Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

On the Fourth Day of Blogmas, my TLT gave to me . . .

On the Fourth Day of Blogmas, my TLT gave to me, a teen boy (and his friend Jami) blogging . . .

I first met Bryson McCrone because he was the winner of our Google Hangout with A. S. King.  So Bryson and I got to hang out with A. S. King, by video chat but it was still incredibly awesome.  Bryson is an inspiring writer, a reader, and a teen boy.  I am a huge believer that in order to serve teens we need to spend time talking to them, and reading teen blogs is a definite no brainer.  Today to tell you more about their blog, here is Bryson and his blogging partner, Jami.

Why did you decide to start a blog?

Bryson: I brought the idea up to Jami a few weeks ago because we both are reading ALL THE TIME! And half the time, we’re reading the same things. So I figured I’d ask her if she wanted to start a blog because it seemed fun, plus, it gave me a chance to promote reading and my favorite books.

Jami: Bryson and I have been trying to find projects to collaborate on for about a year now. We’ve tried writing a couple of different books together and we wrote a song together. I guess starting a review blog was just the next thing we had to try, and so far it’s gone great. We both love to read and I think we have a really unique idea of what we’re trying to accomplish.

What are your blog goals?

Bryson: To get people excited about reading. Even boys. No matter what book it is.

Jami: So many people are turning to movies and music for entertainment instead of books. Especially young people in my and Bryson’s age groups. But books will always hold a special place in our hearts, and we really just want to share that love and that experience.

What should readers expect from your blog and why should they read it?

Bryson: Jami made up our selling point of having the blog appeal to both genders because the reviews gave my thoughts, and hers. So we could get girls and boy excited about reading, no matter what the book.

We also have giveaways, our most recent and still running is a signed personalized copy of Caitlin Elyse’s Heaven Bound, Hell Hunted.

There are author interviews too. We just posted our first one, which was with Caitlin Elyse, and we have a few others going up within the next few weeks.

Jami: Readers should expect funny reviews from us. There will be books that Bryson loves that I can’t finish and vice versa. I will fall hopelessly in love with characters that Bryson can’t stand, and Bryson will think some girl that I hate is cool. I think we offer a unique perspective because you are getting the thoughts a girl has on a certain book and then turn around and get a boy’s opinion on the same book.

Tell us 5 of your favorite recent reads and what you loved about them.

Bryson: At the moment, only three really stick out to me.

Recently, I read The Evolution of Mara Dyer, which is the sequel to The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, by Michelle Hodkin. Both of these books were amazing and their plots are soooo thick. I met Michelle a few weeks ago, and the way that she would talk about the book gave me so much more appreciation for it.

A.S. King’s Ask the Passengers was fantastic. I love Amy’s writing so much, every time I crack open on of her books I feel like I’m learning how to make my writing better in some way. The other thing that I loved about Ask the Passengers, and all of Amy’s writing is the connection with the characters. She has a character that everyone can relate to. Somehow, she knows people. I think she’s a spy, quite honestly because she knows people so well. It’s scary.

Identicalby Ellen Hopkins was another book I really enjoyed. I’ve never read anything by her before, but man is her writing hardcore. I think her books are great, they help people deal with addiction, sexual and physical abuse, and self-harm and that is amazing.

Jami: First up would probably be The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin. I bought The Unbecoming at the beginning of the year, finished it in two days, and then waited an eternity for the second. It’s a really great storyline with intriguing characters, mystery, hysteria.. basically it’s just an amazing read.

Next would have to be Incarnate by Jodi Meadows. It’s a little slow starting out, but I love that it’s a book dominated by real emotions instead of being driven by action. The characters were refreshing and the idea was beyond intriguing. I’m waiting rather impatiently for the sequel.

Third is Across the Universe by Beth Revis. I have a grand total of six sci-fi books that I’ve actually enjoyed, and two of them were by Ms. Revis. It’s another book that is just slow, lots of talk with little action. But it was so political and the world she created was marvelous. I can’t wait for the third.

