Rose Quartz and Serenity are the official colors of 2016, according to Pantone.

Normally, one color is selected each year, and it influences fashion, impacts what consumers will see in movies, television, media, and design, and invariably reflects our culture.

Normally I don’t pay attention, but the selections for this year are meant to help start a conversation about gender, and break down our preconceived notions about color assignments.

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Pizza Rolls not Gender Roles

Last week to celebrate Woman’s History Month several Youtube personalities created videos  highlighting some of the issues with America’s gender norms.

One of the vloggers, Kristina Horner, created a video about how YA literature has become gendered. From different covers to how we label genre’s there are many ways subtle clues are sent to potential readers about what books they are meant to read.

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I was having a serious Cady-with-a-d Mean Girls moment two weeks ago as I walked into my first day in a new Teen Librarian position. Would the teens like me? Would they pity laugh at my jokes like the kids at my old job did? Or would I be just another crusty shushing-machine to them? It’s the time of year when teens across the country make that same terrifying walk into new schools, new grades, and new hormone-fueled social challenges, so let’s give them some extra special love from the library this week.

As for me at my new job, I discovered that a level 50 in Skyrim and knowing the lyrics to “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark” can get you a long way. Sometimes all you need is to know a little bit about one thing that interests a teen and you can spark a relationship. Learn a little more, and pretty soon they’ll be saying “hi” to you by name. Keep at it, and they might start liking you enough to actually take your reader’s advisory suggestions.

It’s good to be in the know. Here’s some stuff teens are talking about in August 2014.

The band Five Seconds of Summer, or 5SOS (pronounced “5 sauce”), is currently touring the U.S. with One Direction and gaining popularity. The band, comprised of 4 Australian teenage boys, is often compared to their British your-mates, though they seem to be attempting a more punk rock image. (Attempting is a key word here.) Their self-titled debut studio album was released in the U.S. on July 22, and hit number one on the Billboard 200. Learn more about them here.

The 2014 Teen Choice Awards aired on August 10. Big winners were The Fault in Our Stars, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and Divergent (films); Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort (actors); Ariana Grande, Ed Sheeran, and One Direction (musicians); Pretty Little Liars, The Vampire Diaries, and The Voice (TV). Selena Gomez received the Ultimate Choice Award. The show also introduced a new set of web awards honoring a new breed of YouTube and social media stars. See the full list of nominees and winners here.

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A Project that Brings Teens Together

At the Ellsworth Public Library (in Ellsworth, Maine) we have a small, but dedicated Teen Advisory Board.’  They are willing to help out with anything from craft prep to after school programs.’  During the meetings we talk about upcoming volunteer opportunities (as well as brainstorming for future teen programs and watching the occasional YouTube video).’  This is great because the TAB members can get their required volunteer hours and I have a wonderful, helpful group of teens to work with.’ maine

However, I have been looking for a project they could relate to.’  This year, I think I found it–the CSLP Teen Video Challenge.’  Inspired by the teen slogan for CSLP 2014 (“Spark a Reaction”) the teens have written, directed, and filmed a short video to promote summer reading.’  We happen to have a couple of aspiring film makers in the group who are studying video at a local technical school, Hancock County Technical Center, so we partnered with them to produce the video. Read More →

Screen Shot 2014-01-30 at 10.11.53 PMTitle: Tellagami
Cost: Free
Platform: iOS and Android

Tellagami is a video creation app for iOS and Android devices that allows users to create fun animated videos in minutes. The app creates simple animated videos with a single character talking to the viewer. The first stage of creating a video is customizing the character to your specifications. You can change the character’s gender, skin tone, eye color, head size, hair color and clothing to get exactly the look you want for your project. From there, you can set the character’s default mood and specify the background of the video. Backgrounds can be a photo from your device, a drawing you have done or one of the eight backgrounds provided by the app.

Once you have customized the look of your video, it is time to set the audio. You can either record your own voice or type in your desired text and choose from the selection of male and female speakers offered by the app. The app automatically animates your character’s mouth so that it matches the words in your message, which helps to make a decent quality animation quite quickly. I found that the sound on the recording option had a noticeable amount of background noise, though both recording my own audio and typing in my desired text worked well. If you are happy with your video, you can preview it, save it to your device’s library or share it via Facebook, Twitter, email or text message. Tellagami is a good option for creating animation and would be particularly good for classroom assignments since it is very accessible to younger users. I could also see using it for library outreach videos or as part of an activity or contest where kids make their own stories and animate them using the app. It is a fun video creation option!

