Teens Top Ten

It is interesting to see how the voting for TTT went this year. I venture to assert that this list is quite reflective of teens across the country. It certainly reflects the reading of the teens I have talked to. These are the books, though, that reflect the reading of kids who are avid readers. To see what reluctant readers want check out the lists under QUICK PICKS. You will see there is some overlap (most notably TWILIGHT). If you are searching for some titles for those kids who are less-than-eager readers, check out QP.

Posted by Teri Lesesne, QP Committee Member

Happy Birthday YALSA-BK

YALSA-BK will celebrate its 10th birthday in 2007. In advance of this auspicious occasion, take some time to think about what YALSA-BK has accomplished in its “childhood.” How many of us are connected to folks across the country (and even around the globe) through this network? How many times have we turned to the “Collective Brain” and posted questions, questions that were answered in minutes?

One of the greatest resources, aside from the web site for YALSA, is this list that brings us together to talk about books and kids. We read the reviews posted by Richie and others. We argue about the award winners. We brainstorm lists of books on a wide variety of topics.

How will you celebrate the 10th birthday of YALSA-BK? One way is to continue to be actively involved. Reply to posts. Ask questions. Seek advice.

How did you begin your association with YALSA-BK? I bet we all have stories to tell. Share yours.

2006 Teens’ Top Ten Announced

Teen readers across the country voted “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” by J.K. Rowling as their favorite book to take the #1 spot on the annual Teens’ Top Ten (TTT), sponsored by YALSA, the fastest growing division of ALA. The vote took place during Teen Read Week, October 15-21, 2006, and gave teens an opportunity to voice their choiceof the best new young adult books.

TTT is a part of YALSA’s YA Galley Project, which facilitates access to advance copies of young adult books to selected national teen book discussion groups. These groups evaluated books that were published from January 2005 through April 2006, and created a list off 22 nominations for the best new books for young adults. Teen across the country then read the books over the summer and early fall and cast ballots during Teen Read Week for their three favorites, creating the 2006 Teens’ Top Ten booklist of the best new books for young adults.

Teens were encouraged to vote for their favorite young adult books during Teen Read Week from the official nomination list posted online at the Teens’ Top Ten site. Over 5,000 online ballots were cast and the results, combined with the results of a separate vote of the TTT groups, determined the final ranking of the 10 top books of the year, as selected by teen readers. With J.K. Rowling’s sixth Harry Potter book topping the list, the 2006 Teens’ Top Ten (in ranking order) includes:

1. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling (Scholastic Press, 2005).

2. Twilight by Stephanie Meyer (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2005).
3. Eldest by Christopher Paolini (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2005).
4. Rebel Angels by Libba Bray (Delacorte Press, 2005).
5. Peeps by Scott Westerfeld (Razorbill, 2005).
6. 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson (HarperCollins Children’s Books, 2005).
7. Poison by Chris Wooding (Orchard Books, 2005).
8. Captain Hook: The Adventures of a Notorious Youth by J.V. Hart (Laura Geringer Books, 2005).
9. If I Have a Wicked Stepmother, Where’s My Prince? by Melissa Kantor (Hyperion Books for Children, 2005).

10. Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin (Farrar, Straus and Giroux Books for Young Readers)

Mark your calendar for next year so your teens can participate in the 2007 Teens’ Top Ten. Final nominations for the 2007 Teens’ Top Ten vote will be posted in April at www.ala.org/teenstopten. Voting will take place during Teen Read Week October 14-20, 2007.

TTT voting groups include the CHS Book Club of Central High School in Grand Junction, Colo.; Middle Creek High School Printz Club of Middle Creek High School in Apex, N.C.; Teen Advisory Board (TAB) of Downers Grove (Ill.) Public Library; Teen Literacy Initiative of Memorial High School in Eau Claire, Wis.; Young Adult Advisory Council (YAAC) of City of Mesa (Ariz.) Library; Best Books for Young Adults Discussion Group of Elizabeth (N.J.) Public Library; City Library Street Team of Salt Lake
City (Utah) Public Library; Danbury Library Teen Council of Danbury (Conn.) Library; Keene (N.H.) Public Library’s Keene Teens Read group; Mary Jacobs Teen Group of Mary Jacobs Memorial Library in Rocky Hill, N.J.; Stratford (Conn.) Library Youth Review Board of the Stratford Library Association; Teen Advisory Board of Tippecanoe Public Library in Lafayette, Ind.; Teen Talk Book Club of Lincoln County High School Media Center in Stanford, Ky.; Watertown-Mayer Book Club of Watertown (Minn.)
Public Library; and Young Adult Advisory Council (YAAC) of Johnson County Library in Shawnee Mission, Kan.

