Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Morgan’s Mumbles: Recent Impactful Performances, by Teen Contributor Morgan Randall

Trigger warning: mention of racism/violence/sexual assault

Over the past few weeks, I have been lucky enough to be able to experience some amazing productions put on by my college. While they all took place virtually I was so thankful for the experience of being able to see work that actively was a voice for those hurting and in need of it. Two amazing performances come to mind right away, these also being the two most recent, a dance performance titled “(Re)Current Unrest” and the play “La Ruta”.

(Re)Current Unrest

(Re)Current Unrest is a dance piece created by Charles Anderson, which calls to attention the issue within our nation (and the world) of turning a blind eye to racism and hate. It shows how desensitized we have become to acts of violence towards other people. Watching the piece gave me shivers, and I am really grateful that a lot of my classes focused on talking about the performance the week following us watch it. Something really symbolic throughout the whole piece is there are often moments where the names of innocent people who have been killed for the color of their skin are said allowed and the company as a whole laughs through the names. It really shows how our culture has become so numb and oblivious to these blatant acts of hatred. One of my classmates said how it reminded her of how we oftentimes say “we laugh so we don’t cry.” And I think that has become so common within our society that now we oftentimes forget to cry, we just laugh because we never fully process these traumatic experiences since they happen so frequently.

La Ruta

La Ruta, the play I got to watch/read, was written by Isaac Gómez who used real testimonies and stories of the femicide occurring in Juarez, Mexico. The play follows the story of a young girl, 16 years old, and how that impacts her family and those who work with her. I was lucky enough to be able to read the script prior to seeing the performance, which allowed me to have a lot of time to analyze the story. However, it was hard for me to do because this story is based on very real, very traumatic events. It discusses things including sexual assault, murder, and kidnapping of women in Juarez. And this is a very real thing, that is still ongoing. The images of the pink crosses, for the missing girls, is something that haunts me in a way that I don’t think I was ever aware of prior to seeing this piece.

Things like this are often left out of modern media, and I think it is amazing to finally see people using their voices to shed light on horrific situations in our world so that the audiences can go out and enact change. I am so thankful to be apart of a culture that emphasizes the importance of telling stories of those who often don’t get their voices told. I am excited to see more pieces come out, and the other art that is created to shine a light on situations that the modern media glosses over. I encourage you to, if you are in a safe mental space to do so and do not feel like it will cause harm to you, find pieces (these or others) that shed light on heavy topics and watch them. Become more educated, and then share them so others can do the same.

Morgan RandallTeen Contributor

Morgan recently graduated high school and is currently enrolled to attend college in the fall getting her BA in Theatre and Dance with an emphasis on Design and Technology. She loves theatre, writing, reading, and learning. But something that has always been important to her is being a voice for those who feel like they don’t have one, and being a catalyst for change in any way possible.

RevolTeens: Teens and Art Changing the World, by Christine Lively

Everything is just too serious. I realize that this is not news to anyone. There are so many overwhelming terrible things happening that it’s hard to find hope or joy in the news. There are so many news articles about how teens have been hit hard by the pandemic and quarantine.

But, I have learned in the last year, one of the most amazing things about teens is that they will remind us that they can find hope and joy as an act of revolution. The spirit of teens never fails to amaze me, and this month I’m amazed at their commitment to art and justice.

In Teen Arts Councils around the country high school students work to learn about arts and exhibitions in museums and advise the curators during their time of service. Many Teen Councils also design programs where they give tours to other teens and facilitate discussions with artists. They also host their own exhibitions and sometimes social events just for teens to come and enjoy the Arts.

Many art museums have teen art councils. The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston describes their Teen Art Council this way:

“The Teen Arts Council (TAC) is the MFA’s leadership development program for Boston-area teens. The TAC offers participants the opportunity to engage with art, culture, and history; develop workplace and team building skills; and learn about a range of professional options and career paths.

  • Advise the MFA on engagement strategies for local teens
  • Implement programs and events for peers and the general public
  • Learn about the arts and cultural sector in the City of Boston by engaging with the city’s other teen programs and cultural institutions”

As with all RevolTeens, though, many of the Teen Arts Council members at these museums have not been content to continue the status quo, they have begun revolting.

This year, the Teen Creative Agency, a Teen Council at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, revolted against the injustices they saw at the museum and launched a campaign to challenge the museum’s directors to do better.

According to Teen Vogue, when a photo was published that suggested that the museum had donated money to the Chicago Police Department, the Teen Council wrote an Open Letter to the museum’s director powerfully challenging her to acknowledge the ways that the Chicago Police had abused their power and demanded that the museum clarify their relationship with the CPD. They launched a petition to gain attention and support for their efforts through their Instagram account @TCAAMCA

“We realized this is bigger than we thought,” says Vivian Zamora, an 18-year-old recent alumnus of TCA. “It’s not just cops. There’s mistreatment of part-time staff, not enough transparency. A lot of our work now is pointing out how this institution works.”

