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GEPL Kids: Gratitude

By: Amy Waters, School Liaison

Assorted Pumpkins In Front of Large Red Wheelbarrowgratitude

syllabification: grat·i·tude
Pronunciation: /ˈɡradəˌt(y)o͞od/
Definition of gratitude in English:
Noun – The quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.
From the Oxford English Dictionary Online

This Thanksgiving is going to be a simple one at our house. Work and distance mean that our adult children won’t be here and we won’t be traveling. But that’s okay. As a parent of adult children I look back, with gratitude, for the time I had my little ones at home. I feel grateful but I wonder, do they know how thankful I am for them?

I tried to teach my children to say thank you by example, by saying thank you to others and by expressing my thanks to my children when they were helpful and kind. I wish, though, that I had been more specific.

“Thank you” followed by an acknowledgement of a specific act or a quality that is unique to each child reinforces the fact that who they are is what makes us appreciate them, not just what they do. Then, they will start to think of themselves as kind and appreciative people.

When we ourselves are grateful, our children learn to appreciate the world around them, they learn to recognize a kindness shown to them, and they want to return that kindness.

  • Thank those that provide food for you: at the grocery and at the table.
  • Express appreciation for the world around you: the silly and the serious.
  • Keep a “grateful” list: the big and the small, not just “things”.
  • Share a meal with someone.
  • Write a note of thanks or of appreciation.

An attitude of gratitude also means allowing yourself to be on the receiving end of giving. Sometimes the best gift is allowing someone to give to you. So, this Thanksgiving, offer thanks. And when someone thanks you, accept it as a gift, don’t brush it off. A warm “you’re welcome” can teach children that giving and receiving should both be done in a spirit of appreciation.

My children may live far away. But near or far, there are ways to show your appreciation for the special qualities in those you care about. Share a hug. Make a phone call or send a text. Place a note at the table or under the pillow of your loved ones. This year, I’ll write a note of thanks to my children, and when I tell them how thankful I am for them, I’ll be sure to be specific.

Thank you, for reading. Happy Thanksgiving!

Here are some books to read with your children that can help you start a conversation about appreciating the world around them:


Before We Eat by Pat Brisson Book Cover
Gracias~Thanks by Pat Mora Book Cover
The Best Part of the Day by Sarah Ban Breathnach Book Cover
Ten Thank-You Letters by Daniel Kirk Book Cover
Bear Says Thanks by Karma Wilson Book Cover
An Awesome Book of Thanks by Dallas Clayton Book Cover
Posted in GEPL Kids

GEPL Teens: Teens Write – No Mythologies to Follow Review

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By: Sabrina A., Teen Blogger

MO: No Mythologies To Follow CD CoverYou wake up at 5 a.m. and go to school. Finally, school is over at 2:35 p.m. but now you have to go to work. After a long day of school and work you find yourself at home, staring at a pile of unfinished homework. You finally finish all your homework and eventually you fall asleep by midnight. You wake up again at 5 a.m. and follow the same steps again. What’s wrong with this routine? There is no time given to yourself. I think a great way to dedicate time to yourself is to listen to music that you enjoy. I personally am a fan of alternative music and enjoy listening to an artist named MØ. I absolutely love the lyrics in her music and her voice is very soothing. My favorite album by her is No Mythologies to Follow, and I believe it holds a lot of emotion.

The songs included in this album are, “Fire Rides,” “Maiden,” “Never Wanna Know,” “Red in the Grey,” “Pilgrim,” “Don’t Wanna Dance,” “Waste of Time,” “Dust Is Gone,” “XXX 88,” “Walk This Way,” “Slow Love,” “Glass,” “No Mythologies to Follow,” “Dummy Head,” “The Sea,” and “Gone and Found.” No Mythologies to Follow is emotionally diverse which means it’s an album you can listen to after a rough day or when you want something upbeat to dance to. I think MØ’s voice is exceptionally relaxing and soothing in No Mythologies to Follow. Also I think MØ has a very unique perspective in her music. The newer music that is on the radio is often about drugs, alcohol, and other risky behaviors, but MØ strays far from those topics and brings a refreshing twist to her songs. I believe anyone can find themselves enjoying MØ’s album No Mythologies to Follow and take something away from her lyrics.

