were shared with me and I adapted in some way to meet my needs; librarians are, after all, very good at sharing. So here’s a look at some of the forms in my (if I say beloved is that too much?) Teen MakerSpace manual.

Behold the Gift of Forms

So our appendix is just a master copy of all the forms we use in our Teen MakerSpace for easy access. Here’s a breakdown of what those forms are and how we use them.

TMS Supply Request Form

This one’s a pretty simple supply request form. I wasn’t even going to include it in this post but it’s in the manual under forms and apparently my completionist needs won’t let me leave it off.


TMS MakerSpace Assistant Training Checklist

Last year, I was incredibly lucky in that I got to hire two assistants to help staff the TMS. In order to make sure these new employees got extensive training, I crowdsourced examples of training checklists and put this one together for our needs.


TMS Monthly Goals

This is a new form I am introducing this year and, again, it’s crowdsourced. We wanted a tool to help us make sure that we are doing a couple of things in our TMS, like rotating our stations in thoughtful ways and making sure we keep exploring new TMS elements and find creative, new ways to use our existing inventory. Thus, a monthly goals form was born to help us as individuals make sure we are meeting our goals. We have a yearly outline that we use to help specify what our specific goals for the year are.


TMS Program Planning Worksheet

This is a worksheet I use to plan a big program, which is different then a TMS activity or station. For example, we are working on putting together what we are calling a Con Con (inspired by an idea from ALA 2016) – a convention for teens who want to start going to cons to learn some basic con skills like sewing, painting, etc. I am using this program planning worksheet to help put that program together.


TMS Outreach Activity Checklist

This is a checklist we use for any and all outreach activities, including First Fridays as mentioned above. We try to have more than 1 activity to rotate in and out of our outreach bag of tricks. A checklist is completed for each activity and kept in a notebook. When we want to do that outreach activity, we just go and grab the checklist and get our supplies together.


TMS Activity/Station Planning Checklist

Our Teen MakerSpace is set up in stations (we also sometimes use the term activities, just to confuse ourselves). For example, we have a permanent Stop Motion Animation Station. But we also have stations/activities that we can rotate in and out. We have a variety of robots, for example, that we can get out and have a day where we play with, say, Ozobots. We have also found that our teens like to do traditional crafts, so we rotate some of these in and out as well. Because our model is not permanent, we are always looking for new stations and activities to add to our reprotoire to rotate in and out. In order to do that, we have an Activity/Station Planning Checklist. Before we introduce a new idea, we do a little planning. We want to look at things like cost and materials, but we also want to make sure that we have or can purchase book titles that can be used to support that activity/station. Also, having the checklist filed away makes it easy to pull out and set up each station/activity when we rotate it back in.


TMS Daily Report

I like to have a daily record of when teens use our Teen MakerSpace and what teens are doing in the space for planning purposes, thus the daily report log. As we work in the space we just make hashtags of teens in the space by hour and note what they are doing. This helps us know when we need staffing and what stations/activities are the most popular with our teens. I find it to be an invaluable tool. Also, because of this tool we know that we had over 3,000 teen visits to our TMS last year during peak, staffed hours and that our teens favorite things to do are make buttons, work with the 3D pen, and use our iPads.


And now you know why these tease me about forms. But in all seriousness, I find them to be invaluable tools and they really help us organize our Teen MakerSpace. And they complete the amazing Teen MakerSpace Manual. (Was that last line too much?)

Do you have any favorite forms you like to use? Let me know in the comments. I do like a new form to look at and adapt.

Previous MakerSpace Posts

Small Tech, Big Impact: Designing My Maker Space at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County (OH)

MakerSpace: The Making of a Manual

#MakerSpace: 1 Year Later

The MakerSpace Index at TLT

Take 5: Book Links of Interest for January 2017 (Collection Development Tools)

newyalitIt’s 2017! Which means it’s time for new books. Here is a list of some links to new YA coming out this year, and a couple that focus on this month.

15 of the Best YA Books for January 2017 : Bustle

60 Diverse Books To Look Forward To In 2017 – Bookishness and Tea

22 of Our Most Anticipated Contemporary YAs of 2017 : The B&N Teen Blog

26 of Our Most Anticipated YA Fantasy Novels of 2017 : The B&N Teen Blog

17 2017 YA Books To Have On Your Radar : Amanda MacGregor (Teen Librarian Toolbox)

Book Review: Because of the Sun by Jenny Torres Sanchez

Jenny Torres Sanchez is one of those writers I wish more people knew about. Her previous novel, DEATH, DICKINSON AND THE DEMENTED LIFE OF FRENCHIE GARCIA was a somber and reflective look at life and loss after the boy that Frenchie has a crush on commits suicide. If you haven’t already read it, I highly recommend you go and read it.