These RevolTeens are not afraid to question not only adults, but revered institutions and demand that they answer for problems, and injustices that they have been able to ignore.

Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts recognized the powerful perspective of teens. They decided to launch  the museum’s first exhibition curated entirely by high school students titled “Black Histories, Black Futures,” The exhibit contains works by 20th century artists of color, and brings a fresh new perspective to the collection, as well as bringing young people into the museum. According to the Museum’s website: 

‘The teen curators—fellows from youth empowerment organizations Becoming a Man (BAM), The BASE, and the Bloomberg Arts Internship Boston program managed by EdVestors—used skills they developed as paid interns in a pilot internship program at the MFA to research, interpret, and design the exhibition. Their work highlights areas of excellence within the Museum’s collection and lays foundations for the future.”

The museum recognizes the energy and the change that teens bring into the work that they do. Collaborating with teens should be a priority for more institutions going forward as they look for ways to increase their social relevance, appeal, and community involvement.

Finally, the Studio Museum Harlem has held a teen art photography education program for eight months every year during which teens learn the art of photography. This year, of course, the whole process has been drastically changed. From the Museum’s web page:

“The online photography exhibition Hearts in Isolation: Expanding the Walls 2020 features work by the fifteen teenage artists in the 2020 cohort of the Museum’s annual program, Expanding the Walls: Making Connections Between Photography, History, and Community. Launching July 30th, the first online edition of the annual Expanding the Walls exhibition marks the program’s twentieth anniversary.

During their eight months in the program, Expanding the Walls participants from New York City–area high schools explore digital photography, artistic practice, and community—a term that took on new meaning this year, when students could no longer gather with one another and their mentors but had to complete the program remotely. As a result, their photographs reflect on themes of home and safety.”

The exhibit can be viewed fully online here: Hearts In Isolation: Expanding the Walls

If you are feeling bleak and alone, go visit the work of these remarkable and brilliant RevolTeens and remind yourself that the future is in their hands, and they have the heart, brilliance, hope, courage, and joy to make this world so much better.

About Christine Lively

Christine Lively a school librarian in Virginia. I read voraciously, exchange ideas with students, and am a perpetual student. I raise monarch butterflies, cook, clean infrequently and enjoy an extensive hippo collection. I am a Certified Life Coach for Kids 14-24 and my website is christinelively.com. Christine blogs at https://hippodillycircus.com/ and you can follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/XineLively.

View from Behind the Lens: Advanced Photography for Teens, a Guest Post by Lynette Pitrak

makerspaceIn the fall and winter of 2014, I had an amazing experience coordinating a filmmaking workshop for high school students called View from the Director’s Chair.  To highlight a different aspect of our library’s Media Lab this year, our IT Department Manager and I created a similarly-structured workshop called View from Behind the Lens.

View from Behind the Lens began October 21st, and will continue through December 16th.  We were lucky enough to hire Downers Grove-based photographer Mike Taylor, a professional photographer and college professor, as our instructor for this program series.  Along with Mike, our library’s IT Assistant Jason, myself, and eight teenagers in middle school and high school meet weekly to learn advanced photography skills!!  

teens pose with tripods near a monument

View from Behind the Lens Halloween Photo Shoot

We are now several weeks into this workshop, and have learned a lot about digital photography techniques!!  The students in class are working with a combination of Canon and Nikon cameras (and everyone is VERY loyal to their chosen brand! :)).  We have gone over the basic settings of the cameras, including f-stop, aperture, and white balance. Mike has also discussed various kinds of photography with the students, such as stop-action, motion-blur, infrared, and night photography, and how to use the lenses and settings to achieve the desired effects.  To put this instruction to work, the students have gone on in-class walking tours through Downers Grove.  We have done daytime landscape shoots, portraiture, an architectural shoot, and a fun night shoot in the cemetery to celebrate Halloween!

girls pose for portraits in funny wigs

View from Behind the Lens Portraiture Shoot

In one week, we will be taking a field trip to the Museum of Contemporary Photography to take a docent-lead tour of a special photography exhibit.  Because the museum is staffed by volunteers from Columbia College’s photography program, the View from Behind the Lens students will have the opportunity to talk about what it is like to major in photography.  

In the last weeks of class, students will learn how to edit their photographs with Lightroom and Photoshop.  Then, they will have a month to shoot on their own, to prepare final photographs for a gallery show and Meet the Artists event on February 28, 2016!!!



