GEPL Teens Blog

GEPL Teens: Adaptions

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By: Hannah Rapp, Teen Librarian

I recently heard about an exciting series of books, all written by different (often famous and high-profile) authors, that will all be retellings of Shakespeare plays. My first experience with Shakespeare (that I remember) was in a kid’s book featuring a bunch of Shakespeare plays in story form. Now, these were (mostly) true to the plays, just with simplified language and some streamlining to make them accessible. But ever since then, I’ve had a deep affection for retellings. Whether it’s a new version of an old myth, a modernized version of a classic novel, or the always-popular book based on a fairy tale, I inhale stories like this. Somehow, the shared language of whatever the myth/classic/fairy tale is makes reading an adaptation almost like having a conversation with an author, because you can see where their interpretation of the source material lined up with yours, or where their ideas and analysis of the original is different from your own.

Because of this, as well as the fun of seeing something familiar go in a new direction, I’ve read a lot of adaptations. But also because there are three layers of personal preferences at play when talking about an adaptation – preferences about the actual book/writing, preferences about the source material, and preferences about how the source material was re-imagined – liking or disliking an adaptation is a hugely personal thing. So rather than sharing “great adaptations” with you all and risking some righteous anger, I’m going to share some of my own personal favorite adaptations. Most of these come from source material that I’m fond of, and I find each of these an entertaining, astute, and enjoyable version of an already beloved original. There are tons more, of course, but these are some of my favorites!

10 Things I Hate About You Movie Poster 10 Things I Hate About You – Since it was reading about Shakespeare retellings that inspired this list, it seems appropriate to start with a version of a Shakespeare play. 10 Things has the fun and humor of The Taming of the Shrew, deals well with some of the more problematic aspects, and has an all-star cast of incredible actors. What’s not to love?

Across A Star Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund Book Cover Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund – This is the only item on this list where I read the adaptation first, and loved it so much I read the source material. This book is a futuristic fantasy-like version of The Scarlet Pimpernel, and features the politics as well as the fun of the source material, plus incredible world-building and some seriously cool imagery.

Ash by Malinda Lo Book Cover Ash by Malinda Lo – This is a cool, atmospheric, almost creepy version of Cinderella. Malinda Lo manages to make this old (like seriously, REALLY OLD) fairy tale seem modern, but without sacrificing the magic or the fairy tale feel.

Clueless DVD Cover Clueless Emma is my favorite Jane Austen novel, and Jane Austen is one of my favorite authors. So I’m pretty critical of adaptations and retellings of her work, and to this day, Clueless is my favorite modern version of an Austen novel I’ve ever read or seen. Cher just embodies Emma’s best qualities (her kindness, her devotion to her father, her fun and charm) as well as her worst (her selfishness, her conceitedness, her spoiled-ness), and Clueless retains the humor as well as the character development of its original. I love it.

Mack the Knife performed by Bobby Darrin – This song is a classic, an incredibly appealing example of some of the best of 50s music. The lyrics and music capture the smarmy, dangerous Mack the Knife (from The Threepenny Opera) perfectly, and Bobby Darrin’s entrancingly smooth voice brings the highwayman to life.

The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler Book Cover The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler – This recently published book brings The Little Mermaid into modern times, complete with the loss of her voice and large family of sisters. Simultaneously true to the source material and its own unique story, The Summer of Chasing Mermaids takes the emphasis away from a mermaid pining after a lost love, and instead focuses on a character trying to find herself, and her voice, in a whole new world.

Who Wrote Holden Caulfield by Green Day – Yes, even snot-nosed punk kids (snot-nosed punk kids that I love, for the record) can create some great literary adaptations. From their pre-fame album Kerplunk, Who Wrote Holden Caulfield gets at why so many teenagers empathize with Holden in The Catcher in the Rye. I think all of us have at some point felt like the Holden Green Day writes about when they say “There’s a boy who fogs his world and now he’s getting lazy/There’s no motivation and frustration makes him crazy/He makes a plan to take a stand but always ends up sitting/Someone help him up or he is gonna end up quitting.”

