Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

DIY Do Not Disturb Spinner, by Kara DeCarlo

Like most of the world, The Teen has moved to online virtual learning during this unprecedented time. She spends most of her days behind closed doors in her room in online meetings and doing assignments. The other day I wanted to check on her so I knocked on the door and she had to tell me that now was not a good time because she was online with a class. So I tweeted that I now needed some type of in/out board like we have a work so I would know when it was safe to knock. Fellow librarian Kara DeCarlo came to the rescue and shared with me this DIY Do Not Disturb Spinner that she had created for her own home. This might be a fun activity to share with all of our teens now finding themselves trying to navigate in this new online virtual learning world. Thanks Kara!


  • Paper
  • Scissors & something pointy (like an exacto)
  • Pencil
  • Markers
  • Brad fastener
  • Tape (painters or washi or masking)
  • 2 round objects of different sizes

  Make a list of reasons why the door might be closed

  Trace round things on paper

  Cut out circles

 On small circle, write out things from your list

Once you have worked out the spacing of the words–you want them evenly distributed around the circle–write them in using markers. I used red for “DO NOT DISTURB” and green for “door is shut, but you can interrupt me”.

Place the small circle on top of the large circle and tape down using painters, washi, or masking tape. The tape is a temporary step, so don’t use anything super sticky!

Tape your taped circles to the window and tape them on the window WITH THE LARGE CIRCLE ON TOP.

 Find your largest word, and draw a box around it. Take your circles back to your work space and take all the tape off.

 CUT THE LARGE CIRCLE ONLY. Using your pokey thing, poke a hole in the box you just drew–just big enough to get your scissors into. Cut out the box you drew.

 Place the large circle–now with window–on top of the small circle. Line them up as best you can.

 Use your pokey thing to poke a small hole for your brad fastener to go through.

Poke the brad through and write on the large circle: Why is the door closed? Feel free to add doodles, fancy lettering, and make it your own.

 Hang on your door using 2 pieces of scotch tape on the large circle. The small circle will spin freely behind it.

Meet Kara DeCarlo

Kara DeCarlo is a School Liaison librarian for a large suburban library in northern Illinois. She’s a DIY enthusiast–a side effect from her college days in theater and art. When not at work she leads a junior high Girl Scout troop, digs in the dirt, paints and makes stuff out of metal. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram as @KaraPaints

An Interview with Author Sonja K. Solter

Sonja’s debut middle grade book, When You Know What I Know, published March 24, 2020. It is a sensitive, harrowing, and ultimately hopeful novel in verse about one girl’s journey in the aftermath of abuse.

Q: Tell us a little more about yourself.

I didn’t know I wanted to be a writer when I was younger (though I do remember enjoying writing a poem during an author’s visit in sixth grade). I was a big reader, and you might have thought I wanted to be a librarian because I even made library cards for all of my books! However, I always thought I would go into science and went down a medical science track for a long time before I realized that I wanted to write. I was also a Music Together® director and teacher for a few years, which was great fun! Currently, I live with my husband and two kids in Louisville, Colorado where I write and teach online as a creative mentor with Society of Young Inklings.

Q:  How/when did you become interested in writing Middle Grade and Young Adult fiction?

When I shifted to writing, I also knew right away that what I wanted to write was kidlit. I believe that’s because it had such a deep and broad influence on me growing up, expanding my world with experiences both similar to and different from my own—and, even, expanding the scope of the universe for me, as some of Madeleine L’Engle’s work did.

Q: In the Author’s Note of When You Know What I Know you mention that your main character’s voice (Tori) came to you in the woods. Can you tell you tell us a little more about this experience and your journey of writing Tori’s story?

I’m a very intuitive writer, so most of the first drafts of my manuscripts come to me in chunks of scenes, often out of order. In this case, Tori’s voice came to me with the poem “Believe Me,” and just felt insistent that she wanted to be heard—not just by her mom, as in the poem, but by society as a whole.

Even though I experienced the beginnings of the story this way, however, I also know that much of my writing revolves around certain themes that are some of my ‘big questions’ in life: the human experience, relationships, etc. In this case, I was influenced by my realization from online comments on news articles that many people found it very difficult to understand the experience of trauma survivors. That lack of understanding can decrease empathy and, even, lead to not believing survivors.

Q: I am particularly interested in the variety of ways the people in Tori’s life respond to her revelation of abuse at the hands of a trusted adult. Can you speak more to these responses and how you developed the lives of the characters that circle around Tori?

