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1. Back to School Booklist – Humor

So, the kids are going back to school. Or are already back in school. Down here in Mississippi, this is the fourth week of school! Middle school is hard. The adjustments, the transitions. A lot of turmoil. So what I’m saying is that I think our kids deserve a laugh. If you need a quick display idea or just something to hand a kid who’s dreading going to school on Tuesday, here’s a list of really hilarious middle grade:

The Ginny Davis books by Jennifer Holm (of Babymouse fame!). These are old enough that your middle school readers might not be familiar with them, and they’re great. Filled with photographs, journal entries, and looking like a scrapbook, this colorful series will grab a tween’s attention–and make them giggle, too.

Better Nate than Ever by Tim Federle – every single person I talk to about this book says “HILARIOUS” in all caps. Nate wants to be in a Broadway show so bad that he’s willing to risk pretty much everything to make it to an open casting call for ET: The Musical.  Hijinks and shenanigans ensue! Per my friend Jessamyn, a school librarian–if your kids like audiobooks, this is the one to hand them. Federle does his own narration and with his acting background, totally nails it.

It says “funny” right in the title! But seriously, these books (including I Even Funnier and the upcoming I Even Funniest) are hugely popular in my library and I can often hear my tweens giggling at them in the stacks.

A very nearly honorable league of pirates. A sailor’s daughter shipped off to finishing school who wants nothing more than to sail the seven seas. A talking stone gargoyle. Need I say more?

A retelling of Rumpelstiltskin with a quest, a lot of magical creatures, and tons of butt jokes. Because his name is Rump. This one is adored by everyone I give it to.

 

One of the reasons that we read is to escape. Let’s remember that when giving books to stressed out tweens and teens.

*
Our cross-poster from ALSC today is Ally Watkins (@aswatki1). Ally is a youth services librarian in Mississippi, and has worked with ages birth-18 for the last 5 years.

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2. Back to School Booklist – Humor

So, the kids are going back to school. Or are already back in school. Down here in Mississippi, this is the fourth week of school! Middle school is hard. The adjustments, the transitions. A lot of turmoil. So what I’m saying is that I think our kids deserve a laugh. If you need a quick display idea or just something to hand a kid who’s dreading going to school on Tuesday, here’s a list of really hilarious middle grade:

 

Source: Goodreads

Source: Goodreads

The Ginny Davis books by Jennifer Holm (of Babymouse fame!). These are old enough that your middle school readers might not be familiar with them, and they’re great. Filled with photographs, journal entries, and looking like a scrapbook, this colorful series will grab a tween’s attention–and make them giggle, too.

Source: Goodreads

Better Nate than Ever by Tim Federle – every single person I talk to about this book says “HILARIOUS” in all caps. Nate wants to be in a Broadway show so bad that he’s willing to risk pretty much everything to make it to an open casting call for ET: The Musical.  Hijinks and shenanigans ensue! Per my friend Jessamyn, a school librarian–if your kids like audiobooks, this is the one to hand them. Federle does his own narration and with his acting background, totally nails it.

 

 

 

 

 

Source: Goodreads

 

 

It says “funny” right in the title! But seriously, these books (including I Even Funnier and the upcoming I Even Funniest) are hugely popular in my library and I can often hear my tweens giggling at them in the stacks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: Goodreads

 

 

A very nearly honorable league of pirates. A sailor’s daughter shipped off to finishing school who wants nothing more than to sail the seven seas. A talking stone gargoyle. Need I say more?

 

 

 

 

 

Source: Goodreads

 

 

 

A retelling of Rumpelstiltskin with a quest, a lot of magical creatures, and tons of butt jokes. Because his name is Rump. This one is adored by everyone I give it to.

 

 

 

 

One of the reasons that we read is to escape. Let’s remember that when giving books to stressed out tweens and teens.

*
Our cross-poster from YALSA today is Ally Watkins (@aswatki1). Ally is a youth services librarian in Mississippi, and has worked with ages birth-18 for the last 5 years.

0 Comments on Back to School Booklist – Humor as of 8/29/2014 2:31:00 AM
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3. Photobooth Program

Planning programs that will appeal to 12-14 year olds is really, really hard for me.  This is the age where kids start to get busy, where they start having to balance school and extracurriculars with other things: like library time.  If I’m being totally honest, this is where I start losing them.

So this summer, my amazing staff came up with an incredible program that all of my teens loved–especially that middle school demographic: an in-library photo booth.  If your tweens and teens are anything like mine, they’re glued to their smartphones with Instagram and Snapchat constantly open.  This program just gave them an opportunity to have some fun with their photos. We asked them to tag their pictures with the hashtag we usually use for our library stuff, and then let them loose on these fun props:

IMG_0214 SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

It could not have been more fun! It was so simple–we made the props from paper and lollipop sticks, which you can get at any craft store. We didn’t have time to make a booth, so we just put up a crepe paper background. We printed out clip art, used scrapbook paper, and there were even some superhero masks that everyone loved. It was a hit beyond anything we could have imagined, and we’ll definitely be doing this one again (we laminated the props for easy reuse).  The kids loved not only the fact that it was fun, but also the freedom that they had to personalize it and own their pictures the way they wanted to. I’ve been having a lot of success in programs for tweens that aren’t overscheduled, that allow them to enjoy some of the freedom that’s starting to come with their age.

Have you tried anything similar at your library?

