Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

TPiB: Bookish Nails

The other day, the above Tweet from Bloomsbury came through my Twitter feed and it inspired an a-ha moment in me! At some point every day, The Tween will show me some cool new design she has seen on her Instagram. And my Tumblr has suddenly become full of book related manicures. Which got me thinking – a Bookish Nails type program would be an awesome idea.

You could have a book discussion group that met each month and did your nails while you talked about the book. Or, if you fear the wrath of an overturned nail polish bottle, you could do something fun like an Instagram Bookish Nails contest. Just have Tweens and/or Teens upload a pic of their book themed mani with a hashtag of your choosing. Perhaps a local nail shop would donate a mani/pedi as a prize.

Or you could have a larger Spa Day at your library and have bookish nails be a part of the process. Then you can also do a variety of things like make your own salt scrubs, mail your own lip gloss and more.

Whatever you decide to do, definitely keep an eye out for all the book themed nails out there because they are fun to share on social media with your teens. If nothing else, they can be inspiration. I will say, however, beware the evil marbled nails technique floating out there. We have tried it three times and it has resulted in a big Pinterest fail for us.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ag4XoCAnUkQ]

And in case I haven’t mentioned it, my Tweens are obsessed with the Do It, Gurl Youtube channel for all their DIY needs. And they are also great for sharing via your social media.

Here are 6 sources of inspiration for some Bookish Nails . . .

Comic Book Nails
Great for GN and comic book lovers, here’s a tutorial on making comic book inspired nails.

Msnail Decor Channel
This Youtbue channel is all about manicures. Not specifically book related, but tons of vids with great ideas and techniques.

Book Riot: 15 Awesome Young Adult Book Inspired Manicures
The folks over at Book Riot have put together 15 of their favorite YA inspired manicures for you.

Pinterest: Book Inspired Nails
Pinterest doing what Pinterest does best, here are tons of ideas for you.

Novels and Nail Polish
A blog dedicated to books and manicures, another great source of inspiration.

The Twins Read Nails on Instagram
Nicole’s Nails has a lot of great YA inspired manicures. Definitely check them out.

What are your favorite resources? What have been your favorite book inspired nail art moments? Please do share in the comments.

In defense of teens by Heather Booth

If you haven’t read the recent article chastising adults for enjoying teen lit, you could seek it out, or you could just not bother (we won’t link to it here). I did have the misfortune of reading it. It didn’t make me angry though, it made me sad. And it didn’t make me sad for the way teen lit is perceived, it made me sad for all of us, because the attitude presented is so prevalent in our society and it colors the way teens experience the world. I’m talking about the clear disdain for teens. The way the domain of adolescence is habitually disparaged as an unfortunate phase that people should escape from as soon as possible. The way adult culture – literature, clothing styles, music, leisure time preferences – are all displayed as the ideal, the pinnacle for which we should all strive.

Let’s, for a minute, recall our own awkward and difficult adolescent moments. Now let’s set those aside and remember the value of teenagehood and what else youth offered us.

It gave us summer vacation. It gave many of us freedom from the confines of a job. It gave us the ability to focus on ourselves and be cared for by someone else. It gave us the opportunity to craft ourselves out of myriad possibilities – to try on theater club one year and be a newspaper photographer the next and to try out for volleyball, and when that didn’t work out, to be a runner on the track team because they took everyone. When was the last time you had that flexibility in redefining yourself as an adult?

That article made me sad because it shows no understanding of the worth of teenagers. No importance of the value of that time in our lives. No respect for teens as people. Not people about to become adults, not people who are unfortunately stuck where they are for the time being. Not defined by their lack of and striving for adulthood, but interesting, valuable, whole people just as they are now.

