Eighteen teens and tweens from across the United States and Canada have been selected as finalists in the WrestleMania Reading Challenge, sponsored by YALSA and World Wrestling Entertainment, with support from Mattel and DK Publishing.

These young readers will be going to Phoenix next month to compete for ringside tickets to WrestleMania XXVI. Congratulations to the finalists!

Grades 5-6
Andrew Hall, LaPorte, Texas (sponsored by librarian Anne Farley)
Melissa Rafet Dennis, Phoenix, Arizona (sponsored by librarian Taunya Pappenfus)
Cindy Leung, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada (sponsored by librarian Michelle’  Papineau-Couture)
Gabriel Murrell, Courtice, Ontario, Canada (sponsored by librarian Tiffany Balducci)
Jordan Piekarski, Lansing, Illinois (sponsored by librarian Rebecca Malinowski)
Ricki Roberts, San Diego, Calif. (sponsored by librarian Leticia Direen)
Sailesh Srinivas, Hicksville, N.Y. (sponsored by librarian Judith Messler)

Grades 7-8
Katherine Bensburg, Mahopac, N.Y. (sponsored by librarian Rita Covelli)
Elmaz Mahmutovic, Sioux Falls, S.D. (sponsored by librarian Mary Peters)
Daniel Davila, Avandale, Ariz. (sponsored by librarian Kristin Fletcher-Spear)
Sofia Eury, Phoenix, Ariz. (sponsored by librarian Jill Harrell)
Kyle Duane Hoskins, Louisville, Ky. (sponsored by librarian Phyllis Bergant)
Nicholas Luz, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada (sponsored by librarian librarian Michelle’  Papineau-Couture)
Liam Jose, Oshawa, Ont., Canada (sponsored by librarian Tiffany Balducci)
Valarie Winkleman, Whiting, Ind. (sponsored by librarian Montserrat Ingladas)

Grades 9-12
Brian Keith Chest Jr., Phoenix, Ariz. (sponsored by librarian Jill’ Harrell)
Tiffany Chu, Greensboro, N.C. (sponsored by librarian Jenny Shepherd)
La’Quan Deen, Homestead, Pa. (sponsored by librarian Emily Salsberry)
Brian Gastelum, San Diego, Calif. (sponsored by librarian Leticia Direen)
Emz Hunsley, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada (sponsored by librarian Michelle’  Papineau-Couture)
Samantha Luck, Sault Ste Marie, Ont., Canada (sponsored by librarian Matthew MacDonald)

WrestleMania has come to a close. It’s time to mail your bookmark entries.

The bookmark must include a slogan that promotes reading (in either English or Spanish). Select one winner from each grade category: grades 5-6, grades 7-8 and grades 9-12. If you don’t have entries for all grade categories, that’s fine–just pick winners for the categories represented at your library. Bookmark entries (originals from your three winners only; use the bookmark entry form in the WrestleMania Reading Challenge Toolkit [PDF]) must be physically mailed or shipped to the YALSA office, 50 E. Huron St., Chicago, IL 60610, no later than January 31.

Before sending any entries, make sure that all entry forms are complete and legible, including contact information for the teen or tween entering the contest and the library. Each winner on the local level will receive a DVD and a certificate, provided the entry is received by the deadline.

Explore the Universe of Teen Reading! YALSA’s offering a fantastic full-day preconference before ALA Annual Conference. Come to Genre Galaxy: Explore the Universe of Teen Reading and meet popular YA authors, including Holly Black, Cecil Castelucci, David Lubar, and Dom Testa! Discover new ways to reach teens with books, including literacy activities, program ideas and collection development. Tickets start at $195 for YALSA members and include lunch.’  Interested? Register online (you don’t have to register for ALA Annual to attend this preconference).

Advance Your Career with YALSA! In uncertain economic times, it’s important to think about your professional goals and make sure you’re in a good position to meet them. Join YALSA for the half-day preconference Moving Up the YA Career Ladder, where we’ll discuss career options for young adult librarians, tips for transitioning into management or other careers, writing effective resumes and CVs, and finding your management style. Tickets cost $129 and include refreshments. Interested? Register online (you don’t have to register for ALA Annual to attend this preconference).

After the jump, details on other special YALSA events at ALA Annual Conference, Operation TBD and Support Teen Lit Day, the WrestleMania Reading Challenge winners, the ALA/YALSA Election, and the Great Ideas contest.

