Welcome to TweenCity!

Welcome to TweenCity!

This blog is designed to be a selection resource for children between the ages of 9-14, as well as a reader's advisory tool for both current and future librarians.

PLEASE NOTE: An appropriate age range is given for each title, however this is merely a suggestion. Children, especially tweens, read at many different levels which cannot be determined simply by age or grade level. Therefore, it is important to assess each child's reading level before suggesting titles. In addition, since this blog is designed for tweens only, some titles listed may also be appropriate for children older or younger than ages 9-14, but these ages will not be listed.

Ages 9-12: Elementary school level (Grades 3-6)
Ages 12-14: Middle school level (Grades 7-8)


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Lupa, R. (2007). Programming for 'Tweens and Young Teens. In S. B. Anderson (Ed.), Serving Young Teens and 'Tweens (pp. 87-109). Westport: CT, Libraries Unlimited. 


Tweens have not outgrown the library, but sometimes a library has a tendency to outgrow their tweens. Tweens are no longer satisfied with simple storytimes and summer reading programs. They need a place that can offer activities which not only foster a love of reading, but also encourage interaction with their peers. Sometimes the library becomes "a place to go" after school or when they are not in school. So tweens and teens, like young children, are also looking for a place in the library just for them. This area should offer computers for homework and personal use, tables and seating to use for projects or meeting centers, and a variety of materials aimed specifically at them. There should also be extra activities and events aimed at the tween population, which are extremely important in attracting new patrons into the library (especially reluctant readers).

One of the programming ideas that resonated with me was collaborating with other agencies. With budget constraints, this is one idea that should never be ignored! There are numerous businesses and non-profits in each town or city who are willing to trade services--the event is free advertising for the agency and provides a diversity of programming for tweens. This idea also helps tweens to become familiar with agencies in their community, and can possibly lead to tweens volunteering their time or supporting causes that are important to them. Tweens are also starting to think about what they want to be when they grow up--bringing in outside agencies to sponsor or lead events in the library can offer tweens the opportunity to discover what interests them.

One of the things that was lacking in the discussion was a greater integration of different cultures into the programming. I would include events such as a Japanese Origami Lesson and Tea Party to teach about cultural traits through crafts and food to help better educate tweens, while still providing a fun and enjoyable event. Another thing that is lacking is the promotion of physical fitness with children--and libraries can join the cause by holding events that center around healthy eating and regular exercise to foster a population of physically fit tweens.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Czarnecki, K. (2007). A revolution in library service. School Library Journal, 53(5). Retrieved October 22, 2010, from http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/article/CA6438272.html?q=revolution+in+library+service

Young teens, or tweens, are the most prevalent gamers--tween boys especially. Since tween boys are some of the most reluctant readers, gaming programs might entice those reluctant readers into the library. Libraries like the ones we have read about cited as much as a 20% increase in circulation of tween/teen materials when gaming was added. Researchers are now discovering that gaming also promotes social interaction with others, including their family and friends. Interestingly enough, gamers tend to be more connected online, making them regular readers of current and political events. Gamers also frequent gaming sites for cheat codes, as well as read gaming guides, another source of reading for reluctant readers.

While these opportunities to entice reluctant readers are encouraging, there are always challenges with a gaming environment. First, there is the issue of noise control, which can be monitored by designating specific times for gaming in the library. Also, there is the issue of theft, but that is an issue with DVDs, CDs and books as well. Security tags, EAS gates and keeping the discs behind the desk are all ways to deter theft. There is also regular maintenance and replacement of damaged product, a cost that you will also find with other materials. Probably the last and greatest hurdle when introducing gaming into a library is the funding. Proposals have to be written and approved by the board in order to receive funding or grants need to be applied for. But once this challenge is addressed and overcome, the remaining challenges can be controlled in a similar manner that other materials and the patrons who use them are managed.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Hoffman, J. (2010, June). Online Bullies Pull Schools Into the Fray. The New York Times, June 27, 2010. Retrieved October 15, 2010, from http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/28/style/28bully.html


Boyd, D. (2010). Risky Behaviors and Online Safety: A 2010 Literature Review. Retrieved October 15, 2010, from http://www.zephoria.org/files/2010SafetyLitReview.pdf


Boyd's literature review cited results that seemed to be lesser in severity compared to the media's portrayal of cyberbullying and cybersafety in Hoffman's article. One comment she makes is that "online harassment is less common than offline bullying" (Boyd, 2010, p.10). But the media seems to portray online harassment as becoming more common, more so than offline bullying because anyone can do it and not have to face the person. Bullying becomes easier and less confrontational, therefore the instances of online bullying actually should be higher.