Fourth will be Dark Inside by Jeyn Roberts. It has all the action an apocalyptic novel needs with just the right amount of “down time” for those of us who are susceptible to heart attacks when our favorite characters get in a bind. I’m waiting to get my hands on Rage Within.

Lastly, Paper Towns by John Green. Mr. Green is a master storyteller. His characters are witty in a subtle way and he shows reader the world through fresh eyes. His writing really just makes you realize all that you have and all that you are missing out on. Definitely one of my favorite authors.

How do you feel the YA market meets the needs of teen guy readers, and how are they failing?

Bryson: I feel like, for guy readers, there should be a list of what we want. But there isn’t. For me, I don’t have any sort of requirements. The books just have to be appealing, and I’m pretty much open to everything. I’ve seen romance in practically everything. And I feel like people get bored with the same romantic cliches. I know I do. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer and its sequel was one of the books with romance that I didn’t mind. At first, I was like ‘NO! This book is too good to have romance,” but in the end, it all plays out. The boyfriend doesn’t annoy me, and I think that that is one way to not fail at appealing to male readers.

There are also a lot of girl-power books out there, which is great. But I think that to some guys, that’s sort of a letdown because so many books feature strong female characters. But, fellow boys, don’t let this discourage you, many of these books are amazing. Give them a try.

I don’t think I could say how the YA market succeeds at meeting teen guy’s needs. I know male readers who love sappy stuff, and male readers that can’t get enough blood and gore and violence. For YA, they have such a wide variety of books that there’s something for everyone.

Jami: I think teen boys just need to be open to the fact that life isn’t always a battlefield. There are quiet, sweet moments everywhere. I think there could be more mystery YA out there, and maybe a bit less romance in some of the thicker plot lines. But there are plenty of dystopian and zombie novels out there to give the guys a bit of gore. Dark Inside is great for guys or girls. The romance is minimal, the action is heavy, and the perspectives are just fantastic.


What would you like to see more of in YA lit? And less of?

Bryson: I would loveto see some more mystery! When I say mystery, I mean the mystery is the main plot. We keep reading to find out who-done-it. Obviously, there is a lot of mystery subgenre, but I’d like to see it come back as the genre.

Less of? I’d like to see less ‘hype’ in vampires, werewolves, and zombies. Their time will come once again, but I think it’s over for now.

Jami: I’d love to see some more really elaborate plot lines that are fresh, like Incarnate and the Hush, Hush saga. I’d love to see more historical fantasy that plays on a very real feeling fantasy world. Less? Vampires and werewolves. I think their time has come and gone. It’s a new age of steampunk, post-apocalyptic stories, and zombies.

I recently had the pleasure of meeting you via an online chat as you were the winner of our Google Hangout with A.S. King. What were some of your favorite moments of that chat?

Bryson: Can I say every moment? Haha. You have no idea how excited I was for that chat, no idea. I think that my favorite moment was when that little girl came on singing California Girls, and then just randomly disappeared. That was hilarious!   (Karen’s note: That was HILARIOUS!!)

I also absolutely loved getting to talk with Amy about my work. She was helpful beyond belief.

You talked a lot to A.S. King about being a writer and shared your writing aspirations, what were some of the best tips A.S. King shared with you?

Bryson: I actually have these two tips hanging on my desk above my computer so I don’t forget them. Amy said “Never publish in a hurry, and always be writing the next book.”

Both of these are extremely important the more I think about them. I’ve always sort of thought that I need to publish something while I’m young, but I don’t. It’s okay to try your hardest and not meet goals, especially if those goals are something like getting published before you’re 17.

I never am just working on one sole project. I have about six others I’m working on at any given time. But Amy made a good point. You’ve spent the past two years on the same project, and that project alone. What are you going to do once you sell that first book? Assuming your publisher and readers are going to want more, you’d better have something in progress.

Where would you like to see yourself one year from now?

