• Crackers and Cheez-Whiz Construction

    by Bethany Dietrich

    This program was an idea I totally stole from TikTok! And it turned out even better than I expected! 

     

    Y’all know that beginning-of-the-year build that middle school teachers do? With gumdrops (or mini marshmallows) and toothpicks?

     

     

    Think that concept… but instead of toothpicks, you use different kinds of crackers and pretzels. And instead of gumdrops, you use cans of Cheez-Whiz!

     

     

    We started off easy with the building challenges. I had small rubber-y/plastic animals, and they had to make a doghouse for whatever animal I gave them. 

     

    We progressively got harder: challenge number 2 was a lighthouse. Then, a bridge that a LEGO car can go across

     

     

    The last two challenges, I had them work in teams, and I passed out famous structures that they had to recreate. These were Hard (challenge 4) and Harder (challenge  5). They actually did super well! 

     

    And for those so inclined, I included an Encyclopedia Britannica blurb about each structure, which ranged from well-known ones like the Leaning Tower of Pisa and Big Ben to ones that aren’t as well-known in general American purview like Wat Phra Si Sanphet in Thailand and Sucevița Monastery in Romania. 

     

     

    Have my program plan! 

     

    Have slides of the famous structures! 

     

    Have you had any programming wins from watching TikTok? Share them in the comments below!

  • New England Teen Summit 2022

    This past week I (virtually) attended the New England Teen Summit and, as always, it was fabulous! I sometimes feel a slight pang that I don’t get to participate in person anymore but, honestly, it’s WAY more convenient virtually (and this way I don’t have to talk to other people if I don’t want to – #introvertlirbarian.) Pre-covid, this event was put on by the Massachusetts Library System, and librarians from neighboring states could attend if they were able to. Switching to virtual has made it possible for all 6 New England states to work together and everyone has the opportunity to attend – even those from outside the New England states. Librarians without the funds to attend an event like this can now attend for free and will be able to view the zoom recordings when they are posted at a later date.

    I missed viewing the keynote speaker but I was able to attend 4 live zoom sessions: One Trusted Adult (presented by One Trusted Adult creator Brooklyn Raney), How to engage teen patrons using Discord, Using Discord to Build a Community for Teens at Your Library, and the MA Teen Choice Book Award Panel. I really didn’t know much about Discord, so these two presentations were excellent and gave me some much-needed knowledge about Discord itself, as well as how (and sometimes how NOT) to use it for teens at a public library.

    Other presentations going on simultaneously as the sessions I attended included: Anyone can Cartoon! presented by Daryl Seitchik, Beyond the Book Bans – Creating Inclusive Spaces for LGBTQ+ Youth – Equality MaineYouth Summer Career Bridging Workshop, and Mission Impossible: Deciphering Teen Behavior. All of these presentations will be up on the MLS site to view in the next few weeks, so take advantage! The keynote presentation with Mike Curato is already available since it was pre-recorded. Hoping to watch it sometime this week.

    This isn’t maybe the most exciting “last post” but I thought it was a good reminder that we need to take advantage of these amazing – and FREE – resources and continue to help each other out. I actually feel fairly confident that my 41-year-old self can start a teen Discord community after watching those 2 presentations. Am I crazy? Probably! But I’ll give it a go. 😉

    Cheers, and thanks for the support!

    ~ Molly

     

  • Being Inclusive During the Holidays

    Teens around the US and around the world are being raised in houses with different ethnicities and religions. During the holidays, the main focus seems to be on Christmas, but not everyone celebrates it. Yes, there are GREAT YA Christmas books, I have read a bunch and they are cute, but I try to make sure that all holidays are included.

    Being in Texas, the main holiday that is everywhere is going to be Christmas. As a Jew myself, it can feel like we are being pushed to the back burner and no one really knows what Hanukkah is about. There is also Kwanzaa that is celebrate around this time. I have done my best to not only include non-fiction titles in my library, but to take the time and find other holiday books that are set around teens and YA. Listed below are a few I have found. I make sure to make displays also every year with the other holidays included. Yes, we still have Christmas displays up, but we also have to remember to be inclusive to the other things being celebrated too.

    Hanukkah: There is another post from 2018 that had Hanukkah YA books listed, but there have been a few published since then.
    It’s A Whole Spiel by Katherine Locke- A short story anthology of teens celebrating Jewish holidays!

    Eight Nights of Flirting by Hannah Reynolds- This one just came out and it is super cute!

