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What’s Tween and Why Does It Matter?

Rachael Schmidtlein
Teen and Tween Services Coordinator

Across the far reaches of the Internet are articles, surveys, and studies about how to raise children to be reasonable, functioning human beings (some day). Children approach learning differently, and those approaches differ depending on their age, attentiveness, activity level, etc. New research is constantly being published to help parents and educators figure out how to increase literacy in children. This is a wonderful thing! A side effect of all of this research is that new age groups are constantly emerging.

The idea that a child is not, in fact, just a short adult is relatively new. Until 1836, no labor laws existed. The first children’s department within a library didn’t even come about until the Boston Public Library opened their children’s room in 1895, which was followed quickly by the practice of storytelling in the library.

Young adult literature and services were still slower coming. After World War I, children stopped going into the job market at the age of 14 (instead finishing school or even attending college). Libraries realized that by designating materials for teenagers, they could give them a sense of belonging and keep them engaged in continuous learning. In the 1990’s, libraries began dedicating services and librarians exclusively to teenagers.

A pattern, however, began to emerge. Children’s services were seeing a huge drop between the number of children using library programs and the number of teens using library programs. Even more troubling, children who were initially “reluctant readers” stopped reading entirely and would continue to have trouble in school. What was happening? Where did they go?

As most parents know, in grades 4-6, kids start get super busy. They become less easy to attract to library programs. Sports, religious activities, mountains of homework: the list just keeps going. To make the over-programmed juggling act more difficult, parents have to drive their children from place to place because kids can’t start driving until high school. We know that keeping preteens connected with reading is an important step in creating lifelong learners, especially for reluctant readers, but the question is how?

That’s where I come in! My name is Rachael Schmidtlein, and I am the new Tween and Teen Services Coordinator at the Manhattan Public Library. Our Youth Services staff at MPL has already been working on some awesome tween programs. At the Manhattan Public Library, we’ve defined a Tween as someone between the 4th and 6th grade. Every time we have an event that is specifically for tweens, we witness kids excited that they have a place to come just for them. Our programs may not seem like they are directly related to literature, but no matter if it’s a haunted library after hours, a holiday card craft or something equally as cool, we make sure that the tweens know that there are resources here for them to read and study on every subject imaginable.

Tweens are at the perfect age for library programming. They’re starting to get into the more complicated elements of their subjects at school, and the library offers them a fun, free place to explore those core learning elements, without the restrictions of state education standards. We often offer programs that are based in popular culture, like Doctor Who, and then we dig even deeper into the STEAM, science, technology, engineering, arts, and math components of the topic. This leads to some seriously creative and out-of-the-box thinking. Our tween programming is just beginning to take off, and we have a lot of ideas planned for the future! If you have any questions about tween or teen services at the Manhattan Public Library, you can email our staff at

Posted in: Children's Dept, For Teens, Mercury Column, News, Parents, Young Adult Dept

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Summer Reading Ends this Week

parent and daughter with summer reading prize bookSummer reading activities are wrapping up and the final day to claim prizes is Saturday, August 1.

Two special events will finish the season. Tuesday’s Super Reader Night, from 6:30-7:30 p.m., will offer fun for the entire family. Bring the kiddos for games, crafts, a superhero obstacle course, and remember to pick up your summer reading prizes while you’re here. It’s also a perfect time to stock up on books, movies, and audiobooks to prepare for your final summer trip.

Thursday from 1:30-2:30 p.m., staff from the Beach Museum of Art will host a program called “The Hero’s Journey in Art.” Kids in K-4th grade will learn interesting facts about art and participate in a hands-on project to take home.

Congratulations are due to a fantastic community of readers. Summer reading 2015 will finish will every record broken.  2,476 kids, 420 teens, and 500 adults have read a combined total of 2,176,102 minutes, and we aren’t even finished counting! You have done an amazing job, and this group of nearly 3,000 kids and teens will start school with improved reading skills, ready to learn and succeed.

The summer reading program wouldn’t be possible without the support of sponsors and volunteers. Thank you to all the generous donors who have given time, money, and prizes to make this year so successful.

Storytimes and other fun activities for kids will resume August 17. Check the events calendar or the Storytime page for details.