*
Our cross-poster from ALSC today is Ally Watkins (@aswatki1). Ally is a youth services librarian in Mississippi, and has worked with ages birth-18 for the last 5 years.

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4. Photobooth Program

Planning programs that will appeal to 12-14 year olds is really, really hard for me.  This is the age where kids start to get busy, where they start having to balance school and extracurriculars with other things: like library time.  If I’m being totally honest, this is where I start losing them.

So this summer, my amazing staff came up with an incredible program that all of my teens loved–especially that middle school demographic: an in-library photo booth.  If your tweens and teens are anything like mine, they’re glued to their smartphones with Instagram and Snapchat constantly open.  This program just gave them an opportunity to have some fun with their photos. We asked them to tag their pictures with the hashtag we usually use for our library stuff, and then let them loose on these fun props:

S S IMG_0214

It could not have been more fun! It was so simple–we made the props from paper and lollipop sticks, which you can get at any craft store. We didn’t have time to make a booth, so we just put up a crepe paper background. We printed out clip art, used scrapbook paper, and there were even some superhero masks that everyone loved. It was a hit beyond anything we could have imagined, and we’ll definitely be doing this one again (we laminated the props for easy reuse).  The kids loved not only the fact that it was fun, but also the freedom that they had to personalize it and own their pictures the way they wanted to. I’ve been having a lot of success in programs for tweens that aren’t overscheduled, that allow them to enjoy some of the freedom that’s starting to come with their age.

Have you tried anything similar at your library?

*
Our cross-poster from YALSA today is Ally Watkins (@aswatki1). Ally is a youth services librarian in Mississippi, and has worked with ages birth-18 for the last 5 years.

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5. Passive DIY Programming for Tweens

I’m always on the lookout for hands-on passive programming that will keep my tween audience engaged during the summer. Simple paper crafts, scavenger hunts, and guessing jars are great for the younger folk, but this age group is savvier and has a penchant for a more “sophisticated” activities.

To satisfy their need to design and create, our library has developed DIY projects that are low cost and easy to put together. Our program is set up to be self-serving, meaning we leave out the supplies and directions for the project and let the tweens help themselves. The supplies themselves are close to the staff desk, so if a tween does need a little help getting started, they can easily find someone to assist them. Each project is available for roughly a month and we try to stick to a budget of $50 for supplies.

Here are two of my favorite DIY projects we are offering this summer:

Hula-Hoop Weaving Hula Hoop Weaving

Weaving can be such a calming yet fulfilling activity for anyone. The repetitive action of moving the weft back and forth can be very relaxing. The supplies for this project are easy to gather. All one needs is hula hoops and old donated t-shirts that will be cut into strips.

Normally the tweens are able to take home the projects they have created, but with this project we decided to do something a little different. The finished weavings are staying in the hula-hoops for summer and being hung in the children’s department as part of our SRP’s decorations. After the summer these weavings will be turned into rugs and used by our youngest customers as storytime mats.

Miniature Terrariums Terrarium

Summer is a great time to introduce gardening to tweens, but with their overbooked schedules, we recognize they most likely do not have the time to actually tend a garden. Our solution, offer them an opportunity to make miniature terrariums.

These cute tiny gardens are fun to create and accessorize. To cut costs, try to work with a local gardening center to negotiate prices on succulents and air plants. Ask staff to bring in small sealable glass jars to also help defray the cost. Consider providing small plastic figures for the tweens to include in their gardens, so they can create environments for these figures to live in.

Offering these types of self-directed DIY activities has been very popular with the tweens at my library. As I noted at the beginning of this post, I am always looking for new ideas for these projects, to keep the tweens coming back. If you have a project that work in this type of format, please share in the comments. Ideas are wonderful things!

 

Amber Creger is a member of the School Age Programs & Services Committee. She works as the Youth Services Manager at the Arlington Heights Memorial Library in Arlington Heights, IL.

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6. Middle Grade Check-In

Summer reading is in full swing at my library and my tweens are reading furiously. The middle grade (MG) is flying off the shelves!  Here are a few books that my kids cannot get enough of:

Source: Goodreads

How They Choked: Failures, Flops, and Flaws of the Awfully Famous by Georgia Bragg

This one is a follow-up to How They Croaked, which was on the shortlist for the Mississippi Children’s Choice Award last year in the 6-8 category. My kids loved that one, and they must love this one because I haven’t seen hide nor hair of it since it came in. It’s about famous failures and includes stories about Amelia Earhart, Vincent Van Gogh, Ferdinand Magellan, and more. I managed to glance through it between circs and it is hilarious.

 

Source: Goodreads

The Battle for WondLa by Tony DiTerlizzi

The WondLa trilogy has been popular at my branch since the first book. This is the conclusion, and not only is the sprawling, beautifully strange scifi story of Eva Nine really, really satisfying, the gorgeous illustrations that DiTerlizzi himself penned are breathtaking. I love this series and I’m happy my kids love it, too.

 

 

Source: Goodreads

 

 

The Cabinet of Curiosities: 36 Tales Brief & Sinister by Stefan Bachmann, Claire Legrand, Katherine Catmull, and Emma Trevayne

Short, creepy stories? Gorgeous cover? My patrons are sold.

 

 

 

Source: Goodreads

 

Game Over, Pete Watson by Joe Schreiber

A video game obsessed kid finds out his dad has been kidnapped and is being held…inside a video game?? Sounds AMAZING! I wanted to read this one but every copy in our system was on request before I could get my hands on it!

