Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Cindy Crushes Programming: Floral Fairy Crowns

In today’s installment of Cindy Crushes Programming, teen librarian Cindy Shutts shows us how to DIY your own floral fairy crowns.

Supplies:

  • Floral Wires
  • Wire Cutters
  • Fake Flowers
  • Floral tape
  • Ribbon
  • Scissors (fabric scissors work better)

Step One: Measure your head going around twice with the floral wire. You want to make sure it will not come off your head and that it is not too tight. Use wire cutters to cut the floral wire. Twist the wire together to make it stronger.

Step Two: Cut your flowers off the stems by either pulling them off or using wire cutters. I used Dollar Store flowers. Keep a little bit of the stem on the flower because you need to attach it to the crown.  Work on making a pattern around your crown.

Step Three: Use floral tape to wrap the little bit of stem to the crown. Make sure you are wrapping tightly so the flowers will not come loose. You can wrap flowers the whole way around the crown or just do halfway to make a pattern. Honestly, it depends on how many flowers you have.

Step Four: Cut ribbon in long strips and tie it to the back of the crown. I used Dollar Store ribbon. Some of my patrons used the ribbon to wrap around the whole crown which looked lovely.

Step Five: Double check flowers and ribbons to make sure they are attached.

Final Thoughts:  This is a great craft, but proved more costly than I expected. I used coupons and Dollars Store craft supplies, but my ribbon supplies were very quickly depleted.  I plan to make floral mouse ears in the spring with the extra floral wire. I had to buy more floral wire to make sure everyone would be able to do this craft in a timely manner. I had 22 patrons at my program.  They loved the craft and I would love to do it again, but I might go look for ribbons and flowers at a thrift store if possible or ask for donations. 

Crafting Community: Instax Locker Decorating

Welcome to a new guest post series called Crafting Community, with me, Stacey Shapiro. I work in a standalone library in central Jersey, but we are fortunate in that every year we can apply for a grant from Union County, the county we reside in. This year, we’re planning to use that money to create a Crafting Community. Cranford is a town with a strong downtown shopping area and lots of local businesses to partner with, so the children’s librarian, Lauren Antolino, came up with the idea of Crafting Community to pay local businesses to host workshops for our patrons. Most of the money will go towards that, but the first big expenditure was Instax cameras.

I first learned about the possibilities of crafting with Instax photos from this blog, and I’ve wanted to do programs with them since then, but haven’t had the funds. The cameras themselves are $50, plus film which you will go through quickly. Luckily, our cameras arrived in plenty of time for the first Instax program.

Instax locker decorating

Supplies:

  • Instax cameras (I purchased 6)
  • Instax film
  • Sharpies
  • Pens
  • Washi tape
  • Roll of magnets to cut
  • Color lenses 

Stickers and other decorations would have been ideal, too.

Step One: Show the teens how the cameras work, turning them on and turning them off. Make sure to take out the film cover prior to any programming (the first photo is always the cover).  Then let them loose! I had a limited quantity of film so I tried to limit them to two apiece, but they were quickly overrunning me. I had enough film for them to all go home with several magnets.

Step Two: Let the film develop. Instax photos don’t need shaking like a Polaroid; it’s easiest to put them down on a table and leave them. Only start decorating once they’ve developed which should be fairly quickly, or else the inks might get squeezed out.

Step Three: Cut out squares of magnets for them to stick on the backs of the photos, and voila, they have magnets to decorate their locker!

I was cautious about how receptive the teens would be to the Instax format, but several teens had their own at home, and they had their friends there and took a bunch of pictures of each other and themselves. All of the teens had fun, and really enjoyed decorating the photos with washi tape. Several didn’t develop at all, and a teen drew on them with Sharpie and took those home as well, so they weren’t wasted. Towards the end of the program, we had one picture left and a kid’s finger slipped and took an accidental, artsy shot and then we were out. But the teens were definitely interested, and they want more crafty programs like this one.


