Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Teens coming out in middle school.

The New York Times has an excellent article about teens coming out in middle school, how things have changed, and what remains challenging for them:

Coming Out in Middle School
Published: September 23, 2009

“When I first realized I was gay,” Austin interjected, “I just assumed I would hide it and be miserable for the rest of my life. But then I said, ‘O.K., wait, I don’t want to hide this and be miserable my whole life.’ ”

What has changed, that more kids are coming out at a younger age?

Not only were there increasingly accurate and positive portrayals of gays and lesbians in popular culture, but most teenagers were by then regular Internet users. Going online broke through the isolation that had been a hallmark of being young and gay, and it allowed gay teenagers to find information to refute what their families or churches sometimes still told them — namely, that they would never find happiness and love.

A humorous moment of frustration for one boy:

“It’s not like I have a lot of options anyway,” he said, echoing what I would go on to hear from many gay middle-schoolers. “I like guys who are nice and caring and don’t act like jerks to everyone. But this is middle school, where guys think it’s funny to pick their nose and fart really loud and laugh.”

One thing I found particularly interesting is how many adults instantly think coming out or having a Gay-Straight Alliance at a school is somehow about sex, but for the most part these kids are pretty innocent. For them it is about being comfortable and honest about who you are, and being able to talk openly about themselves, their hopes and dreams. Which is what I would want for any middle school kid.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Book Talks

As promised, here are the book talks from the Teen Contacts meeting.

Project Sweet Life by Brent Hartinger
Dave and his friends Victor and Curtis, turned 15 this year, which means they can get summer jobs. But everyone knows that once you start working at 16 (not 15), you are expected to keep working until you retire. So, they consider this summer their last summer of freedom...

Until their dads tell them they have no choice. And what will three teenage boys do to get out of having an "optional" summer job?

Pretty much anything.

They decide NOT to get jobs. Oh, they tell their families that they have jobs, even though they don't. And to prove to their suspicious dads that they have jobs, they'll get the money they would have earned (about $7,000) some other way...leaving the rest of the summer open for fun. And so, Project Sweet Life began.

Will the boys earn the money? Can they keep it secret from their families all summer? Read Project Sweet Life and find out.

Strange Angels - Lili St. Crow
What would you do if your dad, who went hunting a few nights ago and never came home, returned as a zombie and attacked you?

Yeah, it really sucks having to kill your own dad.

Dru Anderson has always known about the zombies, suckers, wulfen, and other things that go bump in the night...or, the "Real World," as she calls it. Ever since her mom's death, Dru and her dad have hunted the bad things most people don't know about.

But now sh
e's all alone. Except for her Goth friend Graves, who gave her a place to stay, she doesn't know anyone in the area. Now they are the ones being hunted. And Dru must learn more about who she is and what she can do if they hope to survive long enough to get out of town alive.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Conflux Festival - fun tech ideas

Penni sent me a link to this article about a cool arts and technology festival in New York City:

Conflux Festival Turns New York Into a Digital Playground
By Jenna Wortham
September 18, 2009

Folks are doing lots of imaginative and fun things with technology for this including:

* using iPhones to play virtual golf around the city
* The Urban Disorientation Game: Players are challenged to find their way back to the headquarters after being blindfolded and driven to remote parts of the city. Players will be asked to create maps and explore their surroundings as they make their way back to the starting point.
* Human Scale Chess Game
* IPhone Drum Circle

I don't imagine many of our teens have iPhones, but what sorts of fun and challenging events can we come up with that use the technology they do have access to? I've already gotten requests for more game tournaments and digital photography scavenger hunts. I'd love to see some innovative ideas for Teen Tech Month. The YALSA theme is Learn, Create, Share @ your library. What could we do that would help teens learn new skills, create cools stuff and show it off through our website?

Friday, September 18, 2009

virtual author visits

Interested in having an author interact with your teen group, but don't have the big bucks to spend on getting them to fly in? Consider using the internet! Jackie from Lynnwood found this great article on having virtual author visits using Skype.

Met Any Good Authors Lately? Classroom author visits can happen via Skype
By Kate Messner -- School Library Journal, 8/1/2009

Includes a list of those who do it for free!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

More on gangs...

Gang graffiti in Mountlake Terrace

First, I want to thank Dawn for arranging Heidi's presentation about gangs today. Even though we don't have as much of a problem on the island, I think it's important to be aware of the signs. Especially in Oak Harbor, I think there are a lot of teens that might find the gang lifestyle enticing.

The various signs and symbols got me thinking about some things I've seen a couple of kids drawing when I let them write on the white board, and I set off on a search to try and find reference to it on the internet. No luck yet, but I did run across a couple of things I wanted to share with you all.

Northwest Gangs - a resource specific to gang activity in the northwest. Be sure to visit the Flickr site that goes along with this resource. He's got a lot of pictures of graffiti and symbols from all over Washington.

I'm still looking for my particular symbol...

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Last month Dawn sent me the ARC of Scott Westerfeld's new book Leviathan, with the promise that I'd blog about it on one of the blogs within 30 days. I believe today is exactly 30 days from that offer - I actually thought I'd missed it by a day or two. Whew!


Leviathan seems to be getting some pretty good hype, what with the book trailer and release of illustrations ahead of the book release date. It's a new direction for Scott Westerfeld, away from the contemporary or futuristic books he's already written. That's something I like about Westerfeld's books and series - the fact that they're all different from each other.

So - how does Leviathan stack up to his other work? I've read So Yesterday, Uglies, and the first Midnighters so can't compare it to everything he's written. But I think it holds up well - I really liked it. I will admit that I'm already a fan of the Steampunk genre, so that might bias my opinion a bit. Just a bit. And I'm becoming more and more fond of alternate history tales as well - which of course could bias me a bit further.

The premise of the story - the leadup to WWI - is accurate to some degree but this of course is where Westerfeld tweaks history and runs with it. The Austrio-German side are the "Clankers" - reliant on metal, engines, and machinery, including walkers with varying numbers of legs and big guns. The British allies are referred to as "Darwinists" and have developed their vehicles and weaponry through the combination of biological creatures. Each force is formidable in its own right.

The main characters are believable and decently fleshed out, and I found them likeable. Alex, the Austrian prince who has been forced to flee after the assassination of his parents, has a few appropriately snotty royal moments but also learns from his mistakes and has compassion. Deryn, the young Scottish girl masquerading as a boy so that she can become a soldier and fly on the airships, is tenacious and spunky.

The tale is full of action from the beginning. There are chases, battles, and plenty of close calls for Alex and Deryn as their paths draw closer and closer together. By the end of it, I was grumbling that now I'm going to have to wait who knows how long for the next book!

Who should you recommend this book to? I think there will be a certain number of Westerfeld fans that will read it just because it's him, though it's possible not all of them will like this departure into the past. Teens who enjoyed Kenneth Oppel's Airborn series or Philip Reeve's Hungry City Chronicles will be certain to enjoy Leviathan. I would not hesitate to recommend it to both boys and girls, but overall I think the book may appeala bit more to boys.

Looks like I only need to wait a year for the next installment... better get going on those Mock Printz books!