Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

TPIB: My first love (and break up): Crush, Dumped, Kiss and The DateBook (with two bonus creative display ideas)

Ah, teenage love.  The agony. The ecstasy.  That first kiss. That first heartbreak.  This is one of the glorious hallmarks of the teenage years. 


Zest books has 4 great titles that cover this topic for you:
Crush: a girl’s guide to being crazy in love
Dumped: a girl’s guide to happiness after heartbreak
Kiss: a girl’s guide to puckering up by Erin Elisabeth Conley
The Date Book: a girl’s guide to going out with someone new by Erika Stalder

Debbie Thomas fails to win the ice skating gold at the same time that Karen fails to win the girlfriend gold
The night that Debbie Thomas was trying to win a gold medal in Olympic figure skating, my ex-boyfriend stood outside my door with a dozen red roses begging me to take him back.  Here’s the thing: I really, really wanted to – but I was too filled with pride to let him know that and I regreted it every day for years afterwards.  Let’s rewind.  I was “dating” a guy named Mike.  We had met my Sophomore year at a theater production after party when I bumped into him, literally.  We started talking and then we started dating.  The thing is, I was what they call a “late bloomer” and this was my first boyfriend and I was petrified.  And not so good at the smooching.  So one day Mike called and broke up with me.  The actual conversation went like this:
Mike: I want to break up with you
Me: Okay
Mike: Aren’t you going to like cry or something?
Me: No, why, is that what you want me to do?
Mike: Yes, because then I would know that you like me
Me: That’s so immature. How come my telling you I like you doesn’t answer that question?
Mike: (silence as he realizes his stupid ways)
So later that evening, Debbie Thomas laces up her skates, Karen pulled up a chair in front of the TV, and Mike showed up with flowers.  The truth is, breaking up with me to see how I would react was a real insert expletive here move.  As was my not just saying okay, I forgive you let’s not do this again.  The moral of my first romance story: pride can be a real heartbreaker. – Karen

That’s right ladies and gentleman, I was dumped.  I think most of us are at one point or another.  And sometimes, we have the horrible task of having to be the dumper (arguably better than being the dumpee).  Sadly, this was not the last time I was dumped, read on . . .

Me and The Mr. – love at first sight?

Was it Love at First Sight?
I dated the same boy for 18 months in High School and thought he was THE ONE. Until he broke up with me.  So I flew to visit my dad in Cali for a week knowing that when I returned, he would realize the error of his ways.  While visiting I went out with my BFF and this guy named Tim, we played pool.  I sat in the parking lot and showed Tim my prom pictures while I cried.  Yes, Tim is in fact The Mr.  But I left that night, returned home and waited for Kenny to take me back.  Kenny had a new girlfriend.  A couple of months later I moved back to Cali and eventually began dating Tim.  We have now been married for 17 years.  My favorite thing to do is ask Tim if it was love at first sight for him.  He assures me it was not because, you know, I sat in the parking lot crying and showing him my prom pictures.  Sometimes being dumped is the best thing that can ever happen to you, even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time. Karen

A word about the books:
All 4 of these titles are short but fun looks at the topics.  They cover pretty much what girls want them to cover but in fun ways; there are lists, anecdotes and more.  Crush and Dumped both contain real life quotes from teens.  Three of the titles, Crush, Kiss, and Dumped, are slightly smallish for library shelves but I still ordered them and they didn’t pose a problem so don’t let that hold you back.  I love the pre-date flow chart in The Date Book, which also has a brief discussion about setting your personal physical boundaries.  The bottom lines: these books will circulate and meet the need well and often playfully, which is a good approach to these sometimes delicate topics.  The caveat: Crushed, Dumpes and Kiss are all those smaller sizes books that can easily pushed back and lost on the library shelves.  Don’t let that deter you, just be aware of it.  BONUS CREATIVE DISPLAY IDEA ALERT: I had seating tables in my teen area and I would pull out mini collections of books on a certain topic and put four or five books on the table top using 2 book shelf ends.  These books would certainly work well for that. 

My very favorite thing about these books is that they all have lists and items inside which can help spur some creative ideas for displays, contests and yes – programs!!!  You’re talking playlists of break-up songs, a theasurus of other words you can use instead of dumped, how to say I Love You in various languages, and more.  And in the midst of it all is useful information like things to look out for, what it all means, and keeping yourself safe and healthy.  The Date Book in particular is a useful resource for young teens just thinking about dipping their toes into the romance pool or looking for some dating ideas.

Using the books in your programming:

Host an anti-Valentines day party in February
Have your teens decorate broken heart cookies, do a contest where you match popular dumpers  with their dumpees, make Valentines for your BFF or your puppy, create a sling arrows at cupid game (think pin the tail on the donkey), and as the ultimate catharsis write your heartbreak letters and then shred them.  Have teens create their own heartbreak playlists and dance the night away, or may I suggest Karoake.

Dating Violence Awareness
Check around locally to see if there is someone who can come in and do a teen dating violence awareness program. They should be able to discuss signs of dating violence, what constitutes a healthy relationship and more.  The local hospital may have an education person who does this, mine did.  You can use these books as door prizes.

Movie Festival
Host either a romance or break-up movie festival.  Might I suggest looking to the 80s for some great ones. Think John Hughes. Kiss has a list of movies that contain a first kiss (p. 44).

I Heart Crafts
Don’t forget the very large variety of “love” or “heart” related crafts that you can put together.  This is a case where Pinterest is your friend.

Make a Dumped Survival Kit
Decorate Chinese food take-out boxes (you can order them through Oriental Trading or buy that at most craft suppliers) and throw in a small packet of tissues, include some chocolate of course, and make your own fortune cookies (recipe here) with your own affirming messages.  Actually, making your own fortune cookies is a great at home activity, so include the recipe and write your fortunes if you are doing it at the library.  Bonus Fun: act out your favorite dumping scenes as a little reader’s theater/role play.  Don’t forget the ultimate break-up song: Kiss Him Goodbye (the Na Na Na song).

This Kiss (Lip Crafts!)
Think of all the fun lip activities you can do: make big lips to put on your straws (straw lips!), make lip shaped Valentine’s, make your own lip balm and these Lip Balm Purses, etc.  Be sure to have Faith Hill’s This Kiss and Prince’s Kiss playing in the background.  BONUS CREATIVE DISPLAY IDEA ALERT: You can even have your teens make lip shaped shelf talkers where they “kiss” their favorite books to give them the seal of approval; Simply cut out lip shapes and ask your teens to write out their recommendations and put them on the shelves (or on display) with the books.  Think “This Book is Lip Smacking Good!”

Your Kiss Party Playlist:
This Kiss by Faith Hill
This Kiss by Carly Rae Jepsen
Kiss by Prince
Kiss Me by Sixpence None the Richer
True Love’s Kiss from the movie Enchanted
Just a Kiss by Lady Antebellum
Kiss the Girl from The Little Mermaid

Some Awesome YA About Falling in Love:
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
If I Stay by Gayle Forman
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson
(I didn’t say they were all happy stories, but they are true love stories)

And for the broken hearted . . .
The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour
Why We Broke Up by Handler and Kalman
Catastrophic History of You and Me by Jess Rothenberg
Getting Over Garret Delaney by Abby McDonals
Back When You Were Easier to Love by Emily Wing Smith
And the ultimate I’ve been dumped and can’t deal book: Rats Saw God by Rob Thomas (as described by Christie G)

Are you bold enough to share your high school romance stories with us in the comments?  What are your favorite falling in love of being dumped ya books?