Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

How to Tumblr, part 2

So how are we all feeling about Tumblr so far? Let me know in the comments. Also, let me know what your Tumblr name is, so I can check you out!

Now that you’ve all established your own Tumblr and found interesting people to follow, we are going to cover reblogging, creating your own original entries, and customizing your Tumblr. Let’s start by having a look at the Tumblr dashboard:

I hope that by now many of you have realized how simple it is to reblog a Tumblr entry you’ve enjoyed and wanted to share or comment upon. If I wanted to reblog the top entry on my dashboard, I would simply scroll down until the bottom of the entry is visible, and click on the reblog tool in the bottom right hand corner – it looks like two arrows curved into a box shape and is right next to the heart (which lets you mark an entry as a favorite).

When you click on the reblogging tool, it will bring up a page which will let you make several adjustments to how this will look on your page. At first, I’d just suggest that you add something in the box where the cursor appears. This box is labeled differently according to what kind of post you are reblogging. Sometimes it is a ‘caption’ box, sometimes ‘description’, etc. However, this is where people will expect you to add your comments. You can even respond with a picture of your own. Once you’ve reblogged an entry, it will show up both in your dashboard, and on your own Tumblr page.


While I’d venture to guess that the vast majority of people interact with Tumblr almost exclusively through the dashboard, you also have a page that contains just the contents of your posts to Tumblr. This is your blog, and you can direct people here to view any or all of your entries. You can also customize it in many ways to better represent your personality, etc.
To do this, you will want to start by going to your Tumblr blog. The easiest way to do this is to scroll to the top of your dashboard and click on your icon/avatar. This will take you directly to your blog. You can also type in the web address for your blog – ie. ‘myblog.tumblr.com’.
Move your cursor to the upper right corner of the screen and you will see two options – ‘Customize’ and ‘Dashboard’. Click on customize to take you to the customization screen. There, you should be able to choose from free or paid Themes, change the name of your Tumblr, add a brief description, and make a few more advanced changes. Remember to save!
Finally, let’s talk about adding your own original posts. I’d strongly suggest starting with pictures, but your mileage may vary. From your dashboard, choose one of the icons on the top row beside your blog icon:
Different tools may be more useful for one type of post or another. Try some of them out and see how they work!
For those of you with a high tolerance for whimsy, i’d like to point you in the direction of this video, which may explain more about the culture behind Tumblr that anything I can say:
Above all else, I hope you enjoy yourself!

How to Tumblr, part 1

Get ready to jump in with my go-to method for learning something new – start doing it. Okay, yes, usually I read a few articles and ask some of my younger friends about their experience with whatever the new thing is. After that, though, when a new social media platform comes on the horizon, it’s best to just jump in with both feet.  (I promise this won’t hurt.)

So, first things first, go to https://www.tumblr.com/ , fill out your email, choose a password, enter a username, and click on the BIG button at the bottom that reads ‘Sign up and start posting.’ Before you go, you may want to brainstorm a few possible user names, the one you usually use is probably already taken. Yes, seriously. Go ahead, I’ll wait here for you.

Okay, so you’re back. Did it ask you your age? Good. You have to be 13 years old to use Tumblr. In fact, here is a screenshot from their terms of service that I absolutely love (because, be honest, it’s not like you really read them before you agreed to them.)

Unless you’ve skipped ahead (in which case, go for it – you don’t need me!) you are on a page asking you to ‘Find Blogs. Follow five.’  Oh, yes, in case you didn’t know, Tumblr is a blogging platform. You don’t actually have to do this, but now would be a good time to search for people or organizations you’d like to follow. You can follow us! Just type in teenlibrariantoolbox – it should be the only search result. ATTENTION KAREN: now is when you can search for Doctor Who!

Here are some other library or YA related Tumblrs you may want to follow:

  • thelifeguardlibrarian – who compiles a list of Tumblarians (more on that later)
  • Libraryjournal
  • Schoollibraryjournal
  • Himissjulie
  • Fancylibrarian
  • Yaflash
  • Bookshelfporn
  • Bookavore

Now you may want to look for some of your favorite authors. Just go ahead and search. A random sampling of some of the Tumblr authors I follow includes Maureen Johnson, Sarah Reese Brennan, Ally Carter (theallycarter), Laurie Halse Anderson, Rachel Hawkins (therealladyhawkins), and John Green (fishingboatproceeds). As you can see, some of them have had to pick rather odd names. Just search for your favorites. You may also want to search for other people you follow on other platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.) Also, sometimes the web site freezes at this point. No worries, just close it and open again.
At this point you will want to log in to your email and verify your Tumblr account. They have sent you an email, just follow the directions. It should take you back to Tumblr. You’ll be at your dashboard. Let me stop here and explain a little more of what Tumblr is about.

Yes, Tumblr is a blogging platform, but it is also an interactive social media web site. When you log in, you aren’t shown your blog you are shown your dashboard, which is an aggregate of all the Tumblrs you follow, with entries in reverse chronological order. That is, the most recent Tumblr entry by one of the Tumblrs you follow will show up at the top of your dashboard. You can scroll down to the last one you recognize and start from there – although I wouldn’t advise it. You see, once you really get going on Tumblr you’ll realize that a lot of what is going on is people reblogging other people’s content and either adding to it or commenting on it. So something you visually recognize might be a reblog of something else. This is especially true if you follow users who follow each other. This is where the interaction happens. In my experience, it’s best to just read from the top down. (Your mileage may vary.)

