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The Love Triangle in Young Adult Literature

This month’s post was submitted by Courtney Saldana, teen librarian at the Ovitt Family Community Library in Ontario.

It’s a well worn trope now: the completely normal (although absolutely fascinating) girl must choose between two very different boys who are both madly in love with her for unknown reasons. Is this ringing a bell yet? The gentlemen in question are always polar opposites. First, we have the gentle, mysterious and oh so classically handsome pick. He is generally first on the scene. You can expect him to perform some life saving measure on swoon worthy girl before the plot picks up too much. Enter boy #2. In stark contrast, this character will be attractive in a much different fashion. Blonde hair v. Black hair. Blue eyes v. Brown eyes. Vampire v. Werewolf. : ). Boy #2’s startling honesty and openness are a foil to the mystery that surrounds our first gentlemen. And when completely boring, but absolutely captivating girl is pushed to choose between the two – good ol’ teen, drama ensues.

So, what’s with the triangle that seems to have taken over young adult literature in recent years? It’s unfair to pin Stephanie Meyer with the full responsibility of this new feature. After all, love triangles have existed since Cathy and Heathcliff. And yet, there is no denying the spate of books featuring the now quite common triangle. And don’t be mistaken, this is not just a feature of the, also über popular, paranormal titles like Fallen by Lauren Kate and Nightshade by Andrea Cremer. These triangles can be found in realistic fiction like The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson and dystopian titles such as Matched by Ally Condie and The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

So, what gives? Are we to believe that young adult authors are attempting to reveal a universal teen truth? Do all teens experience some sort of triangle? Or, do all teens simply want to think that a triangle is possible? Quite possibly, it is the choice itself that attracts such a keen readership. After all, the choice is always dangerously poised between danger and safety. Bella always knew Jacob was safer choice than Edward; choosing Edward literally kills her. Ultimately, all these titles position the reader to ask themselves, “who would you choose?” and perhaps more importantly, “what does that choice say about you?”

An Unstructured Teenage Activity! You ask, “Will it work?” YES!

This entry is submitted by teen services librarian Joyce Brown from the Murrieta Public Library.

An Unstructured Teenage Activity!  You ask, “Will it work?”  YES!

 As I started brainstorming the idea of an “Own the Night” Teen Party as part of the Murrieta Public Library’s 2012 Summer Reading Program activities for our middle and high school patrons, I wanted to provide an unstructured social event that left room for teens to enjoy music, to have the opportunity to participate in some activities, and to hang out with old friends and possibly make new ones.  I mentioned this idea to our Library’s Teen Advisory Council and they liked it.  We talked about the event and decided to have music, food, and a couple of activities.  We scheduled it on a Tuesday evening, June 19 from 6 to 9 p.m., so that we would have the longest amount of daylight possible.

Our Library is blessed with an enclosed area right outside the Community Room that is named the Garden of Verses.  Yes, we have engraved quotes for people to read as they stroll around the garden.  One of the members of our Friends of the Murrieta Library recently replaced the decomposed granite areas with concrete.  The Friends also purchased patio furniture for the Garden making it a very welcoming place to host the music and social portions of the event.

Okay, I had a place to hold the event.  Now, how was I going to find local garage bands?  I contacted the School District/Library liaison.  She provided me with the names and e-mail addresses for the music and band instructors of the Murrieta Valley Unified School District.  This netted me one contact.  I needed more.  At the next Teen Advisory Council meeting, I asked the teens to help me find garage bands.  I struck gold!  One of the members knew several garage bands.  She talked to them and gave them my contact information.  Three bands contacted me and two ended up playing that night.  Both bands set up their equipment and took turns providing the music.

On the spur of the moment at the beginning of the evening, one of the staff members brought in some board games.  They were a hit.  Groups of teens were playing games in the Community Room and at the patio tables in the Garden of Verses.

In addition to the option to sit around and talk, I wanted to provide an opportunity for the teens to participate in planned activities.  One of our Youth Services staff members loves to line dance.  So, I had the bright idea to ask her to teach a few basic line dances.  She agreed and selected some dance routines and music.  However, when I invited the teens in attendance to come dance, no one accepted the invitation.  Wii games were also an option, but we never hooked them up.   The teens were too busy talking, listening to the music, and playing board games.

