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Buzz Blog: Teens
As a Teen Services librarian and avid television viewer, it’s been impossible to ignore the buzz about and criticism of the recent Netflix series 13 Reasons Why. If you are a teen (or parent of a teen), you may be over-saturated, too. Maybe you’ve read the book it’s based on by Jay Asher, watched the series, heard about it from friends, read twitter threads, blog posts, opinion columns, and received a letter from school. It’s being talked about probably more than it deserves. Whether its depiction of bullying, rape culture and suicide alarm you or inspire you to change your own behavior. One opinion that most can agree with is that it is a good conversation starter. What it’s not good at is discussing mental health and de-stigmatizing mental illness.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, so here are 13 resources that do a great job starting conversations about tough topics like depression and suicide, educating people about mental health and illness, and even saving lives.
- National Alliance of Mental Illness NAMI is a nationwide grassroots mental health organization. Helpline: 1-800-950-6264
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals. Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
- The Trevor Project is a national organization determined to end suicide among LGBTQ youth. 24/7 Help: 1-866-488-7386
- RAINN is the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization. Sexual assault is a major theme in both the book and TV adaptation. Get Help: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)
- National Eating Disorders Association Did you know that eating disorders are mental illnesses? Helpline: 1-800-931-2237
- MaineStay Youth & Family Services Offers affordable counseling to everyone who lives or attends school within Maine Township. Call to set up an appointment: 1-847-297-2510 x261
- Check out this video on Teen Suicide Prevention created by the Mayo Clinic:
- MentalHealth.gov This government website provides a lot of clear, easy-to-navigate information on mental health.
- Erika’s Lighthouse This Chicago-area nonprofit organization educates teens, parents, and schools. They’ve created a toolkit specifically to address issues raised by 13 Reasons Why.
- iFred.org The goal of International Foundation for Research and Education on Depression (iFred) is to ensure that 100% of the 350 million people affected by depression seek and receive treatment.
- ReachOut.com This nonprofit delivers peer support and mental health information in a safe, supportive online space. HELP NOW: 1-800-448-3000
- To Write Love On Her Arms This movement is dedicated to presenting hope and help for people who struggl with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide. Here’s their blog post in response to 13 Reasons Why.
- What’s Your Grief? The characters in 13 Reasons Why struggle with grief in the aftermath of Hannah’s suicide. Mental health professionals who dealt with the loss of loved ones started this site to promote grief education, exploration, and expression.
For more resources, including great fiction and nonfiction books that explore mental health, visit the library. Librarians are not therapists, but we help people access these resources without judgment and with respect for privacy.
Calling all teens 13 and up who are interested in volunteering in the Creative Studio this summer! This is an exciting opportunity for you to explore your creative side by helping with 3D design, vinyl cutting, and laser cutting projects at the library. Provide hands-on assistance coding websites, troubleshooting iPads and much more. Sign up online for one of the following orientation sessions; Friday. June 2nd from 5-6 pm or Tues. June 6th from 6:30-7:30 pm in Studio B.
The winner of the third annual Niles Teen Tournament of Books is I Will Always Write Back: How One Letter Changed Two Lives by Ciatlin Alifirenka. From Teen Read Week in October 2017 to Teen Literature Day during National Library Week in April 2017, each teen judge read and reviewed two books and then picked their choice to go on to the next round of reading and reviewing. All titles were selected from three reading lists: The Abraham Lincoln Award List, Read for a Lifetime and the Teens Top Ten.
The following reviews capture the enthusiasm of the teen judges.
I Will Always Write Back was extremely moving and honestly I was sitting on the edge of my seat for majority of the book. This was an easy read and also a fast paced read, I was able to finish the entire book in one day. It really shows how lucky we are and how much we take for granted. I could read this book over and over again and still cry at the moving parts!
I Will Always Write Back is a powerful memoir detailing how a simple letter between two pen pals; Martin Ganda, a student in Zimbabwe; and Caitlin Alifrenka, a middle-schooler from Pennsylvania; sparked a greater bond than either of them could have anticipated. I chose I Will Always Write Back as the winner of this bracket. For one, it was a book that I literally could not put down. Since I knew that the book was based on true events, I quickly became invested in the lives of Caitlin and Martin and anticipated each new letter shown in the book. It was interesting to see how greatly their lives differed and to be made more aware of the struggles of countries like Zimbabwe with hyperinflation, a phenomenon rarely covered by Western media. This memoir made me more aware of my privilege of being able to live the United States and to simply have the life that I do. Having become more aware of this, I Will Always Write Back inspired me to give back and further serve my community. This book is one that everyone should read. An inspiring read, it offers a refreshing and important perspective on privilege and friendship.
