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GEPL Teens: Teens Write – Cool Kids

teens-blog-bannerBlog Entry 96 - ImageJust recently, while chilling out and listening to some tunes, I came across a song called Cool Kids by Echosmith. As guessed from the title, it acknowledges the difficulties of social life as a young adult.  As a high school student, this topic definitely applies to me. Every day, we struggle with feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt due to social status. Sure it’s not like Mean Girls where each lunch table is specifically divided into different cliques, but there are definitely groups one should be aware of.  Cool Kids addresses this struggle to be “popular” compared to self-identity.

Throughout the song, the kids who aspire to be cool kids are compared to the cool kids themselves. I greatly admire the message Echosmith is trying to send by reminding us that popularity does not give you everything you want, and it certainly won’t affect your future. At one point in the song, Echosmith admits that the cool kids “don’t know where they’re going” as opposed to someone who has a plan for his future but is still unhappy. These lyrics point out our illogical unhappiness when those of us who aren’t popular are still set up to become successful in life.

I appreciate this sentiment as I would like to have a career in medicine. To achieve this goal, I have to put a lot of effort into difficult school work and multiple extracurricular activities. This means that I won’t always be able to attend high school football games, or hang out with friends. Cool Kids reminds me that despite what my peers and social media might say, these decisions are good and will help me in the future.

In the chorus, the lyrics read “I wish that I could be like the cool kids because… they seem to fit in”. This brings up a largely debated topic. The main reason anyone would want to change themselves is to fit in. Recent studies have shown that teens would rather be part of a “lower” social group and fit in than maybe be seen as higher in the social hierarchy and have no social identity.

Cool Kids focuses on the innate human nature of wanting to fit in.  We are pressured to “be like the cool kids” because this promises fitting in. yet through hearing this song I understand that what is more important is finding one’s identity because then and only then can one know what they should do to be truly happy.

-Anonymous

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: What I’m Reading Now – Clariel

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 95 - ImageOne of the most exciting things about being librarian is that sometimes I luck out and get to read a hotly anticipated new release ahead of time.  This is always exciting, but when that new release is the prequel to an outstanding trilogy of fantasy novels, and the first new novel in that series to be released in over 10 years, the excitement is way intensified.  Which brings us to today’s What I’m Reading Now!

What I’m Reading Now: Clariel by Garth Nix (to be released on October 14, 2014 – but you can put it on hold at the library right away!)

What’s It About (Jacket Description): Sixteen-year-old Clariel is not adjusting well to her new life in the city of Belisaere, the capital of the Old Kingdom. She misses roaming freely within the forests of Estwael, and she feels trapped within the stone city walls. And in Belisaere she is forced to follow the plans, plots and demands of everyone, from her parents to her maid, to the sinister Guildmaster Kilip. Clariel can see her freedom slipping away. It seems too that the city itself is descending into chaos, as the ancient rules binding Abhorsen, King and Clayr appear to be disintegrating.

With the discovery of a dangerous Free Magic creature loose in the city, Clariel is given the chance both to prove her worth and make her escape. But events spin rapidly out of control. Clariel finds herself more trapped than ever, until help comes from an unlikely source. But the help comes at a terrible cost. Clariel must question the motivations and secret hearts of everyone around her – and it is herself she must question most of all.

Do I Like It: I think I actually like it better than the original Abhorsen trilogy!

Thoughts: First, a disclaimer: although I will talk about this book in the context of a series, it is also completely functional as a stand-alone.  You don’t have to have read anything else by Garth Nix to understand and enjoy this book!

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from ClarielSabriel, Lirael, and Abhorsen were fantastic books, and a wonderful trilogy.  But when I actually read them, Sabriel never quite grabbed me the same way some fantasy books do, though the next two (Lirael in particular) did absorb me.  But with that Sabriel experience of knowing I was reading a fantastic book and just never quite being able to get into it the way I wanted to, I wasn’t sure how I would feel about Clariel.

Lucky for me, I am loving it.  I’m enjoying re-entering the world of the Old Kingdom, and re-discovering the fascinating system of intertwined magic and politics that rules the kingdom.  Not only that, but Clariel is one heck of an interesting character.  She is one of the most distinctive protagonists I have ever read about, and I really mean that.  She is seriously antisocial, seriously uninterested in romance, and seriously single-minded.  She knows what she wants, and the pull she feels towards it seems almost magical (and I’m still not even halfway through the book, so for all I know, it is magical!)  She’s got an intensely destructive temper, but she is also laudably independent and self-sufficient.  Her parents won’t support her goals, so she begins to figure out other ways to achieve them.  She feels no compulsion to make friends or start romances, and sticks to her guns despite outside pressure.  She understands and even respects her parents without bowing to their wishes when they go against her own sense of self.  She is utterly unique and completely compelling, and I love her.