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Meeting Authors

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By: Hannah Rapp, Teen Librarian

I’ve mentioned before that being a librarian, especially a teen librarian, occasionally comes with fun perks (like getting advanced reader copies of books!) And of course, there’s my favorite perk, of getting to hang out with and talk to awesome teenagers on a regular basis (seriously folks, best part of my job.) But another part of my job that I always get super excited about is the chance to meet authors! Thanks to the library conferences and professional development that I attend, plus the occasional bookstore signing, I have been lucky enough to meet some incredible authors. And you might think that, after the first couple authors, I would have learned to play it cool and not act like a besotted fangirl, but you would be wrong.

Hannah and The Fault in Our Stars Author John GreenSo even though I am still somebody who stammers and occasionally sweats and can barely garble out an “OMG I loved your book so much and you are so cool,” and therefore hardly an expert on meeting authors, I wanted to share the wealth, and make some suggestions for meeting and respecting authors when you get the chance.

The first step, of course, is finding authors! Bookstores are a great place for this – authors will often go to a bookstore to sign books, or even do a reading from their books. We are fortunate to be near enough to Anderson’s Books to see some of the incredible range of authors who visit their store, but smaller stores and libraries in the area will often host visits from authors as well, so keep your eyes open. If there’s a particular author you want to meet, check their website – most authors will post their appearances well in advance, which gives you time to plan a trip to Chicago or a road trip if you really want to. Hannah and The Weight of Feathers Author Anna-Marie McLemore

Once you’re there, the most important thing to do is respect the author. In my experience, most authors are thrilled to meet fans, sign books, and even take pictures. But everyone is different. Some people prefer not to shake hands, because they are averse to physical contact (or sick!) Some prefer not to take pictures, whether because they don’t like pictures or because they don’t want to hold up the signing line. Some are happy to personalize a book, some have to sign so many books at once that their name is all their tired hand can manage. So by all means, ask away, but be sure to respect what an author says!

Hannah and American Born Chinese Author Gene Luen YangThe second most important thing is, don’t be afraid to talk to the author! Even if you only have a minute or two, it can be really rewarding to tell an author what you liked about their book, or ask a question, or share what made you connect so powerfully to their work. Telling Dhonielle Clayton how reading Tiny, Pretty Things made me realize how much I like reading about cut-throat, ambitious, sometimes mean characters, and having her respond and agree that mean people are indeed super fun to read about, was completely awesome. Even though it was a short interaction so I didn’t hold up the line behind me, it’s something I’ll remember, and an individual moment with an author that belongs to just to the two of us! Along those lines, don’t be afraid to ask for things like a picture, a hand-shake, or a personalized signature. Just remember the most important thing (respect the author!), and don’t push it.

Lastly, enjoy yourself! You’re getting to meet someone who has created a work that you love (or like, or are interested in.) That’s something that should be savored, and remembered. Don’t worry about being nervous or red-faced or awkward. Even if you are, the authors will be thrilled that you are there, interested in their work. Plus, there’s no way you’ll be more flustered than I was when I met Tamora Pierce. Seriously, NO WAY.

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Kids: Snacktime Storytime

By: Emily Richardson, Youth Programming Associate

I love food. Possibly more than reading. If I ever find myself on a sinking ship off the coast of a desserted island (pun intended), I probably would grab food, then books… then a life vest.

So I thought today we’d explore both of my two favorite things today by looking at picture books that also serve up an interesting afternoon snack.

Eating the Alphabet by Lois Ehlert Book Cover

Eating the Alphabet by Lois Ehlert

Summary: “An alphabetical tour of the world of fruits and vegetables, from apricot and artichoke to yam and zucchini.”

At Home: Finding all of these would be a bit difficult of an undertaking just for an afternoon snack. Try trying in just two or three that are mentioned in the book.

Spider Sandwiches by Claire Freedman Book Cover

Spider Sandwiches by Claire Freedman

Summary: “Max the monster’s diet consists of many things we might find odd, including toenail scrambled eggs, lice rice, and hairy fried bat’s ears, but his favorite treat is spider sandwiches.”