Lynette Pitrak is the  Teen Services Coordinator at the Downers Grove Public Library in Downers Grove, Illinois.

TPiB: When Books Inspire Art

One of the things I love most about the Doctor Who Tumblr is all of the amazing fan created art you find there.  Sometimes there are quotes, sometimes not.  But the thing is, Doctor Who is obviously a show that is touching a lot of people and inspiring them to create in response to them.  For many people, books do this as well.  Many of the authors I follow will share the artwork that fans send to them.  They may be drawing characters or scenes depicted in the books.  Sometimes they take their favorite quotes and make them into art.  The thing is, when books move you they can inspire a creative response.

Like many reading fans, I do this as well.  But I am not an artist.  All I have is a smartphone, some apps, and a desire to create.
Sometimes, I take a photo and it makes me think of a book so I create a promo pic.

Here, I used Diptic to create a type of word game/pictogram of some of my favorite children’s stories.  These are great to share online as a fun, interactive talking point.

Sometimes, I just really love quotes from books so I create ways to save those quotes for myself.  I simply used Instagram to take the photos, added some text to them, and voila!  They print off nicely and make great room decorations.
These quotes are from Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver, a book that I desperately loved.  It is a book about a future where love is outlawed.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs is a book where old photographs play an important part of the story.  These are not regular photographs, but haunting ones.  In this picture I just accidentally framed it wrong and cut my daughter’s head off.  Oops.  But it immediately brought the book to mind so I ran with it.
Both of these photographs inspired by Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis were taken months apart, which just goes to show you how much the book stays with you. It is set in a future America where water is sparse and a girl named Lynn must protect the pond on her land.  One day my 4-year-old went outside and sat on top of her playhouse with a pair of binoculars and when I saw her, it immediately made me think of the book (this is how the book begins actually).  Then months later, the Texas land was parched and cracking and I thought this is what the world in Not a Drop to Drink would look like, so I had to capture it.

I love so much about Alice in Wonderland.  I love how part of the heart of the story is that Alice is a person full of wonder and imagination, and how as she grows older she risks losing that.  As a mom my desire is that my girls will never lose it, either their muchness or their belief in impossible things.  So I made a bunch of art to decorate their rooms and remind them to dream big.

I am a person who loves words.  Words inspire me.  They remind me of who I want to be and how I want to live my life.  And so I collect quotes.  I literally have journals full of my favorite quotes.  Sometimes, they need to come out of a journal and be front and center where I can see them.  So I make art for my home and office to keep the quotes where I can see them and absorb them.
Often I combine them with pictures of my girls because I AM a mom and we like to have those pictures around the house too.  My two favorite things: my girls and books.

The thing is, you don’t have to be an artist to create art inspired by your favorite books.  I am not an artist.  I am just a girl with a phone and a mad, crazy passion.
5 Things You Can Do With Your Book Inspired Art:
1) Print it out and frame it
2) Print it out and mod podge it onto a blank canvas (part 1 and part 2)
3) Put several panels together and make a bookmark
4) Print it out and make end cap displays
5) Make personalized gifts, cards and more.  Seriously, you can mod podge them onto anything.
Here is a list of my favorite photo apps
Here is a list of my favorite word apps
If you are a teen that creates book inspired art, or someone that loves one, don’t forget that you can submit your art in this year’s It Came from a Book teen art contest.  The deadline for submissions is November 1st and you can get complete details at The Library as Incubator webpage. This contest is sponsored by Teen Librarian Toolbox, the Library as Incubator Project, EgmontUSA and Zest Books.
Please note: The Quarantine photo is a photo is the only photo that is not an original photo.  Author Lex Thomas tweeted the photo and I manipulated it with permission as a promo pic for a guest post they wrote at TLT, because it is a truly cool photo.

TPiB: 10 Things to Do with a Blank Canvas, part 2

All you need to create some original art is really a blank canvas and some Mod Podge.  Well, and a few things to put on your canvas.  But the beauty is, you can take all that fantastic art you see in the store for a high dollar amount and create your own less expensive versions.  And then – no one has a piece of art like it but you! You are one of a kind, so shouldn’t your artwork be as well?  Yes, yes it should.  Yesterday I shared the first 5 of our 10 Things to Do with a Blank Canvas projects.  Here are the final 5.  Keep in mind, these are only 10 ideas, there are so many more.  And although it would make for a great tween or teen project, think room renovation, don’t forget that you can also use these projects to decorate a library or classroom.  And they would make wonderful, personalized gifts.

