Every year around this time, it seems all the adults in my life–whether they’re co-workers, relatives or relative strangers who meet me at a holiday party and discover that I’m a librarian–want to know what the best new books are in time for gift giving. Although this isn’t the way I do my shopping–books, to me, are very personal gifts, and I’m not inclined to give one that I haven’t read myself–I’m usually happy to help, if I can.
But sometimes I can’t. I’m completely out of my depth when it comes to readers under the age of, say, 12, and it’s really hard to recommend a book when you don’t know anything about the intended recipient. “It’s for my nephew,” they’ll say. What does he like to read? (Does he like to read?) “Oh, I don’t know. Just… you know, what’s good?”
The most awkward situations, though, are when I admit my dirty secret: I don’t read grown-up books.
by Paulina Haduong
I’m an Ed.M. Candidate in Technology, Innovation, and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. This semester, I’ve been a student with Library Test Kitchen, a library innovation class at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. I’m working on a class project right now that’s designed for teens and YA librarians, and I’d love to get some input!
For the last few months, I’ve been fascinated by the YA GoodReads community, and the recent trend of using GIFs in book reviews. To that end, I’ve been developing a kind of “photo booth” for use in a library’s teen room. The gist of the concept is that teens (or anyone, really), would be able to scan a book and make a selfie-GIF as a #bookfeel. I’m playing around with the idea here, and the outputs are on this Tumblr. In theory, the app would sit on a computer inside of a cardboard photo booth.
by author Jill Williamson
What’s a friend or family member to do when a loved one has gone astray? Should we speak up? Let them know what we think of their reckless behavior? Or do we avoid confrontation and simply try and be a good friend, waiting until our loved one is ready to ask for help or confide in us?
Is there an in-between for teens? Is there a perfect answer?
In my book Captives, Omar, the youngest of the Elias brothers, makes a deal with the enemy, hoping to carve out a better future for himself. But his plan backfires when Safe Lands enforcers kill dozens of his village people. Omar is left bearing the title of traitor, hated by many who were once his friends. This wasn’t how things were supposed to happen. The guilt is overwhelming.
by Stacy Katz
At Gann Academy, the language of the middot, soul traits like truth (emet) and humility (anavah), are used often to describe our habits of mind and habits of heart. But using those to describe how we read a book about a post-apocalyptic world? Apparently, that’s just how Gann Academy rolls.
For those of you who haven’t read Divergent, the bestselling young adult novel by Veronica Roth, here’s the short, not too spoilery synopsis. In a post-apocalyptic world, the population is divided into factions. The factions – Abnegation, Amity, Candor, Dauntless, and Erudite, were formed based on the evils that they saw in society, and in human nature. Those who blamed selfishness formed Abnegation; those who blamed aggression formed Amity, and so on and so forth. Everyone is born into a faction and then goes through an aptitude test at 16. They then must choose a faction and complete initiation into that faction, or risk becoming factionless. To be factionless is a fate worse than death since they abide by the mantra of “faction before blood.”
Most of us probably don’t read that synopsis and immediately think of “Mussar” or even Jewish values. But isn’t Abnegation the same as the middah of anavah (humility) or Amity as chesed (kindness), Candor as emet (truth), dauntless as zerizut (enthusiasm) and erudite as chochma (wisdom)? (more…)
on behalf of the MAE Award Jury
The MAE Award for Best Literature Program for Teens recognizes an outstanding reading or literature program for young adults. Learn more about the 2013 winner–you could be next!
Kristen Pelfrey, a teacher at Foothill Technology High School, won the 2013 MAE Award for Best Literature Program for Teens with her program “Best Fiction (about) Young Adults Revolution.” She has continued the Revolution this school year, and spoke by email about her experiences with the MAE Award:
How did winning this award affect how you were viewed at your school or community? How did your students react?
My kids were not surprised at all. They were “Well, yeah, that’s cool” and then immediately made requests for books they want to read. I, on the other hand, went shrieking into the main office and danced down the hall with a copy of the notification email. The entire Underground Library is funded by grant money, and we always need more books. I think that winning this award has helped me get other grant monies. I asked for a matching grant from our parent organization, for example. People seem more inclined to award grants if they see how an organization like ALA/YALSA put the stamp of approval on it. (more…)
Format: iOS and Android
Any school librarian knows that audiobooks of curricular reading will, at some point, be required to help support students with learning differences. But those might not always require a line item in your budget. LibriVox, an app offering ”acoustical liberation of books in the public domain,” offers an easy way for students to stream or download high-quality audiofiles to their own devices, so they can follow along with the print or to suit their own learning modalities.
