GEPL Teens Blog

GEPL Teens: Teen Art Contest!

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 119 - ImageTeen librarian fun fact: I am a terrible artist. I always have been. To this day when I doodle, my hearts are misshapen and my stars are uneven. I don’t have great handwriting. My photos tend to be passable, but not awesome. And don’t even ask me about things like composition and balance and color – the most you’ll get is “I like this picture because it has a puppy, and I personally don’t care for the color yellow.” I’m hopeless, and I accept that.

That said, none of this stops me from doodling or creating or making some kinds of art. Even at my most self-conscious when I was a teenager, I doodled stick figures and shapes in the margins of my notes. I sketched dragons who, while they didn’t look right on the page, were beautiful in my imagination. I even once agreed to a request to draw someone – and let them see the drawing. I love to take pictures, even if my photos are only passable. Something about visual creation has the same inherent appeal to most of us, I think, as listening to music or dancing or creating with words. We are constantly bombarded by the visual, and there’s something satisfying about contributing to our visual world somehow, even if we prefer our creations never be seen by anyone except ourselves.

And for some people, of course, art is more. Whether through hard work, talent, passion, or some combination of those three things, many people are artists, creating art they want people to see, and hope to share with the world. I love those people, even if I will never be one. And the library loves those people too!

Which brings us to the library’s Teen Art Contest to decorate our teen room! We want teens to be the ones filling the walls of their own space, and we want to showcase the wonderful things that local teens are creating. Moreover, we want to celebrate any teen artist who enters. So in addition to selecting winners to be displayed in our Teen Scene, we will be hosting a reception in February to celebrate every artist and every piece that is submitted to our competition.

We have a whole page on our website dedicated to the rules and submissions, but here’s the quick and dirty of what you need to know:

  • We are accepting submissions through January 25, and we welcome any projects you created for school this semester!
  • The three winners will receive a $100 Dick Blick gift certificate, and the six runners up will each receive a $25 gift certificate.  All nine winners and runners up will have their work displayed in the Teen Scene.
  • Local artists and art teachers will be judging, so you won’t be at the mercy of my complete lack of artistic talent.
  • We will host an art reception on February 15 for everyone who enters the contest, because we’re pretty excited to show off everyone’s work.
  • We are super excited about this opportunity to celebrate creativity and creation, and get some fantastic artwork for our Teen Scene.

So celebrate art, and yourselves, and enter our Teen Art Contest ASAP!

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Teens Write – Study Tips

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 118 - ImageIt’s no secret that studying can be tiresome and boring, especially when there are other priorities during the week. But what if there was a way that you can make studying a little more appealing? Actually there are tips that will make studying more comfortable, fun, and quicker.

The first tip is using highlighters.  Yes, highlighters. Highlighters are the best tools given to students because highlighters can be so helpful. First of highlighters can be used to mark important words and vocabulary words. Also highlighters can be a good visual tool when you want to focus on one specific thing.

The second tip is being comfortable. How can someone study when they aren’t comfortable?  The times when you are going back and forth between different places, you can still be comfortable. You can listen to background music, wear comfortable clothes, drink coffee, light some candles, etc. As much as being comfortable can help, it can also be your worst enemy. You shouldn’t be comfortable to the point where you are falling asleep because that won’t get you any closer to finishing you work.

Tip number three is clear all of the distractions around you as much you can. Sometimes it’s hard when you’re around things you can’t control the sound of but try to get rid of as much distraction as you possibly can. Turn of the TV even if you think you can “double task.” Even though I said music can help you work, make sure once you pick your playlist you don’t keep checking your phone or changing the song because that will also distract you.

Tip number four is do not cram. I say it again, do not cram. Cramming all of the information in your head will not help you in the long term and make things so stressful. Make sure you give yourself an appropriate time to study but also make sure to give yourself enough time to rest.

This goes right into my fifth tip which is get enough rest. Sleepiness causes headaches and a lot of times not enough sleep can make it hard to focus. Sleep is so crucial in a student’s lives and many teens don’t get enough of it. Always try to get a good amount of sleep (7-10 hours) especially before a test.

