Teens 2016-10-21T18:27:16Z http://www.bpl.org/teens/feed/atom/ adowds <![CDATA[Hack the System!: Tech Hacks for Struggling Readers]]> http://www.bpl.org/teens/?p=6720 2016-10-21T18:27:16Z 2016-10-21T14:00:18Z While brainstorming ideas as to what to write this month, I stumbled upon an article in Time Magazine titled, 10 Tech Hacks to Help Struggling Readers. While most of my posts have focused on Tech Hacks that make life more fun and interesting, this article was a great reminder that technology can also hack some of life’s biggest obstacles.

Reading is a learned skill developed through a process of building upon cognitive, linguistic, and social skills acquired during our early years. Acquiring this skill can be quite frustrating, especially when the struggle crosses over into other aspects of a teen’s life, causing that teen to feel and get left behind.

Thankfully, technology has provided educators and students with accessible and cost-effective apps and assistive devices that can revolutionize literacy proficiency. With these tools, reading and writing may still be difficult, but it’s not impossible. How? Hack the System! There may be endless apps and gadgets available, but check out the four options below, catch up on some reading, and impress your friends with the latest Tech Hack!

vdr1. Voice Dream Reader — Voice Dream Reader is designed for people with dyslexia, visually impaired, and other learning styles. Filled with 186 voices and 30 different languages, this app can read content from almost anything and anywhere — pdfs, books, Word, websites, PDFs, and Dropbox. Readers can customize their experience by changing fonts, voice speed, highlight and take notes, or set a sleep timer. As the company’s site said, choose your instrument and turn text into speech.



2. Read2GoRead2Go is a mobile reading app that pairs with Bookshare, the world’s largest online library of read2goebooks for readers with print disabilities. By downloading Read2Go, teens can read anywhere, anytime straight from their mobile device.  Read2Go also can connect via Bluetooth to Braille readers. The customization features are similar to the Voice Dream Reader, allowing teens to experience books their own way.




3.  Audiobooks — Sometimes you just need to take a break from the printed book and let someone else do all the reading! Audiobook devices such as Playaway Bookpacks combine the easy-to-use and transportable Playaway device with the book’s printed version. Bookpacks are one of the easiest ways for struggling and emerging readers to practice and develop literacy skills. Choose from classics like The Outsiders or best-sellers such as The Book Thief. Playaways can be a bit pricey, but audiobooks are FREE at your Library!



blio-24. BlioBlio is a free app designed for iPhones and iPads. The app displays in full color, with colorful fonts, pictures, and engaging layouts. Many of the books can be read aloud by a text-to-speech voice (purchase required) or audiobook, with words highlighted as they are spoken. Blio is a joint venture between Kurzweil Technologies and the National Federation of the Blind. The expertise from these two partners has created an app that is unique in its ability to help those with reading disabilities make sense of the text through synchronized highlighting and a serial presentation view. As the company’s motto states, “Don’t just read books. Experience them.”



allyDid you know that in addition to physical books and DVDs, your library card gives you access to audiobooks through Bibliocommons, Hoopla, and Overdrive. To learn more about how to download audiobooks to a device, visit the library’s eBook & Digital Media page. To browse books on CD, search for titles and authors in the BPL catalog and select “Audiobook CD” under format. Or, ask a Librarian!

Want to create your own technology life hack? Stop by Teen Central during Open Lab time.

“Hack the System!” features examples of technology life hacks created by Ally, the Youth Technology Librarian at Teen Central. Check back on the third Friday of each month for her latest post.

jsnow <![CDATA[Back in Time Video Game Review: Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex]]> http://www.bpl.org/teens/?p=6712 2016-10-21T16:39:31Z 2016-10-17T13:07:45Z Hello! My name is Jorge, and I am your typical gamer. I grew up playing games from sports games, strategic games, shooters, open world classics, and many more. With that said, let’s talk about one of the throwbacks. And by that, I mean Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex. Hands down a classic. Now, for all you newcomers to the gaming community, don’t expect any “superb graphics” or anything of that sort. This game was released on October 29th, 2001, so it isn’t up to par (in terms of graphics) with anything on the market now. But man, was this story line on point.

