Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Read Wild: Nature Deficit Disorder and its implications for teens

Today is Earth Day and we’re kicking it off here at TLT by introducing you to Sarah Mulhern Gross and her new regular feature, #ReadWild. We’re going to be having an ongoing discussion about connecting teens with nature, discussing issues like climate change, and sharing titles that help you do both. In this post, we’re also introducing you to our #ReadWild Reading Challenge and giving you some background information on Nature Deficit Disorder.

American students are stressed. Since 2013, teens have reported feeling more stress than adults, according to the American Psychological Association. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, an estimated 3.1 million American teenagers (between 12 -17) had at least one major depressive episode in the last year. Constant access to technology, with its notifications and messages, often brings more stress.  A 2013 study conducted by Karla Klein Murdock of Washington and Lee University found that text messages and social media messaging left college students vulnerable to interpersonal stress, leading to sleep problems and lower levels of emotional well-being.  Yet our schools have added computers in every class, adopted “bring your own device” policies, and cut gym classes and recess in favor of trying to raise test scores. Most of my high school students tell me they spend little to no time outside on a daily basis.

Nature-deficit disorder is a term used to describe the loss that children and teens experience when they are not given opportunities to have direct contact with nature.  Journalist and author Richard Louv coined the term when researchers began to realize the impact that nature had on children’s health and ability to learn.  Students who do not spend time outdoors engaging in exploration and play often feel disconnected from nature and environmental issues as adults. Without that connection to nature there may be no conservationists in the future.

Being outside has important benefits for kids and teens.  According to the Children & Nature Network, increased time outside has public health benefits.  Time outside has been found to improve children’s sleep, boost performance in school and enhance creativity, and increase focus and engagement.   And the effects of nature are long-term: childhood nature exposure can help predict adult mental well-being.  When my own students spend time outside during field studies or on nature walks they report feeling less stressed.  Florence Williams’ book The Nature Fix highlights the fact that as few as 15 minutes in the woods has been shown to reduce levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. When nature exposure is increased to 45 minutes there is an increase in cognitive ability.

Research shows that formative experiences in nature during childhood and adolescence are the most important source of environmental appreciation later in life; adults who are active in conservation often cite childhood experiences with the natural world as one of their most critical inspirations. Yet our schools are designed in a manner that denies students the opportunity to observe the world around them. In a time when the environment is under attack from our own government officials, we need to make sure the next generation will value the world around them. 

How can we help kids and teens connect more with nature?  Through books, of course!

Over the course of the next year, I will be sharing books that can inspire readers to get outdoors.  In order to help you get more out of your reading experience (personally and professionally!), I’ve designed the #readwild reading challenge. I challenge you to build a wider repertoire of nature books and get outside more, too!  Beginning this week, I’ll share books and activities that you can do with the teens in your life.  Happy Earth Day and Happy Reading!

Share your favorite nature reads with us on social media using the hashtag #readwild!

Meet Sarah Mulhern Gross

I am a National Board Certified teacher who team-teaches an integrated humanities, science, and technology program to ninth grade students at High Technology High School in Lincroft, New Jersey. I am a regular contributor to the New York Times Learning Network and my writing has appeared in Scientific American, Edutopia, ASCD, and The Washington Post’s Answer Sheet. I also help teach a middle school science enrichment program through the STARS Challenge program at Monmouth University and I serve as a board member for the curiousYoungwriters blog, which provides a platform for publishing student writing that describes a nontraditional animal model in biomed research.

TheReadingZone Blog

wilddelight blog– Focused on integrating science and English class

What is CliFi? An Earth Day Primer

So I’m flipping through my February 2014 issue of VOYA Magazine and I see a head-shot of author Mindy McGinnis – what is she doing there I wonder? Her book, Not a Drop to Drink (I’m a fan), is mentioned as being an example of CliFi. Wait – what is this CliFi thing?

You know how we’re always making those displays of climate change induced dystopian fiction for Earth Day? Yeah that, it turns out, is CliFi. Climate Fiction.

According to the VOYA article written by Rebecca Hill, the term CliFi was popularized by Dan Bloom. CliFi is fiction that deals with climate change.

I had never heard this term, but it is perfect.

Last year, Christie put together THIS list of climate change dystopias. Turns out, they are CliFi.

And I put together THIS collection of Earth Day activities, inspired in part by 47 Things You Can Do for the Environment published by Zest Books. Earth Day is coming, a great time to introduce your patrons to CliFi.

And here are 5 2014 CliFi books out now or later this year:

Endangerd and Threatened by Eliot Schrefer

Publisher’s Description: “As he did in his acclaimed novel Endangered, a finalist for the National Book Award, Eliot Schrefer takes us somewhere fiction rarely goes, introducing us to characters we rarely get to meet. The unforgettable result is the story of a boy fleeing his present, a man fleeing his past, and a trio of chimpanzees who are struggling not to flee at all.” See entire description at Goodreads. Published February 25, 2014 by Scholastic Press. ISBN: 9780545551434.