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Teen Tech Week PSAs Teen Tech Week is less than two weeks away! Drum up interest @ your library by playing one of our six new public service announcements featuring SpongeBob SquarePants’ Tom Kenny! All are available in mp3 format and are perfect for playing during school announcements, over your library’s loudspeakers or for giving to your local radio station. Our thanks to Galaxy Press, a 2009 Teen Tech Week Promotional Partner, for providing us with the PSAs.

Tell Us What You’re Doing! We know you have amazing things planned for Teen Tech Week.’  Let us know! Add your events to the 2009 Teen Tech Week wiki. You can also see what the 2009 Teen Tech Week Mini Grant winners have planned for their winning celebrations.

After the jump: Annual Early Bird deadline, the ongoing Member Drive (you could win a Flip Video camera!), and the Great Ideas contest!

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You’re invited to step outside the box, get creative,’  and share your GREAT IDEAS with YALSA.’  YALSA is tapping into the collective brain to come up with some great new ideas to help keep the organization fresh and in sync with the goals outlined in the recently updated Strategic Plan.’  Here’s what to do:’  Align one of your great ideas for YALSA with the 5 Goals in YALSA’s Strategic Plan– 1) Advocacy ‘ 2)Marketing’  3) Research’  4) Continuous Learning’  5) Member Recruitment and Engagement.’ 

Submit the YALSA Great Ideas Contest Application‘ along with a 1-2 page proposal as a single email attachment to yalsa@ala.org‘ by May 1st 2009. ‘ Be sure to include: 1)’  A description of your idea, including the goals, objectives and how it can best be implemented’  2) Statement regarding how this idea helps advance a particular goal or strategy’  3) Expenses- please list any potential expenses and estimate the total cost’  4) Overall impact on membership (what are the results expected from the idea and who is affected). Read More →

Flip for New Members Now through March 23, YALSA is having a membership drive! Every time you recruit a new member between Jan. 23 and March 23, you’ll both be entered in a drawing to win a Flip Ultra camcorder. Increase your chances to win each time you recruit a new YALSA member. See the details and download the special recruitment form at www.ala.org/drive2009!

Have a Great Idea? Tell YALSA and Win Prizes! YALSA announced the Great Ideas conference at Midwinter Meeting. Help YALSA achieve the goals listed in YALSA’s new strategic plan (PDF), and you could win a box of books and YALSA swag, have their idea and photo published in an issue of Young Adult Library Services and get to see their idea implemented by YALSA. The contest is open to all individual YALSA members as well as all YALSA committees, juries, task forces, discussion groups, interest groups and advisory boards. There will be a first-place winner for an individual member and a first-place winner for a member group. Entry forms can be downloaded at www.ala.org/yalsa and must be sent to yalsa@ala.org by May 1. Winners will be announced the week of July 13.

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What are your Friday night plans in the Mile High City? Lisa, Beth, Erin, and I are all going to be at the YALSA Tech Playground, showing off all sorts of applications, gadgets, and programs that you could use to connect with your teens. But beyond gizmos, we’re also going to be having a little challenge!

It’s time to break out your inner competitor for a chance to win the title of America’s Next Top Booktalker! Pick your favorite title, hop up on stage, and show off your booktalking prowess. See tips and tricks, feedback and suggestions come in via Twitter.

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They’re’ Back…

I’ am happy to announce that YALSA will once again award 20 Teen Tech Mini Grants, each valued at $500! The grants will assist’ libraries that are planning creative Teen Tech Week events for the 2009 celebration, Press Play @ Your Library.

Applications are due no later than January 19th, 2009.’  Winners will be announced the week of Feb. 9th.’  The brief grant application is available. Read More →

Congratulations to the winner and finalists of the Teen Tech Week Best promotional song contest! Our teen contestants created songs promoting Teen Tech Week and the technology resources that the library has to offer. Songs were judged on creativity, lyrical construction, effectives of promoting technologies in libraries, and overall craftsmanship. The submissions were all very creative, drawing from a wide spectrum of musical talent and style.

Michelle Visent, a student at Felix Varela Senior High School in Miami, Florida, is the winner of the 2008 Teen Tech Week Song Contest! Check out her winning song, “The Library”!

Second place went to Bryan Aguilar, also a student at Felix Varela Senior High School in Miami, Florida, for his song, “You’re a Handy One.”

Leon Moskatel, Anne McGrath, and Sarah Brandon of North Hollywood, California, came in third with “I Find It at the Library.”

Fourth place goes to Ben Heston and Josh Mattison, Longview, Washington, for “Overloading the Outlet: Library Song”
Stay tuned for Teen Tech Week 2009! Have a contest idea? Submit it to Stephanie Iser, committee chair for the 2009 celebration. stephanie.iser@gmail.com.