Teen Librarian Toolbox
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On the Eighth Day of Blogmas, my TLT gave to me

Guys Lit Wire!  I am not of the whole ‘guys and girls read different books’ mentality but I do like to find books that appeal to my reluctant boy readers and books that have male main characters.  Guys Lit Wire is a site I stumbled across via Twitter one day and fell in love.  Basically, the group of contributors (and according to their page there are a TON), put together book reviews and a few articles about books that appeal to guys.  The plus side?  The books aren’t always new!  I find this super refreshing because there are several books that they have reviewed in the past that were a little older but that I had not read or heard about which allowed me the opportunity to showcase older books along with newer books in my displays.

Check it out, laugh because the reviews and labels are brutally honest, and enjoy!


On the Seventh Day of Blogmas, my TLT gave to me

The Show Me Librarian!  Okay, so I know this is Teen Librarian’s Toolbox and the blog I’m ‘giving’ to you is primarily for children’s services BUT those of us working in public libraries 1) sometimes serve both populations, 2) are always looking for good Tween/Teen books and programs, and/or 3) (if you’re me…) HATE working with children.  Okay, that’s a little much but I really, really don’t like working in Children’s Services.  There is a reason I don’t.  Storytime with me would be a very bad idea.  I can’t fake it and I say ‘crap’ a lot (along with a few other choice words).  That’s frowned upon.

Back to The Show Me Librarian…Amy Koester has made me like children.  Or at least the books.  What Amy has done is provide an excellent book review, commentary, and programming site that gives me ideas when I am working with my own son (and future daughter), ideas that I pass along to my Children’s librarians, and a ton of programming ideas for my middle grade groups.

Just recently, she did a Spy Club post, which really made me think about modding this idea for my 6-8th graders who would LOVE a program like this.  Other awesome postings are How to Start a Lego Club, her Day in the Life of a Children’s Librarian series, and her awesome post about her YA Tab Lock-In that literally made me green with jealousy.

Amy does have a heart for YA as well and posts things for YA savvy librarians but this resource is absolute GOLD for those of you serving all of youth services.  Or for those of you who want to learn to like children.  Wait, maybe that’s just me…bah humbug.  (;

Stephanie (I felt the need to sign this post so that the other awesome chicks at TLT don’t get a ‘Kiddie-Hating’ reputation!)

On the Sixth Day of Blogmas, my TLT gave to me

I love Stacked.  I always have.  Stacked is one of my favorite blogs to visit because of the constant stream of reviews (esp. of books that I want to read) but more so because of the really introspective content.  Some people have a way with words and all of the articles that I read penned by Kelly, Kimberly and Jen really are top notch when it comes to YA services.  Many of you found the blog during the whole ‘ARCgate’ controversy and Kelly made some very interesting and crucial points and what was even more important was that she got us really thinking and talking about what was acceptable conduct at professional conferences.

Some of the more recent postings that I’ve really enjoyed were Defining Contemporary, Realistic and Historical Fiction, all of the posts during Contemporary Week (my favorite genre), and  Some thoughts on “new adult” and also “cross-unders”.


On the 5th day of Christmas, my TLT gave to me . . .

Teens blogging creatively . . .

Look, you know my mantra.  (You do know my mantra, right?)  If you want to serve teens, you have to spend some time in their heads.  We just talked about this the other day if you will recall. Anyhow, one of my favorite blogs is Huffington Post Teen because it is written by – yep, you guessed it – teens (mostly). 

So let’s get the caveat out of the way, shall we?  Huffington Post is an online news source/blog that has a very definite point of view and it leans Left.  I only mention it because it is good to know a source’s point of view or bias.

But . . . there are great stories here about high school life, getting into college, and more.  This goes beyond to celebrity news and gossip and has teens writing about politics, the environment, and more.  It is a great reminder that our teens have depth, and that the future is a scary place for them.

