I was having a serious Cady-with-a-d Mean Girls moment two weeks ago as I walked into my first day in a new Teen Librarian position. Would the teens like me? Would they pity laugh at my jokes like the kids at my old job did? Or would I be just another crusty shushing-machine to them? It’s the time of year when teens across the country make that same terrifying walk into new schools, new grades, and new hormone-fueled social challenges, so let’s give them some extra special love from the library this week.
As for me at my new job, I discovered that a level 50 in Skyrim and knowing the lyrics to “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark” can get you a long way. Sometimes all you need is to know a little bit about one thing that interests a teen and you can spark a relationship. Learn a little more, and pretty soon they’ll be saying “hi” to you by name. Keep at it, and they might start liking you enough to actually take your reader’s advisory suggestions.
It’s good to be in the know. Here’s some stuff teens are talking about in August 2014.
The band Five Seconds of Summer, or 5SOS (pronounced “5 sauce”), is currently touring the U.S. with One Direction and gaining popularity. The band, comprised of 4 Australian teenage boys, is often compared to their British your-mates, though they seem to be attempting a more punk rock image. (Attempting is a key word here.) Their self-titled debut studio album was released in the U.S. on July 22, and hit number one on the Billboard 200. Learn more about them here.
The 2014 Teen Choice Awards aired on August 10. Big winners were The Fault in Our Stars, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and Divergent (films); Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort (actors); Ariana Grande, Ed Sheeran, and One Direction (musicians); Pretty Little Liars, The Vampire Diaries, and The Voice (TV). Selena Gomez received the Ultimate Choice Award. The show also introduced a new set of web awards honoring a new breed of YouTube and social media stars. See the full list of nominees and winners here.
By now you’re not going to impress any teens by knowing what the Ice Bucket Challenge is, but you might earn some cool points by pointing out a few of the best examples of the fad. Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch gets naked in his (don’t worry, it’s safe for library viewing). Oprah Winfrey’s will appeal to those who enjoy a little schadenfreude, and Bill Gates works some STEM into his challenge. The Old Spice Guy, Homer Simpson, and Tina Fey are other winners. My personal favorite is Kermit the Frog. According to their website, donations to the ALS Association are at $94.3 million as of August 27. Looking for a research opportunity? Ask kids to find out how the Ice Bucket Challenge started; there’s plenty of info available online from reputable news sources.
The eighth season of the rebooted Doctor Who premiered on August 23, and was the first full episode in the run of the new Twelfth Doctor played by Peter Capaldi. Despite being “really old” (56) and less crushable than Eleventh Doctor Matt Smith, most fans are optimistic about the well-respected actor’s prospects in the role. The jury’s still out on whether good acting will attract as much teen attention as good looks did.
On August 18 Taylor Swift premiered her new single “Shake It Off.” The song abandons her country roots in favor of a power pop piece about how “haters gonna hate.” (That’s an old web adage that means roughly, “People are going to criticize you no matter what, so just ignore them.”) Swift also announced a new album called 1989, set to release on October 27. You can view the video for “Shake It Off” here.
Two of the YA lit-inspired movies of the summer, If I Stay and The Giver, premiered this month, both to lukewarm reviews and box office numbers. Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is the top movie of the month and has rocketed leading man Chris Pratt to fame (building on his recent success as Andy Dwyer on Parks & Recreation and as the voice of Emmet in The Lego Movie). Ninja Turtles is also going strong despite mostly bad reviews. Check out www.boxofficemojo.com for box office info.
Fans are gearing up for the release of The Sims 4 for the PC on September 2. The newest installment in the classic life simulation game comes 5 years after the release of the vanilla (that is, the original, expansion-free) version of The Sims 3. The new title will have to work hard to win over players, as there has already been outcry over the exclusion of several of the former titles’ features from the new game (most notably, toddlers and swimming pools). No OSX release date has been announced. Read more about the unhappy fans here.
Translation time: the slang of the month is “shade” or “throw shade” (verb), which means to criticize someone in an underhanded of passive-aggressive manner. This term has existed for a long time in LGBT communities but came into wider use apparently about a year ago (although I didn’t hear it until this month). It was recently added to Oxford Dictionaries (the online database, not the hoity-toity print version). For a list of recently-added words and, through it, a remarkably comprehensive overview of modern culture, check out this article.