Seasonal Passive Programming for YA

We do a lot of passive programming in our teen department. Most of it is themed and seasonal. Some of it follows special library events such as Banned Books Week. The most popular at our library is anything that involves art or drawing. I have a really creative group of kids that like to leave drawings around the library. We have a bulletin board in the department and I try to display as much as I can so the teens feel at home. Here are some ideas from our fall and winter displays. All of these ideas can created using die cuts.


Fall: Graffiti your Gourd 

The clever title was a suggestion from a post I made in Teen Services Underground. Thanks Jeretta! I think the pumpkins turned out amazing! I didn’t want to take them down for winter!



Winter: Do you want to design a snowman? 

This one came from one of my teens. She sings this particular snowman song all year long and very loudly. I did have to toss a few snowmen due to carrots in inappropriate places. Other than that, they kept it clean! The snowman wearing the Led Zepplin shirt is my favorite!



Passive Winter Prompt: Caption this Pet edition

This one is always entertaining. I love the this prompt. The “Caption this” idea came from Sherry at our Brentwood branch! We do this a few times a year at different branches with silly pictures or geeky movie stills.  I use post-it’s for the captions to cut down on the stuff I have to erase for being inappropriate. I also only put out pencils!

img_7997 img_7998

As you can tell it’s finals week, so a few of my teens are pretty stressed out!


Do you do passives in your teen area? What are your most popular prompts? I would love to hear about them. As always feel free to steal these ideas! If you use the photos, please be sure to credit the source.

Cosplay on a Ramen Noodle Budget

Don’t you just love the title of this post? It makes me giggle every time I read it. “Cosplay on a Ramen Noodle Budget” was the brainchild of one of my Teen Advisory board members. She had suggested we have a program about making cheap costumes for Comic Cons and Halloween. After tossing around program titles with the other members she shouted out this little gem of a title and our program was born.

Cosplay is a huge thing right now with teens. If you are not sure what Cosplay is and why you should care, let me give you a brief intro as to why it’s a popular trend that won’t be going away anytime soon.  Dressing up is a widely popular teen activity that has spanned the ages. Teens spend a good amount of time trying to invent and reinvent their personal identities on a daily basis. Dressing up as a favorite character gives them the option to explore new personalities in a safe environment. Plus, it’s a ton of fun!

The Urban Dictionary defines Cosplay as “Literally “Costume Play.” Dressing up and pretending to be a fictional character (usually a sci-fi, comic book, or anime character).” With the influx of superhero movies, live action anime films like “Attack on Titan”, and the explosion of geek culture; it is easy to see why teens have tons of options for character exploration. Still not convinced? Check out this years San Diego Comic Con Best of Cosplay posts.

On to the program: Cosplay on a Ramen Noodle Budget

The costume display table. Most are costumes I have made using thrift store items and cheap fabric.

The goal of the program was to talk about how you can make costumes on the cheap. I had several local cosplay artists come in costume and talk about their creations and a local cosplay shop (Eternal Armory) let me borrow some of their props to show off to the kids. I also brought my sewing machine and had a “how to measure yourself” table. Finally, we had a craft table with chain mail pop tabs for them to try and shoe wings.

A Pirate, Princess Ugg, and Lady Loki presented. I came in my Twilight Sparkle costume.

What worked:

We had a question and answer format to our presentation and I was really surprised at all the fantastic questions the teens had. We first introduced everyone and had them tell a little about how and why they cosplay. They also talked about their all time favorite costume. Next, we had the teens introduce themselves and talk about their favorite fandoms and if they were working on anything at the moment. After that it was stories, suggestions, and lots and lots of questions!

Things we discussed:

  • What to expect at your first Comic Con- behavior, tips on shoes, a special note about how cosplay does not mean consent and staying safe.
  • Where to find cheap fabric, re-purposing old thrift store clothes, and how to learn sewing skill (youtube, classes, pinterest)
  • How to take accurate body measurements and sizing things. *this was really popular- Handouts at the end of my post*
  • Finding comic cons
  • Ignoring the haters and loving what you make!

We ended up with 18 teens (which is a record for me) and they all stayed the whole time! Cue happy library lady dance! Many stayed after to ask our guest specific questions and I even had kids asking me when we would do this again!