Stacey Shapiro is a teen librarian in Cranford, New Jersey, a cat mom, and a BTS fan. She was a 2019 ALA Emerging Leader and is currently serving on the Printz 2020 committee. When she has any free time, she’s playing Breath of the Wild on the Switch.

More on the Instax Mini at TLT

MakerSpace: YouTube Channels to Help Get Your Creative Juices Flowing

Like most of our teens, I now have a go to repertoire of YouTube channels that help me get creative ideas for teen programming or makespace ideas. Today, I’m sharing with you some of my favorites. If you have some additional favorites, please share them with me in the comments.

Five Minute Crafts

I actually know about this channel because The Tween is obsessed with it. It has a lot of great craft ideas and hacks. The hot glue gun video you see below has inspired many craft ideas for us both. Of all the channels I have seen, this has the most accessible crafts for those of us looking for projects, tips, tricks and hacks that can be used in library programming. I highly recommend it.

Blossom

Not at the same level as 5 Minute Crafts, but it does have a few gems.

Household Hacker

A lot of these hacks are more elevated and require more sophisticated and dangerous tools. But you can never go wrong with a make the perfect slime video.

Make Workshop

I love basically everything produced by Make. Their books are staples when you consider makerspaces. They are, however, more complex in the tools that they use and the amount of time projects take.

DIY Creative Channel

The title is pretty self explanatory. DIY is a great search term when looking for YouTube channels to follow regarding crafting and making.

DIY Crafts TV

Here’s another channel that offers some fun, simple DIY tutorials for tweens and teens.

There are some other individual crafters to know about as well. Moriah Elizabeth leads you through squishee makeovers (this is another Thing 2 favorite). Karina Garcia is a slime expert that even has her own slime craft kits that you can buy in places like Target. Tasty is the go to place for food related program ideas. And there are several other channels listed here.

If you search things like DIY craft tutorials YouTube, you will find a lot of best of lists to explore. There are YouTube channels dedicated to paint pouring (a very popular activity right now), drawing, making vinyl t-shirts and more. The Teen watches a variety of cookie decorating and nail tutorial videos as well. All of these are great sources of inspiration for program ideas. I will also admit that I find a lot of tweens and teens watch various YouTube channels as stress relievers. The Acrylic Pouring channel can be mesmerizing and stress relieving. Happy watching!

Cindy Crushes Programming: Splatter Painting

It was profoundly interesting to me when I received Cindy’s newest craft/program outline in my inbox to see that it involved splatter painting. You see, splatter painting is something that Thing 2 has recently become obsessed with and I found myself doing a lot of it this weekend. We made t-shirts.

We splatter painted canvases.

And Thing 2’s Girl Scout troop is in the process of making and installing Little Free Libraries around town and they’ve been splatter painting those as well. Splatter painting is very popular right now. So today, Cindy is going to talk to us about splatter painting and she is so very on trend.

Background: This craft was a teen patron requested during my Teen Advisory Group. I then researched splatter art.  There are a few tips on splatter art that I learned while doing my research that I am going to include. I learned that splatter art was a favorite style of Jackson Pollack. I printed out a few different pictures for my teens to look at to get ideas.

Splatter Paint Tutorial

Supplies:

  • Tiles
  • Paint (Various types)
  • Brushes (Various types0
  • Tablecloths

Step One:  Make sure to use a tablecloth. This is a very messy style of art. I chose to do it on the floor of our children’s programming room because there is no carpet and I could cover the floor with the tablecloth. I also warned the teens to not wear their best clothes just in case. One item of clothing, which I did not think about was shoes and while my library does have a rule that you must wear shoes, I realized maybe we could take off our shoes for this craft just this one time. I realized how important shoes are to teens and with school starting, I wanted to protect their shoes.

Step Two: Grab a tile. I used tiles because they are very cheap. This is one of my go to craft supplies. (Editor’s Note: You can buy bulk tiles from places like Oriental Trading Company at a decent price.)

