Teen Craft: DIY Mugs

mug1When September 1st rolled around, I realized something terrifying: I had exactly $20 left in my Teen Budget until mid October. It wasn’t entirely unexpected. My annual budget is miniscule. Still, $20 is awfully tiny – especially when you’ve got a Teen Craft to host.

So I did some surfing on Pinterest and discovered DIY Mugs, specifically Sharpie mugs in a variety of colors and designs.

I do NOT recommend using regular sharpies (see below for more details), but this craft IS cheap, user-friendly, and lots of fun.


  • cheap, white mugs
  • ceramic paints OR oil-based paint markers
  • paintbrushes
  • bowls of water
  • hair dryer
  • tape / stencils / sponges / misc design materials

Step 1: Decoratemug7

If you plan on drinking from your mug, place a piece of tape around the top (or just avoid painting the top). Otherwise, you’ll be ingesting chemicals that could be toxic. Also, you MUST use ceramic paints OR oil based markers to create your design.

I made the mistake of using regular Sharpies on my example mug. Despite following the directions I found in various Pinterest tutorials, all my artwork washed off instantly the first time I cleaned it. Guess I should’ve remembered the old saying that “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

So make sure you learn from my mistake: only use oil-based Sharpies/markers or ceramic paint.


Step 2: Bake Your Mug

Put your mug in the oven. Set it to 360 degrees. DO NOT PREHEAT THE OVEN. Otherwise, your mug will crack. Set the timer for 30 minutes. When the timer rings, turn off your oven but LEAVE THE MUG INSIDE. Wait until the oven is completely cool before taking your mug out.

Pro Tip: Be patient. It takes at least an hour to cool.


Step 3: Seal Your Mug (optional)


Some crafters online have done just fine by following the directions above. They’ve microwaved, scrubbed, and drank from their mugs and the colors are still vibrant. Others, however, have complained that their mugs designs fade over time.

The best way to prevent this is to spray your mug with an acrylic sealer. I used ModPodge’s Matte Acrylic Spray.

IMPORTANT: acrylic sealers are not food safe. Make sure you only spray on your design – not where your lips will be!

All of our craft supplies were purchased at at Michael’s. I was able to get both the paint and the mugs for $20! Bonus: this craft is fun for kids of all ages – not just the teens. I highly recommend this craft! We can’t wait to do it again.


ALA Booklist’s Response: Let’s Hear It For the Girls

Ten tweets and dozens of retweets later, looks like we got their attention. :)

Ten tweets and dozens of retweets later, looks like we got their attention. 🙂

I am delighted to report that, after the efforts of myself and several other bloggers/tweeters (Kate Messner, Caroline Carlson, et. al.), ALA as released an additional list of 2014 sports books with female protagonists.

It is a credit to ALA Booklist’s senior editor, Daniel Kraus, that such a timely and thoughtful response was swiftly generated. I only wish they’d thought to include “the girls” the first time around.

But everyone makes mistakes and ALA’s response is heartening. Here’s hoping this can be a tool for generating wider and deeper conversations about gender and identity in our culture. Thanks to everyone.

– ❤ The Loudmouth

Sitting on the Sidelines: ALA and the NFL’s Gender Parity Problem

m5Confession: I’ve never been a big sports fan.

I was one of those awkward kids who never knew to do with their bodies. I was clumsy: tripping, falling, crashing into everything. I always dreaded P.E. class whenever it occurred. I was the smallest. The slowest. The weakest. The lowest. The girl who was always picked last.

Not to mention the fact that, amongst family and peers, sports was clearly a “boy” thing. We watched my male cousins play baseball. We cheered at their basketball games. I attended my brother’s soccer and karate matches. My job was to watch: not play.

Admittedly, I didn’t exactly ask to play. None of the girls I knew played sports. Theater, dance, and music were our thing. I also 48_504483045529_75801209_30208066_6571_nloved to read. I could gobble up a book an hour. But out of all the childhood stories I remember to this day, not a single one featured girls playing sports.

Basically, I didn’t think playing was a possibility. It wasn’t part of our culture: my family’s or mine. Sports were an alien, foreign thing.

But then, halfway through my 4th grade year, we moved to North Carolina – to a podunk town by the name of Burnsville with a population of 1,673 people. There were no ballet lessons to be had. Singing lessons were unheard of. I didn’t participate in a single play the entire six months we lived there.

There was, however, one thing the 4th grade girls in Burnsville enjoyed doing. One thing which they participated in together and formed fast friendships doing. It was the thing that consumed their waking moments, that brought out their competitive streaks. It was the thing that made them feel like they belonged.


I had never played softball. I didn’t even know what it was. I didn’t know there was “baseball” for girls. I could ‘t wrap my head around it. But there was nothing else to do and no other way to get “in” with those shy, mountain girls. So, for the very first time in my life, I decided to play a sport.

And I loved it.

My competitive streak, which was a mile wide, was channeled into a positive outlet. Yes, I played catcher and left field (aka the positions for people who suck). Yes, I was still clumsy and awkward and tripped all over myself.  But the way I felt about myself changed dramatically.  I felt strong. Brave. Significant. I didn’t feel small. Or weak.

I had a team. A safety net. A place where I belonged. I had friends who believed in me and cheered me on – even when I failed. Angel, Tuesday, June: I still remember their names.

