The Best Teen Books of 2010


‘Tis the Season of Giving: At Home


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…Okay, Bits and Bramblers. The presents are all unwrapped, we’ve eaten tons and tons of cookies, candies, and other holiday treats, and everyone had fun. But guess what? It’s still the season of giving. And you can help people in need right here in Richland County!

The United Way of Richland County works “to increase the capacity of Richland County citizens to care for one another by bringing together all elements of the community to plan, support, deliver, and monitor quality human services.”

Which is just a fancy way of saying that they help people with everything from education to health care.
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…And right now? The United Way is looking for heroes. Now, they aren’t really looking for superheroes—don’t get the two confused—but regular, everyday heroes who care enough to help those in need. See, they’re trying to raise a total of $1,555,000.00 by the end of the year.

Now…that’s a lot of money, right? I mean, it totally is…but when you think about it? It can do so much for those in need, right here at home. The good thing is, they’ve already raised a bunch of money…$983,790.15 as of December 27th! But there’s still a long way to go…so if you’re in the spirit of giving, you—that’s right, you—can help!

First off—and most importantly—get your parents permission. Next, call the United Way offices at (419) 525-2816, or head to the United Way website and click the DONATE button. Remember…every little bit helps, and then they’re that much closer to meeting their goal!

So get moving, Bits and Bramblers…help the United Way today, and LIVE UNITED!
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HAPPY HOLIDAYS!


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It’s that time, Bits and Bramblers! So no matter what you celebrate—Chanukah, Christmas, or Kwanzaahave a very safe and happy holiday season!

And now for a Bits and Brambles holiday tradition: more Bric-a-Brac Theater
Yeah, yeah…I know I posted it last year, but…isn’t that what the holidays are about? Making traditions with your friends and families? Like…making latkes, or stringing popcorn, or…watching John Madden voicing Santa Claus, who’s struggling not to drown in a giant lake of chocolate pudding. You know…normal holiday stuff.

Seriously…CHOCOLATE PUDDING LAKE! Sure, getting stuck in it wouldn’t be fun, but…other than that? Awesome. It’s like a holiday miracle!
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‘Tis the Season of Giving: Free Your Footprint


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Brrrrrrrrrr, Bits and Bramblers! I don’t know about you, but Jack Frost has definitely been nipping at my nose this week. As well as pretty much every other part of me. Last week it was kind of fun, you know? The cold, and the snow. It helped fill me with holiday cheer. Now I’m still full of holiday cheer, but I’m reeeeallllly sick and tired of the snow. It’s probably not a good sign, considering it’s…you know…not technically winter yet.

Enough about the snow—let’s talk more about holiday cheer! Well…let’s talk a little bit more about the snow. Did you know that snow can fall from any cloud that is layered? It’s true…and you can find out more facts like this at Free Your Footprint!

Now…it works a little like FreeRice. You head to the website, and you pick a subject—like Eco-trivia or Random Trivia—and play the game. When you get one answer right, you offset one pound of carbon dioxide emissions. If you get 20 right, you offset the average of a daily commute. And if you get 25 right, you offset an average day’s worth of energy consumption. Pretty awesome, right?!

There’s no downside to this, Bits and Bramblers. You learn cool things that will impress your teachers, family, and friends (and who doesn’t love that, right?!) and you’re helping the environment. And when it comes to the season of giving? Helping the environment is a great way to give back.

So what are you waiting for? It’s cold out there, so grab a cup of cocoa (but don’t forget the marshmallows,) head to Free Your Footprint, and give back to the environment! And if you’re still a little confused by all this “emissions” stuff, check out this video…it should help!
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What Were the Best Teen Books of 2010?


