Teen Librarian Toolbox
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TPiB: Retro Rad- the 1970’s

You know a party isn’t a party with disco, right? If the 50s and 60s didn’t hit your teens, have them go all out and rock the bell bottoms and go go boots of the 70’s for a wild time. Full on hippie styles they’ll know from the musical Hair, bell bottom and disco styles that they can associate with Saturday Night Fever and the Bee Gees, and music from ABBA will all hit the right notes for your stylin’ set. Think The Brady Bunch, Bewitched, the original Battlestar Galatica, the Superfriends, and The Gong Show to pull ideas for dress and games.

Dig out the bell bottoms, and ring them high, for this was the age the originals came out. Moon boots that are seeing a comeback now were original to the 1970’s as well, and don’t forget your maxi dresses. Big glasses with tinted glass, floppy hats, and high wasted pants with long sleeves and feathered hair were all the rage- or letting your hair go natural and embracing your heritage. Or go mod and wear mini skirts with long sleeves and high socks, and show off your love of colors…
 Disco and smooth jazz were highlights during this era, along with soul, and some rock. Think Bee Gees, The Hustle, Donna Summer, Gloria Gaynor for your disco. Or the Carpenters and John Denver for soft rock, while Aerosmith started hitting the charts for hard rock. James Brown, Sly and the Family Stone, the Jackson 5, Stevie Wonder, Tower of Power, and others had the airwaves for jazz and soul.
  • Create a life sized battleship board in your room by nominating captains then sectioning off the room with cardboard. Have people lay down as the boats, and people call out the hits as they strike
  • Find Stratego boards and have a tournament, or Operation boards and see who the winner could be through their strategy and skill
  • Create a photo booth so that teens can show off their 70’s styles and instagram them to their friends, or make instragram crafts with them
  • Teach teens the popular dances of the era (the Hustle, YMCA, etc.) then have a dance off
  •  Have a costume relay race- gather up items like a leisure suite, big shoes, vest, weird hair, etc., and have teams relay throughout the area to see which team can get the best time


 Run these movies in the background for the perfect atmosphere, or have them be a centerpiece for a longer program. Be sure to check with your public performance license to make sure you can show them. Titles marked with an asterisk would be awesome for sing-alongs.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory *
Grease * (made in 70’s, set in 60’s)
Carrie (1976)
Monty Python and the Holy Grail
The Wiz *
Logan’s Run
Tommy* (bonus points if they can name the stars)
Soylent Green
Hair *
Invasion of the Body Snatchers
Enter the Dragon

My Heart Says…

What do Anne from Anne of Green Gables and George Michael Bluth from Arrested Development have in common?  Both characters knew the great significance of a Valentine’s Day candy heart.  For the second year in a row, we’re celebrating the significance of this staple candy of Valentine’s Day by pairing the sayings with appropriate books.  Don’t know what to read next?  Close your eyes, grab a chalky heart from the bowl in the break room, and read accordingly.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Ever gotten lost in a story? This is the book for anyone who has, and for anyone who  can understand why reading aloud to someone who is resting his head on your shoulder until you’re hoarse is one of the most romantic ways to spend an evening.

Fat Angie by E.E. Charlreton-Trujillo
Instead of eating, her therapist suggests to “Just count.  Counting is like eating.”  But Angie knows it’s not true, as much as she knows that K.C. Romance is like no one she’s ever met before – she’s someone who can see beyond the surface and understand what is underneath.


The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
Yes, there really are Sweethearts that say “Occupy My <3" this year.  If you don't think that's a creepy way to express your love, then there's no other book for you than The 5th Wave, and that's all I'm going to say about that. 

Noggin by John Corey Whaley
Five years after his head was removed and cryogenically frozen in hopes of a cure for his terminal cancer being discovered, Travis awakes in a new body (with the same head) and a new puzzle: how to win back his girlfriend when he never intended to lose her to begin with?
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Maybe One Day by Melissa Kantor
Zoe and Liv have been through everything together, from their first days of ballet class, to the worst day ever – the day they were both cut from their ballet troupe. But soon, that tragedy pales in comparison to the difficulties that they face when Zoe is diagnosed with leukemia. The truest love isn’t always romantic. Read and cry over this poignant coming of age book with your own BFF.
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Cress by Marissa Meyer
Expanding on the Lunar Chronicles from Cinder and Scarlet, Cress re-imagines the character of Rapunzel as a young woman orbiting high above the earth in a satellite.  Isolation does have its benefits though, as she’s had ample times to hone her computer skills.
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Just Like Fate by Cat Patrick and Suzanne Young
In her grandmother’s final moments, Caroline is faced with a fateful decision: stay with her or take her best friend up on the invitation to get away for a few minutes.  With her life split into “stay” and “go” trajectories, will she ever end up being the person – and being with the person – she is meant to be and be with? Does she even have a choice in the matter, or is her destiny fated?

