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Mad Cheddar: Personal Finance for Teens

February 6, 2017 | Erin | Comments (4)

No not this

cheddar cheese

We're talking about this

  funny cat bathing in money

February is Personal Finance Month: and it's not just for adults. If you're like me when I was a teenager, the mere thought of anything "financial" makes you yawn. Man do I wish I had known better! Money makes the world go round, for better or for worse, and understanding it is the key to either being in control of it, or letting it control you.

The library has a series of workshops and information sessions this month that are just for teens and youth. Come learn how to make it rain.

raining money

Money 101 

York Woods Library Youth Hub

Mon Feb 6

piggy bank5:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.


Get Cool About Cash 

Sanderson Library Youth Hub

Wed Feb 15

5:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.


Be Cent$ible

Sanderson Library Youth Hub

Tue Feb 28

4:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.


DINARII Financial Education Academy

calculatorCedarbrae Library Youth Hub

Mon Feb 27

4:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.


Moneyi$t in the Library

Cedarbrae Library Youth Hub

Tues Feb 21

4:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.


Check out the whole list of programs and workshops about personal financial for teens.


Can't make it out? Read up!

Sink or Swim Millionaire Teacher Pogues Basics Money Index Card

The Sink or Swim Money Program, by John E. Whitecomb (ebook)

Millionaire Teacher: The Nine Rules of Wealth You Should Have Learned in School, by Andrew Hallam (ebook)

Money: essential tips and shortcuts (that no one bothers to tell you) about beating the system, by David Pogue (ebook)

The Index Card: Why Personal Finance Doesn't Have to Be Complicated, by Helaine Olen (ebook)



Your New Second Home: The Youth Hub

December 13, 2016 | Debbie | Comments (0)

Youth Hubs
Arts and crafts, DJing and a Photoshop creation at a Youth Hub, but that's not all!

Teens visiting the Toronto Public Library Youth Hubs have so many good things to say about their experiences, it's hard to know who to quote first!

Jasmine really got to the heart of it when she said, "I like coming here cuz all my friends are here."

Then Nick said, "When I come here, it feels like I have meaning."

For Diyn, "The Youth Hub has progressively become my second home."

Sounds pretty amazing. But, what is a Youth Hub anyway?

Thyrone explains: "I come here because you get to do things you want with your friends instead of going home after school. And the workers here help with my school work and resume."

Hakan describes the Youth Hub like this: "Great environment to talk to people and make friends. I get to learn from staff, try new activities, get free snacks, and have a good time."

So, we've got friends, homework help, workshops, activities and snacks. Did anyone mention video games yet?

Better quote Stefan: "I like coming to the Hub because I can play PS4, get free food, and people help me with my homework."

Joel is a fan too: "Thank you for bringing out the video games!"

Alright, what happens if you go to a Youth Hub all the time? Zavier breaks it down for us: "The positive experience I gained from the Hub was I got to meet new people and become more responsible. At first, I did not have many friends but then I gained a lot more by being in the Hub. It made me more social and more outgoing within my community. This was my personal experience gained from coming to the Hub every day."

3D Printer Certification
Getting 3D Printer certified at a Youth Hub

Basically, Youth Hubs run in the library after school as a safe space for all youth. People spend time doing homework with tutors, hanging out, playing board or video games, and planning and participating in events, programs and workshops. Many of the activities make use of the technology that the Youth Hub owns, including laptops, cameras, green screens, Arduino kits and DJ equipment.

What else do you need to know? Follow the link for a list of the branches that have a Youth Hub space and their hours. If you have questions or would like to join, email:, or phone the branch where the Youth Hub is located.

There are also opportunities to become a volunteer for this program.

The last word on Youth Hubs should go to Ajani: "Leadership, equality, respect, good advice and fun."

Or Jacob: "I always feel safe here."

See you soon at the Youth Hub!

