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New Releases and Mini Reviews: Little & Lion, The Bakersville Dozen, and The Epic Crush of Genie Lo

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Today is a good day for book releases, as apparently all the recent books I have chosen to read release today. Is it fate? Destiny? Hard to say. Let’s dive right in, shall we.

Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert

august83Two step-siblings who were closer than close are reunited after one, Little (the female) spends a year in boarding school so that her step sibling, Lion (the male), can figure out how to deal with his bipolar disorder. At first the two of them deal with tension as they try to navigate who they are now after a year apart and the secrets they are both keeping, but as everything starts to unravel they have to learn to face their various truths.

There’s a bit of every aspect of teen life in this one: friendship, family, siblings, identity (both racial/ethnic and sexuality including frank discussions of bi and pansexuality), mental health, sex, teen, pregnancy, abortion, feminism, drinking and drug use, consent and more. It is in many ways the most authentically fleshed out and inclusive YA book I have ever read. There are a few brief moments where the character’s get a little didactic in how they talk about these various subjects, but it almost has to in order to make sure that the reader fully understands the topic at hand. For example, many readers may be unaware of the difference between bi and pansexuality and the discussion helps flesh out the concepts for the reader. There are moments in this book where teens clearly make bad decisions, sometimes even acknowledging that they are making bad decisions and then going on to make them anyway, and we see the ultimate results of those decisions. It’s a thoughtful look at the very real complexity of teen life with a respectful tone and engaging story. Brandy Colbert is a fantastic author and really does a good job of telling this story and diving into these issues.

The Bakersville Dozen by Kristina McBride

bakersvilledozenWhen compromising videos of several – a dozen to be exact – students go viral, life is not the same for the students in this Ohio high school. Then one of the Bakersville Dozen goes missing. Soon, a note is found with a challenge: find five trophies, follow the rules or everyone dies. It’s a macabre scavenger hunt full of twists and turns that you won’t see coming. Kristina McBride is a good author who deals with issues like online bullying, friendship, rivalries, broken relationships and more in the pages of this mystery thriller. Every step of the way you’re shouting to the teens, no don’t go into the basement and please call the police – which of course they can’t do or else we don’t have a story. And what a story it is.

The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F. C. Lee

august81Genie thought she was just a regular girl trying to get into a good college, until the Monkey King shows up and she discovers that she is a celestial being with a destiny to fight demons. Things get complicated – and snarky. For those of us old enough to know what this means, it definitely has a Buffy the Vampire Slayer feel to it in both storytelling and vibe, but has some unique twists in that it is steeped in Chinese culture and folklore. For the younger crowd, think Shadowhunters with a Chinese folklore infusion. I was not familiar with the legend of the Monkey King and found this story to be both entertaining and enlightening. It’s a fun read and that is high praise indeed. We need more flat out fun reads and this fits the bill.

About the Books

Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert

A stunning novel on love, loss, identity, and redemption, from Publishers Weekly Flying Start author Brandy Colbert

When Suzette comes home to Los Angeles from her boarding school in New England, she isn’t sure if she’ll ever want to go back. L.A. is where her friends and family are (along with her crush, Emil). And her stepbrother, Lionel, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, needs her emotional support.

But as she settles into her old life, Suzette finds herself falling for someone new…the same girl her brother is in love with. When Lionel’s disorder spirals out of control, Suzette is forced to confront her past mistakes and find a way to help her brother before he hurts himself–or worse.

The Bakersville Dozen by Kristina McBride

You have four days to locate five treasured trophies. Break the rules and you all die. Happy hunting!

Back in September, the town of Bakersville, Ohio made national news when a video went viral featuring thirteen of the high school’s elite in compromising positions. Now it’s May, and every month since the “Bakersville Dozen” made their infamous appearance on the national stage, one girl has gone missing. Officials are no closer to identifying the criminal.

Bailey “Like a Virgin” Holzman is getting really fed up with the scrutiny. She just wants to enjoy the rest of her senior year and have an epic summer before heading off to college. So when she discovers a note in her locker on the last day of school inviting her on a scavenger hunt, she thinks it’s just a sweet surprise from her boyfriend trying to cheer her up.

But following the clue leads her, instead, to the first official casualty. And another sinister envelope. The killer is close, and it could be anyone. Even the people Bailey’s always trusted most—her best friend, her perfect boyfriend, or the boy-next-door she’s always pined for.

