Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

5 Publishers That Will Rock Your MakerSpace

makercollection3Although I have a totally spectacular (if not a little too small) teen fiction collection at my library, I also have a totally rocking (if not a little too small) collection of Maker books in my Teen MakerSpace at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County (OH). In fact, we have a rule: for every maker activity in our Teen MakerSpace, we must have at least 1 supporting book. We are, after all, in the business of promoting books and reading as well as making. Also, some people are visual learners and books really work for them. In fact, on Thursday, a teen boy came into our Teen MakerSpace for the first time and he was excited about our maker collection; he walked out that evening with 10 books and said we had the best collection of books ever. Today, I am going to share with you the publishers I look to to help build this awesome collection.

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Make

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makeelectronics

Make publishes a wide variety of books that are primarily making, hacking and technology focused. Make books make up about 1/3 of our Teen MakerSpace collection. They cover topics like electronics, coding, Arduino, Raspberry Pi and more. They also produce a monthly magazine which we subscribe to and I highly recommend.

Quarto Books

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Quarto Books make up another 1/3 of our Teen MakerSpace collection. Many of these titles are more arts and crafts focused, but we often combine the various ideas with our tech. Although to be honest, we have found that our teens like traditional crafting just as much as they like more tech focused making.

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For example, we used the Map Art Lab activity and used it to make book related buttons using our button makers (TPiB: The Books of Our Heart Button). Quarto produces an Art Lab series which I highly recommend. In addition, that have a Super Skills series which breaks down things like movie making and vlogging/blogging into 10 easy steps.

Lark Crafts

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Lark Craft focuses almost exclusively on more traditional crafts, particularly fiber related crafts and jewelry making. They have a few great titles on book making which I also highly recommend.

No Starch Press

This book comes out February 2017

This book comes out February 2017

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No Starch Press is an excellent resource for books on learning coding and Lego building of all sorts. We have a ton of these books in our collection and they do not stay in.

DK

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DK has always been a big part of quality publishing and they have really embraced the maker movement. They have some good books on Scratch coding and have recently published a new Maker Lab book.

And 2 Honorable Mentions

Zest Books

Zest Books is a great place to get pop culture titles. Although they don’t have a lot of Maker related titles, they have a couple that are pretty cool.

Abdo Books

Abdo Books actually have a lot of quality maker titles, though they tend to skew younger and be more expensive. However, they cover some topics that I have found it harder to find and they have several series that focus on material types – like metal, for example – which can be quite fun.

What other publishers do you look to to fill your maker needs? Please leave a comment and share with me, I’m always looking for more resources to check out.

Take 5: YA Lit Titles for Makers and MakerSpaces

Collection development is an active process in which I, like all librarians, actively seek to build balanced collections of all types of books. Because we have an active and popular Teen MakerSpace, one of the things I actively look for are “maker” related books. These can be books that include any type of maker related activity, including djing and music production, coding, hacking, robotics, film making and more. Here are 5 new (and newish) books that somehow relate to the concept of making.

Dotwav by Mike A. Lancaster

dotwavPublisher’s Book Description

Fifteen-year-old Ani Lee is a skilled hacker researching a strange .wav file that she’s downloaded when it behaves as no file ever should.

Joe Dyson is a seventeen-year-old American transplant recruited into secret teen division of the British intelligence service who’s looking into the disappearance of a friend caught up in an underground music scene that might be more than it appears.

When Ani and Joe’s investigations intertwine, they discover that the .wav file and the music are linked—someone’s embedding the file into tracks to create a mind-controlled teen army.

But who’s behind it? And why? And how do you stop a sound? (Sky Pony Press, September 2016)

Karen’s Thoughts

If you love books where teens act as spies or secret agents, this book is for you. It is also a fascinating look at how technology can be combined with music production to . . . what exactly? Control populations? Subvert? Like I said, fascinating. Lancaster writes interesting premises, and given the leaps and bounds being made with technology these days they terrify as well as fascinate. Also, there is a female hacker in this book (whom I adore) and this would be a good companion novel with the Find Me series by Romily Bernard, which also features a female hacker.

