Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

TPiB: Origami Books for Programming

Origami seems to capture tweens and teens interest in some sort of magical way.  Those that would not sit still for *any* amount of coaxing will sit down for an hour to get a swan or a dragon right if you can just show them the end product and give them step-by-step directions.  While you can find tons of website and tutorials on the Internet, my program room is never where the computers are, so unless I’m printing out multiple copies of every animal we want to make, I need BOOKS.  

When I do an origami program, I have the books sitting around at various tables, with examples of an easy and an intermediate origami in various stages of folding but in the same color.  If one book has an awesome example of a swan, I’ll take it and make four of them in orange paper, but leave three of them in different states of incompleteness so that the tweens and teens can see what the steps are supposed to look like.

You can do origami with normal construction or copier paper- read the instructions carefully to see what *size* you need the paper to be to start with.  If it’s something other than the standard 8 1/2 by 11, then cut the paper to size before the start of the program- you never want to have four lines of kids (MISS, I need a neon green square!  MISS, I need a blue SQUARE! MISS, what kind of fold is that?!?!?!)

Combine this with the series by Tom Angleberger, and you will have an awesome program.  My tween boys are head-over-heels in love with making these, and want to make more than I have the patience for.

This is an awesome book because it really has almost every creature and project you can think of- and uses a lot of different mediums besides paper (dollar bills, etc).  The instructions are very clear and easy to follow.

This shows all the basic shapes and folds for the beginner, so if you are just starting with origami (or have tweens or teens who are) this is a good starting point.  The different shades on the project illustrations highlight the different sides the paper is supposed to be.

If you or someone you’re working with is technical minded, this is the book for you.  It goes through step-by-step on each different project, and the DVD that accompanies it helps you master the techniques.

I love using this one with tweens and teens, especially when doing upcycle or recycling projects.  It really gets them thinking about everyday materials, and what other ways those things can be used for.

Duct tape! My (Karen) tweens and teens are seriously into Duct tape.  So this book is perfect.

What origami projects do you like to do in your programming?  Share in the comments!

Top 10: Middle Grade Fiction, Graphically Speaking

If your job description is anything close to what I’ve seen, you get to fill in the blanks for the nebulous population known as the “tweens”- that 10-12 year old scary time where they can’t quite fit in with the teenagers because they’re “little” kids but they want to DO everything the teenagers do, from HALO tournaments to lock-ins, and are tired of the “baby” things that the little kids are doing.  Welcome to the “Tween zone” – kinda like the Twilight zone, but with tweens.

To a point, they’re right.  Their development and needs are different than younger kids, but they’re also different than teens, so what works for them won’t work for other groups.  The humor and sarcasm that works with teens won’t work with a lot of tweens, and the smoothing that you do with younger kids won’t work with them either.  Their reading habits differ as well- they need to be pushed into that world of inbetween books (whether you have it as junior high or juvenile or tween or chapter books) before they jump from picture to teen books.  This is the time where a lot of kids will loose that love of reading- often times because they struggle in making the transition from picture book to “grown up”, and don’t have the encouragement.

So what do you do?  I like pulling my hybrid books- those books that still have the graphics and illustrations throughout the book to keep their interest, but have the story and characters that build depth and encourage their thought process and critical thinking.  While they’re a relatively new genre (think Captain Underpants), they’re still mostly found under juvenile fiction, and can get lost between copies of Wonder, The Giver, and Mark of Athena.

I’ve pulled together the TOP TEN books that my “tweens” are DEVOURING that have a twist- they’re books, but are illustrated or graphic novels without delving into the world of manga.  And they can easily be turned into a book program- take leftover notebooks or journals and have them create their own illustrated journals.  Have an origami program and create characters from the books. Draw yourself in the style of the books and see who has the best character!

If you know of titles that fit but didn’t make the list, share in the comments below!

Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney.  I cannot keep these on the shelves, in English or in Spanish.  They are constantly moving, and the request list is always long.  And with the movies continuing to be popular, I don’t think my list is leaving any time soon.

Zita the Spacegirl series by Ben Hatke.  Zita is a kick-butt heroine who doesn’t blink when her best friend is abducted by aliens.  So far there are two books in the series, but I’m hopeful more are on the way.

Dork Diaries series by Rachel Renee Russell.  My tween girls are IN LOVE with these books- these are Nikki’s diaries as she goes through moving to a new school  fighting for an iPhone with her mom, and other 8th grade struggles.

The Origami Yoda series by Tom Angleberger.  Tying into the popularity of the Star Wars franchise, Angleberger puts these characters into tweens mindsets and humorous situations, and gives instructions for how to create the origami versions both in the back of the books and on his website.

NERDS series by Michael Buckley.  The unpopular 5th graders aren’t what they seem- they’re actually running a secret spy ring within the school itself.  Transforming themselves into amazing super spy heroes, the outcomes are hilarious  and keep my tweens laughing.


Bone series by Jeff Smith.  First published in 2005, New York Times Bestseller, still extremely popular.  Just fair warning, however, that there may be “inappropriate subjects” (smoking and other issues do appear throughout the books)  

Artemis Fowl:  The Graphic Novel.  This one actually surprised me, because I hadn’t had anyone asking for the books, but they’ve really been asking for the graphic novel.  I think it’s great, and I’ve actually been able to turn some of the graphic novel readers into series readers while waiting for the read of the graphic novels to come out.  And it doesn’t help that I have the author’s page bookmarked where he does all eight books in eight minutes…

Babymouse series by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm.  Babymouse can skew young, but my tweens can’t get enough.  The schoolhouse drama between Babymouse and her nemesis Felicia Furrypaws goes on and on and on, and the adventures seem endless!

Lunch Lady series by Jarrell J. Krosoczka.  Taking her Breakfast Brunch through a series of ongoing adventures is the brave Lunch Lady, fighting with weapons like the spatu-copter, the spork phone, GPS gum, ziti microscopes, and carrot thumb drives.  Like Babymouse, this series does skew on the younger side.

Dragonbreath series by Ursula Vernon.  Danny is unique, the only dragon, and is constantly getting into situations eerily similar to the ones that tweens face (having to watch a younger sibling and things go wrong, being bullied, etc.)  The humor laced throughout the books, as well as the as-is-well endings, gives this series’ off beat humor a home in tweens’ hearts.
What are your tweens reading?