Some of my favorite recent posts include:

9 High School Required Reads that Ended Up My All-Time Favorites by Senior Karielle Stephanie Gam.

Youthists and Age Discrimination by Hung Vo

And, most epically awesome, Huffington Post Teen teams up with Figment fiction highlight the writings of teens.  Check out this piece called Mittened Fingers.

On the Fourth Day of Blogmas, my TLT gave to me . . .

On the Fourth Day of Blogmas, my TLT gave to me, a teen boy (and his friend Jami) blogging . . .

I first met Bryson McCrone because he was the winner of our Google Hangout with A. S. King.  So Bryson and I got to hang out with A. S. King, by video chat but it was still incredibly awesome.  Bryson is an inspiring writer, a reader, and a teen boy.  I am a huge believer that in order to serve teens we need to spend time talking to them, and reading teen blogs is a definite no brainer.  Today to tell you more about their blog, here is Bryson and his blogging partner, Jami.

Why did you decide to start a blog?

Bryson: I brought the idea up to Jami a few weeks ago because we both are reading ALL THE TIME! And half the time, we’re reading the same things. So I figured I’d ask her if she wanted to start a blog because it seemed fun, plus, it gave me a chance to promote reading and my favorite books.

Jami: Bryson and I have been trying to find projects to collaborate on for about a year now. We’ve tried writing a couple of different books together and we wrote a song together. I guess starting a review blog was just the next thing we had to try, and so far it’s gone great. We both love to read and I think we have a really unique idea of what we’re trying to accomplish.

What are your blog goals?

Bryson: To get people excited about reading. Even boys. No matter what book it is.

Jami: So many people are turning to movies and music for entertainment instead of books. Especially young people in my and Bryson’s age groups. But books will always hold a special place in our hearts, and we really just want to share that love and that experience.

What should readers expect from your blog and why should they read it?

Bryson: Jami made up our selling point of having the blog appeal to both genders because the reviews gave my thoughts, and hers. So we could get girls and boy excited about reading, no matter what the book.

We also have giveaways, our most recent and still running is a signed personalized copy of Caitlin Elyse’s Heaven Bound, Hell Hunted.

There are author interviews too. We just posted our first one, which was with Caitlin Elyse, and we have a few others going up within the next few weeks.

Jami: Readers should expect funny reviews from us. There will be books that Bryson loves that I can’t finish and vice versa. I will fall hopelessly in love with characters that Bryson can’t stand, and Bryson will think some girl that I hate is cool. I think we offer a unique perspective because you are getting the thoughts a girl has on a certain book and then turn around and get a boy’s opinion on the same book.

Tell us 5 of your favorite recent reads and what you loved about them.

Bryson: At the moment, only three really stick out to me.

Recently, I read The Evolution of Mara Dyer, which is the sequel to The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, by Michelle Hodkin. Both of these books were amazing and their plots are soooo thick. I met Michelle a few weeks ago, and the way that she would talk about the book gave me so much more appreciation for it.

A.S. King’s Ask the Passengers was fantastic. I love Amy’s writing so much, every time I crack open on of her books I feel like I’m learning how to make my writing better in some way. The other thing that I loved about Ask the Passengers, and all of Amy’s writing is the connection with the characters. She has a character that everyone can relate to. Somehow, she knows people. I think she’s a spy, quite honestly because she knows people so well. It’s scary.

Identicalby Ellen Hopkins was another book I really enjoyed. I’ve never read anything by her before, but man is her writing hardcore. I think her books are great, they help people deal with addiction, sexual and physical abuse, and self-harm and that is amazing.

Jami: First up would probably be The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin. I bought The Unbecoming at the beginning of the year, finished it in two days, and then waited an eternity for the second. It’s a really great storyline with intriguing characters, mystery, hysteria.. basically it’s just an amazing read.

Next would have to be Incarnate by Jodi Meadows. It’s a little slow starting out, but I love that it’s a book dominated by real emotions instead of being driven by action. The characters were refreshing and the idea was beyond intriguing. I’m waiting rather impatiently for the sequel.