At home: Make a simple peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but cut the bread into a circle. Use stick pretzels as legs poking out the sides and stick two raisins in the bread as eyes.

Lulu’s Party by Kit Chase Book Cover

Lulu’s Party by Kit Chase

Summary: “Lulu is excited to have her friends Oliver and Charlie over for a rainy day party, but something goes wrong with her special treat and Lulu fears that her party is ruined, so her friends come to the rescue and save the day.”

At Home: This is probably more of a special treat than an afternoon snack, but that doesn’t make it any less delicious. The easiest and most delicious recipe I’ve found is this one.

The Popcorn Book by Tomie de Paola Book Cover

The Popcorn Book by Tomie de Paola

Summary: Tony likes to cook. Tiny likes to read. But both twins like to eat…POPCORN! So while Tiny cooks it, Tony reads about what it is.

At Home: This book includes step-by-step guide in the back to making stove-top popcorn, but feel free to change it up a little depending on your own family’s traditions. Personally, I like my popcorn with butter, salt, and parmesan.

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff Book Cover

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff

Summary: “Relating the cycle of requests a mouse is likely to make after you give him a cookie takes the reader through a young child’s day.”

At Home: Your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe. Have a glass of milk handy, too.

Check one of these books out today and eat alongside your favorite characters.

Posted in GEPL Kids

GEPL Teens: The Hobbit Book to Movie Review

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By: Elizabeth W., Teen Blogger

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien Book CoverBook to movie adaptations are usually pretty hit or miss. These movies often have to stand up to a large fan base that is strongly attached to everything about the original book. But of course you can’t include everything from a book in a movie, and the casting of the movie may not live up to everyone’s expectations. So does a book to movie adaptation have to be by the book to be good?

The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey DVD CoverThe Hobbit is a much beloved novel by J.R.R. Tolkien that was recently made into three movies: An Unexpected Journey, The Desolation of Smaug, and The Battle of the Five Armies. The story follows Bilbo, a hobbit, who goes on a quest with 13 dwarves to reclaim their homeland from a dragon. Although the major plot line was the same there were a lot of differences between the book and the movies. These allowed an average-sized book to be stretched out into three movies. For instance, Tauriel, an elf woman, and Legolas, a character from The Lord of the Rings trilogy, weren’t in the original book but were a big part of the last two films. There were also orcs chasing the travelers throughout the movie that were not in the book. These added tension, urgency, and more battle scenes to the movie. There was also characters such as Bard, an inhabitant of the human village of Laketown, who got a bigger back story in the movie.

Despite these differences the movies included most if not all of the adventures found in the book. There was also a great cast of characters that either followed directly with the novel or were created in the spirit of Tolkien’s world. Tauriel isn’t a character created by Tolkien but her character fits very well with his elves and their culture. Legolas wasn’t in the original book but hypothetically could have been because his father is in it. There was a subplot added about wizards fighting a necromancer that wasn’t in the book but in other works about Middle Earth we find out that it did happen at the same time as the novel. Although the movies added subplots, they did follow the same plot-line and reach the same conclusion as the book.

The Hobbit movies didn’t directly follow the book. However, they were still enjoyable to the viewer whether or not they had read the original novel. Although it probably could have been better if it had followed more closely to Tolkien’s work, the creators of The Hobbit movies clearly went to great lengths to capture the world, characters, and general feel of The Hobbit. The emphasis on following the plot of the novel and the feel of Tolkien’s the world made these movies fun to watch even if they were different. Respecting the author’s original work while adapting that work to a movie is the greatest challenge of a book to movie adaptation. Despite their failings I believe the creators of The Hobbit trilogy met this challenge, allowing them to produce an enjoyable series of films.

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: What I Just Read – Rethinking Normal

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By: Hannah Rapp, Teen Librarian

Rethinking Normal by Katie Rain Hill Book CoverI’ve been trying this year to read more non-fiction. Given that I normally read very little, I feel like I’m doing really well with a grand total of seven so far (but hopefully one or two more before the year is out!) The latest non-fiction to make it into my hands is part of a pair of memoirs by two teens, Katie Rain Hill and Arin Andrews, documenting their experiences as transgender kids and teens as well as their relationship with each other.