Cherry Money Baby by John M. Cusick
She didn’t mean to save a movie star’s life.  She didn’t mean to abandon her beloved trailer park life.  She didn’t mean to cheat on her boyfriend.  She didn’t mean to forget who she was… Cherry’s plan to marry her high school sweetheart and settle down in her small town is thrown for a loop when she catches a million dollar glimpse of how the other half lives.  Before she can commit to a new way of life or a major life change, she needs to get back to her roots.

Want to make your own hearts? I used this brilliantly simple site and you can too!
Want to build on this and host a conversation heart fest? Here are Fourteen Conversation Heart Crafts, and you can always just see who can stack them the highest too.

Happy Valentine’s Day, from everyone here at the Teen Librarian Toolbox!


TPiB: Retro Rad Valentines- 1960’s

1950’s not your style? If you want to flip back in time for Valentines (or any time for a teen program) try the 1960’s. Instead of bobby socks and poodle skirts think of the mod and miniskirts, flipped hair, and the beginning of the hippies. Jacqueline Kennedy, Twiggy, Austin Powers, and the Beatles.  Gilligan’s Island, the beginnings of Doctor Who, the original Star Trek, and I Dream of Jeannie.

With such a wide range to work with, how can you NOT have fun?


To get ideas for dress, look no further than current TV. Mad Men or the original episodes of Doctor Who will give you all the ideas that you need, as well as idea for hair and makeup. Look to your collection or the web for articles on hair and how to do flips and bubble hair, or if you have it long enough, iron it. If you don’t want to wear a suit or a dress, find a pair of flare pants, and a long sleeved shirt and tuck it in with a large belt, or go completely flower child hippie.

My tweens and teens are in love with 60’s music, even if they don’t know it’s from the 60’s. They will CONSTANTLY sing Beatles music, and will listen to Hendrix at the drop of a hat. Load up your ipod with all the genres and be surprised at what your teens know.
Look no further than the British Invasion and start with the Beatles, then move to the Monkees. The Rolling Stones, The Animals, Freddie and the Dreamers, the Kinks and the Dave Clark Five all are in the early 60’s. Muddy Waters, Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, and other folk singers hit their fame in the 60’s as well. Or if that’s not your scene, move to the surf rock of the Beach Boys, the Champs, or the Ventures, or the psychedelic rock of Jimi Hendrix or the Doors or Jefferson Airplane. Janis Joplin and the blues rock, Paul Revere and the Raiders style of garage rock, and Credence Clearwater Revival and their style of roots rock are all 60’s style. 

  • Grab multiple sets of Twister and have a Twist-off contest for a master champion!
  • Pass the orange (or tennis ball if you’re afraid of allergies): line up everyone, and you have to pass the object from neck to neck down the line and back without touching. For a competitive spirit, you can make teams.
  • Grab the hula hoops and have a contest to see who can last the longest
  • Musical chairs to the music
  • Freeze dancing- everyone can dance (somewhat, right) but can you stop when then music does?

 Want some 60’s inspired crafts to go with your theme night and valentines?
  • Decorate a pet rock
  • Create daisy chain necklaces
  • Dig out the pony beads and create groovy love necklaces for you or your valentine
  • Get adventurous and have everyone bring an item to tie-dye
  • Hand out psychedelic coloring sheets like these or these
  • take a look at some of the vintage valentine pages online for inspiration:
    And when all else fails? Show movies for that perfect ambiance- just check to make sure your public performance license covers it.
    Titles marked with a (*) are awesome for sing-alongs.
    American Graffiti
     Dr. No
    From Russia With Love
    Dr. Strangelove
     Funny Girl *
    The Love Bug
    Mary Poppins *
    My Fair Lady*
    Hairspray (2007) *
    The Sound of Music *
    West Side Story *
    Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
    Breakfast at Tiffany’s
    It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World
    Night of the Living Dead (1968)
    Batman (1966)
    Across the Universe *

    Next up, the 1970’s

TPiB: Retro Rad Valentine’s- 1950’s

You’re running along, thinking you’ve got everything planned out, and then out of the blue, it’s, MISS, are we doing something for Valentine’s?!?!?

Um, well, actually…. *bangs head on desk*

Why not throw a retro rad program? My teens are always wanting to do something if they’re hanging around, and more often than not multitask- they love just hanging around, talking, doing crafts and listing to music or a movie in the background, or playing games, so why not give them the space to do that in a theme and run with it for Valentines? 
It doesn’t have to be huge hearts and sparkles

nor does it have to be I HATE IT ALL

just a theme with a little more love thrown in.
With a little help from Teen Librarian Toolbox and a little legwork,
you can throw a retro rad party! First up, the 1950’s!