The plot has just started to pick up a lot where I’m at, and even if Clariel doesn’t care what’s going on politically, I do.  I can’t wait to see where the story goes and what happens, and find out more about Clariel, free magic, and what the heck is going on in Belisaere.

Posted in GEPL Teens

Tween Read Week is October 12-18

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Read any good books lately?  4th-8th graders are invited to send us reviews of books during Teen/Tween Read Week, October 12-18. Share your opinions on books you’ve read and submit a review online or in person. You could help someone find something they’ll like!  And each review you submit enters you into a drawing for a gift certificate to The Book Store in Glen Ellyn.

To submit a review online: You can go to http://gepl.org/tweens/tween-book-week

To submit a review on paper: Ask for the book review form at the Youth Department front desk.  Hand your finished review back to us at the desk.

Remember, you can submit reviews on books, music, movies, and videogames all year long, but to be entered into the drawing for the gift certificate, it has to be submitted between October 12th-18th

Make sure we know you gave us a review and that we have your name and phone number. We’ll call the prize winner when the week ends!

Posted in GEPL Tweens

Check out what’s NEW at GEPL!

tween-blog-bannerYou may have noticed we are now giving out 1-hour passes to use the computers. We are doing this so that more kids have a chance to use the computers. Simply ask us for a pass at the desk, or if you have a library card with computer access, you can type your Glen Ellyn Public Library card number into the login screen.

If you are working on homework and need to use the computer for more than one hour, the staff members at the desk can extend your time. Just come by the desk and ask, and we’d be happy to extend your time for you.

If you are looking for something to do while the computers are being used, one thing 4th – 8th graders can do is check out one of our new board games. These board games are to be used here in the library. All you have to do is show us a school ID for a game you want to use. When you’re done, clean it up and make sure all the pieces are in the box, return it to the youth desk and get your ID back.

Here’s a list of our new board games: game_of_life
Chess                   A deck of playing cards
Checkers              An Angry Birds Space game
Battleship             The Game of Life
A puzzle                Apples to Apples
Monopoly             Connect 4
Operation             Clue
and Risk (Plants vs. Zombies)

riskmonopoly

Posted in GEPL Tweens

GEPL Teens: Teens Write – The Power of Literature

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 94 - ImageAs was noted everywhere from this blog to Buzzfeed quizzes, Banned book week was observed in September. While I could spout all the fun facts I learned about challenged works, I find myself reflecting further on the power of literature more than the books themselves. What is it about literature that causes people not just to take offense but even to curtail first amendment rights?

I’ve read a few articles that actually describe this very phenomenon of books and reading teaching and inspiring, in addition to just offending. One blogger on Reeder Reads recounts how the Harry Potter series taught her lessons from the power of a name to the true depth of evil. This is what most consider a children’s series, but it, like countless other tales, stirs the soul. This is literature.

An essay from David Toscana in Mexico expresses similar sentiments. “Books,” he says, “give people ambitions, expectations, a sense of dignity.” In fact, his entire argument is that the reason the Mexican economy suffers is that people don’t read enough. Maybe if all Mexican people read more, he posits, they would more often pursue higher education and build careers instead of seeking dead-end jobs, like the dishwashers he mentions. Basically, if the people of a single nation would all read more real books as opposed to just newspapers or street signs, the country would improve socially and economically.

Isn’t that crazy? A story can teach a lifetime of experiences, and the act of reading a book can cause the growth of not only the people of a country, but of the nation itself. I find this really amazing; words on a page tell a story, and that story incites emotion and action. So, take a page from Toscana’s and Reeder’s books (haha, wordplay) and read some literature – be inspired.

-Rafaela

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Celebrating Fall

Teens Blog BannerAlthough some of the unseasonably warm weather recently would have you believe otherwise, fall is upon us (as proven by yesterday’s cold snap!).  You’ve all been back in school for several weeks, the leaves are starting to turn, and there have already been quite a few boots-and-scarves days.  I don’t know about you, but I love fall, so this is all good news for me!  And now that it’s fall, my books are accompanied by hot tea and blankets, instead of cold lemonade and warm summer sun.  And since there’s nothing like reading a seasonally appropriate book with seasonally appropriate comforts, I thought I would share a few books set in the fall to help everyone get into the joys of autumn!