Those are just some of my favorite retellings and modernizations of classics, fairy tales, and more. What are some of yours?

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GEPL Teens: Readers Are Forcing Bad Books

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By: Maia G., Teen Blogger

The Diviners by Libba Bray Book CoverOne of my favorite authors, Libba Bray, who wrote the books The Diviners, Beauty Queens, Going Bovine, and the Gemma Doyle Trilogy, recently finished her new book, Lair of Dreams (the second book in The Diviners series). I know, you have absolutely no idea what the heck The Diviners is. Before I go on with the rest of this blog entry, I recommend this book to anyone who loves fantasy, romance, mystery, murder, or basically anything else for that matter. I recommend this to everyone!

Going on, her book is coming out this August! Most people who have read any of her books know how great of an author she is. Every one of the fans of The Diviners has been anxiously awaiting the release of this (hopefully) fantastic book. A LOT of people have been emailing her with questions that ask when this book is coming out, pressuring her to write faster. What most people don’t know is Libba Bray has depression. As all those emails flooded her inbox, according to Libba Bray, she wanted to say “I’m sorry that I haven’t returned your email but you can see the huge hole in the center of me, and I’m afraid it has made such dialogue impossible” (Libba Bray’s blog entry- Miles and Miles of No-Man’s Land). So, she finished her book with intense depression, but the release date was pushed back so far, over a year, because of her depression, and close to no one even noticed or maybe even cared why the date was pushed back so far.

Moving to more brought up book series, many people think the Divergent, Hunger Games, Maze Runner, Twilight, and Harry Potter series (to name a few)had pretty bad endings compared to the rest of the series. Is it just me, or is there a pattern of bad book series endings? These extremely popular authors almost certainly had their share of harmful, pressuring emails about the release date of their most recent books. Authors are pressured into writing faster, no matter the circumstance, and I believe that is why the most recent books that are part of a series are considered “bad” and “rushed”. Fan boy and girls are pressuring authors to write their books at a fast pace, and once the books finally come out, they shoot the authors’ books down because they’re rushed. Of course they’re going to be rushed! They’re basically being forced to abandon every plan they had for their books, and they need to end them with a fast-paced, cut-off ending.

It sounds like I’m writing an essay, but there is a solution! Stop pressuring authors to finish their books earlier than they want to!!!!!! I know, it’s super hard to wait for a book to come out. I keep checking the days off the calendar, anxiously counting down until the day my hopefully (crossing my fingers!!) new favorite book comes out. But honestly, would you want your favorite character to be killed off because the author was pressured into writing an alternate ending? It’s hard to believe, but the longer you wait, the greater chance the book you so desperately need is going to be AMAZING!!

 

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GEPL Teens: Last Minute Halloween Costumes

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By: Hannah Rapp, Teen Librarian

Halloween is tomorrow, and if you’re a chronic procrastinator/non-crafty person like me, you may not have a costume yet. That’s okay! There are plenty of costumes that can be whipped up at the last minute, and we’re here to help with some ideas. If you’re still struggling for a Halloween costume, try one of these easy, book-ish ideas:

Take a large white sheet and cut out eye holes for a traditional ghost costume. Using a sharpie, write “Lily Potter” or “James Potter” on the front.

A Kid Wearing a Halloween Ghost Costume

Get the largest paper bag (or two) you can find. Cut out armholes, and wear it like a dress. Make a crown out of yellow construction paper. You are now the Paperbag Princess (and if you haven’t read the book, revert to being a kid again and check it out ASAP!)

Paperbag Princess

Put a red “A” onto literally any item of clothing and go as Olive from Easy A (this totally counts as literary because it’s based on a book.) Or just use a giant red A and go as “The Scarlet Letter!”

Red Letter A

Use a giant towel as a toga, go as a house elf (Harry Potter is just full of easy costume ideas!)

Towel Toga Drawing

Get a “Hello, my name is…” nametag. Write “Ishmael.” Introduce yourself by saying “call me Ishmael.”

Hello My Name Is Ishmael Name Tag

Draw a Camp Half-Blood logo on an orange t-shirt, enjoy being a demi-god.

