Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

TPIB: Pageturners! Save my spot!

True confessions of a bad librarian: I never have a bookmark handy.  That’s right, I am one of those people who puts a book down on the stand open to the page I left at.  Apparently that is hard on the spine.  Um, at least I don’t do the dog ear thing . . . right?  But there are a lot of great ways you can make bookmarks and it would make a great tween/teen program.  Do this as a stand alone program with a lot of bookmark options or as part of a book discussion group.  This will help protect those book discussion group books from people like me!
Book Thongs 

Using a variety of beads and thin hemp cord, you can can create book thongs.  Simply put beads on each end of the cord.  Tie off each end so the beads don’t slide off or up and down the length of the cord.  You can watch the YouTube video for directions.  Or here are written instructions.

This is a great craft to do as a bookmark program or as part of a beading program.  Flat ribbon or skinny waxed cord works best.

Monster Bookmark Corners

These are super cute.  And a great way to hold your page.  You could do a bunch of variations on this, too:  Zombify them.  Make robots.

This is a great way to use leftover paper from the craft closet.  I would offer a variety of scrapbooking papers in a wide variety of designs and colors.  Also, buy a couple of different size circle punches to make the eyes and a triangle paper punch for the teeth.  Instructions
Paint Strip Bookmarks 
Ask your local department store for paint example strips.  The genius of the paint strip is that they are already pre-cut to the perfect size and shape.  No cutting paper for you – yeah! You can do a variety of things with these. You can stamp on them (as seen to the right).  But you don’t have to stop there: you can decoupage them, cover them with words or word stickers, and so much more.  Then, punch a hole, add a grommet and some string.  Easy yet a way to promote creativity and self expression.

Paper Clip Bookmarks 

Buy large size
paperclips and a wide variety of foam shapes and stickers.  You can also use a variety of scrapbooking supplies for this project.  You want to use something strong and sturdy for the top so regular paper won’t do.  At a minimum, you can put stickers or decorations on thin pieces of cardboard and glue.  This is a great way to re-use old cereal boxes and turn it into a recycled craft.  You could also have teens make Fimo beads using clay to put at the top.  Or decoupage old Scrabble tiles and glue them on.  Again, the creativity is limitless on this.
Let Teens be the Stars – and the Designers 
Using a digital camera, some software editing tools and a printer – teens can be the star of their own bookmarks.

You can give teens free reign or fun challenges:
All your pictures have to involve nature;
Can you spell out the word READ?;
Highlight your favorite genre or title;
Involve 3 of your friends
You can do this as a series of programs or a one-time event.  Be sure to schedule enough time to take pictures, work with the photo editing software and print.  Or you could do it as an online contest.  Either way, make sure you get digital copies of the bookmarks to save for future use and to share electronically.
Be sure and print the actual bookmarks on a thicker card stock.  Once you print the final bookmarks you will have to cut them to size.  You can leave them as is or again make grommet holes and add string.  Laminate if you have the tools and the desire.  This is also a great way to get bookmarks to share in your library at a less expensive cost.  And teens love to see the stuff they create around the library.
These bookmarks were made using an iPhone and the apps: Hipstamatic, Wordfoto, and Photoshake.  Be sure to check out my previous post on iPhone apps for some great ways to make these bookmarks.
Photo Booth Bookmarks
Also, you can take a series of quick photos and make photo booth looking bookmarks.  Just upload the pictures and place them in your photo editing software and create a border.  There is, of course, a great iPhone app that will do this automatically: Mobile Photo Booth.  This would be a great drop in activity in your teen area.  Designate a time for teens to come in and visit your “photo booth”.  If you can, have some fun paper sheet contests and a prize drawing box set up in the teen area at the same time.  Have teens do their 4 poses in your “photo booth” alone or with friends.  You can print them there or have teens come in at a later time to pick them up.  For Halloween you can have teens come in their costumes or have a variety of thrift store items available and challenge them to come up with a creative costume on the spot for the pictures.  Take pictures of them holding their favorite book!  Don’t limit yourself, this is a great opportunity for creativity.
And just a few more bookmark ideas . . .

Teen Program in a Box: Send Them Back to School with Style

Most of your teen patrons are now counting down the days they have left of summer.  And spending copious amounts of money on back to school clothes and school supplies.  Make sure you make the library one of their stops as you help them “Rock Your Locker”.

Lockers don’t have to be boring and drab cubicles of steel.  They can be an expression of self.  There are whole industries selling accessories to help teens spice up their lockers.  Locker Lookz is just one of them.

You can help teens create their own looks (after all, even with a wide variety of kits available, there are still only so many choices) and express themselves with a variety of fun activities.  All you need is to get together some fun materials and a ton (and I do mean a ton) of magnetic backings (both circles and tapes).

Basically, look at all your leftover craft supplies.  If it is flat and you can add a magnet, then it can be a locker craft.

Tin Bins
Collect old Altoid tins (or any closeable tin).  Teens can paint them and decorate them with stickers.  Put strong magnetic backs on and voila – you have a customized locker storage bin for notes, candies, and more.