So, for the next couple of days, explore on your own. See if you can find Tumblrs you’d like to follow. Go to The Lifeguard Librarian’s Tumblr page here http://thelifeguardlibrarian.tumblr.com/tumblariansand follow some interesting looking libraries or librarians. Maybe even click the heart symbol on the bottom of an entry you particularly like. I’ll be back in a couple of days with part 2 of How to Tumblr, and we will discuss reblogging, creating your own blog entries, and customizing your Tumblr. Until then, best of luck!

Tech Talk

Technology is a HUGE part of what we do everyday.  Whether we are helping our teens use technology, using technology to connect with our teens, or trying to put together teen programs – there is no escaping it, and no escaping how often it changes.  Since we write about it, I thought we would make it easy for you to find it all in one place – HERE!  After all, geek is the new black.
Apptastic Marketing

Social Media 101
Relational Reading Revolution: Using social media to connecting readers with authors
The Beginners Guide to the Hashtag
Harness the Power of the Hashtag 
A Scientific Guide to the Best Times to Tweet, FB, Blog, etc. 
The Science of Social Timing 
Executing Your Social Media Marketing Strategy
6 Steps to Creating a Social Media Marketing Plan 
Examples of People Using Social MediaWell:

Ongoing changing in policies are causing some users to defect, less popular now, teens are defecting, can now use Hashtags



26 Ways to Market with Tumblr
5 Things You Can Do with Tumblr:




A Defense of Online Gaming in Libraries 
TPIB: When Books Inspire Art (Using Apps to Create Book/Library Related Art)
Teens, Tech and Programming 
The Relational Reading Revolution Revisited: Using social media to connect teens w/authors and get them invested in the reading community
Hosting a Coding Club

Gif Making

www.slashgear.com – tech news
www.buzzfeed.com – great example of content; find content to share
www.mashable.comfave info resource
www.hypable.com – sharable content
www.ypulse.com – news about teens & millenials
www.socialmediatoday.com – all about social media

Marketing with Apps Presentation Outline
TLA Relational Reading Revolution Presentation

Sunday Reflections: How Twitter is teaching us not to judge

When Eleanor from Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell, with her out of control curly red hair and poor, holey clothes covered in scraps of cloth, first steps on the bust at her new school, the teens immediately judge her and deem her unworthy.  They then go on to torment and bully her.  When Meg shows up at her 6th school in one year in The Rules for Disappearing by Ashley Elston, her hair newly dyed and cut in an unflattering way, she too is judged by many to be unworthy and thus tormented.  It is, in fact, an all too common scenario in our schools.  Those who are deemed different, for whatever reason, are cast out or, worse, bullied.

Twitter, however, is a different universe.  On Twitter, you often get to know a person (in a way) before you know what they look like.  Yes, you have an Avatar, but a lot of the time it is not a self portrait but a book cover, your dog, a fainting goat.  You can talk to someone over and over again before you have any idea what they look like.  It removes outward appearances from the first, second, and even third impressions.  Is Twitter teaching us not to judge a person by the way they look?

I follow very few “famous” people on Twitter (Joss Whedon, Nathan Fillion, Felicia Day and Will Wheaton).  I hang out on Twitter because it has a very rich book and library community.  We talk about books, the issues in books, library issues and programming.  A lot of the people I follow either have their library building, their blog logos or their book covers as their bio/avatar pic.  I often have no idea what these people look like, but it doesn’t matter because we have learned that we share a passion for the same things, have similar politics sometimes (or not but we can handle it as adults), and really, we just want to talk about books.

There are many things to laud about Twitter, and some definite things to question, but I can’t help but wonder what it would be like in the lives of our teens if we could remove that knee jerk need to judge other based on their outer appearance.  That element has been removed from Twitter and I think it would be an interesting social experiment to see how kids would respond in the schools.

One of my Twitter pics.  This is not me.

To some extent, school uniforms are an attempt to minimize this issue.  My Tween goes to a school with uniforms, has for the past 2 years, and I can see ways in which it has been effective in leveling the playing field.  But the truth is, you can still mark your social status by the shoes you wear, the accessories you choose, or by the backpack you carry, for example.  And of course, people like Eleanor could never hid their hair behind a school uniform.  Nor do they cover disabilities.

But what if before a new student came to a school or class we read a letter of introduction out loud to the class, a version of Twitter if you will, allowing students to hear personality before seeing a teen.  Would that change their perception and welcoming of a new student?  Would that make them more open to give someone a chance?

My current Twitter pic/avatar.  This is me.

And let’s not pretend that Twitter is a level playing field, because it is not.  After a while on Twitter you learn that you must develop a persona, it is a type of branding.  There is a greater propensity for witty and snarky on Twitter. But f you spend enough time on Twitter, you can’t help but let real moments of truth, real glimpses of you, bleed through the social feed.  You will say that you are sick and let yourself be vulnerable, there will be an issue that is just to important to you to not speak your mind, you will complain about your family or your friends, you will talk about what your eating.  And of course, when we talk about the books we love – or hate – we are revealing parts of ourselves.  So while Twitter is not an authentic portrait of self, it is also not a complete misrepresentation of self (in most cases).  This is true when forming any new relationship.  When I was dating my husband, he presented his best persona and I did the same.  It was over time that we began to see each other in a variety of situations and got to authentically know each other.  Twitter is like the early stages of any relationship, you are showing a side of yourself, but not the whole story.  However, it is still creating a social phenomenon where people are forming relationships based on personality and interests first, often without even knowing what the other person truly looks like.

I think it would be an interesting experiment for a class to create Twitter accounts without actual pictures.  Have each student tweet for a specified period of time.  Then, see if the students can determine who each Twitter handle is.  Some of the interesting discussions we could have would be:

Were the students easily able to identify each of their classmates based on their words, tone, interests, etc. without a picture?  Were they surprised by any, why or why not?