The last tip is to give yourself 5-10 minute study breaks about every 40 minutes. We all need breaks when we are trying to absorb all this information. Either listen to music, have a snack, turn on the TV for a little bit, draw, journal, take a walk, etc.

Hopefully, using these tips can make studying just a little less boring!


Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Make Studying Slightly Less Awful

Teens Blog BannerWell, it’s been a lousy week.  Nasty cold weather.  And sure, no school, but with the start of finals still looming next week I doubt any of you have had a chance to relax and enjoy the time off.  On the plus side, you do get two more days to prepare for finals!

While you do all that preparation, in our constant effort to make studying not-terrible, the library is once again hosting Late Night Study on the nights before you take your finals!  You can come to the library on January 15, 20, and 21 from 5-10 to study together or alone, get fed, and use the library’s resources to help you rock your finals.  Or just to get a book or movie to help you forget about the horror – that’s up to you.

In case you’re still not convinced, we’re recycling last year’s list of great reasons to come to the library to study.  Maybe one of these will change your mind:

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We’ll feed you and caffeinate you!  We’ll provide pizza starting at around 5:30 until it’s gone, each night of studying.  We’ll have coffee and other hot drinks for the whole night.  Studying on an uncaffeinated brain and empty stomach is pretty much impossible, so we’ve got you covered.

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We have great study resources!  We have many of your textbooks available here so you don’t have to lug them, laptops so you don’t have to bring your own, plenty of distractions (mostly in book and internet form) for when you need a study break, and you can work with your friends or on your own, in a quiet environment.  It’s like we created this whole dang library just for studying.

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The library is all yours from 9-10 p.m.  Seriously – only library staff and high school students allowed.  You’ll have all the space in the world to spread out your books and sit with your friends, without any adults or kids taking up space.

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Good luck!

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Teens Write – Books to Movies

Teens Blog BannerLet’s face it. Winter break and the holidays have just ended and finals are coming scarily near; there is little to look forward to besides the cold. As first semester comes to a close, we deserve a reward for all our hard work. I personally want to lock myself in my room and marathon my favorite TV show or watch a couple of movies as a short respite.

Blog Entry 116 - Image 2Although typically “movies aren’t as good as the books,” it doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy them! When anyone reads a book they create their own vision of the story. How someone interprets and understands a book is completely unique to them. It is immersing in its own way. Yet a movie adaption of our favorite book is always welcomed. We can watch a story that was only in our heads jump into real life on the screen.

I always want to read a book before I watch a movie. Well, here is your chance! Even if you watched it already, read to see its origins.Blog Entry 116 - Image 1 Whether you want to read and watch classics such as the Lord of the Rings, some recent popular films such as The Hunger Games or The Fault in Our Stars, or even popular TV shows like Pretty Little Liars and the Vampire Diaries, we have the books as well as the DVDs in our collection. You can even get ahead of the game by checking out the books that currently are or are planned to be made into movies or TV shows, like Paper Towns. So before popping some popcorn and grabbing a movie, settle down with the book first. No matter how accurate the movie is, your imagination will have its own vision for you and only you.


Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Reading Resolutions

Teens Blog BannerHappy New Year!  It’s that time again – one year moves into the next, and many people make many resolutions, most of which will be abandoned by February.  But even if we never quite achieve our resolutions, the act of making them can still be worthwhile.  Taking the time to make resolutions can help us discover goals we didn’t even realize we had, or make us re-examine things we’ve taken for granted.  So when I started thinking about New Year’s resolutions, I naturally started thinking about books, because that’s what I do.  Which has led me to three “Reading Resolutions” for 2015, which I think can be adapted for just about any kind of reader!

Blog Entry 115 - Image 11.  Diversify my reading – this can take many different forms, really.  It just means stepping outside my comfort zone sometimes, or trying something totally new.  From checking out an author I’ve never tried to reading about someone totally different from me to simply remembering that there is a reading world outside of YA (something I have a tendency to forget!), I promise to frequently pick up books that seem like they will be different from anything I have read before.  That said…

Blog Entry 115 - Image 22. Don’t waste time on books I don’t like – there are far, far too many great books in this world for any one person to read.  There are far more books I want to read than I will ever get to.  So without the pressure of a class or a book club, why would I read something if I don’t like it?  I need to give books a fair chance, of course, but if I’m far enough in to feel confident I have a sense of the plot, tone, characterization, etc. of the book and I’m still not digging it? Then I promise I will put it down and move on!