Ask Vivek: Recap

November 21, 2016 | E Writer in Residence 2016 — Vivek Shraya | Comments (0)

Ask Vivek - Recap

This, sadly, is my last post as E-Writer in Residence. It’s been such a gift to connect with you in person at various libraries and events, and online through your writing. I feel fortunate to have been given this opportunity to read (and listen) to your words. I am immensely grateful for your trust in me. That said, my last day isn’t until Friday, November 25, so please keep sending me your writing!

When I began this position, my inspiration for the “Ask Vivek” posts was centered around you—I wanted to ensure that my posts spoke to questions you had about writing and art. I also think there can be so much mystery and solitude around writing. My hope was these posts would provide information to help making writing feel more accessible to you. I also hoped these posts would provide you a sense of support. 

For this final post, I have compiled a list of tips and highlights from my previous posts.

  1. On art making: Art is a powerful means to connect with others who have had similar, and different, experiences—others who want to share their stories.
  2. On writing prompts: Having a central question as a prompt can be challenging but can also give your writing or project a direction, as your goal then becomes answering this question.
  3. On songwriting: Spend the time in developing your own sound by writing constantly. The more songs you write, the better your songs will get.
  4. On novel writing: There might be days when you write only one sentence. This is okay. More than okay! This is part of the process. The most important thing is that you are committed to the writing and will show up again tomorrow.
  5. On comic making: “Make something that excites you—something that you would want to read! It can be good to start small. Make a one- or two-page story, where you can play around with your style and storytelling, and see if it's an idea you like enough to spend more time on.”
  6. On writing poetry: Reading works by other poets was useful as it allowed me to see how other writers were using the form and breaking “the rules.”
  7. On dealing with rejection: I remind myself that rejection isn’t personal. There are many factors as to why certain things get chosen over others and many of these factors I have no control over.
  8. On writing about the personal: When possible, I try to write ethically. I change the names of individuals and settings. I change the description of individuals’ appearances.

This past week has been a hard week. But I feel especially inspired by writers like Lawrence Hill who are speaking out about the various injustices that are taking place in the world. Please let me know what is inspiring you this week in the comments!

Ask Vivek: How do you write about the personal?

November 14, 2016 | E Writer in Residence 2016 — Vivek Shraya | Comments (0)

How do you write about the personal?

This week’s question is about how to write about the personal—specifically, how to write personal narratives based on or including friends and family.

Different writers approach this in different ways, but it is something many of us struggle with. In my case, I am often inspired by family and the people around me. But instead of worrying about asking for permission or how others will react, I focus on the writing. For me, it the story that I want to tell that is most important. 

When possible, I try to write ethically. I change the names of individuals and settings. I change the description of individuals’ appearances. 

When writing about my family, I try to write about them with respect and compassion, even when the story I want to tell is hard or unflattering. Sometimes I share these stories with my family but only after it’s been completed or published. This is so that I am not swayed by their opinion or emotions during the writing process. Other times, I have asked my parents to just not read certain books. 

I am less concerned when writing about violence that has happened to me. In these instances, I prioritize my right to speak about my experience over trying to “protect” the person who has hurt me.

One thing I am cautious about is writing about the experiences of others. Of course, I am inspired by events around me. But some stories aren’t mine to tell or take. 

So in short, I would say when writing about the personal, centre around the story you want to tell. Ultimately, when a story lands on the page, it becomes a form of fiction anyway. 

Thank you again for your question. Please keep sending me questions and I will keep answering them here!

Lastly, this week I feel inspired by Vancouver-based poet Amber Dawn. She is someone who writes about the personal in various genres including memoir and poetry. What personal writing inspires you? Let me know in the comments!