Did your time spent with your classmates on Twitter change your perceptions of any of your classmates?

Did you feel more or less like you could be yourself when the concern over physical appearance and representation is removed?

Some of the people I have met have turned into genuine, IRL friends.  In fact, most of the people who work with me on this blog I met via the Internet, have now met and spend time with in real life, and I love them dearly.  I don’t know that some of them would have given me a chance if they would have seen more before they got to know me.  Not because they are shallow and mean spirited people, but because we are enculturated in certain ways.  I believe that perhaps Twitter is changing the culture.  Sometimes for good.

TPiB: Instagram crafts

Every Friday in March we’re sharing crafts with our favorite website, The Library as Incubator Project.  Check their site out for awesome ways to incorporate art into your library and programming.  This week, I am sharing with you some of my favorite things to do with Instagram pictures.
Instagram is perhaps one of the hottest tech (social media) tools being used right now.  If you aren’t familiar with it (are there people who aren’t?), it is a photo app for a smart phone that let’s you take and manipulate pictures quickly and beautifully and then easily share them online.  I love Instagram pictures hard core, take dozens or more a day, and use them a lot right here on this blog.  I am always trying to find new ways to use them and have found a variety of enchanting crafts that you can incorporate them into.
For example, you can Mod Podge them onto anything, including a canvas to create stunning artwork for your walls.  Coasters, book covers, votive candles – I am not kidding, you can use them to decorate literally anything.  There is an entire blog dedicated to Mod Podge, so check it out.

If you get really ambitious, you can try and do this photo transfer craft that I found at A Beautiful Mess. I was possibly less successful at it then they were.

Quick Tip: Instagram is not the only awesome app out there.  You can use TypoInsta to add text, WordFoto to make your picture into a word photo, and FilterMania 2 has a ton of easy overlays (frames) that you can use.  You can run your picture through several different apps to maximize creativity.  Here is a look at some of my personal favorites. 

You can also create a variety of unique mini-scrapbooks that capitalize on the tiny size of Instagram photos.  (If you have ever tried to print them you know that a standard photo printing lab can not in fact print them because they are smaller than 4×6 and they don’t format correctly).

Today, I am sharing with you my favorite mini-scrapbook which presents itself as the perfect gift to share with others.  You can make a mother’s day present, father’s day, or a graduation gift for your best friend filled with photos of your life together.  And if you size it right, they are fun and easy to fill with your favorite Instagram pictures.  You can import your Instagram pictures into a program like Microsoft Publisher, size them and then print them on regular copy paper for this project.

This project is a modified verions of THIS craft.  If any of the instructions get confusing, you check out the inspirational post at Scrap ‘N Frames.com. 

Supplies Needed:
Empty cereal box (for your top and bottom cover)
Plain card stock paper, 12 x 12 (I prefer black)
Duct Tape
Stickers and other embellishments
Several – like 10 or more – Instagram prints size 4×4 

This is what we are making, a mini scrapbook that folds up like an accordion to fill with your favorite Instagram pics.

Step 1: Creating Your Cover

Cut your empty box into two equal size squares, 4 1/2 by 4 1/2.

Other instructions tell you to cut and cover your squares with wrapping or scrapbook paper, but I am here to tell you how to make it easier on yourself: Duct Tape! That’s right, cover both sides of each square with duct tape. Simple, fast, easy – and totally cool. And they have so many cool designs and colors now that you can’t go wrong.

To create a closure for your book, Duct tape one piece of ribbon onto the underside of 1 of your covers.  You will use this at the end to wrap around your book and tie it shut.  It makes it look like a mini gift.

Note: You can also cover your scrapbook cover with scrapbook or wrapping paper if you don’t want to use Duct tape.

Quick Tip: Duct Tape totally does horrible things to your scissors, so have Goo Gone nearby to keep them sharp and clean. Clean scissors make happy cuts, gooey scissors make angry cuts.

Step 2: Folding Your Pages

First, you need to turn your 12 by 12 paper into 8 by 8 sized paper.
You want to make sure your paper is cut down to 8 by 8 size, there will be a little bit of trimming involved.  To make straight lines, a paper cutter can be your best friend. But you can also just use the edge of a metal ruler if you are careful.

Now comes the tricky bit, folding your paper.  Basically, if you make these 3 simple folds you create the lines necessary to fold your paper. 

Next, you need to fold your sheet into the accordion format.  There are really great instructions for that here.  Basically, you fold your paper like this:

Fold your first sheet of paper in half.

  Open your paper, rotate 90 degrees and fold in half again.

  Open your paper and flip it over.

Fold your paper from corner to corner to make a triangle.

Repeat folds with the second sheet of paper.

The two papers should now fold into a smaller square.

One square can be inserted into the other square and glue to create an accordion folding  square.

Glue two sheets together by placing them as pictured above.  You can make your mini scrapbook as big as you would like by adding additional pages.

When you are done, they will all fold together accordion style into one neat square like this:

Step 3: Attaching the Covers

Because your covers have Duct tape, you’ll want to use a stapler and staple a cover to to each side of your folded sheets, making sure you only use the top sheet of each end so your book will open properly.  Simply use a piece of Duct tape to cover the staples on the outside of your cover.  In traditional accordion scrapbooks you glues the cover onto the sheets, but Duct tape will prevent this from working properly.

Step 4: Filling the Pages

You can import your Instagram pictures into a program like Microsoft Publisher and size them correctly for your scrapbook.  You’ll want them to be 4×4 in size to fit inside.  After correctly sizing the pics, simply print on regular paper in color and you are ready to complete your album.

Get creative with it! Add stickers, captions, lettering and more to make it unique and pop.