This true story takes place in a suburban classroom of Pennsylvania in 1997. Caitlin Alifirenka does not know her next homework assignment will alter her life forever. She is a typical young, American teenager whose only worries are her appearance and what people think of her. Her teacher assigns the class a pen pal assignment to people who live all over the world. Caitlin is the only one who chooses Africa. She has never heard of Zimbabwe, but the name intrigues her. She corresponds with a intelligent, cheerful 14-year old boy whose name is Martin Ganda. Although Martin lives in the poorest of the slums in Africa, he is No. 1 in all his classes. His mother tells him that education is the only way to success and that pushes him to excel even further. While Caitlin lives in a happy middle-class life, Martin lives in a one room hut with no plumbing or electricity with his brothers, sister, parents, and one other family. Unlike the other children in Caitlin’s class, Martin and her keep in touch for years to come. He soon arrives in America studies at the top colleges in New York. Although he was very poor, he kept one promise to Caitlin: that he would always write back, no matter what.
The rarest of pen-pal friendships: one that actually stuck. Caitlin and Martin grow to become better people by reading the scrawl of the other. It shows how Caitlin grows from a privileged high school girl to a young adult that cares deeply for another human being and other cultures. Martin learns more about US culture and is able to go to a university and grow wiser as a student. The novel alternates perspective each chapter and I would suggest this book be recommended for readers in the middle school level as this is the age both main characters are when the book begins. It was one of the most entertaining nonfiction books I have read in a while. I would recommend this book because it really is an eye-opener and puts your own life into perspective.
Located on the third floor of the Niles Public Library (next to the Periodicals area), the Franklin Gallery is where you will find patron-created works from Family Art Day displayed until May 14. The event, hosted by KidSpace, took place on April 15. Children and adults who created artworks had the option of taking them home (as most did), but some graciously gave permission to have theirs displayed instead.
On the main floor, in the lobby area near the Main Meeting Room (where we show movies, host performers, etc.), other patron’s works – glazed tiles – are on display in our glass case. Stop by and take a look at all of these bright, imaginative works from fellow patrons.
On Sat., April 15, the Niles Public Library hosted Family Art Day from 2:00 to 4:00, inviting visitors of all ages to exercise their talents in pre-planned activities with paint, pencils, artist’s paper, clay, tile, toothpicks, die-cut figures, and more.
“It was a chance for everyone to explore the artists in themselves,” says Mary Ann Rohn, KidSpace library assistant who also teaches animation drawing at Columbia College. Kids created impressive works which combined a love of color, pure imagination, and the willingness to experiment. Adults, too, were encouraged to try their hand, including a Chinese-American woman who showed how she had learned as a child to do brush stroke calligraphy.
About 40 people, some of whom also submitted entries for the annual “bookmark design” contest, turned out for the event. Some elected to take home their creations; others allowed them to be framed for display May 1 -14 in the library’s Franklin Gallery (on the north side of the third floor). Also on hand to guide kids and parents on Family Art Day were KidSpace’s Miss Debbie, Mr. Paul, and several teen volunteers who proved invaluable.
When school’s out for you, the library is a very active place! That’s why we’re hiring two teen interns for for the summer. We are looking for students currently in grade 11 or 12 who love the library, love working with younger kids and teens, have excellent communication skills, and can roll with the crazy-busy atmosphere in Youth and Teen Services during the summer.
Interns must be residents of the library district or attend a school within our service area, and be able to work from the beginning of June through the beginning of August. You’ll need good computer skills, a mature attitude and a sense of humor. You’ll have opportunities to work with the public and behind the scenes, and help create an event. If this sounds like you, please come to the Teen Services desk to get an application, or contact Teen Librarian Donna Block email@example.com to receive the application via email. Interns will work about 60 hours apiece. The internship will pay $10/hour and is a great first job experience.
Applications must be submitted by Monday, April 10th. Questions? Call the Teen Desk at 847-663-6490.