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12 Blogs of 2014: YA Highway

Welcome to blog number 11 of our 12 Blogs of 2014! If you missed some of the series, make sure you go back and check them all out. Lots of great blogs to read and smart people to follow on Twitter. Be sure to check out the end of this post for a list of just a few more blogs I love. Want to share your favorites with me? I’m on Twitter @CiteSomething. 


Today’s featured blog

YA Highway

From the blog:

We’re writers from different corners of the globe, united by our affinity for travel, costume parties, and writing and reading young adult fiction.

Find them on Twitter  @yahighway and tumblr.


Who runs YA Highway

7 full-time and 6 contributing members


Kirsten Hubbard (Twitter @kirstenhubbard), Kristin Halbrook (Twitter @KristinHalbrookWebsite), Kaitlin Ward (Twitter @Kaitlin_WardWebsite), Kate Hart (Twitter @Kate_Hart, Website), Stephanie Kuehn (Twitter @stephkuehnWebsite), Sarah Enni (Twitter @SarahEnniWebsite), Amy Lukavics (Twitter @amylukavicsTumblr)



Lee Bross (Twitter @Lee_BrossWebsite), Leila Austin (Twitter @thatleilaWebsite), Sumayyah Daud (Twitter @sumayyahdaud, Tumblr), Debra Driza (Twitter @DebraDrizaWebsite), Emilia Plater (Twitter @emiliaplaterWebsite), Kristin Briana Otts (Twitter @kbotts,Tumblr)


Why I like YA Highway

Such a wide range of awesome posts! Information, discussions, and advice from writers, editors, agents, and publishers (including a query series), author interviews, recommended reads, writing tips, cover reveals, and more. I love that they include ways to join in on their fun: “submit a collection of music for a mix tape/playlist, ask them YA-related questions, guest posts, Road Trip Wednesday (Answer the weekly prompt on your blog and link it in the comments, or use hashtag #roadtripwednesday on Twitter or Tumblr. (It’s helpful if you tag @yahighway in those as well!) We’ll do our best to share your answers and help you find other people playing along!) and Field Trip Friday (Use the form on their site to submit your links and giveaways below for inclusion in the weekly industry round up.)”


Some posts to check out

The Landscape of YA Lit: A State of the Union

Five Ways to Stay in Touch with Your WIP During Busy Times

 YA Before YA: What My Parents Read

Guest post: I Love You and I Want to Kill You; Let’s Make Out by Catherine Egan

Guest post: Memorable Food in YA Literature by Elissa Sussman


Other great blogs you need to be reading: Kristin Cashore’s blog, Stacked, Forever Young Adult, Carrie Mesrobian’s blog, A Chair, a Fireplace, & A Tea Cozy, Bookshelves of Doom, GayYA, Kelly Barnhill’s blog, Screwy Decimal, The Dead Have Issues, The Diary Project.

You can find me also blogging at Cite Something


12 Blogs of 2014: Rich in Color

Did I mention that choosing just three blogs to share has been agonizing? There are just so many awesome blogs out there and I want to tell you about all of them! I hope you’re adding all of the blogs we’re featuring to whatever blog reader you use and following the blogs and their creators on Twitter. I’m always looking for more blogs to read, so make sure you share your favorites with us, too! You can find me on Twitter @CiteSomething. 

Today’s featured blog

Rich in Color

From the blog:

Rich in Color is dedicated to reading, reviewing, talking about, and otherwise promoting young adult fiction starring people of color or written by people of color. We believe that teens (and adults!) should be able to find themselves in the kinds of books they love to read. At Rich in Color, we want to showcase a wide variety of multicultural books so that kids will be able to see themselves as more than just the sassy best friend, the very special lesson, or the extra in the background.

The discrepancy between books that feature people of color or are written by people of color and the actual composition of the U.S. population is a concern for us. We think it’s important to support these books/authors, and one way we can do that is to talk about them.

Find the blog on Twitter @Rich_in_Color and check out their tumblr.