Magnets Galore
You can make marble magnets or bottle cap magnets.  You can even take fake flowers and make them into magnets.  Each one is an opportunity for a teen to express themselves and make a locker with unique style.

For marble magnets, purchase clear, flat crafting stones at a local craft store.  Have a variety of scrapbook papers and old magazines available.  And use a strong but clear drying craft glue.  Teens will trace the stone on their image and cut it out.  Using the clear drying glue, glue the image to the flat side of the stone so they can see the image through the stone.  Then, glue a cardboard back onto the image.  Then glue on a magnetic circle.  Give it time to dry and then you have customized magnets for your locker.

For bottle cap magnets, collect a variety of bottle caps (or you can cheat and buy a kit).  You can glue an image or place stickers in the bottle caps.  Then fill with Amazing Goop clear drying acrylic and place a magnet on the back.

You can make your own magnetic poetry using word stickers and a roll of magnet tape.  You can also cut words out of magazines.

Message Boards
Teens can also make their own mini message boards or note pads to place in their lockers.  You can make message boards by decorating cork board tiles.  Or, decorate dry erase boards.  You can make a French style memo board using a strong piece of cardboard, a scrap piece of material, and ribbons.

Picture This
Don’t forget to include some picture frame fun.  You can take foam frames (or cardboard ones) and allow teens to decorate them.  Put magnets on the underside and they can hang them up in their lockers to frame their favorite pics or posters. 

Anyway you can make a picture frame that doesn’t involve glass – craft sticks, foam, cardboard, etc. – can be used to make a locker picture frame.

Locker Wall Paper
Ask a local design store or somewhere like Lowe’s or Home Depot if they will donate some wallpaper or wallpaper scraps.  Teens can cut strips of the wall paper and use the magnets to hold it in place and decorate the inside of their lockers.  If your budget allows you can purchase some.

My Initials Are . . .
Teens everywhere are decorating with their initials.  You can buy pads of initial paper and allow teens to decorate them and laminate.  Add some magnets and voila . . . An Ellison machine would help you accomplish this, too.

Locker Bling
Pull out your leftover cord and beads and make a locker charm.  Teens can hang them vertical or horizontally in their locker to create some locker bling.  You can also string acrylic beads and make mini chandeliers.

Other things you can do . . .
Make word bubbles for teens to place on their locker describing their mood.  This can be accomplished by designing a bunch of fun words on the computer and printing them.  Cut out, laminate and add a magnet.  Then, make a background that says today I am feeling . . .  Each day the teen can pick the word that described their day.  Or make a variety of smiley faces that express their mood.

Make photo collages

Make disco balls out of old cds and hang them from the top of your locker.  Simply bust up the old cds and glue them to a small foam craft ball. 

Some Other Sites with Ideas
Decorate Your Locker
Sparklife: Pimp My Locker
GirlyNation Locker Decorating Ideas
Klutz Decorate Your Locker book
Decorating Your School Locker
Make it For Your Locker

And here’s a tip for next year:  Go to the stores in late September and pick up a bunch of the clearance materials out there and save them for your program next year.

Teen Programs in a Box

One of the challenges of teen services is trying to come up with programs that will bring teens into the library, and keep them coming back for more.  Time and money create barriers.  So can the amount of staff you have on board.  Have no fear, TLT is here!

Welcome to TLT: Teen Programs in a Box
TPB are quick and easy outlines of some basic teen programs that you can quickly adapt to your library space, time and needs.  Sometimes they come with a pre-made flier that you can download and add your own library info and specific program info.  At all times they help you – the teen services librarian that is short on time, short on money, and short on staff – but not short on passion!

Benefits of TLT TPB:  Pre-made, quick, easy to adapt, generate creative thinking (you may not like my idea, but they may make stir a new idea in you), and emphasize the fact that teens like to do and create (my motto is: sit as little as possible and never let them leave empty handed!)  I also believe in generating opportunities for teens to be respected, creative, and empowered.  My programming ideas are asset based.

Here are some quick and easy craft ideas bundled in neat themes for you to do . . .

Cool to a T: T-Shirt Decorating

  • Tie-Dye – traditional or quick and easy
  • Stamping
  • Stenciling
  • T-shirt transfers
  • No sew t-shirt transformations – there are several books that cover this topic and a youtube video

 Foam Fun (for Tweens)

  • Foam push pins
  • Foam memo boards
  • Foam photo frames
  • Foam memo holders
  • Foam light switch covers
  • Foam locker magnets

Doodle and Draw Crafts

  • Journals/Sketchbooks
  • Friendship pencils (wrap in wire and add beads) – here, here
  • Book thongs

 Picture Me! Crafts

  • Foam photo frames
  • Wire photo holders
  • Photo keychains
  • Mini scrapbooks
  • Mosaic picture frames
  • Decorate photo frames with beads/sequins

 Just Bead It

  • Friendship bracelets
  • Book thongs
  • Necklaces
  • Safety pin bracelets
  • Shoelace charms
  • Key chains

 Locker Mania Crafts

  • Marble magnets (http://www.amysfavorites.com/house-aamp-home/74/176-glass-marble-magnets)
  • Tin bins (http://www.squidoo.com/altoids-tins)
  • Magnetic photo frames
  • Mini message boards
  • Magnetic note holders (use laundry pins and foam crafts)
  • Pocket bags

 Go Glam!

