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1. Let’s talk about Caldecott: This One Summer

TOSLet’s talk about This One Summer. I know many of you have already talked about it, and I’m sure some of those conversations have been very interesting. As a member of the 2015 Caldecott Committee that chose This One Summer by Mariko & Jillian Tamaki as an honor book, I’ll try to clear up some points that have lead to questions.  According to the Caldecott definitions, “’A picture book for children’ is one for which children are the intended potential audience. “Children are defined as persons of ages up to and including fourteen and picture books for this entire age range are considered.” (Caldecott Manual, page 10) The Expanded Definitions also says, on page 69, “In some instances, award-winning books have been criticized for exceeding the upper age limit of fourteen. If a book is challenging, and suitable for 13-14 year-olds, but not for younger readers, is it eligible? Yes…” Yes, this book is for older readers. Here’s an interesting look at that question in Travis Jonker’s interview with the Tamakis.

This One Summer is a coming-of-age story about a girl entering adolescence and both appeals to and is appropriate for young readers age 12-14. Twelve, thirteen and fourteen year-olds fall well within the scope of audience for the Caldecott Medal and Honor books. Although this book is challenging in many ways, the committee found it to be “so distinguished, in so many ways, that it deserves recognition” as well as “exceptionally fine, for the narrow part of the range to which it appeals, even though it may be eligible for other awards outside this range.” (page 69 – Caldecott Manual). There are many people who do not realize that the Caldecott terms include books for older readers. I see this as an opportunity for us, as ALSC members and librarians, to deepen understanding of the award.

Committee member Tali Balas add sticker to the book. Photo by Angela Reynolds

Committee member Tali Balas add sticker to the book. Photo by Angela Reynolds

According to The Caldecott Manual, a “picture book for children” as distinguished from other books with illustrations, is one that essentially provides the child with a visual experience. A picture book has a “collective unity of storyline, theme, or concept, developed through the series of pictures of which this book is comprised.” (page 10) The committee followed this definition closely, and This One Summer shows, through pictures, a collective unity of all three, with particular strength in storyline and theme. Graphic novels certainly provide us with a visual experience. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has a great article on using This One Summer in a classroom, which you can read here, and a “make your case” article for adding it to your collection here. And for those of you who are graphic novel fans, don’t miss this podcast with Mariko Tamaki. I love how she talks about the images being like paragraphs.

The Caldecott Committee, as directed by the manual, considered each eligible book as a picture book and made our decisions based primarily on illustration. The committee gave This One Summer an honor because of its excellence of pictorial presentation for children, as defined in the manual. If you haven’t seen it, take a look at the amazing use of just one color. Jillian Tamaki creates mood so vividly with her washes of indigo, deepening the shade when the plot gets darker. The story has much to do with water; the monochromatic blues remind us just how changeable a lake (and an adolescent girl) can be. The images in the book intertwine and play with the words, creating an authentic summer experience. I just love the image on pages 70-71 where Windy is dancing around the kitchen. It shows her personality, and Rose’s, perfectly:  setting up the tension of youthful energy and quiet contemplation. There are many images throughout the book that give us this deeper insight. Go looking for them. They will astound you.
*Special thanks to fellow committee member Sharon McKeller for help with this article.

The post Let’s talk about Caldecott: This One Summer appeared first on ALSC Blog.

0 Comments on Let’s talk about Caldecott: This One Summer as of 3/31/2015 2:21:00 AM
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2. Comics, Comics, Comics!

It’s a great time to be a comics fan.

There are loads of amazing ones coming out right now. The Newbery, Caldecott, and Printz committees all recognized graphic novels as honor books this year. People are starting to sit up and pay attention to the world of comics and graphic novels, so I am here with a list for your kids (AND YOU!). Happy reading! And welcome to the comics life.

Lumberjanes is by  Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, and Brooke Allen. It’s published by Boom studies in single-issue format, but the first trade paperback (collecting issues 1-4) is out on April 7th. Y’all, this one is so incredible. Feminist, funny, and constantly focused on friendship, this series is set at a summer camp and shouldn’t be missed.

 

PrinceLess by Jeremy Whitley has been a relatively new find for me and I’m obsessed. Princess Adrienne is tired of sitting around in her tower waiting for a prince to slay her dragon and rescue her. So she and her dragon decide to go do the rescuing themselves. Completely turns sexist and racist tropes on their head, as displayed by this panel:

PRINCELESS_PREVIEW_Page2

 

PrinceLess hasn’t been checked in since we got it. Your kids are gonna love it.

 

The Explorer books (there are three) are comics anthologies edited by Kazu Kibuishi, whom your students already know because they adore amulet. This trilogy asks well-known comic artists like Raina Telgemeier, Emily Carroll, and Faith Erin Hicks, to write comic shorts based on a topic. They’re amazing. There’s something for everyone in this series!

Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson. Kamala Khan is a Pakistani-American teenager in Jersey City who suddenly and quite accidentally becomes empowered with extraordinary gifts. She has to figure out how to handle being a typical Muslim teenager–who’s now a superhero.

Honestly, when I discovered these (there are two so far), I bought them based solely on the tagline: “Yet another troll-fighting 11-year-old Orthodox Jewish girl.” Basically, that’s enough to sell me, but Mirka is fun and amazing and her religion is shown as something that’s part of her life, not something to be overcome or chafed against. Plus, dragons.

