“Welcome to Battle School”: Ender’s Game Party

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.

Mirele and Liz_2

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. Continue reading

Trendspotting: Know Your Weaknesses

1966 ... rec room party

Image Courtesy of James Vaughan

There is a famous line from the Lethal Weapon movies spoken by Roger Murtaugh: “I’m getting too old for this . . . .” It can be easy to feel this way when working with teens, who are constantly changing their minds. Something is hot one minute and cold the next, sometimes trends are equally hot and cold (ask a group of teens about Justin Bieber or One Direction and pay close attention to the split). It can be hard enough to keep up with what teens are into, but sometimes an age difference of a few years can seem like decades to a teen. Trust me, that divide seems just as vast to librarians. In music alone we have to keep up with J-Biebs and 1D, while deciding whether to give attention to flashes in the pan, such as Baauer. Will Taylor Swift continue to be relevant to teens, or as she matures as an artist will teens lose touch with her material? There are so many what-ifs in pop culture, and how teens relate to pop culture, that it would be so much easier to echo Murtaugh’s refrain and throw in the towel.

Continue reading

30 Days of Innovation #26: Performance and concept art

I admit that this is more of a call for you all to innovate than it is me giving you ideas. I’ve been thinking lately about how today’s popstars, especially Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Rihanna, and Jessie J, are all about having distinct, out-of-this-world style and attitude to go along with their music. Instead of the concept albums of the 1960s and 1970s, today’s pop culture likes its concept artists. Gwen Stefani mixed ska and angst with Jean Harlow, Katy Perry fetishizes and infantilizes herself, and the UK’s Marina & the Diamonds is unabashedly seeking popstar superstardom, and her aesthetic is all about how she’s “obsessed/with the mess/that’s America.” You can argue whether or not these artists are good or bad, whether they’re obvious or esoteric, whether they’re legitimate or faking it–I know I do–but you can’t deny that they are memorable and fascinating.

So what does that have to do with youth services? Lots, I’m sure. Thinking about popstars and performance/concept art can lend itself to all kinds of interesting book displays and programs. You may even end up inspiring a new generation of quirky songstresses and 21st century Bowies.

  • First, check your catalog for CDs by any musician you would consider a “performance artist” or “concept artist.” You can also check at the end of this post for some suggestions. Next, create a display where you connect these albums to biographies that may be in your adult nonfiction section, novels about teen musicians, and other nonfiction titles relating to the artist’s aesthetic, from vintage fashion to abstract art. If you don’t feel you know enough about this topic, this is a great opportunity to bring in your teen advisory board or an awesome library student intern. Continue reading

The YALSA Update: Travel stipends, Great Ideas, registration & more!

Win up to $1K to attend Library Advocacy Day YALSA will offer travel stipends of up to $1,000 each to five YALSA members to participate in ALA’s Library Advocacy Day in Washington, D.C. on June 29, 2010, held in conjunction with ALA Annual Conference. Applications are available as a PDF or Word document. They can also be downloaded at YALSA’s Awards and Grants page and must be sent to yalsa@ala.org. Applications are due one week from today, so be sure to get yours in!

William McKinley High School of Lima, Ohio, celebrates Teen Tech Week The kids on Glee went to the library last week. At about the sixteen-minute mark, you’ll see a familiar poster in the background.

Share your Great Idea You can win a prize from YALSA! Do you have a great idea to support YALSA’s goals in its strategic plan (PDF)? Share them with YALSA and you could win a prizes worth up to $250. Download an entry form (Word doc) today. Entries are due by May 1.

Register for our next webinar on advocacy Karen Keys will lead an hourlong webinar called VIPs: Why You Need Them for Advocacy on May 20 at 2 p.m. Eastern. Karen will explore how librarians and library workers can help grow their library program by improving communication and developing professional relationships with local town councilors, school board members, Chamber of Commerce members, and so on. Registration costs $39 for individual YALSA members, $49 for all other individuals and $195 for groups. Contact Eve Gaus at egaus@ala.org or 1-800-545-2433, ext. 5293 for more information.’  Mark your calendar for June 17, when Sarah Debraski will lead a webinar on YA classics.

After the jump, find out how you can save on early bird registration for YALSA’s YA Lit Symposium and ALA’s Annual Conference, sign up for YALSA’s Annual preconferences, register for Teen Read Week and the WrestleMania Reading Challenge, and more!

Continue reading

Adam Lambert and You

Much of the pop culture world is all a-twitter about Adam Lambert’s sexually charged performance at last night’s American Music Awards. Every morning radio show seemed to be covering it during my commute, every blog seems to have a post on it, and “Adam Lambert” is a top trending topic on Twitter.

And among the teens at my high school… not a peep.

Continue reading