Bryson: With an agent. I know that is probably unlikely, but I’m hopeful. I’d like to have some short stories published, finish up edits and rewrites on my second book, and hopefully rewrite my first novel. I’d also love to see Dual Perspectives become successful, that would be amazing.

Jami: A year from now I would love to have our blog known, our giveaways international and our friendship strengthened. For myself, I really want to have the second novel in my Knight Trilogy out there in the world, and possibly have another book far into the stages of publication. Of course I’d love to have an agent working with me toward actually publishing the traditional way, but I really enjoy doing everything on my own, too. Mainly I’d like to see myself with a real marketing team and just getting my name out there.

Share one book that forever changed your life and why.

Bryson: This is easy. Harry Potter. I love those books so much, and I think that they are a great example of a writer’s power with words. J.K. Rowling was in such a hard place when she wrote the first book; she was a single mother, practically homeless, dealing with depression. Her story is a great example of how writing helps people, how writing stays with people. Harry Potter helped her in so many ways, and in ways it’s helped those who’ve read it too.

Harry Potter will always be one of my most cherished childhood memories, from reading the books, to buying the Halloween costumes, and going to see the movies. They will always hold a special place in my heart. And none of that would have been without those wonderful books.

Jami: I read Tamara Pierce’s Alanna: The First Adventure every year. It was the first book I ever read about female empowerment and young girls going after their dreams, and it has really just stuck with me. The writing was fresh, and it was in my all-time favorite genre of historical fantasy. I wish there were more books like it out there. But Alanna taught me that I could do whatever I wanted, no matter what the rules or limitations were. She wanted to be a knight, so she cut off her hair, switched places with her twin, and she did it. She worked hard and she achieved her dreams. I think it’s a story that would resonate through any young girls.
Karen’s Note: Dual Perspectives is such a great concept and tool.  Here you have two teens giving you their male and female perspectives on ya lit. Please be sure to check them out.

Friday Reflections: Hispanic/Latino YA and A Discussion with My Teens by Christie G

