Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

YouTube, Virtual Communities, and Teen Sexual Health

YouTube, like the Internet as a whole, has been invaluable in helping people find their virtual tribes. You may be the only Brony you know in the tri-state area, but other Bronies are always only a few clicks away (if you have good Internet access.) Similarly, teens have been building communities through YouTube since its beginning. Think of the things your teens are obsessed with – video gaming, anime, rock climbing, just being a teenager, etc. – whatever they are into, there is sure to be a YouTube community to address that interest.

When doing reader’s advisory these days, it’s not uncommon to hear that a teen doesn’t really watch television, but they watch a lot of YouTube. Certainly, there are many rabbit holes of entertaining content down which any viewer can fall, but I think it is more common that teens are watching YouTube videos that illuminate their own interests and help provide a virtual community of like-minded individuals. These videos can open new worlds to our teens and do the important work of letting them know they are not alone*. Every teen (or welcoming adult) who makes themselves vulnerable on YouTube does this important work. Similarly, every YouTuber with a significant audience who uses their audience reach to highlight important content by lesser known YouTubers helps to make this community a little more open and a little more welcoming. One of the best things about YouTube is the way it encourages these interactions and how its algorithms actually help viewers find relevant content (whatever else you think about them.)

YouTube can also provide a community or a resource for teens who have questions they don’t know how to get answered, especially teens who comprehend spoken language better than written language, or who feel more comfortable finding information in an interactive or interpersonal way. Additionally, videos can often contain demonstrations of important material that would be difficult or impossible to convey through writing and simple images. For many teens, this information can include how to apply makeup, cook for themselves, and live healthy lives. One of the most immediate needs many teens have is for information on sexual health. Many teens live in communities where these topics are not commonly discussed, or are not allowed as a part of their overall health education curriculum in their public schools. This does not negate their need for this information. In fact, I would argue that it only increases this need. I believe that information is power, and fully informed decisions are the best possible decisions. They can turn to their virtual communities for this information.

For several years (mostly 2011 to 2013) there were almost weekly thought pieces published on the damage caused by teens’ ready access to Internet pornographic content. Headlines like “What to do when you discover your teen has been viewing porn online” and “Sex therapist expresses concern over teen porn addiction” were quite common. But in fact, an article on the Slate website summed up the situation both accurately and succinctly – How Does Internet Porn Affect Teens? New Study Says: We Have No Idea!

Fortunately, regardless of which side of that argument you fall on, there are a number of YouTube channels that address teens’ (and others’) needs for information regarding sexual health, as well as sex and gender related information that may be either difficult to find, or meet needs a teen is unaware of.

One of the best YouTube channels covering this topic in general is Sexplanations, hosted by Dr. Lindsay Doe, who is a clinical sexologist. Sexplanations has been on YouTube for almost 2 years, has over 171,000 followers and has exceeded 14 million views. More information about Dr. Doe’s background and qualifications is available in the channel’s first video. The channel covers topics ranging from human anatomy, sexual terminology, and protection from sexually transmitted diseases to gender identity and expression, consent, abuse, and healthy sexual activity. It has a really broad target audience and approaches all topics with a sex-positive, educational mindset.

The best educational, sex-positive YouTube channel geared towards young adults and new adults I’ve found is lacigreen. Laci Green is a self described sex education activist. She describes the content of her videos as being about “sexuality, gender, body image, relationships, feminism, and sex ed for the internet.” Her recent video on Dress Code Sexism helps to clarify the issues surrounding this topic, and could be invaluable to young women in supporting their defense of their rights. She offers similarly valuable clarification on issues surrounding feminism, body autonomy, and gender identity, as well as practical sexual education information.

If you’ve been reluctant to explore the world of YouTube, you are really missing out on a wealth of resources you can provide for  your teen patrons. And all of them are freely available, given reliable internet access, and part of a platform with which they are generally very comfortable and eager to use. What is stopping you?

*Some of us had to rely upon books for this – isn’t it wonderful that our teens have both?

Take 5: 5 Things You Should Know About YouTube (#YouTubeWeek)

This week we’ve been talking about YouTube – sharing our favorite YouTubers and channels, discussing it’s popularity, etc. But today I wanted to talk about YouTube in general, some interesting tidbits I’ve learned along the way about the culture that is YouTube. And make no mistake, YouTube is a very developed and popular culture with our tweens and teens. And with that culture, as with all cultures, comes the good and the bad. So without further adieu, here are 5 Things You Should Know About YouTube.

1. Diversity is an ongoing discussion in the YouTube community

Like publishing, diversity is an issue in the YouTube community. Many have noticed that the big name YouTubers, and the ones getting a bulk of the promotion, are in fact white (and often male). A recent article pointed out that even during Black History Month, the bulk of the promotion did not fall to people of color but largely to white men. See, for example, this article in Fusion about how YouTube rarely promotes black YouTube stars.

