Teen Book Festivals

It seems like I keep hearing about more and more teen book festivals happening around the country. These one- or two-day events usually feature a large roster of YA authors to talk about their books and teen lit in general, sign books, and interact with readers. It looks like most of these festivals are teen-focused and are often organized by librarians and teachers, with assistance from local bookstores. I’m a little envious that there isn’t one near me, so I figured I’d live vicariously by visiting a lot of their sites and rounding up the festivals! Let me know if I’ve left any off the list.

NoVaTEEN Book Festival
Saturday, March 8, 2014
Arlington, VA

Colorado Teen Literature Conference
Saturday, April 5, 2014
Denver, CO

The Greater Houston Teen Book Convention
Saturday, April 26, 2014
Houston, TX

Pasadena Teen Book Fest
Saturday, April 26, 2014
Pasadena, CA

Greater Rochester Teen Book Festival
Saturday, May 17, 2014
Rochester, NY

Round Rock, TX

Austin Teen Book Festival
Austin, TX

Charleston, SC

YAK Fest
Fort Worth, TX

Primarily for Librarians and Educators

YALSA YA Literature Symposium
November 14-16, 2014
Austin, TX

Young Adult Literature Conference
Naperville, IL

Major Book Festivals with a Large YA Component

Los Angeles Times Festival of Books
April 12-13, 2014
Los Angeles, CA

National Book Festival
Saturday, August 30, 2014
Washington, DC

YA Programming Blogs

As a newly practicing teen librarian, I’ve found that reading about successful programs and services for teens to be especially helpful. Blogs are a perfect medium for sharing of-the-minute ideas, talking honestly about what worked and what didn’t, and generating responses from others. Unfortunately blogs come and go, so it can be difficult to keep up with what’s new and current. Here are a few of my favorite blogs written by librarians that feature programming ideas or other services for teens or tweens.


Beth Reads

Beth is a youth services librarian in Ohio who posts about books and programs, mostly YA-related. Some recent posts I’ve found helpful have included: Ice Breakers for Teen Program Success, Doing More With Summer Reading Data, and Jump Start Your Book Club: A Change Will Do You Good. You should also check out her one-minute book talk series. Her posts are very thoughtful and coming from a place of experience, so it’s worth going through her archives.


The Magpie Librarian: A Librarian’s Guide to Modern Life and Etiquette

Ingrid, a children’s and teen librarian in NYC, blogs about books, programs, and other things of interest to the library world. I especially love her teen displays like It’s Time for a Body Positive Brooklyn: Look, I finished that display, finally., Queering up the Library: A finished display, and Oy with the Jokes Already: A totally jokey YA display with a totally broken color printer. You might also appreciate Tree Octopuses, Hate Sites, Agatha Ann Cunningham: The “Oh, C’MON!” Menagerie of Information Literacy, which discusses information literacy and a fake library ghost story crafted by two teen library interns.



Sarah is a teen librarian from Michigan. She has been blogging at Teenbrarian for just about a year and posts a lot about her regular programs. She has some good insight about hosting Minecraft programs, a Trivia program, and Dungeons and Dragons.


Young Adult Activities

A group of librarians share program ideas suitable for middle and high school audiences. I particularly enjoyed Updated: Urban Legends (I’ll be incorporating this into my summer reading programming!),  How to Survive a Horror Movie, Bike Rodeo.


Zen and the Art of Teen Services

Sarah, a teen librarian from Ohio, talks books, programs, teen trends, and more. Her post about Anatomy of a Teen Event Flyer is a must-read for any librarians who design their own flyers. Other great posts include Beyond Anime: 100+ ideas to keep your otaku happy!, Feeding teens, and Beyond Book Clubs & Gaming: Creating dynamic programs to which your teens will flock!. I wish she would post more!

Find more librarian blogs on my links page or take a look at previous link roundups:

Graphic Novel Resources for Librarians

There’s no denying that comic books, graphic novels, manga, and the like are as popular as ever. But where can a librarian start to get a handle on these materials? Here are a few resources to get your feet wet in the wide world of graphic novels.