1950’s is the one most people go to first for a themed event:

Rolled up jeans, and a button down shirt, or dark blue jeans and rolled up white t-shirt makes your outfit and any of your teens as well. You can get any number of ideas off the web or in your collection.

For your playlist, run through the huge love songs of the time:
Earth Angel by The Penguins
Lonely Teardrops by Jackie Wilson
In The Still of the Night by the Five Satins
Mona Lisa by Nat King Cole
The Great Pretender by the Platters
Too Young by Nat King Cole
That’s Amore by Dean Martin
You’re So Fine by the Falcons
or load up on songs by
Buddy Holly
Fats Domino
Jerry Lee Lewis
 Want to have a huge bash and have games instead of a talk and gab night?
Try these and your teens could be on cloud 9….
Musical Chairs
Hide and Seek
Dance Contest (demonstrating dances like the Mashed Potato, etc.)
Trivia contest having teens guess the slang words and meaning
Want to show movies in the background?
Check these 1950’s releases (or set in the 1950’s) to make sure they’re covered under your public performance license, then show away.
Titles with (*) would be perfect for a sing-along night 
Back to the Future
Bye Bye Birdie*
Cry Baby*
Attack of the 50 Foot Woman
Beach Blanket Bingo
Jailhouse Rock
Singing in the Rain*
Some Like it Hot
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers*
Sleeping Beauty*
Lady and the Tramp
 Guys and Dolls*
Of course, if you want to stay in theme, then crafts have to stay in theme as well…
 Create bracelets using antique inspired ads and bottle caps or other mod podge jewelry
Create necklaces using old Scrabble tiles 
Since it’s Valentines, get ideas online of what era cards would look like and turn your teens loose with the craft closet and verses; they can make their own valentines or anti-valentines as they wish
Learn the basics of outline stitching and show teens the ropes
Or there are a ton of valentine crafts- a few of my favorites:

Next up, the 1960’s….

Listen to Your Hearts

Conversation hearts: that chalky sweet reminder of Valentine’s Day that lingers (in your molars) long after the chocolate has melted away. Their phrases are by turns charming and mystifying, but we love them just the same. So much so, that it’s time we do a little Reader’s Advisory love match for these desperately seeking sweets. Here, I do my best to match the title to the treat.

Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley
The last night of school, Lucy is determined to meet Shadow, the graffiti artist and underground celebrity in her town who she is sure would be her soul mate. Ed, a guy with whom Lucy had a disastrous first (and last) date with knows where he is. All night they hang out, bond over art and poetry and life, looking for what is already there.
Graffiti Moon
Au Revoir Crazy European Chick / Perry’s Killer Playlist by Joe Schreiber
You know that person you just can’t give up, even though you know it’s totally not in your best interest? Yeah, Gobi is that person for Perry. You don’t need to read the first before the second, but it’ll help, it’s a page turner, and it’s a heckuvalot of fun. This pair asks the question: exactly how many times can love overcome death?
BEMYBABY Hooked by Catherine Greenman
When New York teens Thea and Will meet at their prestigious high school, settling down with a baby is the last thing on their minds. They’re so in love… but when baby makes three, things are bound to change.
pic name Belonging by Karen Ann Hopkins
In this forthcoming sequel from Harlequin Teen, Amish Noah and “English” Rose have met and fallen in love. Now Rose has decided to uproot her modern life and become Amish so she can be with Noah. Her father expects she won’t last, but Rose is determined that this will be forever. What she finds within her new community and within herself is surprising in many ways.
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pic name After Hello by Lisa Magnum
Like a scene in a movie, Sarah snaps a photo of Sam finding a book at the beginning of her one and only day in New York City, and the two strike up an adorably flirtatious friendship as Sam trades one thing for another in hopes of finding exactly what his hotheaded celebrity employer wants and Sarah discovers a world of possibilities.
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Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
Both Aristotle and Dante are just completely solid guys. The kind of guys you want in your life, the kind of guys you’re lucky to meet and hope to hold on to for a while. As their friendship grows and develops into something more, the two discover that they are, indeed, lucky to have one another.
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Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony and Rodrigo Corral
She’s a brilliant piano prodigy. He’s a troubled student with an artistic flair. She’s headed on a European tour. He’s from Argentina. She’s missing. And he is… well, I’ll let you figure that one out. This is a beautiful book, and a compelling love story told almost exclusively through photographs.
The Difference Between You and Me by Madeline George
What could be more romantic than finding love and lust in the library bathroom? Well, probably lots of things, but when Jesse and Emily sneak off together to make out each week, those kisses make it all seem just about perfect… until the girls find themselves on opposite sides of a community conflict.
Going Vintage by Lindsay Leavitt
When you find that your boyfriend is cheating on you with a cyber wife, there is only one thing you can do – swear off all technology and return to a time where life was simpler. That’s right, Mallory is Going Vintage. Back to 1962, to be exact, to complete her grandmother’s unfinished to-do list from Junior year.
The Immortal Rulesby Julie Kagawa
Oh come on, we had to have at least ONE vampire book on here, right? Well this is a good one. Allie lives on the outskirts, trying to stay hidden, in a future society ruled by much reviled vampires. But when she makes the decision to let a vampire turn her instead of dying, her secrecy takes a new direction. This first in a promising and much anticipated series has both action and romance that both build slowly, forcefully, and very darkly.

