GEPL Teens Blog

GEPL Teens: Teens Write – Genre Prejudice

Teens Blog BannerBy: Elizabeth W., Teen Blogger

Blog Entry 157 - ImageRecently in an interview, J. K. Rowling, a leading fantasy writer, said that she doesn’t read fantasy or sci-fi novels. Another author, Kazuo Ishiguro, wrote The Buried Giant, a novel set in a fantasy realm involving dragons and monsters. The real point of his story is to deal with topics like memory loss and old age. However, Ishiguro was afraid that readers would be scared off by the fantasy “surface elements” and think the book is a fantasy novel. Both Rowling and Ishiguro seem to have a dislike towards the fantasy genre while using it in their own books. So why are the genres of fantasy or science fiction looked down upon by some?

I think there is a misconception that fantasy books either deal with less serious topics or are hard to read. However, fantasy novels can be used as allegories to our lives and can deal with serious topics such as loss or forgiveness. Fantasy and Science Fiction books are not necessarily of lower quality of writing either. There are a lot of classics that are fantasy or science fiction, which are really hard to read. That’s why I couldn’t get all the way through the Lord of the Rings.

This issue of not respecting the fantasy genre has been with us for a while now. J.R.R. Tolkien, the author of the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, once wrote a work entitled On Fairy Stories to defend why he wrote fantasies. In it, Tolkien said that “Fantasy is a natural human activity. It certainly does not destroy or even insult Reason; and it does not either blunt the appetite for, nor obscure the perception of, scientific verity. On the contrary. The keener and the clearer is the reason, the better fantasy will it make.” Fantasy is not a denial of reality or reason. Instead it can bring out real issues in a way that impacts us differently than realistic fiction would.

Fantasy can be a valuable genre to read even though it may appear unrealistic. The dragons and other mythical creatures may fool you, but inside a lot of fantasy there are hidden truths that can be just as valuable as those that are learned through nonfiction or realistic fiction. If you haven’t picked up a fantasy book in a while I would encourage you to read one. It can be really rewarding. If after this you realize that fantasy isn’t your thing, that’s okay too. The important thing is to not judge a book by its genre.

-Elizabeth W.

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Nerf Wars

Teens Blog BannerBy: Hannah Rapp, Teen Librarian

Blog Entry 156 - ImageWell folks, you’ve done a great job reaching your first reading goal (you already average well over one book per teen!) which means it’s time for me to face the music. Or rather, face the darts!

As you may know, we have an awesome after-hours program coming up on June 26. From 6-8:30, we’ll be open just for middle school and high school age students participating in our Marvel vs. DC Nerf Wars. There will be pizza and drinks, and a chance to carry on some great Nerf battles throughout the library. High school age teens will be on the second floor, while the middle school students and Christina will be taking over the first floor of the library. But you will all get to come together for one glorious moment, and a chance to take your best shot at Christina and me.

Wearing some impressive facial gear to represent our chosen comic universes (I called dibs on Marvel as soon as we planned the program,) Christina and I will submit ourselves to the fury of your Nerf guns, and film it all for posterity (aka, the internet.)

So not only will you have a chance to play some pretty epic games of Capture the Flag, Humans vs. Zombies, and more, in a library that’s entirely yours for the night, but you’ll get to witness the first step of our summer-long quest for extreme public embarrassment. Be sure to register so you can reserve your spot (and to make sure you get your permission slip, which is the only downside of an after-hours program). Christina and I will see you next Friday!

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Teens Review – The Power of One

Teens Blog BannerBy: Ashley M., Teen Blogger

Blog Entry 155 - ImageThe Power of One is “a true classic,” as my dad has told me multiple times (this being from the man who reads roughly two novels a week, if not more). I have to admit that I am in the middle of the very long novel right now (page 301 to be exact). So I will not be able to tell you all the juicy details, because obviously I haven’t read them all yet. But what I can do is tell you the interesting, nail biting, and heart felt parts that I have read so far.

