The Young Adult Services Symposium is not only great for networking, broadening your horizons but as well as meeting great authors! The author I would like to talk a little about is Dhonielle Clayton. Clayton has recently released her first novel, which she wrote with Sona Charaipotra entitled, Tiny Pretty Things. Clayton will also be releasing a fantasy book series, The Belles, in 2016. I am certain that if you are a teen librarian, you have heard the hot topic about needing more diverse teen books. Well, that's where Dhonielle and Sona Charaipotra’s expertise comes in handy. They have cofounded CAKE Literacy. CAKE Literacy is described as a "commitment to creating delicious and diverse concepts for middle grade, teen and women’s fiction readers".

Why CAKE? Well, usually when these two ladies would meet to discuss books and writing, they always had a slice of cake with their discussions. CAKE Literacy came about because they both shared love for the TV series The Vampire Diaries and Pretty Little Liars and noticed how there wasn't any diversity in those shows. Come to think of it, nearly all the fantasy genre books I have read, also lack diversity. With that in mind, I agree with Dhonielle and Sona and support CAKE Literacy! If you haven't check out their website, please do! It's visually stimulating. Don’t forget to visit Dhonielle Clayton at the 2015 YA Services Symposium.

The 2015 YALSA Young Adult Services Symposium will take place November 6-8, 2015 at the Hilton Portland & Executive tower. Register today!

--Annie Snell, YA Services Symposium Marketing and Planning Task Force

A brief look at 'grams of interest to engage teens and librarians navigating this social media platform.

Banned Books Week kicked off yesterday, Sunday, September 27 and Instagram users are posting photos in celebration of their fREADom to read. Running from September 27 through Saturday, October 3, this year's Banned Books Week focuses on young adult books. It may be easy to call to mind cases of challenged books and censorship that made their way to media outlets, but both the YALSA wiki and the American Library Association's Challenges to Library Materials page remind us that a challenge can also include a patron expressing concern over an item or requesting that it be shelved in another collection. YALSA's The Future of Library Services for and with Teens report lists intellectual freedom as one of the core values librarians should hold as they protect the rights of teens to access information and educate the community about intellectual freedom.

Are you doing something to celebrate Banned Books Week? Book lists, displays, games, posters? We want to know! Share with us in the comments section below.

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With our youth patrons returning to school, now is the perfect time to re-evaluate your community’s demographics and set goals to “Get Away” and connect with those underserved populations. As you consider where to start, the first step may seem daunting, but tackle the unknown in a way that is most comfortable for you. We’ll be sharing our ideas about setting goals during our Teen Read Week Twitter chat Setting Goals to Reach Underserved Teens onFriday, September 11 at 2 pm EST. If numbers and statistics read like a first language, you’ll probably have your own plan of action in which to gather information and compile results into charts and graphs. However, many of us need a different approach in order to ease our way into such unfamiliar territory and we offer a few ideas here.

Demographics from an insider view

Consider your teen patrons’ habits as a diving board into better knowing your community. For instance, if your teens often ask library staff for change to spare for food, comment about not eating breakfast, or are eager to attend library programs especially for the free snacks, you may want to further explore this trend. Start by investigating the nearby school’s stats on free and reduced lunches, the city’s poverty percentages, or the state’s caseload counter for food stamp families. The location of these resources will also provide other relevant data that may offer a more detailed view into the issue. Once you have a baseline of data, connect with local food pantries and other social service providers and start a conversation. You may discover any number of ways to partner with these organizations from creating a bookmark for the public listing the location of these services to facilitating meal programs.

Demographics from a bird’s eye perspective

Map the government, parks, nonprofit, and other community agencies within your library’s service area. If a particular trend in services exists, investigate its related statistical topics and connect with those organizations. Also, the types of businesses in your service may offer a starting point into better understanding your community. If you notice an unusual number of liquor stores in your area, you may check the location of rehabilitation centers or AA groups and connect with them. Another way to address your map of agencies, is to first connect with the organizations located nearest to your library, as those service are directly targeting your immediate area.

Take action with us in better understanding your community by joining the Teen Read Week Twitter chat on Friday, September 11 at 2 pm EST. Come ready to share your goals and gain new ideas and resources from your peers. When joining the Twitter chat, be sure to use #TRW15. See you there!

