GEPL Teens Blog

GEPL Teens: Teens Write – What Makes a “Good” Reading List?

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Nearly every library runs summer reading programs and creates summer reading lists. Some libraries do this to maintain business when school isn’t in session. Others
compile lists to combat the loss of knowledge kids experience over the summer. Still others just want people to read! Whatever the reason, patrons expect a “good” list of Blog Entry 83 - Image 1literature. Of course, this begs the question:  what makes a book list “good”? Is it a quality inherent in the pieces chosen? Is it the wide variety suggested? Is a good list one that simply encourages reading? Teaches life lessons? Is it thought-provoking? Are the books classics? New books? I could go on, but the bottom line is that people not only have expectations but those ideals are all different. Personally, my idea of a reading list is one that has a lot of different books that are fun, challenging, and thought-provoking. Some might agree, but others want books that help pass the time or that reflect either their daily lives or what they want out of life. I’d venture to say that most like a mix between the two I outlined. So how should a library go about making this perfect summer reading list? Well, this has been a subject of hot debate surrounding the New York Public Library summer reading challenge.

An opinion piece written for the New York Post attacks Blog Entry 83 - Image 2the NYPL list, calling it silly and pathetic. The article claims that it is full of “fluff” books that don’t delve into real issues. Every piece is cookie-cutter and immature.  Angrily, the article points out that the list lacks any classic stories that move people and teach them about good literature. Everything is recent, and they show that the NYPL is desperately trying to feed kids any books, not bothering to go beyond limits of mean girls and high school drama. Somewhat controversially, the article also argues that the list is ridiculously politically correct, trying too hard to please people of every ethnicity.

On the other side of the argument, an article on Book Riot defends the NYPL, saying that the books are relatable to teen audiences. It also states that the idea of timeless literature is debatable; a book written recently could prove to be classic in its own right, and it’s a lot more relatable than old books. The Book Riot article also argues that the depth of literature is not important because the libraries who made the list simply want to encourage any reading that will stop kids from forgetting school material over the summer. Additionally, the article points out that YA literature tends to lack diversity, so the NYPL’s suggestions are warranted and helpful. Both articles have strong stands and support their claims, so who’s right?

Blog Entry 83 - Image 3As with every debate, there are two sides, and rarely is one entirely correct. The Post article makes a good point: the NYPL list lacks challenging books that sophisticatedly present mature themes. In my opinion, it is a pretty lame list. However, they are books that teens want to read. I’ve never met someone whose interest isn’t piqued by a bit of drama. Furthermore, why attack ethnic diversity in literature? Just because it’s more PC to represent cultural books doesn’t mean it’s bad.

However, these faults in the NY Post article don’t make the Book Riot post right either. It does defend the book choices fairly, stating that they’re books that encourage any and all reading for everyone, but most of this article attacks the NY Post article rather than defending the book list. It picks apart every NY Post point rather than forming a coherent argument for the NYPL.

Therefore, neither editorial clarifies the issue fairly, so it’s up to teen readers to decide whether or not the NYPL summer reading list is “good”.


Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: What I Just Read – We Were Liars

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 82 - ImageHave you ever seen that movie or read that book that everyone was talking about, but nobody would actually say anything about?  I’m talking about books and movies with A Twist.  All you know is that there’s a twist coming, but nobody will say much because they don’t want to spoil it.  And then you read it, and despite knowing it’s coming, you’re still totally shocked by The Twist.  Well, I just read that book.

What I Just Read: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

What’s It About (Jacket Description): A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.

Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

Did I Like It: I thought this was a really fantastic book, and it had an intense emotional and mental effect on me.  But I’m not sure that “liked” is exactly the right word, since it also kind of destroyed me.

Thoughts: I really didn’t know what to expect going into this.  Initially, I avoided We Were Liars because I wasn’t sure how I felt about a private island full of over-privileged people.  But I kept hearing how great the book was, how it had this big twist, and since nobody was saying much beyond that, I got super curious.  So naturally, I spent most of the book trying to figure out the twist.  Wondering what it could be, what secrets the narrator Cadence’s faulty memory and migraines were hiding, what it was that nobody else in the book would talk about.

I did not figure it out.

I know some readers have, and I don’t know if that would have made a difference in how I felt about the book, but I had no idea what was coming.  Which made the big reveal impact me just that much more.  The best words I can come up with for it are “gut punch.”  Apparently when I got to that part of the book, my jaw literally dropped.  There was definitely an extreme emotional response.  This book, and this twist, definitely got to me in a big sort of way.