Let’s start with a quick little back ground for you!

Setting: South Africa during the Second World War. There is constant conflict between many different cultures and groups of people that make up South Africa. These groups are the Afrikaners (white people who have sided with Adolf Hitler in the war), the Boers (who are white British people that are greatly hated by Afrikaners and vice versa), and there multiple African Tribes included as well; Zulu, Swazi, Ndebele, Sotho, and Shangaan.

Characters: Peekay the main character, a five year old boy that we (as readers) get to follow along as he grows and matures. He is highly intelligent (speaking more than 4 languages, and is three grades past his age level), he is very curious, and will try something new whenever the chance is given. For example, he has met many friends (most of them being inspiring adults, who teach him life skills and useful information that seem to come in handy quite often). I have loved getting to know the little boy and going through the major events and tragedies of his childhood.

Events: Peekay’s first boxing tournament is truly a nail bitter, I remember being on the edge of my seat. The main theme of the boxing aspect of this novel is using your head before involving your emotions, self-control, and appropriate confidence.

Another is when Peekay befriends a chicken (Grandpa Chook) his only friend while away at boarding school. He plays with him, teaches him tricks, and talks to him when he becomes lonely. Grandpa Chook is the first name on a long list of Peekay’s interesting friends. Others include; an interesting music professor obsessed with Cacti, an older, very clever librarian, and a prison inmate.

I don’t want to give away too much, but I truly have enjoyed reading this book. I’m going to warn you that the chapters are long, but other than that there are no complaints here. We will have to see if that remains the same when I finish the book, and see what happens to Peekay in the end. My fingers are crossed that it is good wrap up of the story. Personally I hate when books are put together so well, and the ending is just flat and dare I say lame. In other words, I do encourage you to read this book, its long but well worth it (I hope). Happy Reading!

-Ashley M.

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Deep Breath

Teens Blog BannerCongratulations on finishing finals everyone!  Now that school is over and summer has officially begun, we’re keeping it short and simple for today.  Sit back, relax, and take a deep breath.  We’ll be back with more book reviews, teen bloggers, and summer fun next week!

6.12.15 Blog Entry

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Late Night Study Is Here Again

Teens Blog BannerBy: Hannah Rapp, Teen Librarian

Finals are here once again. By now, you know the reasons to come study at the library for Late Night Study – we’ve covered them here and here. You know we have hot chocolate, caffeine, pizza, and extended hours. You know about our laptops that you can check out using your student ID, and our textbook collection. You know we have great study rooms for groups, and carrels for those of you who prefer to work alone. So today, we’re just going to focus on a few things you might not know already.

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1.) We are still having Late Night Study this Sunday, but the hours will be different. We are committed to helping you study each night before your finals, so we’re making with the pizza and extended hours on Sunday too! But we do have some slightly different times you should know. We will have pizza at 4:00 on Sunday, and while the library will close to the public at 5:00, we will remain open for high school students till 7:00. Monday will have normal hours – pizza at 5:30, extended hours till 10. We’ll see you there!

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2.) We are Blackhawks fans too. We really are. We know how much it stinks to have to be studying for finals during the Stanley Cup playoffs, and we will do our best to make sure you know what’s going on during the game on Monday.

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3.) Late Night Study is the perfect time to sign up for summer reading. You’ll be wanting a break from studying anyways, and now is the time to get ready to do some reading for fun, instead of just for school! So sign up, get your t-shirt, learn about all the amazing prizes you could win and embarrassing things you can see me do, and get excited about all that school-free reading time coming your way!

So there you go – three things you may not have already known about Late Night Study. Good luck, and we’ll see you on Sunday and Monday!

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Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Teens Write – Should School Be Year Round?