There is definitely a theme in the novel of adults not responding in the ways they should to Tori’s revelation of abuse. In this book, both Tori’s mom and grandmother at first respond with denial and the assumption that she misunderstood what happened because she’s a child. Her mom realizes the truth far in advance of Tori’s grandmother, but, in both cases, this ties into a bigger question of how adults show up for kids when they need them. The way in which adults’ own issues and challenges lead them to fail kids, even if only in the moment, can apply to kids’ experience in a variety of circumstances. I think it’s important to show this kind of realism so that the fact that Tori can still receive support and be believed down the line also feels true. Tori’s healing journey, including addressing the disturbances to her relationships, is tough–she’s come through something genuinely difficult in a variety of ways–but that also makes it a whole, deep healing process, in which she’s facing what happened and honoring her feelings.

Q: In When You Know What I Know, Tori’s story is both poignant and hopeful. What do you hope your readers will take away from the story?

I hope that readers will continue to break the shame and taboo around the issue of sexual abuse. It’s absolutely appropriate that we all feel upset that sexual abuse happens, but that shouldn’t spill over onto survivors and their speaking out.

I also want readers to take with them the hope that things will get better, no matter what difficulty they are in, even if it doesn’t happen right away. And for them to keep reaching out for support, even if they don’t get it immediately.

Q: What is in your writing future? Are you working on any more ideas?

I always have fiction kidlit manuscripts in various stages of completion and revision—all the way from picture books up through YA. They range from more serious work with trauma to humorous picture books. So we’ll see what makes it into the world next!

Q: Finally, the question I ask all authors, what is your favorite flavor of ice cream?

My favorite flavor of ice cream is pear! It’s pretty unusual here in the United States, but more common in my mom’s native country of Finland, where I used to spend a few weeks each summer when I was little.

Sonja K. Solter traveled extensively with her family as a child and once brought over seventy books on a trip. (Her mother is still trying to figure out how that one slipped by her). Sonja graduated with an interdisciplinary degree in Human Biology from Stanford University and has an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Hamline University. Her master’s critical thesis was on writing trauma in middle grade and young adult realistic fiction. She is currently a creative writing mentor to youth with the Society of Young Inklings and enjoys writing poetry and prose for children of all ages.

RevolTeens: Look for the Helpers, by Christine Lively

When we’re overwhelmed by tragic and traumatic news stories, social media fills up with stories of loss and injustice – each story seemingly more upsetting than the last. We start to complain and feel that nothing good is or could happen in the world. All seems lost and terrible. Inevitably, people start quoting Mr. Fred Rogers in response to help us regain our perspective.

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news,” Rogers said to his television neighbors, “my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”

When it comes to teens and young adults, we don’t usually get this perspective adjustment as has been the case this month. As the Coronavirus or COVID-19 began to rage in the US, the news media and social media went into a frenzy over college “spring breakers” crowding beaches in Florida and crassly explaining that they didn’t care if they or others got sick because of it. The adults swarmed with wagging fingers, shaking heads, and outrage. ‘How could they? Those kids are disgusting, selfish and horrible!’ and on and on it went.

Though I don’t condone their behavior, of course, I found the response to it to be predictably vitriolic and all too convenient. These young faces became the emblems of privilege, cruelty, and flagrant disregard for others.

They are not, of course, the only teens. There are many more teens and young adults who are “The Helpers” whom Mr. Rogers described. I didn’t have to look too hard to find them. They are out there working to ensure that people stay safe, get what they need, and are cared for. The just aren’t receiving the same screaming news coverage that the spring breakers are.

One of the most inspiring of these teens is  17 year old Avi Schiffmann from Mercer Island outside of Seattle. According to a Democracy Now interview with Schiffmann on March 13, 2020,  the website he created https://ncov2019.live/data has been visited by “tens of millions from every country on earth. It tracks deaths, numbers of cases locally and globally, and provides an interactive map, information on the disease, and a Twitter feed. The resource updates every minute or so, and pulls information from the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and elsewhere.” The website is incredibly helpful because it offers raw numbers, rates of increase, and shows trends that help you see the virus without any lens or particular point of view. Schiffmann started the site in December as a way for people to get raw and up to date information without requiring them to download information that might be out of date when they get it. It’s a remarkable way to help people. Avi Schiffmann is absolutely a teen who is revolting and helping us all take control of the information that we need to make decisions and get through this crisis. That you have probably not heard of him tells you that adults are much more interested in maligning selfish teenagers than lauding the brilliant, selfless, and hardworking ones.

Teens are also maligned as spreading, believing, and falling victim to rumors and bad information on social media. While it’s true that they do sometimes believe false stories they hear, adults do too. There’s an awesome group of teen helpers who are committed to teaching other teens how to find reliable information and identify “fake news.” MediaWise https://www.poynter.org/mediawise/ From the Poynter Institute website:

“The MediaWise Teen Fact-Checking Network is a group of dozens of teens fact-checking misinformation and disinformation they find on their social media feeds. These teens have continued their fact-checking work despite unprecedented challenges — school closures, classes moving online, SAT testing, grades, final exams and even delayed graduations.