Christie G and I work at two separate branches for the same library system.  Like most library branches, they each have their own unique clientele.  Christie’s branch, she calls it a “twig”, is a smaller branch that is also part of a recreation center.  It’s a pretty cool set up.  And she has a lot of regulars every day after school.  Christie also has a high Latino population that she serves.  So today she is going to share some of her unique reflections as part of our series on Diversity.
Karen J asked me to write a post on my teens and how they like Hispanic /Latino characters in YA fiction.  And I realized that I couldn’t do, although not for lack of trying.
I live in a RED state.  I work in a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood.   I talk a LOT with my teens.  When we’re slow, I sit down with them in the back and we talk.  They come into my office and talk.  We are definitely talkers.
We embrace our cultures.  We cheer on the Mexican soccer teams with the same ferocity we cheer (or more often curse) the Dallas Cowboys.   It’s not uncommon to have mariachi music and dancers practicing in the community rooms across the hall, or quinceneras renting out the gym for the night.   
Yet my teens laugh when I try to talk to them about books featuring Latino/Hispanic teens. 
“It doesn’t fit us, Miss.”
We have Alex Sanchez in my collection, when I can keep him on the shelves.  He is VERY popular for the GLBT content, and either I will find his books hidden behind a plant, or they will go on walk-about (my personal term for missing) for a while, then miraculously appear again, very nicely shelved in their proper place, along with other GLBT YA fiction books.  So it’s not the HISPANIC characters that are keeping the interest up.
I can rattle off authors with the best librarian, and we have some of the books off of YALSA’s Lee por el gusto de leer .  They’ve tried them, laughed, and given them back to me.
“Don’t bother, Miss.  When does the next Rosario + Vampire book come in?  Or do you have that one you were talking about yesterday?  Anna Dressed in Blood?  That sounded cool.  And when is the next lock-in?”
So I asked them what they would like to tell other librarians about those books, and how they would like to be seen.  Most of it was that they’re sick of being seen as a group, being painted with a brush so wide that it encompasses everything and everyone, without looking at the whole.
We’re not all Catholic
We’re not all from Mexico
We don’t all live in violent households
We don’t all have sex
We’re not all in gangs
We play Yu-Gi-Oh
We read
We like THIS library
Then we started talking about what they’d like people to know in general.  My teens are that limbo generation that is getting a lot of attention.  A lot were brought over to the US by their parents when they were small, and so they may or may not be legal.  I don’t ask- I don’t care who you are or where you’re from, if you come in my door and want to use the library, please.  They have little in common with the characters in a lot of the YA books that get published- either the historical fiction doesn’t ring with them (it does with their parents), or they won’t connect with the specific culture, or the settings aren’t right ( really, Miss, they all have cars?!??!).
So we got to talking about what they wanted people to know in general about them.  It got evident really fast that while people can think teens are clueless, they are not.  They have real fears, and real dreams, and don’t know how to achieve them.  And they are really tired of assumptions that others place on them.
·         Just because we’re not from here, doesn’t mean you should treat us like dirt
·         Just because we’re Hispanic doesn’t mean we’re illegal
·         Just because we’re proud of our heritage doesn’t mean we’re not proud of        America; we’re just not proud of what’s going on right now
·         Just because we can speak Spanish doesn’t mean that we can’t speak English
·         Just because look like we should speak Spanish doesn’t mean we do
·         I’m scared to register for the Dream Visa because what will happen when it’s over
·         I’m scared what would happen if I registered for it (the Dream Visa) and then it got revoked
·         I don’t know how I’m going to get to college
So why do my teens read?  They read to get away from things.  They can’t do anything about their situation right now because they are in limbo.  They’re waiting for outcomes that they have no say in, but have everything to do with their future.  So they read to escape, and in order to escape, they need to connect.  And my teens, unfortunately, haven’t connected with the books that I have for them.  Maybe I just haven’t found the right ones yet.
Karen J asked me to write a post on my teens and how they like Hispanic /Latino characters in YA fiction.  Maybe I should just get my teens to start writing their own books instead.

More on Diversity:
Racial Stereotyping in YA Lit: a reflection by Stephanie W
Race Reflections, Take II

Draw It: Teen Summer Reading Challenge art contest

Teen librarians are always trying to find a way to get teen involvement.  The 40 developmental assets tell us that having teens involved in the planning and creation of activities geared towards them helps self-esteem and decreases their participation in risk taking activities.  We also know that since teens are so peer oriented, having teens involved increases teen buy-in and participation.  That is why I decided to hold an annual conference to let teens produce the artwork for my teen summer reading challenge.

The way the contest works is this:

In February I put together my promotional materials.  This includes a contest entry sheet with very specific guidelines and a letter to all my area art teachers asking them to help promote the contest.  I also secure a good prize; typically a $50.00 prepaid gift card.

In March I distribute all my entry forms in the schools, in-house and online.  This give teens the entire month of March to come up with their artwork.  In order to get the best artwork possible, I do not limit the number of times a teen can enter.

In April we pick a winner.  You can do with with a teen advisory board or upload your top 5 choices and have teens vote online.  I always make sure and pick my winner by middle April so that I have plenty of time to create my posters, flyers, and entry forms.  The artwork is depicted on every piece of promotion materials that we put out with the winners name, grade and school.

In May I launch full blown publicity for my TSRC.  Teens are always excited to see that the artwork for the program was done by one of their own.

Entry Guidelines:
All artwork must be original (and I have teens sign certifying that this is the case).
No copyrighted images can be included without proper authorization.
Digital or hand drawn artwork is accepted.
You must use 4 colors, one of which should be black.
The artwork must include whatever that year’s slogan is: Get a Clue @ Your Library, for example.
The artwork must somehow clearly represent the year’s slogan.