Blackout Poetry

This is a screen shot of all the different examples you can find if you do a Google image search for Blackout Poetry

Blackout poetry is where you take a piece of the newspaper and a black marker to black out most of the words until you have created a unique poem.  Once you have made your poem (and the black marker has thoroughly dried), decoupage your page onto an appropiately sized canvas and make your poem into wall art.  There is more information and a book full of poems at Newspaper Blackout.

Duct Tape It

My canvas art project does not look nearly as good as this one over at Duct Tape Fashion by Danielle Carter, but I wanted you to see how intricate it can truly be.  You can learn more at Duct Tape Fashion.

Six Feet Under the Stars by Danielle Carter, posted on Duct Tape Fashion

Look, you can cover anything with duct tape.  Anything.  So why not a blank canvas? You can make designs.  Buy a pack of 4 mini canvases and create a series that corresponds to the colors in your room and make basic designs.  Remember you can cut the tape to make shapes, it doesn’t just have to be lines, stripes and patterns.  Layer your tape to create a sheet (they actually sell the sheets by the way) and cut out any shape you can think of.

This is my idea of a Duct Tape project.  I covered the canvas with chalkboard paint and did a little edging with Batman Duck Tape for Christie’s office door.  Yes, that really is about the level of my ability.

Peel Away Book Quote Art

This is brilliant and outlined expertly by Erin from The Library as Incubator Project.  Just do it.  Any colors.  Any quotes.

Chalkboard It

They have an excellent example and instructions for this at LivingWellSpendingLess.com so go there

Chalkboard paint is a thing.  You can buy it.  It is fun.  Paint your canvas with chalkboard paint.  Then you could use something easy – say Duct Tape – to create a colorful border.  Voila. You have a custom designed chalboard for your room that matches your unique style and decor.  This one that they made at Living Well, Spending Less is awesome. And then there is mine:


Invite a bunch of your friends over.  Prep your canvas by spray painting a base coat.  Now, everyone paints their hands.  Yep, you know where this is going.  Make a handprint on your canvas.  You can use stickers or markers to write words, names, dates, etc. onto your canvas (once it has dried).  Then, seal it with a clear coat.  Or, you know, you could always just paint on it.  Or do some combination of projects 1 through 9.  In fact, you can buy a 12×12 canvas and just decoupage a scrapbook page.

Made with scrapbook paper and stickers. Don’t laugh.

Check out Part 1 for some other ideas and some general tips.

More Canvas Ideas
More Pinterest
Hey, Even More Pinterest

TPiB: 10 Things To Do With a Blank Canvas, part 1

One of my recurring programming themes is Renovate Your Room.  We are actually in the midst of doing this right now as the Tween has decided that she no longer wants a princess room (sob, why do they grow up so fast?).  Now we are creating a new room with a Paris/Doctor Who theme.  My vision is that Doctor Who will fly in the Tardis and take a trip to Paris.  But redoing a room doesn’t have to be expensive or out of a box.  In fact, libraries are full of books that teach us simple, easy and often inexpensive things we can do.  This makes a room personal.  My current obsession is to create art projects out of blank canvases (bought in bulk when on sale).  While I experiment, I thought I would share with you 10 projects that we have done to help decorate the Tween room.  I am also going to be doing this as a tween/teen program later this month, so I know they all work.  I am a huge fan of using either pictures (I do love my kids) or words (I do also love a good quote).  

Make a Pseudo Canvas Portrait

Print any digital portrait/picture, including your favorite Instagram pictures.  You can try and do this transfer process outlined here.  But when I couldn’t get it to work, I simply glued my printed picture onto the canvas and decoupaged it.  Turns out, it works just as well. First, I prepped my canvas by spray painting it black (any color will work).  Then, I gently tore off the edges to create the older effect that I wanted.  Then after I glued and allowed my picture to dry, I did some stippling of black paint (use acrylic) along the edges.  Then, after again letting it dry, I did a finishing coat of Mod Podge.

Paper Collage

Using a variety of scrapbook papers, you can make a collage of any sort.  Simply glue it onto your canvas and decoupage.  You are only limited by your creativity.  Here I created the classic Mikey Mouse head/ears shape for my toddler’s room. You could use maps, scrap pieces of paper, postcards, etc.

Picture Collage/Memes

Made with PowerPoint

For more advanced collages, there are lots of things that I envision in my head that I don’t have the actual skill to make a reality.  So I often turn to Microsoft Publisher to help make it happen.  Here I use a combination of clip art, word art and downloaded photos to create collages.  Then I simply print and decoupage them onto canvas like I would a regular picture.

You can make a picture collage in both Microsoft Publisher or PowerPoint.  After you have layered your elements the way you want them, connect them together as a group (under format) and then choose “save as picture” to create a picture.  You don’t have to do this if you are simply printing your picture out, but you’ll want to do that if you want to send or import the new picture into another program.  You can, for example, do this and create your own postcards. It’s true.

