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By: Hannah Rapp, Young Adult Librarian

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros Book CoverI don’t know about you, but I have a hard time keeping up with all the great new books coming out. I read reviews as part of my job, so I’m always learning about books being published that immediately go on my “to be read” list, and even though I’ll never catch up, I valiantly keep trying. It would be so easy to make it a decade or more without reading anything older than a few months or years. But things are always slipping through the cracks, and if I only read brand new books, I’d miss out on a lot of older titles.

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer Book CoverYou all may not have quite the same problem, since I’m guessing you aren’t reading book reviews by the dozen, but there’s still a lot of hype and buzz around new books. Plus (and I don’t mean this in a bad way) you’re young. A lot of great young adult books were published while you were still too young to read them, or even hear about them. Heck, Twilight was published over 10 years ago! And while that one is still popular, there are many more wonderful books that were published around the same time or before then that have faded out of our consciousness. They don’t fade because they’re not good, just because they’re old. And that doesn’t seem quite fair to me.

Code Talker by Joseph Bruchac Book CoverSo this month’s display, Throwbacks, is dedicated to all those older YA titles that can be every bit as good as the newer ones, but that maybe you haven’t heard of or had a chance to read. Stop by this month to find out what you’ve been missing. Whether it’s the classic Forever by Judy Blume, a book you might have missed when it was assigned like The House on Mango Street, or an exciting adventure that you may never have heard of like Code Talker, you’ll find all kinds of books in our display. You might reconnect with some old favorites while you’re at it – several of Sarah Dessen’s novels were written over ten years ago, and the much-acclaimed Walter Dean Myers wrote plenty of his best work well before the last few years. So this spring, find a comfortable place to enjoy that warm weather and get a blast from the past with one of our YA Throwbacks.

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

Welcoming Children with Disabilities at the Library

By: Renee Grassi, Youth Department Director

You may have heard about our brand new Sensory Storytime program, which is being hosted at the library for the first time this week. This program is the first in an effort to make the Youth Department a more welcoming place for children with autism spectrum disorder and other disabilities. In fact, Glen Ellyn Public Library staff are already hard at work cultivating partnerships with local organizations such as Philip J Rock, WDSRA, Glenbard West High School and D41 just to name a few! The library is the perfect place in the community for people of all abilities, and we look forward to welcoming all families through our doors.

Speaking of all abilities, you may have heard that April is Autism Awareness Month. In fact, some even say April is Autism Acceptance Month. So, if you are looking for materials to share with your child about autism this month, the library is a great place to start. Here are a few featured titles, as well as some juvenile fiction and non-fiction lists directly from the library’s catalog. Be sure to check them out!


Posted in Where The Child Things Are: GEPL Youth

What I Just Read – X: A Novel

By: Hannah Rapp, Teen Librarian

X by Kekla Magoon and Ilyasah Shabazz Book CoverIt’s been a while since I wrote about what I’ve been reading, but that doesn’t mean there haven’t been some great books in my life over the past few weeks. Today’s What I Just Read was not only a great read, it had the added bonus of being a really fantastic audiobook.

What I Just Read: X: A Novel by Ilyasah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon

What’s It About (Jacket Description): I am Malcolm. I am my father’s son. But to be my father’s son means that they will always come for me. They will always come for me, and I will always succumb.

Malcolm Little’s parents have always told him that he can achieve anything, but from what he can tell, that’s nothing but a pack of lies—after all, his father’s been murdered, his mother’s been taken away, and his dreams of becoming a lawyer have gotten him laughed out of school. There’s no point in trying, he figures, and lured by the nightlife of Boston and New York, he escapes into a world of fancy suits, jazz, girls and reefer.

But Malcolm’s efforts to leave the past behind lead him into increasingly dangerous territory when what starts as some small-time hustling quickly spins out of control. Deep down, he knows that the freedom he’s found is only an illusion—and that he can’t run forever.

X follows Malcolm from his childhood to his imprisonment for theft at age twenty, when he found the faith that would lead him to forge a new path and command a voice that still resonates today.

Do I Like It: Yes!

Thoughts:  I admit, when I was assigned chapters from The Autobiography of Malcolm X in college, I skimmed them and then mostly forgot about him. I didn’t know much about Malcolm X, aside from the fact that he was a famous activist who found direction in prison, until I picked up X: A Novel. I certainly didn’t know anything about his life before prison, which is the focus of this novel. But after reading some rave reviews, and realizing that Ilyasah Shabazz is one of his daughters, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this novel, and it did not disappoint.