This is just a really small cross-section of all of the wonderful comics for kids that are being published right now. I hope you and your kids love them as much as me and mine do!

*
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 6 years.

 

 

 

 

The post Comics, Comics, Comics! appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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3. Comics, Comics, Comics!

It's a great time to be a comics fan.

There are loads of amazing ones coming out right now. The Newbery, Caldecott, and Printz committees all recognized graphic novels as honor books this year. People are starting to sit up and pay attention to the world of comics and graphic novels, so I am here with a list for your kids (AND YOU!). Happy reading! And welcome to the comics life.

Lumberjanes is by  Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, and Brooke Allen. It's published by Boom studies in single-issue format, but the first trade paperback (collecting issues 1-4) is out on April 7th. Y'all, this one is so incredible. Feminist, funny, and constantly focused on friendship, this series is set at a summer camp and shouldn't be missed.

PrinceLess by Jeremy Whitley has been a relatively new find for me and I'm obsessed. Princess Adrienne is tired of sitting around in her tower waiting for a prince to slay her dragon and rescue her. So she and her dragon decide to go do the rescuing themselves. Completely turns sexist and racist tropes on their head, as displayed by this panel:

PRINCELESS_PREVIEW_Page2

PrinceLess hasn't been checked in since we got it. Your kids are gonna love it.

The Explorer books (there are three) are comics anthologies edited by Kazu Kibuishi, whom your students already know because they adore amulet. This trilogy asks well-known comic artists like Raina Telgemeier, Emily Carroll, and Faith Erin Hicks, to write comic shorts based on a topic. They're amazing. There's something for everyone in this series!

Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson. Kamala Khan is a Pakistani-American teenager in Jersey City who suddenly and quite accidentally becomes empowered with extraordinary gifts. She has to figure out how to handle being a typical Muslim teenager--who's now a superhero.

Honestly, when I discovered these (there are two so far), I bought them based solely on the tagline: "Yet another troll-fighting 11-year-old Orthodox Jewish girl." Basically, that's enough to sell me, but Mirka is fun and amazing and her religion is shown as something that's part of her life, not something to be overcome or chafed against. Plus, dragons.

This is just a really small cross-section of all of the wonderful comics for kids that are being published right now. I hope you and your kids love them as much as me and mine do!

*
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 6 years.

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4. Planning for Tweens

Like many of you, I’m feverishly planning for summer reading. My complete schedule is due at the end of this week and even here in the Deep South, everything has been thrown off by ice and snow and power outages and missed deadlines…as crazy as Summer Reading is in a public library, I’m definitely looking forward to summer.

My library isn’t large enough to have separate programming for tweens in the summer, so I encourage rising 6-12th graders to come to my teen programming. Which means I’ve had kids as young as 11 at teen programming. This can work. This is good for socialization and some of your kids will really enjoy it. Fun mentor-type relationships have sprung up among my group. You just have to remember a few things.

  • Adult Supervision. I’ve never had any issues at teen programming among the actual teens, but y’all, there is a big age gap between 11 and 18 and we have to be responsible around that. Make sure your programs are staffed properly. Safety first.
  • Participation, not humiliation. Try not to plan any programs that call anyone out specifically, but do encourage participation. Last year I talked about my photobooth program, which was well-attended and wildly popular. Kids were able to participate without feeling like I’m going to call on them at school.
  • Casual forever. My tween/teen programming is MUUUUCH less structured than my kids programming. Part of this is numbers: I’m never going to get 100 kids at a teen program. But part of that is that junior high and high school kids have their lives structured down to every single second and having a place where they can come make a craft or watch a movie without having to ask permission to use the restroom.
  • Have fun with them.  My main problem in the summer is that while I’m trying to do multiple programs a week, I forget to sit down and actually enjoy myself. The teen and tween programs are an ideal place to do this, as they ARE less structured and require less of me running around like a chicken with my head cut off. I try and take this hour every week during the summer to relax and have a chat with my kids. I love it.

Good luck on those summer plans, fellow public librarians! You can do it!

*
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 6 years.

The post Planning for Tweens appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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5. Geek Girl by Holly Smale

Review by Reagan GEEK GIRL by Holly Smale Series: Geek Girl (Book 1) Hardcover: 384 pagesPublisher: HarperTeen (January 27, 2015) Goodreads | Amazon Geek + runway = a runaway UK hit! Geek Girl is the first book in a hilarious, internationally bestselling series that's perfect for fans of Louise Rennison and The Princess Diaries. Harriet Manners is a geek. She always has been, and she

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6. Instagram of the Week - February 2

A brief look at 'grams of interest to engage teens and librarians navigating this social media platform. Thursday, January 29 was New York Public Library's #libraryshelfie day during which book lovers worldwide snapped photos of their bookshelves and shared them on Instagram. From library shelves and to-be-read bedside stacks to pets with books and color coded shelving, shelfies of all sorts were spotlighted. This week we've collected the posts of several libraries that shared photos of their YA collections. Did you or your library participate this year?

It's hard to believe that February is already here! Will you be doing any special displays for Valentine's Day?  Blind Date with a Book displays are always popular, but we found a few red-themed ideas as well (one of which provides an awesome use for those leftover bookmarks).

