Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Win a copy of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services

See it at the ALA Store

Heather Booth and I put together a book about being a YA/Teen Services Librarian. The title may sound vaguely familiar because it is part of the ALA Editions Whole Library Handbook series. We invited a lot of cool people to participate. In fact, TLT’s own Christie Gibrich, formerly the chair of the Rainbow Committee, wrote a chapter on GLBTQ issues. The Library as Incubator Project’s own Erinn Batykefer wrote a chapter on making art with teens. Author Eric Devine read a chapter about boys and books. Stacy Vandever Wells, Kristine Trevino and Allison Jenkins, Justin Hoenke, Naomi Bates, Erin Bush, Jodi Richards Bodart, Francisca Goldsmith, Gretchen Kolderup, Amy Alessio, Debbie Reese and more experienced and passionate people contributed articles on their specific areas of expertise, which we think (hope) will help us all be awesome YA librarians. A portion of the proceeds are being donated to YALSA because we believe that teens need and deserve qualified and passionate YA librarians. And because 3 of us here at TLT contributed to this book and it’s our 3 year anniversary of this blog I started 3 years ago, well – we’re giving a copy away.

But first, let me tell you a funny story about this book. As many of you know, I took my Tween to ALA Annual with me this year. We stopped into the ALA store where they had copies of this book on display. Now, imagine as I tell you this conversation the man that is standing very close beside the Tween and I, I can see his shoulders shaking as he tries to hold his laughter in while overhearing this conversation.

Me: Look! There’s my book.
Tween: You didn’t really write it, you edited it.
Me: I wrote parts of it!
Tween: Yeah, but not the whole thing. It’s not like you’re Natalie Lloyd or Raina Telgemeier or anything.
Me: Don’t you think it’s cool?
Tween: I guess. I mean, I’ve already seen it. You got one in the mail.
Me: You want to hold it and I’ll take a picture of you with it?
Tween: No, not really. I mean, we have one at home. Can’t we go back in to the conference and look at all the cool books?

See, kids keep you humble. So while I may not be Natalie Lloyd or Raina Telgemeier, I am pretty proud of this book that we put together. I learned new things while putting this book together. If you would like to win one, just leave a comment with either an email or a Twitter followback and we’ll send it to you. For this one, I’ll even ship internationally so it’s open to all. Just a leave a comment by Midnight on July 15th, the 3 year anniversary of my first post here at TLT, and you’re entered. I’ll have the Tween randomly draw names out of a hat. Of course if there aren’t very many entries, I’ll hear about that as well. LOL

We got our first review and The Midwest Book Review says, “Informed and informative, “The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services” is a ‘must read’ for any library staff member charged with the responsibility of providing services to their adolescent patrons.”

Heather’s note:
Whether you’re brand new on the job or have been at it for years, I encourage you to take a look at our book. None of us knows it all when it comes to every aspect of teen librarianship, which is what makes this compilation of voices so helpful. While talking with our contributors, editing articles, and reading through the final drafts, I was still learning about the rich and varied jobs we do and all of the many ways we can adapt our service to improve the lives and library experiences of our teens. This is not the last book on teen services you’ll ever need, because at our best, we’re always learning and growing. But it is a very good start, a solid check-in, and a wonderful window into what teen librarianship is in 2014. I hope you enjoy it, and I hope it starts some good conversations about who we are, what we do, and how we can improve and adapt and serve teens in the best possible ways.

Here is a look at the complete table of contents . . .

1: Who are Teens?

Defining the Local Teen Community
Heather Booth
Lolcats, Bieber Fever, and Rainbow Bracelets: What’s Hot, What’s So Yesterday, and How to Keep Up
Heather Booth
Fast Facts for Librarians about the Teenage Brain
Heather Booth
Teen Development: The 40 Developmental Assets
Karen Jensen and Heather Booth
Reading in the Dark: Boys, Their Books, and the Search for Answers
Eric Devine

2: Who Are We?