Blog Entry 93 - Image 1The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater – Not only is The Scorpio Races set in the fall, it has one of the most memorable seasonally-based opening lines ever: “It is the first day of November and so, today, someone will die.”  Set on the cold, atmospheric island of Thisby during a bleak fall, The Scorpio Races is practically begging you to get into a big, warm, comfy sweater, make a nice hot cup of something to drink, and immerse yourself in the characters, the excitement, and the season.

Blog Entry 93 - Image 2The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling – Admittedly, each of these books take place over the course of a whole year, and they typically start in summer.  But plenty of the most memorable scenes – the troll in the dungeon, Harry’s first Triwizard Tournament task, Hagrid’s oh-so-memorable hippogriff lesson – take place in the fall.  Plus, as far as I’m concerned, any excuse to read Harry Potter is a good one, and autumn seems like as good a reason as any!

Blog Entry 93 - Image 3To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han – This sweet, romantic novel takes place over the course of a fall semester.  Lara Jean misses her sister, who is starting college abroad, and is trying to find her own place in school and at home without her big sister.  Although the season is less important in terms of weather, the start of the school year is an important factor in this book.  And Lara Jean’s baking will certainly leave you wanting your own warm cookies to complement the cool weather.

Blog Entry 93 - Image 4In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters – This is another book where the weather is the less important part of the fall season – in fact, since In the Shadow of Blackbirds is set in San Diego, the fall weather is almost non-existent.  But the fall of 1918 was an important season for everyone in the United States, as World War I raged in Europe, and a Spanish influenza epidemic ravaged the population at home.  It is during this difficult autumn that Mary Shelley Black must deal with love and loss, all while questioning her own beliefs about what is and is not real.

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Teens Review – The Future of Us

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 92 - ImageReviewer: Sabrina

Book Title: The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler

Description: It’s 1996, and Josh and Emma have been neighbors their whole lives. They’ve been best friends almost as long – at least, up until last November, when Josh did something that changed everything. Things have been weird between them ever since, but when Josh’s family gets a free AOL CD in the mail, his mom makes him bring it over so that Emma can install it on her new computer. When they sign on, they’re automatically logged onto their Facebook pages. But Facebook hasn’t been invented yet. And they’re looking at themselves fifteen years in the future.

By refreshing their pages, they learn that making different decisions now will affect the outcome of their lives later. And as they grapple with the ups and downs of what their futures hold, they’re forced to confront what they’re doing right – and wrong – in the present. (Description from Goodreads.com)

Review: The Future of Us is about two best friends Emma and Josh in 1996. Emma is given an AOL CD-ROM to use on her computer and she signs in to the program really excited. When she logs in, she finds a page that says Facebook, which is a new concept for her because Facebook hasn’t been invented yet. This page sends her to her life in 15 years and she thinks that this is all a joke. She shows Josh all the Facebook pages and they both determine this is no joke. They find that every little thing they do, changes how their future turns out on Facebook. It shows their future houses, kids, who they’re married to, and their career. Each day their future looks different on Facebook because of what they did in their lives every day. Aside from all this, there’s a story playing. The story about the friendship between both Josh and Emma and their friendships with other peers.

The Future Of Us has love in it which is shown through the Facebook pages. There’s also little struggles that teenagers faced in the 90s and struggles that are still faced by teens now. It’s little things that teens face no matter what age it is. This book has a concept that a lot of us would like in our lives. Everyone would love to see how their future turns out. Both Emma and Josh try to figure out their future identity by exploring and experimenting things in their own time. The story is told in two perspectives, Josh and Emma. It’s cool and unique but it’s confusing to read sometimes. The book is pretty intriguing but it’s a little weird and confusing if you weren’t alive during that time. There’s a few references to that time but other than that it’s a really fast paced book and it’s a pretty easy read. It has a very interesting story line that’s very creative. Reading this book will make you realize that your actions have consequences. I would recommend this book as easy reading; not the most incredible book in my opinion but still good.

-Sabrina

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Banned Book Mugshots

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 91 - ImageLast week, we talked a little on this blog about Banned Books Week, and public libraries’ commitment to ensuring everyone has access to information and books.  This week, we’re doing something a little different to recognize Banned Books Week and celebrate First Amendment freedoms – we’re inviting you to the library to get a “mugshot” taken with a banned book.

Chances are you have read at least one banned or challenged book in your lifetime.  So at GEPL, we’re inviting adults and teens to come to the second floor information desk to get a “mugshot” taken with a banned book.  Choose the banned book you’ve read, or your favorite if there are several, or one you want to check out and decide about for yourself, and we’ll take a picture to display on our second floor.