Have you come across a related Instagram post this week, or has your library posted something similar? Have a topic you'd like to see in the next installment of Instagram of the Week? Share it in the comments section of this post.

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7. YMA Favorites

When you’re reading this, a lot of us will be heading or preparing to head to Chicago for ALA Midwinter. There are many things to be excited about during Midwinter–meetings, exhibits, seeing friends.

But not a lot actually meets the level of excitement, that the Youth Media Awards. This will be my first YMAs in person! I’m so jazzed. So I thought I’d take a moment and reflect on my favorite winners of past YMAs. Honestly, I could go on for pages and pages about this, but I’ll just do a quick overview because y’all are packing or flying.  My very favorites of the Caldecott Medal, Newbery Medal, and Printz Award Winners:

I know this is everyone’s favorite, but it’s totally mine. The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. It won the 1963 Caldecott award. This book was written over 20 years before I was born, but I adored it as a child. I remember asking my mom to read it to me over and over and over again. And it holds up. I use this one in storytimes often, and I’m lucky enough to live near the de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection at the University of Southern Mississippi and have seen some of the original art. It’s as gorgeous as you think it is.

The View From Saturday by E.L. Konisburg won the Newbery Medal in 1997. This is one that I was wild about as a child. I was 9 years old when this book came out, and I was part of a program in my school that was similar to the Academic Bowl Team. Well, not entirely similar. But it felt similar. My fourth-grade self resonated with this one DEEPLY. I actually have not read this one as an adult. A part of me is terrified that it won’t hold up. But it will, right? Because Konigsburg? This is the first time in my life I remember being aware that the Newbery medal is something that was actually awarded, and that the seal didn’t just magically appear on books in my school library. I remember my school librarian telling us that this book had won and being very excited because I had read it and loved it so much. Maybe it’s time for a reread?

 

The Printz Award is a little different. It’s a much newer award. The first Printz was awarded in 2000. I wasn’t really aware of the existence of the Printz until college library school, but I quickly became obsessed. I actually wrote my master’s project on the Printz. In doing so, I read many Printz and Printz Honor titles. Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta, the 2009 winner, is my favorite, and continues to be my favorite Young Adult title of all time. I understand that my approach to this book was different. I was an adult the first time I read it, upon the recommendation of a colleague at my library, unlike the other two titles, which I came to as a child. But this book, like the other two, changed me and stayed with me. Marchetta is now one of my favorite authors. I’m fond of telling friends that if she wrote ingredients lists on the side of cereal boxes, I’d have them shipped over from Australia to read.

That’s the thing I love about award winners, and all books. Remember this when you’re putting award seals on books next week and when you’re teaching classes about the Caldecott and Newbery and when you’re excitedly handing your tweens and teens the Printz Honor book you’ll know they love: these are the books that will stay with them forever. And we get to be a tiny part of that.

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

The post YMA Favorites appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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8. Instagram of the Week - January 5

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

Happy New Year! For many, the changing year brings with it a list of resolutions. What can we do for those who have made it a goal to read more books? For starters, we can share reading challenges with our teen patrons or create our own for our communities. The 2015 Goodreads Reading Challenge has users set a goal of a specific number of titles to read, but other sources like Popsugar, Book Riot, and the TBR (To Be Read) Jar Challenge give category guidelines in which readers select a title of their choice.  Others, like Epic Reads' 365 Days of YA reading calendar and YALSA's 2015 Morris/Nonfiction Reading Challenge (which counts toward the upcoming 2015 Hub Reading Challenge), ask participants to read a number of books from a provided list. Either way, these reading challenge avenues provide inspiration for creating your own reading challenge for your teens. Check out Random House of Canada's year-long Reading Bingo Challenge (one general card and one specific to YA) -- fun and motivating!

Another way to engage teens in a discussion of their reading is through book photo challenges. Offered monthly, these challenges ask users to take a book-related photo a day and post it on social media with the corresponding hashtags. The sky is the limit when it comes to daily photo tasks! Engaging library users in this type of discussion can provide clues to collection development and potential programming.

Has your library hosted a reading or book photo challenge before? Is there a "go to" reading challenge that you recommend to your teens? If so, share with us the comments section below.

 

Have a topic you'd like to see in the next installment of Instagram of the Week? Share it in the comments section of this post.

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9. Ideas for Downtime

The week between Christmas and New Years is a really quiet time at my branch. I know that's not the case at every library, but in our community, most of the parents are working this week and kids are staying with family or in daycares, or families are taking vacations. We don't have much in the way of regular programming, but there are a few kids who wander in looking for something to do. Unfortunately, we're also short-staffed this week, so I'm looking for fun ways to serve my kid patrons and also keep all three of our desks staffed. I'm going to be pulling out all the fun do-it-yourself activities this week:

  • Butcher Paper Art!

So the younger kids are going to love this, but as the tweens and teens see how much fun it is just to go absolutely nuts with the crayons, you'll have a crowd around those tables. And at the end of the day, be sure to cut out your most creative art to decorate your department!

  • Wii Dance

So, when my part-time employee comes in in the afternoons, we're pulling out the Wii. I mainly just want someone in the department to make sure that the remotes don't get flung across the room in excitement, but this one also runs itself. And the kids LOVE it. Put it on contest mode and throw in something from your prize cabinet as a reward and watch out for blood.