The TFCN has reported on whether you can catch coronavirus by touching money (our rating: needs context), if China is seeking approval to kill patients with the virus (our rating: not legit), if wearing a mask will protect you from COVID-19 as many videos on TikTok claimed, and the teens even debunked a claim that weed can kill coronavirus.”

The Poynter Institute is committed to teaching media literacy and helping people find the difference between fact and fiction. Their Teen Fact-Checking Network is a group of eighteen fierce teenagers who are fighting misinformation where teens encounter it most – on social media. They’re creating videos to show other teens how to debunk misinformation online. This group of RevolTeens have collected their debunking information about the Coronavirus here: https://www.poynter.org/fact-checking/2020/how-the-coronavirus-is-creating-chaos-for-teens-and-why-theres-hope/ The article includes profiles of the fact checking teens and information to help kids learn more about the virus without bias. They have a pretty cool group of social media and traditional media ambassadors, too!

Then, there’s Shaivi Shaw from Rancho Santa Margarita, California. This 15 year old has recruited her high school friends to help her assemble 150 sanitizing kits for homeless people which include hand sanitizer, antibacterial soap, lotion, and reusable masks that she bought with her parents. This RevolTeen isn’t waiting for adults to take action.

‘”It’s important for people to step in and just do whatever they can, even if it helps just one person,” she told CNN.’ https://www.insider.com/teen-makes-sanitizing-kits-for-homeless-amid-coronavirus-outbreak-2020-3

Shelters are struggling to keep up with the needs of their residents, and Shaivi’s efforts are surely making a difference. She’s launched a GoFundMe that has already raised over $17,000 to create more of these kits for the homeless in her own state of California and she hopes to expand to worldwide distribution. https://www.gofundme.com/f/covid19-sanitation-kit-for-the-homeless-community

Then there are the teens who are focused on helping the elderly who are sequestered during this quarantine period.

Cathy Free got a call she never wanted to get. Her visits to her 79 year old mother would be canceled for the next several weeks or months to protect her mother and the other residents of her Utah care center. Free took to FaceBook to write about how anxious and fearful she was about her mother’s spirits and loneliness now that she won’t have family visits.

RevolTeens took action.

Ms. Free’s high school friend is now a Middle School teacher and high school softball coach. She asked her students if they could imagine not being able to see their families for weeks and maybe months. They decided that they’d write letters to Ms. Free’s mother and the other residents in the care home and deliver them.

Each letter is addressed to “Dear Special Person,” and they are so sweet that they’ll restore your faith in humanity.

‘“I’m so sorry that you can’t see your families,” wrote Ryan Christensen, 14. “If I know one thing about humans, it’s that when they go through some bad part in their life, they are strong. I believe that you can get through this bad part in your life and will be strong all the way through.”’ The full story can be found here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/2020/03/21/mom-is-stuck-inside-amid-coronavirus-outbreak-these-teens-i-have-never-met-gave-us-hope-amid-hardship/

These Revolteens and many more are “The Helpers” that Mr. Rogers’ mother told him about. Though we may be frustrated and angry at some teens’ behavior during this crisis, but when you believe in teens’ capacity for compassion, action, and thoughtful change, you just have to “look for the helpers” and there you’ll find the RevolTeens. They don’t accept the world as it is, they’re using their big brains, hearts, and resourcefulness to change the world – for the better and for all of us even in this unprecedented crisis.

About Christine Lively

Christine Lively a school librarian in Virginia. I read voraciously, exchange ideas with students, and am a perpetual student. I raise monarch butterflies, cook, clean infrequently and enjoy an extensive hippo collection. Christine blogs at https://hippodillycircus.com/ and you can follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/XineLively

Writing on Wheels, a guest post by Kit Rosewater

I wasn’t an athletic kid.

That’s what I said to people if they asked what I was into. I said I was a theatre geek, a book nerd, one of those kids who only worked out when lifting a stack of books or swinging around a fake plastic sword.

Those were lies, of course, though I didn’t quite realize it at the time.

As a younger kid—think elementary school age—I actually loved being athletic. I won medals at the annual “jog-a-thons” my school held in second and third grade. When I read books like Bridge to Terabithia, I related hardcore to Jesse’s dreams of winning his classmates’ unofficial morning race. I rode bikes on mountain trails with my much more experienced older cousin and had the scars from falling over and over to prove it. But more than any other activity, I loved roller skating at the YMCA with my sister every day after school in fourth and fifth grade.   

We would snap our fingers and shake our hips whenever Will Smith’s jam “Getting’ Jiggly Wit It” came over the speakers. We learned how to crouch low to gather speed, cross one skate over the other, skate backward, the whole caboodle. Those were some of the best afternoons of my childhood.