Camp Half-Blood Logo On Orange TSshirt

Dress like an awesome person, carry a book or ten around with you, and be a librarian!

Picture of Rupert Giles from Buffy The Vampire Slayer TV Show

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GEPL Teens: Before I Fall Review

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By: Andrea G., Teen Blogger

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver Book CoverBefore I Fall is a book I’d easily recommend to everyone, even though it might seem girly. The lessons this book taught made me sit and think about life after finishing it. This book deals with extremely pertinent issues such as: sacrifice, love, suicide, acceptance, high school popularity, and self-identity. Despite the fact that some of the lessons may seem cliché, like not caring about what others think, the way these themes are illustrated makes Before I Fall a book that’s impossible to put down.

The book is written from the viewpoint of Samantha Kingston, a seemingly perfect, popular high school senior. It begins on her school’s “Cupid’s Day,” a day she looks forward to every year. In the morning, her biggest concern is how many “Valograms” (roses with notes attached to them) she will get that day. She rules over the school, carelessly bullying others. Her favorite target is a girl named Juliet Skyes, a girl she’s been teasing since the 6th grade. After school she ends up at a house party where her horribly shallow personality shows through. At the party, Juliet Skyes confronts her and finally stands up for herself. However, with Samantha’s powerful reign on the school, she gets everyone to pour beer all over her and start chanting “psycho”. On Samantha’s and her friend’s way home from the party, something crashes into them and Samantha abruptly dies. But then she awakes to the exact same scene she woke up to the day before. This book has a kind of Groundhog Day vibe, every day Samantha wakes up reliving the last day of her life. Each time she wakes up she has another day, and another chance to change her fate.

Throughout the story, Samantha grows as a person and her mindset starts to change. On the second day, she survives past 12:39am (the time the car crash occurred). However, her mom comes in and tells her Juliet Skyes has killed herself. Samantha then understands that her actions definitely affected Juliet’s suicide. Knowing this, she starts the next day trying to find a way to save both of their lives. As she continuously keeps repeating this day, she becomes aware of the value of love and the importance of accepting others. Samantha grows to reevaluate her old morals and learns what her life’s purpose is.

I love this book because it pursues the question of what the meaning of life is. Although it’s obviously too big of a question for one book to solve, it really made me reflect on what the pinnacles a fulfilled life should be based upon. Before I Fall taught me that life is about sacrifices. It’s not always easy to make sacrifices to benefit others, especially in Samantha’s case where it’s a life or death situation, but it’s necessary. Although Samantha had to learn these lessons in a completely undesirable situation, it doesn’t mean the rest of us have to.

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GEPL Teens: What I Just Read – Carry On

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By: Hannah Rapp, Teen Librarian

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell Book CoverIf you’ve been reading this blog for a while, or talked to me about books at all, you’ll know I’m a huge fan of Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. So when I heard she was coming out with Carry On, a fictional book based on the fanfiction written by Fangirl’s main character Cath (complicated enough for you?) I was thrilled. Luckily for me, Rainbow Rowell never disappoints!

What I Just Read: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

What’s It About (Jacket Description): Rainbow Rowell continues to break boundaries with Carry On, an epic fantasy following the triumphs and heartaches of Simon and Baz from her beloved bestseller Fangirl.

Simon Snow just wants to relax and savor his last year at the Watford School of Magicks, but no one will let him. His girlfriend broke up with him, his best friend is a pest, and his mentor keeps trying to hide him away in the mountains where maybe he’ll be safe. Simon can’t even enjoy the fact that his roommate and longtime nemesis is missing, because he can’t stop worrying about the evil git. Plus there are ghosts. And vampires. And actual evil things trying to shut Simon down. When you’re the most powerful magician the world has ever known, you never get to relax and savor anything.

Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, a mystery and a melodrama. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story — but far, far more monsters.

Do I Like It: As far as I’m concerned, everything Rainbow Rowell writes is wonderful!

