• Scary Journal Prompts

    Fall is in full swing! It’s time for some slightly scary vibes. Take a break from scary books or movies and take a crack at writing your own! Here are some journal prompts to spark your creativity and get you into an eerie, creepy crawly state of mind.

    There is no right or wrong way to use the prompts. Use one or all of them and write as little or as much as you’d like. All that matters is that you have fun! 

    1. As the clock struck midnight, the witch said…
    2. The black cat was very…
    3. I was carrying my hot chocolate back inside when…
    4. The house was so quiet you could only hear…
    5. My favorite October night is when…
    6. I couldn’t believe it; everywhere I looked I saw…
    7. They got a tingle down their spine when they heard…
    8. Once the potion begun to brew it looked….
    9. The crunch of fall leaves beneath my feet was not the only sound I heard…
    10. I entered the corn maze with my friends, and we decided to….
    11. Fall time reminds me of….
    12. All of a sudden there was a big, scary looking…
    13. The mysterious object started floating and…
    14. There was a creak in the steps as I climbed the staircase to…
    15. As we sat around the bonfire, we thought it would be fun to…
    16. There was a loud snap! We turned around and saw…
    17. The night was drawing near, bringing a full moon…
    18. They said there was nothing to be afraid of but…
    19. He could not remember how he had gotten here. The last thing he remembers is…
    20. She faced the monster head-on and said…

    Looking for other activities to do with your little one? See a list of the library’s upcoming events for young children.

       Youth Services Assistant Librarian Jessica


  • Get Writing with These Journal Prompts


    Dear Middle Grade Students,

    Are you stuck inside 'cause of COVID? Wanna write but don't know where to start? Just plain bored? Here are 31 journal-writing prompts (a whole month's worth!) to get you started.

    By the way, don't worry about word count or anything like that -- express yourself how you want, as much as you want.


    1. Describe two people you look up to or admire: one real, one fictional. Why do you admire them? How are they different? How are they the same?


    2. What's something that always makes you laugh, whether you're feeling happy or sad?


    3. Write about a mistake you made recently. Did you learn anything from it? What did you learn?


    4. If you could have any fictional creature as a pet, what would it be and why?


    5. Pick your least favorite character from your favorite book and write from their point of view.


    6. What was your least favorite thing about quarantine? What was your favorite thing?


    7. What's a food you could eat every day for the rest of your life? Do you think you'd get tired of it? Why or why not?


    8. If you could learn another language, what would it be? Why? How would you use it?


    9. Write a poem about your happiest memory.


    10. Write a poem about a sad memory.


    11. Do you have a favorite song? If you do, describe what you love about it, how it makes you feel.If not, why? How does music make you feel?


    12. If you could talk to your future self, what would you say? Would you want to learn about what happens in your life, or would you want to keep it a surprise?


    13. If you could talk to your past self, what would you say? Is there anything you'd suggest they do differently?


    14. If it's nice out, find a safe spot outside. Sit down. Close your eyes. Listen to the world around you. What do you hear?If you can't go outside, find a spot by a window. Sit down. Close your eyes. Listen to the world outside. What do you hear? How does it make you feel?


    15. Write about something you're proud of, even if you don't think it's a big deal.


    16. If you have a hobby, write about why you enjoy it and what got you into it in the first place. If you don't have a hobby, write about one that sounds fun.


    17. What is the best advice someone has ever given you?


    18. What calms you down when you're upset?


    19. Is there anything that worries you about the future? How do you think you'll handle it? Is there anything you can do about it now?


    20. Describe three things you enjoy about today, no matter how small.


    21. If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?


    22. Imagine you have access to a time machine. Would you go to the past or the future? What do you think it would be like?


    23. Write your autobiography in only six words.


    24. What is one thing that excites you about the future?


    25. Close your eyes. Imagine your favorite color. Now describe it as if you were talking to someone who's never seen it before.


    26. What are 5 things you'd like to accomplish during your lifetime?


    27. What do you like about the city you live in? What would you change?


    28. What are 3 things you will never forget? Why?


    29. Write a letter to someone who will never read it.


    30. What is something you'd change about school? Why? How do you think students would deal with the change? What about the staff?


    31. What is your best quality? Why? If you want to be extra ambitious, write this entry in the form of a one-page comic.


    And there we have it -- a whole month of journal prompts. Don't feel like you need to do them all -- just do as many as you'd like.


    One last thing: after you're done journaling, think about what you've written. Did you learn anything new about yourself?


    Looking for recommendations? Fill out our form to get a custom list of reads or a Book Bundle for pickup.

      Youth Services Librarian Chris 


  • 5 Ways Teens Can Celebrate National Poetry Month

    “April is the cruellest month, breeding

    Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing

    Memory and desire, stirring

    Dull roots with spring rain.”

