Wellington City Libraries

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Teen Blog

Reading, Wellington, and whatever else – teenblog@wcl.govt.nz

Tag: Things to do

Hooked on NZ Books; Or, How to Get Free Books and Write About Them, Too!

Dear readers, we are guessing that since we have encountered one another amongst the digital pages of this most redoubtable publication, you are probably fairly keen book-readers as well. But how much do you choose to read books by New Zealand authors? Well, whether your answer was “Um, I LOVE to read books by New Zealand authors!” or “Not much, but I’d like to read more!” we have quite the opportunity for you.

Our friends at Read NZ / Te Pou Muramura (formerly the New Zealand Book Council) have put together an amazing programme called Hooked On NZ Books / He Ao Anofor young New Zealand readers to engage with new Kiwi literature and have their writing professionally edited and published, all while getting to keep swathes of ~free~ books for themselves. Curious to know more? Read on to hear what Read NZ have to say about the initiative.

 If you choose to take up this challenge, you'd better prepare yourself for a serious case of new-book-smell-induced bliss.

We Want to Know What You Think About New Zealand Books!

The American art critic Barbara McAdam writes that the ‘true calling’ of criticism is to start a discussion. Building a community of readers who discuss books, and growing the next generation of critics is what Hooked On NZ BOoks / He Ao Ano is all about.

Here are Read NZ / Te Pou Muramura (formerly the NZ Book Council), we’ve adopted the programme and are looking for passionate readers to review the latest NZ books for us.

First of all, we match readers aged 13-19 with new books. Most of the books we have to choose from are novels, but we also have some non-fiction, poetry and essays. We ask for the reviews to be emailed back within a month, and the reader gets to keep the book.

Our editor works with the reviewer to edit the piece so it’s the best it can be. Then we publish the review on the website, and share it with our wider community. The best review from each month is published on the official Read NZ website.

Our reviewers have the opportunity to respond personally and critically to the latest reads while together building an online resource about NZ books and a genuine platform for their voice.

Established four years ago by the NZ Review of Books journal, Hooked On NZ Books is already a useful archive of reviews, author interviews and other writing resources for younger readers. When the journal ceased publication in late 2019, its editors invited Read NZ to adopt the work.

Read NZ CEO Juliet Blyth says the purpose of Hooked On NZ Books is to grow the audience for home-grown literature, to provide another space for young writers to be published, and to nurture the next generation of critical readers in Aotearoa.

“Anyone can say that they loved or loathed a book, but it’s much harder to say why. Reviewing is important because well-argued reviews can influence what gets published and what gets read,” she says.

Tawa College student Hannah Marshall has submitted reviews to Hooked On NZ Books in past years. In a recent article about reviewing for Tearaway magazine, she describes the programme as a “springboard for a critical conversation.”

A chance visit to my school from the organisation opened my eyes to a world of opportunities. I had barely read a Kiwi-written YA [novel] in my life; today, most of my favourite books are by New Zealand authors. […] I gained valuable skills from the reviewing process and improved myself as a writer. I even found my name in print

— Hannah Marshall, Hooked On NZ Books reviewer

Read NZ is now looking for young readers and writers aged around 13-19 to participate. Interested reviewers can sign up on the Hooked On NZ Books website, or contact Read NZ to get involved. Read NZ also hopes to offer review-writing workshops around the country next year.


So what are you waiting for? Now is the time to get involved! While you’re at it, why not follow Read NZ and Hooked On NZ Books on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, for more delicious literary content, delivered right to your screen?

Waitohi Youth Nights Return!

Now that we’re all done with that business of emerging, blinking, into the sunlight following the national lockdown, a lot of our regular events and programmes are getting back underway. Happily, this includes our regular Youth Nights at Johnsonville Library at Waitohi Community Hub!

‘What is Youth Night?’ I hear you plaintively ask. ‘Why would I spend my Saturday night in a library of all places?’ Well, friends. Perhaps a more apt question is ‘what isn’t Youth Night?’ We play games, we make music, we watch movies, we debate the ins and outs of LGBTQ+ representation in contemporary media (this one is optional), we try to beat each other’s high scores in Beat Saber, we laugh, we cry, we rank the characters of the classic 1990s cartoon Gargoyles in order of hotness (Goliath and Demona come in at joint first place, obviously, with everyone else trailing a distant second), and most importantly, we eat pizza.