Thoughts: If you’ve read Rainbow Rowell, and especially if you’ve read Fangirl, I’m not sure how much I can say that you don’t already know. Like every Rowell book, Carry On has remarkably well-realized characters, beautiful relationships between them, and conflicts that matter as much because of character as plot. Like the description says, there’s plenty of talking and kissing – plus monsters!

But there are two things that particularly struck me, despite being a Rowell aficionado. The first is how much Carry On, especially at the beginning, is somehow both a love letter to Hogwarts and a more modern, realistic take on the magical boarding school. I love the Harry Potter books and Hogwarts dearly, so it was wonderful to read something so clearly influenced positively by the books and (fictional) place I love so much. But Carry On is so much more realistic and less fantastical than the Harry Potter books, despite the magic, that it made sense for Watford to also have laptops, soccer, and significantly more cursing than Harry Potter. The balance between homage, modernization, and originality was just perfect.

The other thing that I wasn’t expecting but that absolutely blew me away was the friendship between Simon and his best friend, Penelope. It’s clear pretty much from the first pages that Penelope is the most important person in the world to Simon, even above his girlfriend, and that their friendship is strictly platonic. There are so few books that feature real, deep, friendships between men and women, without any hint of romantic tension, that just the existence of it was wonderful. And the dynamic between Penelope and Simon was the best – absolute love and devotion, but also a friendship that encompasses Penny’s complete acknowledgement of Simon’s faults, and Simon’s characteristic blindness to Penny’s faults because she is his favorite person. I’m always a sucker for good friendship stories, and Carry On’s central friendship is one of the best.

I could rave forever about Carry On, but I’ll close with this: if you’re a Harry Potter fan, this is a must-read. If you’re a Rainbow Rowell fan, this is a must-read. And if you’re not a Rainbow Rowell fan yet, Carry On is a great place to find out what you’ve been missing!

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GEPL Teens: The DUFF Movie Review

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By: Alison O., Teen Blogger

The DUFF Movie PosterI recently saw the movie The DUFF for the first time and I thought the movie was a truly funny and feel-good movie.  The movie is about a high school girl named Bianca who is friends with the two most popular girls in the school.  She struggles with self-esteem issues and finding her place amongst her two best friends, who always seem to effortlessly get the guys that Bianca desperately wants.  Bianca is offended when she discovers that she has been considered by her whole school the DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) to her prettier best friends.  She turns to her neighbor who also attends her school, Wesley, to help her reinvent herself and clear her label for good.  With a little romance and lots of laughs, this movie is one to remember!

My favorite aspect of the movie was that it was very light hearted, although it was dealing with heavy topics such as self-esteem, I felt there was still good additions of comedy throughout.  I also enjoyed seeing Bianca and Wesley’s relationship unfold throughout the movie because it was very endearing that a popular jock like Wesley would genuinely care about Bianca.  I felt that the movie was overall very relatable to teens because in the beginning and throughout the movie, they referenced many familiar social media websites such as Instagram and Facebook.  I thought this added a fun detail to the movie to really give it a high school vibe, appropriate since the characters were all in high school.

If I could improve something from the movie, it would be the lack of originality.  At times, especially at the end, I feel like the movie was very predictable and failed to stray from the mainstream plots regarding the romance and comedy aspects in the movie.  Although I was not personally bothered by this, I feel that some others might find it annoying and I could understand their perspective.  If you’re looking for a more original movie, possibly The DUFF isn’t the right fit for you.  On the other hand, The DUFF is a very dependable movie if you want to be guaranteed a good time and a heartfelt ending.

Overall I thought the movie was very light and a true feel-good comedy that is relatable to teens especially. I really enjoyed it!

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GEPL Teens: What I Just Read – Everything Everything

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By: Hannah Rapp, Teen Librarian

Everything Everythig by Nicola Yoon Book CoverI usually try to read books that get a lot of buzz – in my job, if teens are reading and talking about it, I should probably know about it! This has mixed results for me personally. Sometimes I end up loving a book even more than the hype led me to believe (see The Hunger Games) and sometimes I’m a little disappointed (not going to name names here, but you know the feeling.) But sometimes, a book exactly lives up to the hype – which usually makes for a great read!