Your Bookmark Here: Bad Girls of Fashion: Style Rebels from Cleopatra to Lady Gaga

October 19, 2016 | Analisa | Comments (1)

Bad girls of fashion

“You live but once; you might as well be amusing.” - Coco Chanel

I must admit, I don’t read a lot of non-fiction books for fun but when I saw this book I was instantly drawn in. This book looks at different women from the past and present. It discusses the contributions of women in the fashion world and beyond that. I really enjoyed reading about each person’s bio. The book was also filled with cool photographs and illustrations. Each person in the book had challenged the status quo and social norms of their times. From scantily clad queens who rolled out of carpets to female artists who rode donkeys into school hallways and lit firecrackers during lectures. Some of the style rebels included women who wore banana skirts, swan dresses or sported stuffed animal sweaters! It also featured women who pioneered some of the styles commonly seen today such as pants, wearable clothing and tailored suits.    

The clothing part of the book was probably the “accessory” and main focus of the book was about the lives of the women that wore them. Overall, a great read about some of the about some of history’s most interesting style rebels and a great source for clothing and costume inspiration.


Further reading as suggested by the author


Halloween: Start Now!

September 26, 2016 | Youth Advisory Group | Comments (0)

By Alissa, Runnymede Branch Youth Advisory Group member    

Halloween-959049_640 (2)

    Halloween is a great time of the year where you get to dress up and pretend to be someone else, plus you even get candy. But the amount of time I personally spend scrambling to come up with costumes before the big day arrives is outstanding. So I have a solution - start now!

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Teen Review: The Vegetarian Myth

August 28, 2016 | Alice | Comments (2)

51w3alQAXmLReview by Snehan

Do you eat food? Are you concerned about the environmental state of our planet? Do you want to be your best by striving for perfect health? What are you doing about it? Most of us are clueless about two of the most  important issues we face; the health of ourselves and the health of our planet.

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The Conjuring 2: Reviewed

August 22, 2016 | Youth Advisory Group | Comments (0)

By: Arden and Joanna Maria A Shchuka Youth Advisory Group Members

Genre: Horror/ Thriller


The main characters of Conjuring 2 are a couple who are demonologists. It begins with the couple having flashbacks. The house is haunted and it was centered around a little girl.  Is she telling the truth? Nobody wants to believe her unless there's proof. 

Rating: 8/10


Like this movie better than the first

There was a connection with the characters


Movie was not as scary

Expected more action

If you are looking for more horror movies, visit the DVD section at any Toronto Public Library branch.  


The Conjuring 2

Youth Do the Local Motion at City Hall

August 18, 2016 | YAG Facilitator | Comments (0)

Local motionLocal Motion: The Art of Civic Engagement in Toronto
Edited by Dave Meslin, Christina Palassio & Alana Wilcox

Review by Toronto Youth Cabinet member, Khadija Aziz

Local Motion serves as a great introduction to understanding Toronto’s municipal relationships and how to best navigate City Hall for citizens’ benefit. It is a collection of essays with real stories from citizens just like you and me. Readers are taken through the occasionally frustrating and bureaucratic, but ultimately rewarding journeys of change-makers who forever enriched the lives of their communities with their hard work and creative problem-solving ideas. Essays cover many topics including voting, budgeting, urban planning, and “creating change outside the system” - all with a focus on civic engagement and making the system work for us.

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Imagination and Courage: Activism with Sheila Sampath

August 17, 2016 | YAG Facilitator | Comments (0)

Sheila Sampath is an activist, the Editorial and Art Director of Shameless magazine, the Creative Director of The Public and an instructor at OCAD University. She invited a diverse group of social justice activists to write letters to their teen selves and collected the letters to create the book, Letters Lived: Radical Reflections, Revolutionary Paths. The writers "reflect on the incredible journeys they have taken since their teens—and what they wish they could have known back then."


Sheila Sampath Letters Lived















Sheila Sampath was recently interviewed about the book by Toronto Youth Cabinet member, Nikki. Find other great books about activism and civic engagement recommended by the Toronto Youth Cabinet.