Made with Instagram and Over apps

 You can make your own art to decorate your library.

Made with Instagram and Over apps

Use pictures and combine them with your favorite quotes to decorate your home or your library.  There really is no limit to what you can produce quickly and easily with the right tools (see my “see also” at the end of this post for a look at some of the tools I use).

Grid Pictures

Grid Photo made with PhotoShake app

In order to create these cool graph pictures that I decoupage onto canvas, I used the iPhone app Photoshake.  You can create graphs of up to 20 pictures I believe.  Then you simply print them, glue them onto your canvas and decoupage.  You can add words to your grid picture by creating a separate picture first in something like Over (see these apps to learn more) and then using that picture as one of the pictures in your grid picture.  Although this is a variation of the pseudo canvas portrait, I added it separately because it is currently my favorite thing ever.  They make great gifts for friends and family members to highlight a variety of pictures of your relationship.  Or to capture the different ages of a child.  Or you know, a collection of flowers or whatever your thing is.

You can also create this type of a look directly onto the canvas if you size your pictures correctly.  Use a 12×12 sized canvas and print out 9 of your favorite Instagram pics at size 4×4.  You can now create a grid collage with 3 rows of 3 pictures.  The have more information about this over at A Beautiful Mess.

Shadow Reliefs

One day I had a vision for a series of representational Doctor Who pieces (see above).  What I wanted to do was to take icons from the series and create some representational art.  If you wanted to do things like initials or common, every day objects (say hearts and stars), you could use pre-purchased stencils for this.  But we had to create our own.  This was a more involved project.

Step 1: Prep the Canvas

Anytime you just need a base color for your canvas, spray paint is your friend.  Quick, easy, and gets the job done well.  You will want to make sure you have two contrasting colors for this project.  Your base coat will be the color of your canvas so you will want to make sure you paint the outside edges of the canvas as well.

Step 2: Make Your Stencils

To make the stencils, we used blue painters tape, a crafter’s cutting mat, a pencil, and an exacto knife.  We overlaid strips of blue painters tape onto the craft mat to create a sheet of it that covered our canvas.  We then drew an outline of the shape we wanted in pencil.  Pencil was important because it erased really easily and we did have to make some adjustments.  We then used our exacto knife to cut out our stencil.

Step 3: Apply Stencil and Paint

Apply your stencil to your pre-prepped canvas and spray pain in your contrasting color.  You will want to make sure and cover the edges of your canvas with painters tape as well because there can be overspray and you don’t want it to get on your already primed edges.

Step 4: Seal

You can use decoupage (Mod Podge for example) or any spray sealant to help protect the longevity of your piece.

So here are some basic tips you’ll want to keep in mind:

Photo Printing
You can use regular photographs, but they are bulkier and don’t adhere to the canvas as well.  I recommend printing your pictures onto regular paper using your color printer.

Size is Everything
Make sure and keep picture and canvas sizes in mind.  You can buy canvas in smaller sizes, which would work well for doing say 4 Instagram pictures.  See the Shadow Relief canvases to get an idea of what I am talking about.  You can buy 8 by 12 canvases, which is the size of standard printing paper.  They also have 12 x 12 canvases which is the standard size of a piece of scrapbooking page.  You just keep sizing in mind when creating your project.  If you want to do larger projects (and they do make larger projects), you can do poster size printing at places like Staples for a fee. 

Patience Really is a Virtue
Anytime you glue something down, wait until that layer dries completely before moving on to the next layer.  This same rule applies to painting.  It is a process, be patient (which is really hard for me).

When your project is set up the way you want it to, you are now ready to seal it with decoupage.  There is spray decoupage and the liquid kind you find it jars and spread with brushes.  If you use the spray kind, do it outside (when it is not windy) because it stinks and gets all over.  Either way, you will want to apply multiple coats.  YOU MUST LET YOUR PROJECT DRY COMPLETELY BETWEEN COATS.

In order not to make this post too long, I have divided it into two parts. You are welcome.  Part 2 can be found here (after it posts).

See also: Using apps for Marketing, Instagram crafts 1 and 2, and Memes

Bring the Power of Music Into Your Library: a guest post by Guitar Notes author Mary Amato for Music in Our Schools Month (March)

Although March is many things, like National Craft Month and Women’s History Month, it is also Music in Our Schools Month.  As school budgets get cut, music and education are some of the first to go, especially with today’s emphasis on STEM education.  But there are those who advocate STEAM: Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math.  By adding the arts, you increase creativity and innovation, along with innovation, problem solving and more.  Today, in support of music in our schools, Guitar Notes author Mary Amato writes a guest post about The Power of Music.  And for more information on how you can help Save the Music, stop by the VH1 website.