Third is Across the Universe by Beth Revis. I have a grand total of six sci-fi books that I’ve actually enjoyed, and two of them were by Ms. Revis. It’s another book that is just slow, lots of talk with little action. But it was so political and the world she created was marvelous. I can’t wait for the third.

Fourth will be Dark Inside by Jeyn Roberts. It has all the action an apocalyptic novel needs with just the right amount of “down time” for those of us who are susceptible to heart attacks when our favorite characters get in a bind. I’m waiting to get my hands on Rage Within.

Lastly, Paper Towns by John Green. Mr. Green is a master storyteller. His characters are witty in a subtle way and he shows reader the world through fresh eyes. His writing really just makes you realize all that you have and all that you are missing out on. Definitely one of my favorite authors.

How do you feel the YA market meets the needs of teen guy readers, and how are they failing?

Bryson: I feel like, for guy readers, there should be a list of what we want. But there isn’t. For me, I don’t have any sort of requirements. The books just have to be appealing, and I’m pretty much open to everything. I’ve seen romance in practically everything. And I feel like people get bored with the same romantic cliches. I know I do. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer and its sequel was one of the books with romance that I didn’t mind. At first, I was like ‘NO! This book is too good to have romance,” but in the end, it all plays out. The boyfriend doesn’t annoy me, and I think that that is one way to not fail at appealing to male readers.

There are also a lot of girl-power books out there, which is great. But I think that to some guys, that’s sort of a letdown because so many books feature strong female characters. But, fellow boys, don’t let this discourage you, many of these books are amazing. Give them a try.

I don’t think I could say how the YA market succeeds at meeting teen guy’s needs. I know male readers who love sappy stuff, and male readers that can’t get enough blood and gore and violence. For YA, they have such a wide variety of books that there’s something for everyone.

Jami: I think teen boys just need to be open to the fact that life isn’t always a battlefield. There are quiet, sweet moments everywhere. I think there could be more mystery YA out there, and maybe a bit less romance in some of the thicker plot lines. But there are plenty of dystopian and zombie novels out there to give the guys a bit of gore. Dark Inside is great for guys or girls. The romance is minimal, the action is heavy, and the perspectives are just fantastic.

What would you like to see more of in YA lit? And less of?

Bryson: I would loveto see some more mystery! When I say mystery, I mean the mystery is the main plot. We keep reading to find out who-done-it. Obviously, there is a lot of mystery subgenre, but I’d like to see it come back as the genre.

Less of? I’d like to see less ‘hype’ in vampires, werewolves, and zombies. Their time will come once again, but I think it’s over for now.

Jami: I’d love to see some more really elaborate plot lines that are fresh, like Incarnate and the Hush, Hush saga. I’d love to see more historical fantasy that plays on a very real feeling fantasy world. Less? Vampires and werewolves. I think their time has come and gone. It’s a new age of steampunk, post-apocalyptic stories, and zombies.

I recently had the pleasure of meeting you via an online chat as you were the winner of our Google Hangout with A.S. King. What were some of your favorite moments of that chat?

Bryson: Can I say every moment? Haha. You have no idea how excited I was for that chat, no idea. I think that my favorite moment was when that little girl came on singing California Girls, and then just randomly disappeared. That was hilarious!   (Karen’s note: That was HILARIOUS!!)

I also absolutely loved getting to talk with Amy about my work. She was helpful beyond belief.

You talked a lot to A.S. King about being a writer and shared your writing aspirations, what were some of the best tips A.S. King shared with you?

Bryson: I actually have these two tips hanging on my desk above my computer so I don’t forget them. Amy said “Never publish in a hurry, and always be writing the next book.”

Both of these are extremely important the more I think about them. I’ve always sort of thought that I need to publish something while I’m young, but I don’t. It’s okay to try your hardest and not meet goals, especially if those goals are something like getting published before you’re 17.

I never am just working on one sole project. I have about six others I’m working on at any given time. But Amy made a good point. You’ve spent the past two years on the same project, and that project alone. What are you going to do once you sell that first book? Assuming your publisher and readers are going to want more, you’d better have something in progress.