It was interesting to read about how some states and schools have little control over discipline when it comes to cyberbullying, but others have very specific guidelines on what to do. It is unfortunate that the laws are so ambiguous throughout the US. Because of this, librarians must toe the line in order to remain vigilant so that they can recognize the signs of cyberbullying without discriminating against or falsely accusing anyone. Because discipline and punishments differ greatly from state to state, librarians can only try and curb negative or dangerous behavior in the library.  However, if a librarian feels that a patron is being harmed by the actions of another, they should at least alert the authorities and take proper action to limit or remove that patron's right to use certain library resources.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Meyers, E.M., Fisher, K.E., & Marcoux, E. (2009). Making Sense of an Information World. Library Quarterly, 79(3), 301-341.


One of the things that really surprised me from the research was that tweens are actually heavier users of technology than teens are. It was also interesting to see that tweens and teens who were heavier users were more likely to get easily bored and were generally less happy then light users. The research seems to confirm that while tweens are indeed heavy users of technology today, that technology may not be benefitting them in their growth into young adults.

I am always fascinated by the fact that tweens are able to multitask when it comes to technology. Internet, videos, cell phones, video games, and chatting or texting simultaneously makes me dizzy just thinking about it. But today's tweens have grown up in an environment where this is normal. Unfortunately this practice can sometimes be detrimental to their ability to focus on one thing at a time, especially in school and this is where we see grades begin to fall and diagnosing of ADD and ADHD.

Seems to me that while it is important that we offer tweens the technology that they are familiar with, we should also offer other outlets and forms of entertainment that will benefit them emotionally and socially in order to make them more well-rounded. As librarians, we already have a lot of these outlets at our disposal. Now it is just our job to entice them in the doors with the technology they know and love, and offer them the other things they just don't know they love yet.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Shirley, L.J. (2000). Intellectual Freedom in School Libraries. LLA Intellectual Freedom Manual, 2000 Edition. Retrieved October 1, 2010, from http://www.llaonline.org/fp/files/pubs/if_manual/eleven.pdf


It is common for librarians to justify not including something in a collection because of cost, availability, potential damage, budget restrictions, etc. But how often do we subconsciously choose not to purchase a book because of personal thoughts regarding the book or author or the look of the cover? And is it possible to never let our own personal experiences, judgments, and ideals influence our choices for tween materials? I suppose nobody is perfect, but I would hope that any agendas (whether they are religious, political, or otherwise) be left out of the equation when developing a tween collection. Tweens will benefit the most from a well-rounded collection that does not attempt to sugarcoat or ignore common issues that tweens may have. Some common reasons for censoring books include violence, age appropriateness, sexual content, and homosexuality, all very common issues that are experienced by tweens. With regard to the argument of age appropriateness, tweens all develop and mature at different rates and ages, making it hard to create a collection that does not span a larger age and maturity range. And while this may cause conflict and raise questions of age appropriateness, perhaps it is not the collection which should be blamed but the uninformed ones who recommend inappropriate titles to tweens.

So with this in mind, when is our decision not to include something in our collection an act of censorship, as opposed to a positive act of collection development? Well, not everything can be included, but if a decision to not include a title is based on a personal, emotional, political, religious or similar agenda and not the quality of the title and it's potential for enhancing the collection as a whole, then that decision is technically an act of censorship. Whether intentional or not, the only ones who suffer are the tweens we serve.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

St. Jarre, K.R. (2008, January). Don't Blame the Boys: We're Giving Them Girly Books. English Journal, 97(3), 15.


Kevin St. Jarre brings up an excellent point in his article "Don't Blame The Boys: We're Giving Them Girly Books." There is a disproportionate amount of books in our schools with female protagonists or sensitive themes compared to characters and/or themes that boys care about or can relate to. Growing up I remember covering books like Secret Garden, Island of the Blue Dolphins, and Tuck Everlasting in my classes. A majority of my teachers were female, and their choices have easily influenced mine today. It is safe to say that I am not as comfortable with books for boys, and hesitate to recommend to them sometimes because I don't want to stereotype them into the "sports" or "sci-fi" category. The great thing about today compared to when I was in school is that there are really great books for boys (which include graphic novels, but not JUST graphic novels) out there, you just have to know where to look. Jon Scieszka's Guys Read website is a go-to site for me when looking for books that boys will like. He has recommendations for basic fiction books, but also non-fictions books, graphic novels, audiobooks, and just plain old topics and genres that boys tend to gravitate towards. The site is unassuming and recommends a wide variety of books either by topic or via a famous guy's (i.e. male author's) recommendation list. Cognitively, boys are just as capable of reading as girls are, they just need to be given the books that interest them and keep their attention.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Urbina, I. (2009, October). Running in the Shadows. The New York Times, October, 25, 2009. Retrieved September 17, 2010, from http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/26/us/26runaway.html