I don’t remember when the transition happened between me loving both the arts and sports to me thinking I had to choose between one or the other. I suspect it had to do with that phenomenon a lot of middle school kids face, where they feel like they need to fit into a label… or else they won’t fit in anywhere. 

In sixth grade the whole grade level had to perform two weeks’ worth of physical ability tests for our PE groups. Out of groups A (for the super sporty kids), B (the pretty sporty kids), C (the kids with nothing special going on), and D (the kids who needed serious coordination help) … I got placed in C. 

Whelp, guess I’m not an athlete, I thought. 

I tucked my skates, helmet, and knee and elbow pads away onto a high shelf in the garage. I picked up my books and busied myself with other creative, artsy activities. 

As I grew up in middle school, then high school, then college, my labels grew and solidified around me. Every time I felt breathless on a run with friends, or missed a basket when shooting hoops at the park, I hid behind my self-imposed label. 

“I’m not athletic!” I would whine. And then I’d shuffle off before someone could challenge what that kind of declaration even meant.

For years I learned how to push myself in reading and critical thinking. I grew in my craft as a writer. I found out that just because I was interested in something (like being an author), that didn’t mean I was inherently good at it. I had to work really hard at every stage, but I slowly learned that with enough practice, patience, perseverance, I could figure out how to steadily improve in anything I set my mind to. 

Fast forward to early 2017, when I had just moved to Austin, Texas and was playing host to friends from Albuquerque, New Mexico. Under an Austin page of events, I found two roller derby leagues operating with open bouts (roller derby games) outsiders could buy tickets to go see.

From the moment those derby teams hit the track, I was hooked

I had never seen such diversity in a team of players before. Suddenly it didn’t seem to matter how tall or short you were, how much you weighed, how muscular your arms were… anyone could be lacing up and rolling onto the rink. I could be lacing up! Roller derby had taken everything I thought I knew about sports and the types of people who called themselves “all-stars” and turned it all upside down. I had to know more.

Meanwhile, I was still waist-deep in my efforts to become an author. I was working on a different project that had started to lose its shiny appeal. My agent and I discussed setting that project aside and trying something new. This time as I mulled over ideas, I turned over my childhood memories and experiences like stones. I tapped on them, wondering which ones were duds and which were geodes, full of glimmering possibility. 

I remembered how much I had loved running, and biking, and most of all—skating—when I was a kid. 

I finally decided not to choose between labels anymore. I had found my next big project. 

If young readers take any one point away from The Derby Daredevils series, I hope it’s that they realize they don’t need to choose what kind of person they are. After reading Book 1, they might want to lace up their own pair of skates. Or not! Whatever they choose to be into and excited about, there’s plenty of room for them to explore lots of activities and interests and hobbies. Being good or not so good at something right away doesn’t determine how much we get to love it. We can be book nerds and runners, theatre geeks and MVPs…

…readers and daredevils. 

Meet Kit Rosewater

Kit Rosewater writes books for children. She lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico with her spouse and a border collie who takes up most of the bed. Before she was an author, Kit taught middle school theatre and high school English, then worked as a children’s bookseller. She has a master’s degree in Children’s Literature from Hollins University. Books 1 & 2 of her debut middle grade series The Derby Daredevils roll out in Spring and Fall 2020 through Abrams. Catch her online at kitrosewater.com or @kitrosewater.

About The Derby Daredevils: Kenzie Kickstarts a Team

The first in a highly-illustrated middle grade series that celebrates new friendships, first crushes, and getting out of your comfort zone. 

Best friends Kenzie “Kenzilla” Ellington and Shelly “Bomb Shell” Baum are counting down the days to their roller derby debut. It looks like their dream is coming true when Austin’s city league announces a junior league. But there’s a catch. To try out together, the Dynamic Duo will have to form a team of five players… in just one week! 

As they start convincing other girls that roller derby is the coolest thing on wheels, Kenzie has second thoughts. Why is Shelly acting like everyone’s best friend? Isn’t she supposed to be Kenzie’s best friend? And things get really awkward when Shelly recruits Kenzie’s neighbor (and secret crush!) for the team.

With lots of humor and an authentic middle grade voice, the first book of this empowering series follows Kenzie, Shelly, and the rest of the Derby Daredevils as they learn how to fall—and get back up again.

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4079-4
Illustrator: Sophie Escabasse

Publisher: Abrams Books
Publication date: 03/24/2020
Age Range: 8 – 12 Years

Kit would love if it you would support one of two independent bookstores in this tough time for everyone: Bookworks of Albuquerque or Bookpeople of Austin, TX.

Is the Truth All It’s Cracked Up To Be? a guest post By Risa Nyman

“Three things cannot long stay hidden: the sun, the moon and the truth.” – Buddha

“I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth” is a declaration we all know by heart. But if you aren’t on the witness stand, is that a motto you must live by? Are there any gray areas?

