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Author: Emily Childress-Campbell

Emily Childress-Campbell is a Youth Services Librarian with Wake County Libraries in North Carolina. She is fond of comics, crafting, British television and social media.

Month in Review: April 2016

Here at The Hub we hope you all are getting in the swing of spring! Here are some highlights of posts at The Hub and around the web of interest to library workers serving teens.month in review | yalsa's the hub

At the Hub:

Fandom 101: The Raven Cycle

Art Print from Maggie Stiefvater's Society 6 Page

Art Print from Maggie Stiefvater’s Society 6 Page

If you’ve been anywhere near Tumblr, you have probably encountered the always growing fandom for Maggie Stiefvater’s young adult fantasy series The Raven Cycle. Particularly in the weeks leading up to the release date (today!) of The Raven King, the last book in the series, the originally small fandom has grown astronomically.

If you haven’t read the books you might be confused to say the least about what the series is actually about. The official description of the first book in the series The Raven Boys is:

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue never sees them–until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks to her.

His name is Gansey, a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul whose emotions range from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She doesn’t believe in true love, and never thought this would be a problem. But as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

2016 Morris Award Winner: An Interview with Becky Albertalli

Becky Albertalli is the winner of the 2016 William C. Morris YA Debut Award, which was presented at the ALA Midwinter Youth Media Awards. A full announcement of all of the titles and authors honored at the 2016 YMA’s can be found here.

Simon vs. the Hsimonomo Sapiens Agenda follows the developing relationship between high school junior Simon and an anonymous boy he meets on his school’s Tumblr site “Creek Secrets.” Simon is not ready to come out to the rest of the school, but after forgetting to log out of his email, a classmate discovers his correspondence and begins blackmailing Simon in exchange for Simon’s attempts to persuade his best friend to go out with him. The heart of the story lies in Simon’s close friendships and the sweet, slowly developing relationship between Simon and the boy he knows only as “Blue.” Albertalli’s debut novel already has many devoted fans and, after her Morris Award win, is sure to gain more.

Congratulation on being selected as the 2016 Morris Award winner! Can you give us an idea of what was going through your head when you won?

Thank you so much! I’m ridiculously honored, and I can’t explain how much this means to me. I don’t know if it’s even sunk in yet that my book won this award! I found out via a phone call from the committee, and I didn’t see it coming AT ALL. Even after I was named a finalist for the Morris, I still didn’t think winning was in the realm of possibility. I’ve always viewed my book as a romantic comedy. I have a lot of feelings about how rarely romantic comedies are recognized as having literary merit, and I actually feel strongly that rom coms deserve award consideration. That said, I didn’t think MY rom com would be considered for a national award. I’m stunned and humbled and so, so grateful. To be honest, I was floored to be named a finalist alongside Anna-Marie McLemore, Kelly Loy Gilbert, Stephanie Oakes, and Leah Thomas. Their books blew my mind. I can’t even describe what it feels like to be honored next to them.

Social media plays a huge role in Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. Simon and “Blue” meet through Tumblr and fall in love through emails. What was your reasoning behind having their relationship develop this way, and how do you think the story would be different if they had met “IRL”?

I love this question. Technology is a huge part of Simon’s story, and I truly believe this reflects the way many modern teens form the connections that matter most to them. There’s something almost magical about the way the internet shapes relationships. It allows us to get to know people, as Simon says, “from the inside out.” I think that possibility is meaningful for all of us – but for LGBTQIAP+ kids, it can be lifesaving. For Simon and Blue, who live in a conservative southern suburb, the internet is one of the only ways to connect with other gay teens. It allows them to find each other safely and anonymously, and it provides a space to discuss sexual identity before they’re actually out to friends and family. I can’t imagine this particular story even happening if they had first gotten to know each other “IRL.” Simon and Blue actually do know each other IRL in this story – but it’s hard to imagine them finding that intimacy and comfort with each other based on that relationship (I don’t THINK that’s a spoiler).

For what it’s worth, though, I think internet friendships and relationships do count as real life. Often, they’re even realer than what we think of as “real life.”

