Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Using Picture Books with Teens to Develop Media Literacy: Facts vs. Opinions. vs. Robots by Michael Rex

Picture books are just for kids, right? Wrong! My friend and fellow librarian Amianne Bailey has long been a proponent of using picture books with teens. In fact, she has written about that on her blog and shares a list of books that she recommends sharing here. She has a thriving group of young readers at her high school and though they read a lot of great YA, they’re not afraid of a picture book.

SLJ: Not Just for the Pre-K Crowd: Picture Books for Tweens and Teens

This past week I came across one of the most perfect – and timely – picture books to share with teens.

There’s a lot of political discourse happening in our world right now and some of it boils down to this: not everyone seems very clear on what the difference is between a fact and an opinion. But do not fear! These super cute robots are here to help us figure that out.

Which robot is the most fun? Well, that would be an opinion. And if we have a difference of opinion on this subject, that’s okay. We can still be friends. I mean, I still love my teenage daughter even though she had the audacity to proclaim that Foo Fighters music was trash. I thought about disowning her, but then I remembered that a difference of opinion doesn’t mean we can’t be friends. Or family.

Facts, however, are different. And I think it’s important that we talk about facts, where to find them, how to cite them, and how to talk about them with others. Granted, not all of that information is in this book. But this book is a really solid starting point for that conversation.

There are also a lot of fun things you can do with this book, because robots are cool. You can do a tech take apart program and make new robots using the pieces. You can even then make your own digital media version inspired by the Michael Rex book.

If that seems to complicated, you can do a simple exquisite corpse robot using a sheet of paper and markers. To make an exquisite corpse, you fold a sheet into thirds and have three people each drawing a section of the robot without seeing the other sections. You can find some examples and instructions here. This is also a great poetry month activity as each person can add a line to a poem in the same fashion.

You can make robots and use them to make stop motion movies, take photos of your robots use digital media to create memes, or just decorate your classroom or teen area. Playing on the idea of robots, facts and opinions would be a lot of fun.

And since this is an election year, you can take your robots to the polls. Vote for robot president. Or is it overlord? Robots probably have overlords, that sounds more dramatic. Ask your tweens and teens to pose the same types of questions about their robots that you find in the book and keep talking about facts vs. opinions. Because this is a really important conversation.

Understanding the basic premise of what, exactly, is the difference between a fact and an opinion is the cornerstone of developing media literacy in our tweens and teens. When introducing this topic, this picture book would be a really great thing to share.

Youth Media Literacy Toolbox

But let me end this discussion by saying something really important. It seems on the surface that this conversation is a no brainer, but the reality is that we are living in a day and age when science and expertise is being regularly ignored and debased. I think it’s also important that we acknowledge that some opinions are, in fact, less valid than others because no human being should have to defend their right to exist or their basic civil rights.

So while I think this book is a fun and necessary introduction to important conversations and I think that everyone should be reading it, I hope that the conversations don’t end there.

Friday Finds: February 28, 2020

This Week at TLT

Books and Libraries Can Strengthen the Superpowers of Teens With ADHD, a guest post by Kirsten Lambert

RevolTeens: Texas Teen De’Andre Arnold Reminds Us All, Teens Need Fans (by Christine Lively)

The Pros & Perils of Sequels, a guest post by Alexandra Monir

Book Review: The Burning by Laura Bates

Information Literacy: We Need to Be Talking About Deepfakes (and The Burning by Laura Bates)

Sunday Reflections: Reflecting on My Reflections. On a Sunday, of course.

Around the Web

A middle school requires kids to dance with anyone who asks. One mom is fighting for her daughter’s right to say “no.”

Schools Are Embracing Mindfulness, But Practice Doesn’t Always Make Perfect

Who Should Decide What Books Are Allowed In Prison?

“All the Bright Places” Stars Elle Fanning and Justice Smith on How the Film Portrays Mental Illness

The Pros & Perils of Sequels, a guest post by Alexandra Monir

We’ve all heard of it: sequel-itis. For an author, the word conjures up sweat-inducing nightmares of delivering a Book Two that doesn’t live up to the first, and for readers, it’s the memory of the disappointed sting when you finish a book you’ve been waiting forever for, only to feel “meh” at the end of it. Let me tell you, the prospect of either scenario makes sequels so nerve-wracking to publish! But on the opposite end of the spectrum, sequels can be some of the most fulfilling books to write—and read—because they allow you to return to the characters and world you’ve fallen in love with and take their story to new heights.

