Great advice while working with teens

School librarian K.C. Boyd was featured in November’s School Library Journal article, “A Leader for Readers.” She ended her wonderful article with a list of advice from her father that has carried her through her career. Boyd has “experienced more failures than successes.” For this reason, I value her perspective of the job and the challenges and joys it has to offer.

Know your subject matter Do your research, read the books, and practice using the social media pages prior to introducing them to students.

Have respect It’s a two-way street with today’s kids. When they observe that you are making an effort to respect them, they will be more cooperative.

Listen Students will provide you with the blueprint for any program you are trying to implement.

Have patience If it doesn’t work, try, try again.

Keep a sense of humor Laugh at yourself, make those mistakes with the students, and just keep laughing.

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Candy Sushi Teen Program

All the colors of the rainbow

All the colors of the rainbow

We had a great program the other night for teens and tweens at my library: CANDY SUSHI! It was so cool to watch everyone come up with different designs for their sushi. We put out lots of candy, I mean LOTS. The ingredients were:

  • Fruit roll ups (to be the nori)
  • Rice Krispy treats (to be the rice)
  • Swedish Fish
  • Gummy sharks
  • Gummy worms
  • Skittles
  • Sunkist gummy fruit
  • Airheads Xtremes (a flexible length of rainbow sour/sweet candy)
  • Twizzlers
  • Nerds

Just like the show “Iron Chef,” we also had a secret ingredient which was candied melon strips. Everyone constructed their sushi for about 40 minutes. Then they all put their plates up at the main table and voted on Most Colorful, Most Authentic, and Best in Show. The plates were numbered to keep things simple and anonymous. The winner received chopsticks, origami paper, and a Japanese snack. Best in Show got some dried fish snack too! (A gag gift but still fun!)

All the pictures from the program are up on Abington Free Library’s Picasa site here. I would definitely do this program again. It would be great for all ages, not just tweens and teens, but also families with younger children as well.


Total YA books I’ve looked at this year

Total books = 1018

Total books = 1018

To go along with my previous post about book budgets, I decided to count up all the books I considered buying for the YA collection this year. I usually read the following book review magazines for YA reviews: School Library Journal, VOYA, Booklist, Publisher’s Weekly, and New York Times Book Review. But I also depend on the reviews that appear on my book vendor’s website which includes Kirkus Reviews (I use Ingram’s iPage). I find myself usually siding with what Kirkus and VOYA have to say.

This list gives you an idea of how many books I’ve considered this year for YA. And most of these books have multiple reviews that I have to read and evaluate, including lots of books that have both rave reviews and horrible reviews.

Total YA books considered in 2013: 1018

Total YA books ordered: 336 or 33% of the books considered

Number of YA books still on my A-list that I haven’t ordered: 271 or 26% of books considered (a small percentage of these books have a 2014 release date)

Number of books on my B-list (mixed reviews): 259 or 25% of book considered

Number of books on my C-list (bad reviews): 93 or 9% of books considered

Number of Manga still on my A-list that I haven’t ordered: 45

Number of book on my MUST-ORDER list: 14 (these are still to-be-published but they are on my radar)

Wow, this puts into perspective how much work I did this year for collection development in YA. I read reviews for over 1,000 books, and with each books getting 2 or more reviews, that’s over 2,000 reviews that I’ve read this year. I’m exhausted looking at this number. It would be interesting to do this again for 2014 and compare.

For those of you wondering how I get my numbers: for every book I consider, I add it to some kind of list, either MUST ORDER, A, B, or C-list. This helps me keep track of what I’ve already looked at so I’m not duplicating my work and looking at books several times. If I see it’s already on a list, I move on to the next book review.


End of Year Review

CC license

2013 is almost over. It’s been a great year at Abington Free Library. Here’s what I’m most proud of this year.

Teen Book Club

The Teen Advisory Board at the library suggested that we start a book club this year. It’s been pretty popular so far. Every time we host a book club, the first 10 teens to sign up get a free copy of the book. These free copies were purchased with money donated by the Friends of Abington Libraries and I’m so grateful!

February – Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

April – Divergent by Veronica Roth – Most popular with 22 teens attending!

June – The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

August – Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King – The author graced us with a visit, answered questions, and signed books. She is a rad lady. You should follow her on twitter: @ AS_King

October – Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

We will continue the Teen Book Club in 2014. The first book of the year will be Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare.


Japanese Mascots Program

Japanese Mascots Program

From the Japanese mascot program on November 4 , 2013 at Abington Free Library

Click on the photo for more!


My picks from YALSA’s 2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults

I know it’s a little late in the year to be posting about last year’s books but I’m gonna do it anyway!

I read several books on YALSA’s Best Fiction for Young Adults list for 2012. Here are the ones I absolutely loved:

  • The Diviners by Libba Bray
  • Every Day by David Levithan
  • Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick

These books I also liked but didn’t quite blow me away like the first 3 did:

  • Croak by Gina Damico (recommended to me by a teen)
  • The Butterfly Clues by Kate Ellison
  • The Fault in our Stars by John Green
  • Chomp by Carl Hiaasen (listened to the audio read by James van der Beek)
  • Ask the Passengers by A.S. King

I started these books but never finished (usually because some other book was screaming “Read me NOW!):

  • The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth
  • The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour (would like to try again with this one!)
  • Boy21 by Matthew Quick
  • The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman (currently reading)

Books on my MUST READ list:

  • Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
  • The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa
  • The Brides of Rollock Island by Margo Lanagan
  • I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga
  • Cinder by Marissa Meyer
  • Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Wish me luck in getting around to the rest of these books!


April’s Teen Book Club – Divergent

fanpop by bussykussi

fanpop by bussykussi

I’ve started a teen book club at my library. The Teen Advisory Board suggested it. At our first meeting in February, we read Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. That was a pretty heavy book about suicide, blame, bullying, and depression. When I asked the group what they wanted to read next, they wanted something completely different than Thirteen Reasons Why. “Science fiction! Mystery! Anything not about suicide!” And I thought people would be dying to read a realistic tome about high school horribleness. 🙂

Non-realistic genres are very popular now in YA lit and popular with our teens as well. Fantasy, science fiction, and action/adventure books are always circulating. I read these genres as a way to take a break from the problems of the real world. I can see why teens like them too. Adolescence is not the most peaceful or stress-free time of one’s life. Reading fantasy or science fiction can give teens an entertaining mental break from exams, packed schedules, and social navigating.

For our next book club in April, I chose Divergent by Veronica Roth. A popular trilogy often compared to The Hunger Games, I think Divergent will prove to be a bigger, better choice for book club than Thirteen Reasons Why. While TRW had plenty of tough subjects to discuss, Divergent will appeal to teens’ desire for action, suspense, and pure entertainment. Let’s face it. Divergent will be more fun to read than a book about suicide. Now I don’t mean to discredit choosing a more serious book for a teen book club. We had an excellent discussion with multiple points-of-view and opinions about Hannah Baker’s decision to end her life. But I understand the need to mix it up and lighten the mood.

Divergent is not without its themes – issues of identity, belonging, difficult choices, questioning authority. We will talk about all those things and more at the book club. I also have an idea for a fun activity involving the book’s 5 factions of society. This fan website describes the factions really well. I want to find a way of testing the teens to see which faction they would belong to, and then see if they would change the recommendation and choose a completely different faction, just like Tris does in the book. We get to pretend we are in Tris’s world and also ask ourselves questions about our identities. Can we really be pinned down to one category or are we all “divergent?”