On the other hand, some argue that YouTube is a great vehicle for diversity because it allows others to gain a platform that they might not have trying to go through the mainstream media. For example, YouTube sensation Franchesca Ramsey says in USA Today, “For people of color, it’s a portal to provide authentic stories online you’re not seeing anywhere else.”

2. They have their own awards and conventions

In 2007 the YouTube community began giving out awards for some of its most popular videos and content creators. And in 2013 YouTube held its first ever video music awards. There are many musical talents that are using YouTube as a platform for to share and sell their music. The a capella act Pentatonix and violinist Lindsey Stirling, for example, have both successfully used YouTube to launch music careers.

In addition to awards, there is a large yearly convention for online video content creators called VidCon. It was started by the Vlogbrothers, John and Hank Green. Vidcon is a celebration of content and content creators, which brings us to our next point.

3. They have their own scandals

Speaking of VidCon, it’s worth noting that YouTube and the YouTube community is not without its fair share of scandals. There have been numerous accounts of sexual harassment at VidCon, resulting in calls for a sexual harassment policy to be written and publicized. In addition, some of the content on YouTube can be quite controversial in and of itself. Sam Pepper is a famous YouTuber who made a name for himself making “prank” videos. However, it is worth noting that some of the pranks he has done on seemingly unknowing passerbyers would technically be considered sexual assault. Thankfully, many YouTubers themselves pointed this out and there was a lot of discussion in the press about it.

4. They have their own Memes

You are probably familiar with the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that went viral. This is an example of the YouTube Meme, a post that goes viral. Many of them take the form of challenges much like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. I know that when the Tween has friends spend the night they almost always do the Blindfold Makeup Challenge and the Blindfold Taste Challenge. The Blindfold Makeup Challenge is exactly what it sounds like, you blindfold someone and let them do your makeup – hilarity ensues. And in the Blindfold Taste Challenge you blindfold yourself and let others feed you food and you try to guess what it is.

5. It’s a great place to learn more about the teens you serve in your library

One thing that major social media platforms do and do well is compile information about their users. Libraries could learn a lot from them. But thankfully, YouTube is good at sharing. Every 3 months YouTube (well, really Google who owns YouTube) shares their YouTube Insights. The insights are in some ways just an ad for Google/YouTube, but they also share market research, popular YouTube channels and personalities and more. And every once in a while there is an interesting nugget of information in there. For example, in the Issues 5 Q2 2014 edition they mention that “ad recall improves 7x by mentioning brand name twice in a video”. The take away here is that we need to make sure and remember to say the names of our libraries – at least twice – in some way if we are creating videos to help promote our libraries. Don’t expect viewers to remember that the name of your library on a screen or remembered that they saw a video on the X public library YouTube channel, make sure to actually say the name of your library out loud somewhere in your video, multiple times if it works with the script.

Better yet, talk to the teens hanging out at your library and ask them what they are watching on YouTube. It’s always great to have conversations with your teens. Experience has shown me that they love sharing some of their favorite videos with me.

According to recent stats, YouTube is THE most popular social media platform for tweens and teens. Just Saturday night The Tween had a friend over and they spent 2 hours watching video after video on YouTube. They watched countdown videos (Top 10 music videos of the week, Top 10 Disney villains, etc) and they watched DIY tutorials. And during the week, I’m just as likely to catch The Tween watching a video of Stampy playing Minecraft as I am to find her playing Minecraft herself. In fact, my niece spent all of her Christmas money on computer programs so that she can make, edit, add effects and upload her own Minecraft videos. I am by no means a YouTube expert, but I try and learn what I can to better serve my teens. I’m not going to lie, it helps having a YouTube obsessed Tween in my home who shares all the latest trends with me because man, it’s hard to keep up.

How about you, what do you need to know about YouTube that I missed here? Share your insight in the comments please.

Buzzfeed http://www.buzzfeed.com/annanorth/youtube-is-teens-top-social-network

For More Information:

Mashable: A History of YouTube

#YouTubeWeek: What’s Hot on YouTube, a guest post by Rose

Today’s post is brought to you by another one of the smart teenagers I know, Rose. Rose is here to give us a rundown on some of her favorite things on YouTube.


Yay, YouTube!

On YouTube, you can learn about new music or artists, find new makeup to try, relax, or gain new skills. There’s so many different reasons to watch YouTube videos!

I find channels that I like through recommendations from YouTubers or from suggested similar videos. The first YouTuber I remember subscribing to was StilaBabe09, a makeup guru who has 3,295,470 subscribers right now. The first video I watched was her makeup collection and storage back in summer 2012.


