Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Back to School!

We can’t deny it any more: It is August. It is technically still summer, but many of us are now thinking back to school.  In fact, I even went out and bought the Tween a few school supplies.  The list is so long and expensive it helps to spread it out over a couple of months.  There may have been some tears shed.

At the library, it’s time to start thinking fall programming.  Well, technically, that time was really during the SRC but, you know, that’s kind of a busy time.  It’s also time to start thinking about reaching out and making and building partnerships between public and school librarians.  As I type this I am working on editing a vlog series I recently recorded with Naomi Bates from YA Books and More on the topic.  I am still newish to vlog editing so, you know, hopefully I will get that done before school actually starts.  Or it will be a series during the school year.  In addition, our Middle School Librarian Robin will be sharing her life as a school librarian throughout the year in her posts.  Robin has also agreed to be the Battle of the Books coordinator for her district this year and I am looking forward to hearing about that.

But while we are thinking back to school, here’s a look at some of the things you can do to help make this year a successful school year for your teens and your library.


Send Them to School in Style: Back to school crafts
Crafts to decorate lockers, get organized and more.  Celebrate going back to school with fun, hands on activities.

Library Boot Camp
Want to help teens figure out how to use the library?  Of course you do! Send them to bootcamp.  Library bootcamp.

Mark My Spot: Bookmarks 
Here’s a quick, easy programming idea that you can do in a school or public library: make bookmarks.  There are several adaptable and easily personalized ideas here.  You could do this program while you talk about book care.

Renovate Your Room – and get organized for school
A ton of programming and organizational activities based on Where’s My Stuff by Zest Books.

Buzzfeed has a great list of 37 DIY Back to School crafts


Teen librarians typically come in two flavors, public and school librarians.  We should talk to one another.  Work together.  Heather talks some about it here and here.  So get together once in a while for lunch, booktalk together.


Great books for Freshmen
They are new, some of them are scared, and most of them have no idea what they are in for.  Check out these great reads for Freshmen.

Great books for Seniors
The heat is on and everyone wants to know, what will you do now?  The teens in these books definitely know how they feel.

Great books for Middle Grade Readers
My tween readers are all about graphic novels right now.  In fact, my tween has read Smile by Raina Telgemeier something like 10 times in the last 3 weeks.  Here are some good reads to add to your collection.

Make the Grade
The ultimate guide for being successful in school

Where’s My Stuff
Has tips for organizing notebooks, lockers, backpacks and, of course, your room.

In with the New: We survived our Freshman year!

From Freshman by Corinne Mucha

Being a Freshman is scary, and hard.  Here you are at the bottom of the social ladder and already people are asking you questions like, “What do you want to do with your life after high school?”  And you’re thinking, “Dude, let’s see if I can even survive my Freshman year before we start thinking about 4 years from now.”  In the spirit of Been There, Survived That: Getting Through Freshman Year of High School (written by real teens) and Freshman Tales of 9th Grade Obsessions, Revelations and Other Nonsense (by Corinna Much), we present you real tales from our Freshman year of high school . . .

I Was in a Band!
My best friend Teri and I were obsessed with a little band known as Duran Duran.  Yes, we were basically One Direction obsessed, but the band was Duran Duran.  We ran home from school one day to make sure we didn’t miss the world premiere of their newest video.  I saw them in concert – and hyperventilated.  And like any good Duranie (yes, that’s indeed what we Duran Duran fans called ourselves), we started a band named after one of their more obscure songs: Crime and Passion.  Our friend Kristi was Izzy Krime and I was Pemar Passion and we were Krime and Passion.  It’s okay, you can laugh.  I understand.  Here’s the best part: none of us sang, none of us played an instrument.  Actually, I am not sure how we even remotely qualified as a band, but we were one!!

But can you imagine my telling this story as a comic book?

Freshman Tales by Corinne Mucha are Freshman tales told in comic form.  It is a quick and fun read for reluctant readers, but will be relate-able to all Freshmen.  The synopsis says this: Annie has just started high school and she’s a mess.  Her older brother has told her that her freshman year will strongly affect the rest of her life, and if that’s true her future looks grim: She’s a loser at sports, jealous of everyone, and has totally fallen in love with her best friend’s older brother.  When she gets cast as a moaning, hunched-over old lady in the school play, she starts to forget about the rest of her life.  Now she just wants to make it through freshman year.

What Annie needs is a copy of Been There, Survived That: Getting Through Freshman Year of High School, which is written by real teens.  Been There is divided into 3 sections: Social advice, Academic advice, and Practical advice.  This is a very practical guide for not only your Freshman year, but just your middle school and high school years in general as only some of the advice would specific to your Freshman year.  The advice is real, and you can tell it is written by real teens.  What’s the number 1 thing not to do while making new friends? Fart of course.  And yet there is some real honest, raw and heartfelt advice given here: For instance, it can be really disorienting when your best friend since 3rd grade starts eating lunch somewhere else . . . But your friend’s behavior probably has very little to do with you.  Maybe he’s wanting to expand his own circle of friends. . . Friends come and go, and losing and gaining friends is all part of the experience of growing up and . . . surviving high school (page 18).

Together Freshman Tales and Been There, Survived That make a good bundle of resources for new, or about to be new, Freshmen.  You can put these titles on a resource booklist guide for starting high school and take them with you when you set up your display table at Freshman orientation.  You do go to your local high school for Freshman orientation and meet the teacher night, right?  If you don’t, contact your local high school(s) and ask them if you can set up a display table promoting your library, various resources, and – of course – these titles!

Freshman: Tales of 9th grade obsessions, revelations and other nonsense by Corrine Mucha. Published by Zest Books. ISBN: 97800-9819733-6-4

Been There, Survived That: Getting through Freshman year of high school written by Real Teens (There is a flip book inside!) Published by Zest Books. ISBN: 978-09790173707

Take 5: Awesome YA Lit that takes place during a Freshman year in High School
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Steven Chobsky
Dear Friend, if you haven’t read this book you really should because it is awesome.
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
What happened that night at the party?

The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
What happens when you refuse to play the game?

Confessions of an Angry Girl by Louise Rozett
To say that Freshman Rose Zarelli has issues is an understatement.
Sleeping Freshman Never Lie by David Lubar 
Scott puts together a survival manual for high school.
Help incoming Freshman get ready for high school with these program ideas:
Library Bootcamp: an intense training session where teens learn how to use the library and its resources
Rock My Locker: Pimp your locker with these fun crafts