The Final Six (Book one)

I did quite a bit of re-reading of my favorite sequels in preparation for writing my own, The Life Below, and it helped me uncover the difference between a meh sequel and a great one.

The Life Below (Book two)

In my (humble!) opinion, it’s all about landing in that sweet spot where Book Two continues with all the ingredients that made the first book special—so as a reader, it feels like coming home—while simultaneously pushing forward with new themes, settings, and conflicts, so that the series truly grows.

The most striking example of this is the Harry Potter series. I don’t think anyone who read Sorcerer’s Stone could have predicted how layered and rich the story would become by the time Book 3 rolled around, and once Harry ages into his teens and we’re following him on a darker adventure, the growth in J.K. Rowling’s writing and storytelling is exponential! But at the same time, whenever I started a new Potter book, no matter how much heavier the themes or higher the stakes, I always felt that warm, fuzzy feeling of returning to my happy place in the Wizarding World. By keeping the world and characters familiar, we readers were able to grow with Rowling and the story, without even consciously realizing it! That is something I aspire to in my own writing, and a number of other authors have achieved it beautifully, too.

Another particularly great example is One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake. This sequel manages to be even more action-packed than Three Dark Crowns, and as much as I adored the first book, this was that magical sequel that I loved even more.The pacing moves at a thrilling speed, while also accomplishing really powerful character development. The queen who was fragile at the end of Book One is now fierce and lethal. Another queen discovers entirely new powers that upend everything she believed about herself and her destiny. The way these characters evolve is truly #SequelGoals, and the combination of their growth, the heightened stakes and the epic action are what make this sequel stand out above others.

One other instance where I enjoyed the sequel even more than the first book is Catching Fire in the Hunger Games series. By bringing us back into the Games for the Victors’ Tour, we return to a terrifyingly familiar environment—but with new characters and stakes that make it feel fresh, instead of a retread of the first book. Then there’s the deepening of the book’s relationships and Katniss Everdeen’s major leap forward as a character, transforming from a survivor into a leader, and suddenly you have a sequel that’s even better than the first.

I think an excellent Book Two is the magic ingredient that separates an okay or good series from a truly great one, and it’s no surprise the three series I mentioned above are so wildly popular, considering how fantastic their sequels are! What are some of your favorite sequels? Let me know in the comments!

Meet Alexandra Monir

Alexandra Monir is an Iranian-American author and recording artist. She is the author of the hit novel The Final Six as well as four other published young adult novels, including the bestselling time-travel romance Timeless. She currently resides in Los Angeles, California. To learn more about Alexandra, visit her online at www.alexandramonir.com.


Perfect for fans of The Illuminae Files and The 100, in this heart-racing sequel to The Final Six the teen astronauts must figure out the truth about Europa before it’s too late.

It was hard enough for Naomi to leave Leo, a fellow Final Six contestant, behind on a dying Earth. Now she doesn’t know who to trust.

The International Space Training Camp continues to dodge every question about its past failed mission, and Naomi is suspicious that not everything is as it seems on her own mission to Europa. With just one shot at Jupiter’s moon, Naomi is determined to find out if there is dangerous alien life on Europa before she and her crew get there. 

Leo, back on Earth, has been working with renegade scientist Dr. Greta Wagner, who promises to fly him to space where he can dock with Naomi’s ship. And if Wagner’s hypothesis is right, it isn’t a possibility of coming in contact with extraterrestrial life on Europa—it’s a definite, and it’s up to Leo to find and warn Naomi and the crew.

With questions piling up, everything gets more dangerous the closer that the mission gets to Europa. A storm threatens to interfere with Leo’s takeoff, a deadly entity makes itself known to the Final Six, and all questions the ISTC has been avoiding about the previous mission get answered in a terrifying way.

If the dream was to establish a new world for humans on Europa…the Final Six are about to enter a nightmare.


ISBN-13: 9780062658975
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 02/18/2020
Age Range: 14 – 17 Years

Friday Finds: February 21, 2020

This Week at TLT

New Books Alert: Feminist agendas, enchanted wolves, vampires, murders, and more

Cindy Crushes Programming: Mermaid Hair Clips

Book Review: The Feminist Agenda of Jemima Kincaid by Kate Hattemer

Thinking About Teen Programming in New Terms: Environmental Impact and Zero Waste Programming

Around the Web

Food Fight: How 2 Trump Proposals Could Bite Into School Lunch

YA Rom-Coms Releasing in 2020

Organizations Rally Library Advocates—Again—To Oppose Cuts in Proposed Federal Budget

Thinking About Teen Programming in New Terms: Environmental Impact and Zero Waste Programming

We think about programming in a lot of different ways: outcomes and objectives, goals, target audience, staff time, developmental appropriateness, appeal factors, cost, etc. I’ve written articles, posts, and contributed to an entire book that talks about these very considerations. And outside of yearly Earth Day programs, I haven’t thought a lot about programming in terms of environmental impact. Until now.

