Sunday, October 31, 2010


These are chilling statistics:

"Some 72 percent of teens who are frequent Internet users say they've been the victim of online bullying at least once during the past year, with 90 percent of them saying they don't tell their parents about the online incidents, mainly because they feel the need to deal with the problem on their own and are fearful of parental restrictions on Internet use" ("Space bullies," 2008).

"A recent study by the Cyberbullying Research Center ( shows that one in five middle-school students has been affected by such malicious acts, which the organization defines as "willful and repeated harm" inflicted through phone and computer technology" ("Bully Pulpit," 2010).

"When i-Safe America surveyed 4th-8th grade students in 2004, they found that 42% of kids had been bullied -- but more than half had never told their parents or an adult And, of the 1500 surveyed, 53% admitted saying something mean to someone online ( The Pew Internet & American Life Project found that one-third of teens surveyed had been bullied online (Len-hart 2007). A September 2008 online survey detailed in the Journal of School Health stated that 72% of respondents reported at least one online bullying incident -- and 90% said they didn't tell an adult about it" (Fredrick, 2009).

Librarians need to be aware of the undercurrents of tween and teen life. It important to make kids feel "empowered, educated and supported" ("Bully Pulpit," 2010) and spread the message about being responsible online as well as respecting people for their individuality and not making fun of it. Librarians can be prepared with an arsenal of printed materials as well as online resources ready for tweens and teens to discretely access if they're not willing to speak up. If we are able to show that there are ways to fight cyberbullying and provide the tools and backup, hopefully those being bullied will know they have support and will be able to help others with the same problem.

Possible solutions include holding meetings and workshops for tweens and teens concerning cyberbullying. The Monmouth County Library was one that hosted an evening of programming with discussions and performances by a theater group. Other libraries can take this as an example of being proactive. Books and websites about bullying of any kind can not only help the one being bullied but also convince bystanders to help and not participate in the bullying. Sending the message about telling adults is one that librarians should spread; I think that as librarians we should also make sure to get to know the tweens and teens we serve in order to be able to offer advice and be seen as an adult that can be trusted.


·       Dealing With Bullies –
·       It's My Life--Bullies  -
·       McGruff--Bullies      -
·       Stop Bullying Now   -


Bully pulpit. (2010). Brandweek, 51(38), 12-13. Retrieved from Academic Search Premier database at Persistent URL:

Fredrick, K. (2009). Meangirls (and boys): Cyberbullying and what can be done about it. School Library Media Activities Monthly, 25(8), 44-5. Retrieved from Library Lit & Inf Full Text database at Persistent URL: Fredrick, K. Mean Girls (and Boys): Cyberbullying and What Can Be Done about It. School Library Media Activities Monthly v. 25 no. 8 (April 2009) p. 44-5

Monmouth County Library hosts program on cyberbullying and sexting. (2010, October 28). Targeted News Service. Retrieved October 31, 2010, from ProQuest Newsstand. (Document ID: 2175119561).

Space bullies. (2008, November) School Library Journal, 54, 11. p.15(1). Retrieved October 31, 2010, from General Reference Center Gold via Gale.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Plugged-In Tweens

The virtual world has opened up a lot of opportunities for today's youth beyond social networking sites and Twitter. Technology is improving ways that tweens can stay connected and up to date with what interests them. As librarians, we should keep our eyes open for new trends in their online world.

As I was browsing online, I found an article in USA Today, about tweens being more socially responsible. I thought that in comparison to when I was in that age group, some 10 years ago, there have been more opportunities to help out and volunteer available simply because it is easier to make people aware of the cause through the Web. When I was a tween, I wasn't very aware of the ways I could help beyond the occasional comments made at school or on kids' programs… mostly the educational ones, though Disney and Nickelodeon did show kids doing good deeds and encouraging viewers to do the same.

This article by Sharon Jayson (2010) is about tweens that "have created their own non-profits, and… websites enlisting the support of kids like themselves who also want to help others." Reading about these kids who are in middle and elementary school is inspiring and makes you want to encourage others to think outside the box in ways to help a good cause.

I think that with so many issues, like poverty, natural disasters and concerning the environment, being in the media so much, that tweens are using their natural thirst for knowledge to become informed and then try to make a difference. As librarians, we should remember to insert some nonfiction recommendations that may interest those tweens that we see showing concern about global issues. Creating displays that link volunteering and doing good deeds with the nonprofit websites made by peers their own age would raise interest in helping the global community.