Read whatever you want; I don’t care. What you read doesn’t define who you are. But if you can’t appreciate the stories of teens written for teens, it says a lot more about who you aren’t. If you can’t do this, it means you aren’t able to suspend your own absorption in your own life and experience that of someone else’s. It means you aren’t able to empathize with people who are younger than you. It means you think you’re better than them. And you’re not. None of us is. Because we are them and they are us. Don’t be embarrassed to read teen lit. Be embarrassed that you think reading it should embarrass you.


Take 5: 5 TV Shows Teens are Talking About

Ah, September. Time for school, turning leaves, football, sweaters….

and new television episodes!!!  If your teens are anything like mine, they are almost as excited for some of the new things on TV as they are for Catching Fire and Thor: The Dark World to be released. Yet I know your schedule is as packed as mine, so I am here to share what my teens are talking about to keep you in the loop! READY?!??!!

The CW is to my teens what Fox is to “new adults” – edgy, on trend programming that captures the imagination. The teens I work with caught the last bit of Smallville, and are addicted to Arrowthe updated tale of the DC hero the Green Arrow starring Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen. The second season will premier on October 9, 2013.
It used to be just me who was geeking over Doctor Who I saw the series when I was younger, and when I caught the reboot with the 9th Doctor I got hooked. Slowly, though, my teens caught up (probably because PBS started airing it- my teens don’t have the upgraded cable to get BBC America) and now they are full-on hooked. It also doesn’t hurt that stores like Hot Topic and Barnes and Noble are selling Doctor Who swag. The 50th anniversary special of Doctor Who airs November 23, 2013.  Check out our Doctor Who Central for read-alikes, programming ideas and more.

Sleepy Hollow premiered Monday, September 16, and my teens were blowing up my DM on Twitter and Facebook asking me if I had seen it- asking me questions about the storylines and actors since I know the original story. A ‘modern-day retelling’ of the Ichabod Crane story, I will have to catch it online or on-demand because I work nights. Ichabod comes back from being buried since 1781, and comes back to life in Sleepy Hollow 2013. So does the Headless Horseman.

My teens never really got into Once Upon a Time (and to be honest, neither did I), possibly because it skewed a bit older- it never really held their interest. However, my teen girls are extremely hyped about Once Upon a Time in Wonderland- in Victorian London, Alice is locked away in an insane asylum for talking about hooka loving caterpillars, talking playing cards, and disappearing cats. Yet the Knave of Hearts and the White Rabbit save her- or do they? Once Upon a Time in Wonderland premiers on October 10, 2013 on ABC.

And if there was any doubt, my teens are clamoring for taking over our game room and big screen TV on the rec side of the building on Tuesday nights and having group viewings of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Held in the Marvel Universe of of The Avengers, this series headed by Agent Coulson (back from the dead, BTW) tells stories about the agents on the ground: “Not all heroes are super”. With Joss Wheadon as executive producer, a lot of eyes are on this series. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. premiers on September 24, 2013.

What are you excited for? What are your teens talking about? Share in the comments!

What are YOU waiting for?

There are a lot of exciting projects – movies, books, video games – as well as conferences and weeks of celebration coming up. We want to know which ones you are most excited about. We also want to know which ones we might be missing – please chime in in the comments section!



  • Book: United We Spy by Ally Carter
  • Book: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
  • Book: The Chaos of Stars by Kiersten White
  • Book: Untold by Sarah Rees Brennan
  • Book: The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater
  • Book: Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein 
  • Book: Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis
  • BANNED BOOKS WEEK (September 22-28)
  • HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH (September 15 – October 15)
  • Library Card Sign Up Month


  • Book: The House of Hades by Rick Riordan 
  • Star Wars Reads Day (October 5)
  • TEEN READ WEEK (October 13 – 19)



Sometime in 2014 Karen and Heather’s professional book The Whole Library Handbook will be published by ALA Editions.  THIS is one of the things that we are MOST excited about in 2014!