So that’s the twist.  But there is a little more to say about this book than that!  The characters are, yes, over-privileged and on a private island.  But all of them, especially the Liars, still manage to be interesting and complex.  The writing and story itself has almost a fairy tale quality, though a very dark fairy tale, and echoes of King Lear abound.  The fairy tale and King Lear qualities are helped along by the snippets of retellings that Cadence intersperses with her narration.  It lends everything an almost mythic quality, and keeps the mystery and tension from getting overwhelming, while still enhancing the story.  I don’t want to say more for fear of the dreaded spoiler, but I’ll finish with this: We Were Liars got under my skin in a very big way – and that’s not something I can say about every book I read.

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Teens Write – Fantasy Series Display

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 81 - ImageAs we near the end of August, that can mean only one thing: it’s time to go back to school. Most of us want to leave the world of school, continue sleeping till noon and watching season marathons on Netflix. Unfortunately, that probably will not happen, and instead we can leave the world of school by taking a trip to the worlds of werewolves, vampires, demons, and magic. These fantasy book series will give you hours and hours in these magical worlds, dragging you into dangerous quests, dark secrets, and true love.

So whether you like action and adventure, romance, mysteries, or something else entirely, fantasy has something for everyone. Vampire fans should check out Twilight by Stephenie Meyer or The Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead. Those more interested in human and wolf hybrids, aka werewolves, should check out Grace and Sam’s heartwarming relationship in Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater. If dragons are your thing, you might like Seraphina by Rachel Hartman or Firelight by Sophie Jordan.  And magic is everywhere in books like Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins and Witch Eyes by Scott Tracey. No matter what you’re interested in, come into the teen scene and meet some werewolves and witches, within books of course!


Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: “Guilty Pleasures”

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 80 - Image 1We’ve all done it.  Mumbled something about what we’ve been reading or watching while carefully looking down and away from the person we’re talking to.  Explained hurriedly that we know it’s silly, but it’s a guilty pleasure, a way to turn our brain off.  And admittedly, there’s plenty of things out there that a lot of people enjoy because they’re dumb, because they’re silly, because they don’t require a lot of intent thought.  But that’s no reason to be embarrassed about them, and goodness knows no reason to feel guilty about them.  On the grand scale of “things to feel guilty” about – a scale that includes tactless comments that hurt someone’s feelings, stealing from your parent’s wallet, murder, etc. – what you enjoy reading or watching doesn’t even rate.  And on top of that, you know what?  Liking Twilight, or Jersey Shore, or the latest Transformers/rom-com/kids movie out, is just fine.

Certainly this is something we hear about books all theBlog Entry 80 - Image 3 time – “it doesn’t matter what people are reading, as long as they’re reading.”  But it’s one thing to say it, and another to believe it, and I think a lot of us still feel bad about what we read (or watch, though I think the same thing applies to movies, music, etc.)  If you are immersing yourself in a story or characters, enjoying the drama of a reality show, or listening to something that makes you happy, then it does not matter what other people think.  Whatever your reason for liking something is – that you actually are invested in the characters, that you think it’s silly, that it makes you feel superior about life – it’s a good reason to watch, read, or listen.  That’s the beauty of personal taste – simply by enjoying something, you give it value.  So even if you’re watching cycle 11 of America’s Next Top Model for the 3rd time – yes, this is me – don’t feel guilty.  Just enjoy yourself, be grateful that someone has made something so entertaining for you, and stop worrying.

Blog Entry 80 - Image 2In that spirit, here are some of the books, movies, shows, and music that I promise I will stop referring to as guilty pleasures, and simply enjoy: ANTM, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, my tenth re-read of Dealing with Dragons, Ke$ha, Two-Headed Shark Attack (and Mega Python vs. Gatoroid, and Ragin’ Cajun Redneck Gators, etc. etc. etc.), Disney soundtracks, my 30th re-watch of Robin Hood: Men in Tights, romance novels by Jennifer Armentrout, and anything else I enjoy watching, reading, or listening to.

What about you?  What are some of your no-longer-guilty pleasures?

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Teens Review – Born at Midnight by C.C. Hunter

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 79 - ImageSupernatural, it’s one of the main genres of books in teen fiction as well as one of my favorites, and having read a large amount about vampires, werewolves, witches and demi-gods I found a new  book series that is different than the typical werewolf vampire drama, the Shadow Falls series (containing 5 books). Though this review is going to be on book number 1!

