Teen Librarian Toolbox
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Retro Movies with Reel Culture: 50 Classic Movies You Should Know About (So You Can Impress Your Friends) by Mimi O’Connor

Retro can be cool.  And let’s face it, there are some great classic movies out there.  In fact, a lot of our ya lit, TV shows and movies like to drop those classic movie references in there and sometimes, teens can be lost.  But don’t fear – there is a book to help! Isn’t there always?

Reel Culture: 50 Classic Movies You Should Know About (So You Can Impress Your Friends) outlines 50 significant movies from 1938 to 1991. This is a great browsing titled put together in chronological order.  It is an interesting look at some of the classic movies that helped define our culture at the time; the movies that we keep going back to time and time again.  Each title has about a 2 to 3 spread that outlines the movie, answers what all the fuss is about and tells you the stuff that people are still talking about.  Reel Culture than gives you a few significant quotes from each movie: “Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.” (p. 13)

Reel Culture is part of Zest Books Pop Culture series (which also includes Scandalous, The End, Dead Strange, and How to Fight, Lie and Cry Your Way to Popularity (and a Prom Date).  Each book in the series has the same browsable format with insets of pictures, interesting facts and more.  Although teens will enjoy flipping through these titles, they will appeal to adults as well and they provide some good basis for teen programming.  Read on for some specific programming examples.

True story: During my senior year of high school I may have been suffering from what is commonly referred to as “Senioritis”. It’s a real disease, I swear to it. Anyhow, my teacher gave us a list of books to choose from to read and do a book report on. I picked the shortest book on the list, which happened to be Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, the inspiration for the movie Apocalypse Now (It’s in the book!). It didn’t hurt that I was in love with Martin Sheen and wished he was my dad. Anyhow, long story only moderately short: That was the best stinking book I had read and I ended up doing the best book report ever. I never have been very good at slacker moments.  But it certainly can be some interesting discussion of how some movies are inspired by books even if they aren’t a direct book to movie adaptation.

Here are just a few of the programming ideas you can tie in with Reel Culture:

  • Book to Movie book discussion groups (The Wizard of Oz, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory) 
  • Movie marathons (80s, Horror, Prom)
  • You can use some of the information to create contests both online and in-house: Most Iconic Characters, Top Movie Couples, Legendary Oscar Moments, Movie quotes
  • Since the book only goes up to 1991, have teens add their own titles to represent later years.

Have a Flashback Party:
Show movies in the background
Bust out some retro boardgames and do some retro crafts. Think modge-podge, sock monkeys, and more.  There are some ideas in this Flashback Fridays post.  Some fun retro games you may want to include are Battleship, Clue, Uno, Yahtzee, etc.

Have a Disco Party:
Truthfully, you probably can’t show Saturday Night Fever, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with it.  You can use discarded cds and foam flower balls to create disco balls.  Just break the cds up and glue them to the foam flower ball and voila’, a disco ball.  Do some 70s Karaoke and be sure and YouTube some Disco moves.


An 80s Party Would Be, Like, Totally Fun:
One of my favorite movies included in Reel Culture is The Breakfast Club.  I think this is still an important and relevant movie for today’s teens.  You can have teens dress us up in 80s fashion and come view the movie.

An Oompa Good Time:
With Willy Wonka playing in the background, have a chocolate making and tasting program.  Or do a dessert version of Iron Chef using various candies, graham crackers, whip cream, marshmallow cream and more.  I have done this and it rocked! The teens loved it and begged to do it again.:

Social Media:
You can use your social media sites to share quotes, do short quizzes and more for an online movie festival during the award season.  In fact, create your own Teen Movie Awards and give your teens the chance to nominate and vote on their favorite movies during this time.

Film Wise is one of my favorite websites for movie lovers, and would be a great addition to your Reel Culture social media campaign.  They have a quiz called Invisibles where the main character is erased from a screen shot of a movie scene and you have to guess what movie it is.  There are a wide variety of movie quizzes and activities that would tie in nicely here.

Tapping into Teens Creativity:
And don’t forget that you can get teens to use their tech to create their own mini movies.  Have them act out scenes, create movie trailers and more.  The iPhone has a great app called iMovie that makes it easy to create movie trailers to share. 

You can also  tap into your teens creativity by having them make movie posters for their favorite books and sharing them online and in house.  One of my favorite Tumblrs is the Minimal Movie Posters, which are both a great example and another fun thing to share using your social media sites.  You can also check out Tech Blog which has 42 Awesome Minimalist Movie Posters.

What movie related programming have you done?  Tell us about it in the comments.


  1. The Breakfast Club is awesome movie. I have recently watched it on Cinema . All the remeaining movies are pretty awesome. https://cinemafreeapk.com/

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