Our Youth Nights are totally free (pizza included!), but you do need to be 13+ in order to come, so please bring your student ID. Once you’re in, our spaces are all yours. Youth Nights are on the first Saturday of every month, from 5.00-8.00pm. The first one since lockdown is this Saturday, the 1st of August. See you there!

Got A Month? Get Writing with CampNaNo!

Today is the first day of April. That means a lot of things for a lot of people: pleas for no pranks, people ignoring those pleas, and the sixth day of lockdown here in New Zealand.

For many around the world, though, it is also the start of CampNaNoWriMo, which itself is a spin-off of the November National Novel Writing Month – NaNoWriMo for short. Unlike the classic NaNoWriMo, where the goal is 50,000 words of a new draft, CampNaNo is far more flexible. You can continue a project, write multiple short stories, do editing and rewrites, and set your own goal for the whole thing. Think 50,000 words is far too much, and just want to get a solid start on that novel? 20,000 is grand. Struggling through that finale? If you’re sure it’s just 10,000 between you and typing ‘the end’, set that for your goal.

Best of all, you don’t have to go it alone. Unique to CampNaNo is the cabin feature – writing groups where you can discuss your project and cheer each other on. So why not gather up a group of your friends and get writing socially even when you are distanced physically? There’s plenty of resources available for teens as well, from workbooks to pep talks from famous novelists.

Whether you’re the next teen author like Hannah Moskowitz or Kody Keplinger, or feeling a little like teenage Mary Shelley when she created Frankenstein and the Monster during the Year Without A Summer, each novel begins with an idea and putting words on the page.

We’ve set up a WCL Teen Writers classroom group as well as a Discord server if you want to join us on our month-long writing journey – we will be writing as well, so you won’t be alone. If you are interested, either Facebook message or email us with your details (if you’re a WCL member, include your card number — if not, let us know which library you belong to), and once confirmed we will send out an invitation. We look forward to hearing from you!

Lasers, Feelings, and RPGs

Tabletop roleplaying, such as Dungeons and Dragons, has experienced a revival in recent years, with liveplays and podcasts such as Critical Role and The Adventure Zone gaining large followings of their own. But one of the biggest sides of this is the internet allowing for not only the creation of games and systems, but the permitted sharing and remixing of them as well.

Whether you’re a tabletop veteran or someone just wanting to dip their toes into roleplaying, “micro” or “one-page” RPGs are both an excellent introduction to the hobby and a fun way to spend an afternoon with a group. The games featured here are quick to set up, don’t require massive or complex character sheets, only require six-sided dice, and can be played in the space of a single session.

Hours of nerdy fun are but a roll of the dice away!

While there are dozens of games out there based on this system, here are six to get you started.

Lasers and Feelings
The game on which all these others are based sees the party take on the roles of the crew of the interstellar ship Raptor. Their mission to explore the vast reaches of space is interrupted when their captain is overcome by a strange entity known as Something Else, leaving only the crew to handle what happens next.

Oh, Dang! Bigfoot Stole My Car With My Friend’s Birthday Present Inside
Its premise obvious, Oh, Dang! leads you on a wacky roadtrip in pursuit of a grand theft auto-committing cryptid. Its sequel Ah, Dang! Mothman Won’t Move Out (He Said It Was Just For The Weekend), sees you dealing with even more cryptid problems.

Wits and Chivalry
You are the Knights of the Round Table, sent by the great wizard Merlin to recover the Holy Grail to save an ailing King Arthur. (This is the only game I know of where Monty Python references are not only permitted, but practically mandatory!)

Magic and Mischief
Ever wanted to go to magic school like Mildred Hubble or Harry Potter? Here is your chance. After a Dark Curse befalls the headmistress of the Young Wizards’ School for Arcane Excellence, a distracted staff and student body makes for the perfect time to solve mysteries or cause mischief.