I have read Endangered and it was really very good. 

Sunrise, the final book in the Ashfall series by Mike Mullin

Publisher’s Description: “This epic finale has the heart of Ashfall, the action of Ashen Winter, and a depth all its own, examining questions of responsibility and bravery, civilization and society, illuminated by the story of an unshakable love that transcends a post-apocalyptic world and even life itself.” See entire description at Goodreads. Coming April 15, 2014 from Tanglewood Press. ISBN: 9781939100016.

 This is a really good series and I am looking forward to reading the conclusion.

Pills and Starships by Lydia Millet

Publisher’s Description: “In this richly imagined dystopic future brought by global warming, seventeen-year-old Nat and her hacker brother Sam have come by ship to the Big Island of Hawaii for their parents’ Final Week. The few Americans who still live well also live long—so long that older adults bow out not by natural means but by buying death contracts from the corporates who now run the disintegrating society by keeping the people happy through a constant diet of “pharma.” See entire description at Goodreads Coming June 2014 from Black Sheep. ISBN: 9781617752766.

Survival ColonyNine by Joshua David Bellin

Publisher’s Description: “In a future world of dust and ruin, fourteen-year-old Querry Genn struggles to recover the lost memory that might save the human race.

Querry is a member of Survival Colony Nine, one of the small, roving groups of people who outlived the wars and environmental catastrophes that destroyed the old world. The commander of Survival Colony Nine is his father, Laman Genn, who runs the camp with an iron will. He has to–because heat, dust, and starvation aren’t the only threats in this ruined world.” See the entire description at Goodreads. Coming in September 2014 from Margaret K. McElderry Books. ISBN: 9781481403542.

Not a Drop to Drink and In a Handful of Dust by Mindy McGinnis
In a world where water is scarce, what would you do to protect what little water you have?

Publisher’s Description: “In this companion to Not a Drop to Drink, Mindy McGinnis thrillingly combines the heart-swelling hope of a journey, the challenges of establishing your own place in the world, and the gripping physical danger of nature in a futuristic frontier.” See entire description at Goodreads. Coming in September from Katherine Tegen Books. ISBN: 9780062198532.

Be sure to check out the VOYA Magazine article for further discussion of this emerging genre, some additional titles, and some nonfiction titles that may also be of interest. Hill, Rebecca. “Weathering the Change: CliFi Settles in for the Duration”. VOYA Magazine, February 2014, pages 44 and 45.

Dan Bloom, who coined the term CliFi, can be found on Twitter @polarcityman. There is also a CliFi hashtag (#CliFi). You can also follow @CliFiBooks, though these are not specifically YA books or visit their webpage at www.clifibooks.com. Cli-Fi Books explores climate change themes found in novels, prose, short stories, and other fiction. Earth Day is April 22, 2014.
Please share your favorite CliFi books with us in the comments.

TPiB: Earth Day Projects (and project resources for your collection)

It’s Earth Day! 

Today is a day when we remember that we all share this big Earth and that many of its resources are, in fact, limited.  As you drive wherever you are going today (all though a good Earth day guru would ride a bike or walk), take a moment to look at all the trash you see on the sides of the road.  Earth Day is not just about global warming or oil . . . it is about seeing the beauty in the world around us and working to keep it clean, working to make sure that we have access to clean water and nutritious food now and in the future, and just being responsible consumers as we live together on this 3rd Rock from the Sun.  Earth Day is a reminder to just stop for a moment an exam how we live our lives and the chain reaction that it can have.

Now is a great time to look at ways that we can do more responsible programming with our teens, and teach teens how they can use the materials in their daily life in more than one way.  Below are some great programming ideas you can use in your libraries and some resources to share with teens on eco-crafting.

One of my favorite resources is 47 Things You Can Do for the Environment, written for teens – and very accessible.  It includes hands on activities and simple steps you can take to live in more environmentally friendly ways.  More than just a craft book, this is a guide book for eco-living.  In addition, 47 Things does include some craft projects which can be done in a program setting.

re·cy·cle /rēˈsīkəl/
  1. Convert (waste) into reusable material. (Merriam Webster Dictionary)

Here are 5 Things You Can Do Today – and for Fun! – to Help the Earth

Recycle Your Discarded Books
Here is a Pinterest board full of Recycled Book Crafts
Word Art Necklace
Tutorials for Recycling Books, including some very cool shelves which would look awesome in a teen space

Recycle Your Discarded Magazines and Newspapers
Recycled newspaper crafts on Pinterest
Magazine Bead Bracelet
Step by Step Instructions on how to make your own paper beads out of old magazines

Recycle – or Upcycle – Old Clothing

50 Creative Way to Reuse Denim
T-shirt Wall Art
More t-shirt crafts on Pinterest

/ˈʌpˌsaɪkəl/ Show Spelled [uhp-sahy-kuhl] noun
verb (used with object)
to process (used goods or waste material) so as to produce something that is often better than the original: I upcycled a stained tablecloth into curtains.