Some of my favorite YouTubers are:

  • WatchUsLiveAndStuff- a great channel that had Anthony from smosh, a comedic gaming channel, and Kalel from kalelkitten when they were a couple. They broke off their engagement 3 months ago and broke hearts everywhere, including mine and my boyfriend’s.

  • PewDiePie– the biggest YouTuber ever with 35,665,010 subscribers at the moment, my boyfriend’s favorite YouTuber and one that never fails to make people laugh.

  • SDK- with 170,523 subscribers SDK is a collab channel that doesn’t have many fans, but their fans are extremely dedicated. They have the funniest videos ever. The collab includes twins Adam and Nick, Jonah Green, Joey Gatto, RyansAverageLife, and Josh Sobo. Joe Santagato sadly left the channel recently.

  • Colleen Ballinger aka PsychoSoprano and MirandaSings is a very interesting YouTuber. At first she just had the MirandaSings channel, which is a comedic character that is hugely famous. She has lots of viral videos and subscribers on that channel; even people who don’t watch YouTube a lot know the name Miranda. On PsychoSoprano she does more blog style videos as herself.

  • StrawBurry17 is a nerdy girl YouTuber who has tons of fans of all ages and genders and does gaming videos, popin cookin videos, and blogs on LifeBurry.


  • TheMostPopularGirls or MPGIS is another show on YouTube that is made from Barbie dolls. It started with two guys and dollar store fake Barbies. It’s now huge and it is kind of a comedy because they put funny and inappropriate things to the dolls moving. It’s appealing to lots of ages from teens to adults. There’s not many subscribers but lots of views; you’ve probably seen gifs from the show.

  • Shawn Mendes has posted lots of covers on YouTube and now has his own music and is going on tour! I’m actually going to his April 15th concert in Minneapolis!

  • yunging19 or Ashley is a YouTuber I love who does lots of unboxing, hair, makeup, hauls and advice videos.

  • Bethany Mota is very famous from her YouTube channel with 8 million subscribers. She was on Dancing With The Stars and has her own clothing line at Aeropstale.

  • communitychannel is a comedy channel that’s been around a while. Natalie does videos about things she experiences throughout the week basically. Always super relatable and funny.

  • eleventhgorgeous are two sisters who make videos every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday about makeup, hair, beauty subscription boxes, fashion, and basically anything girly. I love their channel and the sister dynamic they have, so cute.

  • HelloKaty is a YouTuber in college now who does fashion and makeup videos that I love. She’s very pretty, comes off very calm, and is really smart and mature.

  • Ingrid is a really big YouTuber who started the famous volumes trend, vlogging every day in December.

Meet Our Guest Blogger
I’m Rose. I love fashion and beauty along with books and music. I spend most of my free time on YouTube, Netflix or Hulu. I’ve recently been addicted to solitaire on my phone and watching old seasons of America’s Next Top Model. My favorite color is teal and favorite food is chocolate, preferably with caramel. I’m in The Youth Choral Of Central Minnesota, in choir at school, and I take private voice lessons because I love singing. I’m also a huge fangirl of basically everything.

Find me on social media:
Instagram: rose_ez
Twitter: 1Drose_
Tumblr: rosezahn1
Pinterest: rosemaryez
Polyvore: rosezahn

#YouTubeWeek: A BookTube Crash Course, a guest post by AbbyRoseReads

Today’s post is brought to you by my fantastically smart teenage friend Abby. I know Abby through the YA book club I run at the public library. She has previously guest posted  on YALSA’s The Hub during Teen Read Week. Today Abby is giving us a crash course in BookTube. What is BookTube? It’s exactly what you might guess—a community on YouTube dedicated to books! 


The Beginning

For about two years I just lurked in the shadows of BookTube trying not to disturb anyone. Then I got up the courage to make an account and figured out that it is way more fun to actually engage with the other readers. After a while you start to build relationships with other booktubers and make some amazing friends. I now follow booktubers on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat and have even done a book exchange with a girl from another state. My first subscriber was a bigger booktuber that I had become friends with on Twitter. These relationships are what I love so much about BookTube. BookTube connects people that wouldn’t otherwise be connected. For me, this meant I was no longer limited by living in a small town with not a lot of book lovers.


Tips and More for Posting


My channel is AbbyRoseReads. I’m on a sort of pause because of being crazy busy with school and life, but I hope to revive the channel soon. I miss it! I love making videos. It’s like an outlet for all my book nerdiness. Before finding the library book club, I didn’t really have anywhere to share my love for books so finding a way to put my thoughts out there and getting a response was an amazing feeling.