  • Charging station/Tablet talk

A lot of my kids will have gotten kindles or iPads or various other technology for holiday gifts.  This one's super easy: grab a couple of power strips and a table. Voila!  This is really neat because not only does it let your kids charge their devices, it opens the door to talk about fun things like new apps, games, and maybe even your library's ebook collection!

  • Craft clean-out

I often do crafts with my preschool story time groups. Sometimes I have leftover materials just sitting in cabinets. They're pretty low-level, but if you put the materials and the examples out, the masterpieces of variation that your older kids will come up with are awe-inspiring.

  • Free Lego Play

I'm not sure I'm brave or well-staffed enough for this one this week. But if you are? May the Force be with you.

For every idea I have, you'll have 100 more. It's a quiet week. Pull out some fun for your kids--get creative!

 

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 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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10. Ideas for Downtime

The week between Christmas and New Years is a really quiet time at my branch. I know that’s not the case at every library, but in our community, most of the parents are working this week and kids are staying with family or in daycares, or families are taking vacations. We don’t have much in the way of regular programming, but there are a few kids who wander in looking for something to do. Unfortunately, we’re also short-staffed this week, so I’m looking for fun ways to serve my kid patrons and also keep all three of our desks staffed. I’m going to be pulling out all the fun do-it-yourself activities this week:

  • Butcher Paper Art!

So the younger kids are going to love this, but as the tweens and teens see how much fun it is just to go absolutely nuts with the crayons, you’ll have a crowd around those tables. And at the end of the day, be sure to cut out your most creative art to decorate your department!

  • Wii Dance

So, when my part-time employee comes in in the afternoons, we’re pulling out the Wii. I mainly just want someone in the department to make sure that the remotes don’t get flung across the room in excitement, but this one also runs itself. And the kids LOVE it. Put it on contest mode and throw in something from your prize cabinet as a reward and watch out for blood.

  • Charging station/Tablet talk

A lot of my kids will have gotten kindles or iPads or various other technology for holiday gifts.  This one’s super easy: grab a couple of power strips and a table. Voila!  This is really neat because not only does it let your kids charge their devices, it opens the door to talk about fun things like new apps, games, and maybe even your library’s ebook collection!

  • Craft clean-out

I often do crafts with my preschool story time groups. Sometimes I have leftover materials just sitting in cabinets. They’re pretty low-level, but if you put the materials and the examples out, the masterpieces of variation that your older kids will come up with are awe-inspiring.

  • Free Lego Play

I’m not sure I’m brave or well-staffed enough for this one this week. But if you are? May the Force be with you.

 

For every idea I have, you’ll have 100 more. It’s a quiet week. Pull out some fun for your kids–get creative!

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.

The post Ideas for Downtime appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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11. 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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12. 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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13. 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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14. 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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15. 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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16. 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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17. 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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18. 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.

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19. Camps: The New Trend in Summer Reading

geek girl logo

This summer at the Fayetteville Free Library in Fayetteville, NY we piloted our first ever week long summer camp during Summer Reading. The Fayetteville Free Library Geek Girl Camp is a camp for girls in grades 3 through 5 introducing them to hands on STEM skills and to female role models. Months of work went into planning this camp fulfilling a need in our greater community.  According to the Girl Scout Research Institute,  “Research shows that girls start losing interest in math and science during middle school. Girls are typically more interested in careers where they can help others (e.g., teaching, child care, working with animals) and make the world a better place. Recent surveys have shown that girls and young women are much less interested than boys and young men in math and science.”[1]

We had 44 girls attend the FFL Geek Girl Camp from all over the greater Syracuse, NY area. We had over 10 girls on the waiting list and charged $25.00 for the camp to supplement the cost of food, t-shirts and supplies. We also offered four scholarship opportunities for those who might not be able to afford the cost of the camp. In addition to the 44 girls who came to the camp we had 9 speakers from across the country join us in person or via Skype. Speakers included students from Virginia Commonwealth University, Cornell University, Syracuse University and SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. Other speakers included women who worked for Facebook, the Air Force, a pharmaceutical research facility, and from national organizations, Girls in Tech and Girl Develop IT. Each day we heard from one or more speakers who talked about what they do at their jobs or in school and how important it is to have women working in these fields! They all made sure to relate to the girls in attendance and campers had great questions afterwards.

14779007462_7419253f00_k

Throughout the week we had a great array of activities. We rented a cement mixer and made an oobleck pool for kids to run across after learning about density and viscosity, shot off model rockets, chucked books, apples and water balloons with a trebuchet after learning about projectiles, force, gravity and more.  Girls learned about fractals, made mini catapults, 3D printed, used littlebits kits, Snap Circuits and computer programmed with Scratch and much more.

The camp was a huge success that the parents of those who attended were above and beyond appreciative and wanted to already sign up for next year. We learned from this particular camp that we created something valuable for our community and that we need to transition into this camp model for future Summer Reading programs. We were asked, “When are you having a camp for boys”? We will not only have camp for boys and girls but of different ages as well. Planning FFL Geek Girl Camp did take a lot of time; however the outcome of the camp was far beyond what we expected and worth the time spent planning for the impact it had on our community. Camps offer children an opportunity to learn more and make stronger relationships over a short period of time.  Like camp as a kid it was a place to learn new things and meet new friends and create memories that last a lifetime.