Don’t Throw It Away! Make Something With It
Pop Tab Jewelry
Bottle Cap Crafts
Can Do Robots
Recycled Pouch Purses
Upcycled Washer Necklaces
Earth Day/Recycled Crafts on Pinterest

Let Teens Get Techy
We all have some old technology floating around somewhere.  What better way for teens to get some hands on experience then having a Tech Take It Apart event.  Basically, you get a bunch of junky computers, printers, etc. and let teens take them apart.  Be careful, as some tech has some environmentally tricky parts; cell phone batteries for example contain toxic chemicals and should be removed and properly recycled.  This would be a great Beneath the Surface program for the 2013 Summer Reading Cooperative as teens are invited to “go beneath the surface of the technology” they use every day.  After you are done exploring the “guts” of your technology, use the pieces you have extracted to create decorative robots.

Craft books like these are not only great for your collection for your teens, but they are great for any adults who want to do environmental activities with teens. 

Take 10: Teen Titles with an Earth Day Theme
Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi
Trickster’s Girl by Hilari Bell
Torched by April Henry
Hoot by Carl Hiassen
Rootless by Chris Howard
The Pearl Wars by Nick James
Carbon Diaries 2015 by Saci Lloyd
Destroy All Cars by Blake Nelson
The Water Wars by Cameron Stracher
Empty by Suzanne Weyn

Previously on TLT: We’ve only got this one Earth!

Countdown’s Begun: Earth Day Dystopias

http://wetlandscenter.fhsu.edu/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/Earth-Day-2013.jpg My Disney parks addiction and fairy tales aside, I have a decidedly dark streak. So when Earth Day rolls around, even though we do a “Save the Earth” craft at my library, my brain rolls instead to the dystopias I know and read like crazy.  I got to thinking about which ones were based on ecological disasters: if we continue on the path we’re on, what future are we headed towards?  
With the help of some awesome librarians, we came up with this list to share with your tweens and teens, as a preview of what can happen if things don’t start to change….

A Crack in the Sky (Greenhouse Chronicles) by Mark Peter Hughes
Earth Day Spin: Everyone has to live in domes to protect themselves from the destroyed atmosphere outside
After the Snow by S. D. Crockett
Earth Day Spin: Global warming has killed the ocean currents, sending the world into a new ice age
All These Things I’ve Done – Gabrielle Zevin
Earth Day Spin: In 2083, water is carefully rationed, paper is almost non-existent, and coffee and chocolate is illegal

Ashes, Ashes – Jo Treggiari
Earth Day Spin: The end of the world has come and gone, and the weather is completely out of control.
Ashfall and Ashen Winter by Mike Mullin
Earth Day Spin: The supervolcano underneath Yellowstone National Park erupts, destroying the landscape and reverting the life they knew into one of survival.
Carbon Diaries 2015 & Carbon Diaries 2017 by Saci Loyd
Earth Day Spin: In the wake of ecological disasters, London imposes carbon rationing on their citizens
Dark Life series by Kat Falls
Earth Day Spin: Global warming has made the oceans rise and taken over a third of the land we currently know with it….
Empty by Suzanne Weyn
Earth Day Spin: The future is coming when all the fossil fuels have run out- no gas, no coal, no energy….
Epitaph Road by David Patneaude
Earth Day Spin: Plagues wiped out 97% of the male population- but was it accidental
Inhuman by Kat Falls
Earth Day Spin: Everything east of the Mississippi is off limits when a virus gets loose and turns humans into savages
Legend and Prodigy by Marie Lu
Earth Day Spin: Everyone is fighting to control the land, as borders and political influence around the world have shifted due to ecological disasters 
Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne
Earth Day Spin: Ecological disasters are tearing the world apart
Orleans by Sherri L. Smith
Earth Day Spin: After massive hurricanes and outbreaks of plagues, the entire Gulf Coast was quarantined and left for dead…
Ship Breaker and The Drowned Cities by Paolo Bacigalupi
Earth Day Spin: Ice caps have melted, taking with it a lot of the land we used to know, and the government has collapsed
Stung by Bethany Wiggins
Earth Day Spin: Genetically modified bees cause the downfall of the human race
The Last Survivor Series by Susan Beth Pfeffer
Earth Day Spin: Meteor hits the moon and pushes it closer to Earth, causing catastrophic results