The benefits to doing this type of a contest are many:
By promoting the TSRC in the art contest, you are generating some good pre-publicity.  It’s like a presale.
By allowing teens to generate the artwork, you are generating teen buy-in into your programming and giving teens an opportunity to express themselves creatively.
By involving the school art programs, you are building networking and community partnership opportunities.
By getting the contest into the press, you are generating good publicity for the library and demonstrating that the library is a positive force in the community and in the lives of teens.

You will need access to a scanner to scan your winning image into your computer system to use in your publicity materials.  After the first time you will have all your information formatted so all you will have to do each year is upload and change the image and the dates on all your materials.

Things I Never Learned in Library School: Self Directed Porgramming (formerly Contests! Everyone is winning)

Although I now live in Texas, I spent the first 18 years of my teen librarian career in a cold state where everyone hibernates during the months of January and February.  Programming is hard as it is – but add in winter storms and it becomes downright unpredictable. Doing a variety of contests can be a fun way to keep teens involved while catering to the elements, and to the busy schedules of teens.

In the past, I always referred to contests as “passive programming”, which gave it a negative connotation that I despised.  But at a webinar last year (and I’m sorry, I can’t remember what it was), one of the speakers referred to contests as “self-directed programming“.  Genius!  This title, I think, captures the true spirit of why contests work and are valued by teens.  And if you read my previous post about the value of hanging out, you know that teens need and thrive with self-directed opportunities.

When doing a traditional library program, teens have to commit to a certain time and place.  So you have the best Hunger Games program (ever!) planned for Monday night at 7 pm.  But that day the history teacher assigns an entire chapter to read with the promise of a quiz, teens have to do 5 pages of calculus homework and then, to top it all off, 300 inches of snow is predicted.  Suddenly, the 40 teens that signed up to come has translated into 5 teens at your door that evening.  Life happens and there is a lot of competition for teens time and attention.  Contests, however, allow teens the opportunity to participate in the library on a broader timetable.  They also help keep the library out there, actively in the forefront of the teen brain, by having a more continual presence.  And, if done correctly, they allow you to be a strong Web presence, which is so important to the teen audience.

And it shouldn’t be overlooked: Contests have value because they help promote the library and they demonstrate the wide variety of ways that the library can be involved in the lives of teens.  Contests don’t have to be limited to books, they can tap into any part of teen culture and demonstrate what a well rounded information resource the library is.  If you plan them correctly, they also help teens learn how to use the library catalog and various library resources within the library.

Contests are a good supplement to traditional library programming: they keep the library presence out there, they meet the needs of a wider variety of your audience, and they allow teens to explore the library and its resources or express themselves creatively – but on a broader timetable.

In the past, I have done variations of 1 or 2 contests a month.  Like display windows, it is good to have turnover.  By creating a regular, predictable pattern teens know to keep coming and you build a steady audience.  You can do a static contest where teens pick up or print of a contest sheet and fill it out to enter or you can do an ongoing contest where you reveal one part of the contest per day via your library web or social media page. (Check out the previous post Making the Most of Your Teen Services FB Page for more.)  If you follow the TLT on Facebook you know that this week we are doing this type of contest using pictographs of popular classic children’s stories.  This type of contest ensures that you have steady content to share with your teens via their social media page and you meet them where they are most often.

Make a pictogram a day and ask teens to decipher your message via Twitter or FB


Can you name these classic children’s stories?

If you are having a contest, it is good to have prizes (although sometimes the fun can be a prize in and of itself – especially online).  Prizes don’t have to be extravagant: you can put together a movie themed contest and your prize can be a popular dvd, box of popcorn and a 2 liter of soda, for example.  Or you could see if you could get a local business to sponsor you monthly contest (community partnership for the win!) and it could be the Monthly Fluffy Bunny Pizza Contest at Fluffy Bunny Community Library.  (As far as I know I totally just made that up).  Good ole gift certificates and gas cards also work, teens love $5.00 to the Taco Factory and gas is not cheap these days so every little bit helps.  You can also use this as an opportunity to hand out the arcs you receive.

