Celebrate Creativity during National Library Week

(Image courtesy of American Library Association)

This week (April 8th-14th) is National Library Week. Celebrating its 60th anniversary since its inaugural year in 1958 with the theme “Libraries Lead!”, libraries across the nation will be observing the week with activities, programs, and more. This week also celebrates National Library Workers Day (April 10), National Bookmobile Day (April 11), and Take Action for Libraries Day (April 12).

To lead the celebrations is Misty Copeland, author and American Ballet Theatre Principal Dancer, who serves as the 2018 National Library Week Honorary Chair. As described on the American Library Association page about National Library Week, Misty Copeland, an advocate for “youth to pursue their dreams regardless of what challenges they may encounter”, invites everyone to “discover your passions and achieve your goals at the library.” (American Library Association).

(Image courtesy of American Library Association)


Continue reading

Instagram of the Week – December 7

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

Last week marked the end of Nanowrimo. In case you haven’t heard of Nanowrimo it is a writing challenge with a name comprised of the condensed words: National November Writing Month. This annual call to write has swelled to include more than 53,000 writers from 6 of 7 continents. This challenge attracts big named published authors like Rainbow Rowell and Carrie Ryan. Fangirl by Rowell is a Nanowrimo book. The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan…that’s a Nanowrimo book too. Nanowrimo churns out a fair number of YA literature every year and attracts more and more young adults as participants each year. Since 2005, Nanowrimo has been hosting YWP – Young Writer’s Program – for students in grades K – 12. When users turn 18, they are directed to the main site, where the word requirements jump from 30,000 for the month to 50,000.

As we all know (and to the lament of Nanwrimo writers across the United States), with the end of November comes Thanksgiving and Black Friday. So in the midst of basting turkeys, Walmart brawls, football games and #ThanksgivingClapback dinner conversations, Nanowrimo writers continued to write – and guess what? Many of them actually finished, and then they did something even more awesome — they posted their experiences on Instagram! Nanowrimo writers posted quotes that inspired them, strategies for rising to the challenge, pictures of laptops, and furry writing buddies. There were lots and lots of pictures with coffee! Coffee with swirls, coffee in cute bookish mugs, coffee next to laptops, and then next to laptops and furry writing buddies… There were lots of pictures of food! My goodness, are Nanowrimo writers foodies or what!?

If you missed this year, get inspired for next year, or catch the motivation to start your own writing club. You could give your youth a monthly word challenge! Make it something fun with just a pinch of challenge! Empower your teens. Let them tell their stories, and maybe let them explore ways they can publish their work. Page 3 of the Future of Libraries for and with Teens report states:

“Now is the time for public and school libraries to determine how they can contribute to solving and alleviating the issues and problems that negatively impact teens. Cultural competence preparation for future and current school and public library and information professionals is one place where these issues can and should logically be addressed since many of the statistics cited above stem from structural issues such as institutional racism, classism, and sexism. However, research suggests that some LIS students feel ill-prepared to deliver this kind of culturally competent library service upon graduation. Cultural competence has to do with recognizing the significance of culture in one’s own life and in the lives of others; and to come to know and respect diverse cultural backgrounds and characteristics through interaction with individuals from diverse linguistic, cultural, and socioeconomic groups; and to fully integrate the culture of diverse groups into services, work, and institutions in order to enhance the lives of both those being served by the library profession and those engaged in service.”

By empowering your teens to tell their own stories, to start something and see it through to the end. Teaching teens to navigate the process of editing and publishing their own written work fills the cultural competency void, but it also seeks to narrow the #WeNeedDiverseBooks gap. Nanowrimo writers posted memes about the healing power of writing in fighting suicidal ideation and depression. They posted happy face selfies – the seal of empowerment for having met their literary goals for the month against school/work demands, against #ThanksgivingClapback, and family/home obligations. Page 3 of the Future of Libraries for and with Teens report also states:

Accordingly, preparing young adults for the workforce is a major concern in the United States. In the last three decades, the skills required for young adults to succeed in the workforce have changed drastically, but the skills emphasized in schools have not kept up with these changes.34 This has led to a widespread concern that young adults lack the necessary skills for job success and are entering the workforce unprepared. Several recent studies, including Workforce Preparation in the Context of Youth Development Organization35 and Literacy Skills and Self-Views of Ability among First Year College Students,36 have documented this skills gap. Now is the time for school and public libraries to reimagine themselves as 21st-century learning spaces.

Writing is a critical skill quickly being eroded in the age of text, tweets, and emoticons. Nanowrimo is a way for young adults to express themselves in a connected learning environment where they are able to say what they want to say in their own voice. Which brings us to our next point that can be found on page 8 of the Future of Library Services for and with Teens report:

At the heart of connected learning is the idea that young people learn best when that learning is connected to their passions, desires, and interests. This focus correlates strongly with the learning ecosystem and learning needs of the teen of 2020 that Rainie described in his summit presentation. As noted in the CLRN report: The connected learning model posits that by focusing educational attention on the links between different spheres of learning—peer culture, interests and academic subjects—we can better support interest-driven and meaningful learning in ways that take advantage of the democratizing potential of digital networks and online resources.

Having said that, enjoy this homage to the final week of Nanowrimo, and if your library participated in youth writer’s circles and posted on Instagram, maybe you’ll see yourself and hopefully you’ll be inspired to participate next year.

Continue reading

App of the Week: Google Handwriting

Google handwriting

Title: Google Handwriting

Cost: Free

Platform: Android (4.0.3 or later)

Google Handwriting is an app that works as an alternate keyboard to give Android users access to data wells through your scribbles.

Apps like Penultimate and Evernote have long enable handwriting input for searching content, but Google is a more “full-featured” handwriting-to-digital-text tool.