With the clock ticking, she faces a terrifying choice: play the game by the killer’s rules—follow the clues, tell no one, and no cops—for a chance to save the rest of the missing girls, or risk becoming the next grisly victim.

The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F. C. Lee

The struggle to get into a top-tier college consumes sixteen-year-old Genie Lo’s every waking thought. But when her sleepy Bay Area town comes under siege from hell-spawn straight out of Chinese folklore, her priorities are suddenly and forcefully rearranged.

Her only guide to the demonic chaos breaking out around her is Quentin Sun, a beguiling, maddening new transfer student from overseas. Quentin assures Genie she is strong enough to fight these monsters, for she unknowingly harbors an inner power that can level the very gates of Heaven.

Genie will have to dig deep within herself to summon the otherworldly strength that Quentin keeps talking about. But as she does, she finds the secret of her true nature is entwined with his, in a way she could never have imagined… (Amulet Books, 9781419725487)

Book Review: You Don’t Know Me but I Know You by Rebecca Barrow

Publisher’s description

ra6Rebecca Barrow’s bright, honest debut novel about chance, choice, and unconditional love is a heartfelt testament to creating the future you truly want, one puzzle piece at a time.

There’s a box in the back of Audrey’s closet that she rarely thinks about.

Inside is a letter, seventeen years old, from a mother she’s never met, handed to her by the woman she’s called Mom her whole life. Being adopted, though, is just one piece in the puzzle of Audrey’s life—the picture painstakingly put together by Audrey herself, full of all the people and pursuits that make her who she is.

But when Audrey realizes that she’s pregnant, she feels something—a tightly sealed box in the closet corners of her heart—crack open, spilling her dormant fears and unanswered questions all over the life she loves.

Almost two decades ago, a girl in Audrey’s situation made a choice, one that started Audrey’s entire story. Now Audrey is paralyzed by her own what-ifs and terrified by the distance she feels growing between her and her best friend Rose. Down every possible path is a different unfamiliar version of her life, and as she weighs the options in her mind, she starts to wonder—what does it even mean to be Audrey Spencer?

 

Amanda’s thoughts

you don't knowThis was GOOD. Like, “life is messy and complex and decisions are not easy things” good. One would hope that a story that is about a pregnant young woman would have depth and would show the inner workings of her making whatever choice she makes—and wow, does this book have depth.

Despite using birth control, Audrey winds up pregnant. While she definitely isn’t in denial, a little tiny part of her hopes that maybe she can just pretend that everything is okay and that it just will be. Her boyfriend, Julian, is extremely supportive and loving, but Audrey can’t believe they have to tell their parents this happened. And how does she tell her friends? She and Rose, her best friend, have been drifting apart and just doesn’t think she can tell her about the pregnancy. Audrey is adopted; her mother (who is white) was single when she adopted Audrey (whose birth mother was white and birth father was black) as a baby. Audrey’s complicated thoughts on family, babies, and adoption factor into her struggle to make the choice that is right for her. Throughout it all, her mother and Adam, her mom’s boyfriend, are so supportive and loving. Julian’s parents are, too, with both his mother and Audrey’s going with them to a doctor’s appointment. Audrey is worried that she has disappointed people in her life because this happened, but no one ever makes her feel that way, not even for a second. Audrey grapples with what to do (with no one in her life pressuring her in any way to make any one choice) while thinking about the futures she and Julian had hoped for (his band, art school, music school, etc). There is no clear path forward for her. More than anything, Audrey just worries that someone may stop loving her based on what decision she may make.

 

While Audrey’s pregnancy and choice of what to do are at the heart of the story, this is also about families, more generally, and friendship, especially the ways little rifts can sneak in and suddenly turn into far larger distances than you thought you’d ever have with a friend. Rose, who is bisexual, has recently started dating Olivia, the new girl at school, but Audrey really knows nothing about what’s going on with them, thanks to the fact that she and Rose are barely speaking. Audrey ultimately makes the choice that feels right to her (in a situation where no choice feels “right”) surrounded by love, support, and options. A well-written, necessary, and honest, heartfelt look at making what feels like an impossible choice. 

 

Review copy courtesy of the publisher and Edelweiss

ISBN-13: 9780062494191

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers

Publication date: 08/29/2017

SLJTeenLive: Teen MakerSpace On a Budget Preview

On Wednesday I am honored to be a part of this year’s SLJTeenLive event. I will be talking with several other librarians about library programming “On a Budget”. I, specifically, will be talking about creating a Teen Makerspace on a budget. You can find a preview of my presentation here at SLJ.