  • Body glitter
  • Lip gloss
  • Hip hair clips
  • Various jewelry crafts
  • Eye pillows (Girls World, p. 80)
  • Decorate flip-flops
  • Memory wire necklaces

Renovate Your Room

  • Switchplate covers (paint, mosaic, etc.)
  • CD holders
  • Decorate boxes for organizing
  • Memo boards (Cool Stuff, p. 39)
  • Mirrors
  • Beaded or ribbon curtains (Girls World)
  • Sun catchers (Girls World, p. 48)
  • Chinese lanterns (Cool Stuff, p. 113)
  • Decorate votive holders

Boredom Busters

  • Bubbles
  • Make your own Mad-libs (Fun & Games, p. 46)
  • Flip books (Fun & Games, p. 48)
  • Sidewalk chalk
  • Confetti kaleidoscope (Fun and Games, p. 95)
  • Cootie catchers
  • Paper footballs

 BFF Crafts

  • BFF jewelry
  • Picture frames
  • Picture frames zipper pulls
  • Mini scrapbooks
  • Memory boxes
  • BFF photo albums

Get a Clue (Mystery and Detective Crafts)

  • Invisible ink
  • Swiss cheese decoder key (Fun and Games, p. 68)
  • Jigsaw letters
  • Smugglers rocks (Fun and Games, p. 74)

Icky Fun

  • Sparkly slime (Fun and Games, p. 76)
  • Shape shifting goo (Fund and Games, p. 78)
  • Nutty putty (Fun and Games, p. 79)
  • Fake blood (Fun and Games)

 Back to School Cool

  • Any locker mania craft
  • Zipper/back pack pulls
  • Book covers

 Furry Friends Crafts

  • Pet photo frames
  • Place mat for food and water dish
  • Pet collars – beaded/sequined/fake fur

Beach Scene/Summer Fun

  • Decorate flip flops
  • Decorate sunglasses
  • Decorate beach towels
  • Decorate beach bags
  • Blue jeans should bag (Girls World)

Snack Attack

  • Fun snack foods
  • Oreo stacking contest
  • Iron chef/Cupcake wars

Support Your Team

  • Pennants
  • Pep rally signs
  • Foam ball shaped photo frames
  • T-shirts
  • Magnets (foam balls with school name, mascot or name and jersey #)

Grow It!

  • Garden sticks
  • Decorate flower pots
  • Garden stones (paint rocks, mosaics, etc.)
  • Bird feeders

The Things We Do For Love (Valentine’s Day Crafts)

  • Picture frames
  • Jigsaw puzzle notes
  • Mini scrapbooks
  • Memory box
  • His/Hers keychains

Pimp My Ride

  • Keychains
  • Steering wheel covers
  • Rearview mirror fun (Make fuzzy dice and other things to hang from the mirror)
  • Trash bags for the car
  • Dashboard confessionals (stickers for your dashboard)
  • Lumbar pillows

Game Night Crafts

  • Collectors card holder boxes
  • Make your own board games
  • Make your own mad-libs
  • Make your own bowling (Fun and Games)
  • Make your own twister (Fun and Games)

Express Yourself Crafts

  • Marble magnets
  • Make your own magnetic poetry kit
  • Make your own bumper stickers
  • Doorhangers

Paper Mania

  • Notecards
  • Make your own wrapping paper
  • Make your own gift bags
  • Make marble paper
  • Paper footballs
  • Cootie catchers
  • Origami

Crafting Goes Green

  • Decoupage using old magazines
  • Plastic bag holders
  • CD clocks and suncatchers
  • Use old jewel cases for CDs to make picture frames
  • Candle holders out of old baby food jars
  • Bottle cap magnets and jewelry

Tech Zone Crafts

  • Monitor frame
  • Memo holders
  • Bulletin boards
  • Pencil holders

Art Through the Ages

  • Sponge painting cave wall drawings
  • Hieroglyphics
  • Create a picture in pointillism
  • Create your own aliens

 Out of This World Crafts

  • Time machines (CD clocks)
  • UFO photo frames (made out of foam)
  • Create your own aliens
  • Celestial suncatchers

Retro Mania Crafts

  • Retro magnets (Retro version of marble magnets)
  • Message in a bottle (Retro Revamp, p. 80)
  • Kindergarten cards (Retro Revamp, p. 101)
  • Bottle cap frames
  • Sock monkeys
  • Fish in a jar/snowglobes (using old baby food jars)

Making Memories

  • Mini scrapbooks
  • Scrapbook pages
  • Time capsules
  • Memory boxes

Around the World in Crafts (Travel Theme)

  • Make your own postcards
  • Travel journals
  • Map bookmarks
  • Map message boards
  • Travel related push pins

Go Global (Multicultural Crafts)

  • Kwanzaa inspired bead necklaces
  • Chinese yo-yos
  • French memo boards
  • CD dreamcatchers 