Amanda Barnhart is the current chair for YALSA’s Teen Read Week committee, an MLIS student, and a Young Adult Associate for the Trails West branch of The Kansas City (Mo) Public Library.


A brief look at 'grams of interest to engage teens and librarians navigating this social media platform.

This week we're looking at two ways to spice up your library's Instagram account and engage users with library memes and opening lines of books. With websites that allow you to create your own memes using popular themes or uploaded images, the possibilities for witty library humor are endless! For #firstlinefriday or #firstsentence posts on the first of each month, some libraries share opening lines of books as a way to engage followers with trivia, to advertise an upcoming book club, or showcase new materials in the collection.

Have you created memes for your library's social media accounts? Have a preferred go to meme generator? Posted any opening lines? Share with us in the comments section below!

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Teens strive for independence, branching out to explore new interests and behaviors. They depend on their friends for support and feedback, leaving their parents in the dark about what they’re doing, thinking, and feeling.

Teens with disabilities often don’t have the same opportunities to test their independence. They might depend on their parents or caregivers for help getting around or being understood. Their parents might prefer to stay close, in case their teen has a behavior or needs special medical attention. “Inclusion and integration of children with special needs is based upon a strong collaboration between the parent and the librarian” (Feinberg et al. 20-21). Parents know their children best, and librarians can watch that interaction to learn how to effectively work with teens with disabilities in the library.

As a librarian, you can offer inclusive programming that welcomes all teens, with or without disabilities—and also includes parents! By encouraging family fun, you’re getting families to explore and enjoy the library together, regardless of ability level. You’ll also be giving teens with disabilities a place to let loose and be themselves around peers, but to still have their parents close by without looking childish to others.

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Get Away @ Your Library can mean a lot of different things to different people. When I think of it I think about why I read. One of the best things about reading is how it takes you to new and exciting places. Whether it is books about other cultures, time travel or historical events, books take us beyond our everday lives.

I love to read historical fiction, fantasy, and science fiction because I love being taken outside my normal day-to-day world. With historical fiction, I learn so much about other time periods and get some insight into what it must have been like to be in that period. Certain periods are so far removed from our current world that they may as well be classed as Fantasy or Science Fiction. Speaking of which, when it comes to Fantasy and Science Fiction I am amazed by the worlds created by the author.

My newest interests are reading about books that take place in other cultures or countries. Sometimes you don’t even have to go very far away from home. Reading books about people from rural areas when you yourself live in an urban area or vice versa can take us into a place we have never experienced. Other cultures also help us to be more empathetic and knowledgeable about what we do not understand.

Some of the books that have taken me to other places that I highly recommend include The Precious Stone trilogy be Kerstin Gier, The Colours of Madeleine by Jaclyn Moriarty, The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton, Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater, The Grisha Series by Leigh Bardugo and so much more. Please check out the TRW Pinterest page for more recommendations!


Kristyn Dorfman is a School Librarian at Packer Collegiate Institute, Brooklyn, NY.

I’ll confess that there have been cycles in my ten years of teen services where my creativity to develop innovative library programs suddenly depletes itself. It takes time until I kick my own butt back into gear. I’m sure you’re familiar with this feeling that can result from the graduation of most of your teen advisory group, or your programming budget substantially shrinks, or your energy lags after delivering an outstanding summer reading program. If you are a newly minted teen librarian, you may not have experienced this sudden loss of drive to deliver 100% amazing library services. We all have our secrets for how we regain that equilibrium, especially when feeling depleted from intense summer programming.

Here are just a few tips to energize your programming creativity before, during, or after Teen Read Week:

Challenge yourself to explore their interests. Have those card playing teens who are always in your library after school teach you how to play Vanguard or Pokemon. It’s easier to understand and own the argument that these games make reading, math, and strategy fun when you are actually having to do it yourself. Once you comprehend the reasons for their enjoyment, it becomes easier to develop creative programming because you GET IT. For instance, our middle school anime and manga group will make Pokemon balls out of styrofoam and bring in a favorite stuffed animal. They’ll create a new Pokemon name and ability for their animal and have them spar against each other.