CaptureThe first day of FFL Geek Girl, the campers were a little shy but after just the second day the girls couldn’t stop talking and working together. We run bimonthly programs where kids come in every other week to work on projects but having children in the library everyday for a week gives you an opportunity to teach kids a skill and not have to worry about rushing or not being able to complete the task, plus you have an opportunity to do projects or lessons that take longer and are more complex. Camps also give us a great opportunity to get to know our patrons. Girls come in and out of the library now looking for their camp counselors to say hi! Cost is also a huge factor in running a camp at a library versus a different venue. We had materials donated to the camp and used many of the resources we already owned including our own staff to run and plan the program. Most science camps can range in price anywhere from $75-$600. We decided that $25 was not only affordable but fit into our budget for the camp as well to make it run successfully.

CaptureWe think that camps are the future of Summer Reading. It gives us and the community an opportunity to focus on important topics like STEAM and produce content that is beneficial and influential. At the end of the week our campers said they wanted to be inventors, work at Google, become web developers and physicists. If it wasn’t for the atmosphere we created at the library and the week long camp we would have never saw these results and impact on our community.

Please check out our website for more information about the FFL Geek Girl Camp, our Flickr page and hashtag #geekgirl14 on Twitter and Instagram.

[1]Modi, K. (2012). “Generation STEM: What girls Say about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math” Girl Scout Research Institute. http://www.girlscouts.org/research/pdf/generation_stem_full_report.pdf

Capture

Meredith Levine is the Director of Family Engagement at the Fayetteville Free Library. Meredith is a member of the ALSC School Age Programs and Services Committee. Find out more at www.fflib.org or email Meredith at mlevine@fflib.org

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20. Not SCARY Scary

Halloween is this week. Isn’t that nuts?  I’ve had kids in my department for weeks, asking for Halloween books, for ghost stories, for scary stories.

And then there are the kids that want something maybe creepy, maybe suspenseful but “not SCARY scary.” I love these kids.  These kids are my kindred spirits because I hate being scared. I can’t watch a horror movie and I never read a Goosebumps book when i was younger. But I do enjoy suspense and a little gloom.  Take a look at these books for your kids who want to have some Halloween reading but want to be able to sleep at night:

Source: Goodreads

The Theodosia Throckmorton series by R.L. LaFevers: Theodosia can see curses and get rid of them. This comes in handy as her parents work in a museum and there are artifacts with curses everywhere.  This is a fantasy adventure and though there are some creepy parts, it’s mainly pure fun as Theo tries to save Britain from ancient Egyptian curses.  There are four of these.

Source: Goodreads

Constable and Toop by Gareth P. Jones.  This British import has some scary and violent parts, but for the most part it’s a…funny ghost story. A funny ghost story! I love it! Something weird is happening with London’s ghost and a paper-pusher from the Ghost Bureau is sent to investigate.

Source: Goodreads

Ah, the original hilariously macabre story.  This one is a bit gruesome (I mean, it’s Roald Dahl, right?), and features a whole lot of nasty witches, transforming into mice, and a conclusion that will make some grownups uncomfortable.  But it’s not terrifying; it’s actually pretty satisfying. I reread this one recently and it holds up splendidly. No nightmares, just cringes of disgust and laughter.

BONUS: Funnies!!

Source: Goodreads

Ok, maybe this one skews a little young, but even my older teens love these.  There’s a nostalgia aspect, plus, the ridiculous nature of all the horrible happenings to the Baudelaires is hard to resist.

Happy Halloween to you and all of your patrons of varying reading interests!

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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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21. Instagram of the Week – November 10

A brief look at ‘grams of interest to engage teens and librarians navigating this social media platform. From cupcakes to duct tape and candy sushi to spin art, this week we’re looking at how libraries advertise for teen programs, show off what participants made, and recruit new members for TAB and TAG groups. Does your library have an Instagram account specifically your teen population or TAB group? Who decides what gets posted on there?

Secondly, we mustache you… are you doing anything special for MOvember? If yes, please don’t shave it for later! We want to see your crafts, displays, and decorations in the comments section below.

Have you come across a related Instagram post this week, or has your library posted something similar? Have a topic you’d like to see in the next installment of Instagram of the Week? Share it in the comments section of this post.

Due to technical difficulties, please follow this link to view this week’s post directly on the Storify website: Instagram of the Week – November 10

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22. On THE BLOOD OF OLYMPUS by Rick Riordon (The Heroes of Olympus #5)

Fangirling by Reagan THE BLOOD OF OLYMPUS Age Range: 10 - 14 yearsGrade Level: 5 - 9Series: The Heroes of Olympus (Book 5)Hardcover: 528 pagesPublisher: Disney-Hyperion; First Edition edition (October 7, 2014)  Audiobook Publisher: Listening Library Audible | Goodreads | Amazon Though the Greek and Roman crew members of the Argo II have made progress in their many quests, they still seem no

0 Comments on On THE BLOOD OF OLYMPUS by Rick Riordon (The Heroes of Olympus #5) as of 11/15/2014 1:55:00 AM
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23. LEGO Mindstorms for Tweens (Or How I Had to Give Myself a Crash Course in Robotics)

Mindstorms Robot 2.5At my library, LEGOs are perpetually popular. We host a LEGO Contest at least once a year with a continual level of success. Also at my library, we are currently focusing on new technology initiatives to enhance our programming. Thus, my idea to combine the two and try a LEGO Mindstorms program was born.