 

 

 

What awesome middle grade titles are getting checked out at your library this summer?

Are you interested in reading more tween-related posts?  The YALSA Blog and the ALSC Blog both offer information of interest to librarians who work with tweens.

*
Our cross-poster from YALSA today is Ally Watkins (@aswatki1). Ally is a youth services librarian in Mississippi, and has worked with ages birth-18 for the last 5 years.

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7. Building Trust


YA author Jessica Khoury writing over at NPR gave me food for thought on my approach to working with tweens and teens. She describes how, despite living in a very conservative area and in a very conservative family where reading Harry Potter was NOT allowed, she convinced her parents to let her read the series. Their trust in her and her honesty with them was a powerful influence on her life.

Her post resonated personally for me.

As a tween, kids that I hung around with were often grounded - a way to keep wayward, mostly harmless but definitely annoying tween behaviors in check. When I asked my parents why I never got hit with this punishment, their reply changed my life in a way that was similar to Khoury's experience.

Mom and Dad said they trusted me and trusted my decisions. As long as I made good decisions and demonstrated that I could be trusted, they would not ground me. If I made poor decisions, they would treat me like other kids  - grounded! Their trust was a huge gift and just blew me away.

I made sure that I made good decisions from then on, knowing that I was entrusted with their trust. Combined with their willingness to share the knowledge of it with me, this trust kept me from doing some incredibly stupid things. And it opened up a channel of dialogue and communication with my parents that created a deeper relationship because we knew we could all talk together.

I have tried to include that element of sharing and trust in all my work with tweens and teens and have received positive results back far more than I  have received negatives. Kids want trust and want to share. As a caring adult in their lives, all librarians can take this step. And all we have to do is support them....and give them our trust - and our honesty.

Graphic courtesy of Pixabay

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8. Tweens in the Summer

Most libraries, like my own, have a core group of kids know and love our programs and are super excited about libraries in general.  But, especially in the summer, these kids are often accompanied by siblings in a group a bit more disconnected from library services: tweens. Tagging along with their siblings, tweens who are unfamiliar with our library programming often end up exposed to our summer offerings. What can we do to keep them coming back?

1) Plan programming that interests everyone. Summer programming for teens in my library serves both middle school and high school students (we’re not large enough to divide it up). So we work hard to find programming ideas that will appeal to both age groups: crafts that older kids won’t find lame, cooking classes that 6-12th graders will all enjoy, a photobooth night where the kids can post to Instagram until they drop. We don’t have a lot of resources to work with, but if you’re not planning a program that will appeal to the wide swath of “teen” ages, you’re going to lose these kids. If your library is large enough to support separate middle school and high school programming, fantastic! Plan things that you know your middle schoolers love! Crafts! Minecraft! Book club! Ask them what they want to see and then provide it.

2) Talk to them about middle grade AND young adult. As soon as the kids in my town hit sixth grade, they want to books from the teen center where our YA collection is–on the other side of the library from juvenile fiction. And that’s fantastic! But I’ve had several conversations with some awesome middle schoolers about middle grade books, publisher’s age recommendations, and how I logistically can’t shelve MG in the teen center or double-buy titles. As soon as a 12-year-old sees the “Ages 10-14” note inside of a book, they give themselves permission to be in the children’s department again.  Not only has this opened up more of the library’s collection for some of my younger readers, this is a great intro conversation for an ongoing readers’ advisory relationship!

3) Ask them to volunteer. Kids can volunteer here at age 13, and I’ve always had more tweens than high school students sign up for Summer Reading Program volunteer work. It makes them feel like they’re a part of something; giving them real responsibilities makes them feel valued and increases their investment in the program. It can help them build relationships with other kids they may or may not know from school. I’ve also seen some really neat mentoring relationships develop between kids who are nervous about high school and high school students who are willing to share knowledge with them. Just be sure to be present while your students are volunteering–not every relationship between a 13-year-old and an 18-year-old is appropriate.

4) Feed ‘em and reward ‘emOk, this one is a no-brainer, but: I have food at every teen program.  I do guessing jars filled with candy each week for teens. At each program, I give out a few small door prizes–ARCs, Upstart incentives, that kind of thing. And you know what? Even though that’s pretty par for the course, even though everyone always does that because it’s standard operating procedure, it’s important. Because to a rising 7th grader who’s used to sitting in a room of 200+ people for a K-6 program, a slice of pizza and a personal greeting is novel. It’s a treat. And it’s a way to show them that they’re important to us.

What is your library doing to serve your tween patrons this summer?

Are you interested in reading more tween-related posts? The YALSA Blog and the ALSC Blog both offer information of interest to librarians who work with tweens.

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9. Tweens in the Summer

Most libraries, like my own, have a core group of kids know and love our programs and are super excited about libraries in general.  But, especially in the summer, these kids are often accompanied by siblings in a group a bit more disconnected from library services: tweens. Tagging along with their siblings, tweens who are unfamiliar with our library programming often end up exposed to our summer offerings. What can we do to keep them coming back?