Who runs it

Audrey, an editor and copywriter (Twitter @audrey_gonzalezMy Writing Life); Crystal, an elementary school teacher and librarian (Twitter @librarygrl2Reading Through Life ); Jessica, a bookworm to the core (These Mortals Be); K. Imani Tennyson, a teacher and writer (Twitter @K_ImaniImani Scribbles); Jon, a writer and the site’s webmaster (Twitter @jayang, Website)


Why I like Rich in Color

Extensive information on YA books featuring characters of color and authors of color. A handy reference with their release calendar. Reviews, booklists, topical posts, roundups of new releases, links to diverse resources, and so much more.


Some posts to check out

 Finding Diverse Lit

Shorter Days Equal Shorter Stories

 The Thorny Issue of Race

Getting Graphic

Five YA Books Featuring American Indians




12 Blogs of 2014: DiversifYA

Choosing just three blogs to feature for our 12 Blogs of 2014 was hard. I may have sent Karen, Robin, and Heather about 15 emails constantly changing which blogs I was calling dibs on. I hope you’re adding all of the blogs we’re featuring to whatever blog reader you use and following the blogs and their creators on Twitter. I’m always looking for more blogs to read, so make sure you share your favorites with us, too! You can find me on Twitter @CiteSomething. 


Today’s featured blog


The focus of DiversifYA is on being inclusive in every possible way.

From the blog:

DiversifYA is a collection of interviews that allows us to share our stories, all of us. All sorts of diversity and all marginalized experiences. We are not Other.

DiversifYA is a tool, an introduction. Allow us to convince you that the world is so much richer than the world we often read about, and that every reader deserves to find themselves in books.

DiversifYA is our way to show you: diversity is all of us. Diversity is reality. We all have shared experiences, no matter how different we may be, and the countless combinations of sameness and difference is what makes this world amazing. It’s about time more stories reflected that.

Follow the blog on Twitter  @_DiversifYA

(Note: this blog is on a hiatus until January rolls around.)


Who runs DiversifYA

The DiversifYA team currently consists of Marieke and Sarah, with former co-moderator Alex as honorary team member!

Marieke is VP of We Need Diverse Books™. You can follow Marieke on Twitter @mariekeyn and visit her website.

Sarah’s debut, THE LAST LEAVES FALLING, releases from Random House UK and Simon and Schuster US in Spring 2015. On Twitter she’s @SWritesBooks.


Why I like this blog

DiversifYA features interviews, guest posts, cover reveals, in-depth looks at books, issues, and themes. With their DiversiTheme category, they examine various issues with writing diversity. From their blog: “For example, over the next couple of months we’ll have topics as writing/publishing diverse lit and living in different cultures. We’re talking about body imagine and fat culture, which is an integral part of diversity as well.” The blog also features roundtable discussions. The discussion they had last year was a 6-part series about diversity and sexuality. I hope they do more, because that one was great! When you hop on over to their blog, check out the bevvy of tags they have for their posts (in the column on the right). Some examples: Neurodiversity, asexual, hearing loss, QUILTBAG, Eskimo, OCD, bulimia, and so lots more topics. The posts are smart and touch on so many topics that more people need to be thinking about and writing about. As they say on the blog, “[DivesifYA is not] an alternative to research. DiversifYA is an introduction to diversity, it’s not a collection of premade character bios you can use. It is not a substitute for research. But don’t mind us if we want to nudge you in the right direction.”


Some posts to check out

Interview with Sabaa Tahir

 Ami Allen-Vath’s guest post about bulimia

 Julie Sondra Decker’s post about asexuality

DivYAQnA: disability edition

 Interview with Sumayyah Daud


12 Blogs of 2014: R. David Lankes

great communities build great librariesTruth be told, I’m not an avid blog reader. Since the demise of Google Reader, I’ve not devoted much time to finding a new tool to help me organize and track my blog reading. The blogs I do read belong to those people who I can count on to get me thinking and give me some great ideas, and few make me think more than R. David Lankes.

Now that I’ve got some distance from being a full time student, I’m realizing how much I miss the discourse of being in the classroom. I miss the thought provoking readings, the vigorous discussion, learning not just from professors, but from peers. David has, with his blog, recreated some of this. He’s an academic who knows and appreciates the boots on the ground work that librarians really do, and the work we might do, we could do, and we want to do.