Duct Tape Mania

  • Duct tape crafts – there are several books that cover this topic well

Luau, Luau

  • Any craft from Beach Scene
  • Make your own leis
  • Hawaiian theme picture frames

Birthday Bash

  • Create your own birthday invitations
  • Decorate goody bags
  • Birthday theme picture frames
  • Mini scrapbooks (fold and fill in later with birthday pics)
  • Guestbook (use make your own journal directions)
  • Make your own birthday fortune cookies

The Princess Is In

  • Tiaras
  • Hair clips
  • Princess photo frames
  • French memo boards
  • Princess push pins
  • Princess door/wall signs 

The Hobby Hole

  • Organizers for collectibles
  • Decorate folders for collecting cards

Gifts for the Grad

  • Photo frames
  • Mini scrapbooks
  • Beaded pin graduation caps
  • Pennants
  • You did it! sign (use foam and wire)


  • Bath salts
  • Body scrubs
  • Eye mask
  • Bath pillow

 Babysitting Bag O Tricks

  • Make crafts bags to do with kids while babysitting
  • Butterflies using footprints as bodies and handprints as wings
  • Macaroni art
  • Make a tote bag to keep ready for babysitting fun and keep all your stuff in it

The Name Game

  • Make bracelets, necklaces, keychains, etc. with your name
  • Make door hangers or wall plaques with your name

 Decoupage This

  • Use old magazines to decoupage boxes, etc.

 Star Struck Crafts

  • Star shaped picture frames of your favorite stars
  • Marble magnets of your favorite stars
  • Decoupage folders, etc. with magazine pictures of your favorite stars

 Investment Op

  • Paper mache piggy banks

None of Your Beeswax

  • Make beeswax candles

Mobile Magic

  • Spice up your room with hanging mobiles – planets, flowers, stars, whatever interests you
  • Disco ball using Styrofoam ball and mosaic mirror pieces

Didn’t You Get the Memo?
Make a variety of memo holders

Haunted Happenings Crafts
Make spooky decorations

  • Spiders
  • Ghosts
  • Tombstones

 Harry Potter Mania

  • Wands – pretzels, frosting, sprinkles
  • Owl messages
  • Wizard hats – Ritz crackers, frosting, Hershey kisses

Make and decorate your own chocolate candies

We Got the Beat (Musical Crafts)

  • CD Wind chimes
  • Make CD holders
  • Disco ball

Bag It!
Make creative gift wrapping, school book covers and more using paper bags, paints, stamps, etc.


  • Zombie make-up
  • Make fun zombie buttons using a traditional button machine or easy acrylic button packs
  • Make a zombie “ugly doll” using old socks or felt, hand sewing required (gocks)
  • Zombie shadow caster using paper and flashlights; teens create a zombie form or scene and use a flashlight to cast it on the wall
  • Make zombie Barbie dolls out of old Barbie dolls
  • Zombie cookies – break limbs off of gingerbread men and decorate appropriately, make it a contest

Craft Books
Retro Revamp
Crafty Girl: Fun and Games (and all titles)
Girl’s World
Stuff to Hold Your Stuff
Stick It: 99 DIY Duct Tape Crafts
Generation T

Other TLT Programs in a Box
Banned Books Week
The Hunger Games
Library Bootcamp
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
Teen Read Week: Book Quotation Celebration
Teens Got Talent

Teens Got Talent: Empowering Teens and Creating Buy In

Sometimes trying to find creative library programs that will interests teens is difficult, but there is a great resource for us that we don’t offer consider: the teens themselves.  Teens are singing, acting, making short films, designing web sites, making models and so much more.  They have talents and hobbies that they want to share, so give them a place to do it.  Go beyond an American Idol type program or a talent show and allow teens to share their talent – whatever it is – and create a dynamic, ongoing library program for teens, by teens.

Tired of trying to come up with program ideas, I declared 2005 the “year of the teen” and let my teens do the programming.  I went beyond a teen advisory board and canvased my community to determine what talents my teens had that they wanted to share.  I created an application with a deadline, selected the programs, met with the presenter, developed publicity – and then let the teens do all the work.  One teen shared how to make recycled Capri Sun purses (before you could buy them in the store), another teen shared about her travel experiences, and more.

The great thing about this type of programming is that it really taps into the 40 developmental assets (http://www.search-institute.org/content/40-developmental-assets-adolescents-ages-12-18).  It basically expands on what we try to do with Teen Advisory Boards and takes it to the next level: it’s not just a group of 12 or 20 giving program ideas but is open to any teen in the community.

Allow your teens to take ownership of your teen programming, be creative, and increase participation; allow them to share their gifts and talents with other teens in an attempt to provide creative, developmentally appropriate teen programming that also recognizes that teens are peer oriented while demonstrating how the library can help teens grow in their interests and abilities through the use of information services.  Almost any topic a teen will want to present on, you should have support materials in your collection – be sure to put them on display.

Example Slogans:
Teens Got Talent (take this moment to tie in with popular shows like America’s Got Talent and American Idol)
You’ve Got Talent – Share it With Us!
Celebrate you!  You’ve got interests and talents – share them with other teens. 