1) Plan programming that interests everyone. Summer programming for teens in my library serves both middle school and high school students (we’re not large enough to divide it up). So we work hard to find programming ideas that will appeal to both age groups: crafts that older kids won’t find lame, cooking classes that 6-12th graders will all enjoy, a photobooth night where the kids can post to Instagram until they drop. We don’t have a lot of resources to work with, but if you’re not planning a program that will appeal to the wide swath of “teen” ages, you’re going to lose these kids. If your library is large enough to support separate middle school and high school programming, fantastic! Plan things that you know your middle schoolers love! Crafts! Minecraft! Book club! Ask them what they want to see and then provide it.

2) Talk to them about middle grade AND young adult. As soon as the kids in my town hit sixth grade, they want to books from the teen center where our YA collection is–on the other side of the library from juvenile fiction. And that’s fantastic! But I’ve had several conversations with some awesome middle schoolers about middle grade books, publisher’s age recommendations, and how I logistically can’t shelve MG in the teen center or double-buy titles. As soon as a 12-year-old sees the “Ages 10-14” note inside of a book, they give themselves permission to be in the children’s department again.  Not only has this opened up more of the library’s collection for some of my younger readers, this is a great intro conversation for an ongoing readers’ advisory relationship!

3) Ask them to volunteer. Kids can volunteer here at age 13, and I’ve always had more tweens than high school students sign up for Summer Reading Program volunteer work. It makes them feel like they’re a part of something; giving them real responsibilities makes them feel valued and increases their investment in the program. It can help them build relationships with other kids they may or may not know from school. I’ve also seen some really neat mentoring relationships develop between kids who are nervous about high school and high school students who are willing to share knowledge with them. Just be sure to be present while your students are volunteering–not every relationship between a 13-year-old and an 18-year-old is appropriate.

4) Feed ‘em and reward ‘em. Ok, this one is a no-brainer, but: I have food at every teen program.  I do guessing jars filled with candy each week for teens. At each program, I give out a few small door prizes–ARCs, Upstart incentives, that kind of thing. And you know what? Even though that’s pretty par for the course, even though everyone always does that because it’s standard operating procedure, it’s important. Because to a rising 7th grader who’s used to sitting in a room of 200+ people for a K-6 program, a slice of pizza and a personal greeting is novel. It’s a treat. And it’s a way to show them that they’re important to us.

What is your library doing to serve your tween patrons this summer?

Are you interested in reading more tween-related posts? The YALSA Blog and the ALSC Blog both offer information of interest to librarians who work with tweens.

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10. Teen Tribes: Fan Clubs Take On New Meaning

Are you a Gleek? A Directioner? A Lovatic? A Belieber? There are hoards of teen tribes roaming the Internet and meeting up at pop culture events. Nowadays, every teen icon has its own posse that has often mobilized independent of the artist — and... Read the rest of this post

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11. New Ebook By Joe Sottile--101 SECRETS!

With this Ebook you will learn how you can help preteens in your life deal with emotional monsters in a constructive way. This self-help guide for tweens and adults offers suggestions, wisdom, and encouraging stories that will deflate the worse fears and habits of preteens. Preteens will learn to deal more effectively  with their worries, insecurities, anger, blame, bullies, and fear itself.

They will discover strategies for making friends, doing better in school, learning how to be happier and more purposeful in life—starting today! This is a must-read book for preteens, teens, parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, teachers, principals, and all those adults who frequently guide the lives of children.

The 101 SECRETS! are designed to provide inspiration and hope for all tweens by a teacher of thirty-three years. Joe Sottile has taught over 1,000 students, and many of them claim that he was their “favorite teacher” because Joe knew and demonstrated these secrets, the power of words, and humor in the classroom every day.


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12. Seeing it from the Other Side

This summer, after working with teens in public libraries for seven years straight, I made a career change and now I am an elementary school librarian in a large urban school district. I will be writing a series of blog posts about my new position and the perspectives I’m gaining from my life on the school side of library services to children.

Jumping from one service group to another has been an enlightening experience, to say the least. My school serves children in grades K-4, so I’ve been switching gears to picture books, early readers and chapter books. The kids at my school can mostly be classified as struggling readers, but their enthusiasm for books and the library is very strong, and I hope that trend will continue with my help throughout the school year.

One big difference in this new job is that I am dealing with different stakeholders. At my last public library position, I served teens who wanted to be there and were interested in the materials and services we offered. Sometimes their parents directed their reading choices, but for the most part, they could check out whatever they wanted.

At the school library, most children want to be in the library, but we operate on a flexible schedule, which means each class doesn’t have a set time to visit the library each week. I have to remind many teachers to come by for a visit or check-out time. They have to fit so many things into their instructional day that library visits are on the back burner. 

For me, it is excruciating to greet eager faces in the hallway each morning who ask when their next visit to the library is, and not be able to give them a definite answer. I don’t want them to get the impression that I’m too busy for them or that I don’t want them to visit.  However, I am hopeful that this situation will improve as the school year moves along and the teachers continue to get to know me.

The other difference I notice is the nature of my relationship to the young people I work with, and the way I interact with them. As a public librarian, you do want to ensure the safety of the youth in your library, and encouraging them to follow the rules can be part of that. The teens and kids I worked with at the public library were a mostly well-behaved bunch (I know- how lucky was I?) so I very rarely had to speak to any of them in a stern manner or even remind them of the rules.

Now as an elementary school librarian, behavior management impacts my interactions with the kids. They need many reminders about the expectations for their behavior, and in between sharing my enthusiasm for books and reading, I find myself having to be the disciplinarian I never had to be at the public library. 