What I Just Read: Rethinking Normal by Katie Rain Hill

What’s It About (Jacket Description): In her unique, generous, and affecting voice, nineteen-year-old Katie Hill shares her personal journey of undergoing gender reassignment.

Have you ever worried that you’d never be able to live up to your parents’ expectations? Have you ever imagined that life would be better if you were just invisible? Have you ever thought you would do anything – anything – to make the teasing stop? Katie Hill had and it nearly tore her apart.

Katie never felt comfortable in her own skin. She realized very young that a serious mistake had been made; she was a girl who had been born in the body of a boy. Suffocating under her peers’ bullying and the mounting pressure to be “normal,” Katie tried to take her life at the age of eight years old. After several other failed attempts, she finally understood that “Katie”–the girl trapped within her–was determined to live.

In this first-person account, Katie reflects on her pain-filled childhood and the events leading up to the life-changing decision to undergo gender reassignment as a teenager. She reveals the unique challenges she faced while unlearning how to be a boy and shares what it was like to navigate the dating world and experience heartbreak for the first time in a body that matched her gender identity. Told in an unwaveringly honest voice, Rethinking Normal is a coming-of-age story about transcending physical appearances and redefining the parameters of “normalcy” to embody one’s true self.

Do I Like It: So much that now I want to read Arin’s memoir as well!

Thoughts: I’ve rarely read anything by someone as young as Katie Rain Hill, and even less non-fiction, and her youth really struck me in reading this. I don’t mean that in a bad way, but to me, it was one of the defining characteristics of the book. All of the experiences Katie talks about are not only relatively recent (yes, even the ones when she was a kid!) but she is still experiencing them as a teenager, without the removed perspective of an adult. I think in the case of Rethinking Normal that’s a plus – though I would also love to read more from Katie in five, ten, or even twenty years.

While many of the issues Katie discusses in Rethinking Normal are extremely serious and painful to read about, including suicide attempts, alienation from family and friends, bullying, and more, she also devotes plenty of page space to her friendships, crushes, romantic relationships, and freshman year college experiences. I liked that the memoir addressed both the pain and difficult experiences of gender dysphoria as well as the other important parts of being a teenager – specifically, relationships with peers and romantic interests. I often find adults, especially those with enduring friendships and long-term relationships as fixed part of their lives, forget just how important our relationships with other people are, and how exciting, or difficult, or engrossing they can be as they begin, progress, and end. Katie giving them a decent amount of page space next to her emotional, mental, and medical experiences, really made me remember what it was like to be a teenager. And since much of this discussion of relationships focuses on Katie’s ex-boyfriend and fellow transgender teen, Arin, I’m finding myself eager to hear things from his perspective in his memoir Some Assembly Required.

But aside from Katie herself, and the joy of reading something really written by and about a teenager, it was also immensely powerful to read about Katie’s experiences. She has been through some difficult, even traumatizing things, and I teared up a few times reading the book. But ultimately, I found Rethinking Normal to be a feel-good experience, an example of how people can change and support us even after they’ve let us down, a testament to the joy of feeling comfortable with yourself and at home in your body, and a statement about the bravery it sometimes takes to go after who we are and what we want. I think Rethinking Normal is a great read for anyone who is curious about transgender issues, inspired or uplifted by stories of resilience and triumph, or just ready to get inside the mind of a teen girl. And as an added bonus, if you’re looking to up your non-fiction reading, Rethinking Normal is an easy way to do that, since it’s readable, accessible, and true!

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Kids: Reading to a Toddler

By: Kate Easley, Youth Home School Services Librarian

Baby Reading On CouchBefore I had kids, I would picture what it would be like to read to my children. I would sit in a sunlit room, my toddler cozily sitting on my lap, and we would laugh and point out pictures as she calmly listened to the story. As with everything about parenting, I was very wrong. My daughter, Delilah, is 16 months old and reading to her is anything but relaxing, at least for me. She has just learned to walk and that’s all she wants to do. She wants to explore the room, pick up her toys, chase the dog and knock breakable items off the bookshelf. Reading to her can be a bit of a challenge. However there are lots of ways to keep your toddler engaged and excited about reading.

