GCHQ launches new code-making app

Cryptoy is a fun, free, educational app about cryptography, designed by GCHQ for use by secondary school students and their teachers.

The app enables users to understand basic encryption techniques, learn about their history and then have a go at creating their own encoded messages. These can then be shared with friends via social media or more traditional means and the recipients can use the app to try to decipher the messages.

For full details and to download the app go here:  Cryptoy App

It is up to you whether or not you trust GCHQ enough to install it but it could be great for teens interested in cryptography.

Teen Librarian Monthly December 2014

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Literature Wales and Welsh Government announce new international ‘Dylan Day’

As part of an event to mark the conclusion of the successful year-long Dylan Thomas 100 Festival, Dylan Thomas’ granddaughter Hannah Ellis today announced the creation of Dylan Day, a new annual day of celebration in the name of Wales’ most famous literary son.

The announcement was made at the National Library of Wales and will build upon the legacy of the Dylan Thomas 100 Festival. In response to requests to establish a public day, Dylan Day will be held each year on 14 May, the date Under Milk Wood was first read on stage at The Poetry Centre in New York in 1953.

Starting in 2015, and part of a three year package of funding announced by Welsh Government, Dylan Day will celebrate and raise the profile of Thomas’ work in Wales and abroad through a variety of activities to include launch events, educational resources and social media activity.

The first year’s activity will centre on the publication of A Dylan Odyssey, a beautiful, fully illustrated book featuring fifteen unique Dylan Thomas trails across Wales, London, Oxford and New York. Edited by Literature Wales and published by south Welsh publisher Graffeg, A Dylan Odyssey is based on Literature Wales’ 2014 Dylan Thomas-inspired literary tourism programme of the same name. Further details will be released by Literature Wales in the New Year.

Guests at the event in Aberystwyth were entertained by actor Adrian Metcalfe playing the part of the great poet, leading guests around the ‘Dylan’ exhibition. National Poet of Wales, Gillian Clarke, recited her favourite Dylan Thomas poem ‘Poem in October’ and Young People’s Laureate Wales, Martin Daws and Bardd Plant Cymru, Aneirin Karadog, performed a short extract from their Dylan Live show. Speaking at the event Ellen ap Gwynn, Leader of Ceredigion County Council spoke about Dylan Thomas’ links to Ceredigion and the positive impact the centenary had had on the county.

Hannah Ellis said: ‘It is so important that we make the most of the amazing legacy the Dylan Thomas 100 festival has offered and continue to celebrate the achievements of Dylan Thomas. An international day devoted to my grandfather will also be a way to bring attention to literature and arts in Wales and the places that inspired him so much. Let’s embrace the day, dress up, read a poem or two and have fun exploring the magic of words.’

Chief Executive of Literature Wales, Lleucu Siencyn said: ‘Dylan Thomas fans across the UK and beyond have long been calling for a special day to celebrate the great poet and it seemed fitting that we should build on this year’s extraordinary achievements in Wales and abroad to celebrate Dylan Thomas by formally creating such a day. We look forward to working with partners and the public to spread the word of this great Welsh poet through fun and engaging activity for people of all ages.’

Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Ken Skates, said: ‘The announcement of Dylan Day gives the year long celebration of Dylan Thomas’ life and work a fitting conclusion. I’m delighted that this day will become a legacy for the festival and that the interest which has been shown in Dylan Thomas and Wales during the centenary celebrations will keep its momentum through this annual focal point.’

Councillor Ellen ap Gwynn, Leader of Ceredigion County Council: ‘Ceredigion is a place where Dylan Thomas clearly found inspiration – being by the sea, and with real people he could relax with, listen to their tales of life and adventure, and have fun with words with other poets and artists on his visits to farms in the Aeron Valley and coastal villages like Llangrannog. He set off ‘quite early one morning’ along what has now become the Wales Coast Path, and found the template for his best known work, Under Milk Wood, in New Quay. Ceredigion is proud of its long literary tradition, which is very much alive today – we probably have more poets in Ceredigion per head of population than anywhere in the world! We look forward to building on the success of the Dylan Thomas 100 festival and a continued partnership approach in celebration of our shared culture.’

For more information please contact:

Literature Wales
Chief Executive: Lleucu Siencyn,
Fourth Floor, Cambrian Buildings, Cardiff, CF10 5FL
029 2047 2266 / post@literaturewales.org
www.literaturewales.org

The BBC Young Writers’ Award with Booktrust launches to find the best young writers in the UK

In 2015, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the BBC National Short Story Award, Booktrust will be extending their partnership with the BBC by launching the brand new BBC Young Writers’ Award with Booktrust to inspire and encourage the next generation of writers.

Young people aged 14 to 18, who live in the UK, are invited from today to submit short stories of up to 1,000 words on any topic. A panel of three judges will select a shortlist of the top five stories, which will be announced in September 2015. The judges will be looking for high-quality writing, stories that demonstrate originality, imagination and creativity, and writers who can capture the reader and hold their attention.

Further details are available here

Little White Lies by Katie Dale

A few thoughts on Zoella, Ghost-writers & Getting Teens to Read

aaZoe Sugg (Zoella) and Penguin seem to have taken a lot of flak over the weekend as rumours (now confirmed) abounded about the use of a ghost-writer to produce Girl Online, the fastest selling début novel ever. I have seen a number of sub-tweets about this in my twitter network, and thought that the furore would die down, but if anything it has grown larger and more frenzied.