So far, I am really enjoying the change of pace that being in a school library has afforded me, and I can’t wait to share more of my experiences in the following months.

Are you interested in reading more tween-related posts?  The YALSA Blog and the ALSC Blog both offer information of interest to librarians who work with tweens.

**********************************

Our cross-poster from YALSA today is Angela Frederick. Angela is currently a school librarian with Metro Nashville Public Schools; she has eight years experience working with teens in public libraries in Nashville and San Antonio. She will be serving on YALSA’s Printz committee in 2014.

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at alscblog@gmail.com.

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13. Passive Programs for Tweens

The library I work in is on a very busy side of town. Our tweens tend to become very involved in after school activities and homework during the school year. While they still use the library, they tend to be here for tutoring, homework help, or just running in quickly to grab a book. Sometimes our programming for tweens can be hit or miss. But one thing that has become a popular hit with our school age group are passive programs. We put out passive programs several times a year and these are great for tweens on the go who only have a few minutes to spend with a program. A few of our recent ideas:

I SPY HOUSE

This has become a holiday tradition for both Halloween and Christmas. Many years ago the library received a Madeline dollhouse that my staff transform into a large I Spy House. The interior changes every year with new items to find. Sometimes it’s a list of items, sometimes it’s a puzzle with rhyming text, but no matter what the tweens love searching for all the times and seeing how fast they can find everything. Here’s a peek at what our Halloween house looks like this year:

I Spy House

 SCAVENGER HUNTS

Our tweens love scavenger hunts. They would do them all day if we had enough! We tie scavenger hunts into a lot of our programs because of their popularity. I’ve used them for our Hobbit Birthday celebration (find the hidden Hobbits around the library) or to kick off summer reading program (find the pyramids using various clues).

What I love about scavenger hunts is that it’s a tricky way to teach the tweens about the library. We recently made a scavenger hunt modeled after Upstart’s Duck Duck Dewey Game. We took pictures of each of the subject themed ducks and hide them on the shelf in each of the dewey locations. We then created a sheet that showed a variety of book covers they might find in each subject and the picture of the duck that matched with a short description about what that duck liked to read about. Tweens had to then write down what Dewey number they found the books. So many of our patrons commented that they loved this scavenger hunt because it helped them learn where to find books.

Passive programs work well for our tween audience and the tweens get really excited about discovering what’s new at the library. What are some of your favorite passive programs for tweens?

 

Are you interested in reading more tween-related posts?  The YALSA Blog and the ALSC Blog both offer information of interest to librarians who work with tweens. 

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14. ALSC Presents Tween Webinar on Nov. 4

ALSC Online EducationYou have on more week to register for ALSC’s tween webinar. Between Storytime and the Prom: Tween Programming Fills the Gap presented by Amanda Moss Struckmeyer takes place on Monday, November 4 at 2pm Central. In this webinar, attendees will learn key qualities and features of high-quality ‘tween programs.

Amanda Moss Struckmeyer is the Head of Youth Services at the Middleton Public Library in Middleton, Wisconsin, where she has developed an ever-evolving buffet of programs for tweens.

ALSC personal members pay only $45! For more information on Between Storytime and the Prom: Tween Programming Fills the Gapfees and dates, please check out the ALSC site.

Questions? Please contact ALSC Membership/Marketing Specialist, Dan Rude, drude@ala.org or 800-545-2433 ext 2164. For more information about ALSC webinars, please visit ALSC webinar page.

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15. Seeing It From the Other Side: Programming

As you might recall from my blog post last month, I recently switched gears in my professional life. After eight years of working with teens in public libraries, I am now an elementary school librarian in a large, urban public school. I’ll be writing a series of blog posts about how the two jobs intersect. This month I’m discussing programming and how it relates to what I do in my current job.

When I was a teen services librarian, I had a love/hate relationship with programming. The thrilling highs when tons of happy faces exited the library after a successful venture didn’t always make up for the crushing lows when nobody showed up for the program I’d spent time and taxpayer dollars on.

Still, I had supportive management who let me try lots of different things and tailor my programming to whatever teens were asking for. When I sat down to figure out what I’d be offering in the coming months, I was only bound by my own imagination and what I knew would appeal to teens. Whatever worked I was free to continue, and whatever tanked, I was free to abandon. If the program served only to entertain teens, that was okay. There didn’t need to be an educational angle or goal to guide the program.

In my current job, “programming” isn’t part of the vernacular. It takes the form of “lesson planning” or “lesson collaboration” and needs to align with certain educational standards. So far what I have offered and been asked to offer looks a lot like storytime, which is okay by me. I love finding stories that appeal to the grade levels I’m serving. One thing I’ve had success with is using nonfiction picture books as read-alouds, which I will discuss in a future post.

I’m looking for ways that I can branch out beyond just the storytime/book club model (though those are worthy enough in their own right). I’ve been to some training sessions that have given me some good ideas and I’ve also started building a new school librarian/educator PLN (personal learning network) on Twitter and Pinterest. One goal I have is to offer hands-on learning experiences in the library.

One thing that programming or lesson planning have in common is appeal to an audience of young people. In either scenario, a librarian is trying to make a connection that helps the young person, whether it be through education, enlightenment, or pure entertainment.

Are you interested in reading more tween-related posts? The YALSA Blog and the ALSC Blog both offer information of interest to librarians who work with tweens.