If you have questions about the program or would be interested in helping out next year, please contact Jennifer Bergen, Youth Services Manager, at 776-4741 x.156.

boy holding up summer reading prize books

Posted in: Adult Services, Children's Dept, News, Young Adult Dept

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The Best of YA in 2015

by Keri Mills, Young Adult Librarian

It’s hard to believe that 2015 is more than half over already! It’s a good time to review some of the hottest YA books of the year so far. This is just the tip of the iceberg, but here are a few books generating a lot of buzz:

“A Court of Thorns and Roses” by Sarah Maas

the court of thorns and roses coverThe human world is in danger. After generations of hostility, faeries and humans live apart, separated by a wall. One day, 19-year-old Feyre kills a wolf in the woods near her home hoping it will help her family survive the harsh winter. Instead, a monstrous creature shows up at her door demanding her life in exchange for killing the wolf. Feyre returns with him to the Fae realm as payment, and she soon realizes that the Fae are not what she expects. This book is a good choice for fairy tale fans. For similar books try “Cruel Beauty” and its sequel, the recently released “Crimson Bound” by Rosamund Hodge.

“Finding Audrey” by Sophie Kinsella

Finding Audrey coverThis is Kinsella’s YA debut after her popular “Shopaholic” series for adults, and it is a winner. Audrey is struggling with depression and an anxiety disorder. She has recently been released from the hospital and refuses to leave her house or interact with others outside of her family. With the support of her therapist, comically dysfunctional parents, two brothers, and a new love interest, Audrey begins to heal. This book is an excellent choice for fans of Jenni Han’s “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” or her latest book, “P.S. I Still Love You.”

“Ghosts of Heaven” by Marcus Sedgwick

Ghosts of Heaven coverPrintz award-winning author Sedgwick creates another winner. This unique novel is told in four separate stories over a span of centuries. The stories are linked by one single element, the spiral, and can be read in any order. If you are looking for a haunting and thought-provoking choice, this one is for you. Also, try “More Than This” by Patrick Ness, or my favorite by Marcus Sedgwick, “Revolver.”



“All the Bright Places” by Jennifer Niven

All the Bright Places coverSeniors Theodore and Violet run into each other at the top of their school bell tower where both are contemplating suicide. “Theodore Freak, “as he is known to classmates, is impulsive, unpredictable, and eccentric. Bullied by classmates and his own father, suicide is on his mind a lot. Violet, a popular cheerleader, is grief stricken after the death of her sister in a car crash. The two teens, who tell their stories in alternating chapters, form an unlikely relationship. Read this if you liked “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green.


“The Walls Around Us” by Nova Ren Suma

The Walls Around Us coverAt first glance, Amber and Violet have nothing in common. Amber is an inmate at Aurora Hills Secure Juvenile Detention Center. Violet is a ballet dancer bound for Julliard. Orianna is the one who ties their two lives together. Ori, Violet’s friend and also a dancer, is sent to Aurora Hills after committing murder to protect Violet. The suspense builds as all the girls’ secrets are gradually revealed. This is a great read alike for “We Were Liars” by E. Lockhart.


“Ink and Bone: The Great Library” by Rachel Caine

Ink and Bone coverIn a near future world, the library at Alexandria still exists, and the Great Library controls the flow of all knowledge. In this world, you can read books, but it is illegal to own them. Individuals can be fined, jailed, or worse if found with an original book.  Even though Jess comes from a family of black market book dealers, he still believes in the value of the Library. But when Jess begins training to become part of the Library, he uncovers sinister secrets that endanger his life. Fans of Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series will devour this new series.

There are many other excellent new YA books, as well. Check out the New Books Display in the YA area, or ask a librarian for more ideas. If you missed last year’s outstanding titles, choose a book from the Teens’ Top Ten Display or the Award Winners Display.

Posted in: Mercury Column, News, Uncategorized, Young Adult Dept

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Summer Teen Reads

Keri Mills,  Young Adult Librarian

Parents, are you trying to get your teens reading over the summer? Sign them up for the Teen Summer Reading Program where they can earn incentives for reading this summer, including restaurant coupons and a free book. Teens also have the chance to win the grand prize which is a Kindle Fire HD tablet, or a number of other raffle prizes such as gift cards to area businesses. Teens can sign up for the program on the library’s website: or by coming into the library. Here are a few book suggestions to get them started reading:

I am Malala: How One Girl Stood up for Education and Changed the World (Young Readers Edition)” by Malala Yousafzai and Patricia McCormick

This is the inspiring memoir of Malala Yousafzai, who is the youngest ever Nobel Peace Prize recipient. Malala recounts what it was like living in Pakistan as the Taliban began to take hold. Despite the constant danger, Malala’s family still allowed and encouraged her to attend school and publicly speak out about education. Because of this, at age 14, Malala was shot in the head by the Taliban on her way home from school. Miraculously, she survived and is now an international spokesperson for education.