Late last year I stumbled upon a post by Lindsey Krabbenhoft at Jbrary that talks about Zero Waste Programming. This post asks us to look at programming in terms of how much waste each program creates and to make a target goal of have a certain percentage of your programming be zero waste. I’ve been thinking about this post a lot.

A great majority of teen programming in libraries either involves gaming or crafting/making. Gaming is a pretty self-contained program. The materials can be used over and over again. This is especially true if you work in a library that circulates video games, which I highly recommend. You can just pull video games from your circulating collection for each gaming program and then they still get used by the larger community during the rest of the week. But when it comes to waste and environmental impact, not all programming is created equal.

What Does Zero Waste Mean?

In comparison, a craft/diy/making program usually results in the purchase of a lot of crafting materials. Every piece of fabric cut can result in fabric scraps. Every pipe cleaner snipped results in pipe cleaner ends in the trash. Don’t even get me started on the environmental impact of glitter, which is just bits of microplastic unless you are making a concerted effort to buy environmentally friendly glitter. So a bulk of our programming has built in waste. Even as we’re trying to do good in our local communities we are often doing harm by the amount of waste we are producing in our libraries.

The Programming Librarian on Cheap and Zero Waste Programs

Even when we do upcycling programs that turn old CDs into candy dishes and disco balls, we’re still creating other types of waste. In many ways it can be argued that upcycling programs create a net zero good because we’re still producing waste, even as we use things like discarded books and cds as our primary medium.

Using donated Legos, multiple use robots, and other items that can be used multiple times over long periods can help reduce programming waste

There are some exceptions here. Plarning, for example, creates very little waste. Plarning is the act of turning plastic bags into yarn and crocheting with it. You can make sitting mags or small area rugs completely out of plarn and it helps to re-use those plastic bags that you see littering the sides of our highways. You can also turn Capri Sun like pouches into wallets and purses, turn tin cans and condiment jars into decorative jars to hold your stuff (I’m sure that’s the technical term), and turn plastic bottles into plant holders and bird feeders. These are all good ways that we can think about the environmental impact on our craft programs.

And libraries have always been very good about holding onto a lot of those snips and scraps for future programming. Every library I have worked in has struggled to find enough storage space for all of those leftover bits and pieces that we famously hold on to just in case. Librarians are excellent hoarders.

A t-shirt can be turned into a tote bag to help reduce waste in programming and at home

My library system recently had a craft supply swap to help address this problem in another creative way. All 15 libraries in our system was invited to send in the supplies that they didn’t want and the staff member organizing this event (not me, for the record) put together a type of craft supply flea market that everyone came in and browsed. One person’s trash is, after all, another person’s treasure. It’s a great way to get craft supplies out of storage and turn them into programming.

But what is the next step? I think the article in Jbrary is correct, we need to take the next step and make a conscious effort to engage in zero waste programming. This means that for every program that we put together we need to do an audit to see how much waste we will create. At the end of the day, our goal should be zero. As often as we can, we should try and make sure our programs create zero waste for our communities.

One of the benefits to the Teen MakerSpace that I ran at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County is that it could be a natural dumping ground for all those bits and pieces. We watched a lot of teens turn that smallest bits of seemingly nothing into the most amazing pieces of art. But not every library has a space like this.

This means we may have to rethink the way that we do a lot of our programming. Maybe we need to seek out more programming like gaming, which allows us to use the same tools over and over again. Maybe we decrease the amount of crafting, diy and making we do and engage in more social oriented programs. Maybe it means that we repeat our programs more often.

Don’t get me wrong, zero waste programming isn’t going to solve the environmental crisis looming over us. A vast majority of the waste polluting our environment is being caused by large corporations. And recent rollbacks on environmental regulations are not going to help the situation any. Plastics and microplastics, septic waste, etc. are all of vast concern and aren’t something that most of us can really address at our local public libraries.