For more app recommendations visit the YALSA App of the Week Archive. If you have an app you think we should review, let us know!

GifBoom LogoTitle: GifBoom
Cost: Free
Platform: Android and iOS (this post based on the iOS version)

If you are a fan of GIFs, GifBoom is the app for you. It allows users to make, find and share GIFs from their mobile devices and includes a wide range of editing tools to make the process of customizing your GIFs as simple as possible. To get started, you will need to create an account. Accounts can be tied to your Facebook or Twitter account or can instead be created using an email address. Once you have created an account, you will see a feed of GIFs, which can be customized by following other GifBoom users. You can also search or browse through all of the GIFs created using GifBoom on the explore tab, which makes it easy to find GIFs by specific users or on specific topics. GifBoom also offers a browser-based site where you can search through content that users have created and shared using the app, though, at this time, you cannot create and share GIFs on the browser-based site.

While those features are great for discovering fun GIFs, the most useful aspect of the app is the wide range of tools that it offers for creating your own GIFs. It is designed to allow you to film either regular videos, timer videos or stop-motion animations using the camera on your device. Once you have recorded a clip, you can choose to change the speed at which it plays, create a video loop, or edit or crop the clip. You can also opt to add a filter to the video, much like in Instagram, to change the look of the picture. Once you are happy with the look of the clip, you can add text over the video or add a song or other recorded sounds to the GIF. If you would prefer, you can also upload existing content from your device, in the form of either still images or videos. A total of 9 seconds can be published and once the GIF has been published, you can caption it, add location data and then easily share it on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr or Instagram or via email or iMessage. Once you have created and shared a GIF, you still have the ability to delete it later, whether to save space or because you want to fix errors. The entire process is very user friendly, making this perfect for creating GIFs on the go.

GifBoom screenshot
In addition to being easy to use, the app also offers some useful privacy features. In the advanced settings, you can opt to make all of your GIFs private so other users can’t see them (though this is not the default when you first login to GifBoom) and you can choose whether other GifBoom users can contact you or ask you questions within the app. Even if you opt to allow other users to contact you, there is an option to block specific users if necessary. GifBoom offers a nice combination of features that makes it a good choice for anyone interested in making GIFs, whether for themselves or for their library. For libraries that loan devices, I could easily see using GifBoom to run contests for the most creative library-related GIF that patrons create or creating GIFs of library programs to share on the website. And, I would also recommend it to teens who are interested in creating their own GIFs.

For more app recommendations visit the YALSA App of the Week Archive. If you have an app you think we should review, let us know!

stop motion studio Title: Stop Motion Studio
Platform: iOS
Cost: Free



Happy Holidays from all of us here at the YALSAblog! I made this little video using Stop Motion Studio:

This eleven second video is comprised of 53 still images. I used about half of the 2013 World Book Encyclopedia in a stack as well as a little plastic iPhone stand as a tripod. Stop Motion Studio has options to add sound and special effects, and it’s easy to upload your videos to YouTube or Instagram. You can download it today on the iPad you just got for Christmas, or check it out later in the new year. This app will be a hit with teens who are into video production, from the casual creative type, to the serious filmmaker.

For more app recommendations visit the YALSA App of the Week Archive. If you have an app you think we should review, let us know!

PicPlayPost LogoTitle: PicPlayPost
Cost: $1.99
Platform: iOS

PicPlayPost is a great app for photo and video sharing. It allows users to make montages that combine photos and videos into a single montage. The app offers 36 different layouts with pretty much every permutation possible to include between one and six images in a rectangular montage. Once you select a layout, you are can tap on each space within it to add a photo from your device’s camera roll, photo library or other select apps. You can also resize the spaces within the montage to create your own custom layout. Read More →

Shadow PuppetTitle: Shadow Puppet
Cost: Free
Platform: iOS

Shadow Puppet is a great new iOS app that has uses for both teens and librarians. The app, which has versions for iPhones and iPads, makes it easy to create slide shows of your pictures and add a soundtrack or voiceover to the resulting video. You can either take new pictures from within the Shadow Puppet app or load one or more images from your device’s camera roll. Once you have selected images, you can rearrange their order and then record an audio track with the click of a button.

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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. Read More →