Boring PatientI came to know David through his ILEAD keynotes in March, June, and October (which are absolutely required viewing if you are despairing about the importance of libraries). If you do watch these keynotes, you’ll learn about David’s personal journey through illness and into health, which he shares more of in The Boring Patient.

And if you haven’t visited his blog before, this week is a great time to do so. He’s beginning a series of Radical Conversations on New Librarianship, and we’re all invited to join in. This week the topic is Defining a Library. It gives me a thrill like I used to get while sitting in the classroom of a particularly inspiring professor, and I’m so glad I can participate at my leisure with the benefit of my years of practical library work. It’s the perfect way for me to recapture what I loved about being in school, without actually being in school.

12 Blogs of 2014: Mary Had a Little Book Blog

Every once in a while you get the honor of meeting someone who is fabulous and shares a lot of your passions. This person is someone that you just seem to click with and forever get to consider yourself blessed. For me, that person is Mary Hinson from Mary Had a Little Book Blog. Today I present you with 5 reasons to read Mary’s little book blog . . .

1. Learn About the Rich Book Culture in Texas, especially in the DFW area

There is a rich and edifying book culture here in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. The Irving Public Library hosts a wide variety of author events that I frequent, often taking my entire family. Thanks to the Irving library system my girls have met a ton of authors and seen people get together and talk excitedly about books. And it was at one of these events that I first met Mary. And as an aside let me tell you that Mary laughed loudly when at a recent event the moderator – who was Mary coincidentally – asked if the audience had any questions and Thing 2, five at the time, loudly proclaimed: No!

Mary’s blog, Mary Had a Little Book Blog, focuses largely on YA and NA. Her blog is a great place for Texas people to find out about upcoming events, she is super organized in this regard. I just text her when I want to find out what authors are coming and when. And when there isn’t a local event that she is attending she can often be found on a Friday or Saturday night with me and my two kids at the local Barnes and Noble or Half Price Books. We once spent a Friday night putting all the YA series in order on the shelf. And yes, we do know how to party.

2. Learn How to Do a Book Conference Right!

Earlier this year I had the privilege of sharing a room with Mary as we spent the weekend at the Texas Library Association conference. She was with me when I met author Laurie Halse Anderson, a hero of mine, and got to discuss The #SVYALit Project with people from RAINN. After the conference the fam came down and spent the day with us in San Antonio.

So many books to get organized!

If you want to know how to do a conference right, you should follow Mary (@knoxdiver) on Twitter. That girl is organized. She has checklists of authors you wants to meet, schedules to help make sure she maximizes her time, and she takes suitcases full of books to get signed. She has to have the largest collection of signed books I have ever seen. And if you pay attention, you can probably win some signed books on her blog because she is always hosting giveaways.

3. Follow a New Paraprofessional on Their Journey into Library Land

Mary recently announced that she was going to join the world of library land as she was just hired to be a paraprofessional at the Irving Public Library working with Kristin Trevino to do teen programming. This was an incredibly smart decision on their part, Mary is in the know when it comes to YA literature and just has such an incredible passion for libraries.

I’m hoping in a few weeks when she starts her new position at Irving Public Library that she’ll blog more about library land (nudge, nudge) and her journey as a new paraprofessional. Lots of us having been doing this for a while now, it will be interesting to see what it’s like with new eyes.

4. A Great Example for New Book Bloggers

One of the great things about Mary and her blog, however, is that she is a reader. She blogs first and foremost as a reader and the core of her blog is books, books, and more books. Whereas I tend to read a lot of science fiction, dystopian and contemporary, Mary highlights lots of romantic leaning books, often sharing titles that I hear about first from her. She posts a weekly update where she covers events she has gone to, the books she has read, and highlights of her week.

Mary and author Laini Taylor

The other great benefit to Mary’s blog is that it is a really good example of a reader’s blog to share with teens who might want to start a personal blog. Mary particpates in a wide variety of weekly Memes that you will want to let new bloggers know about to help create a readership and dive into the online book community.

5. She Hosts a Lot of Giveaways

While it’s true that Mary has the largest collection of signed books I have ever seen, it is also true that she almost always gets 2 signed copies – 1 for her and 1 to give away on her blog. Mary hosts lots of great giveaways that you can keep for yourself or collect to use as teen prizes for various things. It’s a great resource if you’re looking for free signed books.

