Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Behold the Power of Reading; Or, how my 8-year-old was inspired to start her own #TrashTuesdays

Last Saturday, Thing 2 turned 8. For her birthday, a friend sent her the following three books:

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Monday night, The Teen, Thing 2 and I curled up and bed and read them together. We cried as we read Malala’s story. We were inspired as we read about Barrack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

One thing that each of these stories has in common is that all three people started working at a young age to make the world a better place. They didn’t say, when I grow up . . . They started now. And that was a powerful message for Thing 2.

Thing 2 has often commented about the litter she sees around the world. We are an animal loving family and she is always worried about how the trash will harm not only the environment, but the animals. So that night, reading these books, she looked up at me and said, “I want us to go once a week as a family and clean up trash.” And so we did.

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Thus was born what she has called #TrashTuesday. (Please note, I have later learned that there is a movement to pick up 10 pieces of trash every Tuesday, but she doesn’t know this and I’m not going to tell her because I don’t want to undermine her passion.) So yesterday, we grabbed some gloves and a big plastic garbage bag and we walked around our neighborhood picking up trash. We picked up water bottles, drink cups, napkins, and empty cigarette packs. Lots of them. We walked up one street and down another. “Maybe we should do it two days a week”, she said to me. (PS, if you are looking for me on Friday, I apparently have to go out and collect trash again.)

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I couldn’t help but notice all the things that came out of a moment spent reading these books together. Yes, we got to cuddle and snuggle and practice our reading skills. Yes, we bonded as a family. But my girls also read powerful stories about people working hard and accomplishing things for the good of their world, and they were inspired. That inspiration didn’t just lead to a good feeling inside, it was an reminder to them that they can do something now, today – and they did. (The Teen might have gotten kind of dragged into it, but she’s a good kid and she’s supporting her sister.)

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So here’s what I would like to ask of you. Next Tuesday, wherever you are, grab some gloves and some trash bags and join my baby in doing what we can to act now to make our world better. Email me or Tweet me a picture of you and your trash with the hashtag #TrashTuesday. I will share these pictures with my two girls and show them that they can start something, that they can be empowered and inspire others, and together we can show these two little girls that we can work together to make our world a better place.

This is what happened when I tried to use Loom Magic books in a program, a Tween’s perspective

On Tuesday we had another Makerspace program, this time we busted out our Rainbow Loom books (seen above). I saw them recently in a journal and since I have a RL component to my Makerspace, buying them just made sense. Besides, I like books. And I like people checking out books. Books in a library are good. But this is what happened when we tried to use them . . .

This time, I brought The Tween to work with me because she is an expert Loomer at this point and she is has been coming to library programs since she was in diapers. This turned out to be a great idea because she set up the RL station for me. As you can tell, she does not get any librarian organization tendencies from me. Nope, none. And of course you should organize your Rainbow Loom bands into a rainbow – it’s right there in the title!

So then she decided to sit down and try making one of the creatures from one of the new books. Keep in mind that she has made many charms and creatures before, including a lovely snake with pony beads for eyes that she made The Mr. for Father’s Day. You know you’re jealous. She usually does this following YouTube tutorials, this is the first time she has tried to do a RL project using a book.

This time, she decided she would try making an alien for her lovely mother. I do love aliens. So she laid out all of her supplies and followed step one. And after following the instructions in step one the picture did not look the way it did in the picture that was labelled step one. She consulted me and as far as I can tell she had followed the instructions correctly. She stripped the Loom and started over again. Same results.  We tried three times and she abandoned this project. With half of her time spent and her frustration level high, she decided just to be social and do a simple fishtail bracelet. For the record, the only thing I can do is a fishtail bracelet. Go me!

At another table, another tween – again, an experienced loomer – also tried to use the books. She quickly abandoned her project.

A new loomer started making a complicated ghost, and at first she was very happy with the books. Soon, however, she called for reinforcements. Four of us gathered around trying to decipher the instructions and finish this ghost. When we went to remove it from the loom, it fell apart. So this once enthusiastic book user decided that she also found following the book instructions difficult and confusing.

In the end, we busted out the library devices and just decided to use YouTube tutorials.

I have mixed feelings about the books. I know that a lot of kids don’t have access to devices or the Internet at home so it’s nice for them to have the books to check out. At the same time, we didn’t have the best of luck using them – and again, I was working with some experienced Loomers.

The Tween’s final verdict is this: “They were not as useful as I hoped they would be. The steps were confusing and it was frustrating to try and follow them. I’ll just stick to YouTube.”

I would love to hear other people’s experience with trying the projects in one of these titles. Please share in the comments.