Listening to a song I love can turn around a bad day or make a great day even better. I love music, and about five years ago I made a promise to myself to actually learn how to play the guitar. Along the way, I kept imagining the powerful connection that two characters could make if they really started to share music together. That’s how Guitar Notes was born.

In the novel, a teen boy and girl challenge each other to write songs and start a duo called The Thrum Society. Instead of having the songwriting action happen “offstage,” I wanted to show them actually writing.  That meant I needed to write every song. I loved doing this. After I was done, I thought about how cool it would be for readers to hear the songs, not just see the lyrics, so I partnered up with a male musician friend, Bill Williams, and together we arranged and recorded the tracks. Readers can hear them on the book’s website: http://thrumsociety.com/.

Readers are sending me messages saying that, after reading the book, they are inspired to write their own songs. This is music to my ears! I wish more teachers would include songwriting as part of the English class curriculum, along with poetry. Students who struggle with writing or with literature can be turned on through songwriting. Lyrics use all the elements of writing that are taught in a great English class—metaphor, alliteration, rhythm, symbolism, personification, etc.—and it’s an expressive, relevant art form that gets kids exciting about writing. I’m trying to put lots of songwriting resources on the thrumsociety website to help—songwriting tip videos, a songwriting lesson plan for teachers and media specialists, blank guitar chord templates, and much more.

I would love it if teen media specialists would consider creating a “Songwriting Studio.” This could be simple: a carrel labeled For Songwriter’s with a copy of Guitar Notes and some blank songwriting journals (note to whoever puts this up…here’s the link for the blank songwriting journals). Or you could go crazy and devote a study room that contains: copies of novels that are about music, like Guitar Notes, books on songwriting, earphones, and a computer with garageband. 
Take 5: More Teen Titles About Music
The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr (review tomorrow)
Notes from Ghost Town by Kate Elliott
If I Stay by  Gayle Forman

Lemonade Mouth by Mark Peter Hughes

Somebody Everybody Listens To by Suzanne Supplee

More on Music at TLT:
The Power of Music, a guest post by Melissa Darnell
The Soundtrack of Your Books
Steph’s Take: Top 10 Titles Inspired by Music 

Does your school still have a music program? What are your favorite music themed YA titles to share with teens? And what do you think about Mary’s ideas for encouraging musical pursuits in public libraries? What ideas would you add?

Mary Amato is an award-winning children’s book author, poet, playwright, and songwriter. Her books have been translated into foreign languages, optioned for television, produced onstage, and have won the children’s choice awards in several states.  Her book, Guitar Notes, was published by Egmont USA in July of 2012. ISBN: 9781606841242.

TPiB: Quick and Easy Crafts

If your schedule is anything like mine, you are always pressed for time.  There are meetings, book orders, programs to plan, staffing emergencies, desk time….  Things always eat up what time you have, and I can always use easy crafts when it comes time for “crafternoons or movie nights with my tweens and teens.  I’m usually flying solo with a group of ten or more, so the less involved the better.  Here are some of my favorite easy go-to crafts that have as few steps as possible.  Have some go-to crafts that you absolutely love?  Share in the comments!  We’re sharing ours this month as part of our National Craft Month celebration with The Library as Incubator Project.

Bubble Magnets

Materials Needed:  Clear rounded covers. Scissors. Insert materials (pictures, magazine pictures, drawings). Clear drying glue. Magnets.
Instructions:  Have your tweens/teens color or collage the inserts for their magnets by taking a clear rounded cover and making a picture that will fit the inside. They can be premade (Michael’s and Oriental Trading Company sell kits) or let the imagination flow with old magainzes or their own art.  Using the clear glue, stick the art face up to the cover. Then adhere the magnet to the backside of the artwork.  Voila! Bubble magnets!

Coloring Sheets

Materials Needed:  Coloring Sheets Print Outs. Colored Pencils or Markers.
My teens LOVE to color.  It’s simple, it’s relaxing, and gives them creativity without forcing them to have to be able to draw. Do a search for coloring sheets for adults (and get your mind out of the gutter) and you’ll find a host of complete patters and designs that will just beg to be colored for an hour or two.  Pair these with intricate design history and pattern books and watch their imagination take flight.

