With November halfway over, many aspiring writers are trying their best to complete NaNoWriMo (also known as National Novel Writing Month) where they are challenged to write a book by the end of the month. Life is especially hectic for teens as they juggle school assignments, clubs, sports, etc. So if any teens are attempting to do NaNoWriMo, they need lots of inspiration as they forge ahead on their writing journey. Here’s a round up of some resources to motivate potential teen writers:
Trying to stay on top of what is coming out in the world of books for teens can be a daunting task. Podcasts about books can be a great way to stay on top of things, and you can listen while multitasking. Listening to bookish podcasts not only has kept me more current with what is coming out, alerted me to movie adaptations, and grown my own TBR list, it has also improved my own booktalking game by hearing other folks’ enthusiasm and descriptions about titles.
Teens are often their own guides into how they consume pop culture and news media, and like their adult counterparts, they love the discussion of the art as much as enjoying the art itself. This kind of discussion reinforces school curriculum that also is about evaluating and discourse, and hones those life skills of understanding the world around them, and how they can contribute. Podcasts are an accessible form where one can tune in, and can be enlightening as they dig deeper into elements of culture, while also enhancing their own narrative skills, giving them language to better discuss and understand them.
Audio fiction podcasts are finally getting their comeuppance thanks largely to the success of the Welcome to Night Vale podcast. Serialized fiction podcasts are an engaging storytelling medium that is drawing the attention of teens and listeners of all ages. Since its start in June of 2012, this darkly funny podcast with its premise of local radio news show has been enchanting listeners. Set in the sleepy desert town of Night Vale, it has all the government conspiracies and unexplained phenomena of X Files, but are explored with a “News from Lake Wobegon” flavor ala Prairie Home Companion.
The 2015 book Welcome to Night Vale debuted in the top ten on the New York Time’s best seller list and continues to be a teen favorite. The podcast was first produced by Commonplace Books, but is now being produced by the creators own company Night Vale Presents. Night Vale Presents also produces other podcasts “both from the Night Vale artistic team and from other artists with a similar vision for independent, original podcasting.” Be sure to check out Alice Isn’t Dead, The Orbiting Human Circus, and Within the Wires.
It started with an addiction tothe Serial podcast hosted by Sarah Koenig created by those of This American Life. It was a true-crime story of the murder of a high school girl in 1999 in Baltimore. The presumed killer is her ex-boyfriend. Over the course of each episode, Koenig’s voice pulls listeners into the story, only to have to wait for the next installment. But it’s better than waiting a year or more for your favorite series book to come out. That’s the best part of podcasting, there can be a quicker turnaround than the process of publishing a book. And with the right tools, any teen can create a podcast and any youth services librarian can help with it.
The addiction to Serial then led to the second season about Bowe Bergdahl and wanting to hear more. Sometimes there isn’t time to watch and listen, you just want to listen: while running, while doing a mundane task, while riding public transportation. So I wanted a place that was able to pull these podcasts together on my device, so I downloaded Stitcher, an app that provides “radio on demand”, allowing you to add podcasts to your playlist, listening now or later, with my new favorite being The Moth Radio Hour, which has helped scientists map out the brain in this article by the LA Times. Others include Radiolab or iTunes or directly on sites where you can listen from your PC or that provide the RSS like NPR.
The suggestion like getting your feet wet with Twitter is that you lurk for a while. So queue up podcasts that interest you, whether it’s fitness tips from personal trainers to new TED talk topics, see what’s out there. Really listen to them. What do you like about the broadcast? Does it have some great theme music or does the person have a fantastic voice that is slow enough to understand? Does the podcast interview others or is it one person talking? Does it seem like it has a focus or is it unscripted? When I was listening, I would think about whether I could create a podcast and would anyone listen? What would I talk about? If you already know the answers to these questions, get started with your teens. It might be that you’re creating a new avenue for delivering school news and information and the podcast is created weekly by teen journalists. Or maybe your teen book group just finished reading dystopian novels and want to review their favorites.
Whether working in a public or an academic setting, or simply getting out in the community, yard signs and political ads bombard our lives during this election year. So how do we help teens navigate the serious issues, avoid bias, and understand the importance of voting?
By providing a variety of sources and creating an environment where teens can both ask questions in a safe environment and obtain accurate, and updated, information. In other words, we keep it professional and try to keep the teens respectful. We remain a library, a classroom, and professional. Here are some helpful election tools for your teens to learn about the election process and this year’s candidates.
Rock the Vote
Rock the vote is the “largest nonprofit and nonpartisan organization” where teens can register to vote, demystifying the myths of what is needed to vote ahead of and on voting day for each state. Celebrities and musicals of various genres are used heavily as PR tools. The goal is to get youth to the polls.
I Side With
I Side With provides a 10 minute quiz that covers foreign policy, environmental issues, social issues, domestic policy, and more. What makes this unlike any other quiz and far better than other quizzes is the depth of each question (Tip: expand each section for additional questions so that you take the full quiz). Don’t feel pressure to know all the topics, the I Side With quiz is prepared to help the most uninformed or confused quiz taker. There is a box in which the issue is explained in a lengthy summary should you need. I was a little surprised at the small percentage difference between my results.