Step three: Paint and paintbrushes. This is the most important art tip I learned. You have to use a variety of paints and brush types and sizes. This helps make each splatter look different.

DIY Tutorial on Splatter Paint

Step Four: Let the splatter begin. Splatter art is very simple to do. Put paint on the brush and splatter it on the tile. I liked to use a flick motion. I also let it drip on the tile. Those splatters worked the best. I let the teen pick how they wanted to do this step after explaining the various ways they could splatter.  

Step Five: Let dry. It could take over 24 hours to dry. I let some teens borrow a few of my aluminum cooking trays to take it home to keep their cars safe from paint.

Final Thoughts: This was a super fun craft. I loved doing it. The only drawback is the mess it makes, but if you can control it I highly recommend it. (Editor’s Note: If you have a grassy, outdoors space available, I recommend doing it outside – weather permitting – and in the grass. The grass will get mowed, the paint gets cleaned up, and the mess is less of an issue. This isn’t feasible at all libraries, but if you can make it work it’s a good painting space.)

The following are tiles from the teens of the White Oak Library District and my foot.

MakerSpace: Making T-shirts with Infusible Ink

One of the most popular activities I have ever done with teens involves making t-shirts. In fact, I know over 22 different ways to make, manipulate, upcycles and recycle t-shirts and have done so in over 100 programs with 1,000s of teens over the years. My kids wear t-shirts made by me and sometimes made by themselves, sometimes in libraries. So I’m here today to share with you another new and exciting way to make t-shirts with the help of one of my best friends, Krista, and her blog FreakTraveler.com.

Krista and I do a lot of things together, like talk books (she leads the local adult book club I am a part of where I sometimes actually read the book) and we craft together. We both have Silhouette Cameo machines and we’ve made a lot of t-shirts together. This past week we tried the new Cricut Infusible Ink vinyl and pens using our Silhouette Cameo machines (they work!) and I’m going to walk you through it.

To begin with, you’re going to need either a Cricut or a Silhouette Cameo machine. I have a Silhouette Cameo, which is the same machine I have for the Teen MakerSpace and the teen maker activities I do.

The Silhouette Cameo at the Teen MakerSpace at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County, Ohio

You’ll also need the Infusible Ink materials, which are created by Cricut. You can use them with the Silhouette Cameo because it’s not the machine that matters, but the t-shirt. Cricut sells special Infusible Ink products that they recommend you use and these materials include various t-shirts, tote bags and coasters. They are more expensive than many of the blank t-shirts you can buy so we did some research and learned that you can use non Cricut t-shirts, they just need to be 95% cotton and 5% spandex, or as close to this ratio as possible. For the record, it is recommended by Cricut that you use their products to get the best transfer.

Cricut has both pre-printed infusible ink vinyl. Here you see a mermaid pallet in soft, pastel colors.

They also have infusible ink markers that you can make shirts with. There are maybe a dozen different colors and they have two different tip sizes.

The markers allow you to make your own designs and color them in. I’m going to walk you through this in just a moment. The difference between the infusible ink and traditional vinyl is the way that your final product feels. Whereas with traditional HTV (heat transfer vinyl) you can kind of feel the vinyl sitting on top of your shirt, the infusible ink vinyl makes it feel more like traditional screen printing. It creates a soft, smooth finished product. The Teen hates the way traditional HTV shirts feels and won’t wear t-shirts I make for her, but this she likes.

Insubile Ink Vinyl Transfer

To use the pre-printed infusible ink vinyl, you basically just make your design, cut it out and transfer it as you would an HTV shirt. You do have to mirror your image with infusible in vinyl so that the final product is facing the right direction. But it’s just 1) design, 2) cut and 3) transfer with heat. The process is the same, it’s just the feel of the final product that feels different.

Here we are about to transfer the letters that we have cut out using our Silhouette Cameo and the Infusible Ink Vinyl
And this is what the final product looks like. The colors were a little light for the shirt that we used, but the process worked perfectly and we were very happy with the finished product.