If you like Mary’s blog, I also recommend:

Jim at YAYeahYeah and YA Contemporary

Also, check out this post on Stephanie Perkins that Mary recently wrote for our YA A to Z project

12 Blogs of 2014: The Mary Sue

As I mentioned yesterday, today we kick off the 12 Blogs of 2014, where we share some of the blogs that help us be better YA Librarians. Many of the blogs will be librarian blogs, though definitely not all of them. So behold: The Mary Sue.

I have always been proud to embrace my Geekdom and The Mary Sue is a great place to feed my geeky self.

The Mary Sue is a website – probably not technically a blog – dedicated to news and analysis of popular geek culture. You can find great reviews here of things like Doctor Who, science fiction and fantasy movies, and more. They definitely have a Feminist bent and can be counted on to analyze how various forms of geek culture are portraying women, which is something I really appreciate. They are also very good at taking pop culture to task for it’s lack of diversity. They describe themselves thusly on their about us page: “The Mary Sue sits at the nexus of pop culture and the uncharted universe. We love and live geek culture, comic book movies, genre television, space exploration, emerging technologies, the coolest video games, and the weirdest finds on the internet. We promote, watchdog, extoll, and celebrate women’s representation in all of these areas and work to make geekdom safe and open for women.”

The Mary Sue isn’t just about sci fi movies and television, comic books and Doctor Who – they also discuss science and technology. Although I’m not going to lie I go every Saturday after the new episode of Doctor Who to see what they had to say about it. I’m having such a hard time getting into this new season and this new Doctor. The Tween, for the record, hates the new Doctor because “he is so mean to Clara”.

It’s interesting to note that publisher Dan Abrams is the founder of The Mary Sue. There are 8 other people listed as being involved in The Mary Sue, including Editor in Chief Jill Pantozzi, whom I follow on Twitter.

So here’s my confession: before I started reading The Mary Sue, I had no idea what a Mary Sue was. And it took me a lot of research to figure it out. According to the Urban Dictionary, a Mary Sue is an idealized female character that is so perfect she is annoying. Bella from Twilight is often presented as a good example of a Mary Sue. A Mary Sue is a sexist and idealized female character, someone who is often incredibly good lucking and easy to like. In contrast, complex female characters will be more realistic and flawed. The male counterpart to a Mary Sue is called a Gary Stu or a Marty Stu. The idea of the Mary Sue is discussed in fandom and fan fiction a lot. You can find out more about the Mary Sue at Know Your Meme.

I don’t just read The Mary Sue for my personal education and growth, I find that it has a lot of great content that it easy to share with my library teens on social media. They want to see the new Star Wars trailer just as much as I do. And as someone who is not a big comic book reader, it is an invaluable resource to me in being better able to meet the needs of my teens in this subject area. The Mary Sue is a great resource and if you’re not following it you might want to check it out.

Some recent posts you might want to check out include:

Goodreads Poll Finds that Readers Stick to Their Own Gender: http://www.themarysue.com/goodreads-poll-finds-that-readers-stick-to-their-own-gender/

This Little Girl Really Loves Books: http://www.themarysue.com/madison-loves-books/

Only 3 Out of 5 Internet Users Know What Net Neutrality Is, Do You?: http://www.themarysue.com/take-the-internet-quiz/

12 Blogs of Christmas: A Beautiful Mess

One thing I definitely need to have on my blogroll are craft blogs.  You never know when the perfect craft idea will come along and suddenly – presto magic – you have a complete program idea ready to go.  So we are wrapping up the 12 Blogs of Christmas with one of my favorite craft blogs.

Blog #12: A Beautiful Mess

A Beautiful Mess is a crafting/DIY blog done by Elsie & Emma.  That’s really about all I know about them.  This blog has a such a clean layout with a great graphic presentation.  Also, lots of great ideas.  Their Instagram Canvas Wall Art post started a revolution in both my home decorating and programming.  I am quite literally obsessed with this project and if you are in any way related to me, then you got some type of Instagram Canvas Art from me in 2013.  And if you are one of my teens, you probably attended my program on 10 Things You Can Do with a Blank Canvas (part 1 and part 2).