Want to make your own hearts? I used this brilliantly simple site and you can too!
Want to build on this and host a conversation heart fest? Here are Fourteen Conversation Heart Crafts, and you can always just see who can stack them the highest too.

Happy Valentine’s Day, from everyone here at the Teen Librarian Toolbox!


TPiB: Easy Last Minute Valentine’s Crafts

It’s still coming…  Yes, Valentine’s is Thursday, and if you’re in need of easy crafts, I’ve collected some for you!  And only you, because that is how much I care for all y’all (Texas plural proper).

Origami Hearts

If your teens are anything like mine, they LOVE origami.  And if you have the instructions and try it once or twice, usually you can walk them through it.  The BEST part about origami is that you only need your copier paper and scissors (scissors to make the paper square).

There’s an awesome origami heart by MastaAzumarek that’s simple to do:
Or if you want (need) to make it book related, Foldsomething has a demo and instructions for a heart bookmark:
If you have extra magazines, or want to be rid of a few reams of colors paper, think about letting the teens loose to create their own paper bead jewelry.  Wikihow has an easy tutorial and you can easily have a red/pink theme or a black/blue theme, and shape the end product to fit.
Or let the teens loose with any extra pony beads or other supplies leftover from extra crafts from the fall, and have them create their own jewelry.  It can be as simple as a heart or a bracelet in various colors, or as complex as they want to make it.  The one below is made from beads strung onto a chenille stem shaped like a heart, then strung on a ribbon.
What crafts do you have planned for your teens?  Share in the comments!

Even More In Love With Me You’d Fall: Movies for the Romantic Night

Everyone’s always talking about their “un-valentine’s” party for teens.  And I’m right up there with them, because I’ll share my secret:  I *HATE* Valentine’s day.  I’ve hated it since I was little, and we had to give EVERYONE a Valentine (such a lie because there were people who hated me, and I know I didn’t like them). I hated it in high school, when all the popular (and rich) kids would get tons of carnations from friends and boyfriends as part of the school fundraiser, and if you didn’t get any, your status in looserville was secured. And I still hate it now- I mean, really, you need ONE DAY to tell the world you love that someone in your life?  Tell them EVERY DAY, PEOPLE.

Ok, done now.  But even though your teens might want an “anti-valentine’s” program, or an un-valentine’s theme, there’s no reason you can’t have a romantic movie.  You can always twist it and turn it into a MST3000 event, or have them act out the parts if it’s a well-known one.  Or my favorite is to let them be creative with the crafts- have the movie be a romantic movie, but the crafts be anything they want, like giant message hearts that they can write either happy or negative sayings on, or dig out the pony beads and let them design bracelets to give to others or to keep.

And for movies….

NOTE: All movies are listed under Movie Licensing USA as of February 1.  If you do not have a license please get one before you show a movie- do not have the FBI or other alphabet soups knocking down your door.

SPECIAL NOTE: All movies are rated PG13 or lower.  While the MPAA ratings are guidelines and not laws, a majority of libraries need to keep within that rating.

  • 10 Things I Hate About You (remaking of taming of the Shrew, and you can blow the teens minds that The Joker, and the New Batman went to High School together!)
  • Across the Universe (can totally do a sing-along, especially as a lot of teens are getting into the Beatles)
  • Easy A (have a contest and give out Valentine candies if they can name all the 80’s movies that are referenced in the movie)
  • Pretty In Pink (I am in love with Ducky)
  • Sixteen Candles (I actually like the exchange student, so this is definitely a heckler)
  • Wedding Singer (another sing-along)
  • Can’t Buy Me Love
  • Empire Records
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
  • Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist
  • Enchanted (or actually pretty much anything by Disney- Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, Cinderella, etc.)
  • Like Crazy (also has Jennifer Lawrence of Hunger Games fame)
  • Arthur (2011 with Russell Brand)