Using Invisible Ink Markers

The real change comes here when you are using the infusible ink markers.

First, you are going to make your design in the Silhouette Cameo but instead of cutting it, you have to send it to the printer and print it on regular printer paper. Krista designed this by herself entirely in the Silhouette Cameo studio and then sent it to her printer. Yes, it’s basically a coloring sheet printed on your printer.

You then color it in using the infusible ink markers.

When you are done, you will have something that looks like a coloring book page, but it’s done in infusible ink markers.

You then turn this over onto your shirt and press it the same as you would traditional heat press vinyl. The tutorials we watched said that you need to use a lint roller on your shirt before applying the markers, but we did not. You do want to make sure that you put a piece of cardboard between the two layers of your shirt before pressing because it can bleed through. Thankfully, we did listen to this part of the tutorial because the markers did bleed through onto the cardboard.

You’ll want to press your design at 385% for about 60 seconds. You need a heat press for this one as an iron doesn’t get hot enough. I’ve used a heat press with teens in a Teen MakerSpace and this is 100% the way to go. The instructions said to let your design cool completely before removing the paper. This is what Krista’s final shirt looked like after the transfer:

And here’s a comparison of the design next to the shirt.

This process worked really well and we were very happy with it. I highly recommend it.

For a teen program, I would probably put out a few design sheets printed out for teens to use as well as blank paper so they can make their own designs if desired. You’ll need several packs of markers and you’ll want to pay attention as they do have different tip sizes. They are not inexpensive as a pack of five markers cost about $14.99 at Michaels and the general 40% off coupons that Michael’s often advertises don’t apply to this new product.

Using a Silhouette Cameo to design and cut vinyl to make t-shirts works less well in a program setting unless you have more than one device. So for a teen makerspace where people can walk in and work on their own, vinyl works well. But for a program type of setting, the infusible ink markers would actually work better. There are a lot of ways that you can use this with teens. The end product is pretty cool.

Please go visit my friend Krista’s blog at FreakTraveler.com because she was so awesome to help me put this post together. I even make an appearance here and there.

More about the Silhouette Cameo and Teen MakerSpaces here at TLT:

And for the record, Silhouette Cameo doesn’t pay me for these posts. I just really like using one and have found it works well as a makerspace activity.

Cindy Crushes Programming: DIY Silhouette Framed Art

Today for Cindy Crushes Programming librarian Cindy Shutts walks us through a quick, easy craft that turns silhouettes into art.

DIY Silhouettes Frames

Supplies:

  • Photo Frames
  • Glitter Glue, light colors
  • Background Paper: I used Handmade Modern Luxe Paper Pad that I got at Target. You could use scrapbook paper.
  • Silhouettes: I use the Silhouette Cameo Machine, but you could make them yourselves. For more information on creating silhouettes, please see Step 1.

Step 1: Make Your Silhouette

Here’s a tutorial that walks you through turning your own photo into a silhouette using the open source (which means free!) online GIMP program. Using this method you would print your silhouette off on regular printer paper and then cut it out by hand.

These various items were made using the GIMP silhouette tutorial above

Here’s a tutorial that walks you through using the Silhouette App on a smart device to create your silhouette. There are several photo apps that you can use to create silhouettes. Once you have created your silhouette using this method, you will print it out using your printer and then cut it out by hand. With this method you will need a way to print from a smart device to a printer.

These silhouettes were made using the Silhouette app. The one on the right is then blended with a space background using the Fused app. Because this graphic is from a different post it was made blue, but black silhouettes often make the most striking contrast.

Here’s a tutorial that walks you through creating a silhouette using the Silhouette Cameo machine. This method provides for better cutting lines as you are having the machine do the cutting for you. You can also find for free or purchase a variety of SVG silhouette graphics online if you don’t want to make the silhouette yourself. This is the method that I used. If you have access to a Silhouette Cameo, this is the quickest and easiest way to make a silhouette. You can even pre-make some popular silhouettes and have them already cut out and ready to use.

