The Teen Scene: GEPL High School Blog

Meet Your New Librarian!

By: Josh O’Shea, Young Adult Librarian

Josh O'Shea, Young Adult Librarian This is my first post for the Teen Scene blog, and my first little essay as a Young Adult Librarian. There are few places where I talk about myself in general, in the spring newsletter, The Guide, on the Adult Department Meet the Staff page, and on the Ask Josh page.

But this is a place for me to talk about subjects all related to teen-ish-ness. It’s a place where I want you to comment on those things, too; just contact me at Much of this blog has been dedicated to book reviews, as the last YA Librarian read and reviewed veraciously. She set a model of literature experience that I envy. Her vision is one I have, too: the library is intended to be a safe space, where diversity and community are celebrated. We find relief when we escape on an adventure. We gather courage when we understand a subject better, or imagine ourselves in the footsteps of a heroine who triumphed over adversity. These stories — fiction and nonfiction — empower us.

I want to present experiences related to safety, comfort, otherness and fun. That means I’ll write a few book reviews, and feature guest authors. I want to hear from new people, too. Send me an email about something that’s important to you, something that excites you, something that concerns you. Send me a topic you’d like me to investigate; I’ll keep you anonymous. In fact, if you send something to me and want it posted, I’ll keep your name off it unless you otherwise say “say my name!” If you say “say my name,” you will be credited for your work using your first name and last initial.

I’m ready for an adventure in my new job position, and I want some input from you, my constituency. Here we go!

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

Best YA of 2016 On Display

By: Hannah Rapp

With another year gone by, many journals and awards have posted lists and chosen winners, trying to seek out the best books of 2016. Any judgment on a book is relative, but the journals and award committees this year have compiled some pretty amazing selections of great young adult books from 2016. The review journal Kirkus had a lengthy longlist for their “best of” selections, but Publisher’s Weekly and School Library Journal included some different titles on their shorter lists. The National Book Awards finalists also produced some great picks for the best of 2016, and we rounded out our display books with titles nominated for the Morris Award, which honors the best young adult debut novels of the year.

Like most of our displays, the Best of 2016 features a wide variety of books for any reading taste. History buffs will like Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee or the non-fiction graphic novel account March: Book 3 by John Lewis. For fantasy lovers, Leigh Bardugo’s Crooked Kingdom finishes the story begun in Six of Crows and Traci Chee offers up a fascinating new world in The ReaderIf you’re looking for a tug at your heartstrings, check out The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon or When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore. Some cheerier offerings can be found on 2016’s best of lists as well, like The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness or Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown. Whatever you’re in the mood for, find one of the best young adult books of 2016 outside the teen room this February.

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School


By: Saaniyah S., Teen Blogger

You will never regret being kind.“Guard well within yourself that treasure, kindness. Know how to give without hesitation, how to lose without regret, how to acquire without meanness.”
— George Sand

Without a doubt, an act of kindness may mean little to you, but could mean the world to someone else. I, for one, believe that kindness is among the most valuable human traits. It does not take much to do something as little as picking up a dropped item or complimenting someone on their appearance. You would never know that this could hold a big place in his or her heart.

In a world of terror, horror, and hurt, why not facilitate an act of empathy to others?  Be it helping your mother with the dishes, assisting your friends with planning a family get together, or even saying hi to your neighbors, with whom you may not have exchanged a greeting with in a while.

Why have kindness and goodness become so rare today? Well, start by looking at yourself. What is your definition of leaving behind a good mark? In my case, I like to spread an act of kindness wherever I go, even if it has me going out of my way. I understand that everyone around me may be fighting a hard battle that I know nothing about, and the one thing they long for is simply a true, kind smile.

It’s important for everyone to understand that yes, anger and hate are powerful, but in the end, kindness overpowers all. You may think that a little act of kindness may go unnoticed, but this is not true. What goes around, comes around. Your most important reward for showing goodness to the world is not praise, or anything of the sort. Rather, it is knowing and understanding that indeed, you have made a difference in someone else’s day, week, or even their life. That feeling of satisfaction knows no limitations, and you will always love yourself for it.

When you spread goodness on this earth of ours, you have just given everyone else the most precious gifts you can give, the beloved gift of kindness. So it all comes down to this: everyone has the capability of being kind. It is just so natural for humans to feel empathy for others. The trouble is, why don’t we show empathy more often? Why don’t we create the time and even the little required effort to do something good? This really shouldn’t be something we have to ask ourselves. Kindness should and must come automatically. It needs to be experienced by each and every one of us. For indeed, a little spark of kindness can put a colossal burst of sunshine into someone’s day.