What I’m Reading Now: Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

What’s It About (Jacket Description): My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.

Do I Like It: Obviously – see the above about living up to the hype!

Thoughts: I feel like Everything, Everything has been everywhere, everywhere lately, so I was excited to get a chance to read it. After all the raving from reviewers and teens, I was actually…bracing myself for disappointment. Luckily, I was disappointed in my disappointment! Everything, Everything was as lovely, as compulsively readable, and as romantic as I had been led to believe. Its few minor flaws were ones that, even amidst the hype, I’d been warned about, so they didn’t detract from my joy in the book. I read this one really fast, finishing the last third in one night, so it definitely lived up to the readability ratings! And best of all, it rang true to me – Madeline, Olly, Madeline’s mom and her nurse Carla, and even the smaller side characters like Olly’s sister Kara and friend Zach.

In a book with so many in-world restrictions on who Madeline can meet, it was important for the major characters to feel real, and have real and interesting relationships with each other. Olly and Madeline’s romance seemed natural. Less attention was paid to how it developed than what the repercussions of the romance were for Madeline, Olly, and everyone around them, but it was still important to me that their relationship seemed true and worth the angst – and it did. I also liked Madeline’s relationships with her mom and her nurse, Carla. Despite the fact that they are authority figures, they are also her best (and really, only) friends in her isolated, decontaminated world. They both clearly love her, and she clearly knows that and reciprocates, even when she does rebel against them or chafe against the safety measures put in place around her.

And of course, it would be hard to appreciate all of Madeline’s relationships without appreciating Madeline herself. She is optimistic without being too sugary sweet, well-read (which makes sense) but with other interests to flesh her out as well. She’s loving, loyal, and caring, as well as being curious, creative, and witty. Her glowing personality – even when she’s not making the best decisions – is definitely what holds this book together.

Everything, Everything is as sparkling as Madeline herself, with an emotional depth and compulsive readability that make it hard to put down. This is Nicola Yoon’s first novel, and based on Everything, Everything, I have no doubt she has a long and amazing writing career ahead of her – and I can’t wait to see what she writes next!

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GEPL Teens: Learning a New Language

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By: Britta J., Teen Blogger

Picture of Disgruntled Cat With: Language Learning? Nein, Niet, Non Nej, Nee, Nie, Nei, Nao, Na, Ne, Ni, Nu...No!Verbal communication is the most prevalent form of communication in our civilization and yet we are somewhat prevented from communicating with a majority of the world due to language barriers.

This is why so many schools offer classes to learn different languages in order to better connect our society and better understand different cultures. I actually am learning both Spanish and German to prepare myself for the increasingly globalized world. As I prepared for a summer trip to Germany, I reviewed the language basics and thought I could share some tips for anyone who wants to become bilingual:

  1. Don’t Worry About Making Mistakes
    You will make them, but don’t worry. The more you speak, the less mistakes you will make, and most natives are very understanding and helpful.
  2. Immerse Yourself In The Language
    Try finding books, movies, or magazines that use the language you are trying to learn. I personally listen to speeches or audio books when I’m trying to fall asleep just to get more exposure to the language.
  3. Find Situations To Apply What You Know
    Whether it’s Skyping with cousins or finding a penpal, look to write, listen, and especially speak the new language. This is what helps the most when trying to transfer the rote memorization from language classes to being able speak fluently.
  4. Don’t Try To Memorize All The Vocabulary Of The Language
    Studies have shown that the most common 100 words in any language account for 50% of all spoken communication. You do not need to know every word in a new language. You don’t even know every word in the English language. It turns out, that there are a lot of very similar words in all languages that are called cognates, which you already know!
  5. Find A Good Reason To Learn The Language
    Don’t try to learn a language because you were told to. That will just waste your time and money. It could be for a job, for vacation, or to better understand friends and family, but it is important to be motivated and dedicated to successfully learn another language.