‘Tis the Season of Giving: Bread Art


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…It’s cold out there, Bits and Bramblers. It’s mittens, earmuffs, and scarves cold. It’s “I need hot cocoa now!” cold. The good thing, I guess, is that mittens, earmuffs, scarves, and cocoa get all of us into the holiday spirit, right? We’re full of cheer, when we’re not freezing to death. And on that note, it’s time for another ‘TIS THE SEASON OF GIVING post, where we share ways you can use all that holiday cheer, and give back to those in need this season.

I don’t think anybody will be surprised to hear that we have a problem with childhood hunger in this country…but you know that hunger impairs a child’s growth and development? Luckily, there are sites like Bread Art that are working to end childhood hunger in our country. Bread Art is pretty much exactly what it sounds like—it’s art. Made of bread. Well, virtual bread, which is even better. Once you visit the site, you can go to the art gallery and view the submissions of other people, and you can paint your own bread art (errrr…you can toast your own bread art.)

But you know the best part? With every piece of bread you turn into art, money is donated to Share Our Strength and Go With the Grain—two organizations that want to TOAST CHILDHOOD HUNGER(Yes, it was a bad pun. Absolutely groan-worthy. But hey…it’s the holidays! Bad puns are okay during the holidays!)

So what are you waiting for, Bits and Bramblers? Check out this super-helpful video, then head to the Bread Art Project, and use your creativity to help fight childhood hunger!
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READ THIS NOW: MY MOST EXCELLENT YEAR


You know what, Bits and Bramblers? I don’t think I can explain how much I love My Most Excellent Year: A Novel of Love, Fenway Park, and Mary Poppins. I love it so much, I’m sad that more people haven’t read it. Which is why I keep telling people to read it, ever since it was published in 2008. I mean, I’ve tried. A lot. But the thing is…for some reason, I’m not good at explaining why I love it so much.

In fact, I just end up babbling like a…crazy person. Yelling out things like, “Okay, so…the three main characters have to write about their most excellent year!” and, “So they use journals from their Freshman year, which was their most excellent year!” And that’s before I mention Fenway Park. And Mary Poppins.

That’s I decided to let our book trailer do most of the work for me. So watch, and then check out My Most Excellent Year: A Novel of Love, Fenway Park, and Mary Poppins, and READ IT NOW! (Did I mention I love the book? Because I do. I really, really do…)
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‘Tis the Season of Giving: The New and Improved FreeRice


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There’s a definite chill in the air, Bits and Bramblers. Yesterday, we got just enough snow to build a tiny snowman (but let’s be honest—it’s definitely more fun to throw snowballs at your friends.) Aaaaanyway…my point is, it’s beginning to look and feel like the holiday season!

Now, we all know the holidays are a time for tradition…right? So here at Bits and Brambles, we’re keeping a tradition of our own…a series of posts about different websites you can visit, and charities you can contact to help give back to those in need. After all…‘Tis the Season of Giving, right? And we all know that giving is better than receiving, right?

I know I’ve shared FreeRice with you before, but it’s one of my favorite websites ever. It’s an online game that’s a little bit like taking a vocabulary test (*coughgreatACT/SATpracticecough*). But your capacious vocabulary (that’s right, capacious. That’s why you need to play the game!) isn’t the best part about playing the game—the best part is that for every word you get correct, FreeRice donates 10 grains of rice through the United Nations’ World Food Program. So you’re learning new things, and feeding the hungry. What could be better than that?! There’s only one thing I can think of…and that’s the new, improved FreeRice!

Now if you visit the site, you’ll have more than an illimitable (seriously, play the game!) vocabulary—because there are several different games you can play. You can match a famous work of art with the artist who created it, and you can learn all about the periodic table of elements and quiz yourself on the symbols. There are quizzes on languages like Spanish and Italian, Math/Pre-Alegebra, and much more! But the point is the same—you learn new things, and you help feed the hungry. Everybody wins, right?! There’s no downside. You get smarter, and the people that need food most get it. It’s really that simple.

You can learn a little bit more about this made-of-awesome website from this video…then start clicking, and help end world hunger!
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