YALSA’s YA Galley Committee coordinates TTT. Its members include Chair Edith Cummings; Annie Bergeron; Betsy Fraser; Julie Hall; Lynn Kaminski; Diane Monnier; Sydna Wexler; and consultant Sharyn November.

For nearly 50 years, YALSA has been the world leader in selecting books, videos, and audio books for teens. For more information about YALSA or for lists of recommended reading, viewing and listening, go here, or contact the YALSA office by phone, 800-545-2433, ext. 4390; or e-mail: yalsa@ala.org.
-Beth Yoke

Text Messaging

Various posts on this blog and others have noted the fact that teens don’t read email anymore. They focus more on the instantaneous forms of communication like IM and text messaging. So, why aren’t more librarians text messaging either in their personal or professional lives?

Text messaging is an amazingly effective way of communicating with others. One can send off a text message about a meeting or with information of import for research. Google SMS (short message system) gives users the chance to send a text message to Google computers in order to get answers. A teen can text message Google to find out the definition of a word, basic facts, and even where the closest Starbucks is. In other words text messaging isn’t just for sending quick messages to colleagues and friends. It’s a resource for information gathering.

Sending a text message to Google for a definition puts the idea of looking something up in a dictionary into a whole new light. The message goes off and within just a few seconds the answer appears on a cell phone screen. The reader still has to read and understand the definition but she didn’t have to flip dictionary pages to find it.

As mentioned above, this isn’t the first time text messaging is mentioned on this blog. But, to repeat myself, why do I still find librarians who don’t text message, don’t know how it works, and think that it’s often a waste of a teen’s time? Is it because it costs money? Is it because it seems hard to do? Is it because it’s different than traditional forms of communicating?

Text messaging can prove to be a powerful tool. How are we going to learn that and take advantage?


» #social networks”>Tweet

Any teens using Sconex? It’s the “unofficial web site for your high school.” It allows members to search for their classmates, share photos, set up a blog and a profile. Safety link with general issues are also part of the site.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

Ms. Dewey

I was surfing the web today and I came across a new search engine, or at least I think it’s a search engine.

Meet Ms. Dewey, the impatient, ego-centric animation that makes user interface seem so one dimensional. The site uses Flash to combine a search for information on the web with a personality.

It may not be that stunning but there is an interface from most Sci Fi television shows, reminding me mostly of Blue from Mutant X. The next set would be to store basic animations and be able to recall the indexed animations with sound, so she could talk.

I do find it interesting that the person who serves as the actress is very ethnicity neutral. She does speak in English, but that is in a sound file that could be re-recorded for any language.


In 2007 a new game from the developer of SIM City, Will Wright, will be released. Called Spore, there has been a lot of buzz about this game over the past many months (if not years.) Now the current issue of The New Yorker has a profile of Wright (which includes interesting information on the gaming industry and Spore) and this week’s edition of the radio show On the Media included an interview with the author of The New Yorker piece.

One of the things that is intriguing about Spore (there is actually a lot that’s intriguing about the game) is the way that the game gives players the chance to develop from a single-celled organism to a living breathing creature. The choices a player makes can earn her DNA points and more DNA means more opportunity to evolve.

So, the basic idea of the game is intriguing. But, so too is the way it integrates current, and traditional, technology. In the article in The New Yorker the author John Seabrook writes,

Spore isn’t a multiplayer game, like the immensely popular World of Warcraft, which runs on “massively parallel” computers (a distributed system employing many networked machines); it’s what Wright jokingly calls a massively parallel single-player game. If you enable an Internet feature, Spore servers will “pollinate” your copy of the game with content created by other players. In order to create the best content for your style of play—“the right kind of ecosystem for your creature,” as Wright puts it—Spore builds a model of how you play the game, and searches for other players’ content that fits that model. If you create a hyper-aggressive Darwinian monster, for example, the game might download equally cutthroat opponents to test you. In other words, while you are playing the game, the game is playing you.