Knowing another language can be an extremely big advantage throughout your life. Although it does take effort, there are resources such as Duolingo that can help you learn quickly. It doesn’t matter what age you are, you can always learn. I have been speaking German since Kindergarten, and I am still learning new things that help me learn not only other languages, but help me understand English grammar as well. Just get started, and with time, it will come easily. Good Luck!

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GEPL Teens: On Fanfiction

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By: Hannah Rapp, Teen Librarian

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell Book CoverAs you probably know, especially if you are in any way a fan of Rainbow Rowell (or possibly Harry Potter,) Rowell’s newest novel, Carry On, came out this week – and yes, I pre-ordered it for myself and the library! If you’ve read Fangirl or know much about Carry On, you’ll know that both of them are intimately connected with the world of fanfiction. Between that and several high-profile authors who started as fanfiction writers, or even published books that started as fanfiction, it’s certainly a phenomenon people are paying more and more attention to. But knowing about something and understanding or appreciating it are different things. Fanfiction is a unique experience for everyone, but as a former avid fanfiction reader and sometimes fanfiction writer, I wanted to explore what – to me – makes fanfiction so popular, so enduring, and so wonderful.

When I first started reading and writing fanfiction, it was centered around a series of books that I loved. Loved. I lived, breathed, and dreamed these books. Ever since I was a kid, I had always daydreamed about being able to magically find my way into another world, and never as much as with this world, once I discovered it. And when I discovered fanfiction (and co-writing it!) I almost could find my way there. It was the closest I could ever get to actually being in a fantasy world – immersing myself in the world through my writing. I didn’t even read or write about the characters from the books, not in this fandom anyways. The characters, stories, and plots were my own or other writers’, but the world, with its fantasy creatures, complex cultures, and unique dangers and wonders – the world was the one I had always dreamed of inhabiting, and that I loved to exist in, even if only through writing. Even when I expanded to reading and writing about actual characters from other books, as well as their world, it was always that chance to exist in a world I loved that drew me back to fanfiction. As Cath says in Fangirl:

“The whole point of fanfiction is that you get to play inside somebody else’s universe. Rewrite the rules. Or bend them. The story doesn’t have to end. You can stay in this world, this world you love, as long as you want, as long as you keep thinking of new stories.”

Fanfiction can be magical in that way. But it’s not just about me and my experience, of course.

Keep Calm and Write FanfictionDifferent people have different reasons for reading or writing fanfiction. Some want to see familiar characters in new situations, some want to experiment with mixing worlds and characters, some just want a story to keep going. Fanfiction can also offer a lot for writers. A chance to play with plot, dialogue, and character without having to worry about world-building can help develop those skills. Playing with an already-existing world can even help writers learn how to world-build well when they need to do it on their own. Whatever the reason readers and writers love it, fanfiction is here to stay, and completely reasonably adored by many people all over the world. If you’ve never given fanfiction a chance, consider logging on to Fanfiction.net or Wattpad and checking out some of the best fanfiction about your favorite book or movie. And if you’re a fanfiction reader or writer, be proud – you’re participating in what is and will continue to be a long and increasingly honorable tradition!

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GEPL Teens: Year-Round School Take 3

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By: Matt J., Teen Blogger

Pie Chart Showing Terms and Breaks for Year Round and Traditional School YearsYear round schools are going to be my topic this week. What I know about it is that it is self-explanatory. If you don’t understand, they are schools that last all year without having summer vacation in between. They run for about 12 weeks, then take a one week break. They started in urban areas. They had 48 school sessions for weeks at a time. In 1971, a survey predicted that there would be more than 200 year round schools in 15 years, though it hasn’t quite happened yet. Students who attend year round schools succeed more than the ones in a traditional school, meaning they are working harder without a long break.

Now for my thoughts on year round schools, I don’t think it is a good idea for people like me. I do like to have the whole summer off. The kids at year round schools get the entire month of August off but I would like a longer break than that. Also I think kids might get sleep deprivation or might get stressed out from doing so much work in very little time to get it done. They also need a nice long break from doing so much work that they’ve been doing for most of the year. I like to enjoy my freedom during the summer but these kids get a shorter break than we do. For these reasons, I am against year round schools.

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