As I had never used LEGO Mindstorms before, I did a ton of research well in advance. I put a call out on several listservs for help and ideas, and received a plethora of valuable insight. Then, I asked my IT department to order a Mindstorms EV3 kit to try out to see if it would be doable for us. I worked closely with one of our IT technicians to tentatively make a plan: he would familiarize himself with the robots, be there to troubleshoot, and help with more advanced questions; and I would learn the very basics and come up with the program outline.

We ended up DSC00589purchasing 6 LEGO Mindstorms EV3 core kits to use and downloaded the free software from the Mindstorms website. (Note: You can purchase a site license from the LEGO Education site to get the Teacher’s Edition of the software. It’s much more expensive, but it’s supposed to come with lesson plans and such already done for you.) One day, about a month before the program, I went up to the IT office to work on the outline when I received the news: the IT technician I had been working with was leaving the next week for another job! This meant I was on my own and needed to be good enough to not only use the robots, but also teach the tweens how to use them.

I borrowed one of the robots and set to work giving myself a crash course in LEGO Mindstorms. I found The LEGO Mindstorms EV3 Discovery Book by Laurens Valk to be extremely helpful. I decided to break the program up into three 1-hour sessions and a final 2 hour session that would meet weekly after school. I opened up the program to tweens in grades 4 to 7 and geared it towards those with no programming or robotics experience. You can find a detailed outline of each of the sessions here, but this is basically how I broke down my program:DSC00595

Day 1: I wanted to give the tweens a good foundation for programming/coding language which would help them with the LEGO Mindstorms software, so for the entire first day we worked with the Hour of Code website. The nice thing about it was that the programming blocks on code.org looked almost identical to the programming blocks from the Mindstorms software. We went though the first hour of code together, but since I anticipated that some tweens would work faster than others, I told them where to stop (which was before the next video) and gave them extra mazes to complete if they finished early.

Day 2: I introduced the tweens to the LEGO Mindstorms software, the parts of the robot, and the steering blocks. Then I gave them some challenges to try based on what we learned, which you can find in my outline. (Note: To save time for this program, we pre-built the robots for them. We chose the Track3r bot with the claw arm as pictured at the top of this post.)

Day 3: We went over the rest of the action blocks (display, brick status, and sound) and the flow blocks. Then I gave them some more challenges based on what they learned that day, which you can find in my outline. We didn’t bother learning any of the other more complicated blocks since this was a beginner class, but I encouraged them to play around with these blocks if they felt comfortable.DSC00599

Day 4: I began with a very brief overview and asked if they had any questions. Then I gave them some time to just play around and experiment with programming their robots. With about an hour left, I gave them one final challenge using the mission pad mat that comes with the Mindstorms kit.

Here are some videos of the neat things they programmed the robots to do:

What I Learned:

  • The tweens had the most fun when they had free reign to experiment and play.
  • The final challenge that I gave them seemed to be too difficult and they got frustrated and just didn’t try. Next time I would either make up an easier version of that challenge or just forget it altogether.
  • Because we only had 6 kits, we put the tweens in groups of 2 and 3. This seemed to be a good number per kit.
  • I didn’t end up needing the full 2 hours for the last session day, so the next time I might just host four 1-hour sessions.

Tips:

  • I realize that these robot kits are expensive and not every library has the funds to purchase multiple kits. One of the suggestions from the listserv was to work with your school’s robotics team to see if they would lend you kits and/or work with you to run the classes.
  • I was the only adult in the room with 16 tweens most of the time. For one of the sessions, I had the help of an older teen who had been on his school’s robotics team. It made all the difference when it came time for the tweens to complete their challenges. If you can have a second person in the room, especially if it’s someone who has advanced robotics experience, you’ll be much less overwhelmed.
  • For any challenge you give the tweens, have an answer key ready in case they get truly stumped so you can give them hints. I made up answers to my challenges, which you can find here and here. They helped me immensely, though please note that they aren’t the only possible answers and I am still not a robotics expert by any means.
  • I also tried this as a standalone 2 hour program. I geared it towards kids in grades 4 to 7 who had a basic understanding of programming or Mindstorms. I ended up getting a mix of beginners and non-beginners. The outline of this session was 30 minutes of software and robot overview followed by 90 minutes of challenges. Because I wasn’t sure about the experience level of this group, I gave them options for each challenge: an easy option and a more challenging one (make your robot move in a square or make your robot move in a triangle). This worked out really well!
  • If you don’t want to use the mission pad that comes with the kits, you can also download and create your own challenge maps here.

Other Helpful Links:

Beyond Legos: Coding for Kids (ALSC Blog)
Build Better Robots with LEGO Mindstorms Education EV3 (The Digital Shift)
Tinker Group
Getting Giggles
Robotics for the Rest of Us (YALSA Blog)

Have you hosted a LEGO Mindstorms program at your library? If so, any other tips/tricks?