When we are children, adults pound it into our developing brains that the truth is sacrosanct. Recently, I watched a funny video of a cousin pressing her four-year-old daughter to explain the origins of some blue marker on a white counter, only to be told repeatedly by the little girl that “the dog did it.” That was her story, and she was sticking to it. Perhaps this sweet, adorable child is a natural born fibber or a natural born secret-keeper.

Then, we grow up, and a new paradigm emerges. We learn that honesty may carry unintended consequences that can take an emotional toll on both the truth-teller and the truth-hearer.

Should you tell Aunt Gertrude she got fat? Does your friend have to know the person she likes doesn’t like her? Or like the mother in my debut novel, can you decide to protect your child from the truth about how his father died?

The decision to keep a family secret is at the heart of my debut middle grade novel, Swallowed by a Secret (published January 21, 2020 from Immortal Works Press).

When twelve-year-old Rocky learns his mother has told him a bogus story about how his father died, he is gut-punched. His misery is compounded when his mother puts the For-Sale sign on the front lawn right after the funeral. She fears that if they remain in their town, someone will blurt out the truth before she’s ready.

Rocky’s mother is desperate to maintain control of the secret, because she knows that once you crack open a secret, it cannot be Humpty-Dumptied again. What she doesn’t anticipate is that Rocky will embark on a journey of risks, eavesdropping and snooping to discover the truth about the father he thought he knew.

In Swallowed by a Secret some of my own secrets are threaded through. As I wrote, I grappled with the knowledge that when this book is published, I would be exposing the hidden elephant crouching underneath the rug in my own life. I kept a visual of a fork in a road in my head that make the choices also clear. One side beckoning me toward the truth and the other to the vault where secrets are locked away.

My own decision to include some of my truths in my fiction piqued my curiosity about what other authors do. Memoirist Dani Shapiro says in her podcast, Family Secrets, that “writing about feelings that are weighing on us helps…it has physical benefits.”

The creation of the hashtag #ownvoices honors the works of so many whose writing is enhancing with the authenticity of their own truths. They demonstrate a commitment to sharing their heritage, ethnicity, disabilities, gender issues and more through their writing.

Real life joins fiction in a powerful way.

In a 2009 interview with Fiction Writers Review award-winning author Maile Meloy said,“I think you have to find an emotional connection to the story, to make anyone else care about it, but I would find writing only what I know to be limiting.”

Choosing to tell or write the truth isn’t always easy or simple, and sometimes not for the faint-hearted. And like Rocky, I have learned, along the way, that secrets are epidemic, and no one’s family is immune.

Risa has been an aspiring middle grade author for about six years after a strange event that involved three pennies led her to take a deep dive into creative writing, which is now a priority and passion ⏤ unless grandchildren are nearby. At other times, you might find Risa reading, exercising or doing therapeutic ironing.

Friday Finds: Special Professional Development Edition

Many of us are currently in a position to take advantage of online learning opportunities while we do our best to quarantine/isolate/distance ourselves in an effort to flatten the curve of Covid19. But where to start?

Free Archived Webinar Sites

Public Library Association


Programming Librarian

Demco Ideas & Inspiration

Maryland State Library Resource Center

Library Connect

Booklist Webinars Archives

ALA List of Professional Development Resources

Public Libraries has a list of 5 free professional development resources to check

Library Blogs

School Library Journal

Show Me Librarian



5 Minute Librarian

New York Public Library Blog Channels

Places to Check Out

PLA Professional Tools

Public Libraries Online

Did I miss anything you love? Chime in in the comments!

What Are Librarians Doing for Teens During Shutdown?

Last week, Stacey Shapiro shared with us some thoughts on virtual programming during shutdowns. You can read that post here.

Last night I asked on Twitter what everyone was doing and got some great responses. Some librarians are hosting online gaming and D&D sessions using Discord. If Discord is new to you, you might want to check out this Discord 101 tutorial.

You can see all of the replies and get some inspiration by following this Tweet and reading through the replies:

A Roundup of Pandemic Resources for Librarians, Teachers and the Parents That We Serve

As I write this my library is closed to the public, my kids are home from school, and the world feels very, very strange. This is all happening, of course, because of the recent Covid-19 pandemic, and I am very thankful that my place of employment is doing their part to help flatten the curve and to protect everyone’s health. I myself have asthma and The Mr. has recently been diagnosed with some health issues that put him in the high risk category. I hope that everyone will do their part to keep everyone as safe as possible.

What I’m going to be doing here is sharing a collection of resources that I find to help entertain and educate our kids remotely, best practices, etc. It will be an ongoing collection that I will keep updating. Thank you to everyone who has worked to help provide these resources.

Covid-19 Resources

To get current, up to date information on Covid-19, please visit the CDC and World Health Organization (WHO).

Medium also has a list of reputable resources discussing Covid-19.