    • -- T. S. Eliot

    Wow. It’s like heknew everyone would be cooped up 24/7 in April 2020. I don’t know about you, but this whole pandemic thing is making me feel a little… claustrophobic. And bored! So. Bored. I think we all have a lot of complicated feelings about our current situation, and it’s easy to let those feelings stress you out or make you feel a little… hopeless.

    And it’s okay to feel that way! This is a tough time for everybody -- you can’t hang out with friends, everything is closed (my favorite Vietnamese restaurant is closed for the month and this makes me sad), and the future feels uncertain. And that’s not evenmentioning the whole “you’re still going to school” thing.

    So what do we do with these feelings? We can’t just bottle them up and ignore them -- that wouldn’t be healthy. Maybe we should find some ways to express the way we feel and (hopefully!) have some fun doing it.

    April is not only the cruellest month,it’s National Poetry Month. Sure, the month's almost over, but let’s celebrate together anyway! Here are 5 ways teens can celebrate National Poetry Month.

    Oh -- one more thing! And when the Barrington Area Library reopens, be sure to check out some of our great poetry collections!


    1. Check Out the National Poetry Foundation!

    Reading poetry is the best place to start. The National Poetry Foundation has put together a lot of great resources to help you dip your toes into the world of poetry, including podcasts, articles, and most importantly, poems. They also have a “Featured Poet” section where they introduce you to a classic poet. Make sure to take a look at the “Poems for Teens” section on this page -- they’ve put together an anthology of poems you might enjoy.


    2. Watch a Poetry Slam!

    It’s important to remember there’s no “right” way to write poetry. I’ve noticed that a lot of people think poetry has to be written a certain way, or that some subjects aren’t worth writing about. Don’t sweat it! Poetry is, above all, about self-expression. If it matters to you it’s worth writing about. Poetry slams are a great way to showcase this.

    “Okay, Chris, but what’s a poetry slam?” you might ask. Poetry slams are competitions in which people perform their own spoken word poetry in front of an audience and a panel of judges. They can be local, national, or even international. The beautiful thing about a poetry slam is that it features a variety of people talking about what matters most to them -- they get to make themselves seen and heard in front of an audience.

    Youth Speaks is a great way to introduce yourself to the world of poetry slams. It features poetry by teens from all over the country, including the Chicago area. You could try watching some at random or look for poems relating to things that are personally important to you. 


    3. Can You Haiku?

    Poetry doesn’t have to be long or complicated. Sometimes the beauty of a poem comes from its simplicity. Haiku is a Japanese poetic form that emphasizes simple language, immediacy, and our relationship with nature. 

    Haiku are only three lines long, and often contain only 17 syllables. That’s 5 syllables in the first line, 7 in the second, and 5 in the third. This isn’t actually a rule of haiku, though -- the poets who created it certainly didn’t restrict themselves to only 17 syllables.

    When you write haiku you’re trying to capture a snapshot of something that’s happening. For example, here’s one of the most famous haiku, by the poet Basho:

    “The old pond;
    A frog jumps in --
    Water sound.”


    Haiku doesn’t have to be serious, either. Here’s a poem by another famous haiku poet, Issa:

    “New Year’s morning --
    Everything is in blossom!
    I feel about average.”

    Since you’re stuck in quarantine, why not try flexing your haiku muscles? All you have to do is sit and watch as the world unfolds around you, and when you think you’re ready jot down three simple lines.

    In the meantime, check outTeen Ink. They feature poetry by teenagers,for teenagers.


    4. Blackout!

    Poetry doesn’t have to come out of thin air. Sometimes you can use things you already have to create something new. For example, try blackout poetry!

    All you need to make blackout poetry is a marker and an old book, magazine, or newspaper you don’t need anymore. Use the marker to draw a square around the words or phrases that jump out at you. Your mind will slowly form a story or poem out of the things you’ve picked.

     Remember: it’s okay if you “mess up.” Sometimes writing takes you somewhere unexpected, so just go with it!

    If you’re looking for inspiration check outNewspaper Blackout.


    5. Most Importantly, Express Yourself!

    Write whenever the urge hits you.Now that you’ve got a few different types of poetry to explore, why not write some? It doesn’t matter if it’s “good” or not -- it’s yours, and you made it, andthat’s what’s important.

    Even if you never show another person your poetry, you should be proud that you wrote it.

    Snap a photo of your poem, or type it up, and send it to us at youthservices@balibrary.org by Friday, May 8!


    Mindful moment

    Get up, stretch, and go outside. Take a walk. What do you see? What do you hear?

    That’s poetry.

      Youth Services Librarian Chris