I am not totally sure why people seem to be getting more upset than usual; it is not as if ghost-writing is a new phenomenon, even in the YA and Children’s book market; series like Sweet Valley High, the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew spring to mind.

The thought of celebrities getting publishing deals because of who they are upsets a lot of people, some of whom may feel that authors should be published on the merits of their manuscripts rather than because of who they are. Publishing is a business much like any other and books are published to make money, authors that do well are groomed and promoted to sell more.

Superstars get publishing deals because publishers know they come with a built-in fan-base, a percentage of whom are almost guaranteed to buy the book, even if they have not purchased (or read many) books before.

As someone who knows absolutely nothing about fashion, beauty and the difficulties of being a young woman I am pretty sure that Zoella is doing something right with her Youtube channel – she has over six million followers that listen to her for a reason.

As a librarian I am less concerned with the perceived iniquities of ghost-writing and more interested in how celebrity books can be used to get young people hooked on reading. Around 78 thousand copies of Girl Online were sold last week – I am sure that a percentage of those went to teenagers who do not often pick up a book through choice. As many librarians, teachers and anyone that works with young people may know, getting teenagers that view reading as a pointless waste of time to read is one of the more Sisyphean tasks that we can face. So when someone that young people look up to attaches their name to a book I will not question its provenance too deeply.

I will celebrate anyone who will get young people enthusiastic about books & reading so I am a BIG fan of Zoe Suggs – more power to her!

So if you had a student or child that read and loved Girl Online by Zoe Suggs and would like to encourage them in their reading pursuits then they may also enjoy:

adorkable
Adorkable by Sara Manning

Jeane Smith’s a blogger, a dreamer, a dare-to-dreamer, a jumble sale queen, CEO of her own lifestyle brand and has half a million followers on twitter.

Michael Lee’s a star of school, stage and playing field. A golden boy in a Jack Wills hoodie.

They have nothing in common but a pair of cheating exes. So why can’t they stop snogging?
white barrier

adEleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor is the new girl in town, and she’s never felt more alone. All mismatched clothes, mad red hair and chaotic home life, she couldn’t stick out more if she tried.

Then she takes the seat on the bus next to Park. Quiet, careful and – in Eleanor’s eyes – impossibly cool, Park’s worked out that flying under the radar is the best way to get by.

Slowly, steadily, through late-night conversations and an ever-growing stack of mix tapes, Eleanor and Park fall in love. They fall in love the way you do the first time, when you’re 16, and you have nothing and everything to lose.
white barrier

addGuitar Girl Sara Manning

Seventeen-year-old Molly Montgomery never planned on becoming famous. Molly’s band, The Hormones, was just supposed to be about mucking around with her best mates, Jane and Tara, and having fun. But when the deliciously dangerous Dean and his friend T join the band, things start happening fast. Soon The Hormones are front-page news, and their debut album is rocketing up the charts. Molly is the force behind the band, but the hazards of fame, first love, screaming fans, and sleazy managers are forcing the newly crowned teen queen of grrl angst close to the edge. Fame never comes for free, and Molly’s about to find out what it costs.
white barrier

adddGeek Girl by Holly Smale

Harriet Manners knows a lot of things.

She knows that a cat has 32 muscles in each ear, a “jiffy” lasts 1/100th of a second, and the average person laughs 15 times per day. What she isn’t quite so sure about is why nobody at school seems to like her very much. So when she’s spotted by a top model agent, Harriet grabs the chance to reinvent herself. Even if it means stealing her Best Friend’s dream, incurring the wrath of her arch enemy Alexa, and repeatedly humiliating herself in front of the impossibly handsome supermodel Nick. Even if it means lying to the people she loves.

As Harriet veers from one couture disaster to the next with the help of her overly enthusiastic father and her uber-geeky stalker, Toby, she begins to realise that the world of fashion doesn’t seem to like her any more than the real world did.

And as her old life starts to fall apart, the question is: will Harriet be able to transform herself before she ruins everything?

abFan Girl by Rainbow Rowell

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan…

But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

acCode Red Lipstick by Sarah Sky

Models, spies and lipstick gadgets… When Jessica’s father, a former spy, vanishes mysteriously, Jessica takes matters into her own hands. She’s not just a daddy’s girl who’s good at striking a pose; she’s a trained spook who knows how to take on MI6 and beat them at their own game.

Teen Librarian Monthly

The full archive for the past nine years of Teen Librarian Monthly is available to view and download here:

Teen Librarian Monthly Archive

Give the gift of a book this Christmas

Beautiful video courtesy of Bloomsbury Publishing…

Make it: Technobabble

The BBC has created a games site to allow children & teens to create their own games. It ties in with the CBBC show Technobabble.

It’s a starter kit. It requires no technical knowledge, no download and works just as well on mobile and tablets as desktop.

The only requirements are access to the web, a willingness to experiment and an idea. In minutes a child can create a game.

– Martin Wilson BBC head of digital creativity for future media

Make It: Technobabble Game Maker

An Introduction to Using the Library