Lamb, S., Brown, L.M., & Tappan, M. (2009). Packaging Boyhood: Saving Our Sons from Superheroes, Slackers and Other Media Stereotypes. New York: St. Martin's Press. 


It seems like issues that tweens are facing today were once that teens were dealing with 20 years ago. It is quite unnerving to think that a majority of tweens are now dealing with running away and homelessness, sex and sexual identity, drinking and drugs, etc. The list goes on and on. The readings raise the issue that even those of us who are in the younger generations are going to be challenged with the changing face of tweens as we enter the library field. Tweens today are faced with problems that even we would consider adult issues--as school or public librarians, we would be doing them a disservice by ignoring and not addressing this fact and providing them with the tools they need to successfully navigate through their tween years. This means providing answers to questions whether we deem those questions appropriate, and encouraging tweens to learn and grow (instead of trying to keep them innocent and sheltered). As librarians, it is not our job to police or judge--by doing so we create one more place for tweens to feel alienated and shunned.

I will admit that I have never been much of a fan of subliterature, especially graphic novels and manga. But in my experience with boys and finding a way to encourage them to read, it is this subliterature that they usually turn to. Now, as I attempt to embrace it, I am finding that there are quite a few examples of subliterature that I not only enjoy, but so do those reluctant-to-read young boys. Granted, some of the subliterature has greater quality than others. As a librarian I would look (for example) for graphic novels that would be a great transition into another genre. Instead of looking at subliterature as less than literature, we need to start looking at it as a gateway to literature when it comes to reluctant readers (and this definitely includes tween boys).

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Hulbert, A. (2004, November). Tweens 'R' Us. New York Times Magazine, November 28, 2004. Retrieved September 3, 2010, from http://www.nytimes.com/2004/11/28/magazine/28WWLN.html?_r=1


Jayson, S. (2009, February). It's Cooler Than Ever to be a Tween, but is Childhood Lost? USA Today, February 4, 2009. Retrieved September 3, 2010, from http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2009-02-03-tweens-behavior_N.htm


Where defining "teen" is simply by age, the definition of "tween" is ambiguous at best. But broken down into developmental needs, the picture becomes a bit clearer. The age range is defined in different ways, but usually encompasses the last couple years of elementary school as well as middle school. So by combining the age ranges given in all the readings, tweens are usually between the ages of 9-14. Developmentally, they are somewhere between being a child and being a teen. But what does this mean?

Physically, tweens have begun to develop and most boys will reach puberty and girls have their period during this time. These physical changes affect tweens on both a mental and emotional level as well, causing self-consciousness as they struggle to define themselves while comparing themselves to others. In school, tweens (at least in the U.S.) have demonstrated a drop in academic achievement, especially once they reach middle school. They have gone from a small world with one attentive teacher to a large world of multiple teachers with multiple classes, shuffling from class to class in a traffic jam of hormones and awkwardness. Tweens are struggling to define themselves and become more self-absorbed in the process--instead of focusing on simple problems, they now are more likely to focus on how decisions and actions affect them. There is a struggle to fit in, since the opinions of others become more important. Because of these developmental needs, tweens need more attention from teachers and other authority figures, which seems to be less available as they enter middle school. Thus, many turn to the opinions and advice of peers to make important decisions.

Since children develop at different stages and rates, it is hard to pinpoint an exact age range for tweens. I do remember being 9 and entering 4th grade and starting to care how I looked and what others thought of me. It was also around this time that my peers and I became interested in the opposite sex. There is essentially a loss of innocence that marks the difference between being a child and being a tween. And while each child reaches this point at different times in his or her life, the switch that is flipped is one that is fairly easy to recognize.

On the flipside, the boundary between tween and teen is also difficult to pinpoint. It is not simply when children enter high school. I would say that teens are more often referred to as young adults, and when a tween develops into a young adult not just physically, but through their actions and world views, they have then reached such a boundary. While high school is the stage, it depends on whether the tween has become more self-defined, their tumultuous tweenage years slowly calming as they reach the next level towards adulthood.