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You can register FOR FREE to be a part of SLJTeenLive here.

Harry Potter Birthday Celebration! By Michelle Biwer

tpibLast week I hosted my second movie matinee of the summer for teens. I was expecting these events to be very popular, as the first event was a screening of Moana sponsored by a local restaurant. I really thought catered food would be the way to my teens’ hearts, but attendance was low.

I was prepared for low attendance for this event, but Harry Potter’s name will apparently do more for publicity than speaking to summer reading school visits and your entire department publicity strategy combined. Thankfully I had just enough supplies for 20 hungry teenagers.

I scheduled three hours for this program which ended up being a perfect amount of time to capture their attention and run all the activities I had planned. When they first arrived we took a vote on which Harry Potter movie we would watch and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was chosen. The younger teens paid rapturous attention to the film and the older teens found my Harry Potter Uno cards and started playing. I’m glad I brought those as a backup activity because it held their attention for an hour and gave them a chance to socialize.

Once I saw some restlessness in the crowd I brought out the butterbeer. We have a no cooking policy in our library system so the “recipe” was vanilla ice cream, cream soda, and butterscotch syrup. It was surprisingly tasty and disappeared as soon as everyone was served. I also had great intentions of the teens creating “snitches” from ferrero rocher chocolates and set out all the supplies. Instead, they were just immediately devoured. Can’t say I am surprised!

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At this point there were only a few teens left really watching the movie so I started letting interested teens make their own wands. The setup was very simple-dowels, hot glue guns, brown paint, and paintbrushes. They used the hot glue to add texture and decoration and once the glue hardened they painted over the dowels with brown paint.

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With one hour left in the program and no interest in finishing the film we switched over to trivia. We started with Harry Potter Jeopardy which I made using a blank slideshow Jeopardy template. I don’t mean to brag, but I am the biggest Harry Potter fan I have ever met so I made sure the hard questions were HARD.

With the last few minutes of the program half of the teens continued to play trivia with Kahoot! and the other half played Beanboozled, a gamified “muggle” version of Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans.

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In my heart, every day is a Harry Potter Celebration but it was fun to share my passion for a few hours!

Sunday Reflections: Boyfriends, Breakups and Blocking – Oh My! Talking with teens about a different type of access

tltbutton5As a librarian, I spend a lot of time talking about teens and access. Access to books. Access to information. I’m all about access. And then a new discussion of access came up and I had a decidedly different message for my teens.

The Scene:

Three of my teens are sitting in the Teen MakerSpace and each one of them have recently been broken up with. One of them felt sudden and without explanation to the heartbroken teen. Not only was said teen “dumped”, but the boy blocked them on all social media and asked them not to talk to them at all.

The Conversation:

So here sat these teens, discussing how unfair that was and what the rules to blocking someone on social media were. Their argument was that there had to be some reason, some explanation, and some type of real violation.

It was here that I interjected as someone that they were talking with that just because you want access to a person, their time, their social media, did not mean that they owed it to you. People can block people or decline social media requests for whatever reason they wish and, though it may be difficult to deal with, they don’t owe us an explanation. We are not automatically granted access to other people’s time, space, thoughts, or attention. No matter how much we may want it.

And no matter how much it may help us deal with the loss and heartbreak, we aren’t even owed a reason for why someone is breaking up with us. They just get to opt out because that’s what they want to do. And yes, it hurts and it’s hard, but it’s the truth. In the end, I hope everyone breaks up with kindness and preferably in person, but we can’t control the actions of others. And we’re left to deal with our pain on our own.

The summer after I graduated high school my long term boyfriend broke up with me and the reason was simple, I just wasn’t “fun anymore.” Dagger to the heart. It burned, it truly did. I did not cope well with this loss. But the young man who broke up with me owed me nothing. He was kind enough to answer a few calls from me, and I’m not sure if that made things better or worse, but it was a kindness he did not owe me.

This idea, however, that there are rules about who gets to block whom were interesting to me. But at the end of the day, I don’t think you automatically get access to someone, and I bet there are a lot of teens (and adults!) who need to be having these discussions in this era of social media.

So for possibly the first time in my life as a librarian, I found myself arguing in favor of the right to deny someone access. Welcome to 2017.

Friday Finds: August 4, 2017

fridayfindsThis Week at TLT

Sunday Reflections: Who are we marketing YA lit to?