Step 2: Frame Your Silhouette

  • Open the picture frame and remove the back.
  • Take your scrapbook paper and trace the back of the frame on it. Make sure to trace it on the back of the paper. I cut it a tiny bit over the line. This will be your background.
  • Cut out the paper in the shape of the back of the frame.
  • Glue the silhouette image on the paper toward the middle.
  • Cover the paper and image with light colored glitter glue.
  • Please let it dry before moving on to the next step.
  • Glue the paper to the back of the frame.
  • After everything is dry, place the back of the frame back into the frame.

Final Thoughts: This was a relatively easy craft. Everyone loved it and wanted to do a second frame. I highly recommend it because it is easy and really attractive.

Cindy Crushes Programming: Star Wars Escape Room

Today YA Librarian Cindy Shutts is walking us through her Star Wars themed Escape Room.

To learn more about the basics of hosting an Escape Room, please check out Breakout Edu as they have basic kits that you can use as a foundation. You can also read a couple of previous posts on Escape Rooms here at TLT:

TPiB: Build an Escape Room by Michelle Biwer – Teen Librarian Toolbox

TPiB: Locked in the Library! Hosting an Escape Room by Heather Booth

Cindy Crushes Programming: Hosting a Stranger Things Escape Room

Basic program premise . . .

Your teens will be “locked” in the library and in order to escape, they must unravel a mystery, find the secret codes, and “unlock” the boxes to survive or meet your end goal. Most escape rooms give participants an hour to escape.

Plot: Your planet is about to be exploded by the Death Star. You have 45 minutes to find the key to the escape pod. Use the Force to uncover the clues that will lead you to safety.

Supplies: 

  • You could use the Breakout Edu Kit
  • 4 digit lock
  • 3 digit lock
  • Word lock
  •  Key lock and key
  • Two lock boxes
  • Directional lock
  • Note  ”Rebels must surrender by 12:00 hour or the planet will be destroyed”
  • Note with Riddle
  • Porg
  • Four
  • 4 Wookies with numbers
  • Star Wars planet map printed out from internet
  • Various space and Star Wars props
  • Skelton key labeled escape pod

Room and lock set up

Word lock: Siren.

I will have a riddle “what warns of danger but also can lead to the death of sailors?” Lock on big box. See supplemental materials below.

4 Digit lock: I will hide four Wookies that all have different numbers on them in the room. The number will be 0132. Lock on big box.

3 Digit lock:  I will make a note that says “A space ship enters warp speed and is going 3 times the speed of light 299 792 458 meters per second 3(299792458). How many meters does it go in one second and what are the last three digits of the number”?  899,188,374 (374)

Key lock: Key will be placed place in the big box. Lock will be placed on the small lockbox.  Skelton key labeled escape pods will be placed in small lockbox.

Red Herring: Will be various props and the note that says, “Rebels must surrender by 12:00 hours or the planet will be destroyed”

Directional lock: “S.O. S. This is Rebel Leader Gyn. I am on planet Mooja. We received a message from Arbra that a message from Hok has been received that Javin is in danger from the Deathstar. Evacuation needs help! Anyone who hears this message needs to help the people of Javin!”  Note will correspond with map of Star Wars planets. The combination is Up Down Right Left. Lock on big box.

Final Thoughts: This was a fun adventure! The teens thought it was way harder than the last Escape Room and in fact only got the Escape Room done with less than 30 seconds to go.

Supplemental Notes and Materials

Cindy Crushes Programming: DIY Galaxy Geode Bath Bombs

I made galaxy geode bath bombs as one of the space themed programs for our Summer Reading Program. To make the bath bombs, I used this recipe but modified it for my group. Below is a step by step walk through of what we did and how it worked.