For an open, volunteer-driven project, the selection of available titles in LibriVox is impressive. Jane Austen fanatics can find juvenilia, letters, and the memoir written by Austen’s nephew, in addition to multiple recordings, most available either voiced by solo readers or dramatized by a full cast, for each of Austen’s novels. And teen listeners have preferences in reader gender and accent, so the availability of a choice of narrators can’t be underestimated.
The same files accessed via the app are available via the LibriVox website. Some of these books are also being fed, selectively, into the Project Gutenberg audiobook collection (which does have the advantage of conversion of each book into a multiplicity of audio file formats). A small ad at the bottom of app display seems a small concession for access.
by author Jonathan Friesen
I awoke from my nap to this sight: My son, eight-years old, standing on the deck. I saw him through my bedroom window, and watched as he stared up at the sky.
He began to conduct. With large flourishes, that kid swept his arms to and fro, and the rain fell, soft at first and then harder and harder as he gestured with more drama. He was soaked, and he was in his glory. Finally, the rain slowed, and the wind died. He held his hands above his head for a good half minute, silencing the last drop. My son turned, paused and turned back, waving at the clouds, thanking the One who for five minutes gave him control of the sky.
He has absolutely no interest in dystopians.
My eight-year old stares with eyes of wonder at the everyday of life. Sudden storms, the new kittens, the old oak. He shrugs off the hundreds of controls placed on his very regulated existence: get up at seven, gather the chicken eggs, don a fresh shirt, etc. The rules and regulations that order his young world don’t bother him in the least. (more…)
by Mirele Davis and Elizabeth Savopoulos
In order to spark more interest in recreational reading, our school library decided to throw an Ender’s Game party in anticipation of the release of the Ender’s Game movie. Our library at Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School had never had an event like this in its history, and we were proud to be the pioneers. The goal, we decided, was to stimulate student interest in reading the book and in reading for pleasure in general. We began preparing a month in advance, posting announcements on our website, putting up flyers around the school, and making special announcements during lunch-time and advisory meetings.
We selected a student who was enthusiastic about the project to take on a formal participatory role in planning the event. He attended planning meetings, helped with advertising, and contributed to the overall vision and goals of the event. We advertised a space-themed party that would include neon snacks, space-themed video games, a spaceship Lego building contest, and a simulated laser-tag battle based on the tournaments in Ender’s Game. (more…)
It’s hard not to make it personal; that book looks good or I really liked that or I’ve always wanted to read that, but never did.
There’s usually a reason you never read it. For me, that reason is usually that a better book came along. And if a better book came along for me, one probably is going to come along for a teen reader.
This year, we’re running out of space.
Every year, I do an inventory in the YA Room. I use that time for shelf reading and weeding, too. Usually it’s a light weeding; books that haven’t gone out in a while or books that need a little TLC. At first, I was operating on a five-year shelf life, but after talking with some other YA Librarians on twitter, I realized I needed to be more ruthless. If a book hadn’t circulated in 3 years, there’s a reason. I had to find out why.
Some answers are easy.
* The cover is hideous. No teen in their right mind would want to be seen with that. Those are easily decided. If I feel I still need that book, I look for a version with a better cover. I wish I had taken pictures, but mostly if the cover had the 90′s feel to it, it was gone.
* The story and the cover are both outdated. Easy.
* The book is falling apart. Easy.
It’s the harder issues that make me pause and think. (more…)
Karen Allen, Teen Services Librarian, and Molly Wetta, YA Library Assistant
Molly Wetta and Karen Allen of Lawrence Public Library are the innovative minds behind one of the Dollar General Literacy Foundation grant winning projects. Their Choose-Your-Own-Apocalypse scavenger hunt styled program kick starts their Teen Read Week celebration with a real life version of an alternative reality game whereby participants must “Seek the Unknown” throughout the city in order to survive the terror that awaits them.
You have read the introduction of the Choose-Your-Own-Apocalypse program and wonder about the basic rules for participation, thinking it might interest your library’s teen group.
In order to solve all of the clues for the hunt, participants must have transportation and some type of tech that will take digital photos. Teams cannot exceed the number of 6 teens but can be made up of the teen’s parents and/or siblings. Teams must also choose one hunt from the list of apocalypse themes of zombies, aliens, super volcano, or civil war. Three hours is the total time allotted to obtain the necessary items and successfully survive the apocalypse. All clues lead participants to items that will help them survive the apocalypse such as food, water, and medical supplies. In some cases, clues are released through the participation of community partners. One clue is announced over the air by a local campus radio station, another is positioned on a local business sign, and yet one more can be found in the ad section of the local paper.
You understand the basic rules and desire to know how this program connects with the idea to “Read for the Fun of It”, so you continue reading. (more…)