Infographic Source: https://graphicriver.net/item/global-environment-problems-solution-infographics/10428141?irgwc=1&clickid=0KYWyowZwxyOU0QwUx0Mo3cgUknQ6g35xwVczE0&iradid=275988&irpid=1244580&iradtype=ONLINE_TRACKING_LINK&irmptype=mediapartner&mp_value1=&utm_campaign=af_impact_radius_1244580&utm_medium=affiliate&utm_source=impact_radius

But we can start looking at our own programming and consider the local environmental impact that we have. We can set a goal to make a certain percentage of our programs zero waste to help minimize our library’s carbon footprint. And we can call in local agencies to do zero waste training to help our patrons learn how they can produce less waste at home.

Steps to Move Towards Zero Waste Programming and Decreasing Your Library Programming Environmental Impact:

  1. Analyze the types of programs that you do and the amount of waste they produce. Do a programming audit and make sure that you are offering a wide variety of programming options. Diversify the types of programs that you offer to decrease the amount of waste you produce.
  2. Invest in program supplies that you can re-use multiple times for engaging programming. Some examples include: Board and video games, robots, Legos
  3. When doing craft or making programs, look for recylcing and upcycling options. Use what you have first and buy as few new supplies and materials as possible.
  4. Host craft material swaps in your library system or for your community.
  5. Set a target goal for each year of what percentage of your programming you want to be zero waste. Track your programming and make sure you meet that goal, increasing it each year.

Every Sunday at my house I have a group of friends over for dinner. I used to buy paper plates and plastic cups and plastic utensils because it was easier to do clean up. Since encountering this article last year and as I talk more and more with The Teen who has a lot of climate change anxiety, we’ve changed a lot of things in our home. We no longer buy 2 liters of pop to drink on Sunday nights, we now buy kool aid and mix it in a reusable picture. We now use our regular plates, utensils and cups and just take the time to do the dishes afterwards. My trash can is less full every week as I take it out to the curb on trash day. We are not by any means a zero waste family, but we have started thinking a lot more about the amount of waste we produce. With new information, we made changes at home. As the education centers of our local communities we can be creating these same types of a-ha moments for our patrons through the types of programs that we offer.

We need to be doing the same things at our libraries. I hope that you will join me in making changes at home and at your library to create more zero waste opportunities. Let your goal in 2020 be to make 25% of your library programs zero waste.

Please share your zero waste program ideas with us here in the comments.

Friday Finds: February 14, 2020

This Week at TLT

Writing Whiteness, a guest post by Kate Hattemer

When Fairy Tales Meet Filipino Legends: The Stories That Shaped My Childhood, a guest post by Rin Chupeco

Book Review: The Last Confession of Autumn Casterly by Meredith Tate

My Agenda for Middle Grade Books, a guest post by Greg Howard

Kicky’s Post It Note Reviews: A Teen Reviews He Must Like You, My Eyes are Up Here and Four Days of You and Me

Sunday Reflections: Dear Adults, Please Stop Talking About How Much You Hate Your Body in Front of My Children

Around the Web

To Stop Picky Eaters From Tossing The Broccoli, Give Them Choices

Virginia will eliminate a state holiday honoring Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. It’ll make Election Day a day off instead

Books to Give Your Person on Valentine’s Day

Five Questions for A.S. King about Dig.

Is Your School a De Facto Book Desert?

How ‘To All the Boys’ helped usher in the age of the Asian American YA rom-com

In 2021 Budget Proposal, Trump Once Again Seeks to End Federal Library Funding

More Happy Than Not is being adapted for TV on HBO Max

Friday Finds: February 7, 2020

This Week at TLT

Book Review: The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper

Cindy Crushes Programming: DIY Body Scrubs and Face Masks

First Look: Shadow of the Batgirl by Sarah Kuhn

Homeless: Seeing Past the Label to the Person, a guest post by Catherine Linka

Book Review: Pride: The Celebration and the Struggle by Robin Stevenson

Book Review: The Life Below by Alexandra Monir

Around the Web

Number of Homeless Students Rises to New High, Report Says

HBG Buys More Than 1,000 Disney Book Group Titles

Why you shouldn’t censor your teen’s reading

Diverse Editions Pulled Before Release; Author David Bowles, Others, Speak Out Against New Covers of “Classics”

When Things Click: The Power Of Judgment-Free Learning

First Look: Shadow of the Batgirl by Sarah Kuhn

What do Val Kilmer, George Clooney, Ben Affleck and Robert Pattinson all have in common? They all have or will play Batman, which has been rebooted what seems like a million times on the big screen. But in the comic books, there are a lot of worlds in which “the bat” is a woman. You can currently see Batwoman on the CW, for example. But what if the mantle of the bat was taken on by a teenage girl? Not just any girl, but a teenage assassin! We are so excited to share this first sneak peek at Shadow of the Batgirl by Sarah Kuhn and Nicole Goux with you. After the synopsis, check out a couple of pages from this exciting new graphic novel that comes out today from DC Comics!

