GEPL Teens Blog

GEPL Teens: We Need Diverse Books

Teens Blog BannerBy: Hannah Rapp, Teen Librarian

Blog Entry 151 - ImageJust over a year ago, a few authors who had noticed a lack of diversity in children’s and young adult books started tweeting about it, using the hashtag #WeNeedDiverseBooks. The conversation quickly swelled, the hashtag trended on Twitter, and people started sharing their own reasons for needing diverse books. One of our teen bloggers did a great job of outlining the campaign and sharing some of the photos and tweets last fall – you can read what she said here.

Since last spring, #WeNeedDiverseBooks has gone from a Twitter hashtag to a grassroots campaign and non-profit. From advocacy to raising money to fund publishing internships aimed at increasing diversity in the industry, We Need Diverse Books is working to create a world of youth and young adult literature that reflects the diversity of the world we live in. You can find out more about the movement on their website.

To showcase some of the diverse titles in our collection, and to show that we value all teens in our community and want to make sure we have books that reflect their lives and experiences, our YA display for May is #WeNeedDiverseBooks. Diversity can mean a lot of things, and the books on this display range from fantasy and science fiction novels like The Summer Prince and Prophecy to contemporary realistic titles such as Girls Like Us and Rabbit Ears to graphic novels like American Born Chinese and Ms. Marvel. So stop by the library and pick up one of our many diverse titles.  Maybe one of these books will introduce you to a new perspective, or give you a chance to recognize your own experience. And with such a wide variety of books to choose from, no matter what your tastes are, there is sure to be a book here for you!

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Teens Write – Summer Break

Teens Blog BannerBy: Sabrina, Teen Blogger

Blog Entry 150 - ImageSummer break is right around the corner and while many people go on vacation, some are stuck at home. Here are 10 ideas on how to have a fun summer break at home!

The first thing to do is to go to places around the city that you have never seen. Maybe you have lived in the Chicago area for many years but still haven’t visited the Bean. The second thing you might try is to go window shopping, look around the mall to see things that you like. Try things on that you have never thought about wearing and take pictures. A third suggestion is to YouTube a how to video and learn how to do something new. This can be origami or a food recipe or a new dance. The fourth thing you could do over summer break is have a movie marathon of all the movies you wanted to watch during the school year but didn’t have time for. Fifth, you could have a campout in your backyard – or if you don’t have a backyard, then in your basement. Bring all your essentials into the tent and don’t leave the “campground” till sunrise.

The sixth thing you could do is make a movie with your siblings or family or friends. Write up a script and then start to film it, and don’t be afraid to get creative. A seventh thing to do over summer break is to check out local events. The library and park districts always have cheap or free things to attend, and you should definitely take advantage of those events.  An eighth suggestion is to DIY something, meaning make something yourself. You could make a wallet out of duct tape or make a tie dye shirt or make bracelets out of yarn. The ninth activity to do over summer break is to start a business. You could wash cars or sell baked goods or babysit. This will help you stay busy, and make some money on the side. The tenth suggestion for something you could do over summer break is participate in the library’s summer reading program. You get to read and get rewarded for it, while doing something that could even be educational when you are out of school.

There you have it, ten things to do over summer break, even if you’re stuck at home!

-Sabrina

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Read for Heroes

Teens Blog BannerBy: Hannah Rapp, Teen Librarian

You’re still gearing up for finals, but believe it or not, summer reading has begun at the library! This year, we’re going to Read for Heroes and raise money for the Glen Ellyn Police and Fire Departments. If we meet our reading goals, the Friends of the Glen Ellyn Public Library and the Rotary Club of Glen Ellyn will donate towards a police scholarship fund and firefighter recruitment. Everything you’ve read since May 11 counts, and you should sign up ASAP because there is a lot going on this year! Let’s jump right into it with some new, fun stuff.