The really exceptional thing about Google Handwriting is how exponentially more accurate the writing-to-text translations manage to be, however sketchy the writing, as demonstrated below:

Part of the reason for the prediction quality: Google’s optical text recognition has fine-tuned through Google Book project. Predictably, you can add your feedback on the accuracy of the handwriting translation to their database, but the default leaves this in-app reporting off. Continue reading

App of the Week: Lark

lark_icon

Title: Lark

Cost: Free

Platform: iOS

Many youth services specialists will be familiar with Lark’s parent site, Storybird, which enables dazzling yet simple drag-and-drop digital storytelling. Like Fridegpoems by Color Monkey, Lark, Storybird’s Poetry app, is a digital incarnation of a refrigerator magnet poetry set, inspiring creativity within a finite vocabulary set as you move and reorder the words it generates over an image.

IMG_3243

A lightning bolt icon launches a new project. You can browse art in a gallery, search by keyword or choose a random different background or word bank by swiping left. Many of the images, alternatingly fantastical and almost unbearably poignant, look as if they were cribbed from vintage picture books. You can also use a color picker to change the colors of the words on screen for optimal artistic impact. The overall effect is quite attractive and quickly achieved. Continue reading

App of the Week: Wattpad

Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 2.30.06 PM
Title: Wattpad
Platforms: iOS and Android, also web-based
Cost: Free

This spring, a student asked me if I knew about After, the One Direction fanfic “everyone was reading on Wattpad.” Then I saw Clive Thompson looking for people who were publishing on Wattpad… and I fell into the rabbit hole that is the reading/writing/commenting site.

After had already landed author Anna Todd a three-book deal, but that wasn’t the only interesting thing about Wattpad.
pageview
Probably not surprisingly based on its fanfiction roots, YA is especially strong on Wattpad. The influences are somewhat predictable. One young writer named daven whose “story” (as all narratives as labeled) December I particularly liked, had a profile pic featuring her with Rainbow Rowell.
Continue reading

Harris Burdick Inspires Teens to Write On

There are so many great fiction books on the 2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults list that it was hard to pick just one to highlight. So, I fell back on an old favorite. The Chronicles of Harris Burdick shares 14 stories from well known young adult authors such as M.T. Anderson, Sherman Alexie, and Walter Dean Myers. All of these stories are based on the book The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris VanAllsburg, a book with wonderful illustrations and cryptic captions.

For years, I have used the portfolio edition of The Mysteries of Harris Burdick as a writing prompt for my teen writing group. They would each pick an illustration and write a story about it to share with the group. Now, with The Chronicles, I can also share stories with them by their favorite authors that were inspired by the same illustration. The stories are short enough that they could even be read aloud. A great, multi-week writing group program would be to show an illustration from The Mysteries and read the caption. Then, give the teens 30 minutes to write a short story based on the illustration. Then, read the corresponding story from The Chronicles. It’s a great chance to talk about point of view and perspective in writing because everyone can look at the same illustration and come up with a different story, which may or may not be wildly different from the version in the book. This could also tie in to talking about different books by the authors of the stories in the Chronicles and what the teens might have done differently than the authors if they had been writing the story.

To me, The Mysteries of Harris Burdick have always been inspiring. I’m glad to see that some of my favorite YA authors felt the same way. The Chronicles of Harris Burdick adds a whole new dimension to them.

Research Roundup

I’m back with another month’s worth of interesting research and writing on scholarly and popular topics related to teen culture, literacy, and library services. I’ve decided to expand from just summarizing research to also linking you to fascinating articles, blog posts, or other more easily-accessed tidbits that might spark meaningful conversation, programming, or reference/advisory transactions. As always, if you have a topic you’d like to know about, or if there’s a journal you miss having access to, comment here and I’ll do some digging for you.

  • The Lilith blog, an online supplement to the Jewish feminist magazine, reports on a “freedom ride” in Jerusalem protesting the ultra-Orthodox custom of requiring women to board and sit in the rear of the public bus only. Sound familiar? If you’re looking for a way to allow your diverse patrons to connect with each other, try bringing this up as a topic and talking about the similarities with the freedom rides in the American South.
  • Continue reading

    App of the Week: Momento

    Title: Momento
    Platform: Developed for iPhone but also works on iPad
    Cost: $2.99

    calendar view in momentoI’m not sure why it wasn’t until I read a review of Momento on TechCrunch that I hadn’t thought about diary apps before. But, I hadn’t. Now that I have it’s clear in my mind that for teens that use an iPhone (or iPad) and like to write, or are interested in writing, or have to write a journal for school that Momento is a useful tool. I can imagine a teen pulling out an iPhone while hanging out with friends to make an entry in Momento about a life-changing event that just took place. And, I can see a teen sitting in a bedroom at the end of the day writing an entry in Momento about all the important things that took place during that day. Continue reading

    Required Reading & Listening

    Over the past several weeks I’ve read articles and books and listened to podcasts that I think are must reads (and listens) for any person working in libraries and specifically with teens. Here’s the list:

    C’est la Vie

    The most recent On the Media (OTM) broadcast includes a segment called The Net Effect. That segment is worth listening to. What is also worth listening to is the audio file on the OTM web site which is the uncut version of OTM host Brooke Gladstone’s interview with Pew Internet in American Life Director Lee Rainie. You can listen to that file right from this blog post. Liisten

    Rainie has been present at many library and education events as keynote speaker. As a result, many librarians and teachers have had the chance to hear what he has to say about technology in the lives of Americans and its impact on educational institutions. However, even if you have heard Rainie before, this interview is worth listening to in order to hear him discuss the impact of technology in a broad context. Continue reading