Food is always an important element of a successful teen party.  We were having pizza at our Grand Finale Party in July, so we decided to have sub sandwiches along with chips, crackers, cheese, dips, cookies, cream puffs, éclairs, and chocolate covered banana bites.  We set up tables out in the Garden for the teens to help themselves.  I created a detailed list of what food was to be served at half hour intervals.  The frozen dessert items appeared during the last hour of the party.  I wanted to keep the variety of food fresh, interesting, and tempting.

We keep statistics, so we had the teens sign-in when they arrived and gave each of them a lime green wristband to wear.  In our publicity, we asked the parents to pick up their teens by 9:10 p.m.

We had several Summer Reading Program teen volunteers help with set-up, registration, food preparation and serving, and clean-up.  One of the Teen Advisory Council volunteers also circulated with platters of dessert goodies.

Was this party a success?  YES!  We had teens that had never come to our other activities come to this one.  We plan to have another teen party in June 2013 with music, food, board games, and socializing  but I would make a few changes.  I would skip the dancing and Wii games.  I would have a brief ice breaker at the beginning of the party to stimulate new friendships.  I would provide a greater variety of  board games.

I declare this activity a winner!


Passive Activities for Teens

This entry is submitted by Jennifer Rapier from The Moreno Valley Public Library. Puzzles created by Christy Whorl.

Passive activities can be a great way to keep teens involved in the library or to spark their interest in programs or books.  Sometimes it can be difficult to find the right activity that succeeds with your teens, but anything that catches their interest and lets them have a voice typically works.

Some popular passive activities tried at the Moreno Valley Public Library have been:

  • Summer Reading activity book (filled with word searches, puzzles, trivia, etc) where teens get a prize for completing.
  • During the Summer Reading You Are Here theme, there was a map and a sign saying: You are here, where would you rather be?  Then teens marked on the map where they would like to be/go.
  • The Candy Guessing Game, where patrons match up parts of candy bars (wrapped in cellophane) with their name.
  • Puzzle This activity where teens solve jigsaw puzzles of book covers and then guess the name of the title.

Puzzle This!

The most popular game has been the Puzzle This game. This fun passive activity can be placed in your teen area. It is a great way to introduce new titles, have them guess favorites, or start a competition.

The game consists of putting up puzzles and letting the teens solve them. The puzzles are made from covers of YA novels with the title missing so the teens can guess the book after they solve the puzzle.

Below are the steps to making the puzzle:

  1. Find interesting covers of novels. I found most of my covers from Google Images. I also looked for images that were around 8 ½” by 6 ½”.
  2. Use a photoshop program to enlarge or shrink the image, if needed (i.e. Windows Paint).  Also, alter the image to cut out, blur, or erase the title and/or author.
  3. Print out photo and glue onto cardstock (or just print directly onto cardstock). Cut off any excess paper.
  4. Turn the cover into a puzzle by cutting it out into jigsaw pieces or other puzzle designs. It helps to draw the design on the back before cutting it.
  5. Glue magnets onto the back of the puzzle pieces. Alternately, print out the cover on magnetic paper or attach the pieces to Velcro or other materials.

Playing the game:

  1. Put your puzzle pieces in your teen area on a magnetic place such as a whiteboard or metal bookcase (or for Velcro, an area that supports Velcro).  Put several titles out at a time for a challenge.
  2. Rotate pieces as needed. The Moreno Valley Library typically rotates them bi-weekly.
  3. Teens can then put the puzzles together and guess the name of the book. The Moreno Valley Library puts the answers on the library’s Twitter and Facebook account.

Hope this blog post gave you some passive programming ideas. Have fun finding and using various passive activities and games at your library!

Tech meets fashion!

This entry is submitted by Edwin Rodarte from the Ontario City Library.

Have you been looking for a craft to attract the alternative teens at your library, show off a little, and geek out all at the same time? Then this is the craft for you!

I came across this craft while browsing www.instructables.com which contains step by step instructions of crafts, hobbies, and some other very unique ideas. I adapted it to make it a bit more affordable.

This craft combines duct tape, LED lights, and a small lesson in electric conductivity to create some awesome and fashionable bracelets also known as BraceLEDs. These bracelets are not only visually appealing but also gender friendly. An added bonus is the technology aspect that is introduced, attracting the more techie teens. One thing to keep in mind is that this craft is by no means easy but if done correctly you will end up with an awesome LED bracelet that will wow your teens.

So what do you need for such a craft?