January 2014

  • Book: The Unbound by Victoria Schwab 
  • ALA Midwinter & Awards Announcements (January 27)

February 2014

March 2014

April 2014

  • Movie: Captain America: The Winter Soldier (April 4)
  • Book: Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins
  • Book: Dangerous by Shannon Hale
  • Book: City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare
  • National D.E.A.R. Day (Drop Everything and Read) (April 12)
  • Celebrate Teen Literature Day (April 17)
  • TLA (come hear Karen and Christie speak!)

May 2014

MTV may not show videos anymore, but you should watch these shows if you work with Teens

There was a time when MTV showed music videos. And it was awesome.  Though it is not a music staple anymore, and I sometimes weep about it, Teens and Young Adults (true young adults, in their early 20s) are still MTV’s target demographic.  And in all honesty, they do have some interesting things happening on the channel.  So if you want to work with teens, I think it is important to spend some time in their world.  Just a little.  Here are 5 MTV shows that will not only help you work with your teens, but they are actually pretty good.  Yes, I am admitting it. 

So, what 5 shows on MTV should you be watching?

Teen Wolf

Season 3 of Teen Wolf premieres on Monday, June 3rd.  This series is loosely based on the 80s movie starring Michael J. Fox, but it has amped up the sex appeal.  MTV is all about amped up sex appeal sometimes.  Scott is a teenager who was bitten by a wolf and is plunged into an underground world with power struggles, death, and danger at every turn.  Although there is some evidence to suggest that paranormal is waning in the publishing world, it is still hot with teens.  Also, you can never go wrong with hot vampires (Vampire Diaries on CW) or hot werewolves.  See above.  It is not as awesome as Buffy, because it lacks the Whedon vibe, but Buffy staple Nancy Holder has written some of the book tie-ins and many people on Twitter watch it together.  Community watching always makes TV more fun.

World of Jenks

Andrew Jenks was a teenage documentary film maker.  He is now 24 and makes a show on MTV that is really kind of awesome.  On the World of Jenks, Jenks spends time literally walking in someone else’s shoes.  He has lived with a rapper, an autistic boy, and more.  While he is living with them, we learn about lives different then our own.  It’s really pretty cool.  He also recently released an autobiography which we reviewed and gave some programming ideas for. His story is pretty inspiring to teens and young adults.

True Life

True Life tells the story of young people who are facing a wide variety of life challenges.  The goal of this show is to raise awareness and just let young people tell their stories.  It is, in fact, often one of my favorite shows on TV.  The show synopsis says: “Since its first episode in 1998, True Life has provided a window into the struggles, hopes, and dreams of young people. Narrated solely by its characters, each episode documents the unusual–and often remarkable–circumstances of real individuals, whether it’s about soldiers returning from Iraq, deaf teenagers, or people living with autism. We’ve given all of them–and hundreds of others–the opportunity to tell their own stories directly to their peers in this powerful, Emmy award winning series that uniquely reflects the experiences and cultures of this generation.”


Being a teenager is, well, awkward.  And Awkward really capture the essence of it.  Awkward is basically a serialized soap opera that follows the life of Jenna, who many people believe tried to commit suicide, although she genuinely had a weird accident.  Jenna shares her life in a blog.  Actually, she overshares.  There is a lot of good humor here.  I particularly love the English teacher who tries to really get his students to write in ways that would probably get him fired in real life.


Made is an award winning show that focuses on teens (and now college students) trying their hands at personal transformation.  This is more than just The Biggest Loser, however, as the transformations can literally be anything.  Some teens take dance or cheerleading lessons to be “made” into these different people.  Most of the goals are career or performance oriented.  And yes, some of them involve things like being made into a beauty queen.  But it is still an interesting look into the life of young people and their hopes and desires.

As for music, if you really want to see music video I recommend Jump Start on VH1 (I have my DVR set to record it so I can skim through the videos I hate) or check out Fuse.

What other shows do you think are secretly awesome and why?  Tell us in the comments.  They don’t even have to be on MTV.