Tomorrow, BECAUSE OF THE SUN comes out. The book begins with a bear attack in Florida. It is here that our main character, Dani, loses her mother. She is soon shipped off to live with an aunt that she doesn’t really know. She also bonds with the book The Stranger by Albert Camus. The book – and new relationships – lead Dani on a deeply emotional journey.

This is another profound, somber and reflective look. Not so much at death, but at life. At what we think we know about the people closest to us and how even then, everyone holds parts of themselves in secret. It’s about finding love, in yourself and in family. It’s about healing and forgiveness.

This book is moving and beautiful. This book will gut you, but it will also give you hope in our ability to grow and our capacity for love.

Publisher’s Book Description:

From the backyards of suburban Florida to the parched desert of New Mexico, Because of the Sun explores the complexity of family, the saving grace of friendship, and the healing that can begin when the truth is brought to light.

Dani learned to tolerate her existence in suburban Florida with her brash and seemingly unloving mother by embracing the philosophy Why care? It will only hurt. So when her mother is killed in a sudden and violent manner, Dani goes into an even deeper protection mode, total numbness. It’s the only way she can go on.

Sunday Reflections: The Cybils are Here!

For several years, I have had the honor of being a part of The Cybils. The Cybils are book awards given out by bloggers (and readers) for the best of the best in a variety of categories. As a teen librarian, I have been a part of the YA award category. In that category, we look at both literary merit and teen appeal.


Sometime in October, nominations open up. Then a group of first round panelists read all those nominees and create a “short list” of titles. The short list goes on to a round of judges who will pick one of those titles and declare it the winner of The Cybils for that year.

While reading a ton of books – seriously, this year there were over 200 in the YA speculative fiction category – we have intense behind the scenes discussions about the books we are reading. That’s my favorite part. These discussions always help me look at some of the books a bit differently then I did before. Sometimes, you champion a book; which means that you really have to be able to talk about why you think a certain book should be on the list. Other times, we might have intense discussions about concerns about a book, whether those concerns be about representation, messaging, characterization, etc.

Several years ago, the book I loved most didn’t make the short list at all. I fought long and hard for this book, but no, it was not to be. In the end, I was still super proud and excited about the short list we put together. The process is just as meaningful to me as the list we put together and share with you. I love talking about YA fiction with other people who love YA fiction. But it’s more then just that, these are people who love to really talk in depth about YA. And I can’t stress it enough, it’s challenging, rewarding, intelligent discussion and it can really change your point of view.

Want to know who made this year’s short list? Click on over to The Cybils website. It’s another great list and this year, one of my favorites did indeed make the short list. I’ll give you a hint – it’s the book I blurb!

MakerSpace: Paper Circuits, an inexpensive way to introduce electronics with almost instant gratification

As the end of the year approached, I became acutely aware of the fact that we have a one month period between December and January when we can’t really make any purchases because we have to balance the books. So my goal was simple: fill in supplies and find a couple of new activities that we could introduce to carry us through this time period in our Teen MakerSpace. I had been aware of paper circuits, but hadn’t done much with them. This seemed like a good time.

For one, paper circuits are less expensive then a lot of the things on my “things we want to try” list. Also, they don’t take up a lot of space. It’s a great introduction to the idea of circuits without a lot of tools, wires, and things like soldering. I know nothing of soldering.

Paper circuits use a battery, copper tape, LED lights and paper to create cool things. For example, you can make light up cards. Or you could make a paper piano.

Paper Circuits | The Tinkering Studio

To begin with, we bought this set:


It cost $30.00 on Amazon and comes with copper tape, 12 LED stickers, 2 coin cell batteries, battery clips, and a “sketchbook”. Also, you can hack the box to make cool projects as well.


The very first page tells you how to use the book and set up a circuit.


Then when you turn the page, you light up a light bulb.


The Great Big Guide to Paper Circuits –

It has the added benefit of seeing almost immediate results. Sometimes it’s nice to have something that is quick and rewarding.