    The Golden Dreidel by Ellen Kushner- This one is more for middle grade, but it has a magic golden dreidel, what could be more fun than that?!

     

    Kwanzaa:

    Kwanzaa: Living on Principle by Venus Jones- I learned so much from this book! It is a great look into this culture and how Kwanzaa is incorporated into her life. It also comes with activities to help promote unity. It is geared more toward adults, but I think teens can definitely learn a lot from this book.

    Kwanzaa Klaus by James Henry- This is a really fun book for reading levels in elementary to adult. It is about a family where the dad messes up Christmas and decides to use Kwanzaa to try and make up for it. I liked that a family that didn’t celebrate Kwanzaa takes the time to learn about and rejoice in the holiday.

     

    Multiple Holidays:

    My True Love Gave to Me by Stephanie Perkins with Multiple YA Authors- This is a really great anthology of short stories, with compilations for all different holidays. And it is all teens celebrating them!

     

    And that’s what I’ve got. Hope you have a great holiday season, whatever you celebrate!

     

  • My End-of-2022 TBR

    I’m thrilled to write that 2022 is almost over! I’ve read some amazing books this year, but for my last blog post, I want to share my End-of-the-Year TBR:

    I’m half-way through Foul Lady Fortune by Chloe Gong. It’s interesting to read Rosalind’s POV this time. Gong’s duology These Violent Delights and Our Violent Ends exist in the same world, just a few years prior.

    For November, my co-worker’s book club is reading Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Bouley. I’m looking forward to finally getting to it!

    As someone who’s loved (almost) all of Malinda Lo’s previous releases, I’m excited to start her newest book, A Scatter of Light.

    And in the spirit of the holiday season, I will read How to Excavate a Heart by Jake Maia Arlow. A “sapphic Jewish twist on the classic Christmas rom-com?” Yes, please!

    What is everyone else reading in November and December?

  • Crackers and Cheez-Whiz Construction

    This program was an idea I totally stole from TikTok! And it turned out even better than I expected! 

     

    Y’all know that beginning-of-the-year build that middle school teachers do? With gumdrops (or mini marshmallows) and toothpicks?

     

     

    Think that concept… but instead of toothpicks, you use different kinds of crackers and pretzels. And instead of gumdrops, you use cans of Cheez-Whiz!

     

     

    We started off easy with the building challenges. I had small rubber-y/plastic animals, and they had to make a doghouse for whatever animal I gave them. 

     

    We progressively got harder: challenge number 2 was a lighthouse. Then, a bridge that a LEGO car can go across

     

     

    The last two challenges, I had them work in teams, and I passed out famous structures that they had to recreate. These were Hard (challenge 4) and Harder (challenge  5). They actually did super well! 

     

    And for those so inclined, I included an Encyclopedia Britannica blurb about each structure, which ranged from well-known ones like the Leaning Tower of Pisa and Big Ben to ones that aren’t as well-known in general American purview like Wat Phra Si Sanphet in Thailand and Sucevița Monastery in Romania. 

     

     

    Have my program plan! 

     

    Have slides of the famous structures! 

     

    Have you had any programming wins from watching TikTok? Share them in the comments below!

  • All Things Must Come to an End

    Hey all!

    I wanted to let everyone know that the blog will be going in archive/long hiatus come the end of the month. We’ve realized as a whole that our inspiration for new material is dwindling, in addition to the extra time & money it takes. It is possible that down the road, there may be a decision to come back and revive it, but for the foreseeable future it was remain in archive mode.

    I’m moving everything over to WordPress, so all past posts will still be accessible. I will keep the domain name alive so it can redirect, but don’t be scared/shocked when you see it go to wordpress url.

    This archival is only for the blog. The FB will remain open.

    From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank everyone who has shown love and support for this site over the past 7 years. When I came up with this idea in late 2014, I had no idea that it would become what it has become. I appreciate all of you who decided TSU was a valuable resource.

    I would be remiss not to extend my eternal gratefulness to all the past and current co-bloggers! I could have never done this without you & while there are too many to thank individually, know you all had a hand in making TSU what it is today.

    Thank you all again!
    Andrea (and the TSU Team)

  • My Favorite YA Audiobook Narrator

    by Bethany Dietrich

    Anyone else find yourself procrastinating on TikTok? Please tell me I’m not the only one still sucked into this app! When I’m not impatiently waiting for the next Fowlerville District Library One-Star Review Guess Who, I’m a voracious listener of audiobooks. And I think I reached peak reader when I started a new audiobook and instantly thought, “I love this narrator!”

