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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

The Real Fauxtographer: YA Lit + Art = Awesome (Guest post by Margot Wood)

A couple of years ago, I was googling “The Perks of Being a Wallflower quotes” when I stumbled across a beautiful photograph with a quote from the book on it.  This is when I learned that all over the Internet people were making beautiful art from their favorite YA books.  Since then, I have become fascinated with the mingling of visual art and ya lit.  I was thrilled (and awed and amazed and stunned) to stumble upon the amazing Margot Wood.  She is a photographer and YA reader who creates photographs of some of her favorite YA books.  How does she do it? What inspires her? I am honored to introduce her to you today.

Hi everyone! I am so thrilled and honored to guest blogging here at TLT. As an avid teen book reader and library go-er, I love knowing that passion for books and support for libraries is still alive and kicking in today’s digital age.

So anyways, I guess I should introduce myself and tell you all about this fun project I’m working on. My name is Margot Wood and I am a digital designer by day and photographer by night. Two of my biggest hobbies are reading YA books and taking photos and this winter I was trying to come up with a spring project to work on (something I like to do every year) and this year I decided to combine my two loves into one amazing project: a series of photos inspired by my favorite young adult books!

Why young adult books? Well, I  have received so much from them. I mean I get to go on an adventure with each book and I wanted to honor these amazing stories and since I can’t draw, paint, sculpt or writer music I’m using my camera to pay tribute to the authors and the genre that has brought me so much happiness.

In addition to just having a blast trying to do these photos, I have found that this project has really kick started the creative side of my brain. This project has given me something to think about, plan for, work towards and have fun with. 

So, how did this idea first come to me? Well, I was reading The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan and thought to myself, “Wouldn’t it be a really cool photo if Mary was standing in the woods and zombie hands were grabbing her?” So then I decided to quit waiting for someone else to do that photo and just do it myself. And here’s the finished product:
You can read the full story behind this photo (and all the others) on my blog, therealfauxtographer.com but I was so happy with the way that photo came out that I thought “Hmm, maybe I should do more of these!” The next thing I did was make a list of all the YA books I’ve read and narrow down that list to my favorite ones, then narrow that list down to the ones that would make for really cool photos. Since the Forest of Hands and Teeth photo I have produced approximately one photo per week, one for each book and I have six photos in total so far. Here are a few of my favorites:
Based on ASHFALL by Mike Mullin
Based on DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE by Laini Taylor
Based on ACROSS THE UNIVERSE by Beth Revis
I am having so much fun with this project, and I’d like to invite you all to join me! Grab your cameras and take a photo inspired by your favorite book!
But before you head out, here’s some advice:
-Go into your photo with an open mind. It’s easier to get a successful photo if you already have an idea of how you want it to look or the style or theme of the photo, but be flexible with the results. If what you originally wanted to do isn’t happening, make adjustments as you go along with whatever is available to you at the time.
-Have a problem? Get creative with your solution! For that Across the Universe photo I needed some way of making it look like Amy was being cryogenically frozen. So how the heck was I going to do that? Well, after doing a little research on Flickr for “frozen portraits” I found a few pics that inspired me. Frozen glass! But how do I get my hands on frozen glass? Well, I used the glass from a picture frame, wiped it down with Listerine (to get that blue color) and stuck it in the freezer! Problem solved!  
-Pick a book that inspires you. It’s important to choose wisely with your books, only go with one that really speaks to you or left you with an impression. Don’t have one in mind yet? Head to your library and tell your librarian about the project and ask for a recommendation for a book that would be fun to do for the project. Since I’ve started this project most of my photo ideas have come from books that people on Twitter have recommended to me!
-Interpret at will.The nice thing about my project is that I can do whatever I want with my interpretations. That means it can be a literal interpretation of a scene, character or title or you can do something that gets the mood or feeling of the book, or it can just be anything that reminds YOU of the book. This is art, it doesn’t have to be accurate. You make it what you want to make it.
Now that you have some advice, get out there and start taking some photos! I can’t wait to see what you come up with and stay tuned for more photos from my series. Happy reading and photogging!
This is a great way to get your teens creating and expressing themselves; to engage them in literature.  After meeting Margot and following her project I realized that I had been doing a form of this on my own with the pictures that I post here on my blog, though without the high level of skill and talent.  My homage to the Real Fauxtographer can be found here.  And throughout the Teen Programs in a Box you can find ways to get your teens creating ya inspired art whether it be through the Book Quotation Celebration, creating haunting photos inspired by Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, or creating a Angel fiction inspired 3-d book cover starring your teens.  You can find those programs and more in the Teen Programs in a Box Table of Contents.
You can follow Margot on Twitter (@margotwood), on Facebook and at her blog.  Stay tuned in here in the coming weeks as authors Beth Revis and Mike Mullin discuss their reaction to their photographs and share their amazing books with us.  Beth Revis is the author of Across the Universe, a great science fiction race against time to save the lives of those on board a spaceship built of secrets and murder.  Mike Mullin is the author of Ashfall, a spine chilling dystopian tale of what happens when volcanoes erupt and the world is covered in ash.
Please be sure to leave Margot a comment in the comments letting her know how awesome she is, what book you think she should do next, or share art projects you have done with your teens based on ya lit.