What I’m reading: Born At Midnight by: C.C. Hunter

What it’s about (jacket description):  One night Kylie Galen finds herself at the wrong party, with the wrong people, and it changes her life forever. Her mother ships her off to Shadow Falls—a camp for troubled teens, and within hours of arriving, it becomes painfully clear that her fellow campers aren’t just “troubled.” Here at Shadow Falls, vampires, werewolves, shapeshifters, witches and fairies train side by side—learning to harness their powers, control their magic and live in the normal world.

Kylie’s never felt normal, but surely she doesn’t belong here with a bunch of paranormal freaks either. Or does she? They insist Kylie is one of them, and that she was brought here for a reason. As if life wasn’t complicated enough, enter Derek and Lucas. Derek’s a half-fae who’s determined to be her boyfriend, and Lucas is a smokin’ hot werewolf with whom Kylie shares a secret past. Both Derek and Lucas couldn’t be more different, but they both have a powerful hold on her heart.

Even though Kylie feels deeply uncertain about everything, one thing is becoming painfully clear—Shadow Falls is exactly where she belongs…

Do I like it?:  I’m OBSESSED with this book and the series

Thoughts: When I downloaded this on my kindle after reading the description I was excited to find a new supernatural book that wasn’t too Twilight for my taste. Even though there is a prominent love triangle throughout the book, it isn’t solely focused on whether Kylie ends up with Derek or Lucas but more on Kylies experience at the camp, making new friends like the witch Miranda and the vampire Della, and trying to find out whether she belongs in this supernatural world, and if she does, what supernatural she is.

I fell in love with Hunter’s character, Kylie, for multiple reasons, mainly because she is such a relatable character to me. Her parents are going through a hard divorce and she doesn’t have the best relationship with her mom. Kylie tends to avoid her problems by solving everyone else’s and she is trying to figure out who she is, also while being able to see ghosts….

I recommend reading this book because of the new friendships, romances, mystery and most of all the SUPERNATURAL aspect of it all.


Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Teens Review – 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 78 - ImageReviewer: Sabrina

Book Title: 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Description: Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers thirteen cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker, his classmate and crush who committed suicide two weeks earlier.

On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out how he made the list.

Through Hannah and Clay’s dual narratives, debut author Jay Asher weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect teen readers. (Description from

Review: 13 Reasons Why is an amazing book about a girl named Hannah who records 7 audio tapes and sends them to 13 people who have somehow impacted her decision to commit suicide. The book is from the perspective of a shy boy, Clay. He comes home from school one day to find that there was a package with his name. Upon opening it, he finds several tapes recorded by Hannah. These tapes were given to the first person on Hannah’s list and after they listened to all the tapes they were to give it to next person on the list, and so on. The tapes were about the experiences Hannah had gone through that slowly built up till she overdosed on pills and died. This perfectly shows that someone committing suicide doesn’t just do it because of one event. It may be that one event that finally makes someone explode. It really informs people about the truth of suicide and not the stereotypical facts. The person who is narrating the tapes is Hannah, who talks about the pain she had experienced and the suffering she had when everything started going downhill. Her depression slowly built up until she gave up.

13 Reasons Why was very realistically written from the perspective of a depressed teen. There was so much suspense throughout the book and it kept readers eagerly flipping the pages. The book has so many intense and real emotions that are the emotions teens feel without exaggerating them. “You can hear rumors but you can’t know them,” and “no one knows for certain how much impact they have on the lives of other people,” and “you can’t go back to how things were. How you thought they were. All you really have is now.” These quotes and more teach us so many things we probably never have much thought about and it really opens up our eyes to what’s happening around us. It teaches how fragile humans are and how we never treat each other with that type of respect everyone deserves. It’s sad, eye-opening, realistic, hopeful, and extraordinary, all in one book. After reading this book you will have no choice but to pay attention to the actions you make every day. Teens will be able to connect with this story in one way or another. Whether it’s small struggles or big, there will be some strength for everyone. This book would be highly recommended especially for high school students.


Posted in GEPL Teens

Tween Profile: Brianna

Teens Blog BannerScreen Shot 2014-07-31 at 2.00.44 PM

Brianna: 6th Grader at Hadley Middle School

Current Summer Reading Hours:110

Brianna, an incoming 6th grader at Hadley Middle School loves to read, paint and watch television. Her goal is to get an easel with a lot of nice paint. She enjoys watching Drake and Josh and Kicking It. When she’s not watching TV or painting, she likes going to The Patio, the library, or getting a giant jawbreaker from the Glen Ellyn Sweet Shoppe. As a member of Camp Pride, Brianna’s been on many adventures this summer, including Laser X and multiple visits to Six Flags. She’s been on every roller coaster at the park.