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So that’s me, at age 18, after 24 sleepless hours. Yes, I’m a mess – that’s the point! Because this year, Tween Christina Keasler and I are shamelessly bribing you to read more and log your books by publicly humiliating ourselves as you reach certain goals. Consider this terrible photo a good faith offering (and check out Christina’s here). Here’s how it will work: every time you or the tweens hit a goal, Christina and I will do a ridiculous stunt. If you reach our total goal for the summer – five books per person for teens – it’s going to be amazing. In the meantime, every time your collective average goes up by one book per person, we do something ridiculous! Here’s how the stunts will look:

  • Average of one book read per teen: Christina and I will participate in the DC vs. Marvel Nerf Wars on June 26 (I called dibs on Marvel immediately!)
  • Average of two books read per teen: Christina and I will wear ridiculous outfits for a week. There will be pictures. Many, many pictures.
  • Average of three books read per teen: Christina and I will tie our fates, and our legs, together and do a timed three-legged race around the GEPL parking lot. There will definitely be a video of this one!
  • Average of four books read per teen: I do my best to kick Christina’s butt in a break-dancing competition. And of course there will be a video!
  • Average of five books read per teen: We congratulate you on reaching your goal, and then…do a very special public performance (with video) that I will never live down, and you will definitely want to see. Trust me, it’ll be good. And remarkably, hilariously awkward for me.

And as an added incentive to beat the tweens to their goal (60 hours read per person,) whichever group reaches their goal first can expect an extra, solo, and hilarious video of their librarian doing our last secret stunt.  And while that one will definitely be embarrassing for me, I’m actually kind of excited about it, humiliation and all, so help me do it and get reading!

As for the rest of summer reading, it’s going to sound more familiar.  Get a t-shirt when you sign up, and a $5 gift card when you read your first book.  After that, every five books you read gets you another gift card, and an entry into our grand prize drawing for a $150 gift card to Ticketmaster or a fire truck ride along for you and your friends.  We have a special prize, another Ticketmaster gift card, for our top reader.  Throughout the summer we have our awesome stunts of course, and if you read two books by July 16, you can come eat some ice cream and participate in an epic tug-of-war contest against some of our firefighting heroes!  Lastly, just like last year, you can log extra “books” by either following @GEPLTeenScene and tweeting to us about what you’re reading, or by writing books review for our blog.  You can find all the details about everything at our Read for Heroes page!

TL;DR – the more you read, the more you help raise money for our local firefighter and police heroes, the more embarrassing things Christina and I do in public and on video, and the more gift cards and chances at the grand prizes you get.  So sign up, start logging everything you read (including your summer reading for school!), and wait for the gift cards and hilarious videos to start pouring in!

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Teens Write – What I Don’t Read

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 148 - ImageLibrarian note: we talk a lot on this blog about what people do read, and what they love. But sometimes, we find that certain types of books or genres just don’t appeal to us – and that’s okay! One teen blogger explores some of the books that she doesn’t read, and why.

Many teenagers enjoy reading fantasy books and science fiction because they are fun and easy to read. I myself have read the Harry Potter series and the Lord of Rings when I was middle school. The only reason I read these books is that they are popular in our school and many of my friends love them, so they recommend them to me. But overall, I don’t really like to read science fiction. In my opinion they are fantastic books to read for killing time, but I personally didn’t find any deeper thought and knowledge from them.

To be honest, Harry Potter is the most interesting book I have ever read, and I was waiting for the movie to come out so anxiously when I finished reading the books. But even though I like the plots of science fiction, I find only can read them for entertainment. For science fiction books, I often borrow them from library instead of buying them. Not only because they are expensive in the bookstores but also they make me feel boring when I read them second time. Just like entertainment movies, for example, I wouldn’t watch them many times. But after all, science fiction is still a popular genre for many teenagers to read.

-Elaine

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: What I Just Read – Dove Arising

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 147 - ImageJust when I think I’m over the dystopian or futuristic totalitarian government thing, I read something that gets me excited all over again about these types of books, and today’s sci-fi/dystopia hybrid What I Just Read definitely got my psyched about the genre again!

What I Just Read: Dove Arising by Karen Bao

What’s It About (Jacket Description): Phaet Theta has lived her whole life in a colony on the Moon. She’s barely spoken since her father died in an accident nine years ago. She cultivates the plants in Greenhouse 22, lets her best friend talk for her, and stays off the government’s radar.

Then her mother is arrested.

The only way to save her younger siblings from the degrading Shelter is by enlisting in the Militia, the faceless army that polices the Lunar bases and protects them from attacks by desperate Earth dwellers. Training is brutal, but it’s where Phaet forms an uneasy but meaningful alliance with the preternaturally accomplished Wes, a fellow outsider.