A Beautiful Mess has sections on crafts, photography, recipes, decor, fashion and beauty.  The crafts and decor sections are most usual in program planning inspiration, but I like learning about the photography.
Some of my favorite posts include:

This Family Photo Bookshelf Project

This post on making your own foam stamp

They have a whole collection of posts on book making

This post on displaying photos in your home (some of which would work at the library or as a program)

And this post on making a pinhole camera, which totally counts as tech programming in my book 

There is also an A Beautiful Mess iPhone App, which I have not used so I can’t give an opinion on it.   

12 Blogs of Christmas: Book Blather

This is Heather’s final blog in the 12 blogs of Christmas, and it is Blog #6: BookBlather

I met Drea of BookBlather briefly at ALA this summer and she brings the same energy and perceptiveness to her blog as she did when wrangling a slew of teens into the city and up onto the dais at BFYA.  You’ll find reviews and program ideas on Book Blather, and I especially love her program writeups.  You will never need to guess at the cost, timing, or potential pitfalls of a program if you follow Drea’s tutorials, and you’ll get some darn cool ideas too.  Keep Book Blather on your radar.  New posts don’t pop up every week, but when they do, they’re certainly worth waiting for.

5 Posts to Look Into

Teen Program: Book Hedgehogs
Summer Reading: Did It Work?
Teen Program: Gooey Creations
Mock the Movie: Labyrinth
Teen Program: Stop Motion Lab


Next week are blogs 7-12, done by Christie and Robin.  And here’s a look back at Karen’s Top 3 Blogs

#3: YA Lit Quotes (http://www.teenlibrariantoolbox.com/2013/12/12-blogs-of-christmas-ya-lit-quotes-we.html)
#2: Go Book Yourself (http://www.teenlibrariantoolbox.com/2013/12/12-blogs-of-christmas-go-book-yourself.html)
#1: Diversity in YA (http://www.teenlibrariantoolbox.com/2013/12/12-blogs-of-christmas-diversity-in-ya.html)

On the 12th day of Christmas, my TLT brought to me . . .

The Red Reading Chair

The Red Reading Chair is a blog by school librarian Amianne Bailey.  Amianne has actually written one of my favorite blog posts ever here at TLT: Atticus Was Right, a story about a bully, an Autistic boy and Sharon Draper’s Out of My Mind.  I’ll never forget the day she told me this story and how we both teared up at how literature can really touch a person and make them somehow different.

Amianne is the school librarian at a K-6 school here in Texas and we sometimes get together and talk about books, of course.  School librarians have to be “on” a lot more than public librarians.  Last Friday Amianne did a Polar Express program where she had classes come into the library ALL DAY LONG in shifts.  When I do a program, it is often only once a day.  But not those school librarians.  And teachers.  They have to be “on” and “performing”.  But Amianne is awesome at it, and now she has started a blog to share her lesson plans.

So, I know this is the Teen Librarian Toolbox, but the truth is – a lot of our teens are often Tweens if you define teens in your library as kids in grades 6-12, which a lot of libraries do.  That is how they are usually divided in schools: middle school is grades 6-8 and high school is graded 9-12.  So I am often working with Tweens – and there are some ideas that you can use with them at The Red Reading Chair.

We also talk a lot about using Picture Books with teens, which can be a great idea.  You can do fun things with teens and picture books like do reader’s theater, crafts, poetry, and more.  I am going to be doing something in February with this picture book with my teens:

The Red Reading Chair is a great resource by a passionate, creative school librarian – check it out!

On the 11th Day of Christmas, my TLT gave to me . . .

The great Patrick Jones wrote that good librarianship is “a combination of skills, knowledge, and attitude.  The contention here is that YA work is perhaps different from other library work in that without the “right” attitude as a base, the other two traits [skills and knowledge] do not matter as much.”

 Brian Herzog’s Swiss Army Librarian blog focuses on all three traits, with a healthy dose of humor, and an emphasis on fostering an attitude that translates to good customer service – for teens as well as for other age groups.  His “Reference Question of the Week” feature is one of my favorite blog series.  Since many of us teen services librarians also wear other hats – reference librarian, reader’s advisory, administration – it’s important to keep tabs on what’s going on in those worlds too, and Swiss Army Librarian is a fun and informative way to do so.