The Shadow Hero” by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew

In this graphic novel, Yang creates a backstory for the Green Turtle, a little known comic book character who was likely the first Asian superhero. Hank Chu is a Chinese American teen growing up in 1930s Chinatown. Hank’s aspirations include being a grocer like his father. His mother, however, has other ideas for him. When she is rescued by one of the local superheroes, she decides that Hank should also become a superhero. She sews Hank a costume and tries to help him get superpowers by exposing him to toxic chemicals and other tried and true methods. All her efforts fail, but when tragedy strikes, Hank receives assistance from an unlikely source, and becomes a real hero.


We Were Liars” by E. Lockhart

Cadence Sinclair is the oldest grandchild of a wealthy family headed by her grandfather who owns a private island off of Cape Cod. The extended family vacations there each summer. Cadence hangs out with her two older cousins and friend Gat, who have all been inseparable since they were young. During her 15th summer, however, Cadence is involved in a mysterious accident where she sustains a blow to the head, and now suffers debilitating migraines and amnesia. She is only able to make it through most days with the help of painkillers. Two years after her accident, Cadence returns once again to the island, where she tries to piece together exactly what happened two years ago.

How It Went Down” by Kekla Magoon

In an inner city neighborhood, an African American teen rushes out of the local market wearing a hoodie and carrying something in his arms. The owner shouts for him to come back. A car pulls up in the middle of the street. Someone shouts, “He has a gun!” That quickly, Tariq Johnson, 16-years-old, is on the ground, dead from gunshot wounds. The shooter, a white man, goes free after claiming self-defense, but no weapon is found on Tariq. Everyone has an opinion about what really happened, but the only person who knows for certain is dead. Seventeen different narrators tell this story, which is ripped from the headlines. Read this with your teens for a great discussion


“Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” by Ransom Riggs

Sixteen year old Jacob is traumatized by his grandfather’s brutal murder. He decides to travel to Wales to find the orphanage where his grandfather was sent to live during World War II. When he arrives, he gets more than he bargained for. The children from his grandfather’s stories are still alive and living at the orphanage. What’s more, even though it is 70 years later, they are still kids. And now, the same monster that killed his grandfather is after these children. The story is enhanced by the inclusion of almost 50 vintage photographs appearing throughout the book. Read the book now before the movie comes out next year.

Find all these books and many more on display in the YA area throughout the summer. Also, be sure to check out the free teen events going on this summer at the library by visiting the library’s website:

Posted in: Adult Services, For Teens, Mercury Column, News, Young Adult Dept

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MLK Art and Writing Contest Winners Announced


Honorable Mentions

Grade category           Name                                             Teacher/School (if applicable)

9-12                       Ames Burton                                 Riley County Schools

3-5                         Sahana Datta and                        Marlatt and Amanda Arnold Elementary Schools

Ananya Pagadala

K-2                        Justin Orvis                                    Manhattan Catholic Schools

6-8                         Ann Hess                                       Flint Hills Christian School

First Place Awards

K-2                        Ritodeep Roy                                 Lee Elementary

3-5                         Micah Craine                                 Bluemont

6-8                         Kaden Vandorn                             Flint Hills Christian School

Adult                     Paulicia Williams

Best of Show

K-2                        Usha Reddi’s first grade class        Ogden Elementary


Honorable Mentions

3-5                         Hanna Loub                                   Bergman Elementary

6-8                         Abby Cronander                            Manhattan Catholic

9-12                       Amanda Dillon                              Flint Hills Christian School

9-12                       Caleb Linville                                Flint Hills Christian School


First Place Awards

3-5                         Halle Gaul                                     Bergman

6-8                         Blaise Hayden                               Manhattan Catholic Schools