A Dream In The Woods
Inspired by Shakespeare’s play A Midsummer Night’s Dream, players take on the servants of Titania and Oberon to cause mischief and magic while attempting to please their fickle royals.

Sturdy & Wilde Detective Agency
When the players’ employers go missing it’s up to them to follow the trail and solve the mystery in this steampunk mystery game.

If you enjoyed those and/or want to try something different, there are plenty of other options out there from science fiction to fantasy to horror to mystery. There is even a blank template (appropriately enough named Blanks and Spaces) for you to create your own game. Let us know how it all goes!

Libraries in the Time of COVID

Peeps, it’s a weird time for all of us, librarians included, as we attempt to navigate the apocalypse with nary an open library in sight from which to retrieve the objects of our solace — books. But fear not! The library, in its wisdom, has foreseen such a calamity and from the depths of its vast reserves of online material has produced a bounteous temple of all things YA — the OverDrive Teen Reading Room. All you need is a library card (click here to grab one if you haven’t already) and all the reading material you could ever need is at your fingertips from the comfort of whichever anti-viral fortress you’re currently holed up in. Check the list below for some of my faves:

Aristotle and Dante discover the secrets of the universe / Sáenz, Benjamin Alire
Guys, I don’t want to freak you out but READ THIS BOOK NOW. This is the OverDrive eAudiobook version, so you don’t even have to read words, just zone out and let Saenz’s perfectly spare, searing prose transport you. This is a gorgeous story of family, friendship, love, pain, illness, recovery, and discovery that paints in poignant, pointillistic detail the agony and anticipation of leaving childhood behind and moving somewhere new. Waste no more time, and while you’re at it read everything else Saenz has ever written. You won’t regret it.

Feed / Anderson, M. T
It may seem a little on the nose to be recommending dystopian fiction right now, but hear me out. This modern classic is absolutely worth a read — it takes a peek beneath the veil and examines human nature with a kind of clarity seldom seen in any fiction. Unsettling? Yes. Frightening? Probably. Un-put-downable? Absolutely.

An unofficial encyclopedia of strategy for Fortniters / Rich, Jason
We understand it’s not entirely impossible that there may be some people out there who are choosing to spend their isolation period not reading, but gaming. We have you nerds covered as well! The Unofficial Encyclopedia of Strategy for Fortniters is just one part of a gaming eBook collection that includes titles on Fortnite, Minecraft, Terraria, and more. Can’t go outside? Make your own outside, inside!

Finally, I wanted to do a special plug for our wonderful OverDrive LGBTIQ+ Reading Room. We’ve pulled together our favourite titles from across the rainbow spectrum and curated the ultimate collection of LGBTIQ+ reads for you to enjoy. There’s heaps to choose from across fiction and nonfiction, eBook and eAudio — biographies, romance, YA fiction, the arts, crime and mysteries, social comment and social issues, personal essays, poetry, and much much more. Feel free to send through a request if we’re missing a title you think we should have!

Even though our physical sites are closed, we’re here for you still. Follow us on social media or comment on one of these posts if you want to stay in touch. We’ll be keeping you up to date with books, websites, resources and other cool stuff and general distraction during these spooky, spooky times. Stay safe and stay indoors!

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Get your team together for the Zombies vs Gleeks Teen Trivia Night coming up on September 2nd. Don’t miss out on a spot for your team.

Get your zombie gleek on!

 

Blog-Image copyIt’s on again – the Zombie vs Gleeks Trivia Night (we had to postpone it last time – sorry, won’t happen again).

You, your mates and zombies, Glee, prizes, gloating rights, free food, brains! Wait, what…?

Okay, there might not be brains, but eveything else will be there. Pull a team of Glee and Zombie experts together and get ready for the Zombies Vs. Gleeks Trivia Night.

Open for teams of 13 to 18 year olds (min 2 – max 4), the Zombies Vs. Gleeks Teen Trivia Night will be at the Wellington Central Library on September 2nd at 6.30pm. Registrations open soon and places will be limited so get your team ready to go and start planning your costumes.