The Water Wars by Cameron Stratcher
Earth Day: In the future, water is more precious than oil or gold…
Uglies Series by Scott Westerfeld 
Earth Day Spin: The world collapses because a virus takes out all the oil we use every day to run everything

See also: Top 10 Apocalypse Survival Tips I Learned from YA 

We’ve Only Got This One Earth: Environmental teen programs and 47 Things You Can Do for the Environment

If you read much science fiction, you know that in the future we are forced to colonize another planet because we have destroyed Earth.  We only one life to live, and one Earth to live it on.  But have no fear, there are a lot of things we can do to help save this 3rd rock from the sun that we call Earth, and they are outlined for you in 47 Things You Can Do for the Environment by Lexi Petronis.  This little book is a great addition to your collection and has some little nuggets that you can pull out and do some Earth friendly (Earth Day is April 21) programming. 

Bottle Cap Crafts
One of my favorite teen programs I ever did was called Bottle Cap Crafts where we did nothing but make crafts out of, you guessed it, bottle caps.  You can paint the bottle caps and use them to decorate picture frames.  Put stickers in them and decoupage them to make necklaces, key chains, zipper pulls and more.  You can also fill them with beads and small items and epoxy to create shadow box necklaces.  You see these a lot at craft shows as they are very popular and easy to make.  If you glue a magnet onto the back of the bottle cap and string a washer onto a piece of string for the necklace, you can create easily interchangeable pieces.  Here are 50 bottle cap crafts on Squidoo.

School Supply Swap (Swap, Don’t Shop p. 82)
At the beginning of the school year – or half way through – host a school supply swap to get rid of those unused supplies that teens buy.

Your Library is Totes Cute: Make your own library tote bag (BYOB p. 58)
You can purchase blank tote bags at most craft stores or online and decorate with with fabric markers.  Or purchase colored tote bags and use bleach pens.

Bin Toss (Don’t Toss That p. 38)
Your programming doesn’t have to be all crafts, you can do some education and help teens learn what can and can’t be recycled by doing this simple activity.  You can make it into a game even.

Recycling Discarded Books
Libraries discard a lot of books and although most go into our booksales, some of them should never see the light of day again.  We wouldn’t want our patrons buying them for the same reason we don’t want them in our collections: the information is outdated, dangerous or just too silly to take seriously.  A quick Google search reveals a wide variety of crafts that you can make with books.  In fact, the Teen Programming in Libraries board on Pinterest has a variety crafts you can check out.  You can also use the pages to do quilling or a lot of the activities mentioned below that we do with magazines.

Some book page crafts include:
Book page Kusudam flower
Inspiration: Novel Ideas (a variety of book related crafts)
You can also check out this deconstructed art project currently on display at my library or Google book page art, upcylcing books, deconstructed books, etc.

Recycling Old Magazines
We’re always getting rid of old magazines, but they don’t have to go into the landfill.  Make crafts with them!

Marble Magnets
made with bottle caps, discarded magazines, glass stones, glue and magnets

Paper beads: roll strips of paper to create paper beads and string them to make bracelets and necklaces.

Marble magnets: Using clear acrylic rocks founds at most craft stores, you can create unique, personalized magnets.  Simply cut your word or image to size, use a clear glue to adhere to your rock, put a small backing on the back and then glue on your magnet circle. (marble magnets instructions)

Magnetic Poetry: You can make your own magnetic poetry kits by cutting out words from magazines and gluing them onto pieces of magnetic strips.  This is one of my go-to activities for National Poetry Month, which is also in April.  Pair it with some sidewalk chalk poetry outside and you have a poetry inspired Earth friendly event.

Magnetic Poetry
made with discarded magazines, magnets and glue

Decoupage: With some discarded magazines and a little Mod Podge, you can turn anything into a personalized treasure. Notebooks, picture frames, light switch plates. Good times.

Wrap it up!
If you are making any of these crafts as gifts, you can make your own wrapping paper.  Simply cut up paper bags to size, wrap and paint, stamp, sticker, and stencil. Or use those random bits of off topic paper you have lying around – just turn them print side in and decorate.

Movies suggested:
Gorillas in the Mist
Ferngully: the Last Rainforest
The Day After Tomorrow

Teen Fiction with an Environmental Theme:
Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi
Trickster’s Girl by Hilari Bell
Torched by April Henry
Hoot by Carl Hiassen
Rootless by Chris Howard
The Pearl Wars by Nick James
Carbon Diaries 2015 by Saci Lloyd
Destroy All Cars by Blake Nelson
The Water Wars by Cameron Stracher
Empty by Suzanne Weyn

Craft books like these are not only great for your collection for your teens (and they will like it because it is very accessible), but they are great for any adults who want to do environmental activities with teens.  If you have it in your collection, you can use it for program inspriation – that’s one of the bonsues to nonfiction.