Blog Entry 115 - Image 33. Make time to read – believe it or not, this is something I have struggled with recently.  Now, with a lengthy commute and a constant stream of library audiobooks, I’m actually reading quite a lot.  But, although I love them dearly, audiobooks are not quite the same as reading a print (or electronic) book.  For starters, I read faster on my own than audiobook narrators, so I can read more in the same amount of time if I’m reading myself.  And with audiobooks, I’m getting a narrator’s interpretation of voice and tone, rather than me own.  This is usually awesome, but it’s also good to let my imagination reign free.  And especially with the craziness of the holidays, it’s been hard to find time to just sit and read, and I miss it.  So in 2015, I promise to not only make time every single day to read (even if it’s just a few pages,) I also promise to every now and then carve out big chunks of time to binge-read and completely immerse myself in a book!

What are your resolutions, reading-related or otherwise? Did any of my resolutions strike a chord, or do you already do all these things?

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Teens Write – Holiday Study

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 114 - ImageAh! The holidays! I’ve always seen these two weeks of break as sort of a double edged sword. Yes of course, we now have eight extra hours of the day as well as no homework, but finals are also creeping up on us. So I thought it would be a good idea to share some tips on how to enjoy winter break while ensuring that you don’t tank those midterms.

1. Food. It’s probably my favorite thing in the world, so each finals season, my mom and I take a trip to the grocery store and fill up a cart just for my friends and I while we are studying. From Christmas cookies to candy canes, we always find food to keep us going through those long cram sessions.

2. Study with friends. Two heads are better than one and sometimes even three or four. In the past, I’ve gotten together with my friends almost every day over winter break. Of course half the time we spend isn’t studying, but it’s a good way to enjoy break while keeping up on schoolwork at the same time.

3. Go to the Library’s late night study sessions. On January 13-15 the library will be open late and serving free food just for those of us studying for finals. The library is conducive to studying, and offers the resources we need to be successful!

4. Study with family. If you have a big family like I do, you probably get together around the holidays. Between the seven older cousins of our family, two of which are in my grade, there are always people to help you and people for you to help. Every year, we kick everyone out of our family’s “conference room” that we have at the hotel, and spend an afternoon just studying together.

And don’t forget to take a break! We were given time off of school for a reason! If you are too stressed to enjoy your free time, try doing something somewhat educational such as watching season five of one of my favorite winter shows, Downton Abbey, or the educational Youtube videos from Crashcourse, made by the famous Youtubers Hank and John Green.  Happy studying!



Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Winter Reads Display

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 113 - ImageSometimes when it’s cold and snowy outside, it’s nice to read about someplace warm and sunny – a little escapism never hurt anyone.  But sometimes, when winter hits, there’s nothing better than drinking a hot drink and curling up with a book to experience all the snow and ice and holiday madness vicariously through someone else’s story.  Cold, wintry reads are what this month’s display is focused on – whether they take place in our modern world or a fantasy world, around the holidays or just at a time when it’s cold and snowy, these books will all keep us in the winter spirit.

If fantasy, dystopias, or other worlds that are not our own are your thing, you could pick up Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo to read about the frozen, Russia-like land of Ravka, or Relic by Heather Terrell to experience a possible future civilization excavating the ice in the Arctic.  Or maybe you like our world, but with a twist, and so the werewolves of Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater or the re-imagined Rapunzel of Towering by Alex Flinn should suit you.  Perhaps you like your books realistic, but taut, exciting, and thrilling.  If that’s the case, you might want to try Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick or The Vanishing Season by Jodi Lynn Anderson.  Of course, you could just opt to get into the holiday spirit with Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, or the Let It Snow collection of short stories edited by John Green.  All these and many more options are featured in this months “Great YA Winter Reads” display, newly located on the big book cube closest to the Teen Scene.  Come take a glance at what this display has to offer, choose the winter read that will appeal to you, and get huddled under that blanket ASAP!