And in case you were wondering, the image is the cover of one of my favorite books of all time – Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.  That’s just one of the many banned books we have here, so feel free to grab a library copy of your choice for a photo when you come by.  I’m looking forward to seeing what banned books you’ve taken the time to decide on for yourselves!

Posted in GEPL Teens

Become a Tween Volunteer!

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The youth department is looking for middle school volunteers!

You can help make our library better from 4-6pm each Wednesday in October (the 1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd, and 29th). Our last session will be a volunteer party to thank you for your hard work. Drop by the youth department to register or ask any questions you may have.

Here are the top 5 reasons to volunteer at the library:Volunteer

  1. Because you are needed. Keeping our library clean (so that people don’t get sick or trip), making sure things are neat and easy to find, and making sure things run smoothly takes a lot of people who care! Which leads to reason 2:
  2. Because you care. Have you ever had fun at a library program? Do you enjoy checking out the books, movies, games and music? Have you worked on homework here or gotten anything from the library to help you with your school work? Have you come to the library just to hang out when you have an hour or more to kill? If any of this is true, this is your chance to give back by helping others to enjoy the library too.
  3. Because it feels good.  Did you know happiness makes you kind, and being kind can make you happy? Being kind by serving others and volunteering your time is not only good for others, but satisfying to yourself as well (look it up here). Plus, you can make new friends while you’re all serving the community together and boosting your endorphins!
  4. Build your skills. Years down the road, you’ll be going to new schools, have jobs, vital community work, or internships that lead to a career. You can start building a track record for reliability now. Employers and teachers really are impressed by seeing that you were passionate and committed as a young person! You can also ask any of the kind, knowledgeable, amazing youth staff questions about working.
  5. Last but not least, we love our volunteers! We’ll start with a little snack and pow-wow at the beginning of each session, then have a party for our volunteers on the last session to show our appreciation for you.
Posted in GEPL Tweens

GEPL Teens: Banned Books

Teens Blog BannerOnce again, it’s time for a new display in the Teen Scene to highlight a new set of books.  And because September is when the American Library Association celebrates Banned Books Week (September 21-27), this month’s display is showcasing some of the books that have been challenged and banned over the years.

Blog Entry 90 - Image 2The American Library Association and libraries all over the country are defenders of First Amendment free speech rights.  This means that while everyone can probably find something in the library that offends them, it all stays on the shelves so that readers can make their own judgments.  We don’t defend or condemn content, we just make sure that everyone has access to books and information and can make their own decisions.  Banned Books week is a time when the American Library Association, libraries, and booksellers can celebrate their commitment to the First Amendment and access to information.

Books are challenged and banned for a variety of reasons.  According to the American Library Association, here are some books that have been challenged or banned by schools and other organizations in the United States, and the reasons these books have been challenged:

  • The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling – Most challenged book(s) in 2001 and 2002, on the basis of anti-family content, occult/Satanism, religious viewpoint, and violence.
  • The Captain Underpants Series by Dav Pilkey– Most challenged books(s) in 2012 and 2013, on the basis of Offensive language, unsuitability for age group, and violence.
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain – Challenged on the basis of offensive language.
  • Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson – Challenged on the basis of occult/Satanism, offensive language, and violence.
  • The Twilight Series by Stephenie Meyer – Challenged on the basis of religious viewpoint, sexual content, and unsuitability for age group.
  • The Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Collins – Challenged on the basis of sexual content, unsuitability for age group, and violence.
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – Challenged on the basis of offensive language and racism.
  • The TTYL Series by Lauren Myracle – Challenged on the basis of offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexual content, and unsuitability for age group.
  • Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck – Challenged on the basis of offensive language, racism, unsuitability for age group, and violence.
  • The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger – Challenged on the basis of offensive language, sexual content, and unsuitability for age group.

This is just a small sample of books that haveBlog Entry 90 - Image 1 been challenged or banned since 2001, according to the American Library Association.  The thing about banned or challenged books is that, in many cases, reading those books is not the right choice for a child, a teenager, or a family.  But fortunately, we live in a country where families are trusted to make their own decisions about what suitable reading material is, and a country where all these books stay on the shelves of public libraries so anyone can read them.

So this month, pick up a banned or challenged book (discuss it with a parent or librarian if you’re concerned about content), remember that libraries are here to provide access to information for everyone, and decide for yourself what you think of these banned books.

Posted in GEPL Teens