Week in Review: December 11th

Happy Friday! Hope everyone is finding some time for reading and relaxing during this busy, busy time of year. Here’s your weekly round-up of goings-ons, literary and otherwise.

week in review | YALSA's The Hub

Books and Reading

Teen Book Clubs in Your Library

Book clubs are one of the intersections between collection development and programming. There are an infinite number of ways to organize a book club in a school or public library, and it’s interesting to see the various ways that they operate. Ever wanted to start a teen book club at your library? Check out what several of us at The Hub have to say about ours!

teen book clubs

  • What was the impetus behind starting a teen book club at your library?

Dawn: Our library hasn’t had a book club for youth/teens in a very long time.  We of course have a lot of readers, so why not.

Sarah: I am a Middle School and High School librarian and my MS students are HUGE readers.  They often suggest books to me and are happy to talk about books with one another and me.  The 5th and 6th grade literature teachers and I all promote, book talk, and are eager to support reading so there was an obvious audience.

Jennifer: This is the second book club I have inherited! For my current library our Teen Advisory Board asked to start up the group before I started in this position. Although based on the number of folks who attend meetings but have not read (or even checked out) the book, I think that maybe they just wanted another chance to come and talk.

Traci: I inherited my book group from the previous teen librarian, but I’ve been here for 8 years now, so I think I can safely say it’s definitely my book group now!  My book groupers are so passionate about reading and talking about books, so I’m thrilled to give them the ability to do so.

Diana: I also inherited a teen book group from a previous teen librarian, but as the teens began to hit junior or senior year of high school, they began to stop coming. It was harder to recruit new teens after the original set of core teens were aging out of the group. Thus, we took a break, but after some discussion, we are bringing back a teen book club in the spring. Currently, my library (out of 5 locations) is the only one to offer a teen book club. We also opened up the age group to 6th-12th grade (so junior high and high school could be represented).

Emily: Our Teen Book Club was started to expand programming and spark more interest with teens in the community.

Molly: There was resistance from the youth services manager years ago when we first began our book club because they thought it wouldn’t be a program that teens would attend. If it hadn’t been for a a core group of regular teen patrons who were lobbying for one, we never would have started. It’s been going for 5 years now, and this group will be seniors next year. While others have attended a few meetings over the years, it’s mostly been the original group. I think these book clubs (like many programs) will be most successful when they are teen driven and something that they want. There’s no reason to feel like you have to have a book club if it’s not the most valuable program for the teens you serve. 

Documentaries for Teens: Feminism

Though feminism has been around, arguably, since the Suffragette Movement, and though girls and young women have benefited hugely from the accomplishments of Second Wave Feminism, many teens are still hesitant to self identify as feminists or feminist allies. This may be due to a lack of understanding of what feminism actually means, or a false notion that sexism no longer exists and feminism’s work is done. However, just as Second Wave Feminists engaged in consciousness raising groups in order to make their fellow women aware of everyday patriarchal injustices, many young women, particularly on social media sites such as Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook, are actively engaged in drawing attention to everyday sexism as well as the intersections of racism, classicism, cissexism, ableism, and the ways in which mainstream feminism has (and in many cases still does) excluded other marginalized groups.

The library can serve as an excellent place for consciousness raising whether through book clubs, service projects, or topic specific forums. Documentaries can serve as a jumping off point for these discussions. Here are a few to get you started.

Miss Representation (2011)

The recent release of female-centric films and television shows such as Suffragette, Grandma, and Supergirl may spark young women’s thinking about why there isn’t more female representation in media. Miss Representation, directed by Jennifer Siebel Newsom and Kimberlee Acquaro addresses the lack of good representation of women in media and the implications it has for female leadership. This documentary makes a compelling case for teaching media literacy in schools. Available for streaming on Netflix. Visit the official website’s curriculum page.

Girl Rising (2013)

Booklist: If You Like The Young Elites by Marie Lu

The Rose Society, the sequel to Marie Lu’s The Young Elites hit the shelves on October 13th and has spent four weeks on the New York Times Young Adult Bestseller List. In The Rose Society readers revisit Adelina Amouteru, one of the survivors of the blood plague that made her and many others into “young elites” gifted with strange powers. The book opens with Teren Santoro, lead inquisitor set on ridding the kingdom of Adelina’s kind. Fans of the courtly intrigue, fast paced plot, and atmospheric setting in the first book will not be disappointed by the second. If your library’s copy is checked out consider recommending some of these backlist titles to tide over your eager patrons while they wait.