Here is a resource to help parents talk about Covid-19 with their children. NPR also has a great comic that parents can use to talk with their children about Covid-19.

If your library is closing, and I sincerely hope that you are because that is the moral and ethical thing to do to help flatten the curve and save lives, you can reach out to your patrons with digital access and promote your online resources. I know that this time will really be a stark reminder of how vast the digital divide is and how much our patrons need our services, but closing for a period of time as recommended by the CDC will literally save lives. I have also seen that some libraries are offering additional services like pulling holds and drive up services. You’ll want to evaluate these services and keep your staff members health in mind as you do so. Public health and safety should be our number one concern here.

The ALA has a resource on pandemic preparedness here.

Guest Blogger Stacey Shapiro offers some suggestions for remote programming here at TLT.

General Education Resources

There are a lot of resources to help keep kids entertained and educated being offered right now online. Below are just a few of those resources that you may want to share digitally with your patrons.

Scholastic has released free resources for students at home during this time.

A spreadsheet of education companies offering free subscriptions due to closings can be found here.

A list of free distance learning resources for 4th and 5th graders can be found here.

Learn in Color has a list of free resources and activity suggestions here.

Here is a list of museums offering free virtual tours. And here is a list of 10 online university art classes you can take for free.

Here is a list of other virtual tours and resources that may be of interest. This list includes zoo cameras, the Louvre, and a mission to Mars.

There are a ton of free art lessons available all over. Art for Kids is a good place to start.

This is a huge list of Art at Home resources: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1EVMQiHHKugF4RQ071DzimkSKn1AuiBNOJ-i6xs1mBts/preview?fbclid=IwAR2ddbcSncG9_D6I2nvu3-aw9qHdihXlV-PW5rzNLidqQx5Z584pGEpNGgo

Music resources for school closures: https://nafme.org/music-teacher-resources-school-closures/?fbclid=IwAR3YYlKkyv6VK3SPzJuK9sYzfUqiRaJcOkF3pNooi8nI-N8wQuLWgbJL51w

Here is a link to 12 YouTube channels to get kids moving while indoors. It skews very young.

Here is a link to some resources on online theater design and tech resources for those interested in theater.

The New York Times is providing access to free daily online writing prompts.

15 Broadway Musicals you can stream from home.

Comic Book Artists Hosting Online Tutorials.

Special Kids Advocacy Agency shared this list of resources:

The Seattle Symphony is offering free streaming of concerts. You can learn more about that here. Here’s another free concert resource. from the Berlin Philharmoniker. The Metropolitan Opera is also offering some free concerts.

Former TLTer and all around excellent librarian Heather Booth has a resource list that she has shared online here.

Never Ending Search also has a pretty comprehensive list of resources for learning at home.

Kids Activities Blog has a list of companies offering free subscriptions during this time.

Here is a list of the best podcasts for kids of all ages from We Are Teachers.

Ted-Ed Video Playlist

Author and Illustrator Resources

I have seen several authors state on Twitter that you can read their books for digital storytimes. You’ll want to look for this information and act accordingly. As librarians, I feel that we have an ethical responsibility to be mindful of copyright law, even in a time of crisis. SLJ has an article up about copyright, fair use and the Covid-19 crisis that you may want to consult. One thing we will all want to keep in mind is that this is a short term problem (I pray that it is really short term) and that we want to be mindful that we aren’t creating content that will impact creators long term for a short term situation.

SLJ has more on what various kidlit authors are doing, copyright, online storytimes and more here. The Classroom Bookshelf also has a roundup of resources.

It looks like you can search the hasthag #KidLitQuarantine on Twitter to get a lot of valuable resources and ideas.

You can also search the hashtag #OperationStorytime on Twitter for authors doing storytimes online.

Jbrary has a link of Storytime Online resources. If you aren’t familiar with Jbrary they are an excellent resource. I don’t talk about them a lot here because they do a lot of a younger audience, but I love this resource.

Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems

Kate Messner has put together a great list of resources from authors and illustrators. Kate has done an amazing job of creating this extensive list of author and illustrator resources. Thank you Kate for this work that you are doing! Lots of authors doing cool things online collected here by Kate Messner.

Kat Cho has created a centralized calendar for live online kidlit events.

The Wisconsin Library Association has a great list of resources they are compiling as well.

LivBits has a list of free online literary events and resources here.