Bottle Cap Creations

Materials Needed:  Bottle Cap Blanks (available at craft stores or online).  Decorative filler (stickers, magazine pictures, their own pictures, drawings). Mod podge or clear stickers to seal pictures to the caps. Paint and/or permanent markers if desired for additional design.
Instructions:  These work very similar to the bubble magnets- just let your tweens/teens loose with their create spirits and color and create their designs for the inside of the caps, then seal to protect their art.  Depending on what type of caps you purchase, hooks can be used to create necklaces  bracelets, keychains, earrings, and all other sorts of awesome things- so be sure to either have a set design that you’re going to do during the craft, or have plenty of options for the teens.  I’ve let them loose with cords and always been amazed at their creativity.
Pony Beads

Materials Needed:  Pony beads in any and every color.  Zip lock bags. Cords for threading.
Some of the best ways I’ve gotten to know my teens have been through conversations through crafts, and it’s not been through any design.  I’ve had an hour of free time, a free table in the library, and a bunch of tweens/teens doing nothing, and brought out my stash of pony beads. We’ve made bracelets, necklaces, keychains- any color, any size, didn’t matter, no restrictions. And that freedom led to some wonderful conversations.  In fact, one of those first conversations with one of my first teens in my current job has kept up, and now I’m invited to his wedding this coming April. My point is not everything has to be structured.  Just bring out your beads, and see where things go.
Image Source: http://teachingliteracy.tumblr.com/post/28199908734/summerproject2012-paint-chip-bookmarks-these
Materials:  paint chips or scrap materials. Hole punch. Shape punches if desired. String or ribbon. Markers to decorate.
I admit, I am a home improvement store junkie.  When Disney came out with their paint, I raided stores for their paint chips- not for painting my house, but because the paint chip was in the shape of mouse ears.  We used them all over my library- achievement markers, crafts, everything you can think of. Even though my mouse heads are long gone, the paint chip crafts still live on.  Grab a whole bunch of gradients, a handful of ultra-fine point black sharpies, and let your teens decorate their bookmarks.  You can never have too many bookmarks.  Scrap ribbon from previous craft projects, or a friend’s sewing room can add an awesome touch, as well as using the cute shaped hole punches.

Karen’s note: We have a whole TPiB dedicated to a variety of different types of bookmarks. Check them out.

What are your favorite go-to crafts?

TPiB: Poster Frenzy

All the month of March, which is National Craft Month, we are joining forces with The Library as Incubator Project (@iartlibraries on Twitter) to bring you a new craft activity each Friday that you can do with your tweens and teens. As part of our National Craft Month collaboration, this post originally appeared at The Library as Incubator Project.

Earlier this year I took the Paris obsessed tween to a Posters of Paris exhibit at the Dallas Museum of Art. After we went through the exhibit, they had an area set up with a hands on exhibit where we were invited to create our own Posters of Paris inspired posters.  At Teen Librarian Toolbox, I’m always looking for new and creative ways to incorporate art into library programming and encourage teens to tap into their creativity and this process was so unique I immediately knew that it would be an awesome hands on craft to do at the library with my tweens and teens.  It was easy, but produced the most amazing end products.

Here is a look at the posters we created using the process I will outline below

Some of the things you can do with this type of project:
Create freestyle posters
Create book and graphic novel covers
Create graphic novel style pages
Create magazine covers or pages
Create examples of ads
Create zines


The biggest issue here is that you MUST have access to a color photocopier to do this activity.

Overhead transparency sheets (11×17 is ideal, but 8 1/2 x 11 works)
A variety of dry erase markers, various colors and tip sizes
Stencils (you can make your own, I used a variety of scrapbooking and coloring ones that I had around the house)

What you will do: Color your design – in layers – on the overhead transparency sheets and then photocopy it onto paper to create your poster.

Step 1: Setting up your transparency books

In order to help prevent smearing while coloring, you will layer 4 sheets of transparency film into a type of “book” and color in layers.  I stacked 4 sheets and used duct tape on the edge to create a type of coloring portfolio.  To help me turn the pages, I created a little tab on each sheet kind of like you see on file folders.  This is your working space.

Step 2: Color

You can slip your stencil behind the transparency sheet and color your designs.  Do one item on the top layer – here I did the sea dragon – and then turn the page to do the next layer.  By doing it in layers it helps me prevent myself from smearing the dragon while doing the planet in another area of the page.

Because you are using dry erase markers, it is not a big deal if you make a mistake.  Simply wipe it off and start over again.

Step 3: Photocopy

Once you have your transparency film packet looking the way you want it to, you are ready to photocopy.  Simply carry it over to your photocopier, place it face down and copy as you normally would.  It comes out looking like you have just designed and drawn a most awesome poster.

A Few Quick Tips:

Outlining your elements with a black marker seems to give a piece the biggest visual punch.  I found the fine tip markers much easier to work with personally, but the large tip markers are good for coloring in large areas.