Contests allow you, as a programmer, to be creative.  Think outside the box.  You can create a wide variety of contests including word scrambles, book title scrambles, quotes, and more.  They can be word puzzles or visual puzzles.

Some of my past contests have included:

Visual is good.  And this taps into popular culture and promotes your library magazine collection.

This month long contest promoted a wide variety of library assets.






Using popular games as a model is a good way to generate contest ideas.


You can use Discovery Puzzlemaker to make quick and easy contests.








You can get contest ideas by looking around online.  Also, the American Girl publishers have a variety of puzzle books that provide good inspiration for contest ideas.


Next blog post: A teen drawing contest that allows teens to be creative and provides an opportunity for teen input in your Summer Reading Challenge.

Guest Blogger of the Day: Val, a slowly developing heart for reading

Val came into my life 6 years ago.  She was a teen member of my church, and an excellent baby sitter.  Val graduated high school in May, and I couldn’t have been prouder.  She was active in 4-H member and at one time marching band.  She has worked for the Boys and Girls Club as a mentor to younger children.  Despite how amazing she is, she has not always been an avid reader.  One time I finally convinced her to read If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodson.  I think this is one of the most beautifully written books that captures the heart of a tragic love store while interweaving some beautiful poetry into the tale.  Val was shocked at home much she loved this book.  Sometimes you match the right book with the right reader and magic happens.  This is Val’s tale in her own words . . .

Val has even starred in one of my RA posters
Going through high school there was always that book assignment to read or that paper to write that no one really wanted to have anything to do with. Being a typical teen I struggled; Do I actually read or do I simply Sparknote the material? As good as a reference as Sparknote’s can truly be, I’ve learned reading the material is truly better.
Learning this lesson has came from knowing not only a good friend of mine but a local librarian. From the very beginning of high school the phrase “why don’t you just read?” came across in multiple conversations. It wasn’t until my junior and senior year in high school I finally started to listen to her. From when I first went to her  and said “find me a book for this project,” her help was key to finding my love for reading.
Once, I realized that reading wasn’t that bad and that all I just needed was the right book my English classes were no longer a problem anymore. Just simply reading one chapter during spare time made it so I soon stopped failing quizzes, made writing papers much easier and less time consuming, and the struggle to answer a simple question about the material much more easy. Not only did the work acquainted with my material become more simple but my grammar and writing skills increased tremendously. Suddenly my “C” in English became an “A” all because I listened to my librarian, decided to actually read and use the services my local library offers.

If you come softly
as the wind within the trees.
You may hear what I hear.
See what sorrow sees.
If you come slightly
as threading dew,
I will take you gladly,
nor ask more of you.
      Audre Lorde (1934-1992)

Val sent me this text right after she finished reading If You Come Softly:  “Kar thank you for making me read the book if you come softly it was a great book and made me cry.”  The right book made all the difference.

Please note: this is a new feature and if you or one of your teens would like to make a guest blog post, please e-mail me at kjensenmls@yahoo.com.  Just e-mail me a copy of your story, some basic bio information, a head shot and any artwork if you so desire.

Share it: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Every once in a while, an amazing new book comes along that moves you.  Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs is that book for me, right now.  This is an amazing story: creative, moving and just inspiring.  There are also a lot of great programming opportunities that tie in to it.

As a child, Jacob was inspired by his grandfather’s stories about a home where a variety of peculiar children lived.  His grandfather shared haunting photos of these children: a girl who seemed to float on air, a girl with a mouth on the back of her head . . .  As Jacob grows, he begins to doubt the wondrous stories his grandfather has always shared.  He is working at his uncles drug store empire, trying every day to get fired and wondering what his future holds when his grandfather dies.  Jacob has seen a strange creature which everyone thinks is part of his coping mechanism.  Soon Jacob is sent on a journey where he tries to find this home, to learn the truth about his grandfather.