Rank high, save her siblings, free her mom: that’s the plan. Until Phaet’s logically ordered world begins to crumble…

Suspenseful, intelligent, and hauntingly prescient, Dove Arising stands on the shoulders of our greatest tales of the future to tell a story that is all too relevant today.

Did I Like It: I really, really did!

Thoughts: Okay, so yes, a lot of things about this book in theory remind me of a lot of other dystopian novels. But in practice, it just means that the things I know and love about other dystopias – the slowly growing awareness of the main character that something is wrong with her world, the intense fighting and training scenes, the deep love and ties that bind people together despite bad circumstances – are also present in this book. So I really think that if you loved Divergent or Legend or The Hunger Games, you will love Dove Arising. But of course, it’s not enough for a book to have things we love from other books, it has to have something special. And I think Dove Arising has something special – a lot of somethings special. If I’m totally honest, I liked it even better than Divergent, and I can’t wait for the sequel!

As always with me, a lot rides on the characters. And Phaet is a great main character. Her quiet and calm are something relatively rare in a genre featuring a lot of outspoken, impulsive, and (yes) awesome women. Phaet is as strong and powerful as any of them, but in her own way. She is crazy smart, and particularly drawn to math and science, knowledge that helps her in her military training as well. She loves growing things and the stars, almost as much as her family. She is exceptionally driven, and works extremely hard to achieve academic as well as physical success. She is much more interested in securing a future for herself and her family than she is in any kind of romance, but she maintains these priorities without dismissing the importance of love and affection.

I also thought the world building was an added element of awesomeness. Because of the nature of trying to survive on the moon, a lot of the more restrictive aspects of the government make sense, and it also makes sense that people would put up with it. It doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of corruption and a lot of bad things happening, but it makes the whole world seem more believable and realistic. Between the world, a plot that moves quickly, and plenty of action and excitement, I couldn’t put Dove Arising down. I do have to add one negative to my thoughts, though: this book will leave you desperate for more, with no release date yet for the sequel! The agony!

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Teens Write – Staying Motivated

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 146 - ImageSummer is right around the corner, which means school is finally coming to an end. After nine months of testing, homework, and studying, it is time to give yourself a break and spend the days sitting at the beach or watching Netflix till 1:00 a.m. Unfortunately there are still a few weeks left until you can completely relax and take time for yourself, and it can be difficult to motivate yourself to push through the little bit of school left. There are a few things you can do to inspire yourself to finish the year off strong though.

The first thing is to think about the fun things that will happen during summer break, like vacations or seeing your friends or spending time with family. This will help you remember that fun things are coming soon, but not until after you work hard and push yourself through school. The second thing to motivate yourself is to study or do homework outside. Spending time outside will allow you to enjoy spring/summer weather while getting your work done. A third tip is to reward yourself for the little things that you do like getting a good grade on a test or finishing another week of school. Rewards can be a simple pleasure like getting ice cream or going out with friends, and rewarding yourself will motivate you to do more and accomplish more while you are slipping into summer mode. My fourth tip is to give yourself “me time” to reflect on the school year and also to ground yourself in your surroundings. This will help you be more practical when it comes to finishing loads of homework and studying for difficult tests. My last tip is to set up goals you want to accomplish before the school year ends. Having goals will keep you on track throughout the last few weeks of school. Every student and teacher wants it to be summer and everyone wants to start relaxing, but you cannot forget that there are still tests and finals coming up shortly. These tips will help you stay engaged while school is winding down and summer is getting closer.