Where would you like to see yourself one year from now?

Bryson: With an agent. I know that is probably unlikely, but I’m hopeful. I’d like to have some short stories published, finish up edits and rewrites on my second book, and hopefully rewrite my first novel. I’d also love to see Dual Perspectives become successful, that would be amazing.

Jami: A year from now I would love to have our blog known, our giveaways international and our friendship strengthened. For myself, I really want to have the second novel in my Knight Trilogy out there in the world, and possibly have another book far into the stages of publication. Of course I’d love to have an agent working with me toward actually publishing the traditional way, but I really enjoy doing everything on my own, too. Mainly I’d like to see myself with a real marketing team and just getting my name out there.

Share one book that forever changed your life and why.

Bryson: This is easy. Harry Potter. I love those books so much, and I think that they are a great example of a writer’s power with words. J.K. Rowling was in such a hard place when she wrote the first book; she was a single mother, practically homeless, dealing with depression. Her story is a great example of how writing helps people, how writing stays with people. Harry Potter helped her in so many ways, and in ways it’s helped those who’ve read it too.

Harry Potter will always be one of my most cherished childhood memories, from reading the books, to buying the Halloween costumes, and going to see the movies. They will always hold a special place in my heart. And none of that would have been without those wonderful books.

Jami: I read Tamara Pierce’s Alanna: The First Adventure every year. It was the first book I ever read about female empowerment and young girls going after their dreams, and it has really just stuck with me. The writing was fresh, and it was in my all-time favorite genre of historical fantasy. I wish there were more books like it out there. But Alanna taught me that I could do whatever I wanted, no matter what the rules or limitations were. She wanted to be a knight, so she cut off her hair, switched places with her twin, and she did it. She worked hard and she achieved her dreams. I think it’s a story that would resonate through any young girls.
Karen’s Note: Dual Perspectives is such a great concept and tool.  Here you have two teens giving you their male and female perspectives on ya lit. Please be sure to check them out.

On the Third Day of Blogmas, My TLT Gave to Me

On the third day of Christmas, my TLT gave to me, 2 blogs that are so very crafty . . .

So the other day I talked about The Goddess of YA Literature, and today I wanted to share two (yes, two) of my favorite craft inspiration sites.

The first is Oops, I Craft My Pants.  Done by Erika, who is in her own right a creative Goddess, I haunt her blog daily to find inspiration for things that I want to do with teens, adults (if I ever have any that would show up to a program) and at home.  For instance, I would love to turn these Emergency Car Seat Labels into an entire program about baby care and safety, and that would work for ANY new parents, no matter what the age.  The only down side is that she’s on her own blogging, so it’s sporadic at times..

The second crafty site that I love is P.S.- I Made This.  If you watched the, um, interesting Craft Wars on TLC, you may be familiar with Erika Domesek, who was a judge on the show, but she’s also a founder of the blog and the brand of P.S.  I take a lot of their ideas and simplify them down for my teens (there is NO way I’m letting them near a glue gun) but I love the inspiration boards, and my fashion teens love the ideas and the way that the break down the crafts step-by-step.  PS also has a Pinterest and a twitter, so you can keep up with their ideas and postings without having to hook up to an RSS feed, which I like- I flip between visual and reading learning, but with things like crafts, I need the visual, and pinterest is where I like to keep things like this.

On the Second Day of Blogmas, my TLT gave to me

On this, the second day of Blogmas, we bring you . . .

The Goddess of YA Literature (http://professornana.livejournal.com/)

Run by Teri Lesesne, I love this blog in that it’s short (when I ramble) and picks up things that I miss that go on in the YA world. Teri is a professor of children’s and YA literature, and I really like her insight into the books when she does reviews, but she also picks up on relevant topics, and the way she writes makes me stop and think, which is important in a blog. I’ve especially enjoyed what I privately called her Letters Series (for example, A is for Advocate or Nourish, Nurture, Nudge).