What Does It Mean to be a Teen Services Librarian?
Karen Jensen
Same Pattern; Different Cloth: School and Public Librarians and their Partnerships
Naomi Bates
What Does Customer Service to Teens Look Like?
Karen Jensen
Friend, Advisor, Enforcer, Professional: Relating to Teens as a Young Adult Librarian
Maggie Hommel Thomann
Where’s the Handbook for That?
Karen Jensen
The Importance of Networking in the Life of a Teen Librarian
Heather Booth and Karen Jensen
What’s in Your Files? What to Ditch, What to Keep, and for How Long
Heather Booth
Get Your Reading Habits Organized
Allison Tran
Growing a Young Adult Librarian: Recruitment, Selection, and Retention of an Important Asset for Your Community
Margaret Redrup-May

3: Creation, Maintenance and Evaluation of Teen Services

An Introduction to the Teen Services Plan
Karen Jensen
Teens on the Platform: YALSA’s National Teen Space Guidelines
Katherine Trouern-Trend
Evaluation: Is Where You Begin Where You End?
Karen Jensen and Heather Booth
Teen Librarian Advocacy 101
Karen Jensen

4: Programming

An Introduction to Teen Programming
Karen Jensen
Technology Programming and Teens
Stacy Vandever Wells
MAKING | ART: A Flexible Model for Teen Services
Erinn Batykefer
Author Visits
Kristin Treviño and Allison Jenkins
Gaming in Libraries
Justin Hoenke
Self-Directed and Free-Range Programming
Karen Jensen

5: Collections

Collection Development: Making the Case for Teen Collections
Karen Jensen
Teen Collection Development Outline
Karen Jensen
Are All Lists Created Equal? Diversity in Award-Winning and Best-Selling Young Adult Fiction
Casey Rawson
Heather Booth
YA Book Blogs and How They Can Help You Develop Your Collection
Abby Johnson and Melissa Wheelock-Diedrichs
The Next Big Thing in E-books
Erin Bush
Booktalking in 1,000 Words—or Maybe a Few More!
Joni Richards Bodart
Readers’ Advisory: Listening Is an Act of Love
Heather Booth
What Is Readers’ Advisory, and Why Is Readers’ Advisory for Teens Different?
Heather Booth
Awards, Lists, Reviews, and Readers’ Advisory Possibilities: It’s Not Just One Big Chocolate Shop Francisca Goldsmith
Are You Reading YA Lit? You Should Be
Gretchen Kolderup

6: Marketing

Marketing: An Introduction from a Fellow Librarian
Karen Jensen
Crafting Your Marketing Plan
Karen Jensen
Graphic Design Basics for Non–Graphic Designers
Karen Jensen
Merchandising 101: Marketing to Teens in the Library
Karen Jensen
Booktalking in Your Local Schools as a Marketing Opportunity
Karen Jensen
Make the Most of Your Teen Services Social Media
Karen Jensen

7: Teen Involvement

Putting the Teen in Your Teen Services
Karen Jensen
Keeping the Teen Advisory Board Relevant—and Real: New Clubs, Themes, and Attitudes
Amy Alessio

8: Issues

Intellectual Freedom and the Teen Librarian
Heather Booth and Karen Jensen
Evaluating Materials for a Diverse Collection
Christie Ross Gibrich and Heather Booth
GLBTQ Materials in Your Teen Collection: The Teens Are There Already; Why Aren’t the Books?
Christie Ross Gibrich
The Rubber-Band Ball of Guys and Reading: Considering Boys in Collection Development and Library Service
Torrey Maldonado
Authors, Characters, and Experiences: Collection Development Mindful of People of Color in Young Adult Literature
Debbie Reese
Reaching Reluctant Readers, like Me
Kelly Milner Halls
Critical Issues in Juvenile Detention Center Libraries
Jeanie Austin
Social Media and the Relational Reading Revolution
Karen Jensen


A. A Sample Teen Services Plan
Karen Jensen
B. Your Teen Volunteer Plan
Karen Jensen
C. Your Teen-Driven Program Plan
Karen Jensen
D. Marketing Resources: A Guide with Annotations
Heather Booth and Karen Jensen

This is What Happened When I Took the Tween to ALA Annual (a Thank You to Scholastic!)

The Tween: “I LOVE A Snicker of Magic!”

As you may know, this year I decided to take The Tween (basically 12 at this point) to the exhibit halls at ALA Annual 2014. Although I hemmed and hawed and hesitated about this decision, it turned out to be one of the greatest decisions ever.