Brianna loves reading all kinds of fantasy books, but really enjoys reading about magic. Her favorite book of all time is Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. She was introduced to the series in first grade, and will always hold a special place in her heart. This summer, she satisfied her literary sweet tooth with It’s Raining Cupcakes by Lisa Schroeder.

For those who haven’t made it to 100 hours yet, Brianna recommends gum to help you concentrate. She also says that the library is a great place to find a book that interests you and makes you want to read as much as you can – every little bit helps!


Posted in GEPL News, GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Great Character Alert – Nyx Triskelion

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 77 - ImageWhile I’ve read a lot of books I’ve really enjoyed over the past few months, it’s been a while since I’ve wanted to write so much about a specific character (or in this case, since there’s an honorable mention, two characters) but it was worth the wait.  I was completely hooked by Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge from the first page, and it just got better as I got to know Nyx Triskelion better.

First off, here’s a description of the book (from the GEPL catalog): “Betrothed to the demon who rules her country and trained all her life to kill him, seventeen-year-old Nyx Triskelion must now fulfill her destiny and move to the castle to be his wife.”

Nyx is not a nice person.  To me, this is a huge part of what makes her so compelling.  She’s not a bad person, she’s just not very nice.  She is bitter about her fate, hateful towards the father and aunt who seem to feel no sorrow about sending her to it, and immensely resentful of her sister, Astraia, who will be safe.  She is angry and often cruel, and unable to keep all her rage and pain and nastiness inside her.

That said, she tries to do good.  She has been trained her whole life to defeat the demon she is being sent to marry, and she really does want to accomplish this for the sake of her country and especially her sister.  She really does love Astraia, despite the bitterness.  And she has compassion in her that makes her pity and care for one of her demon husband’s enslaved minions, and even at times pity the demon himself.

On top of all these complicated stuff, Nyx is strong.  Not in an action oriented way – don’t be fooled by the description.  Nyx is not a physical fighter.  But she is mentally tough, she is willing to try to be physical when she needs to be, and she is incredibly strong internally.  You’d have to be, to spend half your life knowing you were being sacrificed to a monster and would likely die attempting to defeat him.  And it is growing up with this fact that makes all of Nyx’s cruelty and nastiness so understandable – her anger, her bitterness, it all feels so real and realistic.  It all makes sense.  It would feel unreal, and boring, for her to be all sunshine and roses about her fate.  I think this blend of goodness and cruelty, of strength and fallibility, is what makes Nyx such a riveting, fascinating, and wonderful character.

Before I finish, I want to give an honorable mention to Nyx’s sister, Astraia.  Although she is a supporting character and we don’t get her viewpoint, I also found her to be fascinating.  I don’t want to spoil anything, but it turns out that Nyx and Astraia have some unexpected commonalities, and that Astraia is also a fascinating and captivating blend of seemingly non-compatible personality traits and very real emotions.

Thanks to these two incredible characters, especially Nyx, plus the darkness, magic, and entrancing qualities of the castle, the demon, and the world they all exist in, Cruel Beauty is one of my favorite recent reads.  I can’t wait to see what Rosamund Hodge does next (and re-read Cruel Beauty in the meantime!)

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Teens Write – Not Everyone Loves The Hunger Games

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 76 - ImageUpon reading the negatively written article (you can read it here), “What’s Wrong With The Hunger Games Is What No One Noticed,” I was disgusted by how much hatred the author of this review has for The Hunger Games. Evidently, The Hunger Games Trilogy is well admired among teens and even older adults. The two Hunger Games movies (soon to be three), have soared in popularity and box office sales. According to, the second Hunger Games movie, Catching Fire, is ranked #10 in domestic gross in movie history and #1 out of 688 movies for top movie in the last 365 days (beating Frozen!)

Meanwhile, the author of the article I perused was clearly an antagonist of The Hunger Games. I respect people’s opinions on whether they liked a book/movie or not because really, even I don’t believe every book/movie I read or watch is fantastic. Opinions are created because not everyone agrees on the same thing and have divergent tastes. There will never be one book/movie that EVERYONE will love no matter how amazing people think it is. However, there’s a difference between having logical reasoning and just plain ignorant reasoning to back up an opinion.