It starts off with Cortex insulting his group of pawns, “Imbeciles! Nincompoops! Can’t you idiots do anything right?!” In this opening part of the game, Dr. Cortex is at a round table, infuriated that his attempted reign of evil is cut short by Crash time and time again. So, they come up with a plan to use their secret weapon of “unbelievable strength”, to defeat crash once and for all. I’m really into this part of the story line because it cuts right to the chase. There’s no backstory, no interruptions, therefore no nonsense.

I also really enjoy the fact that this game allows you to take part in many different obstacle courses, races, open world missions, submarine missions, and these missions will repeat, but the environment and the difficulty will change in order to keep that from being a problem. Oh yeah, there are LOTS of cut scenes.

But anyways, this game is one that I would really recommend (if you still own a PS2). Trust me, it is really fun and will have you starting at your TV for hours. 



img_0752Jorge is one of the Teen Gaming Specialists in Teen Central. Stay tuned for more posts from the Teen Gaming Specialists on video game reviews and gaming programs they will be running in Teen Central.








crosales <![CDATA[Cooking with Caren: Personal Pizzas]]> http://www.bpl.org/teens/?p=6657 2016-10-14T15:09:01Z 2016-10-14T15:08:05Z because-pizza-40-photos-40

Step 1: Gather your ingredients!


Step 2:  Spray the pan with cooking spray so your pizza will not stick to the bottom of the pan.  Place your pita bread crust on the pan.

img_2195  img_2196

Step 3: Add your sauce!  You can use any sauce you like.  Today we we used Classico Tomato and Basil  pasta sauce.

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Step 4:  Add cheese and spices!!  We used shredded mozzarella, garlic powder, basil, and oregano.

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Step 5: Bake at 425 degrees until cheese is melted.

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Now go forth and create your own personalized pizzas! Make it your own and have fun!

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icon of carenAre you still looking for more recipes? The Boston Public Library has a huge collection of cookbooks that you can browse, check out and take home.

Need a library card? Wondering how long you can borrow a book? Borrowing and Circulation information can be found here.


*”Cooking with Caren” features recipe posts by Caren, the Teen Librarian at the Mattapan Branch, on the second Friday of every month.

jkenney <![CDATA[Reading Backwards, Watching in Japanese: Mob Psycho 100, the Manga!]]> http://www.bpl.org/teens/?p=6639 2016-10-11T17:15:04Z 2016-10-11T13:00:24Z mob-psycho-100-4612675-1

Happy Fall Otaku! I hope you all got to see Mob Psycho 100 on a streaming site. The first season is now over! So that was fast, but it did actually start in July. At this point I wondered, “what about the manga?” Well it doesn’t seem to be widely available  in the US. I won’t be able to order copies for the BPL, but it is online! Go and read on MangaFreak here. Unfortunately, it doesn’t actually read right to left (kuso!) but the browser is pretty nice. Go ahead and pop out the larger version. You can also find it here on MangaReader, but be wary of non-teen ads. It does work with AdBlock so you can try that too.


Looking at the manga, you can see the basic art style in the story panels. Drawing is simplified line work with some more advanced light and shadow. More detail is given to the creepy spirit characters and psychic power effects.



The online manga sites scan entire and partial softcover foldouts as you can see here below:


So there you have it. The complete run of the manga is available on these online sties. The browsers work well and have high quality scans. The thumbnails were a little blurry for this post but don’t let that disappoint you. Click the images for full resolution. Go online and read Mob Psycho 100 backwards. The pages may flip left to right but the panels on each page are still right to left. Enjoy!


john250-150x150Did you know that in addition to physical books and DVDs, your library card gives you access to anime and graphic novels online? The BPL subscribes toHoopla, a streaming service that allows you to check out and enjoy the media you love on your computer, tablet or smartphone. You can learn more about the BPL’s digital media collections here.

Want company while you’re watching anime? The Hyde Park Teen Anime Club meets on Thursdays at 2:30 p.m.

