Taking Risks is Encouraged by the Maker Movement
Any YA lit reader who’s visited a library recently may be aware that the “Maker” movement is taking the library world by storm! Librarians everywhere are building with cardboard, doing circuitry workshops, planning Do-It-Yourself programs for children, teens and adults. One way to think about this in the context of a library is found in my library’s definition of a Makerspace:“A place where people can collaborate, innovate, and create using information, resources, tools, and collections provided at the library. People can play, tinker, explore, or pursue personal or professional goals.” (http://librarymakerspace.blogspot.com/)
Looking for books that encapsulate the spirit of the Makerspace Movement? I have a few suggestions…
It’s never been more important than now to model exploration in a spirit of making full use of what we have. Technology is amazing, but we need to be the masters- not the slaves of it. This book is not anti-technology, but rather embraces the full range of what the world has to be explored, understood and appreciated. Glenn and Larsen challenge us to get back our “can-do” instincts and explore the world. They are not enamored with being simply a consumer of high tech and the latest new-fangled gadget. They urge us all to make our own fun, not be slaves to the screen, get out there to touch and feel the physical world!
There is an underlying strong conservation ethos and both adults and youth will enjoy reading the chapter on taking the train or bus. They spend time to describe good public transit etiquette and go into some detail about how to structure “A Kid’s First Solo Bus Ride.”
I remember the fear and excitement of letting my teenage daughter take the commuter train into Boston for the first time on her own – and that was pre cell phone. We did it together and commented to each other as we went, then the next week she did it on her own with a friend. At a certain point one has to learn to be self-reliant and trust one’s own safety instincts. You can’t anticipate every risk, but you can build awareness and a sense of appropriate caution without being paranoid. I think the Maker Movement, with its emphasis on open-ended experiences, is a great antidote to the paranoia and fear that developed even before 9/11.
Unbored includes chapters on science experiments, how to short-sheet a bed, creating “hovering thingamajigs.” They spend time on how to convince your parents that car camping can be fun , how to plan a road trip that’s fun, how to stop worrying and fall asleep!
This is a book that you can read through or dip into every so often. Get out there and enjoy the world!
Another book that features a teen maker is Cinder, by Marissa Meyer (a 2012 Teens’ Top Ten winner and 2013 Readers’ Choice selection). Set in a post World War IV world, the story is about a teen mechanic, 30% cyborg, with a murky past. When she comes to attention of the prince, she has to use her wits to help him and try to save her half sister from the deadly plague poisoning the Earth. It’s part of the Lunar Chronicles trilogy, so read Scarlet next and follow it up with Cress.
An oldie but goodie true story is Ken Silverstein’s book, The Radioactive Boy Scout: the Frightening True Story of a Whiz Kid and His Homemade Nuclear Reactor, a 2007 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults selection. After all, you never know what’s going on behind the doors of your bucolic suburban neighborhood!
- Ellen Snoeyenbos, currently reading, Honor Code: how moral revolutions happen, by Kwame Anthony Appiah, in preparation for weekly TAB discussions of life, love, death, and fairness…