-Sabrina

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Game of Thrones Read-Alikes

Teens Blog BannerNow into its fifth season, Game of Thrones on HBO has brought high fantasy mainstream. Many of those who didn’t think they would be interested in ice zombies, dragons, magic, or crazy names like “Cersei” and “Melisandre” have been hooked. Between the drama, politics, backstabbing, mysteries, in-depth explorations of flawed characters, and (of course) a fascinating fantasy world, a wide variety of people have found something to love about the Game of Thrones TV series. But the show is only one for ten episodes once a year, and fans want ways to keep the excitement going! Whether you’re looking to complement a viewing of the TV series with some similar reading, or want to build up your to-be-read pile to tide you over between seasons, here’s a few books you might want to try:

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An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir – Just released this week, An Ember in the Ashes is set in a brutal and violent world based in part on ancient Rome. With battles, warriors, and spying, and chock full of political and social conflicts, An Ember in the Ashes is a great choice for those who appreciate how gritty and brutal GoT is, as well as its strong characters and world-building.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson – If the combination of fantasy and politics is what you love about GoT, Rae Carson’s fantasy trilogy about a princess who has to learn to be a leader will definitely appeal to you. Bonus points for fantasy religious elements, if debating the Seven vs. the Red God is more your style.

Graceling by Kristin Cashore – First of all, seven kingdoms. Second of all, main character with staggeringly awesome fighting prowess who is at the mercy of her cruel king. Katsa’s story in some ways is like if The Hound or The Mountain decided to fight for justice instead of the Lannisters. Third of all, a truly corrupt and sadistic antagonist who you will probably hate at least as much as Joffrey.

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Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers – This series opener is mainly historical, with only the lightest elements of fantasy, so those of you who are less into swords and sorcery and more into the politics, intricate power alliances, and backstabbing of GoT, this book is for you! Not to mention it features assassin nuns – seriously!

His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik – Soldiers riding companion dragons into war, complete with military strategy? Dany fans rejoice. Oh, and did we mention the dragons? Because this series has LOTS of dragons.

Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien – The elder statesman of all fantasy, did anyone doubt this would make the list? While many parts of GoT actually break down fantasy tropes like the good vs. evil battles and the heroic actions of the Fellowship, Tolkien’s masterpiece does feature outstanding world-building and new languages, not to mention romance and action. If you love to immerse yourself in Westerosi cultures and languages, LoTR might be the right choice for you.

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Prophecy by Ellen Oh – The main character of Prophecy is the only female warrior in the king’s army, which probably reminds you of a certain lady knight we all know and love. With high fantasy and action, and yes, dragons, this book is perfect for all of you who kind of wish they’d make a whole show about Brienne.

The Tyrant’s Daughter by J.C. Carleson – For those who really don’t want anything to do with fantasy outside of GoT, give The Tyrant’s Daughter a try. A girl coming to grips with the reality of her dictator father may remind you of Dany learning just how terrible the Targaryens could be, and the maneuvering between Laila’s mother and the CIA will satisfy your urge for politics and manipulation.

The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkowski – Fantasy without so much of the sorcery, but with plenty of other elements to recommend this fictional world. With politics galore, warring factions, slave rebellions, and a star-crossed friendship and love, The Winner’s Curse is perfect for anyone particularly invested in the actual game of thrones portion of GoT.

The Young Elites by Marie Lu – This dark fantasy from the author of Legend features a deeply flawed main character with a lust for power, who will definitely remind you of some of the anti-heroes who we know and love (or hate) on GoT. And Lu is not afraid of some viciousness and violence in her world, which is something many will recognize from Westeros.

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Teens Review – The House on Mango Street

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 144 - ImageBook: The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

Reviewer: Sabrina

Summary: Acclaimed by critics, beloved by readers of all ages, taught everywhere from inner-city grade schools to universities across the country, and translated all over the world, The House on Mango Street is the remarkable story of Esperanza Cordero.

Told in a series of vignettes – sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes deeply joyous – it is the story of a young Latina girl growing up in Chicago, inventing for herself who and what she will become. Few other books in our time have touched so many readers. (Description from Goodreads.com)

Review: The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros is a series of vignettes that teach the importance of writing and literature. The whole book has a theme about how writing will set you free. Esperanza is the main character in the book and experiences a life far from lavish. She continues to move from one place to another, not knowing where she is going to go next. She is uncomfortable in her own skin, and this is a problem that a lot of teens can relate to. Esperanza is a character who is clumsy and awkward but you can’t help but fall in love with her. All the characters string together to show the difficulties in life that prevent one from accomplishing dreams.

I would rate this book at an eight out of ten. I love how even if you aren’t a Latina teen girl, you can still relate to many of the struggles in this book. The author wonderfully illustrates what coming of age looks like for teens and the hardships teens have to go through. I do have to say though that the vignettes are sometimes unrelated to each other and you do have to dig deep to get a greater understanding of the themes. Overall, I feel like this is good short read but holds a lot of great literature.