Temporarily Free Ed Tech Tools: https://www.slj.com/?detailStory=free-resources-tools-for-online-teaching-and-learning-during-school-closures-COVID19-coronavirus&utm_source=editorial&utm_medium=SLJTW&utm_term=&utm_content=&utm_campaign=articles

Online Book Festival called Everywhere Book Fest information: https://twitter.com/EverywhereFest/status/1239320844184190979 More info on this here: https://www.slj.com/?detailStory=kid-lit-authors-organize-virtual-book-festival-for-may-coronavirus&utm_source=editorial&utm_medium=SLJTW&utm_term=&utm_content=&utm_campaign=articles

Saturday Morning Storytimes with Josh Funk: https://twitter.com/joshfunkbooks/status/1239920434264539137

Operation Storytime has a variety of authors, illustrators and celebrities doing readalouds and there is a schedule here: https://twitter.com/LBookends/status/1240002457629003778

Online Storytime Permissions From Various Publishers

Kate Messner has a list of publishers offering limited permissions with very strict rules here: https://twitter.com/KateMessner/status/1240008865455931394

Scholastic has announced this temporary policy for doing online storytimes: https://www.slj.com/?detailStory=scholastic-temporarily-revises-policy-for-online-read-alouds-coronavirus-copyright

Simon & Schuster temporary online storytime guidelines: https://www.simonandschuster.com/p/online-read-aloud-guidelines

Penguin is having online storytimes and that info is here: https://twitter.com/penguinkids/status/1240117290403868672

Sourcebooks has online storytime info here: https://www.sourcebooks.com/online-storytime-requests.html

Candlewick Press online storytime info:

Lee and Low online storytime guidelines https://blog.leeandlow.com/2020/03/20/lee-low-guidelines-for-virtual-book-read-alouds-during-covid-19/

Professional Development Resources

Free Training and Webinars for Library Staff are being collected here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1jJt1qoNqe_XteGFvzK2vq_fzutTAP8XCjESH8pHmFxE/edit

Also, here’s a really good example of how one library is promoting their digital content on their website during this time: https://www.wcpl.net/homebound_library_hacks/

Please feel free to link to additional resources in the comments.

Virtual Programming During a Pandemic, a guest post by Stacey Shapiro

Yesterday, the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 a pandemic. Online, I have seen many of my fellow librarians wrestling with what they should do and what we owe each other during this time. Today we have a guest post which outlines some ways we can engage in virtual programming to help participate in social distancing.

Maybe it’s already happened in your community: nearby, the COVID-19 virus has spread and directors have started cancelling programs to protect the community. And if it hasn’t, you may be asking why should we cancel programs if our neighborhood hasn’t been affected yet? The answer is to flatten the curve and prevent too many people from getting sick at once. The act of social distancing, or maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet) from others when possible, is meant to protect the most vulnerable in our lives, who may not look susceptible to illness at first glance.

“But my programming!” you might be thinking. With social media and the internet more widespread than ever, now is the perfect time to try virtual programming. It protects the most vulnerable in society during a global pandemic and prevents teens from spreading it to others in their lives. It’s also important to reassure teens that they are not likely to get coronavirus. We do not want to cause panic; the library is simply taking precautionary measures so that COVID-19 doesn’t spread farther. In that vein, a few ideas for online programming:

Online meetings for TAG groups

Although not possible for everyone, it’s a good way to practice social distancing. Instead of having the TAG congregate at the library, set up a Google Hangout at the regular TAG meeting time. Allow teens to email in questions or concerns to you ahead of time or during the meeting for those who can’t participate online. Take notes or assign a responsible TAG member to take notes and send out to your TAG list afterwards, with invitation to continue the discussion at a later date. For instance, my TAG is currently planning an Alice in Wonderland-themed tea party for this summer for younger children, and I need my teens to be able to participate in that and have creative ownership over the idea. This will allow them to participate but not be physically present in the library.

Online Reading Challenge

I’m fortunate that my library already has Beanstack, an online service that tracks reading that we’ve used for our summer reading program once already. In the next week or so, I’m hoping to set up a pre-summer reading challenge to encourage kids to read graphic novels, books, and audiobooks (also available for our patrons through Libby and Hoopla) to keep up circulation and promote the amazing YA books released during this time.

Online Gaming

One of my most popular programs is Game On, where I put out the library’s Switch and a collection of board games. Online gaming can be more dangerous in a way because you can’t confirm that you’d just be playing with teens from your area, but if the teens have parental permission to play, there are many free online games from Fortnite to Minecraft that you can play with teens across town. Simply set up a time, let them know the server or a way to find you and your username, and Game On is still on! Board games often have online versions as well, including Dominion, which you can play for free online here by signing up for a free account and confirming your email.

Social Media

I gave in. I got the library a TikTok. Will any teens follow it? I don’t know. Maybe I can convince the children’s librarian to do the Flip the Switch challenge with me, maybe no one will watch it. But it can also be a replacement for Snapchat, because Snapchat erases videos after 24 hours and it’s difficult to keep track of metrics there. (I also have a personal Snapchat, and it doesn’t allow you to switch between accounts easily the way Instagram does.) This is the time, however, to ramp up social media use. Promote library books, promote valid information, and always cite your sources. 