  • No Flying No Tights: A group review site written by librarians for librarians featuring reviews of graphic novels, manga, and anime for kids through adults. Also offers other recurring features like best of lists, top 5 lists on different topics, and interviews with artists. (Full disclosure, I review for this site)
  • Graphic Novel Reporter: This site, part of the Book Report Network, produces a huge amount of content. Besides reviews for kids through adults, there are interviews, editorials, lists, behind-the-scenes peeks into the industry, and more.
  • Good Comics for Kids: A collaborative blog hosted by School Library Journal featuring news and reviews on comics and graphic novels for kids and teens
  • Comics Worth Reading: News and reviews of graphic novels, manga, comic books, and related subjects. Intelligent and well-written take on the industry, especially appreciate the manga coverage and the comics by women list.
  • Great Graphic Novels for Teens: The year’s best graphic novels for teens as selected by a YALSA committee, started in 2007. (Note, you will have to log in or fill in a survey to view the lists)
  • ALSC Graphic Novels Core Collection: A selected list of graphic novels for grades K-2, 3-5, and 6-8 created by Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) in October 2011. Mostly recent titles.

Do you have a favorite resource for graphic novel reviews and news? Let me know in the comments!

Resource Spotlight: YALS Online Companion

If you’re a YALSA member, hopefully you received your print copy of the winter issue of Young Adult Library Services (YALS). For an extended reading experience (even for non-members), check out the new online companion to YALS, which features additional links and resources related to the current issue. As a member of the YALS advisory board, I contributed a post related to an article on the juvenile justice system. Another member wrote about additional resources for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), which is the issue’s theme. Keep the site on your radar as new content will be added monthly!

YA Starred Books of 2011

I’ve been keeping track of the starred reviews for YA books published this year in the big six reviewing publications — The Horn Book, Publisher’s Weekly, School Library Journal, Booklist, Kirkus Reviews, and The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books. Some movers and shakers within the last month or so are:

Four Stars

  • A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
  • Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
  • Steampunk! An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories by Kelly Link and Gavin G. Grant, eds.
  • The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Three Stars

  • Island’s End by Padma Venkatraman
  • Lie by Caroline Bock
  • Life: An Exploded Diagram by Mal Peet
  • Now is the Time for Running by Michael Williams
  • Welcome to Bordertown by Holly Black & Ellen Kushner, eds.
  • You Against Me by Jenny Downham

Two Stars

  • Between by Jessica Warman
  • Brooklyn Burning by Steve Brezenoff
  • Now Playing: Stoner & Spaz II by Ron Koertge
  • Pregnant Pause by Han Nolan
  • The Isle of Blood by Rick Yancey
  • This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel
  • Wisdom’s Kiss: A Thrilling and Romantic Adventure, Incorporating Magic, Villany and a Cat by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

Check out the full list here. Let me know if you notice any omissions!

Resource Spotlight: Kirkus Reviews

Kirkus Reviews, one of the oldest book review sources, may seem a little obvious to call out as an interesting resource. But with its change in ownership last year also came a website redesign — one that’s sharp, modern, and easy-to-use. Besides current and upcoming pre-pub reviews, the site has thousands of archived reviews that are freely available to non-subscribers. It’s also simple to see just the starred reviews among the results you’re viewing.

The reviews are great for collection development, of course, but the Kirkus editors are also frequently creating fantastic curated lists of books that are useful for creating displays and recommended booklists. Some recent YA lists include:

  • YA’s Gory Horror Stories
  • Better Native American Representations
  • Bullies, Bullying and Being Bullied

and the uber-specific:

  • Horse Stories and Circus Acts in YA Historical Fiction

If you haven’t taken a look at Kirkus Reviews lately, it’s worth poking around to learn about some great books, both new and old, for yourself or for your library.


Resource Spotlight: YA-related Podcasts Revisited

Almost two years ago, I did a round-up of YA-related Podcasts. I’ve been noticing a few new podcasts recently, so thought it would be appropriate to revisit the topic.

Launched in April 2011, Authors are ROCKSTARS! covers YA lit, particularly the authors behind the books themselves. Hosted by Michelle, a YA blogger and voice actor, and Allison, a teen librarian, the podcast comes out monthly and features author interviews, book recommendations, and music. They also do special edition shows usually in conjunction with local book signings and other author events.