I’m new to making videos, but I there are a few tips that I have been told by other content creators. Don’t worry about lighting or what camera you have. The quality of the video is really determined by what you do in it, not by the fancy set up or HD-ness of it. The best thing a person can do for their videos is to be themselves. Don’t try to copy someone else or worry about being too much this or not enough that. Add your own style to the BookTube community. Being unique will get you noticed. Also: be enthusiastic. It catches peoples’ attention and will keep people watching. Remember that you are allowed to read critically. Be honest about how you feel about a book even if it seems unpopular. Make what you want and what makes you happy. If everyone is making book hauls and you hate them, then make something different! Try a discussion video or a skit. Make it fun!



Some other good user tips are to be enthusiastic about reading. Voice your opinions and share your excitement. The best experiences will be from being involved. Don’t be afraid to comment. Watch a variety of videos until you find ones that fit what you like to read. Respect opinions of others. Readers interpret stories in a great number of ways.


Some Favorites

There are SOOOO many other incredible booktubers out there and these only scrape the surface of BookTube.

Ariel Bissett – Ariel and I don’t have a very similar taste in books, but I love her videos anyway. She is critical and really thoughtful. I love that she does discussion videos about book related topics and I also love that she goes outside of the book sphere in some videos too. For example, she is currently studying abroad and putting up videos of her adventures. Ariel is just a great example of why I love BookTube. Her channel and how it has grown shows how once people are able to connect over one thing (books), they can go on to create deeper connections and relationships over other things.



Bookhunter155 – Manuel has videos in Spanish AND English! Spanish BookTube is a really big community.



BookishandNerdy – Jillian is one of the queens of bookhauls. This girl knows how to buy books. She’s also great at reading and reviewing a large variety of books because of this. If you want to see some new books or get recommendations, this is a great place to look.



BrunetteBibliophile – Chloe is just on top of things. Her channel has it all. There are book hauls, tags, unhauls, reactions, and more. She is a consistent uploader with lots of fun things to say about the books she reads and is a good example of a booktuber in terms of what kinds of things they typically make.



CassJayTuck – She is like BookTube royalty. She was one of the first ones out there talking about books on YouTube before BookTube was a thing. This girl is so clever. She can be brutally honest about a book and show her love for it at the same time. Cassidy is the place to go for critical reviews and she also has hilarious book related skits and rant videos. She was the first booktuber I encountered so she has a special place in my heart.



Ciara Jav – Funny, Canadian, relatable. We have similar taste in books so I get a lot of recommendations from what she reads.



CozyTeaReads – Shannon is the sweetest thing out there. Her videos are so cute and positive. Her enthusiasm pours from the screen and I love her cheerful manner that accompanies her book reviews and such.



DylanBooks – One of the funniest people on BookTube. He’s Australian and has some of the prettiest graphics in his videos.



Elisabeth Paige – A younger booktuber.



Elizziebooks – This girl is amazing. She does so much for the BookTube community. Liz works hard on her channel and on running BookTube News on tumblr and youtube. Liz is all about community and bringing us together. She deserves an award for all her hard work she does for the community.


Jellafy – Jenny defies what is normal for BookTube and it is fabulous. German, but the videos are in English. She’ll drink a juice box and chat with the viewer about what she read last month and then have a video where there are two of her.



PeruseProject – This is the place to go if you like fantasy or science fiction. Regan is an expert.



PolandBananasBOOKS – BookTube elite. One of the firsts. Does a lot of book to movie adaptation coverage AND tons of book reviews. Look up her booktubeathon videos. She does hilarious skit videos.



thebookbasement – This girl is wise beyond her years. Beautiful channel with great videos.



twobookteens – A booktube duo. Best friends that share a channel.



Whittynovels – My first subscriber. Wonderful and very strange. I don’t even know how to describe Whitney.



A few more to check out:

thelibraryofbrittany, Readbyzoe, tashapolis, JessetheReader, Joel Books, Kassidy Voinche, katskywriter24, Little Book Owl, Maureenkeavy, padfootandprongs07



Some Cool Things Happening on BookTube

Book clubs are super popular. Different people form to make a book club and then have livestreams to discuss the book. Viewers can join and read and chat along. Check out Booksplosion on Twitter for their latest reads.

Readathons are also making their way from blogs to YouTube.

BookTubeAThon has become a huge hit. I love it and participate every time.



You can also participate in:

book haul – buying three of more books at once then showing what you bought in a video

unhaul – getting rid of the books you don’t want and getting that TBR under control and making a video of it

wrap up – video talking about all that you read in the past month (or whatever time period)

monthly TBR – video to say what you plan to read in the next month

#FridayReads – videos on Fridays to show what you’re currently reading and what your reading plans are for the weekend

tags – fun videos with some questions that you are tagged by someone else to do, you then answer and name someone else to do the same

challenges – usually something with finding or naming books, a crazy activity that is attempted to win or just to see if you can do it, these can be tags

review/discussion – talking about a book you read, a review will usually be spoiler free and discussion is kind of a free for all of anything and everything you thought about the book


Meet Our Guest Blogger

Abby is a Minnesotan teen who is a fan of reading, the internet, and strawberry Twizzlers. She is a dancer, a diver, and runs the teen book club at her local library. Abby can be found on Tumblr at yourstrulyabby and on YouTube at abbyrosereads.