  1. Barnyard Dance by Sandra Boynton Book CoverFocus on fun, not time. Don’t worry about how many minutes or how many books. Just make sure that reading is fun! Find books she enjoys and let her pick her favorites. If she vetoes a book, put it away and try a new one. Try a time that works best for your child – first thing in the morning or before nap or bedtime, whenever she is more attentive. Be sure to make time for reading every day.
  2. Keep it active! It’s very hard to hold a toddler’s attention, but songs and rhythm help. Try a book you can sing along with like Barnyard Dance by Sandra Boynton or a book with rhythm like Tanka Tanka Skunk by Steve Webb. Books with motion are great too, like From Head to Toe by Eric Carle. The touch-and-feel books are also a sure hit if your little one likes to touch everything.
  3. Where Is Baby's Belly Button by Karen Katz Book CoverHang in there. If you are like me you probably like reading a book all the way to the end. You may be frustrated when your toddler pulls the book out of your hand halfway through Where is Baby’s Belly Button or has a meltdown during Goodnight Moon. Don’t worry – before you know if you will have a 4-year-old who will beg for you to read the same book over and over (and over). Not long after that you’ll be cuddled on the sofa reading Harry Potter and you’ll have to remind your child that it really is bedtime and you cannot read just one more chapter.

Enjoy this time with your little explorer and keep reading!

Posted in GEPL Kids

GEPL Teens: Teens Write – Technology & Teenagers Take 5 (Technology and Education)

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By: Jonathan A., Teen Blogger

DIYLOL.Com Drawing Of Person Crying "Can't Live Without Technology"Today’s teenagers are surrounded by technology everywhere they look. With smartphones and tablets bringing the wondrous expanse of the Internet to their fingertips, teenagers’ brains are almost always being stimulated by a new video or article. This constant barrage of technology has led to many adults worrying about the effect that this trend of increased “screen time” is having on teenagers’ ability to learn.

In a new study published by the Pew Internet Project, researchers asked 2,462 teachers how they believe technology is affecting the education of teenagers. 90% of the teachers said that technology is creating “an easily distracted generation with short attention spans.” 76% of teachers also said that students have been “conditioned by the Internet to find quick answers.” While these findings may seem to indicate that technology has had a negative impact on teenagers, the teachers also pointed out that “students were improving in subjects like math, science, and reading” (Technology is Changing How Students Learn, Teachers Say, NY Times).

While this seems contradictory, the researchers believe that the reason students’ test scores have not been suffering is that teachers have improved their ability to capture students’ attention and hold it for a long period of time. In the end, no matter how one feels about it, technology is here to stay. Both students and teachers will have to continue to adjust the ways with which they interact with, and use technology in order for teenagers to be able to succeed in a world that relies more and more on technology every day.

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Tweens: Sphero

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By: Christina Keasler, Tween Librarian

Have you looked at the sky lately? There’s been a lot going on. With the Northern Lights, lunar eclipses, and blood moons, we have had a lot of reasons to keep our eyes up at night. October 19, 2015 was astronomy night at the White House. President Obama invited scientists, astronauts, the two stars from Mythbusters and my personal favorite Bill Nye the Science Guy. He also invited students from all around the country that have excelled at science and astronomy. The President wanted to highlight the importance of science and its everyday use and hopes to inspire more kids to take an interest in science.

Along with the astronauts and Bill Nye, he invited the people who made the sphero. The sphero crew was inspired by a third grade class that tried to replicate the solar system’s movements with spheros and coding. They made this cool model for the event at the White House.

Spheros work with a coding app. These spheros were programmed to have the exact orbit and speed as all of the planets. Of course, they also picked different colors for each planet, and they included Pluto, yay!

In case you don’t remember or didn’t know, the library has spheros available at many middle school events. Be sure to stop by and see the spheros in action at our Youth Department Renovation Celebration January 30!

Christina with Spheros on Floor

I’m The Alpha.