On the whole, it really was a non-issue to be honest. She was amazed – as all book lovers surely are – to walk into the exhibit hall and just see the amazing glory of all the books. She was like a kid in a candy store, except – you know – here candy was books. I was so glad to be able to share this experience with her and will treasure it always.

As a librarian who believes in the 40 Developmental Assets, I recognize that simply showing up and giving kids the gift of attention can make all the difference in their lives. All they want is to know that they matter to adults, that we care. Which is why I was moved deeply by what happened in the Scholastic booth.

But let me back up for a moment. You see, because of the economy, we are one of the many families that have had to make dramatic life changes and these changes have dramatically impacted this child that I love so dearly. She had to leave her home, leave her friends, and start a new life in a new place. And the change has not been easy. Plus, like many in our situation, we struggle financially to make ends meet month to month. And to make matters worse, she has been on the hurtful end of some mean girl issues. The last two years have been challenging for this child that I love, and getting to witness her having this moment was a gift to me as her mother as much as it was to her. This is one of those moments that can make or break a kid, and the people at Scholastic really did everything right.

When we walked into the Scholastic booth at ALA, it was like a bright light shone on her and she became the star. One of the booth attendants, and I do wish I had thought to get her name, walked up to us both and looked directly at my Tween and started talking to her. For those of us that work with youth, this is a very important thing. Since I was the librarian and the adult present, this individual could have chosen to deal only with me, but she didn’t. She enthusiastically greeted my daughter and let her know that she mattered. This is what I always try to do with kids and teens in my library, even when their parents are present. I can not emphasize with you enough the importance of this. This moment was so validating for her.

The two of them then went on to have a conversation. The book A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd was on display and the Tween said it was her favorite book, and the attendant excitedly proclaimed that it was her favorite as well. The two of them then went on to have a very excited conversation about the book and why they loved it. She got to share her thoughts with an adult, and they mattered. She was heard.

Then this attendant just looked at my daughter and says, “We need to get you some books!” They then went through a very awesome Reader’s Advisory interview and my daughter walked out of the Scholastic booth with 3 ARCS. : The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare (which I assured her was like like having gold), Dash by Kirby Lawson (she really loves dogs), and Finding Ruby Starling by Karen Rivers. But really, she walked out with more than that, because she walked out with a positive experience in which an adult had taken the time to tell her that she mattered. And it all took less than 15 minutes.

During the course of that day The Tween also had the opportunity to meet one of her favorite authors, Raina Telgemeier. She was shy and awkward about the whole thing – The Tween, not Raina – but she also spent a lot of time the next 2 days talking about it. In fact, we went back the next day so she could buy and get a book signed for her best friend back in Ohio. I believe she is re-doing her room in Raina Telgemeier posters and book covers.

Another interesting thing happened in the Scholastic booth. I’m not going to lie, since I work with tweens and teens I am constantly paying attention to my daughter and her friends to find out what what they like and are interested in doing. It just makes me better at doing my job. So while we walked around the exhibit halls I paid close attention to what she liked and what she didn’t. In the Scholastic booth, she became obsessed with a book on display called Revenge of the Flower Girls. In fact, all day Saturday she asked me to go back and get a copy of that book for her, which led to a really interesting discussion about ARCs and published books. Since RotFG is already published, I promised her that when we returned home I would buy it for her. But still she longed for this title.

On Sunday, she wanted to go back in. And the first thing she said was that we needed to go back and get that book for her. We did walk by, but Scholastic was in the midst of a Maggie Steifvater signing which meant the booth was busy. But The Tween did not care, she really wanted me to go ask them about this book. It was interesting to see her just blink at the mention of Maggie Steifvater, a hugely popular author, and want to interrupt everyone for this book. I am a huge Maggie fan (I love The Raven Boys series), but she was moved by very different things. This too is an important reminder to us all that we all have different tastes and we need to work to reach all readers. But rest assured, next month after we recover from this trip I am going to order this book for her. She really, really, really wants it.

Before we went back into the Exhibit Hall on Sunday, the two of us attended the Scholastic Literary Brunch. Here, several authors – including the Tween’s beloved Raina Telgemeier – performed reader’s theater of 6 upcoming books: The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare, Sisters by Raina Telgemeir, If You’re Reading This by Trent Reedy, Kinda Like Brothers by Coe Booth, The Madman of Piney Woods by Christopher Paul Curtis and Love is the Drug by Alaya Dawn Johnson . This was her first experience with Reader’s Theater and she loved it. And the book she chose to read first out of this bunch was Kinda Like Brothers by Coe Booth, which she says is “REALLY very good so far.”