Sharon, J. (2010, October 14). Tweens reach out to help others at home, globally. USA Today, Retrieved from Academic Search Premier database at Persistent URL:

Monday, October 18, 2010

Outliers - They need to feel welcome in the library as well

Libraries are meant to be open to the public – meaning all sorts of people are supposed to be free to use the library… but so what if they can come in – how are they supposed to feel welcome when there aren't many materials that appeal to their population? Tweens and teens coming into the library for reading materials expect to find something that resonates with who they are. They hope to find characters similar to themselves on the shelves and when they don't, I believe that they lose some faith in the library.

David Levithan, writes that "being gay is not an issue, it is an identity unlike his insular town. It is not something that you can agree or disagree with. It is a fact, and must be defended and represented a fact" (2004, p. 44). This indicates to me that authors are aware of what needs to be done in order to properly represent an outlier population; it is now up to librarians to make sure they do so. Levithan believes that, "Silencing books silences the readers who need them most. And silencing these readers can have dire, tragic consequences (2004, p. 44). So this makes me ask, how are we supposed to help a group of tweens and teens that are either searching to find who they are by reading a variety of books in hopes of finding a character similar to themselves or are looking for support?

An inspiring article I read by Carlos Alcala (2007) is about how a High School English teacher saw that there was a lack of gay and lesbian reading materials for her LGBT teens to read. Kim Wallace made the decision to write something that would appeal to her students; Wallace wrote Erik & Isabelle: Freshman Year at Foresthill High and three other books in a series for LGBT teens. I think that this is a great example of someone noticing a population not being represented in reading materials and then putting in the effort to correct that mistake.


Alcala, C.  (2007, November 1). Gay student literature series a hit :[METRO FINAL Edition]. The Sacramento Bee,p. G1.  Retrieved October 18, 2010, from ProQuest Newsstand. (Document ID: 1375910221).

Levithan, D. (2004, October). Supporting gay teen literature: an advocate speaks out for representation on library shelves.  School Library Journal, 50, 10. p.44(2). Retrieved October 18, 2010, from General Reference Center Gold via Gale:

The article that inspired this post, about coming out in middle school:

Denizet-Lewis, B., Murray, C., & Buffett, S.. (2009, September). Coming out in middle school. New York Times Magazine,36-41,52,54-55.  Retrieved October 18, 2010, from New York Times. (Document ID: 1873513361).

Monday, October 11, 2010

Getting Boys to Read in a Pink and Sparkly Book Aisle

 Boys are tough nuts to crack… many boys, due to peer pressure, try and avoid being seen with a book in their hands that isn't the latest hit among their friends. Unless the book is something about cars, boys that get into trouble, sports or war – they're not going to go near it.

A YALSA study of boys averaging age 14, polled boys asking why they don't read: "answers included "boring/no fun" (39 percent); "no time/too busy" (30 percent); "like other activities better" (11 percent); "can't get into the stories" (8 percent); and "I'm not good at it" (4 percent)" (Jacobs, 2008, p. 27). Apparently in fourth grade is when things start to slide downhill. One of the reasons stated is that, again, reading is seen as a girly thing and boys try to avoid it like being smooched by their mother in front of the school.  The article also points out that it is in middle school where the books get thicker and have less and less pictures – things get serious here, including the research required for homework. I believe that this is where librarians can step in by promoting graphic novels and manga to allow tween boys a break from treading in deep water. The point of suggesting books that offer something else than the standard required reads at school is to offer something fun that makes reading less of a challenge/chore.

There's a danger zone for librarians, I think, especially since many of us are women and tend to read books that include emotions and relationships as personal reading choices. What happens often is that not enough boy books are read and there's little to draw from when suggesting a book to a boy, which is why I plan to try and balance out what I am reading for both boys and girls. I noticed that when I was in school, a lot of the in-class reads were books more geared towards girls; many of my teachers were women, so that may have played a role in how things turned out. I don't know how many boys enjoyed reading The House on Mango Street

I think that one way to encourage boys to read is to lead by example – have the men in their lives that they look up to read books. Using male celebrities, like sports stars or actors to encourage reading is a step in the right direction. It would be nice to see READ posters shot more from the style of paparazzi – where the star looks as if they're unaware of the camera and is reading a book and enjoying it. The goal is to show that reading books – especially the fun ones – doesn't have to be done in the safety of a bedroom.