Miss Peregrine’s home is a rich fantasy full of adventure and discovery.  It is also a story that celebrates how truly different and unique each person is.

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

Throughout the story Riggs shows a variety of beautiful, haunting pictures that really enhance the reading experience.  Riggs found the photos at garage sales and in attics, and they really help bring the journey together.  Riggs has a blog that I recommend you check out.  This is his first book, and it will definitely not be his last.  I sincerely hope that he continues to explore the world that is mapped out in Miss Peregrine.

If you have not read it stop reading this blog post now, go read and then come back.  It is that good.

Are you back?  Okay, now I want to share with you some ideas I have for programming that tie-in to Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.  Have a “Peculiar Party” where you show the book trailer, discuss the book, and engage in some creative activities inspired by the book.

Make a Picture, It’ll Last Longer
One of the truly amazing parts of Miss Peregrine are the photos throughout the book, and we definitely have a wide variety of tools at our disposal to help create our own images.  As you know, TLT believes in providing opportunities for teens to express themselves creatively and learn technology skills that will help them succeed in life.  So get out your digital camera (or iPhone, there are a lot of apps that would be great for this) and get teens shooting.  Then, upload the images and use photo editing software (you can do some in things like PowerPoint and Publisher, which a lot of libraries use, but GIMP and a couple other programs are available for free download if your library hasn’t purchased any photo editing software).  Let the teens explore ways they can manipulate the images and make themselves, or their friends, into “Peculiar” children.

Of course, it doesn’t have to be done digitally – some teens may want to draw or make collages.  You can also do thinks like a scrapbooking project or make picture frames to work with the creative aspect of Riggs book.

You can also have teens put together a photo essay.  A photo essay tells a story using a series of pictures.  Teens can create the photos themselves, or collect photos similar to making a collage.  Here is a list of sites that talk about good photo essay activities.

You may also have a local photographer who would be willing to come in and do a workshop or a series of workshops to talk about basic photography and layout and design, etc.  The photographer for your local paper, a college instructor or the teacher that does your local high school’s newspaper may be willing to give some basic instruction.

Have teens think about what type of peculiar child they would like to be:
What type of talent would they like to have?
What would it look like in an old fashioned photograph?

Make sure you get copies of each created piece so you can decorate your teen area and share them online.

An example flier
This picture was taking using Hipstagram on iPhone

Monster Mash
There are dark monsters that inhabit the peculiar world that Riggs has created.  These creatures, want to use the talents of the peculiar children for their own selfish purposes.  Have the teens discuss this aspect of the book.  Then, they can create their own monsters.  I am a big fan of the Gocks, so that is certainly one thing you can bring into your program.  Of course you can just make your monsters out of any type of found materials.

In fact, this would be a great time to employ the old practice of exquisite corpse: get teens a long sheet of paper (like table covering paper) and fold it into 3 sections.  The first teen will draw the head and then fold it over.  The second teen, without seeing the head, draws the body and folds it over.  And the final teen draws the leg portion without having seen the body or the torso.  When you unfold the entire art piece you get one cohesive monster that features the imagination of 3 teens put together in a Frankenstein mish mash.  You can also do this as a writing exercise, have 1 teen write a sentence then they pass it on.  This is a creative way to get interesting poems or short stories together with a wide variety of input.

The Wonder of Found Art
Remember part of the inspiration of Riggs work was a collection of found art.  So any activity that allows for creativity is a great tie-in.  And as you talk about how the story came to be, it is great to incorporate the idea of found art into your programming.  It is amazing what teens can come up with if you give them a mish mash of items to work with.  Collect clean trash from staff and then give each teen a container with say 10 items, see what they can make out of it.  You could also just get a bunch of your leftover craft supplies together and do the same.  They can make 3-d art or paper art, either would work.  Here is an example of some amazing found art.

You could also have the teens bring in their favorite stuff to share.  Or have a swap meet and let them trade.  It is always amazing to see what teens have that mean something to them, and it is equally fun to see what they have that they want to get rid of.  One person’s trash truly is another person’s treasure.