MakerSpace: Legos! The one tool every makerspace needs?

Book Review: The Authentics by Abdi Nazemian

The Day The Teen Discovered Hoopla and Everything Changed

Book Review: Dress Codes for Small Towns by Courtney Stevens

Around the Web

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Recrafting a Legend with Miles Morales: An Interview with Author Jason Reynolds

Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?

The digital divide between rural and urban America’s access to internet

Book Review: Dress Codes for Small Towns by Courtney Stevens

Publisher’s description

ra6As the tomboy daughter of the town’s preacher, Billie McCaffrey has always struggled with fitting the mold of what everyone says she should be. She’d rather wear sweats, build furniture, and get into trouble with her solid group of friends: Woods, Mash, Davey, Fifty, and Janie Lee.

But when Janie Lee confesses to Billie that she’s in love with Woods, Billie’s filled with a nagging sadness as she realizes that she is also in love with Woods…and maybe with Janie Lee, too.

Always considered “one of the guys,” Billie doesn’t want anyone slapping a label on her sexuality before she can understand it herself. So she keeps her conflicting feelings to herself, for fear of ruining the group dynamic. Except it’s not just about keeping the peace, it’s about understanding love on her terms—this thing that has always been defined as a boy and a girl falling in love and living happily ever after. For Billie—a box-defying dynamo—it’s not that simple.

Readers will be drawn to Billie as she comes to terms with the gray areas of love, gender, and friendship, in this John Hughes-esque exploration of sexual fluidity.

 

Amanda’s thoughts

dress-codesI am not one for posting GIFs in reviews—that’s just not me—but for once I wish that just a GIF would be sufficient—one that captured the feeling of elation and love that reading this book inspired. Looking for some picture that captures those feelings seems way easier than trying to find actual coherent words to say about this fantastic book.

Like the summary up there says, this is a story about the gray areas in life—you know, where everything real and complex and interesting resides. Give me gray areas, and uncertainty, and questioning things any day over black and white supposed truths. Billie and her friends call themselves the Hexagon. Billie, Janie Lee, Woods, Fifty, Davey, and Mash are inseparable. They love schemes and they love each other. In their small town of Otters Holt, Kentucky, Billie, the minister’s kid, stands out. She dresses “like a boy,” is at times mistaken for a boy (or just seen as one of the guys), isn’t sure who she’s more interested in kissing, Woods or Janie Lee, and is willing to be herself and grapple with whatever that means all under the watchful and judging eyes of everyone in town.

There is SO MUCH to love about this novel. It’s a profoundly loving look at friendship, the kind of friendship where friends truly support each other and give each other room to grow, change, and figure life out. It’s also a really complex look at expectations, perceptions, identity, and fluidity. It’s also an incredibly necessary and supportive look at teenagers experimenting with who they are and finding so much love and support in even the most unlikely of places. Like Billie says at one point, “Feeling don’t sort like laundry.” Nor should we want them to. So much of the joy comes from sifting through everything, discovering who you are, in the process of finding yourself. Billie and her friends are unfinished and imperfect, but they’re grateful for what they have and willing to do the hard work of figuring out who they are. This thoughtful look at love, friendship, identity, sexuality, and fluidity is not to be missed. Brilliant. 

 

Review copy courtesy of the publisher and Edelweiss 

ISBN-13: 9780062398512

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers

Publication date: 08/22/2017

The Day The Teen Discovered Hoopla and Everything Changed

My library subscribes to Hoopla, a service that I can honestly admit I haven’t used very much – until recently.

hoopla

This summer we traveled in the car a lot and after we got sick of listening to the same songs over and over again, I remembered Hoopla! So I introduced The Teen – and the family – to Hoopla.

Here’s my true confession: I am not a big audio book listener. I find that I personally tend to wander and lose what is happening in the story unless it is a really engaging story. I also really like music a lot so that’s my go to audio. It just doesn’t occur to me to listen to an audio book.

disappearances

So as we were driving from Ohio to Texas, we began listening to The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy. In this book, every few years (I can’t remember the exact number but I think it is seven), something different disappears from the town. For example, no one in town can see their reflection (and no, they’re not vampires) and they’ve lost the sense of smell. It’s now almost time to find out what this year’s disappearance will be and everyone is understandably on edge. Different people in town have different theories about who – or what – is to blame for the disappearances. And one of the theories blames the mother of Aila, who has just came back to town after her mother has passed away. She is about to learn all of her mother’s deepest, darkest secrets – including about the disappearances, which she hasn’t experienced before.