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I have two new favorite teen program ideas – Blind Date a Book and Food Truck Menu Challenge.

Ok, Blind Date a Book isn’t very new; more often than not, you’ll see this in February for Library Lovers’ Month. Librarians across the country have taken this idea out for a ride and given it their own personal spin. Some benevolent librarians will give potential readers clues, by listing the genre or even a few spoiler-free sentences describing the plot or main character. Some have even successfully applied the speed dating concept to book choice – setting up tables with books at each station, allowing teens to sit with each book for a few minutes, then allowing teens to choose the book date to which they’re most attracted.

For my Blind Date a Book programs, I opt for complete “blindness” – offering up no hints at the contents of the wrapped tome. The “dates” I select tend primarily to be best sellers or YA classics that appeal to a broad range of ages, but I do include the occasional “acquired taste” titles. I decorate my stable of dates with stickers, stick-figure & smiley face drawings, and even phrases like “Short but sweet” (for the thinnest books) or “Can I hang out at your house?” The official rule is that the book must remain wrapped until it is checked out. Once checked out, the reader is free to unwrap the book – even if they’re still in the library. There are no penalties for returning their selected date right away. Sometimes, you just know you won’t be compatible, and that’s ok. I’ve included “rate your date” review forms and bookmarks that double as contest entries; both with varying degrees of success. However, my greatest satisfaction occurs when the books STAY checked out. To me, that means that the teen is reading something he or she would not necessarily have chosen or is re-reading a favorite. Either way, a teen is reading for fun – objective achieved!

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Dear YALSA community

I have been a passionate advocate for teenagers, and for their reading, for decades. Being passionate means caring -- which thus may also mean advocating, questioning, disputing existing rules and structures. That is why, many years ago, I worked with Michael Cart to bring about the Printz award, and with the Los Angeles Times to create their YA award. If there is one area about which I am equally passionate it is the grand and glorious field of nonfiction for all ages. And so, I have taken the liberty of suggesting to the YALSA board that it is time for us, all of us, to take a look at what truly constitutes excellence in YA nonfiction -- what are the kinds, and types, and subgenres of nonfiction, and what criteria should there be for evaluating them. In this article I discuss what I have proposed to the board, and why.  The official board document (.pdf) is available on the YALSA web site in the Governance Section.  I hope you all will add your voices to the discussion here, or in SLJ -- or that we can discuss this in person at Annual, or any one of the many conferences and workshops where I get to meet you. Nonfiction is growing and changing, teenagers need for quality nonfiction is growing, and thus it seems to me time for all of us to weigh in on what makes for true YA Nonfiction Excellence. What do you think?


Marc Aronson has been an avid advocate for teenagers and their reading for many years. He served on the committee that drafted, and later evaluated, the rules for the Michael Printz prize, and he suggested the YALSA Excellence in nonfiction award. As an author of nonfiction he won the first Sibert award and, with Marina Budhos -- his wife -- was a finalist for the YALSA Nonfiction award. Their next book, which will be published in 2017, centers on another couple who were artists and collaborators: the photographers Robert Capa and Gerda Taro. Aronson is an Assistant Teaching Professor in the MLIS program at Rutgers University.

Whether you know the teens that frequent your library or not, disabilities can be hard to see. If you’re lucky, teens and their parents may be open about disabilities and how you can help them get the most out of their library experience. And if you’re not lucky, well, sometimes you'll deal with behaviors or unsatisfying encounters that make you wonder if you helped the patron at all. Thankfully, making your summer reading activities seem inviting to teens with disabilities is easy to do. With just a few tweaks to what you already have in place, your program can be inclusive! This way, it doesn’t matter if you know what disabilities you’re dealing with, or if you’re just taking a wild guess. Check out these tips, and share your ideas and notes on what works and what doesn’t in the comments.

  1. Have a visual sign-in sheet.

Hang a poster in a prominent place that shows teens what to do to sign up for summer reading. List the steps in simple terms, like: wait for the librarian; sign your name; pick your challenge. Have visual aids printed next to each step, like a photo of the librarian in charge of summer reading and a pencil signing on the line. Make a similar poster to show how to log weekly progress. This will help teens with disabilities be independent when they come to the library to participate, rather than feeling like they always have to ask for help.