When my parents told me we were moving back to Florida and that I’d miss our softball finals, I sobbed. Bitterly. It felt like my 4th grade world was ending.

Worse still, when I got back to Florida, our old culture reasserted itself. My team was gone. My strength was gone. I was slow and small again. I went back to dreading P.E. To being the last girl picked. To being fiercely bullied for being weak. I never played sports again.

I returned to a world where only boys could succeed athletically. I observed them on the field. On the TV screen. Passively watching was my game.

This passivity, this lack of agency, was the hallmark of my young life. It followed all the way into adulthood. And into an absuive relationship.

When the story of Ray Rice broke on the news, I never asked why Janay didn’t leave. I knew the answer: she didn’t know how. She’d gotten too used to watching. She didn’t have anyone to encourage her when she failed.

She was stuck in a boy’s game.

The toxicity of this cultural tendency cannot be understated. And if you think there’s no correlation between the lack of gender parity in professional sports and violence against women, you’re not just mistaken: you’re wrong. As much as we might wish it to be so, we do not live in a post-feminist society. And the consequences of gender inequality are vast and far reaching.

Turn on your computer. Your television. Stop on the first sports-related thing you find. What will you see? Men. Only men. Sports are still for boys.

We know it shouldn’t be this way. Even the old guard knows it. But they’re not quite ready to do something about it, so they try to placate us instead. They give us “A Crucial Catch” and have their football players wear pink. They give us fitted baby doll tees emblazoned with our favorite teams’ logos. They tell us that women can be passionate about sports too, that we have a place in the arena.

Then they courteously dust off a bench and give us a seat on the sidelines.

But the tendency to marginalize women in sports isn’t confined to the NFL: it permeates our society as a whole, infecting even some of our most cherished organizations.

The American Library Association has long been an advocate of equality. They’ve championed the rights of minorities nationwide and reminded everyone that #WeNeedDiverseBooks. But diversity isn’t restricted solely to ethnicity or sexuality. It also includes gender.

And, when it comes to supporting gender diversity in sports, ALA has just failed. Utterly.

ALA Booklist’s “Top Ten Sports Books for Youth: 2014” was published on September 1st. And normally, most librarians would think of this as an exciting thing. These are the sort of lists we wait eagerly for and use to add books to our collection.

Except, in this list, not a single sports-playing protagonist happens to be female.

Let me say that again: all of ALA’s sports books feature only male MC’s.

I expect this from the NFL. Not condone, but expect. But to see this “boys club” mentality trickle down to ALA? In 2014? I am embarrassed for my profession.

Children are not dumb. They can read between the lines. They pick up on the cultural cues espoused by our books and media. And when girls don’t see themselves in sports books, they internalize the message that sports “aren’t for them.”

So I’ve compiled my own list of “Top Ten Sports Books for Youth in 2014” – books that actually feature female protagonists who are passionate about participating in sports. I’m going to be reading each and every one of these books over the next several months. I’m going to promote them to the teenagers in my life.

I hope you’ll do the same.

Better yet: come up with your own list.  Visit blogs like Sporty Girl Books. Hunt with me for titles published specifically in 2014. Then hop on twitter and tell ALA’s Booklist what you think of this nonsense. Let’s start a storm. #girlsplaysports #sportygirlbooks @ALA_Booklist

Screenshot 2014-09-19 11.21.46

The Loudmouth Librarian’s “Top Ten Sports Books for Girls in 2014”

crossing the ice

Crossing the Ice by Jennifer Comeaux (Pairs Figure Skating)

Gold Metal Winter by Donna Freitas

Gold Metal Winter by Donna Freitas (Figure Skating)

Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Kenneally

Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Kenneally (Running)

Blue Forty Two by Faith Nhira

Blue Forty Two by Faith Nhira (Football)

take me on

Take Me On by Kate McGarry (Kickboxing)

In Deep by Terra Elan McVoy

In Deep by Terra Elan McVoy (Swimming)

Being Sloane Jacobs by Lauren Morill

Being Sloane Jacobs by Lauren Morrill (Figure Skating and Hockey)

The Love Match by Monica Seles  (Tennis)

The Love Match by Monica Seles

One the Road to Find Out by Rachel Torr (Running)

One the Road to Find Out by Rachel Torr

Babe Conquers the World (sports nonfiction)

Babe Conquers the World by Rich and Sandra Wallace
(sports nonfiction)

September Book Display: Banned Book Bonanza

DSC01988To celebrate Banned Book Week this year, I decided to create an interactive display in our Teen Section. It’s similar to our Blind Date with a Book Display, only – instead of describing the books – I list the reasons why they’re banned.

All month long, the teens can check out any of the books on display. After reading, they fill out a card telling me how they felt about the banned book they read and drop it in our raffle box. At the end of the month, we’ll do a drawing from all of the participants for a Target gift card.

IMG_2072This has probably been one of our most successful displays yet. Within five minutes of putting my first round out, six out of eight books were already snatched up! Luckily (or unluckily) I have plenty of other banned books to chose from.    

The only thing I think I’ll do differently next time is differentiate “challenged” from “banned.” This time, I sort of just lumped them together and I feel like I missed out an a “teachable moment” by doing so. Other than that, however, I absolutely adore this display. Feel free to steal it and use it in your classroom, media center, or library! 🙂

The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games