The author states that Katniss is identical to the princess, Cinderella, and is not a powerful and independent female role model that numerous critics claim she is. “Hmmm, here is a surprise: Katniss never kills anyone. That’s weird, what does she do to win?  Take as much time as you want on this, it’s an open book test. The answer is nothing…Other than the initial volunteering to replace her younger sister, Katniss never makes any decisions of her own, never acts with consequence– but her life is constructed to appear that she makes important decisions.” First of all, Katniss does kill four people in the first book; the murderer of Rue, the two when she dropped a wasps nest of them, and Cato for her own advantage. Secondly, Katniss also makes a multitude of decisions throughout the novel such as volunteering for the Games, becoming allies with Rue, staging attacks against other tributes, making a defiant gesture that targeted the Capital after Rue’s demise, and threating to destroy the purpose of the Games by deciding she and Peeta should kill themselves resulting in no winner. Katniss begins to completely rebel against the Capitol in the later books and stands up for what is moral. This woman is definitely one to look up to.

“So this is why we have a book about a post-apocalyptic killing game that spends zero pages describing how Katniss kills anyone but spends countless pages on how she is dressed, how everyone is dressed.  What will she wear? What kind of jewelry? Hair up?  Will the ‘sponsors’ like her better this way or that? Her chief weapon isn’t a bow, it’s her appearance.”

This excerpt taken from the article is quite invalid. It was not Katniss’s choice to dress up fancifully, but the Capitol’s. The reason why Katniss’s looks and clothes matter so much is because that’s how everyone else in the Capitol is dressed. Katniss doesn’t care for her appearance, it’s only for the entertainment of the Capitol. If it was her choice, she would be wearing her father’s worn out jacket and boots and would not bathe often. She may have an advantage in gaining sponsors and people rooting for her, but once Katniss steps into the arena, there is no one protecting her. She must manage to survive from the other tributes. Katniss’s chief weapon IS a bow. She has been a hunter all her life, and it makes sense for her to use her shooting talent.

Overall, I believe Katniss is nothing like the fairy tale princess, Cinderella. Unlike Cinderella, Katniss doesn’t search for her beloved Prince. She does have her love interests, Gale and Peeta, but the book indicates that the boy isn’t the most essential thing to Katniss. The most important thing that matters to Katniss in life is her family. She teaches young girls to be courageous, strong, and determined. Instead of putting on a girly dress and glass slippers, why not wear jeans, braid you hair, and explore nature? Katniss Everdeen is not like most women in the fiction world; she actually makes an impact in the story. Seriously, did the author of this article even read the book?


Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Welcome Freshmen!

Teens Blog BannerToday, I’d like to take a moment from this blog’s busy “raving about great books” schedule to say hello to all the recently graduated eighth graders who are now officially part of GEPL’s Teen Scene and teen programming.  Hi freshmen!

I particularly want to invite anyone reading this who is about to start their freshman year to come to the library tomorrow, July 23, at 11:30 a.m., for a program called “So You’re Going to Be a Freshman.”  We have a great panel of teens who just finished their freshman year, along with a counselor from Glenbard West, who are ready and waiting to tell you about what to expect and answer your questions.  Plus, there will be pizza!

But of course, I can’t possibly make it through a whole blog post without talking about books a little. So after you come and get the scoop tomorrow, if you’re still looking for a way to prepare yourself for what’s coming, you can read one of the books below.  Some of these books are fun and light, some of them deal with some heavier topics, but all of them focus on characters navigating their freshman year of high school.  So good luck to all of you, and welcome to the Teen Scene!

Blog Entry 75 - Image 1The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie – Budding cartoonist Junior leaves his troubled school on the Spokane Indian Reservation to attend an all-white farm town school where the only other Indian is the school mascot. (Description from the catalog)

Blog Entry 75 - Image 2Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson – A traumatic event near the end of the summer has a devastating effect on Melinda’s freshman year in high school. (Description from the catalog)

Blog Entry 75 - Image 3The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot – Fourteen-year-old Mia, who is trying to lead a normal life as a teenage girl in New York City, is shocked to learn that her father is the Prince of Genovia, a small European principality, and that she is a princess and the heir to the throne. (Description from the catalog)

Blog Entry 75 - Image 4The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky – A haunting coming of age novel told in a series of letters to an unknown correspondent reveals the life of Charlie, a freshman in high school who is a wallflower, shy and introspective, and very intelligent. (Description from the catalog)

Blog Entry 75 - Image 5The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier – A high school freshman discovers the devastating consequences of refusing to join in the school’s annual fund-raising drive and arousing the wrath of school bullies. (Description from the catalog)

Blog Entry 75 - Image 6Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen by Dyan Sheldon – In her first year at a suburban New Jersey high school, Mary Elizabeth Cep, who now calls herself “Lola,” sets her sights on the lead in the annual drama production, and finds herself in conflict with the most popular girl in school. (Description from the catalog)

Posted in GEPL Teens