Movie Scavenger Hunt

I love scavenger hunts and teens always seem to enjoy them too.  In fact, during a recent Boys & Girls Club visit to the library I gave the Middle School kids a scavenger hunt and as the group was leaving, I overheard one of the boys (who had been acting too cool for school) say to his friends, “That was actually pretty fun.” I consider that high praise from a teenage boy!

But I have done a lot of scavenger hunts in the library, my friend. And they were starting to get a little stale. So when I started planning my April programs I wanted to try something a little different. And that is how I came up with Movie Scavenger Hunt! Really, my thought process when I came up with the idea was, “I need a draw to get teens to come to a scavenger hunt program. What do teens like? They like movies! I will do – A Movie Scavenger Hunt!” And I had no idea what that was but I had a few months to figure it out, so I went with it.

It turned out to be pretty cool! Here’s what we did. I selected several movies from a variety of genres that I like and hopefully teens liked too. I played clips from the movies and each movie clip helped solve a clue to find the next book in the library, which would have another clue and we would watch another movie clip and so on. For example, I showed the following clip from Toy Story 2 and the clue they were given was, “The aliens might need help writing what kind of note to Mr. Potato?”

And of course, the answer is “A Thank You Note,” which lead them to find a guide to writing thank you notes in our stacks. Preparing this scavenger hunt was lots of fun and also made me feel rather clever! Plus I loved revisiting some of my favorite scenes in some really great movies.

Read below for the rest of the scavenger hunt:

The Princess Bride: “If Fezzik runs out of rhymes, he might need this book to help.”

(Answer: A Rhyme Dictionary!)
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: “What creatures should Harry prepare to meet in the next task?”

(Answer: A book about Mermaids)
Robin Hood (Disney version): “”Eww! They’re ______! If Skippy wants to know more about what he and Maid Marion did together, he could read this book.”

(Answer: A book about kissing)
The Lego Movie: “Find a biography of the latest actor to be able to say the iconic line, ‘I am Batman’.”

(Answer: A Ben Affleck biography)
The Wizard of Oz: “Oz is clearly very different from Dorothy’s home state. Find a book about the state east of where Dorothy is from.”

(Answer: a book about Missouri)
Guardians of the Galaxy: “Find a young adult novel about a girl with the same type of leg as ‘that guy’s leg’.”

(Answer: The Running Dream by Van Draanen)


Manga Club Update

I am so lucky. And my teens in our Manga Club are lucky too. I mentioned a while ago that we were having a volunteer guest speaker come to our Manga Club meetings. And I am so glad he did!


I was contacted out of the blue by a young man who heard about our Teen Manga Club but was disappointed because he is now too old to participate (he is in his mid-twenties).*So he wanted to know if he could volunteer. Of course my first step was an interview because I had to know his qualifications and I had to check him out to make sure I was comfortable having him around teens in the library. It turns out he passed with flying colors. Polite and super enthusiastic about all things manga and Japanese, he also has a ton of knowledge and even coursework in Japanese culture and language. So of course I welcomed him with open arms and I hope he now becomes a regulart part of our Manga Club.

I believe it is all thanks to our volunteer Martin that we have had the same group of teens return to Manga Club three months in a row! Our December meeting was OUTSTANDING. Martin brought visual aids for the kids, showed them awesome youtube clips, and even did a demonstration of Kendo in full costume. He showed the kids the super cool swords he is making for cosplay at an upcoming convention. He talked to them about Japanese holidays, game shows, and pop culture. A huge thank you to Martin for volunteering his time to interact with young people who share his interests! The excitement in the room when he is talking is so much greater than I could ever generate with my limited knowledge on this topic. I’m really looking forward to our Spring programs now!

Of course, I just got lucky and this opportunity fell into my lap. But it has reinforced my idea that it is always a fantastic idea to reach out into the community and use the experts in your area. Does your university have an Asian or Japanese Studies department you could contact? Is there a martial arts studio that would come and give a demonstration? Talk to comic book store owners in your community, talk to anyone and every one to weed out those experts who are passionate about the things the  teens in your library are passionate. They are such an excellent resource for building that passion and knowledge in your teens and making the library a place they want to be.


*And, as another aside, isn’t it a shame that libraries don’t target a lot of programming to this audience (the young professionals)? Though I have seen it done exceptionally well recently in places that have Books and Beer book clubs or trivia nights. I think programs like that here at my library would be AWESOME!

Shrinky Dinks!

Have you ever made shrinky dinks?

According to Wikipedia, shrinky dinks reached the height of their popularity in the 80s. I remember doing them as a kid with my Girl Scout troop and thinking they were without a doubt, the coolest thing ever.

I’m not sure if they are exactly making a comeback (like all things 80s it seems) or if teen librarians are the only ones still using them. But I was scrounging around on the internet for things to do with my Manga Club and when I came across this post by our excellent Indiana State Children’s Consultant Suzanne Walker, I knew I had hit gold.

My teens, of course, had never heard of shrinky dinks, but once I pulled the first ones out of the oven, they were hooked. Boys and girls, all ages, backgrounds, interests, they all loved making shrinky dinks! I printed out a picture of Kirara for one girl to trace and you should have seen how happy she was. I made an instant fan there.