This is less style than some of the other blogs we typically see online, but it has substance. Christie G.

On the First Day of Blogmas, My TLT Gave to Me…

It’s December.  Wait – what? It’s December already?  Wow. Okay. Well, that must mean that it’s time for our second annual 12 Blogs of Christmas, where we highlight 12 of the blogs that help us do the things that we do as readers and librarians.

Today I bring you, The Nerdy Book Club.  And here to tell you about it is one of my favorite nerds: Maria Selke.

“On the first day of Christmas, my TLT gave to me…
A book blog that is Nerdy”

Member of the Nerdy Book ClubIt’s the Nerdy Book Club! http://nerdybookclub.wordpress.com/
I’m helping celebrate the holiday season with Teen Librarian Toolbox by sharing some of the many reasons that I read this blog every day.

1) The Nerdies:
Have you ever sighed when the annual book awards were announced? Ever wonder how Charlotte’s Web could get passed over? Ever wish you could be on your own award team, but know you don’t have time to volunteer for the Cybils? Wish no more. You can participate in the second annual Nerdie awards. The last week of November was for nominating our favorites. The top nominees will be revealed on December 2nd. Check it out, then read – read – read! Voting runs from December 16-21st, and the final awards will be posted starting December 26th.

2) Wide variety of content:
Each day has a special theme at the Nerdy Book Club.

Mondays we get insights into one another’s Reading Lives. I guest posted on this topic and shared my love for science fiction and fantasy. http://nerdybookclub.wordpress.com/2012/03/19/ode-to-a-geeky-reader/

Tuesdays we have Author Visits. We’ve heard from A.S. King, learned about how Karen Cushman reacted when she learned about her Newbery win, and heard about a fun author visit by Gae Polisner. It’s always exciting to see who will stop by this week!  

Wednesdays are New Book Reviews – Want to learn about some of the newer titles? This is your day. With a variety of levels and genres, there is always something new to discover.

Thursdays we get a Retro Review. While new books are appealing, there is something to be said for the tried and true. My review of Wrinkle in Time appeared in this category, 50 years after its initial publication. http://nerdybookclub.wordpress.com/2012/02/09/tessering-back-to-a-wrinkle-in-time/

Fridays we share how we Pay It Forward, with each post focusing on the many ways we try to inspire and ignite a love of reading in those around us.

Saturdays are all about Top Ten lists – every kind you can imagine. We’ve hadTop Ten Fun Math books, Top Ten Classroom Read-alouds, Top Ten Girl Power (at a variety of reading levels), and more. What kind of Top Ten list would you like to see?

Surprise Sunday You never know just what to expect on Sundays. Sunday is the day we got the link to nominate for the Nerdie awards of 2012. It is also the day we got a recap of all the Nerdy Book Clubbers at the NCTE conference.

Every once in a while we’ll get something else. Maybe a poll, asking us to contribute our thoughts. Or a contest. Whatever shows up on the blog, I know I’ll want to check it out!

3) Wide variety of writers
The Nerdy Book Club blog is written by book lovers of all ages and interests. Authors stop by to tell us about their books, their lives, or to make cool announcements. I was able to sign up for a Skype chat with graphic novel author Stephen McCranie when he posted the opportunity on the site. New teachers, veteran teachers, librarians, parents – all are welcome to share their book love at the Nerdy Book Club. No matter who you are, what you like to read, or what kinds of readers you interact with on a daily basis – you will find a great post about great books here.

4) Love books? You are already a member.
The Nerdy Book Club is always looking for people who would like to contribute to the blog. I’ve already had five posts go live this past year! Three of them were joint posts with amazing blogging buddies I never would have met without Twitter (check out the #nerdybookclub tag) and this blog. Before the blog even began, I started seeing the tag on twitter. I still remember the day I responded to @colbysharp and asked, “How can I become part of the #nerdybookclub?” His response was simple and heartwarming. “You already are.”

If you are reading this now… and you love books…. so are you.