CYA: Children and Young Adult Book Review Podcast Blog has been broadcasting since December 2009 and comes out about twice a month. Hosted by a group of five librarians, the hour-long show includes commentary about issues in librarianship and/or books, a featured book discussion, and book and other pop culture recommendations. The podcast is funded by the Institute of Museums and Library Services through the Library Services Technology Act and is sponsored by the Oklahoma Department of Libraries.

girls in the STACKS features four book reviewers talking about primarily YA lit. Each weekly episode ranges from 15 to 30 minutes and usually focuses on one book, though there are occasionally special guests and other topics. The girls also have a regularly updated blog and sometimes do vlogs.

Kitsune Heart is a reader, writer, and aspiring librarian. She recently started a book review podcast, Kitsune’s Library, with a featured review, book recommendations, flash reviews of shorter works, and other thoughts.

I highlighted The YA Literature Review the last time around and it’s still producing new episodes every few weeks or so. It has been around since summer of 2008. Hosted by Vilate and occasional guests, the podcast features book reviews, author interviews, story readings, and news.

The Fireside Book Chat, which features reviews of teen books by teens, has been around since early 2009. The podcast is part of a high school class and is hosted by the teacher. Each segment covers one book and is less than 10 minutes long.

Plus, don’t forget about YALSA’s podcast series about all aspects of YA librarianship, now up to 100 episodes!

Do you listen to any YA podcasts? Did I miss any gems?

Resource Spotlight: Pinterest

Pinterest is a visual bookmarking website with a heavy social element based on the concept of tangible inspiration pinboards. Once you install the bookmarklet, it’s simple to ‘pin’ images from websites and their associated URLs. Pins are saved onto user-defined boards and can also be tagged with keywords. Besides saving your own pins, you can see what your friends have saved, browse pins by category, or search. All pins can be saved to your own account by re-pinning or liking them. It’s a great way to remember a project you want to try or to just get inspired.

While the site is heavily used by fashion, food, and interior design bloggers, there are also a huge amount of crafts and diy projects that would be perfect for library programs. I’ve noticed librarians and teachers starting to create boards for this purpose. For example, the children’s librarians involved with Flannel Fridays have created an account to share flannel board ideas, Kelly from Stacked and Field Acquisitions has a board dedicated to Teen/Tween Program Ideas, and I’m collecting inspiring teen and tween library spaces. I also recommend browsing the DIY tag for ideas!

Pinterest is still technically in beta, so there sometimes problems loading the site and you need to be invited. You can request one directly from the site or ask a friend to invite you — everyone gets invites to dole out.

Have you been using Pinterest? Need an invite? Let me know in the comments!

Resource Spotlight: Reading Everywhere

reading everywhere
I’m not sure how Reading Everywhere slipped past my librarian blog radar, but I’m glad I discovered this great resource. According to her bio, Allison is “a teen services librarian and mom of two, reading anywhere and everywhere when I can grab a spare moment! I love connecting kids and teens to awesome books, and enjoy keeping up with the latest titles so I can pass along my favorite recommendations to young readers.” The blog has been up since January 2011 and besides thoughtful and easy-to-read book reviews, she also writes about library programming and librarianship in general. I’ve recently enjoyed her How to Run A Tween Book Club series (Part 1, 2, 3) and her post on Customer Service 101. Definitely add this blog to your RSS reader!

Resource Spotlight: More Favorite Librarian Blogs

Last year I featured a few librarian blogs that regularly have top-notch content and that I enjoy reading. Since then, I’ve added a few more favorites to my feed reader that I find myself looking forward to. Feel free to mention some of your own favorites in the comments!

So Cal Connection
Started in January, this group blog features insights from six children’s and teen librarians from the San Diego area. So far, posts have covered topics like planning workshops, running a Lego club, and experience bringing teens to ALA Midwinter. This is a fantastic resource to keep an eye on! Look for a librarian spotlight next week of one of the contributors (and my roommate in library school!).

Wendy on the Web
Wendy Steadman Stephens is a teacher librarian from Alabama who shares all kinds of useful insights on literature, technology, and professional development. As someone who doesn’t have experience working in a school, it’s a great peek into that setting, but is still relevant for non-school librarians as well.

Run by three librarians, Stacked is chock full of amazing book and library-related content. Besides a huge number of insightful book reviews, the blog also includes author interviews, display ideas, and general musings on literature and librarianship. This is great for librarians of all stripes, as well as lovers of YA lit in general.