Middle Grade Monday – YouTube for the Tween Crowd

Several years ago, the school district where I work finally unblocked YouTube, and a whole world of opportunity was opened. There is so much educational content available on YouTube, and much of it is useful to the tween crowd. I’d like to start by highlighting several channels that have incredibly useful educational content (with the caveat that, like all useful content, you need to view it through the lens of your community.)

First, there is Crash Course. Originally featuring science and history content, Crash Course has branched out to cover a multitude of topics. We originally began using it with our students studying world history, then American history. They have multiple playlists featuring the topics they have covered, including psychology, chemistry, ecology, etc. Some of the videos will be beyond the interest or comprehension levels of some tweens, though, so it is important to check out their content before using them with students. Most recently, they have begun to offer some really helpful explanatory content covering government. I find the astronomy content especially useful for our sixth grade students. For younger middle grade students, there is also the new Crash Course Kids channel, which has been active a month and so far features more elementary science topics.

SciShow is a science specific channel with a number of good playlists, as well as some more ‘fun’ content – although all of the content is designed to be entertaining as well as educational. About a year ago, they spun off a series, SciShow Space, which has some really excellent content for students studying the solar system and space content in general. More recently, they have launched SciShow Kids, which features content more applicable to younger tweens. If it seems that SciShow and Crash Course are following similar trajectories, it’s because they are both produced by Hank and John Green (the vlog brothers.)

Minute Earth and Minute Physics are channels that offer short, entertaining content on a wealth of topics. Both channels feature quickly drawn images with an engaging voice-over. Much of the content is relevant to the Common Core science standards, and most of it is highly entertaining and engaging for tweens. Another channel that produces fast paced videos with voice-overs and a combination of drawings and images is CGP Grey. The videos on this channel feature mostly social science topics. I found the explanation of the difference between the United Kingdom, Great Britain, and England very helpful. The channel has a similar video explaining what is really meant by the term Scandinavia.

Finally, for some of my more advanced students, I’ve found a number of useful videos on PBS Idea Channel. This channel has a very useful playlist – a guide to common logical fallacies, however, much of the content is pop culture related and might be slightly beyond the comprehension of many tweens. Many of the videos would be good for initiating group discussions, though.

What content have you found on YouTube that you think is useful for tweens? Leave a comment and share!

From the Screen to the Page: How the YouTube Sensation Became a YA Book, a guest post by Paige McKenzie and Alyssa Sheinmel (#YouTubeWeek)

The Haunting of Sunshine Girl is a gasp out loud ghost story that began as a YouTube series. I was not familiar with the web series until I read the book, but I really liked the book so I went and checked the YouTube channel. The book kept me on the edge of my seat and is another new addition to ongoing list of great reads for Buffy fans. It’s not a typical ghost story and I’m looking forward to reading more. Today for #YouTube week we have co-authors Paige McKenzie and Alyssa Sheinmel discussing how they turned this hit YouTube series into a haunting read for YA lit lovers. I enjoyed this book and recommend it, I think teen readers will enjoy it as well.

Paige: The Haunting of Sunshine Girl started as a YouTube web series in 2010, when I was sixteen-years-old, and it took off in ways I never could have imagined!  When we first started working out the concept, we didn’t have a name or anything much beyond the idea that it would be “Gilmore Girls meets Paranormal Activity.”  But right from the start, it just felt special.  I loved creating this character.  And not just because I got to play her!  I just knew that the world could really use a bit more Sunshine.  Her bravery, positivity, and quirkiness were things I wanted to share with the world.

But after of few years of telling Sunshine’s story on YouTube, we started thinking about ways to tell a bigger, more behind-the-scenes sort of story than we had so far.  In the web series, you don’t know a whole lot about Sunshine’s life before she moves into a haunted house, and you don’t know why her house in haunted, or why her mom doesn’t believe her.  So when we had the opportunity to put her story into a book, I was thrilled!

Alyssa: I am so excited to be a part of telling Sunshine’s story.  To me, one of the coolest things about The Haunting of Sunshine Girl is that it was a collaboration from the very start.  To begin with, the web series was a collaboration between Paige, her mother Mercedes Rose, and producer Nick Hagen and all the amazing actors they worked with; they created this rich world with compelling characters and I joined Team Sunshine to help figure out how to bring all of that good stuff to the page.  It’s the most collaborative project I’ve ever worked on, and it is so exciting to be part of something that has a life both outside and inside of the pages of a book.