A few other highlights from The Tween’s experience at ALA:

1. I want to make sure and point out the people at the Bloomsbury booth were equally awesome to The Tween on Sunday. They gave her a copy of a The Princess Academy: The Forgotten Sisters by Shannon Hale and repeated this same validating experience. Thank you!

2. She ran into author Edith Cohn just walking around and Cohn told her to go to the booth and ask for her upcoming book, Spirit’s Key. She is really looking forward to reading this one. I can not tell you enough how much I have found that meeting authors and having that personal connection to them can impact readers.

3. At the Penguin/Dial booth she reluctantly took an ARC of the book Life of Zarf: The Trouble of Weasels by Rob Harrell. However, she started reading it that day and LOVED it. She laughed out loud a lot while reading it and we had to take it away from her for a while to get her to spend time with the family. The takeaway for her: you really can’t judge a book by its cover, sometimes what you like will surprise you so try new and different things.

 4. When I ask her what her favorite parts of ALA were she said, “Listening to them act out their books, meeting Raina Telgemeier and getting all kinds of books!” She liked the Reader’s Theater so much I think I am going to try and do more if at author panels. It really made her want to read the books.

5. She also met and got books signed by A. S. King (whom I adore and consider one of my personal inspirations) and Bethany Crandell (Summer on the Short Bus). She is asking if she can read the A. S. King books now and Librarian Me (Read everything! Read what you want!) is wrestling with Mom Me, who thinks she should probably wait a couple of years. But one day she is going to treasure those signed books because she will read them and know how awesome they are! I did read Summer on the Short Bus yesterday to see if she could read it and decided that 1) It is okay for her to read at this age (it’s very PG, a little kissing and 1 mention of a condom) and 2) I really liked how the main character grew in the way she saw differently abled people and I thought it was very entertaining and important at the same time.

Sunday Reflections: I’m Holding Out for a (Female) Superhero!

The Tween read each & every comic book yesterday

Yesterday was Free Comic Book Day and I celebrated – with my Tween daughter – by handing out free comic books at my library. The night before I took her little sister to see the new Spider-Man movie. We’re pretty big superhero fans in this house. In fact, we watch The Avengers movie a couple of times a month. Which is why I can’t help but wish that someone would remember that girls can be a superhero too.

Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Superman, Spider-man . . . they all get their own superhero movies. But female superheroes, they get to be part of a team. Yes, there are female superheroes (ish) in The Avengers movie (my husband argues though that Black Widow is not an Avenger but an agent of Shield). And yes, there are superheroes in the X-men movies. But there are no female led superhero movies. Where is Wonder Woman? Well, it was previously in development but it is now dead, dead, dead and they say it is never going to happen. There is talk that there may be a Black Widow movie, but there is nothing in development right now.

For a brief moment I, the superhero fan, was excited when my friend and fellow librarian Maria Selke tweeted me a picture of an ALA reading incentive campaign with a variety of posters.  And then Robin tweeted me, “Psssst, where is Black Widow?”  Where IS Black Widow? Or any female superhero.  ALA is an organization that prides itself on diversity; it is one of the library’s fundamental rallying cries. And yet here is an entire read campaign that utilized nothing except for white men to promote reading. I mean, I guess there is diversity if you consider the fact that the Hulk does turn green and Thor is quite literally from another planet. That part was sarcasm, for the record.  But they could have included Black Widow and The Falcon. And with the new X-men movie coming out, there are a variety of women to choose from there as well.

ALA Catalog Image Tweeted by Maria Selke @mselke01

At the same time, Maria brought a Scholastic reading campaign to my attention. Yep, same problem. In fact, basically the same superheroes.

I will say in their defense that after we started Tweeting at Scholastic about our concern about this campaign, they did inform us that they were only given a select few superheroes to choose from and that they would take our concerns to the marketing team.  Imagine though what a statement it would have made when given those choices from either Marvel or Disney, who holds the copyright to the Marvel universe, if they had said I’m sorry we can’t work with you under these terms because it is direct contradiction with our core value and commitment to diversity. If more and more of us start making those kinds of statements, perhaps then we can see greater change in the ways women, people of color and other marginalized people groups are represented in the media.