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Our cross-poster from YALSA today is Angela Frederick. Angela is currently a school librarian with Metro Nashville Public Schools; she has eight years experience working with teens in public libraries in Nashville and San Antonio. She will be serving on YALSA’s Printz committee in 2014.

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at alscblog@gmail.com.

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16. Origami Yoda

The tweens at my library love the Origami Yoda series by Tom Angleberger. With so many fans, I knew this series would be great for a program. For my program inspiration, I used several of the activities in Art2-D2′s Guide to Folding and Doodling. I was nervous about putting on an origami program, because I am not very skilled at origami myself.

I set up the room with origami paper and additional supplies we would need for drawing our own comics as well as print outs of how to do some of the more difficult origami folds. Nine tweens gathered on a Sunday afternoon at my library to learn how to do origami and talk about the series.

We started the program out by talking about the book series and why they liked it (it’s funny and they liked the drawings throughout). About half of the group had read the books, the other half were attending the program either for the Star Wars or origami aspect. I started the group out with the simple five fold Origami Yoda that the author has posted to his website. This also gave me a good way to gauge how well the group could handle origami. Most of them had some trouble getting started but quickly figured it out. Once we made our Origami Yoda’s, we talked about the books some more and talked about favorite characters (Origami Yoda was the ultimate favorite character). While some of the origami was a bit complicated, the group stuck with it and they tried their hardest to complete Darth Paper and Origami R2-D2. In addition to origami, we made eraser Wookie’s and learned how to draw a simple Darth Vader helmet, both from the Art2-D2 book.

This was a fairly simple program with little supply cost, preparation and set up and it was a huge hit. I had to learn a bit of origami beforehand, and being crafty is not my strong suit. But the tweens didn’t care that I was learning along with them and we helped each other out in making various origami characters. The tweens loved gathering around a table, talking about a book series they enjoyed and learning to make origami. The most exciting part of the event was that it was very boy friendly and attended by an overwhelming majority of boys. Only one of my attendees was female and she attended because she was the younger sister of two of the attendees. It was a great way to bring boys into the library and show them all the library has to offer-and that we can have fun programs too.

At the end of the origami making, I was able to give away a copy of Art2-D2 as well as a signed copy of Origami Yoda I had picked up at a previous ALA conference. The group was very excited about the chance to win prizes and had a blast learning some new origami skills. It was a fun way to bring in tweens to the library and tie a book and craft program together. I learned not to be shy about my own lack of origami skills and to have fun with it. I can’t wait to have another origami event with the tweens.

 

Are you interested in reading more tween-related posts?  The YALSA Blog and the ALSC Blog both offer information of interest to librarians who work with tweens.

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17. Get Your Tween Recommended Reads Book List!

ALSC Tween Booklist

Download your free copy today! Image courtesy of ALSC

Looking for books for tweens? ALSC recently announced the release of a Tween Recommended Reads booklist, intended to engage and encourage tweens to read throughout the year.

The Tween Recommended Reads list includes 25 titles chosen specifically to appeal to tweens and to encourage them to read. PDFs of the booklist are available online in full color and black and white and are free to download, copy and distribute.

A big thank you to the 2013 ALSC School Age Programs and Services Committee who put together this awesome list!

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18. Measuring Program Success

Working with tweens can be fun and also frustrating. My branch will have a large after school crowd of tweens but they’re not at the library to attend a program or hang out. Instead they are at the library to meet with a tutor, work on homework, or grab a book quickly before they rush off to their extracurricular activities. No matter how much we advertise programs to this age group, our attendance can sometimes be low. Or at least it feels low when we’ve put a lot of effort into planning a program that we hope will be a big success.

It’s hard to get caught up in numbers and statistics when it comes to programming. It’s also hard not to compare programs with each other. Sometimes I think about how we can get a group of 30 or more toddlers for storytime but I’m lucky if I can get a few tweens for a program.

But I can’t get caught up in measuring program success by numbers. Instead I focus on the stories. Like the middle schooler who came to every single Hunger Games program we provided last year, won the movie tickets in the giveaway, and came to the library this year and said “thank you so much for having those programs about The Hunger Games! They were my favorite and I met my best friend-and we’re still friends today and we met at the library.”

Or the tween who attended a recent program and was excited to win a set of books she hadn’t read yet.

Or the tween who gets excited to meet someone else who shares their interests when they thought they were the only one who liked Doctor Who, or Origami Yoda, or Cupcake Club.

When I feel down about tween programs and wonder what we could do better to reach this age group, I remind myself of all that we have provided for tweens and that we are successful. We are providing a place for tweens to come, meet other tweens, and participate in a program just for them-and that’s a success.

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19. Start Seeing Middle Grade (Part 1)

A 6th grade girl entered the library with a look of trepidation.  She needed a book for her independent reading time but was convinced there was nothing for her in our collection. As we talked she expressed the frustration of searching for books in the Young Adult collection of the local public library. She told me how nothing in that collection was right for her. Fortunately the Prairie Creek Intermediate School library is built around the needs and interests of the 800+  5th and 6th grade students who attend our school.   Of course we have YA titles on the shelves but we also have a large collection of materials intended especially for this unique audience.