Doing this as a library program:
To make it an easy library program, set up stations and precut some of the pieces.
Station 1: Make your cover.  Have a table with precut squares, scissors and duct tape.
Station 2: Fold the insides. Have a variety of card stock available.
Station 3: Give it guts. Stickers, etc.
Station 4: Printing station. You will need to help teens import and print their photos. Have a laptop ready to go. 

Some other things you can do with Instagram pictures
Girl on a Board ideas
A variety of other types of mini scrapbooks
TPiB: Turn your Instagram photos into photobooth bookmarks 
More iPhone Apps to make awesome pics 

I’m nobody! Who are you? Part 1 (Why us teen librarians should talk to one another)

I’m Nobody, who are you?
Are you – Nobody – too?
Then there’s a pair of us!
Don’t tell! they’d advertise – you know!
-Emily Dickinson

If you’re the only teen librarian in your library, it can be a lonely job.  You plan programs on your own, or with the hopefully enthusiastic, but sometimes grudging or misguided assistance of a TAB, you order and read books that you might not be able to gush about with anyone else you work with.  You serve a population with distinct needs, and you’re on your own deciphering what those needs are and how to address them through your service.  Depending on when you’re on desk and where that desk is, you may go days without having a really engaging conversation with a teen patron, let alone another colleague who shares your passion and focus.  My library system has recently morphed from a regional system to one that encompasses half the state.  What were once fairly local networking meetings are no longer as convenient – or possible – to attend.

The irony of this is that our job is all about making connections with people, and connecting those people to what they need.

A lot is written and discussed about why and how we can better connect with teens.  But why and how should we connect with one another?

Just like attending a professional conference can give you new ideas and energy, having regular, informal meetings with other teen librarians can do the same.  Why is this important?  Think about your performance after you get home from conference.  Do you try new programs? Order  books you just heard about? Try new approaches at booktalking or reader’s advisory? Change your signage? Explore new websites or technology?  YES, of course you do!  Meeting the librarian down the street or three towns over for a sandwich or cup of coffee isn’t really the same as attending the YALSA YA Literature Symposium or PLA, but it serves a similar purpose.  It breaks us out of our own way of doing things and allows us to share our knowledge and ideas with each other.  It reminds both of us that while we’re doing this alone, we’re not really out there all on our own.

Start me up

Working with teens takes energy.  Some days, it takes lots of energy.  Some days, it takes all of your energy.  But we love it, right?  And for every night we fall onto the couch at the end of the day with our coats on and the keys still in our hand, there are going to be other nights we drive home with the windows down, singing at the top of our lungs because it was so awesome.  Not everybody understands that dynamic, but having someone who does, and with whom we can share these moments can pull us up when we’re down or use the positive momentum to push our programs or services in new and exciting directions.  Who else understands the frustrations and awesomeness of being an unofficial department of one like someone else who is an unofficial department of one?

One is the loneliest number

We need to meet each other not just to vent and pat each other on the back, it’s really important for us to seek out the kind of camaraderie and information sharing that our colleagues in other situations come by naturally.  If there are five people in the Adult Services department, they have each other to bounce ideas to, get a second opinion on a resource, share interesting articles, teach new technologies, and try new services.  Working in a bubble will eventually lead to problems with our service.  Stale programs, missing new trends in publishing, changing the dates and then reusing the same poster session after session… it’s poor service and our patrons will pick up on it.

Tada- now there is more than 1
TLT is a collaboration and we have fun together, inspire one another, & steal ideas
I mean borrow – we borrow ideas!!!

Stop. Collaborate and listen.

Some projects are just bigger than you.  Consider what you could do if there were two of you, twice as many teens, twice as many locations, (and dare we hope twice the budget?), and twice as much energy for the last great program you had.  If you’ve seen programs or services offered elsewhere that seemed not possible because of the limitations of your own situation, think about striking up a partnership with another nearby library to make it happen.

If that’s an overwhelming thought right now, start smaller.  You could collaborate and share information on…

  • Book display ideas
  • Slogans and activities for your TAB
  • A joint book drive
  • Thematic book lists
  • Volunteer responsibilities and guidelines (it’s nice when there are consistent expectations across an area)
  • Excess craft supply or leftover prize swaps
  • What to do about all of these darn series?!
  • Best times for programs
  • Summer Reading Themes
  • What’s hot for teens in your neighborhood
  • Cross-promoting programs

Start by thinking about the areas of service that are difficult for you.  We all have strengths and weaknesses, areas we love and areas we only do because it’s part of the job.  Pick a part of your job that you wish you had a better system for, a better eye for, or a better understanding of, look around at what other libraries are doing in those areas, and make improving that aspect your goal.

So have I convinced you yet?  Ok, good.  Now you’re wondering how to do it, right?  Stay tuned for Part 2 where I’ll give some suggestions on getting your own local group going.

Get active, change the world: Social campaigns for teens (Teens Can Make a Difference)

If you spend any time looking at the 40 Developmental Assets (which you should), you’ll note that several of them touch on the idea that teens want (and need) to have a sense of purpose and feeling of control over their lives and futures; they need to know that they can have a positive influence on the world in which they are living.  But if today’s current spate of dystopian fiction is any indication, we are living in a world with an increasingly bleak looking future.  I think the popularity of dystopian fiction reflects some of the hopelessness and despair that is par for the course in the teen years, but it is also a distinct reflection of the economic despair and concern that influences our current climate.  Having given you that ultra cheery look at the current zeitgeist, let me tell you that there are people out there every day working to make positive changes in our world – and offering teens the opportunity to do the same.  Today I share with you several campaigns that you can share with your teens and help them get involved in being a positive force in the world – and helping them meet the 40 Developmental Assets in their lives.  Remember, more positive assets equals more positive teens.  Our job is to get the information to them, the rest is up to them.