X: A Novel was immersive right from the start – the very first line plunged me right into the middle of Malcolm’s life: “Friends tell me trouble’s coming. I ease out of the restaurant onto the sidewalk, gun in my pocket.” And it just kept going from there. From his family and upbringing in Lansing, Michigan, to the jazz clubs of Harlem, I couldn’t get enough of the atmosphere and feel of the 1940s, especially the parts of that era that I’d never known much about. But even more than that, I was fascinated to learn more about Malcolm X. The great thing about historical novels like this one is that I got the feel of a novel and fiction, but most of what I learned about the person was accurate (seriously – there was a phenomenal author’s note at the end that really outlined what was real, what wasn’t, and why those changes had been made.) As he appears in this novel, Malcolm was an arrogant, brilliant, angry and charismatic man. Those traits, which later led him to become a powerful civil rights leader and activist, also led him to be a successful hustler and petty thief, immersed in the seedier parts of Boston and Harlem.

Hearing about Malcolm making bad choice after bad choice could have been almost painful. But it was so clear from the book why he was doing destructive things, what the appeal was, and how he was using these choices to distract himself from his own anger and grief and the injustices around him. And knowing all that made it understandable and relatable to read about, even as I was shaking my head at his decisions. Watching Malcolm grow and mature almost in spite of himself was almost as much fun as discovering everything that made him so remarkable. I never got tired of hearing what he was up to next, about his interactions with the people around him, and about the loyalty to his family and sense of injustice that he never could erase, no matter how much he tried.

X was a wonderful novel as historical fiction, as an immersive look at a time and place, and as a character study of a fascinating, frustrating and ultimately incredible man. How much did I love it? Well, I just checked out The Autobiography of Malcolm X, and I can’t wait to dive in.

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

Around the World in One Sitting

By: Deanna Siegel, Youth Programming Associate

Does the cold weather get you down? Do you feel sometimes like you’d rather be somewhere else? Maybe somewhere warm, or fun, or new? Well, there is quick and easy way to solve this! One amazing thing about books is that they allow us to travel anywhere we want, if only for a short period of time. Here is a wonderful series that will take you on a fun adventure right from your house! This list consists of only a few in the series, but there are more!

In each of these books there are fun activities you can do in your own home. The activities provided relate to the region that you are exploring! Enjoy a fun craft while you’re traveling all over the world.

In addition to this, there are tons of facts about each country in order to give you a well-rounded experience. There are facts about landmarks, traditions, and of course, all the yummy food. Happy travels!


Posted in Where The Child Things Are: GEPL Youth

The College Search

By: Britta J., Teen Blogger

As part of the junior class this year, I can definitely feel all the pressure suddenly put on us to start looking at colleges and preparing for all the standardized tests we’ll have to take. It can be really stressful, especially if you’re not sure where to start, or if you have no idea what you want to do in the future. If you are in that boat, don’t worry! A lot of people are. But here are some tips I’ve gotten so far that have really helped me prepare for finding the right school:

School size

There are some schools with less students than my high school and some that are bigger than my town. Just knowing if you’ll be successful in a smaller or larger school, or somewhere in between, can help narrow down your options. You should also pay attention to the campus surroundings; whether a school is in an urban, suburban or rural environment can also be a big factor in how big it actually feels.


Some students want to go to a school that is across a country, while others want to stay in state. If you have some idea of the distance you want from home, or any specific location you like or dislike, you can focus your search on colleges in that area where you’ll be most comfortable.


If you are definitely an Engineering major, maybe a small liberal arts school isn’t for you. When researching colleges, look into what majors they have, how easy it is to change majors, and how big their programs are for the subject of your choice. Also, pay attention to statistics like class size and student to faculty ratio to get a good feel of their academic environment.


If you are at the same stage as me when looking for colleges don’t limit your search by cost. College is expensive, but the “sticker price” that they present is often not what you will have to pay. There are scholarships and financial aid that you don’t even know exist that you could qualify for, so don’t rule any schools out because of cost just yet. Also, keep in mind that just because a school is in state, it is not necessarily cheaper than other out of state schools.