  • To expand your services to teens in the community
  • To provide innovative, creative teen programming by providing a forum for teens to express themselves and share their talents with their peer group
  • To meet the developmental needs of teenagers to express themselves proactively while utilizing the importance of peer influence and recommendation as a great asset in publicity and promotion
  • To use teen interests to promote the library collection and services

Phase 1:  Application of Teen Participants

Set an application period for teens to submit a program idea regarding a hobby, talent or experiences they would like to share with others.  Teens will have to submit a sample for tangible items, such as crafts, hobbies, etc. or a letter of recommendation for talents such as singing, acting, etc.  Or have them audition privately in a meeting with you.
 Needs for this phase:

  • Application
  • Permission form (?)
  • Publicity

Phase 2:  Programs for Teens Presented by Teens

From these applicants we pick one teen for each month (or each Friday, whatever time frame works for you) to present a program.  Meet at least once with each presenter before their program to make sure they have it all together and go over any ground rules (language, length of time, etc.).  In addition, you do all publicity and support materials.
Needs for this phase:

  • 1 overall poster highlighting all of the programs that have been selected
  • Individual program fliers
  • An individual meeting time for each presenter (approximately 30 minutes)
  • Program/presentation checklist for each presenter

Program Cost:

  • Staff time
  • Traditional publicity and support materials
  • Traditional program costs of materials or snacks depending on the nature of the program

Promote, Promote, Promote
Not only is there benefit to the teens when doing this type of programming, there is benefit to the library as teens become your promoters – they are going to want their friends to come.  They will hand out fliers for you, promote it on their social networking sites, and more.  Including teens in this way creates stronger buy-in, and teen buy-in increases word of mouth promotion, which is your most successful type of promotion.

With the popularity of reality shows, especially talent shows, the time is right for this type of programming.  Tap into the zeitgeist and let your teens shine!

The Disney Channel has a really good example of this with their video features, TTI (The Time I . . .)  If you can’t do live programming, definitely ask for video submissions that you can share over your webpage and Facebook.  If you do live programming, make sure you record it so you can also generate these video snippets to share.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pKM39idF1Zo]

Share it: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Every once in a while, an amazing new book comes along that moves you.  Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs is that book for me, right now.  This is an amazing story: creative, moving and just inspiring.  There are also a lot of great programming opportunities that tie in to it.

As a child, Jacob was inspired by his grandfather’s stories about a home where a variety of peculiar children lived.  His grandfather shared haunting photos of these children: a girl who seemed to float on air, a girl with a mouth on the back of her head . . .  As Jacob grows, he begins to doubt the wondrous stories his grandfather has always shared.  He is working at his uncles drug store empire, trying every day to get fired and wondering what his future holds when his grandfather dies.  Jacob has seen a strange creature which everyone thinks is part of his coping mechanism.  Soon Jacob is sent on a journey where he tries to find this home, to learn the truth about his grandfather.

Miss Peregrine’s home is a rich fantasy full of adventure and discovery.  It is also a story that celebrates how truly different and unique each person is.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XWrNyVhSJUU]

Throughout the story Riggs shows a variety of beautiful, haunting pictures that really enhance the reading experience.  Riggs found the photos at garage sales and in attics, and they really help bring the journey together.  Riggs has a blog that I recommend you check out.  This is his first book, and it will definitely not be his last.  I sincerely hope that he continues to explore the world that is mapped out in Miss Peregrine.

If you have not read it stop reading this blog post now, go read and then come back.  It is that good.

Are you back?  Okay, now I want to share with you some ideas I have for programming that tie-in to Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.  Have a “Peculiar Party” where you show the book trailer, discuss the book, and engage in some creative activities inspired by the book.

Make a Picture, It’ll Last Longer
One of the truly amazing parts of Miss Peregrine are the photos throughout the book, and we definitely have a wide variety of tools at our disposal to help create our own images.  As you know, TLT believes in providing opportunities for teens to express themselves creatively and learn technology skills that will help them succeed in life.  So get out your digital camera (or iPhone, there are a lot of apps that would be great for this) and get teens shooting.  Then, upload the images and use photo editing software (you can do some in things like PowerPoint and Publisher, which a lot of libraries use, but GIMP and a couple other programs are available for free download if your library hasn’t purchased any photo editing software).  Let the teens explore ways they can manipulate the images and make themselves, or their friends, into “Peculiar” children.

Of course, it doesn’t have to be done digitally – some teens may want to draw or make collages.  You can also do thinks like a scrapbooking project or make picture frames to work with the creative aspect of Riggs book.

You can also have teens put together a photo essay.  A photo essay tells a story using a series of pictures.  Teens can create the photos themselves, or collect photos similar to making a collage.  Here is a list of sites that talk about good photo essay activities.

You may also have a local photographer who would be willing to come in and do a workshop or a series of workshops to talk about basic photography and layout and design, etc.  The photographer for your local paper, a college instructor or the teacher that does your local high school’s newspaper may be willing to give some basic instruction.

Have teens think about what type of peculiar child they would like to be:
What type of talent would they like to have?
What would it look like in an old fashioned photograph?