Kim Castle-Alberts is a member of the School-Age Programs and Services Committee. She is also a Youth Services/Emerging Technologies Librarian at the Hudson Library & Historical Society in Ohio. You can find her on her blog, on Twitter, or at kim.alberts@hudson.lib.oh.us. 

All photos are courtesy of the Hudson Librar & Historical Society.

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24. Middle Grade and Young Adult: An Author(s) Interview

It's a holiday weekend, hooray! I hope everyone has had a most excellent Thanksgiving. I thought for a holiday weekend treat, we'd do something fun here today, so I asked a couple of authors to participate in an interview just for ALSC and YALSA blog readers!

The two authors I asked to participate have something in common: they write both middle grade and young adult books. As a librarian who works with all ages, and especially with the "tween" ages (where ALSC and YALSA's services overlap!), I find myself needing to be familiar with both types of books.

The exact definitions of Middle Grade and Young Adult are subjective and amorphous. For the purposes of this post, we'll just say that the intended audience for middle grade is slightly younger than the intended audience of YA, but both can be enjoyed by all ages.

Our authors:

Alison Cherry

Books:
Red (2013), Young Adult
For Real (2014), Young Adult
Look Both Ways (2016), Young Adult
Grandma Jo's Guide to Prim and Proper Pilfering (2016), Middle Grade

Claire Legrand

Books:
The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls (2012), Middle Grade
The Year of Shadows (2013), Middle Grade
The Cabinet of Curiosities (coauthor) (short stories) (2013), Middle Grade
Summerfall (2014) (prequel novella), Young Adult
Winterspell (2014), Young Adult

***

ALLY: Are you in a different mindset when writing MG and YA? How do you think differently about your audience?

Claire: Regardless of genre or age category, I approach writing all my books the same way: How do I write the best story I can, in a way that shows I respect my audience and their intelligence? Beyond that, any differences between writing YA and MG are primarily stylistic. For me, it's all about voice and language. YA is generally more introspective than MG. YA characters process experiences internally and think a lot about their emotions, whereas MG characters are still externally focused, looking outward for examples and understanding. MG characters are distilled, pure--not innocent, but rather mutable and unfinished. There's a rawness to MG characters, a lack of sophistication, that lends itself to a certain straightforward, unfettered voice. It's not that MG characters don't feel a complexity of emotion; they simply aren't as adept at understanding and expressing it as their YA counterparts. So, with this in mind, I strive to craft my MG voice using careful language that feels true to the spirit of this emotional purity and inexperience.

Alison: This might sound callous, but once I've chosen the subject matter for my books, I rarely think about my readers at all! As I see it, my job as a writer is to tell the truth through the medium of an engaging, well crafted story, and that's the case whether I'm writing for twelve-year-olds or eighty-year-olds. I think readers of all ages want basically the same thing: a plot that hooks them right away and continues to surprise them throughout the story, and characters who feel three-dimensional, relatable, and flawed. I certainly consider whether or not a sixth grader would know a certain word or a specific cultural reference, but those are minor details, and the important parts of storytelling are way more universal. I'm not writing for kids and teens, specifically. I'm writing for anyone who wants to read stories about kids and teens.

ALLY: Do you think you will continue to write both YA and MG? What's next up?

Claire: I hope to continue writing both, yes. I certainly have ideas for more of each! Currently I'm ensconced in three different MG projects, so those will probably surface first. Unfortunately I can't talk about any of them yet!

Alison: Absolutely! I love the variety that comes from switching back and forth between them. Right now I'm working on a new MG that involves a prank war at a sleepaway camp. My YA work-in-progress, which comes out in 2016, is about musical theater and the fine line between obsessive, platonic female friendship and romantic love.

ALLY: Claire, you started in publishing with MG. What was it like to make the transition to YA, both in your writing, and in terms of the way your book was received by the kidlit community? Did it feel very different?

Claire: From a craft perspective, making the transition was a bit challenging. The MG voice comes more naturally to me, so refining my YA voice required a lot of work (especially since my YA debut, Winterspell, is high fantasy-esque, and that's a tricky voice to get just right). However, since joining Twitter back in 2009, I've made many friends with bloggers, authors, and readers in both the YA and MG communities. There's a lot of overlap between the two. So in that way, I felt like I already had many supporters in the YA world before my YA debut even released, for which I'm incredibly grateful!

ALLY: Alison, your MG hasn't been published yet. Do you anticipate major differences in the entire experience?

Alison: I do! First of all, I anticipate having a lot more contact with actual young people this time around! Although I do get to chat with my teen readers sometimes, tons of adults read YA, and nearly everyone who has contacted me about my books so far has been a grownup. I'm excited for this experience to be a little more kid-centric! Relatedly, I'll have to change my publicity strategy; for YA books, most promotion can be done online through Twitter and blog tours and such, but those tactics won't get my books into the hands of the fifth graders I want to reach this time around. Honestly, the thing I'm most excited about is that the cover for Grandma Jo's Guide to Prim and Proper Pilfering will feature an illustration instead of a stock photo. My editor has already asked me for character descriptions so she can start looking for the right artist, and I'm bouncing in my chair just thinking about it!

***

Y'alllll, aren't they great?!

Claire's latest book, a YA fantasy retelling of the Nutcracker (perfect for Christmas!) is out now, And Alison's latest, a fun YA sister story about a reality show trip around the world will be out December 9:

      

You can find them on twitter at @alison_cherry and @clairelegrand!