(Disclaimer: I realize these options aren’t available to everyone, what with broadband access at home being what it is.) 

What are you doing in your library? I’m interested! Email me at s-shapiro (at) cranfordnj.org.

Meet Our Guest Blogger

Stacey Shapiro is a YA librarian in New Jersey where she lives with her kitty, Cordelia, and is distracting herself with the thought that Animal Crossing comes out in just over a week. You can follow her on Twitter.

“A Place at the Table” a guest post by Akemi Dawn Bowman

I’ve struggled with my mental health for as long as I can remember. Similar to the title character in Harley in the Sky, I was either up or down, and never in the middle. I was often chasing a romanticized version of happiness, and then crashing very suddenly into a void of depression. My family didn’t understand me, and therapy was not something that was available to me as a teen, which meant getting a diagnosis wasn’t an option. 

For a handful of years, I existed in the strange limbo of having a mental illness and living with all its messiness and complications, but not feeling like I was allowed to call it a mental illness. It didn’t matter how much I was hurting, or struggling, or failing to cope—on paper, there wasn’t a word for what I was going through, because I wasn’t in therapy.

As an adult, I had the opportunity to speak to someone, who gave me a formal diagnosis and helped me work through treatment options. But until that point, it had just been me, learning to cope in ways that felt right, and struggling with the balance of not really feeling okay, but somehow feeling like I wasn’t allowed to complain. I wasn’t allowed to talk about it. Because I didn’t have a label; I didn’t have someone who signed a piece of paper with a list of words that all added up to “mental illness.” And I certainly didn’t have the support or financial means to seek care any earlier than I did.

Making yourself understood in a society that isn’t always understanding towards people with mental illness can be difficult. Some people are simply ignorant. Some people want to make their own rules about which forms of mental illness they’re willing to acknowledge, and which ones they aren’t. And some people seem to think that a diagnosis is what legitimizes a mental illness, and if they don’t have the right label, they’re either attention-seeking or overly-dramatic—or maybe even a liar.

And that’s not what an inclusive space is supposed to look like.

 This kind of gatekeeping leaves people like teen me behind. It forces us out of the important conversations about mental health, and makes us feel like we don’t have a place at the table. Like we haven’t earned it, on the basis that we weren’t professionally diagnosed.

It also fails to acknowledge that therapy—and health care in general—is a privilege.

There are many people in the world who don’t have the access or ability to receive a formal diagnosis. It isn’t affordable to everyone, and teens are overwhelmingly dependent on their parents and caregivers when it comes to seeking professional help for their mental health. If their families aren’t supportive, or therapy isn’t an option financially, then treatment may not be available to them.

But that doesn’t mean they don’t have a mental illness. It doesn’t mean they aren’t still struggling with depression and anxiety and mood disorders. They may not have the label, but their experiences are real.

As someone who writes for teens and about teens, I always try to center an honest experience of what it felt like to be that age, going through similar challenges, and feeling so alone. My hope is that by talking about it, I can build a bridge for people who are in the same position, who feel left behind and misunderstood. 

There are so many stigmas when it comes to mental health, and if we’re going to break them down, we need to give people space to talk about their mental health in whatever capacity feels right and safe for them. People experience things differently. And I think that’s important too—to show that mental health can vary between individuals, and that there isn’t a single right way to cope, or heal, or process. Therapy and medication can be necessary and life-saving for so many people, while also feeling like the wrong solution for others. If we try to force people into thinking mental health is a one-size-fits-all, we’ll end up creating a space that makes people with differing experiences feel unwelcome. And the fact is, there isn’t a single “right” way to have a mental illness.

Books about characters who go to therapy, take medication, and have a formal diagnosis are important. And so are books about characters with less privilege who are struggling with their mental health and don’t know exactly what to call it. Both experiences are valid, and one isn’t more important than the other.

At the end of the day, the main purpose of a diagnosis is for mental health professionals to come up with treatment plans and coping mechanisms for their patients. Labels don’t exist to box people in, or push them out. And I think if we claim to be advocates of mental health, we need to understand that not everyone’s lived experiences looks identical. What’s right for one person may be wrong for another. And that’s okay. 

There’s space at the table for everyone, label or not. The important thing is to talk about it—the good, the bad, the messy, and everything in between. And remember that whatever you’re feeling, and whatever you’re going through, you are not alone.

Akemi Dawn Bowman is the author of William C. Morris Award Finalist StarfishSummer Bird Blue, and Harley in the Sky. Her upcoming sci-fi series, The Infinity Courts, is set to release in 2021, followed by her middle-grade debut, Generation Misfits. A proud Ravenclaw and Star Wars enthusiast, she has a BA in social sciences from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She currently lives in Scotland with her husband and two children.

You can find Akemi at:
Instagram: @akemidawnbowman
Twitter: @akemidawn