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Dare to Be Powerful: Young Women Activists

August 16, 2016 | YAG Facilitator | Comments (0)

Leading the wayReview of Leading the Way: Young Women's Activism for Social Change, by Toronto Youth Cabinet member, Fatima

When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.”  Audre Lorde, American poet and activist

From the publisher’s site: "Leading the Way is a collection of personal essays written by twenty-one young, hopeful American women who describe their work, activism, leadership, and efforts to change the world. It responds to critical portrayals of this generation of "twenty-somethings" as being disengaged and apathetic about politics, social problems, and civic causes."

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Two Movies: Reviews by Glody

August 5, 2016 | YAG Facilitator | Comments (0)

Secret life of petsThe Secret Life of Pets

The Secret Life of Pets is an animated comedy movie about the daily life of various animals during their owners' absence during daytime. It starts with Max, a happy go-lucky dog who is severely attached to his owner, Katie. His world was going perfectly well until she brings a new "friend"---Duke, a larger dog, with whom he gets in conflict. However, after being targeted and captured by animal control and with no way of escape, the two lie to a bunny named Snowball about their ownership in order to be set free---on the condition that they join his cult. Now, Max and Duke must brace themselves to face the unexpected while trying their very best to find their way back home and escape it.

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The Duke of Edinburgh Awards

August 4, 2016 | YAG Facilitator | Comments (1)

Post by Connor, Northern District

DofE logoThe Duke of Edinburgh Award is a program created by Prince Phillip, the Duke of Edinburgh, in the 1950s. The award is intended to motivate young people to improve themselves in mind, body, and soul, by learning a skill, participating in physical activity, and providing service to others. To further improve the experience, the award also requests an adventurous journey; a trip into the wilderness to get away from civilization and enjoy a more rural environment.

The skills section requires you to learn or develop a skill that is passive/non-physical in nature. This can be anything from playing an instrument, to learning a language, to computer programming. The physical section needs to, naturally, be physical, and includes activities such as sports, martial arts, and kayaking. The service section closely resembles the volunteer work required for high school. Anything that helps the community, without pay or expectation, is accepted. The adventurous journey is exactly what it sounds like: taking a trip to a new and exiting environment. Camping is a perfect example. The journey can be to almost anywhere in nature, as long as it’s rural, adventurous, and away from everyday life.

AdventureWhen I was first applying for the award, I wasn’t quite sure what to do. I couldn’t think of anything that would work well, and very nearly gave up then. However, I pushed forward, and before long I found everything falling into place. I asked my computer science teacher for help with my skill. I inquired at a local pool about fitness opportunities. And I asked at my library about volunteer work. The result? I would be learning C++ for my skill, swimming for my physical, and volunteering at a library program for my service.

Something interesting to note about the Duke of Edinburgh Award is that, unlike with community service hours, you’re allowed to have ulterior motives. I would’ve been learning C++ anyway, but that’s almost expected. The interesting part is that the swimming I was doing was also part of my qualification for becoming a National Lifeguarding Society swim instructor. This actually let me hit two birds with one stone, getting an NLS certification and the DofE Award at the same time.

However, if I were asked which experience I enjoyed most, I would have to say it was the volunteer work. I chose to help out with a new program at the Northern District Library called Cyber Seniors. The goal of the program was to help teach older people about computer technology, by giving them a teen mentor. The mentor was meant to help teach at a more personal level, and it worked amazingly well. Not only did the system allow the seniors to learn by their own pace, it also helped the teens connect with an older generation, which was an experience that I very much enjoyed.

All in all, the Duke of Edinburgh award provides a valuable experience to anyone who participates. Because you select what you will do for each category, it is very easy to create an experience that you’ll love, and you’ll get a prestigious award out of it too! I would highly encourage you to try it for yourself. To learn more, you can visit their website at


A Trio of Book Reviews

August 3, 2016 | Alice | Comments (0)

Three Reviews by Glody

Autobiography of malcolm x

The Autobiography of Malcolm X

If there's anybody interested in gang stories, or that of religion, coming of age, action and adventure or even a sweet romance, then check out The Autobiography of Malcolm X.