Things I would change: 

We kept getting off topic because lots of kids had stories instead of questions. That is something I could have mentioned at the beginning during introductions. It frustrated those that just had questions and had to wait on the storyteller. Another big issue is that several kids were expecting to make something at the program. I did not advertise that we would be making things but I can see where they might have gotten confused. I will definitely add more hands on activities for the next program.

Finally, having a guy cosplayer on the panel. We had a few boys in the group and I think it would have been great for them to see a dude in costume. It also would have balanced out our group. Unfortunately, I could not find a guy to come in that night. However, since the event I have met a few great male cosplayers that would love to come to the next event! Score!

Stuff that you can use:

Poptab Chain-mail: I had lots of prepped pop tabs that they could link together to make chain-mail. I used this Instructable to get them started. Start collecting tabs early! I sent out a message to all my coworkers and ended up with a nice amount.

Poptab Chainmail link

Measurements: I did a mini tutorial on how to take accurate measurements if you are sewing or buying a costume. This is the handout I created.

Cosplay Measurments

Example of our promotional flyer: Unfortunately I cannot share the actual flyer to edit. That is property of our district and cannot be edited. However, steal the wording and idea if you wish!

Evaluation and tips:

I think that this was a successful program. The title was catchy and really grabbed the teens attention. It did spawn a new cosplay group that will meet 4 times a year at our library to work on costumes and learn new skills! Whoot! I would add a few more hands on activities and a guy on the panel when we do this again. I encourage you to scout your local cosplay groups to find you panelists. I was able to get age appropriate people to come and show off their skills. Don’t be afraid to interview them before the program and check out pictures of what they wear.

If you end up doing this program or have something similar I would love to check it out! Link it up below in the comments. Twilight Sparkle commands you!



The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy- Book Review



This book is devoted to helping you become the most awesome and squee worthy fangirl ever. It is full of fab tips and quote worthy guidance that will help even the most shy lady nerd navigate the wide world of geek. Within its chapters you will find lingo, fashion, fandoms, conventions, cosplay, interviews, and so much more. This is a fun book for teen to adult fangirls in your life.

Cover appeal:

I love that the cover has an adorable “every girl.” She is not super sexy and has cute curves! Points for a healthy body image and no boob windows!

The good stuff:

This book has so much quote worthy text. It’s funny, serious, and full of girl power. I loved the interviews with women from all walks of life. It was great to hear their interpretation of what being a Fangirl means to them. The real-talk section was helpful even for a YA librarian who thinks she’s up on the latest teen speak. I learned a few new terms that I have heard my patrons tossing around at our Fandoms parties. The section on Female characters that everyone should know was also helpful. I have some reading to do! Finally, I loved the resource page. So unbelievably helpful!

The stuff that might not jive with all audiences:

This book is heavy on the feminism. Which is great in itself, but might not work for younger tweens and teens. Also, there are some sections that deal with subjects that younger fans might not be ready for just yet.

Who should read this:
I would recommend this for older teens and adults without hesitation. My younger patrons might want to wait a few years! If you are a geek girl that is out and proud or one that is quietly contemplating your big reveal grab this book and get reading!

DIY-Easy Ribbon Bookmarks


Since everyone is under an Arctic Freeze this week I thought an easy DIY post was in order. Ribbon bookmarks are pretty and fun to make. They only require a few items to put together and are a great way to use ribbon scraps. There are several ways to make them. It depends on the ribbon that you choose. The fancy ribbon in the picture has a loosely woven back that would snag on the pages. Because of this I doubled it up and glued it together. Grosgrain ribbon will not require this. I only doubled it up to make it a bit stronger. Instead of glue you could also sew the sides together. Today I will show you how to make them using glue.

Here is what you need:













Step 1– Glue the ribbon together. The fabric glue says it takes 2 hours to dry fully. You can still complete the other steps while it dries.











Step 2– Add the ribbon clamp to the cut ends of the ribbon. If you are adding charms you will need a clamp with a loop at the end. You can also add a plain clamp to the other end.










Step 3– Use jump rings and pliers to attach charms to the end of the bookmark. I also added some beads that matched the ribbon. After this is done let your ribbon dry and then enjoy! I put my ribbon under a stack of books to make sure it dried flat. Next time I will sew the ribbon together.