Pros: Inexpensive, good starting place, easy introduction, easy to store, lots of possibilities

Cons: I does have consumables, but they are relatively inexpensive to replace

We are just starting our journey with paper circuits, but I liked this kit so much I bought The Teen one for Christmas. It’s a good introduction to the idea of circuits and there are lots of cool things you can do. Additional components can easily be bought online.

More Info:

Paper Circuits – Instructables

Paper Circuits For Makerspaces –

Simple Paper Circuit | Make:

1000+ images about Paper circuits on Pinterest | LED, Electronics

1000+ images about Paper Circuits on Pinterest | LED, Paper and Tape

Video Games Weekly: Best Console Games for Teens in 2016

2016 was an interesting year in the gaming community, ranging from the Pokemon Go craze to the overwhelming disappointment in No Man’s Sky.  This is my last post for 2016, and I have decided to compile an annotated list of the top games from 2016 for teen gaming programs as well as circulating collections. I hope you enjoy, and I’ll see you all in 2017!


Gaming Programs:

FIFA 17 (Xbox One, PS4, Xbox 360, PS3)
FIFA games are always a favorite if your teens enjoy competitive sports games or soccer. Up to 4 players. Rated E.

Lego Harry Potter Collection (PS4)
Give this long game to your Potter heads! You can read my full review here.  Up to 2 players. Rated E10+.

Lego Star Wars: Force Awakens (PS4)
Lego games are always fun to play in multiplayer mode, especially if your game nights have a smaller attendance.  Buy this one for your Star Wars fans, especially since Rogue One just came out. Up to 2 players. Rated E10+.

Madden NFL 17 (Xbox One, PS4, Xbox 360, PS3)
Similar to NBA and FIFA, teens who are into football will enjoy playing as a career player.  Up to 4 players. Rated E.

Minecraft Wii U Edition (Wii U)
Minecraft is still a big hit for teens, especially teens who just want to create things rather than compete against one another or complete quests. Teens who play this game on the PC will have to adjust to different controls on the Wii U, but will enjoy it nonetheless. Up to 4 players. Rated E10+.

NBA 2K17 (Xbox One, PS4, Xbox 360, PS3)
Reviewed as one of the most “authentic” sports game this year, be sure to buy this for your teens who love basketball. Up to 4 players. Rated E.

Plants Vs Zombies Garden Warfare 2 (Xbox One, PS4)
If you have teens who want to play shooter games, but your library doesn’t allow rated M games, this game is a great compromise. View full review here.  Up to 2 players. Rated E10+

Pokken Tournament (Wii U)
Give this title to teens who still have Pokemon fever, or who are looking for a fighting style game that isn’t dramatically violent. Up to 2 players. Rated E10+

Rocket League (Xbox One, PS4)
Rocket League combines soccer and race cars into a chaotic and incredibly fun game. Teens of all ages and gaming skills can compete in this absurd action-sports game. Up to 4 players. Rated E

*Street Fighter V (PS4)
Fighting games are a staple genre in the gaming community. *You should read my review and look at character costumes before purchasing for your program. Up to 2 players. Rated T.

Circulating Collection Suggestions for Teens: 

Attack on Titan (Xbox One, PS4)
This game is based off of the manga and anime show, although reviews have stated that the storyline isn’t as strong as its manga counterpart.  Still, teens who are obsessed with the fandom will want to play through this game. Rated M.

Dark Souls III (Xbox One, PS4)
This sequel takes place in the same apocalyp tic universe, although it is unclear if it is the last in the series.  Rated M.

Dishonored 2 (Xbox One, PS4)
Teens who enjoy a “choose-your-own-adventure” feel to their games will love this title . The video game  is long due to infinite choices that will impact your gaming experience, so be sure to have a few copies on hand. Rated M.

Dragon Ball Z Xenoverse 2 (Xbox One, PS4)
Teens who are heavily invested in Dragon Ball will much prefer this title over its predecessor because this game features much more frenzied battles. Rated T.

Forza Horizon 3 (Xbox One)
Give this title to teens who wa nt a racing game, but aren’t interested or ready for Grand Theft Auto V.  Rated E.

Gears of War 4 (Xbox One)
If you have teens who like Star Wars or want a slasher game, this game is recommended. The characters are bulky yet nimble, and teens will find satisfaction in destroying an unknown enemy. Rated M.

Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 (PS4)
Teens who are fans of the anime or manga  will love to play through this title for the action and over-the-top battles. Rated T.

Ratchet and Clank (PS4)
This ongoing series is a fun third-person shooter that doesn’t have a lot of violence but a whole lot of gag  jokes. For my full review, click here. Rated E10+.

Ori and the Blind Forest (Xbox One)
While this game isn’t exactly new, the disc version of this beautiful platform jumper was released this year. Give this game to teens who like Super Mario and Metroid. Rated E.

Overwatch (Xbox One, PS4)
Arguably the best console game of 2016, this game is a multiplayer first-person shooter that heavily emphasizes teamwork and strategy.  This game would be excellent if there was any co-op mode, but sadly the game’s strength is playing multiplayer online.  Rated T.

Pokemon Sun and Moon (3DS)
Similar to Pokken Tournament, give this game to teens who still have Pokemon fever.  Read my full review here.  Rated E.

Star Fox Zero + Star Fox Guard (Wii U)
While this isn’t the best Star Fox Nintendo game, it will still attract teens who love the franchise or whom are looking for a space adventure game. Read my full review here. Rated E10+.

Titanfall 2 (Xbox One, PS4)
One of the best first-person shooters released in 2016, give this game to teens who are looking for something more complex and thorough than Halo. Rated M.

Uncharted 4: Thief’s End (PS4)
Nathan Drake is back in this sequel.  The series is known for its renowned storytelling and parkour. Rated T.

XCOM 2 (Xbox One, PS4)
Teens interested in strategy games like chess will enjoy this incredibly difficult turn-based game. For my full review, click here.  Rated T.

Question? Comments? Tweet them at me! @LannaLibrarian

Carrie Fisher: Rebel Princess, The Library and Me

I once presented at ALA with Princess Leia hair buns. I was having a bad hair day, feeling defeated, and the clock was ticking. I needed to go sit in front of my professional peers and talk about Free Comic Book Day programming. So I summoned the Force, threw my hair up in two buns on the side of my head, and just went with it. Princess Leia hair, I would later argue to someone who questioned me, was the perfect hair for a panel on Free Comic Book Day. Comics, like Leia, are rebellious.

Using the green screen & other photo apps to make Star Wars pictures

Using the green screen & other photo apps to make Star Wars pictures

Free Comic Book Day. Star Wars Reads Day. May the 4th.

Star Wars has been a huge part of my professional library career.

It’s also been a huge part of my private life.

I remember waiting in line to go see Return of the Jedi on a dark night.

I remember my little brother going to sleep each night with a stuffed R2-D2.

I remember my own stuffed Ewok.

Green Screen Star Wars

Green Screen Star Wars

Last year, I had the honor and privilege of introducing my daughters to the Star Wars universe and taking them to see A Force Awakens. Here again was Carrie Fisher breaking the mold. Older now, she stood on that screen larger than life and she continued to lead the rebellion.

Many years ago, late at night, The Mr. and I were flipping channels when we stumbled across Carrie Fisher’s one woman show. We watched it and I was astounded to realize all that she had fought with and by most appearances won in her life time. Later, when I would have my own struggles with mental health, I remembered how she fought to erase the stigma. “She was a champion for mental illness,” I told my girls yesterday, “She struggled with depression.” My daughter looked at me and said, “that’s what happens to you sometimes.” And it is. We put a name to it, we take away it’s shame and power. It’s an illness, I remind my girls.


It is only later in life that I would learn of Carrie’s tremendous talent as a writer, which seems odd when you consider that for 22 years I have been a champion of the written word. But as in most things in life, women have to work twice as hard to get half the credit. She did the work, and was good at it.

I recently took both of my girls to see Rogue One. We had a very Star Wars Christmas at my house. The Force Awakens, Rogue One, t-shirts and pajamas. And while I knew these gifts sat under our tree, I also knew that Carrie Fisher was in a hospital fighting for her life.

2016 has been devastating to my childhood.

Today, like that day at ALA years ago, I wear my hair in Princess Leia buns. I will rebel.

Today, like that day at ALA years ago, I wear my hair in Princess Leia buns. I will rebel.

But I do not lose hope. Hope is what rebellions are made of. And in the true spirit of Carrie Fisher, I will continue to fight the rebellions and give my teens the tools to fight it for the next generation.

To Carrie Fisher I say, “I love you.” To which she replies, “I know.”