Titans by Victoria Scott

titansPublishers Book Description

Ever since the Titans first appeared in her Detroit neighborhood, Astrid Sullivan’s world has revolved around the mechanical horses. She and her best friend have spent countless hours watching them and their jockeys practice on the track. It’s not just the thrill of the race. It’s the engineering of the horses and the way they’re programmed to seem so lifelike. The Titans are everything that fascinates Astrid, and nothing she’ll ever touch.

She hates them a little, too. Her dad lost everything betting on the Titans. And the races are a reminder of the gap between the rich jockeys who can afford the expensive machines to ride, and the working class friends and neighbors of Astrid’s who wager on them.

But when Astrid’s offered a chance to enter an early model Titan in this year’s derby, well, she decides to risk it all. Because for a girl from the wrong side of the tracks, it’s more than a chance at fame or money. Betting on herself is the only way she can see to hang on to everyone in the world she cares about. (Scholastic, February 2016)

Karen’s Thoughts

Teenage girls that build mechanical creatures to race while smashing the patriarchy? Why yes please. I loved so much about this book from premise to characters, and it is the most classicly maker feeling book on the list. From problem solving to hands on building, this book is maker culture on full display.

Replica by Lauren Oliver

replicaPublishers Book Description

Gemma has been in and out of hospitals since she was born. ‘A sickly child’, her lonely life to date has revolved around her home, school and one best friend, Alice. But when she discovers her father’s connection to the top secret Haven research facility, currently hitting the headlines and under siege by religious fanatics, Gemma decides to leave the sanctuary she’s always known to find the institute and determine what is going on there and why her father’s name seems inextricably linked to it.

Amidst the frenzy outside the institute’s walls, Lyra – or number 24 as she is known as at Haven – and a fellow experimental subject known only as 72, manage to escape. Encountering a world they never knew existed outside the walls of their secluded upbringing , they meet Gemma and, as they try to understand Haven’s purpose together, they uncover some earth-shattering secrets that will change the lives of both girls forever… (Harper Collins, October 2016)

Karen’s Thoughts

Full disclosure, I haven’t finished reading this one to completion yet. But put this on your list of suggested reads for Strange Things fans. Also full disclosure, I’m a big Lauren Oliver fan.

Gamescape by Emma Trevayne

gamescapePublishers Book Description

The planet is dying. Centuries of abuse have damaged the earth beyond repair, and now all the authorities can do is polish the surface, make the landscape look pretty to hide the disease within. Two prominent yet mysterious businessmen couldn’t fix it, either, but they did something even better. Together, they invented Chimera, the most complex and immersive virtual reality video game the world has ever known. The Cubes in which Chimera is played quickly became a fixture of this landscape: part distraction, part hospital, and almost wholly responsible for holding up the failing world economy.

Miguel Anderson is also dying. He isn’t the only one who plays the game–everybody does–but Miguel has more reason than most: When players leave their Cubes for the day, the upgrades and enhancements they’ve earned for their virtual characters leave with them. New lungs to breathe poisoned air, skin that won’t burn under the sun are great and everything… but Miguel, born as broken as the earth, needs a new heart–and soon–if he wants any hope of surviving just a little longer.

Then the two Gamerunners announce a competition, with greater rewards and faster progression than ever before, and Miguel thinks his prayers have been answered. All he needs to do is get picked to lead a team, play the game he’s spent years getting good at, and ask for his prize when he wins. Simple, really.