Paige: It’s so much fun because existing Sunshiners will get to learn so much more about Sunshine’s world and at the same time, readers who never watched the web series before will be able to go online and see how it all started!

Alyssa: I think the most important part of bringing the story from YouTube to the page was staying really true to the characters and the world of the web series.  Paige and everyone who worked on the web series had already done so much of the heavy lifting involved in creating these voices and personalities – I just had to try to remain true to everything they created!  The book takes place in the same setting and is based on a lot of the same ideas as the web series, but we also worked on a plot that would take Sunshine on some new adventures.  In fact, we decided that the book is a bit more “Buffy The Vampire Slayer meets Veronica Mars” than “Gilmore Girls meets Paranormal Activity,” so that’s one way that it’s a little bit different from the web series!  But I hope that viewers of the show will feel like the characters in the books behave just like the characters from the show would in these situations.

Paige:  It was super cool to see the character that I created take on a life outside of the videos!  We wanted the Sunshine on the page to look and sound like the Sunshine in the videos – she even has all of my mannerisms, like raising one eyebrow when she’s feeling particularly skeptical, and saying blah when she just can’t think of anything else to say.

Alyssa:  And, it’s amazing because the story doesn’t have to end when you finish the book – you can stay in Sunshine’s world by watching the videos and vice versa.

Paige: And just like the videos keep going – season after season after season! – Sunshine’s adventures will continue on the page, with two more books coming in the next couple years.

Alyssa: Plotting what’s next for Sunshine was exciting.  We’re taking her out of the setting that viewers of the videos – and now, readers of the first book – are familiar with.  Sunshine will be leaving Washington behind to continue her work as a luiseach, and we’re also introducing some new characters.  (But don’t worry, there’s still plenty of action with Nolan and Kat!)  Yet even as we bring Sunshine to new places and have her interacting with new people, we’re always working to stay true to the voice and character that Paige created.  Of course, Sunshine is growing and changing with all of these adventures, but she’s always going to be quirky and funny and full of light (if occasionally a little bit sarcastic…).  And even as the setting changes, the creepy atmosphere of the videos and the first book will be following Sunshine wherever she goes.

Paige: I’m so excited about what’s coming for Sunshine.  The world of the books just keeps getting bigger, and the stakes get higher and higher with each of her adventures.  She’s gone from a girl living in a haunted house with a skeptical mom to a sort of ghost-hunting superhero, and I am loving every second of it!

Author Bios:

Paige McKenzie, the irresistible face of The Haunting of Sunshine Girl, is thrilled to bring her unique voice to life in a book series.  At the age of sixteen, McKenzie teamed up with producer Nick Hagen and her mother, actress Mercedes Rose, to create The Haunting of Sunshine Girl on YouTube.  Soon the spine-chilling series – and its unforgettable title character – boasted a viewership in the tens of millions.  McKenzie was recently named one of Seventeen magazine’s “Pretty Amazing” finalists.  She lives in Portland, Oregon.  Follow her on Twitter @hauntedsunshine or visit her online at thehauntingofsunshinegirl.com.

Alyssa Sheinmel is the author of the young adult novels Second Star, The Beautiful Between, The Lucky Kind, and The Stone Girl, as well as the forthcoming novel, Faceless.  The New York Post described The Beautiful Between as “endearing, realistic, and heart-wrenching”; and New York Times bestselling author Anna Godbersen called Second Star “gorgeous: at once sun-soaked and haunted, elegant and strange…perfect.”  Alyssa grew up in Northern California and New York, and attended Barnard College.  She now lives and writes in New York City.  Follow her on Twitter @AlyssaSheinmel and visit her online at AlyssaSheinmel.com.

Publisher’s Book Description:

Based on the wildly popular YouTube channel, The Haunting of Sunshine Girl has been described as “ Gilmore Girls meets Paranormal Activity for the new media age.” YA fans new and old will learn the secrets behind Sunshine—the adorkable girl living in a haunted house—a story that is much bigger, and runs much deeper, than even the most devoted viewer can imagine…

Win a Copy of The Haunting of Sunshine Girl

U.S. residents can enter to win a hardback copy of The Haunting of Sunshine Girl by doing the Rafflecopter thingy below. All entries must be submitted by April 18th at Midnight.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Visit The Haunting of Sunshine Girl online:

Website: http://thehauntingofsunshinegirl.com/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/hauntedsunshinegirl

Twitter: https://twitter.com/hauntedsunshine

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheHauntingOfSunshineGirl

Instagram: http://instagram.com/hauntedsunshine/

Sunday Reflections: YouTube Killed the MTV Star (#YouTubeWeek)

On August 1, 1981 MTV debuted with the music video Video Killed the Radio Star by the Buggles. In my mind, I totally remember being there and watching it happen, though in many ways that seems impossible because I would have only been 9 at the time. Yes, go ahead and make your man are you old jokes here. Get it out of your system.