Drawing distinctions between YA and middle grade literature is an important topic for librarians serving the upper range of the ALSC scope of attention (birth to age 14).  In a two part posting we’ll dig into the attributes of middle grade literature, the needs of these readers, and how to best serve them as a distinct group between early childhood and young adult. There has been much in the news about the tendency of mass media and the general public to refer to all children’s literature as Young Adult.  A few background readings for our discussion:

Jeanne Birdsall writes in the Horn Book about her own youth reading habits in Middle Grade Saved My Life.  She also comments on the trends in publishing for this age:

The immense success of young adult books, written for teens and known to everyone as YA, has been overshadowing the quieter middle grade category and, in some cases, threatening to subsume it.

Anne Ursu has been writing about the capacities of middle graders to handle serious stories told exclusively for them (sometimes more quietly). She has described this age as often being overlooked and under appreciated by the general public, reviewers, and sometimes their own parents.  How are children’s librarians doing in this regard?

I had the opportunity to share 5 questions with Anne on the IRA blog. Anne will be joining me for part 2 of this post, to be published in April. What questions do you have for Anne about writing for the middle grade audience? How do you provide great service and resources to middle grade patrons? What are the major barriers to serving middle graders in your library?  How can we get more people to see middle grade this year?  I look forward to hearing from you.

Speaking of great middle grade books – take a moment to download the Tween Recommended Reads list from the ALSC School Age Programs and Services Committee.

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20. Middle Grade Maker Book Club

Timing is everything – right?

It isn’t often that the exact book you need is published exactly when you need it! Many of us are engaged in providing all types of maker spaces and maker programs from low-tech legos to minecraft, coding, and 3-D printers. Even storytime crafts are maker activities for the very young.

These new books by Bob Pflugfelder make a terrific school age book club/maker program in one for grades 3-6 and appropriate for school or public libraries. They are unlikely to win awards for literary merit, but they could win an award for kid appeal on many levels.

Siblings Nick and Tesla use their wits and their uncle’s workshop to invent cool gadgets using readily available stuff to overcome problems and obstacles and to ultimately solve a mystery. My reluctant readers are fighting my avid readers for these books!

Nick and Tesla’s high-voltage danger lab : a mystery with electromagnets, burglar alarms, and other gadgets you can build yourself

Nick and Tesla’s robot army rampage : a mystery with hoverbots, bristlebots, and other robots you can build yourself

Build an adventure.

Sarah Abercrombie
School Age Programs and Services
sabercrombie@gcds.net

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21. Printz Books for Tweens

I am currently serving on the 2015 Michael L. Printz Award Committee. We are considering books that are published in 2014, so while I can’t comment on any of those in this public forum, I thought it would be fun and beneficial to look back over previous Printz winner and honor books and see which might be appropriate for tweens.

The criteria for Printz includes books that are written for 12-18 year olds, which is a giant gap, developmentally-speaking. I think Printz committees tend to skew older in their choices, but there have been some years when titles for younger readers have won or received honors.

Some of these titles I read a long time ago and haven’t re-read, so let me know in the comments if I’m off the mark. Also, this list is by no means exhaustive, so please chime in on other Printz winner or honor titles you think would be appealing to tweens.

Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool
Printz Honor in 2014

Jack Baker, uprooted suddenly after his mother’s death, and Early Auden, the strangest of boys, meet at a Maine boarding school. Their friendship culminates in a treacherous quest and unexpected self-discovery. Vanderpool delivers an emotionally powerful novel in an untamed setting as the boys head up river in search of the Great Appalachian Bear.(annotation from the Printz committee)

One Whole and Perfect Day By Judith Clarke
Printz Honor in 2008

Freakish, thought Lily. That was the word for her family. Not freaks exactly, but getting there. Sometimes Lily wishes she weren’t so sensible. If she were less reliable, then perhaps she’d have more fun. As it is, her hardworking but flaky mom and her dreamy older brother count on her to run the house. She wishes things could be different, but how can she change her responsible ways? Perhaps, she thinks, she should fall in love!  (publisher description)

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
Printz Winner in 2007

Yang draws from American pop culture and ancient Chinese mythology in his groundbreaking work. Expertly told in words and pictures, Yang’s story in three parts follows a Chinese American teenager’s struggle to define himself against racial stereotypes. “American Born Chinese” is the first graphic novel to be recognized by the Michael L. Printz Committee.  (annotation from the Printz committee)

A Wreath for Emmett Till by Marilyn Nelson
Printz Honor in 2006

In 1955 people all over the United States knew that Emmett Louis Till was a fourteen-year-old African American boy lynched for supposedly whistling at a white woman in Mississippi. The brutality of his murder, the open-casket funeral held by his mother, Mamie Till Mobley, and the acquittal of the men tried for the crime drew wide media attention.  (publisher description)

Airborn by Kenneth Oppel
Printz Honor in 2005

Matt Cruse is a cabin boy on the Aurora, a huge airship that sails hundreds of feet above the ocean, ferrying wealthy passengers from city to city. It is the life Matt’s always wanted; convinced he’s lighter than air, he imagines himself as buoyant as the hydrium gas that powers his ship. One night he meets a dying balloonist who speaks of beautiful creatures drifting through the skies. It is only after Matt meets the balloonist’s granddaughter that he realizes that the man’s ravings may, in fact, have been true, and that the creatures are completely real and utterly mysterious.  (publisher description)

Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy by Gary D. Schmidt
Printz Honor in 2005

Not only is Turner Buckminster the son of the new minister in a small Maine town, he is shunned for playing baseball differently than the local boys. Then he befriends smart and lively Lizzie Bright Griffin, a girl from Malaga Island, a poor community founded by former slaves. Lizzie shows Turner a new world along the Maine coast from digging clams to rowing a boat next to a whale. When the powerful town elders, including Turner’s father, decide to drive the people off the island to set up a tourist business, Turner stands alone against them. He and Lizzie try to save her community, but there’s a terrible price to pay for going against the tide.   (publisher description)

The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer
Printz Honor in 2003

Matteo Alacran was not born; he was harvested with the DNA from El Patron, lord of a country called Opium. Can a boy who was bred to guarantee another’s survival find his own purpose in life? And can he ever be free?  (publisher description)

Thanks to Beth Saxton (@BethReads)  and Ally Watkins (@aswatki1)  for brainstorming with me on this topic!