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 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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25. Middle Grade and Young Adult: An Author(s) Interview

It’s a holiday weekend, hooray! I hope everyone has had a most excellent Thanksgiving. I thought for a holiday weekend treat, we’d do something fun here today, so I asked a couple of authors to participate in an interview just for ALSC and YALSA blog readers!

The two authors I asked to participate have something in common: they write both middle grade and young adult books. As a librarian who works with all ages, and especially with the “tween” ages (where ALSC and YALSA’s services overlap!), I find myself needing to be familiar with both types of books.

The exact definitions of Middle Grade and Young Adult are subjective and amorphous. For the purposes of this post, we’ll just say that the intended audience for middle grade is slightly younger than the intended audience of YA, but both can be enjoyed by all ages.

Our authors:

Alison Cherry

Books:
Red (2013), Young Adult
For Real (2014), Young Adult
Look Both Ways (2016), Young Adult
Grandma Jo’s Guide to Prim and Proper Pilfering (2016), Middle Grade

Claire Legrand

Books:
The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls (2012), Middle Grade
The Year of Shadows (2013), Middle Grade
The Cabinet of Curiosities (coauthor) (short stories) (2013), Middle Grade
Summerfall (2014) (prequel novella), Young Adult
Winterspell (2014), Young Adult

***

ALLY: Are you in a different mindset when writing MG and YA? How do you think differently about your audience?

Claire: Regardless of genre or age category, I approach writing all my books the same way: How do I write the best story I can, in a way that shows I respect my audience and their intelligence? Beyond that, any differences between writing YA and MG are primarily stylistic. For me, it’s all about voice and language. YA is generally more introspective than MG. YA characters process experiences internally and think a lot about their emotions, whereas MG characters are still externally focused, looking outward for examples and understanding. MG characters are distilled, pure–not innocent, but rather mutable and unfinished. There’s a rawness to MG characters, a lack of sophistication, that lends itself to a certain straightforward, unfettered voice. It’s not that MG characters don’t feel a complexity of emotion; they simply aren’t as adept at understanding and expressing it as their YA counterparts. So, with this in mind, I strive to craft my MG voice using careful language that feels true to the spirit of this emotional purity and inexperience.

Alison: This might sound callous, but once I’ve chosen the subject matter for my books, I rarely think about my readers at all! As I see it, my job as a writer is to tell the truth through the medium of an engaging, well crafted story, and that’s the case whether I’m writing for twelve-year-olds or eighty-year-olds. I think readers of all ages want basically the same thing: a plot that hooks them right away and continues to surprise them throughout the story, and characters who feel three-dimensional, relatable, and flawed. I certainly consider whether or not a sixth grader would know a certain word or a specific cultural reference, but those are minor details, and the important parts of storytelling are way more universal. I’m not writing for kids and teens, specifically. I’m writing for anyone who wants to read stories about kids and teens.

ALLY: Do you think you will continue to write both YA and MG? What’s next up?

Claire: I hope to continue writing both, yes. I certainly have ideas for more of each! Currently I’m ensconced in three different MG projects, so those will probably surface first. Unfortunately I can’t talk about any of them yet!

Alison: Absolutely! I love the variety that comes from switching back and forth between them. Right now I’m working on a new MG that involves a prank war at a sleepaway camp. My YA work-in-progress, which comes out in 2016, is about musical theater and the fine line between obsessive, platonic female friendship and romantic love.

ALLY: Claire, you started in publishing with MG. What was it like to make the transition to YA, both in your writing, and in terms of the way your book was received by the kidlit community? Did it feel very different?

Claire: From a craft perspective, making the transition was a bit challenging. The MG voice comes more naturally to me, so refining my YA voice required a lot of work (especially since my YA debut, Winterspell, is high fantasy-esque, and that’s a tricky voice to get just right). However, since joining Twitter back in 2009, I’ve made many friends with bloggers, authors, and readers in both the YA and MG communities. There’s a lot of overlap between the two. So in that way, I felt like I already had many supporters in the YA world before my YA debut even released, for which I’m incredibly grateful!

ALLY: Alison, your MG hasn’t been published yet. Do you anticipate major differences in the entire experience?

Alison: I do! First of all, I anticipate having a lot more contact with actual young people this time around! Although I do get to chat with my teen readers sometimes, tons of adults read YA, and nearly everyone who has contacted me about my books so far has been a grownup. I’m excited for this experience to be a little more kid-centric! Relatedly, I’ll have to change my publicity strategy; for YA books, most promotion can be done online through Twitter and blog tours and such, but those tactics won’t get my books into the hands of the fifth graders I want to reach this time around. Honestly, the thing I’m most excited about is that the cover for Grandma Jo’s Guide to Prim and Proper Pilfering will feature an illustration instead of a stock photo. My editor has already asked me for character descriptions so she can start looking for the right artist, and I’m bouncing in my chair just thinking about it!

***

Y’alllll, aren’t they great?!

Claire’s latest book, a YA fantasy retelling of the Nutcracker (perfect for Christmas!) is out now, And Alison’s latest, a fun YA sister story about a reality show trip around the world will be out December 9:

      

You can find them on twitter at @alison_cherry and @clairelegrand!

 

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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