Genres that appeal to boys: adventure, biography, crime and detective, ghost stories, graphic novels, historical novels, horror, humor, informational books, sci-fi, sports, spy novels and war stories

Boys also like magazines and newspaper articles

Jacobs, M. (Sept 2008). Guys read guys books: what's the secret to boys and reading? Give them books about things they like: adventure, biography, science fiction, sports, and yes, even gross humor.  Scouting, 96, 4. p.26(5). Retrieved October 11, 2010, from General Reference Center Gold via Gale.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Reading Up – Choices, Choices, Choices… and Responsibilities

 When it comes to reading up, I find that tweens often look up to their older peers for guidance. At this stage, they can't wait until "tomorrow" and want to grow up fast to be able to do what everyone else is doing. I believe it is the same case with reading… even if some of the content goes right over their heads. If a book becomes popular and it happens to be for an older audience, tweens will still clamor to get it and read it in order to be seen as "cool" by their peers – great examples are Harry Potter and Twilight. These books may have messages that require a more developed brain to understand and be able to see what the author was writing in between the lines. Many of the topics that are considered unsuitable contain sex, substance use, violence, and language… but in a way, it is up to the reader to decide whether they feel comfortable reading it. I know there are readers that will just read right through and not even notice the harshness of what they just read because they are more interested in the story or they don't think about how something is inappropriate.

This leads me to an article about realistic fiction – which is a genre that deals with stories that take place in modern time and with characters that experience events that could really happen. Books deal with self-realization, problems, and tolerance among other topics.

In the article by Younker and Webb (2005), the authors focus on the lack of a fair representation of realistic fiction that deals with minorities. The authors find it unfair that many minorities are misrepresented and often labeled as criminals simply because so many books focus on reinforcing stereotypes. The article is about trying to encourage authors and publishers to refrain from incorrectly portraying minorities, thus creating stereotypes. I found that the data presented showed that the books were inaccurate when they portrayed a character from a minority as a drug dealer or trouble maker and I found that troubling. If tweens are to be represented fairly, then it should be made sure that minorities are represented accurately and not in some way that doesn't encourage tweens to grow into well rounded adults.

As librarians, it is up to us to create a collection that supports the members of our community, but how are we to do that when what is available is inaccurate? If these are the titles available, and tweens are looking to read up, then of course they're going to find the content a little more on the darker side of things. I think that creating standards in what is acceptable, not in the content itself, but the quality and representation of that content, is what we should be trying to do. I don't think this is censorship because again, it is not about omitting a book about teens getting in a bad situation, just making sure that there isn't a minority that is being incorrectly represented, when there is a better book available out there with a similar subject, just with a more fair outlook.

Younker, J., & Webb, S. (2005). Mind the Gap: What's missing in realistic teen fiction about minorities. Voice of Youth Advocates, 28(3), 197-201. Retrieved from Library Lit & Inf Full Text database at Persistent URL:

Younker, J. M., et. al., Mind the Gap: What's Missing in Realistic Teen Fiction About Minorities [Bibliographical essay]. Voice of Youth Advocates v. 28 no. 3 (August 2005) p. 197-201

Friday, October 1, 2010

Meeting informational needs of tweens with different maturity levels and interests

Tweens love to learn new things. At this stage, they are still trying to identify who they are (and this continues throughout the teenage years, sometimes into the early twenties). I think that through various displays that include both elements of fiction and nonfiction, tweens can be encouraged to explore new subjects. Tying activities that fictional characters do in books to their nonfiction counterpart is a good way to encourage tweens to read more developmentally appropriate and challenging materials.

As librarians, we need to "encourage every young teen to think critically and continually ask questions about their reading and knowledge, leading them to seek more understanding through better resources" (Hager, 2007, p. 33). I believe that as a librarian, one should encourage not only knowledge, but creativity as well – encourage tween brains to branch out into the more artistic areas. Tie in the need to be fashionable, the need that usually strikes girls as they hit tweendom, with books on growing up. At this stage it would be good to incorporate books that show how there are many different styles/looks for people and that it is important to explore identity. Many famous people have written books on style, including Mary Kate & Ashley Olsen who wrote the book Influence, a reflection on their journey and what has helped make them who they are today. This book included four sections - Fashion, Environment, Art and Giving Back – showing aspects of a well-rounded journey to adulthood. Books like Influence and The Teen Vogue Handbook offer avenues for tweens to explore and wonder about who they are going to become. 


Hager, B. (2007). And knowing is half the battle, when entering the zone: Nonfiction resources for 'tweens and young teens. In S.B. Anderson (Ed.) Serving young teens and 'tweens. (pp. 31-64). Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.