Born in Omaha, Nebraska in 1925, Malcolm Little was the seventh child two black parents. His father, Earl Little, a charismatic Baptist preacher and a black nationalist, died when he was a little boy. Moreover, his mother was placed in a mental hospital after failing to keep her family together, leaving Malcolm and his siblings sheltered into various foster care. From that point on in his life and through the entire book, Malcolm begins to take on drastic changes in his life and especially in his identity, from bad and worse to good and excellent.

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Students on Ice Expedition: Ilulissat, Greenland and Happy Birthday

August 3, 2016 | YAG Facilitator | Comments (0)

By Robert, a TPL Youth Advisory Group member

Note: Robert, a TPL volunteer is travelling in the far north and sharing a blog series about his experience on the Students on Ice Arctic Expedition. This is his fifth entry. The first four entries can be found here, here, here and here.








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Students on Ice Expedition: Evighedsfiord, Greenland

August 3, 2016 | YAG Facilitator | Comments (0)

By Robert, a TPL Youth Advisory Group member

Note: Robert, a TPL volunteer is travelling in the far north and sharing a blog series about his experience on the Students on Ice Arctic Expedition. This is his fourth entry. The first three can be found here, here, and here.




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Students on Ice Expedition: Davis Strait

August 3, 2016 | Youth Advisory Group | Comments (0)

By Robert, a TPL Youth Advisory Group member

Note: Robert, a TPL volunteer is traveling in the far north and sharing a blog series about his experience on the Students on Ice Arctic Expedition. You can find his first two posts here  and here


Continue reading "Students on Ice Expedition: Davis Strait " »

The Emperor of Any Place

July 27, 2016 | Alice | Comments (0)

Emperor of Any Place coverThe Emperor of Any Place is a mystery that intertwines past and present, as Evan wrestles with his father's death, the arrival of his grandfather, and the strange secrets and stories contained in the diary his father was reading. As Evan reads about two soldiers trapped on an island of ghost and monsters in world War II, he tries to figure out just who his grandfather is and how this journal came into his father's hands. Spooky, suspenseful, and occasionally beautiful, this is a great read by the author of Blink & Caution and The Uninvited

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys : Review

July 23, 2016 | Christine | Comments (0)

By Mark

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys Cover ImageI came upon this book when I was in the library looking for something to read. This book wasn't lying on a shelf in alphabetical order like all the rest, but was lying on one of the tables. Possibly, someone picked it up and placed it down just perfectly to capture my attention, and it definitely did. I read the first 3 pages in the library itself, and I knew automatically that I had to bring it home to continue reading it. 

This book captured all of my emotions. I felt happiness, pain, hope, sadness, and love all at the same time. Told from the perspective of a young Lithuanian girl, named Lina, during WW2, the reader steps into the life of a Lithuanian during one of the darkest times in history. 

This book is available in regular print, as well as in Audiobook, eAudiobook, and eBook formats.

Deadlines-University Applications Edition

July 16, 2016 | Youth Advisory Group | Comments (0)

    Hey guys, do you know when the deadlines are for your applications to university? Your answer might be: "Oh, it starts at the end of the semester." However, that is not the case, my friends. Are you aware that initial applications for universities start in late September/ early October? Therefore, you really need to start preparing. The Ontario University Application Centre (OUAC)
Images lists several dates about the various deadlines of the application process. For instance, on January 13, 2016, their applications to the university are due; May 27, 2016 is the final day that you will receive a response from any Ontario university. But, take into account that different programs have different deadlines.

    Once you have received an acceptance letter from the university, start applying for scholarships. There are thousands of scholarships and bursaries that are available. Most of them go untouched because no one applies to them. Therefore, if you apply to these opportunities, there is a bigger chance for you to win that scholarship; for instance, you can win free tuition for at least 2 years. The only requirement for most of these scholarships is a well-written essay. So, get your English skills ready!