And make no mistake about it, representation does matter. I watched Wonder Woman on TV as a young girl (not that young!) and it is empowering to see a female superhero. It is empowering for little girls to see themselves represented in these positive ways. And yes, I’m totally going to ignore the incredibly sexualized and impractical costume for the moment. Just as it is empowering for children of color to see Falcon in the new Captain America movie.

The 5-year-old dressed up as Spider-Man

More importantly, seeing a broader scope of people in the media encourages empathy to those that are different than us. When we continually focus on men as superheroes, white men, it communicates that all others have less worth. This becomes the standard, the ideal. Anything that doesn’t fit into this standard is seen as less than worthy. That’s the message that is communicated to our young, impressionable generation when they continually see such a strong emphasis on one type of person. Representation is one of the most significant tools we can use to help promote kindness, equality, and mutual respect.

I want in my lifetime to take my girls to see a movie that features a female superhero. I want them to walk out of that theater inspired, empowered, and hopeful. And I want fathers to take their sons to a female superhero movie so that their sons will grow up respecting and valuing woman as equal members of the human race. And I want people who are in the position to put together these reading incentive campaigns to remember ALL little kids, every single one of them, and to demand better representation.

It’s easy to look at the success of the Marvel universe and think, we need to tap into that. But true change comes when we take the harder road sometimes and demand more from those who are still failing to understand what the world we live in today looks like. If we care about our future, we need to work on the messages we are sending today. And this is why diversity matters.

The title for this post was inspired by the Bonnie Tyler song Holding Out for a Hero.

In the meantime, I guess we’ll keep watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Although I can’t help but think we’ve gone backwards since that revolutionary show reminded us all that girls could kick butt too.

For more on these topics, see these posts:
“If she can’t see it, she can’t be it”
Beth Revis: I See You, Representation Matters (great post, read it)
Ramp Your Voice: Why Representation Matters in Children’s Books and Media
Actually, just Google “representation matters” for lots of great posts

More Diversity at TLT:
Racial Stereotyping in YA Literature
Race Reflections, Take II
Building Bridges to Literacy for African American Male Youth Summit recap, part 1
Friday Reflections: Talking with Hispanic/Latino Teens about YA Lit
See also the Diversity in YA Tumblr by Cindy Pon and Malinda Lo

More on Gender and Sexuality at TLT:
I’m Just a Girl? Gender issues in YA Lit
Girls Against Girls
Teach Me How to Live: talking with guys about ya lit with Eric Devine
Let’s Hear It for the Boys: Boys and body image
Who Will Save You? Boundaries, Rescue and the Role of Adults in the Lives of Teens
The Curious Case of the Gender Based Assignment 

You want to put WHAT in my YA?
Taking a Stand for What You Believe In
Annie on My Mind and Banned Books Week on My Calendar
Queer (a book review)
Top 10: For Annie and Liza (Annie on My Mind)

The Living by Matt de Lana Pena (reviewed in VOYA December 2013)

I have been reviewing for VOYA since 2001.  This year, something really exciting happened.  On page 55 of the December 2013 issue of VOYA, I reviewed THE LIVING by Matt de la Pena.  Just yesterday, at the ALA Youth Media Awards, it was announced that this title won a Pura Belpre Honor Award. 

“The Pura Belpré Award is a recognition presented to a Latino or Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays the Latino cultural experience in a work of literature for children or youth. It was established in 1996. It has been given every other year since 1996. Beginning with the 2009 award, it will be given annually.” (from ALA)

Here’s an excerpt of my review in VOYA:

de la Pena manages to pack a lot into THE LIVING: there is an examination of social class, a pandemic (already in existence and effecting Shy’s life); the adventure saga at sea, and a conspiracy plot all of which take the reader on a whiplash of adventure.  In less deft hands, the pieces could fall apart, but de la Pena manages to make it all work.  There are a few convenient coincidences that come into play but in the end, readers just will not care because this is an excellent, enthralling ride.  Shy is an interesting main character with an authentic voice . . .

In the end, I gave THE LIVING a 4Q and 5P rating.  Watching a book I love win an award was very affirming.

Congratulations Matt on this well deserved honor!