*”Reading Backwards, Watching in Japanese” features reviews of anime and manga by John, the Teen Librarian at the Hyde Park Branch, on the second Tuesday of every month.

vkovenmatasy <![CDATA[Curl Up & Read: Forbidden by Kimberley Griffiths Little]]> http://www.bpl.org/teens/?p=6596 2016-10-06T16:51:33Z 2016-10-07T16:00:16Z


Title: Forbidden by Kimberley Griffiths Little

Read by: Josh, Dudley Branch

Summary: This book follows a girl named Jayden, expected to live up to her parents’ wishes as well as restore her father’s honor by marrying into a more powerful family. After an attack by an enemy tribe, her father loses most of the family’s camels, and their survival depends on her arranged marriage to Horeb, the future leader of the tribe. The responsibility weighs heavily on her and eventually she loses much support following the death of her mother and the betrayal of her sister. After she witnesses Horeb murdering the current leader of the tribe, Jayden is forced to flee the safety of her home with Kadesh, a young man who has been taken in by her family, and takes up the search to find her mother’s lost baby.

Genre/Subgenre: Fantasy

Standalone/Series: First book in a projected trilogy

Length: 389 pages

Personal Thoughts:

I thought this book brought a unique perspective to the heroine’s coming of age and making realistic decisions. Whenever Jayden made a move, it didn’t seem smart but it didn’t seem dumb, either, because the outcome was often affected by outside forces beyond her control. Jayden is learning about the gray areas of life; she discovers that the answer is often neither yes nor no, but maybe. Forming and breaking ties as more and more she sees that standing on her own two feet means abandoning a lot of what she knows: her tradition, family, and ultimately her ignorance of the world beyond. This story challenges the basis of control and belief that ties characters to what they are and how they react to hardliner decisions for their survival and for their needs. Often Jayden sought out the advice of the women in her camp, until one day she saw that respect and face aren’t always a reflection of character. Horeb proved lacking in chivalry and hid a craven, often twisted outlook for others, but ended up commanding his people’s trust and their love. As it were his blunders freed her to do what she had to do, commit herself to a love that was mutual.

I don’t think I’ve ever read a book like this one before. I give Forbidden a solid 8.5 out of ten and I would recommend it to fans of the Seven Realms series by Cinda Williams Chima.



josh-iconLooking to borrow a book mentioned in this post? These links will take you to our catalog:

Forbidden by Kimberley Griffiths Little

The Seven Realms series by Cinda Williams Chima

Need a library card? Wondering how long you can borrow these books? Borrowing and Circulation information can be found here.


* “Curl Up & Read” posts book reviews by librarians and teens like you on the first Friday of every month. If you’re a teen and you’re interested in having a book review posted on the Teen Blog, please email vkovenmatasy (at) bpl (dot) org and pitch your idea. We might even be able to hook you up with an Advance Reader’s Copy of something coming out soon, so you can really be ahead of the crowd!


jsnow <![CDATA[Meet the Teen Gaming Specialists in Teen Central]]> http://www.bpl.org/teens/?p=6614 2016-10-04T17:55:10Z 2016-10-07T10:00:08Z img_0752



Meet the 2016-2017 Teen Gaming Specialists in Teen Central; Ananda and Jorge! What are the Teen Gaming Specialists you may ask? Two Teen Gaming Specialists are hired (and paid) for the school year to work with the Teen Librarians in developing programs for the Media Lounge (video gaming space), build the gaming collection by working with other teens in Teen Central as to their input for new video games, write blog posts on new video games coming out, write blog posts on programs they develop and participate in career readiness workshops to help build career readiness skills.

George is a sophomore at Excel High School and Ananda is a freshman at Boston Latin School and they are the first ever Teen Gaming Specialists for Teen Central. We’re excited they will be working with us being instrumental in building a bigger and better gaming collection and developing programs centered around gaming that teens will be interested in participating in. Stay tuned for posts throughout the year by George and Ananda.

If you or another teen you know may be interested in being a Teen Gaming Specialist, check in with us here in Teen Central or email teencentral@bpl.org in May 2017 as we will be interviewing teens for the next school year.

rschmelzer <![CDATA[Stop the Press: Fact Checking the First Presidential Debate]]> http://www.bpl.org/teens/?p=6576 2016-10-04T14:54:21Z 2016-10-04T12:00:19Z http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/


Last week, two presidential candidates that have said a lot of things about each other, finally got the chance to say it to each other’s faces. Whether we pulled out the popcorn, threw/yelled things at the TV, vented on social media, or pretended the whole thing didn’t exist… presidential debates are an important part of our democratic process. We have three more debates before the election, the next of which is tonight!