Doctor Who Shrinky Dinks

The absolute best thing about shrinky dinks is that you can fit them into any program you want! I was racking my brain trying to come up with a simple Doctor Who craft for our Doctor Who program. There were tons of great ideas online but none really matched our level of limited funds, time, and skills. I thought back to how much fun the Manga Club had with shrinky dinks a couple weeks ago, and I knew we could do Doctor Who shrinky dinks and my teens would think it was just as awesome as any of the complex-looking Doctor Who crafts out there!

My department has a cheap little toaster oven and when I heard you could use a toaster oven to bake your shrinky dinks, I knew that was going to make life a lot easier. However, I had a lot of trouble keeping the heat of the toaster oven constant, and I think this is why our plastic curled up so much. I am sad to report I ruined a couple teens’ projects this way. Thankfully they were good sports about it.

If you are thinking about using shrinky dinks with your teens, do it! Most likely they have never heard of them, and when they see what is possible, they’ll love it. My biggest piece of advice, other than having cool pictures the teens can trace onto their plastic and following the instructions that come with the package, is to use a toaster oven if it makes life easier, but make sure its not a cheapo one without a constant temperature. Oh, and don’t forget to punch your holes into your artwork BEFORE you put it in the oven!

Teen Murder Mystery Party

The teens at my library Seek the Unknown during Teen Read Week!

We had a murder mystery party during Teen Read Week this year, and I have to say it was probably my most successful teen program yet!TeenReadSlider2-400x217

When I was younger I did a few of those “How to Host a Murder” mystery parties in a box for birthday parties. And I loved them! So when I became a teen librarian, I knew this was a program I wanted to do. I read a lot about how other libraries did theirs, and when Teen Read Week rolled around, I snagged up this perfect opportunity.

I decided to write my mystery script myself. As someone who loves writing, I found that I really enjoyed doing this! The suspects, the motives, it was all coming together.

The main thing I really wanted was for teens to be able to play the role of the murder suspects, like you do in the “How to Host a Murder” games. I knew this would be a level of participation that would be a lot more fun for the kids than simply solving the murder. So I created six characters and when I started telling teens about the program I told them the first six to sign up would get to be a suspect. I think this really helped grab their interest.

Normally I don’t even require registrations to my programs because my teens never sign up ahead of time. But two weeks out from the program I already had more kids signed up for a program than I ever had before. I promoted the program at my booktalks and had flyers to hand out to everyone who walked through the teen room. I really pushed the marketing for this one, and that made a difference as well.

A week before the program I started calling the kids who signed up. If I could get a hold of them and they were still planning on attending, I asked them to come to the library to pick up their character packet a few days before the program. This way they would know their character and be prepared for their role.

The great thing about this program was that other than writing the script, there really wasn’t a lot of set up! I didn’t even have to decorate the room or anything. The murder mystery was enough to draw them in! So the day of the program arrived. The six characters arrived for a character meeting 15 minutes early. We went over their roles and I told them they would be team leaders and talked a little about their responsibility as a leader.

When the other teens started arriving, I had them roll a die to see which team they would join. I was so glad I came up with this easy method (six teams so it worked out perfect!). Then let the fun begin!

I had two types of clues, and three rounds. During each round the characters would get character clues about the other suspects and the kids acted out accusing one another with their suspicions and defending themselves with their backstories and motivations. Some kids just read their clues straight from what I wrote, but some really got into acting their part and saying their lines in their own words. It was awesome! The other type of clue was a book clue. This part was like a scavenger hunt. They went out to the rest of the building in teams and looked for the books with clues in them. I loved that I was able to combine everything that is fun about a murder mystery party with the scavenger hunt elements and I think the kids really loved it. You should have heard their stampeding feet up the stairs to the rest of the building during each round. But as soon as the entered the main part of the library, they were quiet and focused on finding their clues and they did such a great job!

In the end they all made their guesses of who they thought the killer was. This is the one part I probably would have done differently. It would have been better to be more structured here because the teens were yelling and shouting over one another and it was hard to gain control of the room again. But I did, and to wrap things up I played the detective announcing the cause of death, which revealed who the real killer was! I think some of the kids felt the reveal was a little anti-climatic, so when I do it again next year I’m going to really have to jazz that part up.

All the kids had a fantastic time and were asking me if we could do it again next year. It was my most well-attended teen program so far. I used the chance to heavily promote my Hunger Games Party next month. I hope it is as much of a success as the Murder Mystery Party was. As the kids were hunting around the library, enthralled in their characters and the mystery I had created, I know I was having the time of my life, and I thought to myself, “I can’t believe I get paid to do this!” Those are the moments I live for as a librarian.


Cosplay Accessories

I have a monthly teen Manga Club. It’s still pretty new. I did a couple programs in the Spring to test the waters and since September we have been doing it every month. So October was really only our second meeting, but I’m really starting to get into a good structure for the club.

Last month I read Mike Buono’s post on the YALSA Blog about rethinking programing and one idea really stuck with me. He says that teens really just want a place to get together and talk and hang out, and maybe something cool to do too. He recommends that you plan 3 things and let the rest of the program take its course. Just planning 3 things helps my tenancy to want to over-structure everything and plan out every last minute.

So for October’s manga club, my three things were 1) watch anime, 2) make animal cosplay headbands, and 3) make duct tape swords. Okay, and I guess there was also a number 4) eat pocky (of course!).

Below are some pictures of the teen’s fantastic creations!


I’m really excited for November and December’s Manga Club meetings! I had two volunteers from the community who have studied Japanese culture reach out to me about coming to our programs. I think their knowledge and enthusiasm is going to really get the teens excited, especially since I personally do not read manga for fun and know next to nothing about it.