At first, things seem to go according to plan. Mostly, anyway. Inside his Cube, with his new team–including his best friend–at his back, Miguel begins his quest. He plays recklessly, even dangerously, for someone whose most vital organ could give up at any moment, but his desperation makes him play better than ever. The eyes of the world are on him, watching through status updates and live feeds, betting on his chances. With greater rewards, though, come greater risks, and the Gamerunners seem to delight at surprising the competitors at every turn. As he ventures deeper into a world that blends the virtual and the real to an unsettling degree, Miguel begins to wonder just why the game was invented at all, and whether its stakes could be even higher than life and death. (Greenwillow, September 2016)

Karen’s Thoughts

I haven’t read this yet, but gaming, game design and coding are all very popular topics with teens in my Teen MakerSpace. For more video game related reads, check out this list.

Boy Robot by Simon Curtis

boyrobotPublishers Book Description

Boy Robot is the first in a planned science fiction trilogy that follows a group of synthetic cell human teens with special abilities as they fight against the government organization that created them and now wants to destroy them. (Simon Pulse, November 2016)

Karen’s Thoughts

On my TBR list

Have some other titles to add to my list? I would love for you to drop me a comment. I’m always looking for new ones.

Video Games Weekly: Super Mario Maker

supermariomakerThis week, I’m reviewing Super Mario Maker, which I have been anxiously awaiting for weeks! Super Mario Maker is probably the most unique Mario game Nintendo has put out in recent years, and I’m looking forward to showing you why!

Platform: Wii U

Rated: E for “Everyone”, but don’t let that fool you. This game is rated “E” because there isn’t violence, gore, sex, etc. but that doesn’t mean that kids/teens will be able to beat every level they attempt. For example, there is a level called “Pit of Panga: P-Break” which is the most “difficult” level in Super Mario Maker [for now] that has made grown men cry when they FINALLY beat it. Watch this YouTube video if you don’t believe me (warning: turn down your volume) :

Single or Multiplayer: Single player. You can, however, have teens play with the same policy that my brother and I had while growing up: When you die, I’ll play.

Quick Synopsis: First of all, the video game character “Mario” dates back to the ‘80s. The first Mario arcade game came out in 1983 called Mario Bros. It was a sidescrolling platform jumper, which means Mario runs left to right, and can jump up and down. The goal was always to save Princess Peach from the evil Bowser, and you have to beat levels in order to find her.

Since then, there have been many Mario themed video games, but Super Mario Maker has completely changed the sidescrolling platform jumper genre. Instead of players beating levels designed and created by Nintendo game developers, players create their own levels for other players to beat. This is genius for so many reasons! First of all, adult players [like myself] who have been playing Nintendo games since they were kids can experience some serious nostalgia. Second, Super Mario Maker never feels boring because players from around the world are constantly releasing new levels for others to play. Players can sort of “beat” the game by either defeating the “10 Mario Challenge”, where players are given 10 lives to beat 8 sample levels, or by defeating the “100 Mario Challenge” where they have 100 lives to beat a certain number of levels, but every time you fail a challenge, you have to start over with new levels. This gives the game a long shelf life since the game is always changing and is full of surprises.   Third, this is a great STEM learning opportunity for kids/teens, which I will get to later.

Controls:

Playing Levels: Players can either use the Wii U Gamepad, Wii Remote, Wii Pro Controller, or a classic controller. In a level, Mario can move right, left, jump up, or slam down. Mario can also change into different “costumes” if the they are available in a level. The goal for each level is to reach the “end”, usually by hitting a switch.

Creating Levels: Players who are creating their own level have to use the Wii U Gamepad to drag and drop items on a course. Players can use a variety of enemies, artwork, and items from previous Mario games to create their level. This is fun because players can also “blend” items to make non-conventional combinations. This makes levels interesting for both older and younger players because every time Mario approaches an item, the player has no clue what is going to happen! I should also mention that in order for a level to be posted online, the creator has to be able to beat it themselves. This is a great game mechanic because it prevents mean people from posting impossible levels! Once your level is complete, the level is posted to the “Course World” where other players can comment and rank your level.