Supplies:

  • Food coloring (Blue, Brown, Purple, Pink or Green)
  • 1/4 cup of Citric acid
  • 1 or more tablespoons of rubbing alcohol
  • ½ cup baking soda
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon of coconut oil
  • Three sets measuring spoons
  • Disposable gloves, multiple pairs
  • Half a bath bomb mold (I used bath bomb containers from used bath bombs.)
  • Various mixing bowls/containers

To make the the outside edge of the geode

Working in groups of two people

Mix ¼ cup citric acid with ½ cup baking soda and ½ cup cornstarch.

Then add brown food coloring. I used brown food coloring gel. Use a couple of squeezes.

Then add 1 tablespoon of rubbing alcohol. You can add more as needed, but add slowly.

Mix the liquid and dry ingredients with your hands and be sure to wear gloves.

Press the mix on the edge of the bath bomb mold. Press hard to form a layer of one cm on the edge of the mold. Do this step while wearing the gloves.

To make the inside of the geode

Again, working in groups of two people

Put three tablespoons of Epsom salt in to a bowl.

Squeeze a little food coloring in the bowl by hand wearing a new glove.

Repeat with a second color to get the galaxy look. Each color will need it’s own bowl.

Add a tablespoon of coconut oil into the solution. The coconut oil makes it stick together.

Place alternate colors in the mold starting at the center and moving upward. This will give it the galaxy effect. If you want more of a geode effect, just use white Epson salt on the edge with coconut oil and add colors afterwards.

This bath bomb should be left out to dry or put into the freezer to dry.

Final Thoughts: This was the best bath bomb I have ever made. I really enjoyed it.  There was extra mix so I rbought in my extra Easter eggs to use as container for the leftover supplies in the bowls.

So You Want to Play Dungeons and Dragons in the Library? The Teen is here to help you with that

A year or two ago, The Teen got invited to participate in a Dungeons and Dragons (DND) group, which she has been doing ever since. It’s a privately run group, but I often think about DND in the library. Recently, another youth services staff was talking about starting a DND program so I thought now was as good a time as any to start diving into the idea of DND at the library. So today’s post is co-written by The Teen and myself. As I mentioned, she has been part of a DND group for around two years now. I have played exactly one DND game in my lifetime, which I did as part of my research for this very post. The bonus is that The Teen has grown up in libraries and has defacto helped plan and participated in a wide variety of programs at this point, so she is coming to us with a wide variety of view points that are actually pretty helpful and informative. This is a very basic introduction with some resources for those who, like me, don’t know a lot about Dungeons and Dragons but want to explore hosting DND events at the library.

Here’s The Teen working on this post for you

To begin, The Teen describes for us the very basics of DND: Dungeons and dragons is a role play game where you build a character, join a party, and go on a quest. To build a character first you need to get a character sheet, these can be found online. Then you will need to fill in the information about your race, class, and alignment, which are all things you pick for yourself. Your race can be anything from a human to a Dragonborn. Each race comes with its own traits. Your class is what you do. You can be a bard, barbarian, monk, or Druid. It all depends on what you want to do. Then comes your alignment. There are 9 alignments in total. They range from lawful good to chaotic evil. Your alignment determines your morals as a character. Once you have the basic idea of your character, you can roll a 20 sided dice for your skills. After you have everything done in your character sheet then you can begin playing as your character. The point is to be your character and do what they would do. The possibilities are endless while you go on your quests.

See also: D&D Beginner’s Guide

Understanding Alignments in DND

The first thing that each player needs is a character. To do this, The Teen recommends having a separate character building program. There are character sheets available online that you can use to help you build up your character. There are also books to help you do this as well. The Teen’s character is a bard and she is lawful neutral. It is against her character’s nature, for example, to kill someone. You want a variety of characters with a variety of alignments in a campaign if at all possible.

Step by Step Character Building for DND

Once you have some good characters in place, you then need a campaign and a dungeon master, or DM, to lead the campaign. There are free campaign resources online. If you have watched Strangers Things on Netflix then you have seen several Dungeons and Dragons game in action and the character of Will is the DM.