Make sure you get copies of each created piece so you can decorate your teen area and share them online.

An example flier
This picture was taking using Hipstagram on iPhone

Monster Mash
There are dark monsters that inhabit the peculiar world that Riggs has created.  These creatures, want to use the talents of the peculiar children for their own selfish purposes.  Have the teens discuss this aspect of the book.  Then, they can create their own monsters.  I am a big fan of the Gocks, so that is certainly one thing you can bring into your program.  Of course you can just make your monsters out of any type of found materials.

In fact, this would be a great time to employ the old practice of exquisite corpse: get teens a long sheet of paper (like table covering paper) and fold it into 3 sections.  The first teen will draw the head and then fold it over.  The second teen, without seeing the head, draws the body and folds it over.  And the final teen draws the leg portion without having seen the body or the torso.  When you unfold the entire art piece you get one cohesive monster that features the imagination of 3 teens put together in a Frankenstein mish mash.  You can also do this as a writing exercise, have 1 teen write a sentence then they pass it on.  This is a creative way to get interesting poems or short stories together with a wide variety of input.

The Wonder of Found Art
Remember part of the inspiration of Riggs work was a collection of found art.  So any activity that allows for creativity is a great tie-in.  And as you talk about how the story came to be, it is great to incorporate the idea of found art into your programming.  It is amazing what teens can come up with if you give them a mish mash of items to work with.  Collect clean trash from staff and then give each teen a container with say 10 items, see what they can make out of it.  You could also just get a bunch of your leftover craft supplies together and do the same.  They can make 3-d art or paper art, either would work.  Here is an example of some amazing found art.

You could also have the teens bring in their favorite stuff to share.  Or have a swap meet and let them trade.  It is always amazing to see what teens have that mean something to them, and it is equally fun to see what they have that they want to get rid of.  One person’s trash truly is another person’s treasure.

The Collector’s Peculiar Museum
On his blog, Ransom Riggs shares about his peculiar hobby of collecting pictures of people he doesn’t know.  Give your teens an opportunity to share what they collect:  You can have them take photos and create a digital museum or have them bring in examples as part of a kind of swap meet/show and tell.  Maybe you have a display case and you can let teens set up displays.

The Collector’s Museum – Have teens take a picture of themselves with their collection.  Then print off the pictures and hang them in your teen area.  Maybe put a call number reference on the poster and use it as a means of teaching teens to navigate the stacks. 

Have a teen of the week feature on your FB page and share the picture with a brief bio of the teen (first name only).  Share any books your library may have on the topic.

What a Peculiar Short Story
Get a bunch of old photographs together.  When teens come into your program have them randomly choose one out of a bag.  Then, ask them to write a brief short story about the picture.  What is happening?  How does the character feel?  What journey are they on?

Or daily post a random pic on your FB page and asks teens to write a caption for it.

My Peculiar Life
I’ve mentioned it before, but I am a huge fan of data visualization and of Nicholas Felton’s yearly annual reports, basically a data visualization account of his year – a type of “biography“.  I think teens would enjoy creating a visual biography like this.  It can be their biography, or the summary of a year, or a way to tell their family story.  I think this would also be a great activity for seniors getting ready to graduate.

Coming Soon to a Theater Near You
Riggs fabulous book will soon be made into a movie.  Have your teens create movie posters.  Have them create their dream cast: who would they want to play each character.  The great thing is you can send out a poll and have these types of discussions online to help generate traffic to your webpage.

Sharing Family Stories
At the heart of the story is the relationship between Jacob and his grandfather and the stories that his grandfather shared.  You can give teens opportunities to share their family stories.  They can write them, story board them, make a pictorial version.  Any of the creative ideas that have been shared on this blog can be used:  make posters, pictures, quotes.  Just give your teens an opportunity to create and share.

And the Winner Is . . .
Not everything has to be a contest, but any of the above activities can certainly be turned into a contest.  Your prize can be a Peculiar Gift Basket: a copy of the book, a digital camera, some snacks to enjoy while reading it.

What a Peculiar Read, Let’s Discuss It?
Basic discussion questions:
Why did Jacob start to doubt his grandfather’s stories?  Do you think you would have?
When Jacob runs out after the creature in his grandfather’s house, what did you think was happening?  How do you think you would have felt in that situation?
Would you have wanted to take the journey that Jacob wanted to take to learn about his grandfather?  What do you think this says about Jacob?
What was your reaction when Jacob first found Miss Peregrine’s home?
If you were a peculiar child, what type of peculiar talent would you want to have?
Who was your favorite peculiar child in the book and why?
What did you think about Jacob’s developing relationship with the various peculiar children?
What did you think of Miss Peregrine herself?
Would you have made the decision to stay in the time loop?
What was your reaction to finding out about Jacob’s counselor’s role in it all?
What did you think of Jacob at the end of the book?  What choices that he made would you have maybe have done differently?
Overall, what did you think of the book?
If you could travel back in time, where would you travel to and why?