Teenage Depression  * Bullying  *  Dating Violence  *  Human Trafficking  * Being a Guy  *  Being a Girl  * Saving the Earth  * and More . . .

Their mission statement: To Write Love on Her Arms is a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery.
The message of the It Gets Better Project is simple: everyone deserves to be loved for who they are and it does get better.  They ask everyone to take this pledge: Everyone deserves to be respected for who they are. I pledge to spread this message to my friends, family and neighbors. I’ll speak up against hate and intolerance whenever I see it, at school and at work. I’ll provide hope for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and other bullied teens by letting them know that it gets better.
The Big Help is an initiative of the Nickelodeon chanel that encourages tweens and teens to get involved in local projects to help their communities.  The audience definitely skews younger tween, but the way it is designed encourages local action, which is great.

Donate My Dress is an initiative sponsored by Seventeen Magazine that encourages teens to donate their special occassion dresses to others in need.  The 2012 spokesperson is Victoria Justice.
Do Something is all about encouraging teens to, well – do something positive for their world.  This is what it says under their Who We Are page: e love teens. They are creative, active, wired…and frustrated that our world is so messed up. DoSomething.org harnesses that awesome energy and unleashes it on causes teens care about. Almost every week, we launch a new national campaign. The call to action is always something that has a real impact and doesn’t require money, an adult, or a car. With a goal of 5 million active members by 2015, DoSomething.org is one of the largest organizations in the US for teens and social change.

I am a huge advocate of teen volunteers, and many libraries have been using teen volunteers for years in the form of Teen Advisory Groups (TAGs).  But not all libraries have the staffing or funds to successfully incorporate TAGs into their programs.  That doesn’t mean that you can’t encourage teen volunteering by providing teens access to volunteer information.  Volunteen Nation is here to help.  Volunteen Nation encourages organizations to add volunteer opportunities to their programming and they also help teens find volunteer opportunities through their website.
With the explosion of technology comes the explosion of cyberbullying, find information and take the pledge to step in and speak up here.

As part of their ongoing campaign to promote tolerance, Tolerance.org sponsors Mix It Up at Lunch Day in November (this year it is November 13th).  On this day teens are encouraged to sit with new people at lunch.  I have gone to schools on this day with displays and just went and interacted with the teens at lunch.  Most teens like to sit in the same place with the same people, but it can really open up dialogue.
T4PE is a social network by teens, for teens to learn more about conservation efforts and to share information about local projects.
From their about page:
PROJECT GIRL combines art, media literacy, and youth led activism.
PROJECT GIRL is a ground-breaking girl-led, arts-based initiative created to enable girls to become better informed critical consumers of mass media advertising and entertainment. In other words, to become more media literate.
PROJECT GIRL’s unique approach uses art as the means to educate, inspire, and create social change. . The Project Girl gives girls the structure to be the producers of their own culture, not just passive receivers of a culture that is trying to sell them something.
Stay Teen provides information on sex, dating and birth control.
Love is Respect talks about the positive things that love is, and highlights the negative things that it is not – including sexting and abuse. There is some good discussion under the Is This Abuse? tab.
Break the Cycle is also committed to helping to end dating violence and promoting healthy relationships.

International Day of the Girl is a movement…
to speak out against gender bias and advocate for girls’ rights everywhere.
Human Traffikcing is a form of modern day slavery that is bigger than we realize.  Teens on Trafficking gives teens facts and tools to help end it.
This is another resource aimed at ending human trafficking and sex crimes against children.
Here ya author John Green and is Bro join with teens to fight suck using their brains.

I know that there are more, so please share your favorites in the comments.  The more we have, the more likely we are to meet our teens informational needs. Thank you.

Book Review: Ask the Passengers by A. S. King (reviewed by Jenny Torres Sanchez)

It was author Jenny Torres Sanchez that introduced me to the marvelous writings of A. S. King, so I thought I would let her review Ask the Passengers for us today.  Besides, you probably already know that I love the book.  So here is another point of view.  Stay tuned at the end and enter to win a chance to Google+ Hangout with A. S. King.
Kingism- A short narrative from the point of view of a seemingly odd, out of place, or nonsensical object/subject but which holds incredible meaning and is interjected throughout an awesome novel. Ex: including narrative from the point of view of a pagoda in a story decidedly not about pagodas (Please Ignore Vera Dietz).
Ask the Passengers by A. S. King
October from Little, Brown and Co.
ISBN: 978-0-316-21824-5

I like Kingisms, not just because my rebellious spirit appreciates this break from the norms of writing and what most writers are cautioned not to do, but because I know there’s a reason for it. It demands your attention.  It makes you question why? Why include the point of view of passengers in this story, passengers we meet only briefly, if this is really a book about a girl named Astrid Jones who is trying to figure out who she is, how she fits in her family, her town, the world?  Why?

Because it’s a Kingism.  The passengers in ASK THE PASSENGERS receive the love Astrid sends them from her backyard as they fly overhead.  We see it hit them. We see how it affects them. We see how it changes them.  And this connection between Astrid and the passengers, a connection they are not even really aware of, made me think of how we are all connected. How what we feel, think, wish on others is this very real energy that goes out into the world and can impact others.  It made me wonder about what we wish on others and if we knew our energy was to directly impact someone else, what kind of energy would we send? It makes you look inside yourself and wonder what you have to give. Love? Hate? What? Why?  I love when books do that, when they become so much more than a story, when they become a vehicle for self-reflection. There’s some deep stuff going on here. I mean Socrates kind of stuff, speaking of which. . .  he’s a character. 