Are you interested in reading more tween-related posts? The YALSA Blog and the ALSC Blog both offer information of interest to librarians who work with tweens.

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Our cross-poster from YALSA today is Angela Frederick (@angelina41). Angela is currently a school librarian with Metro Nashville Public Schools; she has eight years experience working with teens in public libraries in Nashville and San Antonio.

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22. Prophecy by Ellen Oh (The Dragon King Chronicles #1)

PROPHECY by Ellen Oh Series: The Dragon King Chronicles Hardcover: 320 pages Publisher: HarperTeen (January 2, 2013) Kira’s the only female in the king’s army, and the prince’s bodyguard. She’s a demon slayer and an outcast, hated by nearly everyone in her home city of Hansong. And, she’s their only hope... Murdered kings and discovered traitors point to a demon invasion, sending Kira on the

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23. Minecraft Programming for Tweens

Has your library ventured into the realm of Minecraft?  Are you looking for new ideas to serve your tween patrons?  I encourage you to consider investing in a Minecraftedu account.  This digital environment offers your tweens and the librarians serving them a wealth of programming options.

Why spend money for an edu account? As a school librarian the edu account gives me control over the Minecraft experiences I offer my students (including the “freeze students” feature). It allows me to custom build what will happen in this space.  If you’re ready to step into the role of digital media mentor this is a prime opportunity to do so.  Tweens will come to Minecraft programming (you will have a waiting list!).  Many of them will bring a wealth of previous experiences. Others will come with little to no knowledge of how to get around. As a librarian using a Minecraftedu account you can offer this wide range of kids a similar enriching experience.

minecraftedu2

Minecraftedu teacher & librarian control panel (http://www.graphite.org/game/minecraftedu)

One of the things I enjoy about this space is the collaborative potential.

The first group expedition is through a tutorial world. The entire class enters this space (using their real names) and begins to explore. We challenge them to help each other navigate through the world using only the text chat  (improving keyboarding skills has never been this fun!). Tweens’ willingness to share their expertise with each other is limitless.

tutorial world Our options for programming also seem boundless. The next adventure for 5th graders will be a building project.  They have researched the architecture of ancient civilizations in social studies and will build Minecraft models of these structures. This is more than a fancy diorama. Tweens will assume the identity of an ancient citizen and provide tours to classmates. Could your public library offer this opportunity in collaboration with local schools?

When we greet new classes in the fall this will become a team building space. Games like capture the flag can make a digital migration. Book clubs could construct a story scape based on a book they have read.  Fan fiction can be acted out in 3D and recorded for sharing.  Tweens are using digital media of all kinds. Their creative potential is at the ready. Librarians can be valuable mentors if we take the leap.

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24. Reaching Tweens

Tweens are always a hard audience to reach at my library. They are so busy and the library often ends up being a quick stop for our tweens. We wanted to make sure we offered programs for our school age patrons and we thought the best way to reach them would be to offer programming at multiple times to try and accommodate their busy schedules.

After brainstorming with my staff, we decided we had two audiences we wanted to reach-school age patrons and our ever growing home school population. So we came up with the idea to offer two programs that would repeat each month. We offer one program on a Saturday morning and another on the fourth Friday afternoon of the month. So far we’ve done a Crafternoon, old fashioned game day, and a sewing program based around the book Extra Yarn). This gives patrons two opportunities to attend our programs and we’re reaching a different audience need with each program while targeting the tween school age population that we want to bring into the library.

We don’t advertise the weekday afternoon program for just home schoolers, but we know that’s a big part of our audience for those programs. And the public schools will often have an early dismissal on the afternoons of our programs, so we’re able to reach a wider audience.

So far it’s been a popular idea. Our patrons have appreciated having more options of times to attend a program and our home school patron base is excited that we are offering a program that they can attend with the whole family. We’re eager to keep this plan going in the Fall and continue to bring programming that offers something for our tweens.

Does your library offer a creative time slot to reach tweens or multiple programming opportunities to reach tweens? I’d love to know how other libraries are running programs for school age patrons!

Are you interested in reading more tween-related posts?  The YALSA Blog and the ALSC Blog both offer information of interest to librarians who work with tweens. 

 

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25. The Stepsister's Tale by Tracy Barrett {Review}

The Stepsister's Tale by Tracy Barrett Ages: 12+ Hardcover: 304 pages Publisher: Harlequin Teen (June 24, 2014)' Jane Montjoy is tired of being a lady. She's tired of pretending to live up to the standards of her mother's noble family-especially now that the family's wealth is gone and their stately mansion has fallen to ruin. It's hard enough that she must tend to the animals and find a way

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