This is a page from an ARC of Cardboard by Doug Tennapel

If you want to create graphic novel pages, simply create some templates that have various boxes to help them create the page layout and design you find in a graphic novel.  To do this, simply pull a GN off your shelf.  You can create a variety of templates quickly and easily by using boxes (shapes) in Publisher.  Use the layouts you find in the GN to create 4 or 5 templates.  You could also simply use pages from discarded GNs as templates.  GN pages would work best in 8 1/2 by 11 and teens could create several of them which you then staple together to create their own zines or mini GNs.

You can use ready made stencils, but you can also create your own.  For example, you can print off a picture of angel wings to get the shape right.  Simply placing a picture behind your transparency film creates the same effect as a stencil because of the medium you are working with.  Here I use a postcard I have for A Wrinkle in Time to copy circles.

Here’s a close up of one of our finished posters

Here, The Mr traces a city scape in the background and, yes, a giant rooster.  But the best part was how social this activity was; we could be drawing, and re-drawing, while talking and just enjoying the company of everyone around us.  It was an easy but good time.

TPiB: Hosting a Teen Film Festival, inspired by Andrew Jenks, My Adventures as a Young Filmmaker


Earlier today, we reviewed (and recommended) Andrew Jenks, My Adventures as a Young FilmmakerOf course, there are all kinds of programming potential tie-ins for the book.  You can go little, hosting a movie viewing party, or go big, inviting teens to create their own short films and hosting a local teen film festival.  So many people are doing amazing things these days with smartphones and computers, it is a great way to tap into that creativity with your local teens.

Hosting a Teen Film Festival
Today is a time of great creative renaissance for teens.  Now, more than ever, they have the tools at their disposal to make their own movies.  You can see amazing examples on YouTube and hitRECORD.org.  For a great look at young people dabbling in the word of film, watch the movie Super 8.  Tap into this zeitgeist moment and ask your teens to participate in a local teen film festival put on by you, their favorite librarian.

Hot Tips
Put together an awesome prize package.  It could include things like gift cards, local movie theater passes, or even something like a digital camera, iPod touch, etc.  You can ask local stores to donate and give them sponsorship credit.

Network with your local schools to get submissions, especially the art departments.  Sometimes they will even offer extra credit if you prompt them.

Getting Your Promotional Materials Organized

1.  Decide how you want to organize your teen film festival.  Will it be an open theme or will you ask teens to shoot on a specific theme?  If you want to do book related, you could ask teens to create their own booktrailers (see this post for more info).  Or, you could ask teens to make creative videos promoting the library.  But to spark true creativity, just leave it open.

2.  You’ll want to set some specific guidelines.  You’ll definitely want to address in your submission guidelines any rules you might have about language and content.  I’ve heard libraries say it had to be something you could sit and watch with the adults in your life, including teachers and parents.  That seems like a good guidelines.  You’ll always want to address length, etc.

3.  Create a way for teens to submit their videos.  You can set up a dummy email account using a free service such as gmail and asked teens to submit them via e-mail.  By using a dedicated account, you can make the e-mail address film festival related and easy to remember for teens and have an easy way to access all the submitted videos with your inbox being flooded with other correspondence.

5.  You’ll want to set up a YouTube channel to upload the videos to and have an online gallery.  You can upload the videos all at once or do several a day for a week.

6.  Create a voting mechanism to allow teens to vote on a winner.  If your library has a teen website, you can easily insert a poll feature to allow for voting.  FB also has an easy to use poll feature.

Showing The Work
If you have a way in-house, stream the videos in your teen area or at your check out desk.  You can use laptops or digital photo frames to do this.  I have also visited some libraries recently that had iPads attached to end caps, which would be ideal for this as well.

Have a film festival event where you actually show the videos in-house.  You can use a laptop and projector to do this.  Be sure and have refreshments. You might also want to consider contacting your local TV station personalities to come and host the event.

Depending on the number of submissions you receive, you may want to ask the top vote getting teens to talk a little bit about their piece as an introduction to showing them.

Award prizes and voila – you have hosted your own mini, local teen film festival.

Other Film Related Programs

We recently outlined a variety of movie related programming ideas based on the book Reel Culture by Zest Books, so you may want to check it out for some additional ideas.

Want to make a movie? There’s an app for that of course.  Here’s more on iMovie. 
Here’s some information on making book trailers. 
Here’s a YouTube clip on making a Short Film
Clipcanvas on How to Make a Short Movie
Top 5 Online Tools to Make a Online for Free
How to Use Windwos Movie Maker 
Don’t forget about Vine and Snapchat

See Also:
See also: Lights, Camera, Action: 5 YA Titles about teen filmmakers