Out of the 4,000 colleges and universities in America alone, there is definitely a school where you can be successful and happy. There are also some great resources to help you look. At www.collegeboard.org, there is an extensive search system that makes it easy to find colleges that match your requirements, from religious affiliations to whether cars are allowed for freshmen on campus. My school uses Naviance, which is also extremely helpful in finding colleges and even provides data about the amount of students from your school who applied, were accepted and who attended each college. Finding the right school can be intimidating but there are a lot of resources that can help you along the way. Good luck!

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

It’s Spring Break

By: Christina Keasler, Middle School Librarian

Spring Break Written In The Sand with a Pair of Red Sunglasses


While some of you might be thinking that the year has been going by too fast, others think spring break couldn’t have come quick enough. Spring break is a time to set down the textbooks and catch up on a little R&R. If you’d like, you should totally take advantage of the lack of commitment and sleep in.

Looking for things to do? If you want to have fun outside, you can fly a kite or take a walk around Lake Ellyn. We’re supposed to have a few days of sun, so be sure to rock last year’s swag glasses! If you’re looking for things to do indoors, why not play a board game or see a movie? I’m dying to hear how Batman vs. Superman is!

You probably already know this, but you can totally come hang out at the library. We have games and crafternoons in The Middle and, of course, LOTS OF BOOKS!

Need a suggestion? Here are some great books you’d be sure to get through in a week:


Posted in The Middle: GEPL Middle School

We’re Listening!

By: Hannah Rapp, Teen Librarian

Young Girl Doing Homework With FriendsAs you may know, GEPL has a wonderful Teen Leadership Council (TLC) that meets monthly, helps out with events and planning and gives us an actual teen perspective on our programs and services. One of the most important things they do is help us to learn what you all want from your library.

They aren’t the only way we get this feedback – we also talk to your teachers, talk to you as much as possible, take book requests and use program feedback forms to find out more. It’s still hard, but as much as possible, we want to know what you really think about your library, and hear what you really want from us.

Over the course of the last few months, we’ve heard one thing over and over. Apparently, you love our Homework Café program! If you’re not familiar with Homework Café, it’s pretty simple: after school on certain days we serve coffee and hot chocolate in our Teen Scene Room while you do your homework. Simple, yes, but we like to think the hot drinks help with studying, and it’s our way of telling you we’re glad you’re here.

So when I asked TLC members about what we could best do to serve teenagers, more than one of them suggested expanding our Homework Café program, and they weren’t the only ones saying it – we heard it on feedback and comment forms too. Well, I’m here to tell you that we’ve heard enough! We’re expanding Homework Café to twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, to give you more of what you asked for!

I know it’s just one small change – a twice a week program instead of once a week – but we hope that making this change will encourage you to tell us more! Tell us about programs you want, books you’d like to read, things the library could bring to your class or club or life. You can call me at 630-790-6748 or email me any time with suggestions, feedback and more. I promise you, we’re listening.

And even if you don’t have any other ideas you want to share, we still want you to stop by on a Tuesday or Thursday after school and enjoy some hot chocolate while you do your homework.

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

Sensory Storytime at the Library

By: Katy Almendinger, Early Literacy Librarian

Check out our new services and programs for children with special needs and their families!

Sensory Storytime

Boardmaker Storytime SymbolThe Youth Department is excited to offer a new storytime! It’s called Sensory Storytime. Sensory Storytime features adaptations designed for children with Autism or other special needs. Everyone is encouraged to attend — including families, siblings and children of all abilities. Sensory Storytime will meet on April 9th and May 14th from 1:30 – 2:30 pm. Don’t worry, the storytime isn’t a full hour. Half of the program is set aside for sensory play and socialization.

In some ways, Sensory Storytime is like our other storytimes. There will be rhymes, songs, books and plenty of opportunities to shake out the wiggles. But Sensory Storytime also has a few unique elements:

  • The Visual Schedule. Children want to know what’s coming next, so the visual schedule will include symbols for each part of the program. Our schedule will be created with Boardmaker images — children in early intervention therapy classes will probably already recognize the symbols. We will review the schedule at the beginning of the program and remove activities as they are completed. A PDF version of the Sensory Storytime schedule will be available on our website soon.
  • The Small Group. It won’t be as loud and fast-paced as some of our other storytimes. It’s a calm, safe environment for children with special needs and their families.
  • The Interactive Format. Each book will be interactive in some way. One of the first books we’ll share is Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Bill Martin and Eric Carle. With this book, felt pieces will be used so children can participate throughout the entire story. Our goal is to engage the senses with each activity.