9-12                       Elijah Irving                                   Flint Hills Christian School

Adult                     Randy Jellison

Best of Show

6-8                               Chase Rauch                                  Manhattan Catholic Schools

Posted in: Adult Services, Children's Dept, For Adults, For Kids, For Teens, News, Young Adult Dept

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Teens at the Library

by Amber Keck, Children’s Librarian


Teenagers in Manhattan and surrounding areas have many opportunities to be a part of Manhattan Public Library. Not only can teens have access to materials and activities, but they also have the chance to log community service hours and connect with other teens and adults in the community.  With their parents’ permission, teens may own their own library card and have access to any unrestricted materials, including comic books, video games, fiction and nonfiction books. Programming for teens include Yu-Gi-Oh dueling, After Hours parties, crafting afternoons, and much more. Any activity or program for teenagers is free, but they do sometimes require pre-registration because of high attendance.

Teens can be a part of the brainstorming and implementation of programming in the library, as well. Keri Mills, MPL’s Young Adult Librarian, hosts a meeting of the Teen Library Advisory Board (TLAB) every month. During this time, TLAB plans activities and programs, discusses the library’s young adult book collection, and keeps Keri up-to-date on topics of interest to teenagers in the community. These meetings are held on the fourth Thursday of the month from 3:30-4:30 pm.  The next TLAB meeting is scheduled for Thursday, October 23rd in the Friends’ Room. Anyone is welcome to attend these meetings.

Rebecca Price, a summer teen volunteer and consistent contributor to TLAB, likes that she gets to meet a lot of new people through the volunteer program and TLAB. As a lover of the library, being an active member of TLAB is important to her. Over the years, she has had the chance to plan a number of different programs and activities, but the Catching Fire After Hours was by far her favorite.

During the summer months, teenagers can also be a part of the teen volunteer program, in which they assist library staff in presenting programs and giving out prizes to summer reading participants. During the summer of 2014, teen volunteers logged in 520 hours! The children’s staff simply could not pull off the extensive programming and awesome summer reading incentives without the help of the teen volunteers. Spots for this program go fast, so be sure to start inquiring about it in the wintertime.

At Manhattan Public Library, teenagers have a space to share their ideas, connect with the resources they need, and make a positive impact on their community.

Posted in: For Adults, For Teens, News, Young Adult Dept

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Science Saturdays: Survival 101

Couldn’t survive five minutes out in the wilderness? Then, this program is for you. Learn the ropes of wilderness survival with Daniel Schapaugh. Katniss and Peeta will have nothing on you after this program. Be there on Saturday, July 19th at 10:00 in the Groesbeck Room. See you there! Recommended for tweens to adults.

Posted in: Adult Services, Children's Dept, For Adults, For Kids, For Teens, Young Adult Dept

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Waiting for “The Fault in Our Stars”? Try a Read-Alike

Keri Mills, Young Adult Librarian

With the acclaim of both the book and the resultant movie, “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green is the hot book to read this summer for teens and adults alike. Unfortunately, due to its popularity, there is a waiting list to check out the book from the library. However, there are a number of great books to read while you are waiting your turn.

me youOne such book is “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” by Jesse Andrews. Greg and Earl, social outcasts at school, spend their free time making their own versions of cult movie classics by Herzog and Coppola. Their movies are terrible, but Greg and Earl aren’t making them for other people, that is until Rachel comes along. Rachel has been diagnosed with leukemia, and Greg’s mom suggests that he should befriend her. When Rachel decides to stop her cancer treatment, Greg and Earl make a film that forces them to step into the spotlight. The book is humorous and moving with a sarcastic tone.




Posted in: For Teens, Mercury Column, News, Young Adult Dept

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Science Saturdays: Bug Surprise!

Join us at the library Saturday morning at 10:00 a.m. in the Groesbeck Room for Bug Surprise sponsored by the KSU Entomology Department. They will lead us in a hands-on workshop all about insects. The program will include information on insect biology with live specimens that you can touch. They will also go over the importance of insects for humans, both positive and negative aspects. And, for the all the brave souls, there will be an insect cooking and tasting activity! The workshop will be geared towards teens and adults, but is probably appropriate for upper elementary school kids, as well.

Posted in: Adult Services, Children's Dept, For Adults, For Kids, For Teens, Young Adult Dept

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