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Teens Review – Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 112 - ImageReviewer: Sabrina

Title: Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio by Peg Kehret

Description: Ten years ago, in a riveting story of courage and hope, Peg Kehret wrote of the months she spent in a hospital when she was 12. The book deeply touched readers of all ages and received many awards and honors. This anniversary edition includes an updated and extended Epilogue, 12 pages of new photos, and a new section about polio. (Description from

Review: This a story about strength and hope. It is a story of optimism and desire. It is a story about taking small steps. The story is, Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio. Small Steps is a story that is told by Peg Kehret about herself, her struggles, and her achievements. It’s about her getting polio just before turning 13, and she tells the story from when she was in different hospitals. She talks about her recovery, deathly diagnosis, physical therapy, and painful symptoms. Her writing talks about how having polio caused her to miss out on a lot of milestones and events she had been dreaming about. Peg had three types of polio, bulbar, spinal, and respiratory; this meant she had to learn how to walk again and learn how and when to use the bathroom. She had to do daily painful exercises and have someone take her to the bathroom. Her time at all the hospitals led her to meet many friends and many of them were in worst conditions than she was in.

Even though polio is a rare problem in our time, I take the inspiration from this book and take it to real time problems. Problems like addiction, depression, cancer, or anything other issue. Peg’s willingness to try and not give up on herself inspired me to bring that willingness into other society issues. There’s a lot to learn from Peg and her experiences. I would have to say this book doesn’t look appealing at first but that is why you never judge a book by its cover. Readers will have a different way of learning from the book. This book is something different from our currents books. I loved it!


Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: December Watch List

teens-blog-bannerDo you ever find that at certain times of year, you feel the need to read or watch certain things?  There’s the obvious, of course – snowy books in the winter, warm weather books in the summer.  But sometimes it’s not as logical – sometimes our minds form some stranger associations.  For instance, I have somehow gotten into the habit of re-reading Jane Austen in early summer.  It’s reached the point where as soon as the weather starts getting warmer, I become Austen-obsessed.  And because every Lord of the Rings movie came out in December, I always feel the need to watch the whole trilogy in December (preferably accompanied by some hot tea or a hobbit-style feast.)  Perhaps due to the short days and long darknesses, or perhaps due to extra holiday free time, December is always a busy month for me in terms of things I simply must watch.  Some of it is holiday related, some of it decidedly not, but these are a few of the things that have been swimming around in my head since Thanksgiving.

Blog Entry 111 - Image 1How the Grinch Stole Christmas – Not the Jim Carrey live action version (though I actually enjoy that movie as well,) but the old-school, Boris Karloff-narrated animated Grinch.  With a running time of only 26 minutes, it’s easy to watch this many times over the holiday season (and I have.)  No matter how old I get, the simplicity of the story, the slapstick humor of poor Max trying to pull the sleigh, and the delightful thrill of hearing “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” never wears off.  When I watch this, I’m a kid again, enjoying the story of how the true spirit of the holidays got a mean old Grinch’s heart to grow three sizes.  The beauty of the story, the charm of Dr. Seuss’ wonderful words, and the nostalgia are always a winning combo.

Blog Entry 111 - Image 2Lord of the Rings – To be honest, I think any time is a good time for some LoTR.  But especially in December, all I want is hobbits and warriors and a good dose of the Shire.  Despite how many times I’ve seen these movies (my in-theater record is Return of the King with eight – just one shy of my goal of nine!) they never get old.  Frodo’s bravery, Sam’s loyalty, and Aragorn’s morality never fail to inspire.  Merry and Pippin’s friendship and humor never fail to light up a room.  And Gandalf’s long fall in Moria never fails to bring tears.  There is very little I prefer on a dark winter evening than immersing myself in Middle Earth, and bringing my own hobbit-y tendencies to the surface.

Blog Entry 111 - Image 3The Nutcracker – Really, any version of The Nutcracker will do.  I’ve seen friends perform in ballet school versions year after year.  I’ve seen the Joffrey perform in Chicago.  I’ve watched at least five different versions on TV over the years.  But my absolute favorite – the one I watch every year – is my DVD of the American Ballet Theater Nutracker from the 70s, featuring Gelsey Kirkland and the incomparable Mikhail Baryshnikov.  While I’ve outgrown my preschool days of imitating every step of Kirkland’s “Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy”, I still catch my breath every time I see Baryshnikov leap across the stage, and feel my heart swell every time the orchestra crescendos in the final pas de deux.  I learned long ago that I don’t have the patience or talent to dance ballet myself, but ever December I still enjoy immersing myself in the art.