Putting the “Teen” in Your Teen Space

I’m a big fan of teen buy in.  When teens feel that they are a part of your teen programming, including your teen spaces, they are invested.  Invested means they are more likely to take care of the space because it is now their space. Invested means they feel welcomed and invited, which is how we want them to feel.  So how can we help teens become a part of our library teen space? By getting them involved in decorating the space.

This is the artwork of Tim James, a former teen patron and now employee at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County in Ohio. He is 17, and obtained a G.E.D. this summer after having been home-educated.  He became involved in the library initially because of our Anime Club.  We had an Anime Art Contest which he won and then he did some graphics for the teen section of the website as a volunteer.  Last summer he applied for a job at the library and now works here 18 hours a week doing mostly technology related work.  We have a large amount of digital signage now and he uses a program called “Flypaper” to create much of the content for us.  He also helps with Anime Club, Video Game Club, Teen Advisory Group, selection of video games for circulation, selection of Anime for circulation, some graphic design and will be teaching teens a class on the photo editor Gimp (like a free version of Photoshop) for Teen Tech Week in March.  Teens have a tremendous amount of talent, we should be giving them a platform to share it.

At the most basic level, if money is tight and you want to get something up ASAP, you can simply take pictures of your teens in your teen area and at your programs and use them to decorate the walsl.  If you have a camera (or a camera phone) and a color printer, you have everything you need. You can do straightforward pics or use things like Wordfoto, PhotoBooth and Diptic (all iPhone apps) to create more unique photos. You can also use the free online program Picnik (sadly soon to be going away) or Gimp (very complicated) to manipulate your photos and give them that little something extra.

You can upload photos to make collages or include teen pics in your homemade RA posters.  Don’t just tell them the library is fun – show them! Make a visual statement to an audience that is very visually oriented.

Use your teens to make fun end cap signage (WordFoto)

Have your teens write poetry and create artwork similar to the signs that are so popular right now in various stores
You can use a variety of tools, including the Comic Book app, to create GN looking posters with your teens
You can use your teens – or have them create them – to make bookmarks

But, you don’t have to do all the work yourself.  You can get teens involved in creating art for your teen space.  They can do any of the projects above or you can allow them to create art on their own and simply display it in your teen area.  There are a variety of ways you can display artwork in your teen area at little cost.

At the most basic level, you can use wood strips and clips to create an easy to change out display space.


At a slightly greater cost, you can create a display space that packs more visual punch using a wide variety of clip boards.


Or you could take it up another notch (in both cost and time) and have teens create original tiles to make mosaic table tops or benches. Many towns now have places where you can paint your own ceramics and they fire them in the Kiln for you; contact yours to see if they will work with you at a reasonable price.


 If you are really daring, you can allow the teens to paint a mural.

Whatever situation you are in, you can find creative ways to utilize and nurture your teens creative talents and make your teen space rock!