The Collector’s Peculiar Museum
On his blog, Ransom Riggs shares about his peculiar hobby of collecting pictures of people he doesn’t know.  Give your teens an opportunity to share what they collect:  You can have them take photos and create a digital museum or have them bring in examples as part of a kind of swap meet/show and tell.  Maybe you have a display case and you can let teens set up displays.

The Collector’s Museum – Have teens take a picture of themselves with their collection.  Then print off the pictures and hang them in your teen area.  Maybe put a call number reference on the poster and use it as a means of teaching teens to navigate the stacks. 

Have a teen of the week feature on your FB page and share the picture with a brief bio of the teen (first name only).  Share any books your library may have on the topic.

What a Peculiar Short Story
Get a bunch of old photographs together.  When teens come into your program have them randomly choose one out of a bag.  Then, ask them to write a brief short story about the picture.  What is happening?  How does the character feel?  What journey are they on?

Or daily post a random pic on your FB page and asks teens to write a caption for it.

My Peculiar Life
I’ve mentioned it before, but I am a huge fan of data visualization and of Nicholas Felton’s yearly annual reports, basically a data visualization account of his year – a type of “biography“.  I think teens would enjoy creating a visual biography like this.  It can be their biography, or the summary of a year, or a way to tell their family story.  I think this would also be a great activity for seniors getting ready to graduate.

Coming Soon to a Theater Near You
Riggs fabulous book will soon be made into a movie.  Have your teens create movie posters.  Have them create their dream cast: who would they want to play each character.  The great thing is you can send out a poll and have these types of discussions online to help generate traffic to your webpage.

Sharing Family Stories
At the heart of the story is the relationship between Jacob and his grandfather and the stories that his grandfather shared.  You can give teens opportunities to share their family stories.  They can write them, story board them, make a pictorial version.  Any of the creative ideas that have been shared on this blog can be used:  make posters, pictures, quotes.  Just give your teens an opportunity to create and share.

And the Winner Is . . .
Not everything has to be a contest, but any of the above activities can certainly be turned into a contest.  Your prize can be a Peculiar Gift Basket: a copy of the book, a digital camera, some snacks to enjoy while reading it.

What a Peculiar Read, Let’s Discuss It?
Basic discussion questions:
Why did Jacob start to doubt his grandfather’s stories?  Do you think you would have?
When Jacob runs out after the creature in his grandfather’s house, what did you think was happening?  How do you think you would have felt in that situation?
Would you have wanted to take the journey that Jacob wanted to take to learn about his grandfather?  What do you think this says about Jacob?
What was your reaction when Jacob first found Miss Peregrine’s home?
If you were a peculiar child, what type of peculiar talent would you want to have?
Who was your favorite peculiar child in the book and why?
What did you think about Jacob’s developing relationship with the various peculiar children?
What did you think of Miss Peregrine herself?
Would you have made the decision to stay in the time loop?
What was your reaction to finding out about Jacob’s counselor’s role in it all?
What did you think of Jacob at the end of the book?  What choices that he made would you have maybe have done differently?
Overall, what did you think of the book?
If you could travel back in time, where would you travel to and why?

If You Like Miss Perergrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, You May Also Like
Books about being different, time travel and journeys, and missing someone close to you
Freaks, Alive on the Inside by Annette Curtis Klaus
Mr. Was by Pete Hautman
Looking for Alaska by John Green
A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb
The Body of Christopher Creed by Carol Plum Ucci
The Night My Sister Went Missing by Carol Plum Ucci

And an odd true story to share: 
Phineas Gage: A Gruesome but True Story about Brain Science by John Fleischman

Other photo related activities to keep in mind: scrapbooking, making a wide variety of picture frames, and treasure searches (maps) such as the map of time loops.  There are a lot of possibilities, so be bold like Jacob and creative like Riggs . . .