I am partial to stories with famous dead people as characters, but I especially love Socrates in this novel, just chilling in his toga, his wisdom present in Astrid’s tumultuous life even as he says nothing to her and makes Astrid rely on herself, her thoughts, her ability to question everything.  I love that King respects her readers enough to throw Socrates in the mix and know teens will get it. They’ll understand. We can talk about art and philosophy and some deep, deep ideas and teens will not only GET it, they’ll appreciate it and apply it to themselves, their view of the world, their lives.

The novel also deals with Astrid trying to understand her sexuality, it’s both central and secondary. I know that doesn’t make sense. What I mean is, yes, Astrid trying understand her sexuality is a central part of her struggle, even more so because Astrid is trying to understand her sexuality without falling victim to standard black or white definitions of you’re either THIS or THAT. And that’s what this book is really about. Trying to understand who we are, who others are, without necessarily having to define ourselves or force ourselves into society’s neat little boxes and definitions. Absolutely there are aspects of this novel that I think will certainly speak to LGBT teens. But I also think it’s a novel that will speak to every teen. To every one. Because there’s always so much more to a person than what fits in a box.

There is so much to love and appreciate about this novel. I love the imperfections of the characters, the pot-smoking dad, the sister who seems to have betrayed Astrid unintentionally by becoming a product of a town Astrid doesn’t respect, the mom who is both neglectful and overbearing. I love Astrid’s friends even though they unintentionally cause her grief by pressuring her to define herself as gay. I love Socrates. I love Astrid who finds the strength to love even when she feels unloved. I love how it made me think and feel and understand and lift my eyes from the page and close the book and view the world a little differently, in a way that stays with me, in a way that makes me want to be a better person. I love this novel. I think you will too.


After reading this novel, I can’t help but picture AS King in her writing cave wearing a toga.  Doesn’t it seem fitting? I think maybe King was Socrates in another life. Thanks, AS King, for another novel that makes us think, ponder, and makes us want to live life in a toga . . . knowing only that we know nothing.
And now you will understand the Toga Optional aspect of this contest . . . To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter form.  Please do take a moment to make sure you have the system requirements you need to participate in a Google+ Hangout, including a gmail account.  If you don’t, they are free and easy to set up.  Requirements.  Because we can do a Google+ Hangout with anyone, this contest is open to all.
The best contest ever! Inspired by Felicia Day and her online bookclub.

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5 Reasons to Love Daniel Kraus

The headline says it all, so let’s just dive in shall we . . .

1. Rotters

Daniel Kraus is the author of several YA titles, including RottersRotters is a deeply deeply disturbing book about a teenage boy who ends up grave robbing after his mother dies and he goes to live with a father he has never known. Like I said, deeply disturbing.  Like Wringer or The Monstrumologist, Kraus does a modern day Stephen King for teens and makes the King of Scream proud.  You will be freaked out in that satisfying way that comes from reading a deeply disturbing book assuming dark is what you’re going for.

Kraus does a couple of amazing things in Rotters.  1) He takes a very sympathetic and likable main character, Joey, and just drags this kid through the ringer and in doing so, takes his main character to very dark places.  It’s such a bold move as a storyteller to create such a dark, compelling arc and hope that the reader will stand by your main character.  2) In the depth of his darkness, Joey creates a plan to get back at a school bully that is so disturbing it will give you nightmares.  It’s hard to bring a character back from a place like this, and yet Kraus sort of does.  Well, at least he gives you the hope that Joey might possibly come out of this situation okay.

The other thing that is truly fascinating about Rotters is the world building that occurs.  In fantasy, authors have to develop intricate worlds with hierarchies, customs and sometimes even language.  Kraus ends up doing the same thing in this modern day gothic tale of gravediggers.  The grave digging world has its own lore and legends and an almost mafia like code of conduct.  You read along and wonder if this type of grave digging society really exists.

I read dark stuff: Koontz, King, serial killers and more.  But Rotters, it really stays with you.  It has been well over a year since I have read it and it just stays with you.  In my reading world, that’s a good thing.

Here’s a link to Random Buzzers, the very cool Random House website for teens where Daniel Kraus talks Rotters.  I highly recommend that you make sure your teens know about Random Buzzers.

2. Hostile Questions

Kraus is on the editorial staff for Booklist, which is cool in itself.  And here he does a regular feature called Hostile Questions where he interviews the cool kids with his own unique, twisted voice.  His plan is simple, he will interview these authors in a “aggressive manner” and promises that the authors will “love every minute of it” (http://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/news/ala/hostile-questions-engage-writers-new-booklist-online-interview-series).  It is, to say the least, entertaining.

Hostile Questions: Libba Bray

Hostile Questions: Ally Carter

3. Booklist

Just the other day some librarians and I began having a Twitter chatter about horror books and – gasp – Daniel Kraus himself chimed in (authors always get bonus points with me when they engage with librarians and readers).  So I asked him to name some good horror books for teens and he immediately led me to the online link to the Booklist of the Top 10 Horror Fiction for Youth.  It should be noted that Rotters is, not surprisingly, on it.  But of course he knows what’s on Booklist, he is an editor and reviewer there.  I am excited every time I read a review and see that it is him doing the review.  He recently reviewed Quarantine by Lex Thomas, which our own Stephanie Wilkes gave 5 stars.  So you see, we are doing something right – Daniel Kraus agreed with us 🙂

What Stephanie said: “The book is frighteningly realistic and I was completely chilled to the bone while I read.”