If You Like Miss Perergrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, You May Also Like
Books about being different, time travel and journeys, and missing someone close to you
Freaks, Alive on the Inside by Annette Curtis Klaus
Mr. Was by Pete Hautman
Looking for Alaska by John Green
A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb
The Body of Christopher Creed by Carol Plum Ucci
The Night My Sister Went Missing by Carol Plum Ucci

And an odd true story to share: 
Phineas Gage: A Gruesome but True Story about Brain Science by John Fleischman

Other photo related activities to keep in mind: scrapbooking, making a wide variety of picture frames, and treasure searches (maps) such as the map of time loops.  There are a lot of possibilities, so be bold like Jacob and creative like Riggs . . .

Generate Marketing Creativity with iPhone Apps

First off, I realize not everyone has an iPhone and I apologize.  Also, I don’t know if the apps are available on other form platforms, but if they are – I recommend you check them out. 

When trying to come up with images to promote activities, reads, etc – well, sometimes I just can’t find something I think will work well so I have had to find an easy way to go out and create them on my own. I am not super talented at this, nor do I have a lot of time, so I need quick, easy and cheap tools.  Thankfully, I have found there are a ton of iPhone apps that help me fill the bill.

Along the way I have come to understand that teens love it when you use THEM in your images.  How fun is it to walk into your local library’s teen area and be able to say to your friends, hey that’s me?  It makes it feel more personal and cultivates that same sense of ownership that librarian’s try to achieve through advisory boards.  Check to see if your library has a policy for the use of photos, and then get creating.  You can create images to share online, in marketing tools and to decorate your teen space.  You can also ask your teens to create images and share them with you so that you can use them this way.  This is a great way to promote your teen area, teen services in general, or specific programs and events.

Made in Publisher using a variety of pics and some Wordle art

Imagine clicking on a short promo video for a library’s teen summer reading club and seeing your friends promoting it – it gives it a sense of fun.  It’s the ultimate way of tapping into teens and their peer orientation.  And the bonus is that teens are more likely to spread the word if they have that type of buy in.

So, here they are

1.Hipstamatic – This is my favorite camera app.  The basic package starts at $1.99 and then you can purchase additional film/lens/flash packs.  You want to be sure and buy the additional b&w package for some amazing b&w images.  This is a simple point and click camera, but it produces the most amazing looking images.  You’ll want to practice with it to find out what combinations create which affects, but they have a new contest feature on the app which gives some examples and they tell you which combinations were used to create each image.  The only downfall to this camera app is that what you see in through the image finder is not true to what is being taken, the perspective is a bit off.

Made in PowerPoint using a pic taken with Hipstamatic

2.  Pocketbooth – This app lets you create a 4 image photo strip like you would take in a photobooth.  It is easy and fun.  You can create this type of image using a variety of software editing tools pretty easily, but this app takes the pictures 1 after another pretty quickly like you are sitting in the actual photo booth.  You can choose black and white or color so there are options.

3.  Wordfoto – This app lets you take a photo and input a saying and then it recreates the photo out of words.  There are some ways of fine tuning the way it looks, but at the end of the day some photos work well in this app and other do not.

4.  Photo Shake – This app lets you input a bunch of pictures and create a collage.  This is a more extensive tool that takes a while to figure out how to use it successfully, but once you do it is worth it.

5.  Zombie Booth – Who doesn’t love zombies?  Take a picture of a teen and zombify them.  Yes, I know that isn’t a word.  Max Brooks, the author of World War Z, also has a zombie app but it is kind of lame – but the book is awesome!  I prefer this app.

6.  Adobe Photoshop – It is a more simplistic version of the popular software, you can do less but it is easier to use.  Great for adding a border or making a picture tinted.

7.  Photoforge – This app let’s you manipulate pictures more extensively than the Adobe app, but it is more complicated to use.

8.  Color Splash – This app takes a color picture, turns and black and white, and allows you to colorize a part of the picture for emphasis.  It can make amazing images.

9.  Super 8 – This is a video camera app that allows you to make old Super 8 looking movies.  It is a tie-in to the recent Super 8 movie.  You and your teens can make some fun promotional videos with this app.

10.  Comic Book – This app is a quick, easy way to put your pictures from your photo library into a comic book format.  There are a variety of layouts, word bubbles, and stickers to add.
Each app is just a tool, and are only successful if you use them.  So practice.  Then you can use your images on your FB page, webpage, blog, signs, posters and more.  You and your teens can get creative and have fun.  You can work together, have contests, and promote, promote, promote!
Please note: I am not involved in any way with any of these apps and I make no money from recommending them.  I just like to use them in a variety of tools because they do what I need them to do.

Another great part about creating your own images to use in promotional materials – you don’t have to worry about copyright issues.
And let me take a moment to make the unconventional suggestion that your library purchase an iPhone for library use.  Not only will this allow you to have one in house for the purposes listed above, but it gives you a library cell phone to use should you be in a program and need to call for additional supplies or help.  And really, with the wide number and variety of apps available, you can do a lot of things with it.  And no, I am not paid by Apple in any way.