Blog Entry 111 - Image 4Whatever the latest Disney/Pixar/Dreamworks masterpiece is – This is a holdover from the days when someone in the family, down to my youngest brother when I was a teenager, always got one of these fantastic animated movies for birthday or holiday gift.  At some point between Thanksgiving and New Years, at least one or two of these movies entered our household.  So did many others of course, but with a wide age range for the kids, we always had to stick with something appropriate for the youngest.  So Kung Fu Panda, Toy Story, The Emperor’s New Groove, and so on were always part of our holiday festivities.  So now it just doesn’t seem like December without at least one awesome animated movie to keep us all laughing and enjoying some family time together!

What are your favorite things to watch at this time of year?  Do you stick with holiday classics, or have some slightly less logical choices for your winter viewing?

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Teens Review – Shatter Me Series

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 110 - ImageLove triangles, superpowers, dystopia: three book themes that we teens can’t seem to get enough of, and the Shatter Me series by Tahereh Mafi has all of them.

As soon as I read the first pages of Shatter Me, I was addicted. The writing style, the characters, the story; I fell in love with them throughout the pages.

The Shatter Me series consists of three books: Shatter Me, Unravel Me, and Ignite Me. They tell the story of 17-year-old Juliette in a dystopian society where the world has been tarnished by global warming and a harsh dictatorship, the Reestablishment, has taken over. Juliette has spent almost a year in an “insane asylum”, placed there by her family when they find out that her touch is lethal. Society is afraid of her. Her family is afraid of her. And most heartbreaking of all, she is afraid of herself. Juliette goes on an adventure to try and save the world from the Reestablishment, and save herself along the way. She finds her heart torn over two very attractive boys. Adam, a soldier with a soft heart, and Warner the so-called “villain” whose heart is not made of ice like you may think. Juliette must learn to find the good in her touch and learn to use her powers before it is too late.

The story is adventurous, thrilling, and unique. It is a complete emotional rollercoaster, filled with ups and downs, tears and laughter. Not only that, but the writing style is unlike any other that I’ve read. The lines are poetic, they flow together making you feel like you are inside of Juliette’s mind. These lines here showcase that style,

I have a curse

I have a gift

I am a monster

I’m more than human

My touch is lethal

My touch is power

I am their weapon

I will fight back”

Many lines are crossed out in the book, bringing you deeper inside Juliette’s thinking and her fears. Mafi’s melodic writing makes you want to soak it all up at once.

My absolute favorite part of the Shatter Me series was the characters and their development, even the amazing minor characters. There is Kenji (my favorite character), Juliette’s best friend, whose sense of humor brings much needed comic relief. Even when it seems like the world is (literally) ending, he will make you laugh out loud. Adam’s sweet little brother, James, will always leave you with a goofy smile on your face as well.

There is also the phenomenal character development of Juliette’s love interests. In the first book, Warner will seem like a heartless, but intriguing, villain. The second and third books make you question that. What makes Warner who he is? What are the secrets of his broken past? In the first book, Adam will seem like and the only one for Juliette, but you will question that too. Does Adam really know Juliette? What are the secrets of his broken past? This is not your typical love triangle. Mafi pulls at your heartstrings and makes you fall for both boys even if you try not to.

Finally, there is the character development of Juliette. In the beginning, she is psychologically broken, she is afraid, she feels weak. As the series goes on you can see how she truly grows, becoming more confident and strong with each word. In Shatter Me, many lines are crossed out because Juliette is scared to say what is truly on her mind. In the next book, those lines decrease, and in the third book there are no lines crossed out. I felt this showed how Juliette has finally begun to accept herself as who she truly is. She is proud of every thought and ready to speak her mind, she becomes a strong leader before your eyes.

That’s why I recommend this series. Each book gets better and better. The ending of the trilogy in Ignite Me was flawless. Tahereh Mafi drew me in, made me fall in love with the characters, and had me hooked on the writing style. She will do the same for you too!


Posted in GEPL Teens