Cassandra Cain, teenage assassin, isn’t exactly Batgirl material…not yet, at least. But when Batgirl goes missing from Gotham, can Cassandra defy her destiny and take on a heroic mantle of her very own?

Cassandra Cain is the daughter of super-villains and a living weapon trained from birth to be the ultimate assassin. But that doesn’t mean she has to stay that way, right? She’ll have to go through an identity crisis of epic proportions to find out. But how do you figure out who you’re supposed to be when you’ve been trained to become a villain your entire life?

After a soul-shattering moment that sends Cass reeling, she’ll attempt to answer this question the only way she knows how: learning everything she possibly can about her favorite hero–Batgirl. But Batgirl hasn’t been seen in Gotham for years, and when Cass’s father threatens the world she has grown to love, she’ll have to step out of the shadows and overcome her greatest obstacle–that voice inside her head telling her she can never be a hero.

Sarah Kuhn, author of Heroine Complex and I Love You So Mochi, takes on her favorite hero of color for a new audience of readers. Featuring the edgy art style of Nicole Goux, Shadow of the Batgirl tells the harrowing story of a girl who overcomes the odds to find her unique identity. 

This graphic novel is a part of DC Comics line in which the background stories of various characters are explored in fun, new and interesting ways. You can see more of their upcoming titles here.

You can add Shadow of the Batgirl on Goodreads or follow the buy links on Goodreads to purchase it today. You can also visit your local indie bookstore to purchase this title and don’t forget to request it at your local public library!

Friday Finds: January 31, 2020

This Week at TLT

Post-It Note Reviews: a girl with Sensory Processing Disorder, a gloomy seaside town, special ed kids, and more

Adult – One of the Biggest Obstacles to RevolTeens, by Christine Lively

#RethinkAmerican: Part three in the Great Stories Club series, by Lisa Krok

Book Review: We Were Promised Spotlights by Lindsay Sproul

Tale as Old as Time: Fairy Tales, Mythology and Folktales Retold – a booklist for the 2020 SRP reading theme

Sunday Reflections: The Curious Case of the Death of Nancy Drew

Around the Web

Your Guide to Not Getting Murdered in a Quaint English Village

13 upcoming YA book-to-film and TV adaptations slated for 2020

2020 Rise: A Feminist Book Project committee introduces new name and top ten feminist books for young readers

In the internet era, public libraries are more vital than ever

American Library Association announces 2020 youth media award winners

Adult – One of the Biggest Obstacles to RevolTeens, by Christine Lively

If teens are going to change the world, and they absolutely are – they always do – they need the adults who love them to support them and have their backs, while giving them the space, time, and room to revolt. If our hope is that our RevolTeens will challenge injustices, solve the problems we’ve failed to solve – or that we’ve caused, and generally improve the future then we need to remove one of their biggest problems – the adults who love them.

When my kids were small, we had friends, family, and other assorted adults to spend time with them. When people showed an interest in playing with our kids or doing things with them, my mantra was, “Kids can’t have too many people who love them in their lives.” I am certain that I was right about that. Those adults and that time they spent with my children was important and showed the kids that they were important, interesting and lovable to people who weren’t their parents. Those relationships were essential to them developing confidence, self-worth, and happiness. 

Working with and raising teens, I’ve realized that kids’ need for adults who value them doesn’t change. What changes is adults’ ideas of what a kid needs. However great and noble our intentions, many of us somewhere along the line have changed from fans and cheerleaders when they are little to overzealous advisers and nosy counselors as those same kids enter adolescence.

Making a kid’s childhood happy and joyful is usually simple. Most of us see the children in our lives and immediately feel joyful, hopeful, and excited about this time in their lives. We also feel confident that we can engage with them and make them happy. Playing, singing, celebrating, and just being with a little kid is a blast. They know what they want and their needs seem clear cut. Play, sleep, eat, repeat.

The teen years seem far more mysterious. So many of us have conflicted and frustrating memories of our own adolescence. The common mythology is that each person’s life trajectory is determined by their performance in high school, we want nothing more than to set them up for maximum success. We advise them, coach them, harangue them, and alienate them at just the time when they need as many allies and fans on their side than they did as toddlers and young children.