    Overall, submit your university applications and scholarship applications on time to prevent such chaotic circumstances. To end this very long (not really) blog post, I would like to advise all of you to do one thing: Save the dates! Also keep in mind that the sooner will always be the better. :)

High School Survival Tips

July 16, 2016 | Youth Advisory Group | Comments (0)

Everyone says this but, don't procrastinate! It's very hard to stay organized throughout the years but it is very important to do so because it will make things easier for you.  Below are some tips that should help you survive the four grueling years of high school!

  • Make sure that you are hanging out with the right group. If your friends constantly peer pressure you to do something you don't want to, it's okay to cut them off; hang out with the right crowd.
  • Throughout your high school years, you will probably get lazy. Remember that you will only be in high school for FOUR years. Four years is very short time but these four years will be very important. Do your homework and study for tests and exams. DONT GET LAZY!!
  • Go to school games, concerts or any other school events because it will make for great memories many years after graduation.
  • Think about your future; gather your talents and interests and go from there.
  • Make sure not to leave your volunteer hours for the last minute! It might get too stressful in the older grades and may get in the way of your studies. Make sure to volunteer a lot during the summer and stay on good terms with your teachers, principals and guidance counselors.
  • But most importantly- STAY OUT OF TROUBLE and HAVE FUN!!  Survival

Table Tennis (One of my favorite sports since early age)

July 16, 2016 | Youth Advisory Group | Comments (0)

ImagesTable Tennis is an extremely fun and enjoyable game. In this century, it is not only a
sport that people just play in their leisure, but Table Tennis has become an Olympic
sport. There are many reasons why I loved to play Table Tennis from an early age
onward and also continue to play today.


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July 15, 2016 | Youth Advisory Group | Comments (0)

High school life is a roller coaster. You can sometimes have great experiences and enjoy them or be scared to death and question your life decisions. It's also the time  where you feel lost and doubt yourself immensely. Many people don' know what their futures hold. Consequently, they struggle to pick a career they want. Students are pressured to think  that their lives must be figured out by the end of high school. In reality, it's not that big of a deal. The biggest favor you can make to your future self while in high school is to experiment and try different things to find your interests. It can help guide you towards possible careers. In the meantime, take different courses. Try different hobbies. Participate in school events. Try-out for teams. Be involved. Courtney Summers, for instance,the amazing author of All the Rage, pursued various careers before becoming an author. She tried being a singer, an actress and a photographer. It's only the beginning of a long journey. The amount of effort you put into searching yourself will determine how much it helped you. Even if you don't figure it out and make mistakes, everything will lead you towards what you're meant to be.



Book Review: All the Rage by Courtney Summers

July 15, 2016 | Youth Advisory Group | Comments (0)

Rating: 4.5/ 218536365 STARS 

 I read this book through the White Pine challenge in my high school's library and it was the first book I chose to read. At first, I dreaded the fact that I had to read the book because I felt forced, on the other hand, I was also intrigued by the story line. So why the 4.5 stars? To begin with, the author's writing style suited the story perfectly; the alternating story of Romy's flashback and present life helped advance the plot. This book also had a hint of thrills and mystery, both of which I'm into. Honestly, I was so hooked by the book that I finished the whole book in one sitting and I was surprised at how much I liked it in the end. I won't tell you all the details in the book because I'll just spoil it, but I will say that this book delves into the dark side of social issues; it covers issues like bullying, rape and abuse of women. In the end, I felt what people like Romy go through in their life; it opened my eyes to problems like rape and their victims. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to vary their reading and read something new. Anyway, I also have to say thank you to the beautiful cover of the book that also made me want to pick it up!

Contest: The Changing Face of Toronto (July 11 - July 24)

July 11, 2016 | Susan | Comments (26)


Adele Holford 100th birthday Akin Koroma construction worker Josephine Puccini Roy Amirputra
Thanks to everyone who submitted! The contest is now over and you can read the winning entry. And be sure to check out the rest of the contests happening this summer.

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