October 4, 2016 – Vice Presidential Debate

October 9th, 2016 – Second Presidential Debate

October 19th – Final Presidential Debate

You’ll hear the term “fact-checking” in regards to the debates. What this means is that candidates, believe it or not, may make statements with varying levels of truth to them. Why they do this, I’m not sure. It may be they remember  incorrectly, or they’re trying to bend the truth in their favor. Maybe they hope that people will listen to what they say at face-value and not do the research for themselves. Luckily, many places do the fact-checking research for you! Two non-partisan sites are the Politifact Truth-o-meter and Factcheck.

Election Day is Tuesday, November 8th, 2016

If you will be 18 years old by election day, your absolute LAST day to register to vote is October 19th. This means registered online, or your paper application is postmarked (stamped by the post office) on this day. You can pick up a paper application form at your local library, or if you have a Massachusetts RMV ID you can register online https://www.sec.state.ma.us/ovr/ (if you don’t have a RMV ID you can start the process online, but will still have to print and mail a paper application.)


icon of RebeccaAre you interested in keeping up with the news and current events? The Boston Public Library has subscriptions to newspapers that you can read in the library or online.

*”Stop the Press” features current events posts by Rebecca, the Teen Librarian at the Grove Hall Branch, on the first Tuesday of every month.

vkovenmatasy <![CDATA[On the Radar: Five Books to Check Out in October]]> http://www.bpl.org/teens/?p=6548 2016-09-28T17:03:36Z 2016-09-30T16:00:49Z Get your library card handy and reserve your place in line for these new October releases! If you place a hold now, they can be in your hands before they even hit the shelf.

Please note: all summaries are taken from the Boston Public Library catalog unless otherwise noted. They may have been edited for length and clarity.


goldenhand cover

Goldenhand by Garth Nix

Summary: Lirael lost one of her hands in the binding of Orannis, but now she has a new hand, one of gilded steel and Charter Magic. On a dangerous journey, Lirael returns to her childhood home, the Clayr’s Glacier, where she was once a Second Assistant Librarian. There, a young woman from the distant North brings her a message from her long-dead mother, Arielle. It is a warning about the Witch with No Face. But who is the Witch, and what is she planning? Lirael must use her new powers to save the Old Kingdom from this great danger–and it must be forestalled not only in the living world but also in the cold, remorseless river of Death.

Why We’re Excited: IT’S FINALLY HERE. The Old Kingdom series has some of the longest waits in between books I’ve ever experienced — Sabriel came out in 1995, Lirael in 2001, Abhorsen in 2003, and then series prequel Clariel (which resolved NOTHING and I’m still mad about it) in 2014, so depending on how you look at it I’ve been waiting two years to find out what on earth Clariel had to do with anything or over ten years to find out what the heck happened after Lirael saved the world and became the Abhorsen-in-Waiting. That’s a long time! Since Sabriel and Lirael were some of my favorite fantasy novels as a teen, Goldenhand has a lot to live up to, but I have faith. Either you’re already a fan of Nix (whom you may also recognize from standalones A Confusion of Princes, Newt’s Emerald, and probably the creepiest sci-fi novel I’ve ever read, Shade’s Children, as well the Keys to the Kingdom series) and have been waiting for the next installment of this series as eagerly as I have, or you get to read all five books in a row without all the lag time in between — it’s a win/win situation!


abcs of lgbt+ cover

The ABC’s of LGBT+: Understanding and Embracing Your Identity by Ashley Mardell

Summary: The 21st Century has seen very positive movement for LGTBQ+ rights in the last few years – the overturning of DOMA, SCOTUS ruling in favor of the Marriage Equality Act, American transgender politicians elected to office and landmark moments such as Apple becoming the most valuable company in the world under the leadership of an openly gay CEO. We are living in a post-binary world where gender fluency and awareness of how people identify is essential. Ashley Mardell, one of the most trusted voices on YouTube, presents a detailed look at all things LGBTQ+. Along with in-depth definitions, personal anecdotes, helpful infographics, resources, and more, Mardell’s book is proof it does get better every day in a world where people are empowered by information and understanding. In Mardell’s own words, “This book is also for allies and LGBTQ+ people simply looking to pack in some extra knowledge… a critical part of acceptance. Learning about new identities broadens our understanding of humanity, heightens our empathy, and allows us different, valuable perspectives.” Whether you are a questioning teen, a teacher or parent looking for advice or anyone wanting to learn the language of respect, this book is an essential guide for you.