Sunday Reflections: If Sex Sells, part II – the curious case of the movies

You know you read all the good parts

A couple of Sundays ago, I wrote a piece called Sex Sells . . . But What are We Selling?  Here, I talked about my concerns about 1) are women really in control or are men still controlling the message and women being fooled into thinking they are empowered when they use sex to sell their brand and 2) how these messages effect self-esteem.  Christie then wrote about the same subject from the viewpoint of guys, who are definitely also being bombarded by these same types of messages.  But then a curious thing happened: I stumbled across this article on Entertainment Weekly: Hollywood sex? Does it still sell?

Apparently, there is a real lack of sex in the movies we are watching, although I really hadn’t realized it.  In part, I think, because although there may be less sex in the movies, there is definitely more sex on TV, whether or not it be suggested at in your TV commercials (yes, I’m still complaining about the Carls Jr. ads) or on your premium cable channels (and yes, I’m talking to you Game of Thrones and Girls).  And what are we to blame for this lack of sex in our movies? The Internet and teenage boys apparently. We all know that the Internet has made it really easy to get access to pornography, so there is less motivation for us to shell out $14.00 to go see it in the theater while surrounded by others.  Apparently now we want big explosions, the bigger the better.  As someone with a love for disaster movies, I am all for this.  Yes, I did actually pay to see 2012 in the movie theaters.  And I will stop and watch every. single. disaster movie on SyFy.

As for teenage boys, well, that part didn’t make a lot of sense to me.  But I do see how making a movie rated R is already limiting your audience, thus limiting your incomes so going for a PG-13 makes sense from a financial point of view.  Hopefully, it makes sense from an artistic point of view.  

Speaking of premium TV channels, the HBO series Girls may have taken the onscreen sex a little too far if you pay any attention to popular culture news.  On last Sunday’s episode, there was an encounter that may or may not be construed as rape, a topic that I care a lot about in the media and our culture as well.  I can’t actually comment on the episode because when I tried to watch a rerun of the episode to decide for myself, I had to change the channel.  Slate ran a play by play of the scene (very disturbing and descriptive, be forewarned) and then Salon had an article discussing the idea of consent asking the question, “Can rape be stopped?“.  For a while, it seemed like sexual assault was a disturbing trend in the ya titles I was reading, and it is definitely a huge cultural discussion happening right now.  Whether it be discussing the military, rape culture, or teenage boys in Ohio, it is clear that the time is right now to be discussing how we can change our culture and help keep women safe.

As a teen service’s librarian, I have to wrestle with the ambiguities of sex in the lives of teenagers every day.  Because biology is cruel, hormones start kicking in at the beginning of the teenager years (although approximately 25% of teenage girls may see them kicking in as young as 9), and yet adults, understandably, want teens to be sheltered.  Which brings us to the all important question: should there be sex in ya literature?  And the uncomfortable answer is, yes, sometimes.  Because a portion of our teens are having sex, we need to be honest about it in the literature.  I don’t think it needs to be graphic, but if we are going to write honest stories about the lives of teens then they sometimes have to have sex.

Sex is a tricky business when it comes to art.  It is part of the human experience, but it is generally considered private and often taboo.  But since art is supposed to reflect life, and make us think about it, it is hard to avoid the topic.  Even for teenagers.  Especially for teenagers sometimes.

And here’s my huge confession.  Do you know what I was doing in the 6th grade?  Why, I was reading Forever by Judy Blume.  Not all of it actually, just the pages that my friend had marked and told me to read.  And Flowers in the Attic by V. C. Andrews.  I did actually read all of that one and ewwwwwww.  My point? It’s not actually a new phenomenon.  And for the record, I totally remember watching Risky Business, the movie that they mention in our original Entertainment Weekly article.  Which leaves me thinking, it appears that the movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High wouldn’t even get made today, which is too bad because that movie actually made me think about things in meaningful ways and examine lives that were very different than mine.  And that is the point of storytelling, no matter what form it takes.