The Disappearances is eerie and pretty edge of your seat, especially as you get closer and closer to figuring out what everyone will lose this time. And what they do lose is shocking! The Teen, Things 2 and even The Mr. were really into listening to this book as we traveled. In fact, when we got back before it was over everyone had to promise to everyone else that they wouldn’t finish it without them. I’m not saying I broke that promise, but I’m also not saying that I didn’t. We also had great conversations about what we would hate to lose as we tried to guess what the next disappearance would be. As conversation starters go, this book has some pretty interesting ones.

beautyqueens

Then The Teen and I began listening to Beauty Queens by Libba Bray. To be honest, it will be hard for any book to ever compare to this excellent book and it’s excellent reading – by Libba Bray herself! Beauty Queens is the story of a group of teen dream beauty contestants whose plane crashes on a seemingly deserted island that holds a secret. It’s a dystopian tale about a world which is primarily run by the consumeristic corporation and money talks. It has a ton – and a do mean a ton – of powerful and important conversations about all kinds of issues surrounding what it means to identify as female in this world. It pulls no punches and we definitely made sure we didn’t listen to this one when Thing 2 was in the car, because she’s only 8. It’s a great story made even greater by the amazing reading by Libba (Libba and I are apparently on a first name basis now). Even if you have read the book, I highly highly highly recommend listening to the audio book version as well. It’s that good.

Listening with my teenage daughter has dramatically changed my experience of audio books. It’s fun to listen with her and see her reactions in real time. It also prompts a lot of conversations, funny, sweet, sometimes challenging, always bonding. She has enjoyed listening to audio books so much that she downloaded the app onto her phone and I set up an account for her. Bonus: she had to get her own library card to do it (she’s always just used mine because no fines) – yay for more statistics!

I know that many libraries use Overdrive, and we also subscribe to Overdrive. My library just happens to subscribe to both Overdrive and Hoopla. And I’ll be honest, I find Hoopla a little easier to use once you get it all set up. But either way, you can have the same fun experience listening to audio books as a family. And yes, 24 years as a librarian and I had never done this – even though I advocate for it ALL THE TIME. I feel your shame coming through the Internet. But look, I made it right!

Books Discussed

The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy

What if the ordinary things in life suddenly…disappeared?

Aila Quinn’s mother, Juliet, has always been a mystery: vibrant yet guarded, she keeps her secrets beyond Aila’s reach. When Juliet dies, Aila and her younger brother Miles are sent to live in Sterling, a rural town far from home–and the place where Juliet grew up.

Sterling is a place with mysteries of its own. A place where the experiences that weave life together–scents of flowers and food, reflections from mirrors and lakes, even the ability to dream–vanish every seven years.

No one knows what caused these “Disappearances,” or what will slip away next. But Sterling always suspected that Juliet Quinn was somehow responsible–and Aila must bear the brunt of their blame while she follows the chain of literary clues her mother left behind.

As the next Disappearance nears, Aila begins to unravel the dual mystery of why the Disappearances happen and who her mother truly was. One thing is clear: Sterling isn’t going to hold on to anyone’s secrets for long before it starts giving them up.

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

When a plane crash strands thirteen teen beauty contestants on a mysterious island, they struggle to survive, to get along with one another, to combat the island’s other diabolical occupants, and to learn their dance numbers in case they are rescued in time for the competition.

Book Review: The Authentics by Abdi Nazemian

Publisher’s description

ra6The Authentics is a fresh, funny, and insightful novel about culture, love, and family—the kind we are born into and the ones we create.

Daria Esfandyar is Iranian-American and proud of her heritage, unlike some of the “Nose Jobs” in the clique led by her former best friend, Heidi Javadi. Daria and her friends call themselves the Authentics, because they pride themselves on always keeping it real.

But in the course of researching a school project, Daria learns something shocking about her past, which launches her on a journey of self-discovery. It seems everyone is keeping secrets. And it’s getting harder to know who she even is any longer.

With infighting among the Authentics, her mother planning an over-the-top sweet sixteen party, and a romance that should be totally off limits, Daria doesn’t have time for this identity crisis. As everything in her life is spinning out of control—can she figure out how to stay true to herself?