How Dungeons and Dragons Become More Popular Than Ever

Here’s how a basic campaign works. The DM sets the players on a quest. Let’s say you’re going to explore a village that is being plagued by a dragon and you have to find and slay the dragon. Characters go through the village and come upon various locations, events, obstacles, etc. and the DM asks the players what they want to do. So you come across a farmer and you can decide to do things like ask the farmer questions or attack or whatever. Then the farmer responds. Scenario 1: You ask the farmer a question and it turns out the farmer really is just a farmer and they give you information, it’s all good. Scenario 2: You ask the farmer a question but it turns out they’re really a rival dragon slayer and they attack you. In that case, you chose poorly. The game continues in this manner and slowly, over time, you are creating a story with your fellow players.

There are a variety of dice required for DND. These come in to play as you navigate the journey. For example, if your character attacks another character, you roll the dice to determine how much damage you did. If your number is higher than their number, which is established in character building, then you did damage. If not, then you didn’t do damage. For me, this was hands down the most confusing part of the game. Also, no one told me their would be math. There is math, which is fine, I just wasn’t aware and found that interesting. This is where having someone who knows what they’re doing is helpful.

The quest I participated in took 4 hours, which was 2 hours too long for my attention span. We eventually found the dragon, slayed it and saved the village. There was much rejoicing. Yes, I did the quest described above. Just last Thursday The Teen went and did a quest with her DND group and she spent 9 hours total at a friends house. Her character is a bard and at one point she asked to save a friend by singing a song. The DM allowed it, as long as she actually wrote and sang the song, which she did. So a DND game can be as immersive and creative as the individual players choose to make it. It’s a very adaptable and customizable game, which is part of its appeal and strength.

To play, you need:

  • Characters (which grow over time)
  • A DM (some experience running a game is preferred and helpful)
  • A campaign (there are pre-written campaigns or you can write your own)
  • Dice (I would provide these for a library program, though some participants will have their own
  • Space, time and snacks (a quick look around the Internet seems to suggest that the shortest time for a DND game is around 1 and a 1/2 hours)
  • Cosplay is optional

I guarantee you that there are people in your community, and I dare say some of your library teens, that could help you get this started. I definitely recommend playing a game yourself if you never have to understand all that is involved. I had never played before and I found playing a game incredibly invaluable in understanding what is involved and what would be needed to host a library event. It’s actually fun and to be honest, seeing The Teen have the enriching relationships from her own DND group makes me want to have a group of my own.

There are some libraries out there holding DND events and you should check out these posts:

At the bare minimum, all you have to do is open your library and provide a space so that teens in your community have a place to play. You could also host DND 101 events where you explain the basics and help teens develop characters. Since the game itself is so adaptable, the ways that you can incorporate this into your library are as well.

There are a lot of DND books out there to help. Here is a comprehensive list found on Wikipedia. It was recommended to us that you start with these three.

May your campaign be successful! Now go out there and do this thing.

Have more to add to this post or want to link us to your library event? Leave a comment.

Promoting Teen Writers, a guest post by author Jennifer Nielsen

Earlier this month, I shared with TLT readers how The Teen was trying to start her own teen creative writing group and some of the resources that were recommended to us. Today I am honored to welcome author Jennifer Nielsen who joins us to talk more about cultivating young creative writing talent.

As an author, one of my greatest joys is meeting young writers. They are excited, often almost bursting with story ideas they want to share. They ask questions – intelligent, thoughtful, meaningful questions – about craft, career, and problem solving. They want to know other young writers, to give and get feedback and support, but often, they do not know where to turn.

Schools cannot always fill this need in the classroom. As teachers face increasing pressures to focus on STEM education and standardized testing, creativity is often forced out of many classrooms across the country. Personal narratives, persuasive essays, and research papers often take priority over original stories or free writing time.