What Karen said: “Lord of the Flies mixed with Trapped/Variant but on steroids”

What Daniel Kraus said: “Take Michael Grant’s Gone (2008) and Veronica Roth’s Divergent (2011), rattle them in a cage until they’re ready to fight to the death, and you’ll have something like this nightmarish debut.”

4. He engages his audience via social media

In my universe, authors are rockstars.  They create the product that I am trying to get into the hands of my teens.  Imagine how epic it would be to a teen to have one of their favorite authors respond to them, even if it is something as simple as a Tweet.  Teens live in a world where they think adults don’t care, so it sends a positive – and important – message for an author to take the time to respond.  It sends a simple message: you have value.  (There is more of this thought in Don’t Underestimate the Value of Twitter and Relational Reading Revolution).

To paraphrase from the RRR post: We live in a culture that overly values celebrity and puts too much emphasis on goals that a very small percentage of teens will ever achieve.  When authors interact with teens, they help de-emphasize this goal; they make reading relational and humanize authors.  In effect, they narrow the gap between reader and writer and, in doing so, teens are more motivated to read.  Or in Kraus’ case they read because they are afraid he may come after them with a chainsaw . . . I kid, I kid. Sorta. But speaking of chainsaws . . .

5. Chainsaws

I obviously follow Kraus on Twitter (@DanielDKraus).  Some of my Twitter feeds I follow because they are informational, others I do so because they are entertaining.  Kraus is both.  You know that someone who came up with Rotters has to be a little bit twisted, and his Tweets often are.  He recently had a series of bizarre Tweets with author A. S. King involving chainsaws. On Mother’s Day. They brought me great entertainment.  That exchange was reason enough to love him.  Or fear him. Or both.

Bonus Reasons

  • He makes movies.
  • He writes for several magazines and online resources including Maxim and Cosmopolitan.

Let’s face it – we’re always looking for a way to get teen boys reading.  Kraus can help you do that.  He makes reading cool. 

The bottom line is this, I love anyone who helps me be successful at my goal.  My goal may seem simple, but it’s not.  There are so many challenges to getting teens into the library and reading books, but libraries (and stories) change lives – so I fight the good fight.  It is so much easier to do with authors like Daniel Kraus writing good books and helping you find them.

Find out more at Daniel Kraus’s website.

Don’t Underestimate the Value of Twitter

I am fairly new to the Twitterverse, and fairly addicted. It’s mostly Maureen Johnson’s fault (that woman is split your sides funny, you should definitely follow her).  An avid Facebook user for years, I had no idea how rich the book culture was on Twitter.  Here are 10 reasons why you should be on Twitter.

10.  Fast and Furious News

A wide variety of news outlets, including Publisher’s Weekly, Yalsa and VOYA, tweet links and various relevant facts that keep you quickly and easily updated.  All you have to do is open the link and read the news source.  As a reader, the most amazing moment in my life occurred when someone tweeted that author Lauren Oliver was going to be coming to a bookstore that it turns out was just 45 minutes from my house.  I learned of it the day before and made the trek to meet Lauren Oliver (read about Lauren Oliver day here) and outside of getting married and having my babies, it was truly one of the more amazing moments in my life.  If it wasn’t for Twitter, it never would have happened.  I learn what is going to be on the bestseller list, what upcoming teen author festivals are in my area, and more.  During conferences like ALA or PLA you can follow the discussion even when you can’t make it there.  By choosing who you follow you create for yourself a news aggregator tailored to your wants and needs.

9.  Book, Books and More Books

Book bloggers, librarians, readers, and more – this is a great way to learn what’s being talked about right now.  And there are so many people who share books on their TBR (to be read) list that your own TBR list will grow long – quickly.  (Seriously, my TBR would scan the globe a million times at this particular moment). In addition, authors, publishers and fans are always tweeting new book trailers, cover reveals, and reviews that are easy for you to share with your teens and help provide content for your Web and social media pages.  I also found The Apocalypsies on Twitter.  The Apocalypsies is a blog devoted to YA authors with books debuting in 2012.  The lovely Jenny Torres Sanchez (@jetchez) is a part of this group.  There is a deep and rich book world teeming under the surface of Twitter.

8.  Authors

There are a lot of amazing YA authors on Twitter and they talk not only about their books, but about themselves.  Sarah Dessen just announced that she will be releasing her 11th book next year, which will be titled Best After Ever.  The other day I had an actual conversation with the lovely Ilsa J. Bick about her book Ashes and the upcoming sequel, Shadows (due out 9/25/2012).  Some authors have left comments on my books reviews or responded via tweet and you know, it is encouraging as a librarian but it also helps you build a good reputation with your library teens and they see you as a legitimate resource in their lives.  Many of the authors will talk about their writing processes, inspiration, and more.  It would be a fun classroom or library project to have teens pick an author and really follow them as they go through the process of writing a book, getting it published and going on the marketing tour.  Speaking of the marketing tour, I have learned a lot about what all goes into marketing a book via Twitter and this is an interesting insight for aspiring writers.

7.  Maureen Johnson

Speaking of authors, there is probably none more entertaining and hilarious then the lovely Maureen Johnson (@maureenjohnson).  Her Twitter description reads as follows:

“There’s a fine line between good eye contact and the piercing stare of a psychopath.  Maureen is on the wrong side of it.” – a fan

That about covers it.  You’ll want to follow her for the sheer entertainment value of it.  Be warned, she is obsessed with monkeys and possibly unstable.  But, you know – wicked fun.