-Sabrina

 

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Teens Review – And We Stay

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Book: And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard

Reviewer: Elaine

Summary: A few days before Emily Beam’s 17 birthday she discovers that she is pregnant. Her parents’ insistence on her abortion leads to Emily breaking up with her boyfriend. Unfortunately, that causes her boyfriend to get frustrated and bring a gun to school. Emily’s boyfriend, Paul, ends up killing himself after they argue about their relationship. Emily then transfers to the Amherst School, which is a boarding school for girls, in the middle of her junior year. However, after she went to that boarding school she still feels guilty about her Paul’s death and her abortion. Throughout Emily’s experience in her new school her life and relationship that she had before with Paul are revealed. Even though she has friends to help her, including the spirit of the Amherst’s famous poet Emily Dickinson, Emily finds she needs writing poetry to express her feelings. So Emily composed poetry in the same style as Emily Dickinson’s.

Review: This book is a romantic tragedy from start, but that is one thing that attracted me to read this book. However, I discovered later on that this book is about more than Emily Beam’s relationship with her boyfriend and the new experiences she has in her boarding school. Furthermore, this book describes the internal feeling of a guilty teenager girl who is suffering in despair over her boyfriend’s death. The poems she writes to express herself reveal her mixed views on love and about being between teen and adult. I think And We Stay is an amazing book to read is because it not just about the tragic love that Emily had but also her hope and expectation of her new life.

-Elaine

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: National Poetry Month

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 142 - ImageYou may already know this (especially if you follow us on Tumblr!), but April is National Poetry Month.  Not surprisingly, this is often a popular month at libraries!  While we love to celebrate more than books, there’s no denying that libraries have a special connection to the written word.  And whether you’re a big fan of poetry or not, there’s also no denying that poems are often some of the best and most creative uses of those words.  From Homer to Rumi, from Shakespeare to Maya Angelou, poets and poetry have been part of human culture almost as long as language has.

Blog Entry 142 - Image 3It’s hard to say what draws us to poetry, but there does seem to be something that appeals to us on a totally different level than plain old prose.  I personally have always thought of myself as being not a big poetry person.  I certainly have never read a whole book of poetry, and have always preferred to discuss and analyze novels.  But as I sat down to write about National Poetry Month, I started really thinking about poetry and my experiences, and I realized something: I have read, recited, and enjoyed a lot of poetry in my life.  I have translated Sappho and Catullus and fallen in love with the beauty of their words in any language; I have memorized Tennyson and Dylan Thomas just to ensure their poems stayed fixed in my mind; I have sat rapt at performances of Shakespeare; I devoured The Ballad of Reading Gaol by my favorite author, Oscar Wilde; Blog Entry 142 - Image 2and I felt my heart swell the first time I read – and again the first time I listened to – Still I Rise by Maya Angelou.   When it comes down to it, poetry has been part of my life for years.

But for all I’ve discovered that maybe I am a poetry person, at least a little bit, I still don’t know entirely know why I or anyone else are drawn to poetry rather than prose.  I know for me it has something to do with the beauty of the words and the rhythm of meter, but I can get beauty and meter in songs or elegant prose (like anything Wilde has written, for instance!)  For other people, it might be the power of the imagery, the satisfaction of a rhyme, or the way certain disruptions of structure are so jarring.  It could be the mood or the meaning of the poem, or a memory it evokes.  Blog Entry 142 - Image 4But again, those are all things that can be found elsewhere.  Perhaps it is just the way poems bring all these elements together, or perhaps it is something more intangible.  I’m not even sure I wish I knew – maybe some of the power of poetry for me lies in the mystery of its appeal!

This National Poetry Month, I want to challenge you to read a poem or two, long or short.  But I also want to add to that challenge – think about poetry you have read and loved in the past (there must be some – Mother Goose or Shel Silverstein, if nothing else!)  What poetry have you loved?  What did you love about it?  And what draws you to poetry?  Poetry is worth celebrating, so I hope you’ll spend just a few minutes this month re-discovering why!

Posted in GEPL Teens