Why We’re Excited: I was surprised but pleased to see Ashley Mardell, whom I recognized from her YouTube videos, on the cover of a book! And it’s certainly true that if we don’t want to find ourselves swimming in gender and sexual identity alphabet soup (for what it’s worth, I prefer QUILTBAG to LGBT+ as an acronym; I find it more inclusive and also easier to pronounce), we’re going to need some straight-talking guides — no pun intended — for the well-meaning but confused. I’m looking forward to seeing how this one measures up!


something in between cover

Something in Between by Melissa de la Cruz

Summary: Jasmine de los Santos has always done what’s expected of her. She’s studied hard, made her Filipino immigrant parents proud and is ready to reap the rewards in the form of a full college scholarship to the school of her dreams. And then everything shatters. Her parents are forced to reveal the truth: their visas expired years ago. Her entire family is illegal. That means no scholarships, maybe no college at all and the very real threat of deportation. As she’s trying to make sense of who she is in this new reality, her world is turned upside down again by Royce Blakely. He’s funny, caring and spontaneous–basically everything she’s been looking for at the worst possible time–and now he’s something else she may lose. Jasmine will stop at nothing to protect her relationships, family and future, all while figuring out what it means to be an immigrant in today’s society.

Why We’re Excited: Well, first of all, Melissa de la Cruz (author of the Blue Bloods, Au Pairs, and Witches of East End series, among others) has a new book out, and it’s a contemporary! Plus, it’s fantastic that de la Cruz, who is herself an immigrant who came from the Philippines to the United States as a child, has chosen to use her own personal experiences to help bring this story to life. As the United States struggles with immigration reform, books like Something in Between (you might also try Diane Guerrero’s autobiography, In the Country We Love, and Jose Antonio Vargas’s longform article for the New York Times, “My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant”) are more important than ever to remind us that undocumented immigrants are not just statistics; they’re people.


tattoo atlas cover

Tattoo Atlas by Tim Floreen

Summary: After Franklin commits a horrific crime and is sent to a special lab for rehabilitation, only Jeremy believes that Franklin might actually be better… but when crimes start up again in their small town, Jeremy begins to wonder if evil can ever truly be quelled.

Why We’re Excited: Just in time for Halloween, a deeply creepy psychological horror novel about the scientific determination of good and evil! (And also a life lesson on why you shouldn’t hook up with someone who murdered your friend even if he seems to have had a personality transplant.) There’s a new trend in horror novels that I’ve noticed lately, with Three Truths and a Lie, As I Descended, and now Tattoo Atlas, where queer characters get a chance to just be characters in a horror novel — villains, protagonists, or even victims of a deranged serial killer — instead of being defined by their sexuality. I thoroughly approve.


the way things work now cover

The Way Things Work Now by David MacAulay

Summary: Explainer-in-Chief David Macaulay updates the worldwide bestseller The New Way Things Work to capture the latest developments in the technology that most impacts our lives. Famously packed with information on the inner workings of everything from windmills to Wi-Fi, this extraordinary and humorous book both guides readers through the fundamental principles of machines, and shows how the developments of the past are building the world of tomorrow. This sweepingly revised edition embraces all of the latest developments, from touchscreens to 3D printer. Each scientific principle is brilliantly explained–with the help of a charming, if rather slow-witted, woolly mammoth.