Posted in GEPL Tweens

GEPL Teens: Adaptions

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By: Hannah Rapp, Teen Librarian

I recently heard about an exciting series of books, all written by different (often famous and high-profile) authors, that will all be retellings of Shakespeare plays. My first experience with Shakespeare (that I remember) was in a kid’s book featuring a bunch of Shakespeare plays in story form. Now, these were (mostly) true to the plays, just with simplified language and some streamlining to make them accessible. But ever since then, I’ve had a deep affection for retellings. Whether it’s a new version of an old myth, a modernized version of a classic novel, or the always-popular book based on a fairy tale, I inhale stories like this. Somehow, the shared language of whatever the myth/classic/fairy tale is makes reading an adaptation almost like having a conversation with an author, because you can see where their interpretation of the source material lined up with yours, or where their ideas and analysis of the original is different from your own.

Because of this, as well as the fun of seeing something familiar go in a new direction, I’ve read a lot of adaptations. But also because there are three layers of personal preferences at play when talking about an adaptation – preferences about the actual book/writing, preferences about the source material, and preferences about how the source material was re-imagined – liking or disliking an adaptation is a hugely personal thing. So rather than sharing “great adaptations” with you all and risking some righteous anger, I’m going to share some of my own personal favorite adaptations. Most of these come from source material that I’m fond of, and I find each of these an entertaining, astute, and enjoyable version of an already beloved original. There are tons more, of course, but these are some of my favorites!

10 Things I Hate About You Movie Poster 10 Things I Hate About You – Since it was reading about Shakespeare retellings that inspired this list, it seems appropriate to start with a version of a Shakespeare play. 10 Things has the fun and humor of The Taming of the Shrew, deals well with some of the more problematic aspects, and has an all-star cast of incredible actors. What’s not to love?

Across A Star Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund Book Cover Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund – This is the only item on this list where I read the adaptation first, and loved it so much I read the source material. This book is a futuristic fantasy-like version of The Scarlet Pimpernel, and features the politics as well as the fun of the source material, plus incredible world-building and some seriously cool imagery.

Ash by Malinda Lo Book Cover Ash by Malinda Lo – This is a cool, atmospheric, almost creepy version of Cinderella. Malinda Lo manages to make this old (like seriously, REALLY OLD) fairy tale seem modern, but without sacrificing the magic or the fairy tale feel.

Clueless DVD Cover Clueless Emma is my favorite Jane Austen novel, and Jane Austen is one of my favorite authors. So I’m pretty critical of adaptations and retellings of her work, and to this day, Clueless is my favorite modern version of an Austen novel I’ve ever read or seen. Cher just embodies Emma’s best qualities (her kindness, her devotion to her father, her fun and charm) as well as her worst (her selfishness, her conceitedness, her spoiled-ness), and Clueless retains the humor as well as the character development of its original. I love it.

Mack the Knife performed by Bobby Darrin – This song is a classic, an incredibly appealing example of some of the best of 50s music. The lyrics and music capture the smarmy, dangerous Mack the Knife (from The Threepenny Opera) perfectly, and Bobby Darrin’s entrancingly smooth voice brings the highwayman to life.

The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler Book Cover The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler – This recently published book brings The Little Mermaid into modern times, complete with the loss of her voice and large family of sisters. Simultaneously true to the source material and its own unique story, The Summer of Chasing Mermaids takes the emphasis away from a mermaid pining after a lost love, and instead focuses on a character trying to find herself, and her voice, in a whole new world.

Who Wrote Holden Caulfield by Green Day – Yes, even snot-nosed punk kids (snot-nosed punk kids that I love, for the record) can create some great literary adaptations. From their pre-fame album Kerplunk, Who Wrote Holden Caulfield gets at why so many teenagers empathize with Holden in The Catcher in the Rye. I think all of us have at some point felt like the Holden Green Day writes about when they say “There’s a boy who fogs his world and now he’s getting lazy/There’s no motivation and frustration makes him crazy/He makes a plan to take a stand but always ends up sitting/Someone help him up or he is gonna end up quitting.”

Those are just some of my favorite retellings and modernizations of classics, fairy tales, and more. What are some of yours?

Posted in GEPL Teens