Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Jocks & Geeks: Teen Talk Tuesday

Some of the same old cliques still exist in high school that were around twenty years or more ago. Depending on the community, culture, and environment, cliques revolve around everything from country clubs to farming, and from sports to art. In my school, there's a definite divide between the athletes and the rest. So where do book readers fit in?

Not ALL the time, but frequently, readers in my school are labeled as geeks or nerds. In keeping with the sports theme I promised for this week, I've interviewed student-athletes about their reading habits and about what gives reading the "geek" stigma.

From the perspectives of two cheerleaders, a boxer, and two basketball players, I was told there is a stigma around reading. The athletes I spoke with were all very confident about their reading habits, and weren't concerned by what others thought. When asked if they were ever teased by their peers for reading, they all said they were (except for the boxer! HA!), but that they weren't bothered by teasing. For one reason, their friends were doing the teasing, and it's all in good humor. For another, the athletes didn't feel the need to hide their books or cover the fact that they enjoyed reading. I was very glad to hear one player remark that he defends his reading by telling his friends that "at least he's doing something to make himself smarter!" The only complaint any of the athletes had was one who wished he had more time to read, because he said sports takes away a lot of his time.

My hope is more of these athletes take a similar attitude and that they know they're in a position to influence others in a positive way by enjoying great books.

As always, if you have any questions you'd like me to ask my students, please post them in the comments. The kids are always eager to share their wisdom! Next week, a commenter's request on Teen Talk Tuesday: romance in YA from a boy's point of view.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Teen Talk Tuesday: School Sports

Our school had Presidents Day off, so we're taking this Tuesday off from the blog, as well. We'll be back next Tuesday addressing school sports. Our senior girls' and boys' basketball teams are in the Regional Basketball Tournament, so there's sure to be a lot of high emotions this week. I'll be asking student athletes for their thoughts about athletics in general. Do their friends treat them differently when the team wins or loses? Is it hard to face parents after a loss? What's the hardest thing about being a cheerleader?

If there's anything you'd like me to ask a basketball player or a cheerleader, let me know and I'll pass it along (Get it? I'll "pass it" along. I made a funny, right? Right.) Then I'll post their responses next week on Teen Talk Tuesday. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happily Ever Afters

I married my high school sweetheart as a teenager a long, long time ago, so if anybody asks, I do believe in love, in soulmates, successful relationships, in Destiny, and of course in Happily Ever Afters.

So, keeping that in mind, I expect the books I read to have a happy ending, too. Always! Simply "satisfying" doesn't cut it. I don't care what changes the characters make along the way, if they're not totally stoked with their significant other by the end, I'm ready to throw the book. UNLESS...the book is part of a series. In fact, some of my favorite YA books end with a cliffhanger and doubts about the couple's HEA, but I'm assuming the couple will get there eventually. At least they BETTER or else, authors! Diana Gabaldon's Outlander, Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments and Infernal Devices series, and several more come to mind. These are the stories I love and devote many hours of my life to.

What are your favorite HEA's?

Teen Talk Tuesday: Happy Valentine's Day!

What do today's teens think about Valentine's Day? Is it romantic, or no? Fun or disappointing? 

To start today's Teen Talk Tuesday, I got some students' views on Valentine's Day. The worst story I heard was from a boy who caught his girlfriend cheating on him on Valentine's Day. Another student told me about the awful time when she'd thought her mom had forgotten to send her something to school and how it always breaks her heart to see her classmates sad that special day when nothing arrives for them. What did they most enjoy getting? Flowers and chocolates.

However, not all kids hope for presents. Some find the holiday overated. One of my seniors said he dislikes Valentine's altogether because he's "not romantic in the least." Just as adults often complain about the commercialism of holidays, one boy said the holiday was too expensive, and another girl said she hated seeing so much red and pink together.  Not surprisingly, most of my teens mentioned that being single on Valentine's Day sucked.

What did they like the most about the holiday? The majority of both girls and guys said "being part of a couple in love."

Do you have something you want to know from a teen's perspective? Post your question, and we'll get back to you with their answer.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Teen Talk Tuesday: Boys & Books

Teen Talk Tuesday is now in its third week. The students have been very helpful and are always willing to answer your questions throughout the school day. If you have a question for the teens, please post it in the comments. We look forward to hearing from you!

Last week a commenter wanted to know what books the boys in my library preferred: genres, titles, authors, fiction vs. nonfiction. So here's a random sample from young men I interviewed as they came in this week. Remember, the names are changed to protect the innocent.

Todd (a junior): prefers High Fantasy and "absolutely no other genres." His favorite series is Adventurers Wanted by M.L. Forman, and his favorite author is Robert Jordan.

Colby (senior): prefers non-fiction but has "no specific titles or authors." For fiction, he prefers Dystopian. His favorite fiction titles are The Eleventh Plague, Tales of a Madman Underground, and Looking for Alaska.

Kevin (sophomore): prefers Humor and Graphic Novels. His favorite series is the Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

Nate (junior): prefers Paranormal, Mysteries, and Adventures. His favorite series are Vladimir Tod and The Edge Chronicles.

Sean (junior): prefers Realistic Drama. His favorite author is Coe Booth, and he says he will always read anything by her.

Ken (senior): prefers Dystopian. His favorite is The Hunger Games, but he says he also enjoyed Legend. His favorite author is Darren Shan.

Andre (freshman): prefers non-fiction books on basketball. His favorite series is the Guinness Book of World Records, and he has no favorite author.

What would you like to know from a teenager's perspective?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Super Senses

Every super hero has one. Superman and Spiderman had several. On USA's Psych, one of my fave TV shows, there's a running gag about Gus's "supersniffer" and its amazing ability to detect scents.

Over the years as a librarian, I've sometimes noticed a single student in a large group will complain about something random: a chair being too hard, the room temperature too hot or cold, a smell or a sound that no else notices or can identify. It's no joke. Some people are more sensitive than others. My husband's super sense is his sense of hearing. It's spooky how he can recognize songs or singers by only listening to a couple of notes. He can even predict what song will be playing next on the radio with surreal accuracy.

However, almost everyone has a dominant sense. My strongest sense (not so super) is my sense of touch, so I find myself describing textures in great detail in my writing. In my last book, my heroine's strongest sense was her sight, which came in handy for her as an artist. Maybe the next MC could have a dominant sense of taste. I'd have to sample a lot of goodies for research, of course! Don't know what your dominant sense is? There are some nifty quizzes online, including some to see if you're compatible with your partner based on your dominant senses.