Teen Read Week 2011: Book Quotation Celebration

The other day I stumbled across a cool Perks of Being a Wallflower Poster, and as I looked for a good copy to share with you my Google image search revealed a ton of amazing cool fan art that involved teens’ favorite quotes from the book.  When I read, I always keep a journal by my side and write down my favorite quotes so I understand the motivation to collect quotes.

That and a recent encounter with an awesome display at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History got me thinking about a great program idea for Teen Read Week 2011.

The Fort Worth Museum of Science and History

This year’s Teen Read Week theme is Picture It @ Your Library and it runs from October 16-22.

What a great program (or contest) idea . . . have teens take their favorite book quotes and turn them into works of art.  You can upload the artwork and share it digitally, use it to decorate your teen space, and let your teens walk away with a tangible remembrance of their favorite book.  Plus, this type of programming and decorating gives teens buy in to your library and teen department.

This type of programming is also a great way to promote creativity, literacy, and computer/technology skills which all teens need.  There are a wide variety of tools your teens can use to create images:  they can do it free hand or use any type of program such as Microsoft Publisher, PowerPoint, Gimp, PhotoShop or any combination of the above.  If you don’t currently have access to a good photo editing program you can download Gimp for free.  PowerPoint is a particularly useful program for teens as a lot of schools require presentations now with this program as a part of their technology literacy curriculum.

In whatever programming you do, it is important that teens are engaged and have buy in.  And it is always a bonus if they can walk away with a product in their hands, especially one created for them by them.

So here’s a general outline and suggested timeline:

Set a launch date and dates for the artwork submission and determine the structure of your program: I suggest artwork be submitted prior to TRW if you want to have a reception where you announce the winner, or during TRW if that is when you want voting to take place.  Also determine if part of your program is going to be to have a teen tech lab day where teens can come in and use the library’s computers and get assistance from you to learn how to use the software and create their images.  This is, of course, completely dependent on your library’s ability to offer this type of programming.  If you don’t the tools, I recommend spending some time researching and writing a grant so that your library can purchase laptops and provide this type of teen programming in the future.  Or ask your administration if it is possible to have an after hours event and let the teens use your public computers.

Set up a prize:  Maybe a local art or craft store can donate a gift card or prize packet.  Or put together a book basket of art books and tools.  Or something cool like a digital camera.

Set up your general guidelines: size, mode of submission, format, etc.  The main component would be that it has to include a quote from a book.  You can specify if you want to limit it to teen books, or only teen fiction.  I would love it open to any book because whatever moves you, moves you.  You’ll want to specify in the guidelines that the quotation also include the title and author from the book, so that others seeing the piece can know where to find the book should they want to read it.  Yep, it’s a great RA tool, too.  When working with teenagers I really encourage you to have online modes of submission so let teens send their artwork to your work e-mail address, or set up a free account specifically for this task.  You’ll want to specify size so that you have a standard format to work with.  I usually include some type of statement about the library reserving the right to disqualify any submissions that include inappropriate content to make administrators happy, but it has never been an issue.

Set up your promotional campaign: theme, timeline.  Create promotional posters and an entry form.  I will work on putting together a template you can download and share them next week, or you can create your own.  I usually include on any submission form a place for teens to sign saying that they indicate it is an original piece of art (or poem or short story) and it doesn’t violate any copyright laws.  It won’t necessarily stop all violations, but I think it gets teens to stop and think about it for a moment.

Set up your support team: contact your area art teachers and get them on board, give them entry forms to pass out to students.  I recommend doing this a couple of weeks after school starts.  The first couple of weeks are kind of busy, but you want to get the information out there and give teens time to create, create, create!  Contact your local paper and ask them to run an article about TRW, popular teen titles, and your contest.  Get signs up everywhere, especially in your local arts district areas, your schools and anywhere in your community teens hang out.  Also, keep in mind that most churches have youth groups and they may be willing to put your signs up and pass the word along.  Contact your local radio station and ask them to run a psa for you. 

Also, remember that all library staff are a part of your support team.  Make sure they understand the process and guidelines.  Make sure they have a plentiful supply of fliers to put in patrons hands – all patrons, they may not be a teen but they may be the parent or a grandparent of a teen who doesn’t use the library and this is just the thing to get them involved.  Don’t limite your signs to the teen area, put them up in public spaces and near your nonfiction collection of art and drawing books.  Keep staff updated with weekly e-mails and share some submissions with them.  Communication is key in working with staff and you want to acknowledge that they are an important part of the process.

Set up your voting mechanism:  Determine how, or if, you want teens to vote. It doesn’t have to be a competition, but it would certainly be a fun one.  I recommend uploading and promoting online voting.  You could also set up a display and ballot box in your teen area to promote voting.  Or, better yet, do both and reach a wider audience.

So, to get us all in the spirit of this year’s TRW, I am going to ask you all to create your own Book Quotation Celebration and share it here on the TLT Facebook wall.  Be creative.  Have fun.  And celebrate the books that move you.  Here’s mine . . .

Other variations could include:
  • Create your own book cover or poster for your favorite book
  • Create your own READ type poster
  • Create a poster (basically an “ad”) for the teen area using pictures of yourself and your friends at the library
  • Create a collage or comic book cover for your favorite book