6.  Connecting Teens to Authors

The other day a teen I had never seen before walked into my library with a Vlad Tod t-shirt (Vladimir Tod is the main character in the High School Bites series by the lovely Heather Brewer, if you haven’t read it I highly recommend it).  So, this teen is standing there with a group and I walk up and say, “Awesome, you are a Vlad Tod fan.”  She is immediately impressed that I get what her t-shirt is all about.  We then proceed to talk about the books.  Then I snap a quick pic and send it to Heather Brewer via Twitter and – gasp, shudder – Heather Brewer responded and said Hi to my teen, one of her “minions” (that’s what she calls her fans).  Heather Brewer totally made this fans day and made me look like a rock star with my teen.  The next day this teen emailed me at work and now I have a library/reading advocate in my pocket who will go tell all of her friends how cool the teen librarian is at the local library.  I also sent a picture to Cassandra Clare of a young man who said The Mortal Instruments was hands down the best series ever, and she replied.  Some authors have not replied, and honestly there is a lot of luck and timing involved because they just happened to be online when I tweeted them; but in the moments when you do get lucky, you get to be someone’s hero and help them connect with authors in unique ways.  As a teen, it is always nice to know the adults you admire and look up to actually care, so thank you Heather Brewer and Cassandra Clare.  As I tweeted just last night: “Authors on Twitter and reaching out to fans help librarians do their jobs well. So thanks.”

5.  Publishers

When thinking of who to follow on Twitter, you don’t want to forget your publishers.  They too are a rich source of information, providing news about upcoming titles, letting you know what is selling well, and often having fun contests to share with your teens.  Seeing what titles the authors are really pushing also helps you get an idea of what is likely to be popular.  As with authors, I have had some great conversations with people from Egmont USA, Harper Teen, Sourcebooks Fire, Harlequin Teen and more.  Random House has a fun feed called Random Buzzers for its website which is a fun place for teens.  There is a different feel to the publishers on Twitter then just visiting their web pages and browsing through their catalogs.  Of course their goal is still to market their product, but you can build relationships with them and, again, you get inside news at a quick pace so that you can predict trends, build collections, and better meet your library teens needs.

4. Book Bloggers

I did not know what a deep and rich culture of book bloggers there were online until I joined Twitter.  I follow a ton of amazing book bloggers and it is great to read reviews, talk about books and get a wide variety of opinions about what is hot and what is not.  Many of the bloggers will also do contests which can help you get some free ARCs to give away as prizes to teens.  There are also a variety of teen book bloggers and it is always helpful to hear what teens are really thinking and what they really like.  Some of my favorite teen book bloggers include Julie (@JulieHeartBooks), Aneeqah (@AneeqahNSRL), and Marissa (@MissyRissy_rox).  If you already follow a blog they probably have an easy “Follow Me on Twitter” button that you can use to follow them.  For the record, you can follow TLT on Twitter @tlt16.

3.  Tweet Chats

Every Wednesday night there is a chat called #yalitchat where writers (and bloggers and librarians and fans) hang out and talk about books.  A lot of the times there are specific topics, other times it is a free for all.  On Thursdays Figment hosts a discussion called #figlitchat; again, it is usually guided by topic.  And there is a monthly chat about ya galleys hosted by Early Word.  This is a great opportunity to talk about upcoming titles, what people are reading and what they are saying.

Early Word YA Galley Chat: the third Tuesday of each month from 4 to 5 p.m., ET (also with a 3:30 pre-Chat session). The next one is April 17. Hash tag, #ewyagc

Figlitchat: Thursdays at 9:00 PM ET, they have recaps on the Figment webpage. Follow the hashtag #figlitchat

#yalitchat: Wednesdays at 9:00 pm ET

2.  Other Teen Librarians

Want to hear about the lives of other teen librarians?  Hop on Twitter.  Here librarians tweet about Ref questions they get at the desk, interactions with teens, that awesome program they just had and more.  You may find your next great program idea to steal – erm, I mean, borrow. Struggling to get good attendance at your book club, it’s nice to know that you aren’t alone.

1.  The 2012 Project, of course!

If you are new here (by the way, welcome) you should know that some time last year I got a whim and decided I would do a monumental teen library advocacy project which is The 2012 Project (#the2012project on Twitter).  My goal: to collect 2,012 pictures of teens reading and using their library (attending programs, hanging out, reading, browsing collections, using computers, etc.) to SHOW the world (and our administrators and communities) that libraries are still relevant, that teens do read, and that we need good staffing and funding to meet their needs.  Not only are we trying to meet their needs, but we are trying to cultivate life long learners and library supporters.  Libraries change lives, they help give books their voices by matching them with readers, and they are cornerstones of communities.  So if you want to be a teen library advocate, you can tweet your program and random libraries pics with the hashtag #the2012project to @tlt16.

And a Bonus Reason to Use Twitter: the Library as Incubator Project (@IArtLibraries)

The Library as Incubator Project is focused on highlighting the connection between art and libraries.  By following their Twitter feed you can see what types of programming, art projects and art exhibits other libraries are doing.  You’ll definitely want to check them out.

Speaking of art and libraries, if you haven’t yet you definitely need to check out The Real Fauxtographer.  Here, Margot Wood, a YA reader and photographer, joins her two interests by creating photographs based on the YA books that she reads.  So far she has covered titles such as The Giver and The Forest of Hands and Teeth.  This is a fun project to follow and a great idea to share with your teens.  And I found out about it on Twitter.  Behold the power of Twitter!

So tell me people, how do you use Twitter?  Who do you follow, and why?

Some popular @tlt16 Tweets:

“A book can change a life, but not until someone opens it.  Librarians put those books into the hands that may one day change the world.”

“It takes a while for a person to find the book that moves them, & money will often stop most people from finding it.  So visit your library.”

“A book is still silent if it doesn’t have a reader. Libraries give books their voices by connecting them to readers.”