I thought my King Arthur bookmark worked well with Jane Yolen’s book. I made another bookmark using blue ribbon, a fairy charm, and a mini Peter Pan book.



There you go! Three easy steps and only a few supplies gives you a beautiful bookmark. I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Let me know if you have any questions!

Happy reading and stay warm!

DIY- Comic book craft stick puzzle



Head over to Geeky Kool for my tutorial on comic book craft stick puzzles. This is a very easy craft that is perfect for the little guys. Geeky Kool is a local website that I contribute to. I have a few other tutorials under my name that you might like. We always have movie and book reviews posted daily with lots of other fun stuff. Check it out!!

DIY- Superhero Bookmarks

As a Children’s Librarian I often find really icky things in my students books. (The worst was the used band-aid of 2011) I won’t even mention the really gross things that my public librarian friends have come across. I try to find fun bookmarks that my students will actually use. I came across the idea for craft stick bookmarks on Pinterest and had to pass the idea along. If you have kids, work with kids or are just a big kid at heart; these are super cute!!

The original pattern and idea comes from Amanda Formano on her blog “Crafts by Amanda”.  I used her patterns for the Iron man and Hulk sticks. Green Lantern and Wonder Woman are my own creations. See the original post here: Avengers Bookmarks

What you need:

  • Jumbo craft sticks-  (trust me the really skinny ones are hard to paint)
  • Acrylic paints-  I used green, purple, black, white shimmer, blue, gold, yellow, brown, clear glitter paint and red. I also mixed colors together to get the right shade.
  • Detail paint brushes
  • Modge Podge or Acrylic sealer
  • Pencil and pen

**Click on the photos to see more detail** 








Step 1– Select your sticks. Make sure the edges don’t have broken spots and the wood  is mostly clear. This makes for easier painting later on! Sketch out your design in  pencil on the stick. Here is  my design for Wonder Woman and Iron Man.








Step 2– Start adding the paint! I used really skinny brushes to get the detail of her  costume. Instead of painting stars on her skirt I used dots and glitter paint to make  her more girly! Let the top dry and continue the pattern on the back or paint with a  solid color. I decided to use a solid color for the backs of my sticks and just paint the  fronts. Let them dry for several hours before adding all the details.








Step 3– Use a ball point pen to add the tiny details like the eyes and the outlines of  each piece of the costume. My hulk muscles are kinda crazy! He has a very tiny 6  pack! Make sure it’s a pen that will not smear when you add your sealer. I found that  using a pen was a lot easier than paint and more forgiving.

Step 4– Follow the directions on your sealer and use a good brush to paint it on. Look for one with soft neat bristles or you will have lines. Let dry between coats and seal one side at a time. My sealer made my detail on Green lantern run a tiny bit. It’s not that noticeable but still annoying!!

Once everything is dry you have a set of super fun bookmarks for your little guys or yourself. Trust me your librarian will be very happy that you are not using band-aids! Wonder Woman is one of the coolest things I have painted this summer. She just rocks my geeky socks off! Please feel free to use my Green lantern and Wonder Woman ideas as gifts for friends. (just not to sell for profit)

You could try this craft with your students using crayons or markers. Markers tend to bleed on the wood so crayons might be a better choice. If anyone tries this please post a link to the photo below. I would love to see some Batman sticks or other superhero ideas in either paint or crayon!

Happy crafting and geek out!!


Book review- Star Trek Craft book

Boldly go where no craft book has gone before and make 25 awesome Trek crafts. Angie Petersen has created a fun, easy to follow craft book of all things Star Trek. Crafts are arranged by topic from home decor to wearable art. Each craft gets a Starfleet skill ranking of either Ensign, Captain or Admiral based on difficulty and time required to complete the craft.
Some of the crafts included in the book are:

  • Star Trek: The animated series coasters
  • DIY Tribbles
  • A Spock Monkey
  • Klingon Serving tray

There are so many creative and inventive items in this books to keep even the most experienced crafter busy. One of the best aspects besides the crafts are the personal anecdotes from the contributors, Trek history, and links to find even more crafty goodness later. I highly recommend this book to fans of Star Trek. Even if you only make one or two crafts, the history and photos are well worth the investment.