During my middle and high school years, I was raised by MTV. I turned it on first thing when I woke up and listened to the music in the background as I got ready for school. As I ran into my home after a day of school, I turned it on. It was on 24/7 during the summer. I lived and breathed music and music videos. I stayed up late to watch world premiere videos. I felt like the VJs were my friends.

And then there was the glory that is and shall ever be TRL. I loved TRL. Even as a person in my 20s, I loved TRL.

The funny thing is, now I don’t even know where MTV is on my tv. I haven’t looked at it in quite some time. And I’m not even sure that The Tween knows that MTV exists. One day, I’ll have to sit down with her and explain to her what MTV is and why it matters, what it meant to me when I was her age.

But The Tween and her friends get all of their music a new way – YouTube. YouTube is a presence in my home now the way MTV was when I was this age. And to be honest, it has some distinct advantages. For example, I don’t have to watch MTV for hours hoping to see the newest Duran Duran (that’s who it would have been at this age) video, I could go straight to YouTube and watch it whenever I wanted, as often as I wanted. A feature I can assure you The Tween takes advantage of. The 6yrold as well. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen the What Does the Fox Say video. It would terrify you. I still have nightmares about it.

YouTube has revolutionized the way Tweens and Teens find and access music. And just about everything else actually. YouTube stars are now bigger than some of the biggest names in music and movies. And many award shows – like the Kids Choice Awards and the Teen Choice Awards – are recognizing the impact that YouTube has on teen culture by including them in the awards categories and inviting YouTube stars to the award shows.

The Tween and her friends talk about people I have never heard of the way previous generations talked about The Beatles or Duran Duran or N Sync. YouTube is a big deal. And in many ways, it levels the playing field. There are “amateur” created videos that rival some of the output of major movie studios. Violinist Lindsey Stirling can be just as big a deal as Miley Cyrus.

In other ways YouTube once again illuminates the digital divide and growing socioeconomic gap. For some of our teens, the only access they have to YouTube may be in the school or public library. And while many teens are growing STEM skills by creating and editing their own YouTube videos, others don’t have the chance to practice and develop those skills because they don’t have access to the necessary technology. This is one of the ways a well thought out Makerspace can help bridge that digital divide.

This week, in between some of our regular posts, we’re going to be talking about YouTube. Amanda MacGregor had some teens write a couple of posts. I’m sharing five things you need to know about YouTube in a Take 5 list. And of course we’re going to talk YouTube and books. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go watch the top 10 videos of the week on YouTube with The Tween. That’s where I get my music countdown now.  The truth is, just as MTV changed everything back in 1981, YouTube has changed everything once again. Is changing everything. And that can be a good thing.

Book Review: Can’t Look Away by Donna Cooner

Publisher’s Description: 

Torrey Grey is famous. At least, on the internet. Thousands of people watch her popular videos on fashion and beauty. But when Torrey’s sister is killed in an accident — maybe because of Torrey and her videos — Torrey’s perfect world implodes.

Now, strangers online are bashing Torrey. And at her new school, she doesn’t know who to trust. Is queen bee Blair only being sweet because of Torrey’s internet infamy? What about Raylene, who is decidedly unpopular, but seems accepts Torrey for who she is? And then there’s Luis, with his brooding dark eyes, whose family runs the local funeral home. Torrey finds herself drawn to Luis, and his fascinating stories about El dio de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead.

As the Day of the Dead draws near, Torrey will have to really look at her own feelings about death, and life, and everything in between. Can she learn to mourn her sister out of the public eye?

Karen’s Thoughts:

It is interesting to note that just as I have been spending a lot of time witnessing and thinking about YouTube culture (see here and here), I started reading this book which demonstrates the power of YouTube culture.  [Read more…]

Why you need to be following the news about Sam Pepper, a discussion of the YouTube community and teen culture

Teen culture and celebrity is dominated these days by a force that many adults don’t pay enough attention to: YouTube. YouTube isn’t just a place where Tweens and Teens go to watch the latest music video, it is producing legitimate stars who make a serious amount of cash. YouTube culture is so big that the press has recently began running articles about how it is changing the way that tweens and teens become celebrities and many awards shows are including social media and YouTube awards in their categories. There are entire conferences devoted to YouTube, including VidCon which was created in part by John Green and his brother Hank.

It is also important to note that to date 18 YouTube celebrities have been accused of sexual impropriety, often against their teen fans that they meed at these very conferences. See also, The DFTBA Sexual Abuse Scandal.

Which brings us to Sam Pepper.