     

    “This” being the queen of audiobook narration, Natalie Naudus. Who ALSO spends too much time on the clock app! 

     

    Here are some of my favorites of Natalie’s. Check out your ebook catalog and see if your library has them. If not, Libro.fm is the best not-free alternative!

     

     

    Are you an audiobook fan? Share your favorites with us in the comments!

  • Hello World!

    Welcome to WordPress! This is your first post. Edit or delete it to take the first step in your blogging journey.

  • I’m All Ears: Evaluating Audiobooks

    I know a lot of us librarians are audiobook fans, and while we are experts in what makes a good story, it can be hard to say what exactly makes an audiobook good? Most of us have no problem evaluating books in print, but few have had training in critiquing an audiobook. We can often easily spot a bad one, but pinpointing what exactly the problem is harder to do! I myself was pretty clueless about this when I was first asked to serve on YALSA’s Amazing Audiobooks Blogging Team back in 2018. I really got thrown into the deep end there. Since serving on that committee, and now that I am serving my second year on ALSC’s Notable Children’s Recordings Committee, I feel like I have a much better grasp on things. 

    Here are some key criteria to consider when evaluating an audiobook:

    image via launchpo.com

    Narration:

    • Does the narrator feel like a good fit? 
      • For example, if portraying a child or teen, does the narrator sound youthful? 
    • Is the performance dynamic? Does the reader express character emotions authentically? Do they vary their pitch, pace, or tone to match the story
      • For example, speeding up a bit during tense scenes, or slowing down to add drama.
    • Does the reader help differentiate characters by changing pitch, tone, and inflection? Do they avoid stereotypes or patronizing mannerisms when presenting characters?
    • Do any accents and dialects sound authentic? Are they used consistently?
    • Overall, does the narrator have good diction? Do you notice many audible breaths, unnecessary pauses, or sibilance? 

    Audio vs Print:

    • Does the audiobook seem to complement the text, or even expand or elevate it?
      • For example, consider the way a graphic novel adaptations often thoughtfully incorporates sound effects, music, or adapted text to make the listening experience as good as or even better than the experience of reading in print.
      • Another example is when a book references a “listener” rather than a “reader.”
    • If music or sound effects are used, do they feel appropriate for the context and tone of the book? Do they truly enhance the text or do they feel extraneous? Are they balanced well or do they overwhelm?
    • Is back matter included, and if so, is it easy to listen to?
      • For example, a timeline read aloud is difficult to perceive without a visual representation.

    Overall Audio Quality

    • Do you hear any noticeable pops, echo sounds, electronic interference, etc. ?
    • Is the sound quality consistent throughout?
      • Tip: Try listening in different ways–-in the car, on headphones, and on the computer. Sometimes inconsistencies come through that way.

    Keep these things in mind next time you’re listening and you’ll soon figure out not just what makes an audiobook good, but what makes one truly great. Have you listened to anything amazing lately? Please share in the comments!

  • Simple display ideas for when you get stuck

    If you are anything like me, you have a love-hate relationship with displays and passive programs. Thankfully, I love them more than I hate them. It’s an 80/20 split. And, to be honest, the hate has nothing to do with the projects themselves. The hate has a lot more to do with my guilt around not doing more of them.

    Displays and passive programs tend to take a back seat to all the other things I have to do in the library, and I haven’t yet worked out how to add displays and passive program design into my regular workflow. This is especially sad because I actually really like creating them. I like coming up with themes and I like letting my creative energy fly free. But I often find myself struggling to actually get them done.

    But in the past few weeks, I have been full steam ahead with displays and passive programs. I’m hoping this is the start of more consistent displays and passive programs.

    Here are some simple displays and passive programs you can implement if you are stuck and in need of ideas.

    Thrillers and Chillers

    I sometimes forget how perfect mysteries are for spooky season. Instead of creating a display that was solely for horror books, I created one that also included mysteries. The darker, the better.

     

    Food in Teen Fiction

    This display features teen books that involve cooking or food/drink in some way. This display is simple because you can create a collage of food pictures.

     

    Hiking

    Folks from the Washington Trails Association recently hosted a program at my branch and they left us with some really cool handouts. I pulled some hiking books and created a “Go On A Hike!” display as a way to give away some of the handouts they left us with.

     

    Candy Wars

    This is a simple voting passive program. Teens vote with a sticker dot to select their favorite candies.