If You Like The Young Elites


Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo (2013 Best Fiction for Young Adults)

Fans of the unique and complex world building in The Young Elites will appreciate Bardugo’s “czar punk” setting. Likewise, readers  will see many of Adelina’s strong points in Bardugo’s Alina.

The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner (2003 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults)

Turner’s Queen’s Thief series is an older one, making it more likely to be on the shelf, and more likely to be one that your patrons have not yet read. Readers who loved the element of spying and espionage in The Young Elites will be hooked by Turner’s plot twists.

Scary Stories to Set the Mood for Halloween

If you are like me, you’ve been ready for Halloween since August 1st. Not everyone is so Halloween-happy. Maybe you haven’t bought out the grocery store’s stock of canned pumpkin or purchased a new shade of orange nail polish, but, like it or not, October is upon us, which means you may have teens swarming your stacks in search of something to creep them out and give them nightmares. In my experience I get more requests for “scary stories” than horror novels.  With that in mind I’m going to highlight some collections of short stories sure to meet various spine-chilling needs as well as give some horror specific readers’ advisory tips.scary stories for halloween


  • “Scary” is subjective. Every reader is going to be comfortable with different levels of the supernatural, violence, gore, etc. A good way to assess what type of horror a reader wants is to ask them what their favorite scary book is. If they are not an avid reader you may need to ask about their favorite scary movie or scary television show. You are probably going to want to recommend a different book to a fan of The Sixth Sense than you would to a fan of Saw.


  • If you are not a horror reader yourself or get scared easily, it’s OK for you to tell teens this. Particularly with younger teens this may help them to be more open about how scary they want their stories to be. If you aren’t a horror reader, however, you will want to familiarize yourself with the popular horror titles in your collection. If you can pick the brain of a fellow staff member or teen volunteer who reads a lot of horror, this is a great start.

Some Thoughts on “Real Reading”

read-all-the-thingsI am sure I am not the only librarian who has repeatedly heard the phrase “real reading.” Whether I am in the midst of a readers’ advisory interview with a parent who insists that audiobooks are not “real reading,” or whether I’m meeting someone new in a social setting who proudly tells me they never read e-books because that’s not “real reading” and being a librarian I must agree with them, I always cringe at the phrase. I have no problem with readers having a particular preference. Everybody has their own inclinations towards specific formats. What bothers me is the complete lack of exposure that youth may suffer due to a parent’s bias against particular formats, or readers of any age feeling inferior and self-conscious about something as individualized and personal as a reading choice.

As library workers, I don’t believe it is our place to promote any format over another, but I do feel that we should provide our patrons exposure and access to as many formats as possible and strive to validate all reading preferences. Below are some topics that often incite the dreaded phrase “real reading.” I hope that by sharing some of my own experiences, I can either encourage you to broaden your reading horizons or at least give you and, by extension, the patrons you serve, something to think about.

Printz Award and Honor Read-a-Likes

This year’s Printz Award and Printz Honor books are all quite unique: man-eating bugs, Irish romance, artistic twins and more! It can be hard to find books that are similar, but if you are enjoying reading the winners for the Hub Challenge and want to hold on to the feeling of a particular book, read on and give these read-a-likes a try.

Printz Honor: The Carnival at Bray by Jessie Ann Foley The Carnival at Bray2015 Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults,2015 Morris Award Finalist

Maggie Lynch is navigating a new life in Ireland. In the midst of dealing with family struggles, boys, and tentative friendships, she is shocked by the death of her beloved Uncle Kevin who introduced her to the music of Kurt Kobain and the grunge movement. When Kevin leaves her two concert tickets to see Nirvana she makes it her mission to come through for her uncle and ends up learning about herself along the way.

Read-a-Like: Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John 2013 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults,2011 Schneider Family Book Award

In Five Flavors of Dumb, as in The Carnival at Bray music drives the plot, but comes to stand for much more. Piper, whose parents decided to spend her college fund on her baby sister’s cochlear implant, is also struggling through some tense family situations. Like Maggie, music becomes a means of escaping the ordinary when Dumb, her high school’s rock band, hires Piper as their manager. Though Piper is deaf and unable to hear Dumb’s music, she grows to love rock music through reading biographies of Kurt Kobain and Jimi Hendrix, and getting caught up in the energy and adrenaline of recording studio and concerts. Readers who enjoyed viewing Maggie’s road to self discovery through the lens of music will love watching Piper come into her own.