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

Art Contest

By: Hannah Rapp

GEPL Teen Scene Art ContestThis year marks the third year in a row of GEPL’s Teen Art Contest! Whether you’re an artist, a friend of an artist, an art fan, or just into fun events and good food, listen up. You can get all the rules and details about the art contest on our website here, so today we’ll just focus on a few things you need to know.

1.) Last year’s winners have their work displayed in our teen room on the second floor, and this year’s winners will replace them in the spring. So hurry in now to see the awesome work your classmates and other local teens did last year, and check it out again this spring or summer to see the new winners.

2.) You can still submit a piece! We are accepting submissions through the end of January, so you still have time to go for it. If you submit, you’ll get a chance to show off your work at a reception, and if you are a winner or runner up, you’ll win a prize in addition to having your piece displayed.

3.) Anyone can come to the reception. If you are an artist, we’ll want your piece to display, and encourage you to invite your friends and family. But even if you aren’t, come to the library on Sunday, February 19, from 2-3:30 and you can see all the amazing work submitted this year, chat with the artists, and enjoy some tasty snacks.

The art contest and reception are perfect opportunities to show off your talent, enjoy some great art work, and beat the winter doldrums by getting out of the house and doing something fun. What else could you ask for?

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

Picking a College

By: Hafsa A., Teen Blogger

Road sign saying College Just Ahead.School. Not many people want to think about education especially when everyone is on vacation. But unfortunately, school is not going to get off anyone’s mind, especially for juniors and seniors who need to start thinking about which college they are going to. Finding the perfect college that will meet all your needs will be easier than you think because all you have to do is put the effort into finding one.

Since I am an incoming senior, I have chosen my colleges, my major, and my profession, but I still have to continue with writing college essays and getting recommendations. The tip I used to go through all the steps above was an app called Naviance recommended by my counselor. The program helps you decide which college you would want to go to, and would help you start creating applications. You just start by making a user and it shows you step by step from there.

Here are a few other tips and tricks to help you find a college that’s perfect for your needs.

Guide to a picking a perfect college:

First you will need to determine your specialty or what profession you would like. Choose a broad profession such as cosmetology, veterinary, or even medical assistance, one that is based on your skills and abilities.

Next, choose a college based on location. Consider if you want to go to colleges close by where you live, if you want to live in a dorm, or if you want to study abroad. By doing so it will narrow a variety of universities or colleges that will suit your needs.

After you choose the colleges by location, evaluate the top 5 colleges that would most likely be your choice depending on what your interests are. Evaluate, research, and look up what courses the college offers and how it will benefit you in the future.

As you are researching the costs of the colleges, make sure to look at the tuition costs. You also need to understand you family’s contribution to meeting these costs and also yours if you work.

After doing that, make sure you are confident in what major and profession you choose because that will be counted on the rest of your life. Then you are ready to start applying before the deadlines. Get help from experienced people who know how to write good college essays. Ask you counselor or even teachers for some recommendations.

Make a decision to apply earlier than the actual deadline or the day of the deadline. Soon enough you will not have to worry or stress about what college you are attending. Overall, while researching, look at the academic opportunities, see if there’s a financial benefit for you, and visit campuses.

Good luck!

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

Finals Are Over!

By: Hannah Rapp, Young Adult Librarian

You did it!  You made it through finals! If you’re a senior at West or South, you’ve made it through your last ever high school finals. Congratulations! You’ve probably been too busy studying for the last couple of weeks to think about anything else, so now that you’re done, we wanted to remind you of some things going on in library-land that you may have missed in your finals haze.

We’re having an art contest! Details here, and we’re accepting submissions through the end of the month.

We still have hot chocolate for you. Finals may be over, but starting next week, we’ll be back to our regular Tuesday and Thursday Homework Café, which means you can still get hot chocolate and coffee while you study.

We have some cool new toys. New toys like an Oculus Rift and a Play Station VR, which you can come use at our Virtual Reality Showcase on February 4.

We have a new teen librarian! By the time you read this, I will be officially done with my time as your teen librarian here at GEPL. But the good news is, we have a great new teen librarian starting ASAP. Keep your eyes out for Josh O’Shea next time you’re in the library, and have fun getting to know our awesome new young adult librarian.