Interested in attending? Be sure to reserve your spot! If you have questions about Sensory Storytime, please contact Miss Katy at calmendinger@gepl.org.

Social Story

Make sure you check out the new Special Needs section of our website. We’ve added some new features to our web page. We created a downloadable “This Is My Library” social story. Using simple first-person text and real pictures, the Social Story walks children through the Youth Department and all it has to offer. A Social Story can be a great way to prepare children for their library visit.

Posted in Where The Child Things Are: GEPL Youth

Mortal Instruments Has Returned to the Screen – Time to Cringe or Fangirl?

By: Ashley H., Teen Blogger

Shadow Hunters TV Show PosterYour favorite book is being turned into a movie or TV show. Your reaction will probably be between 😭 and 😡. Most of us in a book fandom haven’t found a movie adaption that has lived up to our expectations. The director either totally changed the plot, added in unneeded romance, created a new character or, fandoms forbid, deleted your favorite character so they never existed!

So when I learned that The Mortal Instruments was getting rebooted after its movie flop I was a little wary. But It looks like I had nothing to worry about! The TV show, called Shadowhunters, is one of my new favorites and it seems that most of the fandom agrees with me. The show is airing on Freeform (formerly ABC Family) is produced by McG (Supernatural and The Duff) and had the creative input by the big kahuna herself, Cassandra Clare!

With the big names and the influence of Cassie I had pretty high hopes for the show. When I watched the premier I was glad that it did NOT disappoint. Though the show did change a few details like Clary and Simon being in college and making Luke a cop, I thought that it kept the characters true to themselves and the whole mystical and even gruesome feel that is the Shadow World. The changes kept me, who loves and has read the Mortal Instruments more times than I can count, on my toes! I even found myself fangirling over the tiniest details in the show that I knew were part of the original book series. Though I can see why some book lovers do not like the TV show for the same reasons why I love it, I do believe that the overall fandom loves the show and has grown even larger because of it.

I can honestly tell you that I have not missed a single episode and love how on every Tuesday night the cast and crew bring to life my favorite shadowhunters, downworlders and even mundanes.

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

Full STEAM Ahead

STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Art Math) Header

By: Hannah Rapp, Teen Librarian

If you’ve been by the library recently, you may have heard or seen something about our 3rd annual S.T.E.A.M. Fair, going on tomorrow. If you haven’t, or aren’t sure what that is, here’s the quick version: organizations from all over Illinois will be bringing in activities and exhibits relating in some way to science, technology, engineering, arts and math; and we’ll be showing off some of the library resources as well. The whole library will be all STEAM from 10:00 am – 3:00 pm, and hundreds of people will show up to see everything.

But, I know many of you may be thinking: “man, that sounds an awful lot like school and not what I want to be doing on my weekend” or “isn’t that for kids?”  And yes, there is quite a bit of educational content, and yes, there will be a lot of kids around. But there’s plenty of stuff that’s fun for teens and adults as well, and I promise that if you really want to avoid the educational stuff, you can. Here’s a few things that might make it worth your while to stop by tomorrow!

The Elgin Paranormal Investigators will be showing the technology they use to investigate and review claims of paranormal activity. Yes, this does mean there will be ghost hunters at the STEAM Fair.

The NASA Solar System Ambassadors Program (SSA) will be here to talk about the solar system and space exploration missions from NASA. And if Neil DeGrasse Tyson has taught us anything, it’s that space is awesome.

Kids Watching the Making of Ice Cream with Liquid NitrogenChemical Reaction: A Chemistry Magic Show (10:30, 12:30 and 2:30) is pretty much exactly what’s on the box. Magic, but with science. This may sound like it’s aimed at kids (I’ll admit, the kids are pretty amazed) but it’s a super fun show for everyone. Also, if you’re under 18, you’ll need a parent signature to attend, and anything that requires a waiver has to have a certain cool factor, right?

ChiBots-Chicago Area Robotics will have robots. I mean, I could say more, but I don’t think it’s necessary, because robots.

GEPL’s Digital Media Lab will be on display, and we’ll be highlighting our green screen. You’ll be able to take a picture and choose a background, or record a video talking about how great the library is (because we are great…right? Right?)

These are just a few of the displays, exhibits and activities that will be at the library tomorrow – we have a total of 17 different exhibitors. Even if you don’t want to make a day of it, you should definitely stop by and see what all the fuss is about!

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School