Teens Blog BannerBy: Britta, Teen Blogger

Blog Entry 153 - ImageSummer. This is probably every student’s favorite word. Typically in America, students get a summer break between June and August that separate their 180 day school years. This break was originally created for farmers who needed their children’s assistance. But as our society has shifted from rural agrarian to postindustrial suburban, the necessity for this break has ceased to exist. Summer break is merely tradition that seems inherent in our schooling systems. But this precious time off may soon cease to exist, as the idea of year-long school becomes more and more prominent. These are the arguments for and against this change in the school schedule.

Pros +

  • There will be more and longer breaks within the school year so the students won’t be as overwhelmed during school
  • It will provide year-long support such as free lunch and a safe environment to students who need it
  • It will eliminate any forgetting of information over summer break
  • It will help America compete internationally with more successful education programs
  • Summer break will still be a whole month long
  • More efficient use of school space

Cons –

  • A longer school year will frustrate the students and they will stop enjoying and appreciating school
  • Restricts the students independence, and it would limit opportunities such as summer jobs and long summer camps
  • Forces kids to grow up without enjoying their childhood
  • Does not solve systemic issues with schooling system (i.e. emphasis on testing and lack of real world application)
  • If an entire district does not adopt a year-round calendar, parents could have students at different schools on different schedules

Click on the links below if you are looking for more information on this ongoing debate:


Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: What I Just Read – Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Teens Blog Banner

By: Hannah Rapp, Teen Librarian

Blog Entry 152 - Image
Have you ever read a book that you just can’t stop thinking about after you’re done?  I recently read a book like that (or to be more accurate, listened to a book like that) which I finished almost two weeks ago, and still have on my mind.  So it’s not actually that I just read today’s book, but since I’m still obsessing about it, it feels like I just finished it!

What I Just Read: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

What’s It About (Jacket Description): A lyrical novel about family and friendship from critically acclaimed author Benjamin Alire Sáenz.

Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.

Did I Like It: It’s still making me happy and slightly preoccupied about it, so I think it’s safe to say YES!

Thoughts: First off, that description does not do this book justice.  As far as I’m concerned, Aristotle and Dante was completely magical.  For starters, the setting is so incredibly well created, and so lovingly described, it made me want to go to El Paso, Texas – in the summer no less.  Definitely a first for me!  Even more impressively, the writing somehow managed to simultaneously sound like a real teenage boy first person perspective and be stunningly beautiful and poetic.  I’m not sure how Sáenz pulled that one off exactly, but he did, and it’s amazing.  The way the scenes are described, whether scenes of looking at stars, or watching thunderstorms, or even just hanging out at a city swimming pool, made me feel like I was really there, and like every one of those scenes or places or settings had a beauty and a magic of its own.  But at the same time, Ari’s first person perspective also felt completely authentic. I recognized some of my own teenage thoughts and feelings in him, (but of course, plenty that was new to me too).  His voice was uniquely his own, and even the most poetic writing never made me doubt that Ari was the voice behind it.

And Ari and Dante – oh Ari and Dante!  They were both a little strange and kind of quirky, but never obnoxious or unbelievable.  They were witty and funny, but also sometimes awkward and a kind of weird and really struggling to express what they felt and who they really were.  Sometimes they even struggled to express that to themselves.  And their relationship with each other was just wonderful to read about.  It tugged at my heartstrings every time they were on the page together, and sometimes even when they weren’t (like in their letters.)  The way their lives intertwined, and the way they acted around each other, was by far the highlight of this book, and a huge part of what made me love it so much.

But every character – from the boys’ parents to the dog Legs to even Ari’s truck – felt like a complete, real character inhabiting a complete, real world.  It’s just that in this book, the real world is a little more amazing than our own world.  Which makes sense, because any world that has Ari and Dante has to be just a little bit more magical than our own.

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: We Need Diverse Books

Teens Blog BannerBy: Hannah Rapp, Teen Librarian

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

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

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

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Teens Write – Summer Break

Teens Blog BannerBy: Sabrina, Teen Blogger

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

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

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

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


Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Read for Heroes

Teens Blog BannerBy: Hannah Rapp, Teen Librarian

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in GEPL Teens