In true Hannah fashion, I’d like to make my exit and reward your hard work with some of my favorite pictures I’ve posted over the last few years (shocker: they feature cute animals). Congratulations on finishing finals!

A cat, a pig, a rabbit, a duck and a chick sleeping together.
A dog hiding under covers.
A pile of sleeping dogs.
A white dog running in snow.
A piglet in red rain boots.
Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

Saying Goodbye

By: Hannah Rapp, Young Adult Librarian

Sometimes goodbye isn't the hardest word -- especially when the word you're trying to say is hippopotomonstrosesquipedalian.As a rule, I’m not adept at saying goodbye. I mean, sure, I can give my parents a hug before I leave, or fist bump my brothers when they’re heading back to their out of state homes. But when it comes to being real — for instance, saying things like “I’ll miss you” — I’m not so great. In fact, it’s only been in the last year or two that I’ve started telling my parents I love them at the end of a phone conversation. So please bear with me while I try to make a decent go at something I’m bad at.

Next week, I’ll be saying goodbye to GEPL and moving on to a new position. There are a lot of things to be excited about — I’ll have a whole new community to get to know and work with, I’ll have a shorter commute (but still long enough for audiobooks!) and I’ll be managing a whole department. But it’s also hard to be leaving Glen Ellyn. This is a truly special community, and getting to know all of you high school students and teens in particular has been the greatest joy of being here. Visiting your clubs, hosting programs for you, working with volunteers and my teen leadership council, and chatting with you at the desk is something I’ll miss the second I’m gone.

The good news is, I’m here next week — I’ll be serving pizza, petting the therapy dogs joining us for Late Night Study, and generally trying to make your finals experience the best it possibly can be. So when you come for the food, the hot chocolate, and the dogs, keep an eye out for me and see if you can do a better job than I can at saying goodbye.


Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

Speech and Debate

By: Saaniyah S., Teen Blogger

Joined speech and debate club, feel awesome..Efficient communication is the backbone of success in our society today. It lets us form connections, influence change, and express our ideas and viewpoints. Through sharing with others our thoughts on how to benefit the world around us, we truly make a footprint. The ability to cause change through words is an essential skill which can be honed and practiced, slowly making its way into efficiency and perfection.

In the fast-paced world we live in today, getting thoughts and ideas across as quickly as possible is necessary. Throughout school, it’s easy to get away with staying quiet in class and not having a great impact. In the working world however, it’s not quite that simple. Public speaking is a vital skill to acquire. It involves simple, everyday interactions between coworkers, bosses and employees, marketing professionals, etc., and it can have an enormous effect on your career path and your level of success in your industry.

In preparation for the future, it is imperative that teenagers start developing their speaking skills as soon as possible. My school, College Preparatory School of America, takes part in the Illinois High School Association Speech tournaments. Members of the school’s speech team are free to choose one of the many categories of speech these tournaments allow. Choices are made based on personality, which one can use to their advantage.

My category of specialization is Prose Reading, in which I find a piece of literature and convey it to the audience using vocal inflection and facial expression. I find this category quite fitting to my personality, as I am a person who enjoys thinking, and expressing my thoughts. While addressing the audience, I am able to be myself, helping me push away my fears of public speaking.

With all this being said, I encourage all teens, or people of any age, to try out a skill they dread — one they may think is not suitable for them, or one they find themselves feeling insecure doing. You never know what could be on the other side. Use my experience for example. My fears of public speaking haunted me before I made a run at trying out for the speech team. Now, with enough dedication and practice, I am able to tackle my hesitancy about conveying my thoughts to a crowd.

It’s imperative that every teenager should try a speaking-related activity. For as long as anyone can remember, it is youth that have been at the forefront of the battle lines, the brinks of changes, the birth of ideas. Who knows? One day, with the words you pick and choose to convey to the world, you could spark an enlightenment and inspire those who wish to come out of the shadows.

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

This Year’s Book Gifts

By: Hannah Rapp, Young Adult Librarian

It’s that time of year! Many of us are thinking about gifts, and as you may recall from previous holiday seasons, I am a big fan of giving books. I’ve already covered why books make great gifts, and some good choices for book-lovers in your life. This year, I thought I’d go a little more personal — here are some books I’m planning on giving to the book lovers in my life this year!