 

Amanda’s thoughts

authenticsDaria, the main character, and her friends Caroline, Joy, and Kurt feel like they are the only ones that are being their authentic selves all the time. Daria is an agnostic Iranian-American; Caroline is a lesbian performance artist; Joy is Nigerian American and raised by strict parents; and Kurt is super into astrology. They feel like they’re real in ways their peers are not, but a whole bunch of different revelations (both big and small) force them to rethink what’s real, what their identities are, and what it even means to be seen as authentic.

An assignment in English class about family trees and the journey of many students’ families to the United States propels the Authentics (which, yes, they rather insufferably refer to themselves as) to do a cheek swab DNA test to see what they might learn about themselves. Daria gets back information that she doesn’t understand, pushing her to do some digging into her family’s past, uncovering secrets that she can’t believe. While on a mission to reconnect with someone from her past, she meets Rico, a tattooed Mexican artist, who captures her interest (even though there are some very good reasons she should not see him as a potential love interest). As she begins to put together the pieces of her family’s past, Daria also learns that not everything is as it seems for all kinds of people in her life.

 

Examining culture, identity, and family, The Authentics is a compelling look at what happens when everything you thought you knew is suddenly uncertain. A good read full of memorable characters with diverse identities. 

 

Review copy courtesy of the publisher and Edelweiss

ISBN-13: 9780062486462

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers

Publication date: 08/08/2017

MakerSpace: Legos! The one tool every makerspace needs?

lego

I maintain that a genuine staple of a good MakerSpace can be found in Legos. Make no mistake, Legos are not cheap, but they have a versatility about them. And you can get around the cost of Legos by buying random bulk packages off of Amazon. You have no idea what kinds of pieces you will get, but they are significantly cheaper. And occasionally you can find a good sale. Wal Mart, for example, occasionally has a case of 500+ Legos for around $30.00. It’s a good starting place. You can start small and keep adding to your collection over time. You need a good amount of standard bricks, but you also need unique pieces to really build a variety of projects. Some libraries successfully get donations from the community, but I have tried at two different libraries and have found that people really like to hang on to their Legos.

In addition to just doing regular Lego builds, you can combine Legos with things like LittleBits and a Hummingbird Robotics Kit to take your Lego creations to the next level. If you are really advanced, you can even combine them with a Raspberry Pi to make a remote control car. Below we adapted the idea behind brushbots to make vibrating Lego cars. All you need is a vibrating motor, a coin battery and an adhesive to attach it to your Lego car.

lego4

Here are some of the ways we use Legos in our Teen MakerSpace at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County.

The Lego Wall

Inspired by all the great Lego walls we kept seeing online, we too wanted to created a Lego wall, but we simply didn’t have the wall space in our area. So we made a portable Lego wall using a piece of plywood and 4 10×10 Lego plates. We can set the Lego wall in one of our windows and take it out whenever we would like. We can also take it with us on a stand for outreach events.

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This is a Lego maze that was built by multiple teens on our Lego wall. One teen started it and as teens come in they continue to make it grow. At this point about 4 teens have had a hand in building this maze.

The Daily Lego Challenge

We put out a daily Lego challenge as one of our regular Teen MakerSpace stations. A large number of our ideas come from the book 365 Things to Do with Lego Bricks.

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Lego Challenge Cards

There are a variety of Lego challenge cards that you can find online by doing a Google search. We have a deck of cards – laminated for longevity – that we keep out and teens can randomly choose a card and take the challenge.

challengecards

The Lego Challenge Game

We took the idea of the Lego challenge cards one step further and created a Lego challenge game. Again, this idea was inspired by things I found online. I created a numbered game sheet and a teen created our dice using Sculpey clay. You simply roll the dice and complete the challenge that matches the number you rolled. You can make multiple game boards and rotate them out to keep it interesting.

legochallenge

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Rube Goldberg Machines

A Rube Goldberg Machine is a type of chain reaction machine where one action leads to another. You can make one using Legos. In fact, there is even a book about it called Lego Chain Reaction. After teens get the concept down, it’s fun to challenge them to make a design of their own.

rubegoldberg

Stop Motion Animation

We regularly use Legos in our Stop Motion Animation station. The minifigurines are great cast members and you can build your own sets.

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Lego Books

We have a HUGE collection of Lego books in our Teen MakerSpace and they are some of our highest circulating items. No Starch Press has a great collection of Lego books.

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Although our books are always available for check out, we do keep the Legos locked up when no staff is in the room to help prevent theft.

And no, Lego didn’t pay me to write this post. I have just really found Legos to be a useful MakerSpace tool.