  1. Divide tasks by reading challenge rather than by age.

Instead of having elementary aged kids sign up for a certain challenge, and having teens sign up for another, let everyone pick their own challenge. Read three books a week, read for an hour a week, listen to two audiobooks a week— the possibilities are endless! This empowers teens with disabilities to challenge themselves on their levels, and also shows other patrons that reading can take on a variety of appearances!

  1. Expand your program to be a learning challenge.

Instead of a straightforward summer reading program, some libraries are hosting summer learning challenges by partnering with city attractions to promote learning and interaction all summer. Some learning challenges have a theme, like Explore & Roar at Chicago Public Library focusing on animals and the environment. Reading is still important, and patrons can read anything they want, but there is also an aspect of taking that knowledge and discovering things in the city’s museums, zoos, and historical sites. The City of Memphis offers free days to many city attractions to encourage involvement with the summer library program Explore Memphis. All of these experiences can tie back in with Makerspace programs at the library or other community centers.

  1. Collaborate with the school system.

Reach out to the school system, especially the special education department, and find out what books are required reading for the upcoming school year. Make sure your library has plenty of copies available, and ask how you can make this reading easier on students with disabilities. The library could host a book club meeting during summer reading to talk about one of the required texts, or plan a program based on a book or elements from the story. Reading the book in advance and being able to talk about it with others or relate to it in another way could help teens with disabilities stay on track in the upcoming school year.

  1. Make your program known.

After your library collaborates with the school system, make sure promotional materials are handed out to students before the school year ends. Make it clear that everyone is welcome to participate in summer reading so the special education teachers and students know they should join in! Also consider sending promotional materials to summer camps for teens with disabilities, therapy centers, and intramural teams, as well as any day centers for people with disabilities in your area.

  1. Encourage teen volunteers.

When teens are signing up for summer reading, ask if they’d like to volunteer to help with any aspect of the program. (This goes for teens with or without disabilities!) Teens can help their peers sign in or update their progress. Teens with disabilities might not want to be in the spotlight, so they can work behind the scenes, helping set up for programs or cleaning up after parties.

  1. Work in small groups.

A lot of Makerspace activities are individualized, but can easily be adapted to work in small groups. A teen with disabilities who might not be able to make something on their own can be part of a team and still participate. Break the activity into steps where the team has to plan their project before they build it, and then can present it to the entire group. Circulate often so you can offer help to everyone, without seeming to focus on the teens with disabilities, while making sure they know you’re available if they need you, and that it’s ok to get help. Check out YALSA’s Maker & DIY Programs for ideas.

  1. Eliminate distractions.

Let’s be honest, it’s easy to get distracted regardless of your age or attention span! Depending on their disabilities, some teens may get more distracted than others, and some distractions can quickly lead to disruptive behaviors. Teens with autism might not be able to focus on spoken words if there is also music playing, even if others just consider it background music. It can also be distracting to hand out too many items at the same time, or give instructions all at once. Start by talking slowly and outlining what’s going to happen at the event; it’s helpful to make visual charts, as mentioned in the first tip! This way teens know what’s going on and in what order, and can look back to it often, without interrupting the program flow.

  1. Schedule breaks.

Even if the program doesn’t seem long, taking a few short breaks will help everyone stay focused. Put these on the schedule so attendees will know they when they can go to the bathroom or grab a drink without having to interrupt the program. These breaks can also give teens with disabilities time to process what they’ve done and prepare for what’s coming next. It’s also a good time for you to check in with them and make sure everything’s ok, and see if anything can be done to help them engage more easily.

  1. Roll with the punches.

We know that nothing ever goes according to plan, but when you’re including teens with disabilities, things could get derailed easily. Instead of throwing away your whole schedule, make sure you have substitutes for each part of the program, and even changes you can make individually for the teen who needs a little help. If the music is too distracting, turn it off, even if it means scrapping a part of the event that involved dancing. If the art supplies are too messy, have some alternatives (or even gloves!) so all teens can be involved in the program in their own way. It can be a bit tricky when you’re adapting a specific activity for teens with disabilities: you don’t want to seem like a pushover, but you do want to be accommodating and helpful. For more information on this balance, check out YALSA’s resources on Serving Disabled Teens.