Check Out Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire SáenzTo my mom: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Aliré Saenz (audiobook)While I could think of a number of great books for my mom — Sorcerer to the Crown for the woman who introduced me to Jane Austen, X: A Novel for the person who taught me that learning history could be fun — I think the winner has to be Aristotle and Dante. Mom will love the lyrical language, and the sweet story of love and friendship at the heart of it. As a children’s librarian, this will give her a great, much-lauded book to recommend to older patrons who have outgrown kid’s books. Plus, the Hamilton fan in her will appreciate Lin-Manuel Miranda’s narration.

Check out Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi CoatesTo my dad: Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi CoatesWhile my dad certainly enjoys reading (hello, we’re related) he tends to read shorter books and non-fiction. Luckily, I’ve read a great, short, non-fiction work this year — Between the World and Me. This 2015 Alex Award book’s relevance to current events will only make my dad like it more, and I confidently predict he’ll be filing away some quotes thanks to the excellent writing.

Check out The Paper Bag Princess by Robert MunschTo my niece: The Paper Bag Princess by Robert MunschI don’t care if you’re practically an adult now, if you haven’t read this picture book classic, get thee to the library! While my niece (6 months old) is a little young to read this one yet, I can’t think of a book I’d rather give her. When I was a kid, Princess Elizabeth and her adventures taught me I could be happy without a prince and defeat the enemy with my own smarts, plus this book is probably responsible for my life-long love of dragons. I can only hope my niece appreciates it as half as much.

Check out Six of Crows by Leigh BardugoTo my youngest brother: Six of CrowsWhile all three of my brothers are readers, the one whose taste is closest to my own is my youngest brother. We’ve bonded over the immersive world-building, compelling characters, and exciting plots of a number of high fantasy books. I know he’ll appreciate all these aspects, as well as the fun of a heist and touches of humor, that make Six of Crows such a joy to read.

Check out Modern Romance by Aziz AnsariTo one BFF: Modern Romance by Aziz AnsariAziz Ansari’s book (print or audiobook) is sure to appeal to my Parks and Rec loving best friend. The research and numbers will appeal to her smart side, while the humor will hold her interest. And in the life of a busy grad student, a non-fiction book with no can’t-put-it-down plot is definitely better in terms of graduating on time!

Check out The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae CarsonTo my other BFF: The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson (audiobook)My busy lawyer best friend listens to a lot of audiobooks while she works, works out, and multitasks, so the excellent narration for this series will be a big plus. She’ll also love Elisa’s smarts and bravery, and revel in the political intrigue. Add in a swoony love interest, and I think this will be a big hit.

Check out Year Of Yes by Shonda RhimesTo everyone: Year Of Yes by Shonda RhimesYear of Yes was one of my favorite reads (and listens — I can’t recommend the audiobook enough) of 2016. I can’t think of anyone on my list who wouldn’t enjoy this book, whether for the humor, the inspiration, or the inside look at the life of a TV producer.

Are you giving any books this season? How do you pick the right book for the right person?

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

Oblivion by Sasha Dawn

By: Ally K., Teen Blogger

Oblivion by Sasha DawnLet me start by saying that this book was very well written. This psychological thriller was full of romance and mystery which kept me hooked after each page. As I uncovered the secrets of the main character, Callie’s, life, and her graphomania (an impulse to write), I found myself more and more invested in the story. Oblivion messed with my mind and constantly kept me on the edge of my seat.

One thing that I loved was how Dawn portrayed the relationships in the book as flawed but real. She did not glorify love, but made it messy, which drew me in as something different than most novels that I have read.  Not only were the relationships flawed, but so were the people. I loved how every character had their dark side and I especially loved going deeper into the mind of every character, darkness and all. Dawn left no character perfect but kept everyone imperfect and real, which contributed to the authenticity of each character’s personality.

Sasha Dawn’s writing style was different in the sense that it was jumpy, repetitive, and vague at times. There were points in the story where I would have to go back and re-read in order to make sense of what had just happened, and although her style takes some getting used to, I think that it matches the story very well. The writing style added to the intricacy of Callie’s damaged mind and allowed me to delve deep into her thoughts in order to better understand her character. One thing that I particularly liked about the story is how Callie’s graphomania is used to enhance and unfurl the mystery of the story. It was different and original which is one of the main draw points to the story.

All in all, I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes a unique mysteries and messy love triangles.  Oblivion has definitely achieved the title of one of my favorite books.


Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School