Sam Pepper is a UK YouTuber who is known for pulling of a variety of pranks. As pranks often do, they often cross a line that puts others into uncomfortable and sometimes into unsafe positions. Some of Sam Pepper’s previous pranks have included handcuffing girls to him against their will and demanding a kiss in order to be let loose. In another incident he used a rope to lasso girls and pull them into an embrace with him.

Earlier this week on Twitter the hashtag #ReportSamPepper went viral as Sam had posted a video called the Fake Hand Ass Pinch. Basically, he approached girls and as he engaged them in conversation he used his hidden hand to pinch their bum. As many observers correctly pointed out, this is in fact sexual harassment and it is something that many organizations are working tirelessly to end. See Stop Street Harassment for example.

But as the rallying cry went out against Sam Pepper, he produced another video with the notation that it was 2 of 3, although it is interesting to note that the original video included no such notation indicating that it was part of a series. In this video, women did the same thing to men.

[Read more…]

Take 5: YouTube 24/7

If you spend any time with Tweens, you know that they are obsessed – OBSESSED – with YouTube. And Vine and Instagram. But seriously, YouTube. When The Tween’s friends come over their favorite thing to do is sit around and watch YouTube videos. YouTube – and social media in general – is so popular that the Teen Choice Awards recently added several categories giving out awards to a new type of star that has circumvented traditional pathways to superstardom. 

And although there are some legitimate concerns about tweens and teens using social media, particularly about things like online privacy, digital footprints and online bullying (cyberbullying), social media is also allowing teens to be creative, learn technology skills, think proactively, and take initiative. 

Here are a few YouTubers that are super popular, and you can find a full list of the Teen Choice Award social media nominees at SugarScape to get more information on who is popular right now.


Bunny goes by the handle Grav3yardgirl. She is a woman in her 20s (almost 30s) who shoots a variety of YouTube videos including a segment called Follow Me Around and Does It Really Work. For the follow me around segments, she literally goes into a store and you follow her around. And for the does it really work segment she tests out various products to see – you guessed it – if it really works. Here she is testing out the Soda Stream product:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nul0L4itTa0]

Bethany Mota

Bethany Mota is a teen and fashion blogger from California. She is so popular she has a line of clothing at Aeropostale and she recently guest judged on Project Runway. I know this because we watch PR every week and as they panned over the guest judges The Tween squealed, I think that’s Bethany Mota. She was instantly recognized. You can visit here channel here.

Ricky Dillon

The Tween and her best friend are in lurve with Ricky Dillon in the same way that many others are screaming over 5 Seconds of Summer and One Direction. He was one of the award winners at the Teen Choice Awards. You can see his YouTube channel here.

Jack and Jack

Jack and Jack are teenage comedians who were recently featured on the Teen Choice Awards. They have a draw bigger than many of the music and film stars that the media celebrates. You can see their YouTube channel here.

Challenges, challenges everywhere

I know the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has kind of taken the world by storm, but the truth is challenges of all sorts are kind of a big deal on YouTube. This is how The Tweens in my library spend their time, doing the challenges and watching them. There is a smoothie challenge, where you mix gross things together and have to drink it. The blindfold make-up challenge, which is all the rage in my household. You basically blindfold yourself and put make-up on someone. Yes, even I have been on the receiving end of an epically bad make-up. If you do a YouTube search for the word “challenge” a big list will come up. Abandon your fear and put some tarps on the library floor and you could have a challenge day at the library. But if the weather is nice, I recommend going outside. Seriously, some of them can get messy and a lot of them require being willing to trustingly allow others to put gross food in your mouth.

This is what happens when you do the Blindfold Make-Up Challenge on your 5-year-old sister

There is a new documentary out called Instafame: A Documentary About A Teen’s Relationship With Social Media Fame that highlights the way ordinary teens are rising to fame quickly and in nontraditional ways thanks to the reach of social media. There is a lot of attention in the press about the sudden rise of social media fame among teens, which is definitely something I am paying attention to both as a parent and a librarian. The Tween and her friend spent the night brainstorming recently about starting their own YouTube channel. I eventually told them they could do crafts from books to see if the instructions were easy to follow on this blog and that they had to use nicknames. They spent the rest of the night coming up with names, mascots, etc. It will be interesting to see if they will follow through or if they move on to the next trend quickly.

And although I spend a lot of time telling The Tween to put down her phone and go outside and play, I keep reminding myself that I used to spend an inordinate amount of time watching MTV to see which video would come on next. And yes, I am old enough to remember when MTV still played music videos. So I guess I’m not freaking out about watching YouTube too much, because everything I see these tweens doing I know we did it all before, just in slightly different ways. 

What are you tweens and teens obsessing over on YouTube? Share in the comments.