Are our intentions good? Probably. Does that matter? No.

If you are a parent of a teen or someone who works with teens, you’ve felt it and you’ve seen it. We want them to read the right books, take the right classes, participate in all the right extracurricular activities, play the right sports, have the right friends, attend the best schools, and “be successful.” Just writing that sentence made me stressed out and tired. If the kids we care about are academically minded, that whole list is tiring. If the kids we care about have any challenges, or don’t have any easily identified strengths in adolescence, we start feeling desperate to help them “stand out” and excel. It can paralyze them, make them feel even more alone, and cause rifts in the relationships they most depend on.

I have a son who is a junior in high school. He’s overwhelmed with all the “life altering decisions” he feels he has to make in the next year. We want him to be happy and successful. He and I were having a conversation about college options, gap years, and other things he needs to consider when he shouted, “Mom, I have no idea what I’m doing!” It was an epiphany moment for me. I took a second and looked at him and said, “Nobody knows what they’re doing. I don’t know what I’m doing. If you stopped any adult on the street and asked if they feel like they know what they’re doing, I bet nearly all of them would say no.” Yet, we continue to give our teens this overwhelming pressure to not only know what they’re doing but also the pressure to constantly be working toward their goals and to always be moving toward success. We become a menacing kind of Greek chorus of teachers, counselors, family, and every other adult in their lives constantly asking them where they’re want to go to college, if they’ve finished their homework, and on and on…. No wonder they’re revolting!

People will often point out that most of the sweeping revolutionary ideas, social movements, and cultural changes in our country have been started by and sustained by young people. Teens and young adults who aren’t fully invested in maintaining the status quo and who want to fix injustices are the ones who not only speak up, but who refuse to be quiet until the problem is addressed and fixed. Countless young adult books, teen centered movies, and teen fantasies center on teens upending the adults who are holding them back.

It’s a well used theme for good reason. If the adults close to teens are one of the obstacles in their lives, they have to spend time and energy fighting us before they can ever take on the world. If we stand with them and encourage them, they can take on the world with support and advice from people who love them. We can make a difference for teens who want to change the world by not adding to their stress and supporting their revolutions instead of becoming another obstacle for them to overcome.

What can we do?

Stop offering (or forcing) help on teens. Instead, we can all focus on being available and curious. Being a student is an overwhelming battle every day to prove yourself and your worth. Teens are literally graded on their performance multiple times each day. Asking them if they need help is always a good idea, and honoring their answer is the very best way to be helpful. Help isn’t always helpful, but honoring requests is.

Stop framing their interests as potential ways for them to excel and stand out. We all give a lot of lip service to the value of failing or dabbling in the things that interest us. As an adult, I have tried my hand at bread making, knitting, drawing, writing fiction, running a home business, and many other things. I’ve failed at all of them and learned from those failures and attempts. When I did try, the only thing at stake was a little bit of money and some of my pride. I never felt that my success or failure in any of those things would determine the trajectory of my whole future. Teens need to feel that, too. Find ways to help and support them in letting go of those expectations.

Start appreciating them again. We often know what we love about our teens, but are so busy helping them “get good” at things that we forget to celebrate those qualities that we love. We always ask toddlers and little kids to show us their newest acquired skills and we’re quick to marvel at nearly their every move. We can start doing that with teens and again focus on helping them enjoy and experiment just for the pursuit of joy rather than to find something to add to their college applications.

Listen, listen, listen, and only give advice when they ask or are clearly dealing with a critical situation. My daughter, who is now 22 and always patient with me, has taught me this skill. It was so hard to learn and practice. When my children come to me to tell me about a problem, my immediate reaction is to offer to help, offer solutions, and to generally try to fix it. What she has had to tell me many times is that she just needs me to listen. Listening is what they need. They get more advice, help, and instruction than they could ever follow. They need to be heard and feel heard so they can start to figure things out themselves.

RevolTeens are not a new phenomenon. They are a time honored force for change. The best way for all of us well-meaning adults to help them is to not become an obstacle ourselves, but to support them, love them, and let them lead the way.

About Christine Lively

Christine Lively a school librarian in Virginia. I read voraciously, exchange ideas with students, and am a perpetual student. I raise monarch butterflies, cook, clean infrequently and enjoy an extensive hippo collection. Christine blogs at https://hippodillycircus.com/ and you can follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/XineLively