How's your team doing in March Madness? Mine just got to the Sweet Sixteen! While you're waiting for the next time your alma mater plays, check out some of these interesting ideas and insights.

  • We all know that teens love to text. To respond to this, many schools and colleges now use text message alerts to notify students of school closures or safety issues. But what about health issues? It turns out, lots of doctors and researchers use text message interventions to tackle adolescent health concerns. In North Carolina, a free texting service offered teens the chance to anonymously ask questions about sexual health, and the teens involved in the study said that the service made them feel confident and encouraged them to follow up and learn more about their health. A similar study in 2011 offered teens weight management tips, and the weight and BMI of the study participants decreased after the intervention. College aged smokers participated in an intervention that left 40% of them staying away from smoking for a period of at least 7 days, while other participants reported less dependency on nicotine, which is also a good sign. Obviously as librarians, we cannot offer health advice. But what can you take from this study? Can school libraries use a texting service to alert students of new titles in the collection or upcoming book club meetings? Can public libraries partner with public health organizations to offer helpful services for teens concerned with a certain health or behavior issue? Can teen advisory groups pilot their own peer mentoring or counseling texting program? There are a lot of possibilities, and medical research shows that such programs can have really great results.
  • Have you read The Burning House yet? This tumblr invites submissions from anyone in Internetland who wants to take a photo of their most prized possessions - those items that they would grab first if their house was on fire. You'd think it would be all computers and family photos, but some of these photographs reveal much more interesting favorites. If your teens don't want to post their thoughts online, or if they're not allowed to, consider doing a smaller scale project and displaying everyone's photos or written thoughts around your teen room.
  • I've been on a "Cake Boss" Netflix binge lately. Who else adores cooking shows that focus on elaborate cake decorating? Who else wishes they could decorate cakes, if only they had the time, money, and crazy resources that television bakers seem to have? Consider hosting a cake decorating party or contest, complete with a marathon showing of "Cake Boss," "Ace of Cakes," "Food Network Challenge," or another show, many of which are available on streaming sites like Netflix or Hulu or on DVD. Check out the hilarious blog Cake Wrecks for inspiration of what NOT to do, and then you can even go miniature by having everyone decorate cupcakes or tiny treats from an Easy-Bake oven.
  • Muslim teens (and, of course, their families) face a lot of discrimination these days. A study in England looked at how public perceptions of Muslims after terrorist attacks pose problems for community cohesion and discussions of Britishness. Can Muslim teens still identify as British? (Of course!) Do non-Muslims identify them in this way? This can certainly be applied to similar situations in the United States. Take a look at the study and consider how it might be relevant in your community. Should you be visiting the library nearest to you that will be hosting the Bridging Cultures Bookshelf: Muslim Journeys? Is it time to host a cultural sensitivity workshop or have a discussion in one of your teen groups about stereotypes, discrimination, and identity?
    Thomas, P., & Sanderson, P. (2011). Unwilling Citizens? Muslim Young People and National Identity. Sociology, 45, 6, 1028-1044.
  • Does your collection have labels for different genres or topics in YA literature? Sci-fi fantasy, mystery, and genres like that are common. But what about your other labels? Do they turn people off? Are they offensive? Just plain incorrect? Vanessa Irvin Morris of StreetLiterature.com breaks down the difference between "street," "urban," and "multicultural" labels, I myself blogged recently about my problems with the term "multicultural," Steph the Bookworm asks whether it's better to say "teen" or "YA," and a 2012 article in US News and World Report asked whether YA should be rated by objectionable content.
  • That's it for me. Enjoy the NCAA championship, beginning of spring, Passover, Easter, or whatever else you celebrate and enjoy during the third month of the year!

    About Hannah Gómez

    School librarian in Northern California. MA children's literature, MS library and information science (Simmons College). Sometime scholar, sometime reviewer, sometime creative writer, always media-obsessed.

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