Why We’re Excited: I like knowing how things work, don’t you? I’m old enough to remember reading the original The Way Things Work (published in 1988, the year of my birth — we’re both pretty outdated now!) as a kid, although I have to confess that I still can’t explain internal combustion. (I probably should have tried rereading the book as a teenager, when I would have understood it a little better!) We’ve gotten so many new technologies since then, it only stands to reason that we’ve needed a few updates. If MacAulay can explain wifi as well as he explains levers, I might finally understand how the precious internet connection I can’t live without actually functions.


icon of VeronicaDid I get you interested in reading one of these books? Just click the title of the one you want and the link will take you to the relevant page in the catalog. From there you can click the green “Place a Hold” button and you’re all set!

Need a library card? Wondering how long you can borrow a book? Borrowing and Circulation information can be found here.


*”On the Radar” features book previews by Veronica, the Teen Librarian at the Dudley Branch, on the last Tuesday or Friday of every month.

jlevins <![CDATA[Hold the Popcorn!: Queen of Katwe]]> http://www.bpl.org/teens/?p=6571 2016-09-27T16:23:13Z 2016-09-26T05:07:27Z David Oyelowo is Robert Katende and Madina Nalwanga is Phiona Mutesi in Disney's QUEEN OF KATWE, the vibrant true story of a young girl from the streets of rural Uganda whose world rapidly changes when she is introduced to the game of chess.

David Oyelowo is Robert Katende and Madina Nalwanga is Phiona Mutesi in Disney’s QUEEN OF KATWE, the vibrant true story of a young girl from the streets of rural Uganda whose world rapidly changes when she is introduced to the game of chess.

Based on Tim Carrothers’ 2012 book The Queen of Katwe: A Story of Life, Chess, and One Extraordinary Girl’s Dream of Becoming a Grandmaster, the new Disney film Queen of Katwe is the story of a young girl named Phiona (played by Madina Nalwanga in her debut role) who sells corn for a living on the streets of the Ugandan countryside with her mom Harriet (played by the fantastic Lupita Nyong’o). Their lives are not very easy, but they are very strong and resilient people. Soon Phiona meets Robert (played by David Oyelowo of 12 Years a Slave). Robert is a former soccer star turned missionary and chess mentor who teaches Phiona about chess. Phiona happens to be a natural born chess player, and Robert brings her natural talents to the surface. Skeptical at first, mom Harriet eventually realizes that Phiona’s natural aptitude for chess, combined with Robert’s mentorship, might be Phiona’s best shot at avoiding an impoverished life of selling corn. I have been waiting patiently for a really good, positive film like this for quite some time. I heartily recommend that everyone go to see Queen of Katwe on the big screen.



animatedDo you love watching movies? The Boston Public Library has tens of thousands of DVDs you can borrow with your library card and even more that you can access online through our streaming service, Hoopla. Plus, if you can’t find a movie you want to watch in all the ones we offer, you can always suggest a purchase. Start placing holds now, and you’ll never have to pay to watch a movie again!


*”Hold the Popcorn!” features movie reviews by James, the Teen Librarian at the East Boston Branch, on the fourth Tuesday of the month.


chalpin@private.bpl.org <![CDATA[Ctrl+Z: Girls Who Code is coming to Teen Central!]]> http://www.bpl.org/teens/?p=6563 2016-09-24T20:37:15Z 2016-09-23T20:13:12Z gwc-logo_2016-hi-resGirls Who Code is a national non-profit organization that works to address the gender gap in technology.  Volunteers with computer science knowledge partner with community organizations who act as host sites, and Girls Who Code provides a curriculum designed to teach young women computer coding while also promoting camaraderie, teamwork, and leadership skills. Participants will work collaboratively on a project that addresses a problem relevant to their community and provide a solution through computer science. Girls will be introduced to a variety of programming languages and learn key coding concepts such as, functions, variables, conditionals, and loops.

Teen Central is excited to launch a new Girls Who Code Club here at the Central location of the Boston Public Library. Our club will start on Saturday, October 8th, 2016 and then continue to meet weekly between 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Participants must either be in grades 6-12, or ages 12-18. Registration is required. To register email teencentral@bpl.org, or call (617) 859-2334.


Need a library card? Wondering how long you can borrow a book? Borrowing and Circulation information can be found here.

*”Ctrl+Z” is all about fearlessly exploring technology. Look here for info about teens, technology, and having fun with new media by Catherine, Teen Technology Coordinator at Teen Central, on the fourth Friday of the month.