Ted-Ed: Lessons Worth Sharing
This Ted-Ed video explains the Electoral College in a quick, informative layout of a Ted Talk. Ted Ed offers lessons from professionals with the entertainment of animators. In this video, teens can learn the difference between the Popular Vote and the Electoral College and how different states have different levels of importance.
It’s Science Week! Some feel science should just be left for homework, and for others it can totally be your jam, but science surrounds us, and it can be fascinating. Podcasts and videos can be a great way to explore your burning inquiries whether you have just a few minutes or a whole hour to delve into a topic.
YouTube has some entertaining and engrossing science channels that are worthy of note, whether it be for entertainment, education, or news. Here are some channels you should know about:
SciShow is a series of science-related videos on YouTube. The program is hosted by Hank Green of the VlogBrothers along with Michael Aranda, and has four new episodes per week. Their weekly lineup includes (channel’s descriptions):
- Mondays – Tune in for a short Dose about our weird world.
- Tuesdays – Find answers to our most asked Quick Questions.
- Wednesdays – Hank or Michael dives deep into a long-form Infusion episode, or an unscripted talk show or quiz show with a guest!
- Fridays – Learn the latest in science News.
Also check out their sister channels SciShow Space, which posts every Tuesday and Thursday, to explore the universe and beyond.
With Season 2 of the popular podcast Serial nearing the end of this current season, the FX original limited series, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, and the runaway Netflix hit Making a Murderer, our fascination with crime stories doesn’t seem to wane. Maybe the draw is that we want to see justice served, or we want to know if we could spot the true crime in a situation, or maybe it has something to do with the fact that, as one of the lawyers in Making a Murderer says, “We could all say that we’re never going to commit a crime. But we can never guarantee that someone else won’t accuse us of a crime.” Whatever the reason, one thing it does is challenge our worldview.
For readers that enjoy a suspenseful or thriller type mystery, true crime can be a great nonfiction option. True crime can also be a great gateway to other narrative nonfiction for readers that don’t see themselves as nonfiction readers; through it they might find themselves spellbound. Here is a list of heart-pounding true crime books and other media.
The Borden Murders: Lizzie Borden & the Trial of the Century by Sarah Elizabeth Miller
One of the most followed crime cases of the late 1800s, Miller reexamines the brutal crime that left Lizzie Borden’s father and step-mother hacked to death with an ax, and why so many thought it was Lizzie’s doing.
Chasing Lincoln’s Killer by James L. Swanson (2010 Best Books for Young Adults)
Relive the heart-racing account of the twelve-day chase and capture of John Wilkes Booth and his accomplices in this historical thriller.
Shortly after graduating from high school, Gantos accepted an offer of $10,000 to help sail a boat full of hash from St. Croix to New York, eventually landing him in prison.
How many times have you walked by your library’s bank of computers and seen teens laughing hysterically at Youtube clips? Have you ever passed a group of teens huddling over a phone watching someone commentating a video game? Do you hear the words Nerdfighters or Brofist but you don’t know what that means? Wonder no more; it’s just Youtube celebrities.
Youtube is free and easily accessible with a mobile device so many teens watch Youtube more than TV. Because of this, popular Youtubers have become mainstream and have even attained celebrity status. You’ll find Youtube celebrities in commercials and movies and you’ll also find them at library/book conventions. You might even see their face or slogans on t-shirts and other merchandise. Who are these Youtube celebrities and why are they so popular?
Pewdiepie-Swedish Youtube with over 39 million followers.
Pewdiepie to date has the most Youtube subscribers. (A subscriber is someone who follows a particular channel and receives email updates of that channel’s new videos.) Pewdiepie’s channel originally featured the Youtuber making comments as he played horror-based video games. His channel now features a daily vlog and animated videos. Pewdiepie ends many of his videos with a brofist which is simply a fist bump. Pewdiepie has a new book and has been a guest on Late Night with Stephen Colbert.
Are you a library staff member responsible for purchasing teen materials for your collection? If so, I encourage you to include listening to podcasts about teen literature and other teen media as part of your research into what to buy. In addition to tools such as collection analysis, surveys of your teen user population and media reviews, podcasts produced by those who have a passion for teen materials are a truly valuable resource. Podcasts also have the advantage of fitting easily into a busy schedule — you can listen while you eat lunch, walk or do things around the house…or just eat again…dessert?
In my research for this post, I sampled several podcasts dedicated to teen literature. Finding teen literature-focused podcasts was the main object of my search, although a couple of the podcasts which I will recommend do include discussion of other media. My main criteria for selecting a podcast to recommend were that it be currently active, largely focused on teen literature/media and hosted by someone with a background in teen literature/media (and ideally some experience working in teen library services or teaching).
The following is just a sampling of all the great teen literature podcasts out there—a place to start your listening. If you find that you enjoy a particular podcast, do provide feedback to its hosts to encourage them to continue their work! I also hope that you will add your own favorite teen literature or other media podcasts in the comments area of this post.
For each of the podcasts below, I have included a link to its accompanying Web site or blog. On each site or blog you will find links to podcast episodes as well as an indication regarding recommended listening apps to use.