I wonder about this. We urge students to read but deny them classroom opportunities to create these stories themselves. How can we persuade them that one is important when the other is ignored or devalued?

No one will deny that academic writing is an important skill to learn, but when that’s all a student is exposed to, a gap is created that teen libraries may consider filling.

Consider what creative writing does for a young person:

  1. It reinforces reading skills. In the same way that a teacher often learns more than her students, writers often pick up reading skills they otherwise would have missed.
  2. It is the great equalizer. Creative writing is not “right” or “wrong;” it’s simply a collection of choices. For that reason, a top student has no advantage over someone far behind the rest of their class.
  3. It validates the writer’s voice. Teen libraries are constantly seeking ways to recognize their patrons’ voices, to listen to them, empower them. Writing achieves that, allowing the free expression of thought to emerge on the page. When that page is shared, or posted, or re-read, the writer is heard.
  4. It allows for an expression of the ideal self. During the years when self-worth is most under assault, it’s important to remember that most young writers use themselves as their main character. But not as they are – instead, it’s often the person they wished they could be: cooler, more powerful, more heroic. It is one place where a student can delve into their imagination and seek out their best self. In the same way that a library is a safe space for their patrons, a young writer’s work is their personal safe space.
  5. It allows for an exploration of emotions. Some teens with serious concerns on their minds hold in their emotions, or express them in unhealthy and sometimes dangerous ways. However, the young writer often creates a story that explores these difficult emotions within the safety of a written page. This creates an additional advantage: a teen librarian who might be asked to read such a story may be able to perceive a call for help, even when it is not directly given.

Teen libraries seeking to provide creative writing space can do so in relatively simple ways:

  1. By posting weekly writing prompts; in the form of a question, an image, a stupid fact, an excerpt of song lyrics, etc.
  2. By creating a group story. Patrons may check out a notebook with an ongoing story that they must read to understand where the story was left off, then they can add to it as many words as they want, whether a paragraph, a chapter, or more. Rules should be put in place for what is acceptable, but otherwise, let them have at it!
  3. By posting student created poetry next to a similar published poem or song – except there are no names on it. Patrons can guess which is student created and which is professionally created.
  4. By setting up manuscript exchanges. There are few places for a young writer to go to have their work read, particularly by a peer. But learning to give constructive criticism, and to receive the same. is an invaluable skill.
  5. By allowing teens to “check out” the finished and printed works of their peers, just as they would a book.
  6. By posting opportunities for writing contests, or, as interest grows, by hosting a contest. Summer programs often offer rewards for reading. Why not expand that for writing, with its own rewards and recognitions? They could be a natural pairing.

Teen libraries that create places and opportunities for young writers will fill a need their patrons may not even realize they have. But it will eventually be rewarded. Tomorrow’s generation of authors are in the libraries today. They need to be found.

Meet Author Jennifer A. Nielsen

Photo from author page
https://jennielsen.com/about2

Jennifer A. Nielsen is the New York Times Bestselling author of The Ascendance Trilogy, A Night Divided, and other titles. Her next release will be Words on Fire (Oct 2019, Scholastic), the story of the Lithuanian resistance fighters who smuggled books into their country to save it from the Russian empire.

About Words on Fire

New York Times bestselling author Jennifer A. Nielsen transports readers to a corner of history with this inspiring story of a girl who discovers the strength of her people united in resisting oppression.

Danger is never far from Audra’s family farm in Lithuania. She always avoids the occupying Russian Cossack soldiers, who insist that everyone must become Russian — they have banned Lithuanian books, religion, culture, and even the language. But Audra knows her parents are involved in something secret and perilous.

When Cossacks arrive abruptly at their door, Audra’s parents insist that she flee, taking with her an important package and instructions for where to deliver it. But escape means abandoning her parents to a terrible fate.

As Audra embarks on a journey to deliver the mysterious package, she faces unimaginable risks, and soon she becomes caught up in a growing resistance movement. Can joining the underground network of book smugglers give Audra a chance to rescue her parents?