There’s also the possibility that a player can move beyond the world we know and move out to the universe and make her mark there. There is the possibility that the player could become revered as a God on a planet outside of our own. (In this way it falls into the category of a God Game.)

Think about this game from the perspective of someone working with teens. What would it be like for a teen to be able to create herself from single-cell to perhaps God of the universe? How does that play into her sense of positive identity, social competencies, boundaries and expectations? How would a teen want to evolve if given the chance? What do teens think about not playing others as in World of Warcraft but having the computer update one’s own play based on the play of others?

Watch for Spore in 2007 and find out what your teens have to say about it.

ALA Prepares to Hold Fourth Online Election

From ALA’s Public Information Office:
Members may choose to vote by either a web or a paper ballot. Please make sure your membership and email address are current. All paid ALA members as of Jan. 31, 2007, are eligible to vote in the 2007 election. Polls will open on March 15, 2007.

To Vote Online:
To insure that member email records are accurate, ALA conducted email tests in October 2006. Members who change their email addresses prior to January 31, 2007, need to update their information by: 1) visiting www.ala.org/profile, or 2) calling 800-545-2433 (press 5), or 3) emailing Membership@ala.org (Please state on the Subject Line “update my e-mail address”). Members who do not have an email address at home or work, but wish to vote online may want to consider signing up for a free e-mail account from a service, such as Yahoo, Google, etc.

For 2007 elections, all web voters will receive ballots between March 15 and March 17, 2007, in a 48-hour e-mail blast. This will ensure that voters have ample time to cast their ballots.

To Vote Via Paper Ballot:
As in previous elections, this year there will continue to be an extended period between the first and last date for requesting a paper ballot (from October 3, 2006 to March 2, 2007) and the last date for returning the ballots (April 24, 2007, at 11:59 p.m. CST). Paper ballots will be sent to all paid ALA members as of Jan. 31, 2007, who do not have a valid e-mail address or who request a paper ballot prior to March 2, 2007, by calling 800-545-2433 (press 5) or sending an email to membership@ala.org. Paper ballot packages will be mailed between March 15 and March 22, 2007. To ensure international paper ballot packages are delivered in a timely manner, they will be mailed between March 13 and March 15, 2007.

The ALA election domain name is https://www.alavote.org. This name allows the election broadcast email “From” line to be: 2007election@alavote.org.
The 2007 ballot meets all applicable W3C accessibility standards and can be read by common screen readers for the disabled. This allows ALA’s visually impaired members to navigate Web sites by converting text and other visual symbols to audible speech.

To learn more about the election, please go here.
-Beth Yoke

Making Friends

Last spring at a presentation for librarians on MySpace and social networking, a local district attorney mentioned how important it is for teens to think about how they select their online friends. As she was talking I started to wonder about the criteria librarians use to decide who to add as friends on their MySpace spaces. Should librarians take just anyone who requests to be a friend? Should librarians only add teens from the community? What are the boundaries for friendships with libraries on MySpace?

I hadn’t read or heard too much about teens and librarians coming up with guidelines for deciding who would or wouldn’t be approved as friends on MySpace until I talked with Theresa Maturevich – teen librarian at the Stoneham Public Library in Massachusetts. Theresa talked about two things that really stuck with me. She mentioned that she regularly thinks and re-thinks the library’s Friend selection criteria for MySpace. Just because Theresa started with certain ideas about who would be added as friends doesn’t mean that continues to be the criteria. Also, she was easily able to articulate how she makes decisions about approving or denying friends requests. She knew who and why she’ll make an approval.

The criteria Theresa uses includes:

  • Adults who are connected to teens in specific ways. For example, she’ll add teen authors and librarians with MySpace library sites. Adults who might be connected to libraries in some way, but their spaces are personal, don’t get added.
  • Teens who are in the Stoneham community, or have a direct connection to the community, are added. Teens that are mystery people, just like mystery adults, don’t get added.

The most important thing to me in this conversation was that Theresa showed she’d thought about the issues related to adding friends on MySpace and could respond to questions about how she handles those issues.

It would be interesting to hear what teens have to say about how librarians should make these decisions. What guidelines would teens put in place for the library? How would they think MySpace friends for a library should be managed?