  • Duct tape of any color (the more choices the better) – $3.99 a roll
  • Aluminum Foil – $0.99
  • Double Sided Tape – $0.99
  • 5mm LED lights (about 5 per bracelet) – $15 for 100 in Amazon
  • Button shaped batteries (models 2032 or 2450) – $8.50 for 20 in Amazon
  • Velcro dots or squares – $2.00 in Walmart
  • Total Cost for 20 teens: about $1.75 per bracelet

Tools you need:

  • Scissors

STEP 1: Lay two pieces of duct tape against one another. This will create the base of your bracelet. Make sure that the length of it is sufficient to go around your wrist and clasp.





STEP 2: Place a strip of double-sided tape at the top of the bracelet and another one just below the first strip of tape. You should end up with two stripes of tape in the same side of the bracelet.

STEP 3: Take the LED light’s and bend the connectors flat in an L shape pattern. Lay them flat on top of the two double-sided strips of tape. Note: Make sure that all the positive connectors are on one side of the bracelet, and all the negative connectors are on the other. (These can be differentiated by length. If unsure, test them out with a battery)

STEP 4: Cut two long strips of aluminum foil in an L pattern. Place the foil on top of the LED lights. The double-sided tape should hold in place the aluminum foil. Fold the leftover aluminum foil under the bracelet for one side and over the bracelet for the opposite side. Make sure that each of the sides do not touch one another.

STEP 5: Cut a strip of duct tape of another color to cover the aluminum foil. Do this for both sides of the bracelet.

STEP 6: At this point you should have two small strips of aluminum foil left over. Use these to test out the bracelet with the battery.

STEP 7: Place the Velcro circles at the end of the bracelets so that they may work as a clasp.

STEP 8: Tape down the battery on top of the aluminum foil.





Voila! You should now have a battery operated LED bracelet. These can be used to show off, in dances, at a glow party, or at any other night activity. If you have questions or comments about the craft, do let me know. Some problems that I came across was the fact that some LED’s where not working so please test them out with a battery before giving them to your teens.






The original idea with instructions can be found here: http://www.instructables.com/id/an-even-better-BraceLED-version-2Ooooohhhh/


Congratulations to our very own Lisa Brock on her acceptance into the 2012 Eureka! Leadership Institute.  Lisa is a valuable asset to the YA committee and an amazing friend to have on your side.  Best of luck on your time with Eureka!


Courtney Saldana
ILS YA Committee Chair

Fun and Easy Crafts for Summer Reading

This month’s entry is from Deidra Tillett from Upland City Library.

With a theme like “Own the Night” we can interpret it many ways. With a tool like Pinterest at our disposal the craft ideas are endless. Here are some fun and simple crafts that can be done for the different programs this summer.

3D Stars

An easy decorating idea is to make three dimensional stars.

– 6” Squares (either origami paper or recycled paper)
– Pencil
– Scissors
– Glue

This is a fun and easy craft that can be used all around your teen space.


Zombie Doll

We all love our zombies! How about zombiefying dolls and action figures?

– Dolls or action figures-(you can find this at your local dollar store)
– Tempera paint & paint brushes
– Scissors
– Markers
– Nail polish (optional)
– Dirt (optional)

You will have to paint your zombies before your program. This will keep the actual time down to just about 20 min. You let the teens use their imagination in how they want to do the clothes and their zombie face. This was is a low cost craft that lets your teens be creative.

Ninja Throwing Stars

We all love duct tape and here is another great use for this amazing material.

This is an easy tutorial that we found on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_6qeQP2O4A&feature=relmfu 

– Duct tape

That’s it! Follow along with the YouTube tutorial and you will have a great craft for teens.

Monster Eyes

We are doing this craft for our “Things that go bump in the night” program.

It’s a simple craft that will let your teens use their imaginations.

– Ping pong ball
– Exacto knife or box cutter
– Permanent marker
– Tea lights (found at dollar store 3 for a dollar)

The way that we did this craft here was we cut an “x” into the ping pong ball before  you give to the  teens. Let the teens create any scary image or eyeball that they want using permanent marker (you can use washable marker but colors aren’t as bold). You then put the ball onto your tea light and it lights up.


A lot of the ideas that we are using here at the Upland Public Library were found on Pinterest. There are some great ideas for all year round as well as for this summer. You can check out both my board and the Teen Programming in Libraries board on Pinterest.