If you’re interested in watching a player create a level, here’s a good YouTube video:

Amiibo: A quick note about Amiibos. Amiibos are tiny figurines that players can purchase to unlock special content from Nintendo, but they are not required in order to play the game. With the Wii U, you place the Amiibo on the Wii U Gamepad near the NFC reader. If you use an Amiibo in Super Mario Maker, it unlocks more costumes for Mario.

STEM Appeal: There is a lot of STEM appeal for teens who are interested in game development. In the video game medium, a game has to have a “balance” in order for it to be considered a “good” game. That balance is mainly between game mechanics and difficulty, although there are other theories/contributing factors that make a good game. By playing Super Mario Maker, teens get a quick introduction to learning that balance. A teen’s goal is to create a level that is challenging enough to make players have a difficult time beating it, but not TOO difficult where it becomes impossible and makes players give up quickly. Remember that “Pit of Panga: P-Break” level that I talked about earlier? That level has been widely popular with hardcore gamers because it nearly impossible to beat, but casual gamers such as myself haven’t even attempted it because I don’t want to invest the time/effort. So, teens have to think about their level’s audience, skill level, and difficulty when creating a level. You know, like a game developer.

Verdict: I definitely recommend this as a core purchase for video game collections. It may or may not do well at a Teen Game Night program because you can only have one player at a time, but teens can pass the controller around when they die. Alternatively, you can ask teens to create a level together and see how it does in the online Course World. Make sure you have an internet connection, otherwise you will not be able to access levels created by other players, nor post your own.

By Alanna Graves
Twitter: @LannaLibrarian

Pricing

$59.99 on Amazon http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=super+mario+maker

Take 5: The Robot Test Kitchen’s Reading List

The five of us in the Robot Test Kitchen all came to this project from different comfort levels with technology. Some of us couldn’t get enough of it, some of us were skilled at it, some of us were dragging our heels, and some of us were curious but trepidatious. Some of us were a little bit of it all. Now that our project year has ended, we don’t have the amazing instructors in the ILEAD program to guide us every few months, we’re looking for ways to keep on learning. Here are a few books on our reading list this winter:

Invent to Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom By Sylvia Libow Martinez & Gary Stager
This guide is geared toward teachers, but that approach is really nice here, especially as an advocacy tool. It’s a great title for those librarians who ask themselves, “why robots? why STEM? why here?” because it looks at tinkering and making in the context of educational philosophy before getting into answering the “what” and “how” questions that will follow.

 

 

Making Makers: Kids, Tools, and the Future of Innovation by Dr. AnnMarie Thomas

Dr. Thomas is behind the super fun, super simple, super instructive Squishy Circuits concept. In her book, she interviews makers of all kinds to take a closer look at how childhood experiences can light a spark that can lead to creation and innovation. I love her playful approach to technology. It feels right and real to me.

 

 

 

Design, Make, Play: Growing the Next Generation of STEM Innovators by Margaret Honey

Another one to add to your list, especially if you feel you might face resistance to the concept of integrating STEM programs, whether from others in the library, or within yourself. Treating each activity: designing, making, and playing, as different pathways into learning is a really interesting concept, and certainly something that we at the Robot Test Kitchen have seen play out in our programs.

 

 

Zero to Maker: Learn (just enough) to make (just about) anything by David Lang

If you’re on board and ready to start making stuff, this is the book for you. Lang walks you through his process of embracing the maker movement and learning that it’s “really not about DIY or do it yourself, this whole thing is about DIT or do it together.” What a great concept, right? What a library friendly concept!

 

 

 

The Maker Cookbook: Recipes for Children’s and Tweens Library Programming by Cindy R. Wall and Lynn M. Pawloski 

Written by librarians for librarians, this is a great grab-and-go programming resource. And while the title says Children and Tweens, I’m pretty confident that the fun factor of a lot of the programs will bring them up to the teen level, or could be expanded upon in a way that would make them appealing to your teens.