Realm of the Future
by Julia Riley


For teens, “the future” can mean different things, such as moving away from home to pursue college or a career after high school graduation, or the technological advances that will change the way we approach our daily lives five years from now. And for fans of dystopian literature, a time in which teens must literally fight to survive might not seem too far off. Teens will get a glimpse of the future by testing out food pills, creating a time capsule and ensuring they have all the proper skills for a dystopian society.

Books to Share

The Mystery of 2012: : Predictions, Prophecies, and Possibilities by Gregg Braden
Maria Shaw’s Tarot Kit for Teens
by Maria Shaw
by Michael Tambini

Books to Show or Booktalk

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Brain Jack
by Brian Falkner
Gimme a Call
by Sarah Mylnowksi
The Adoration of Jenna Fox
by Mary Pearson

Bulletin Board

What Will the Future Hold?

Create an interactive bulletin board where teens can contribute their predictions for the things they think will happen in their lifetime, such as flying cars, world peace or the first female president of the United States. Pose the question “What do you think the future will hold?” at the top of the bulletin board. Provide an invitation and supplies (slips of paper, pens and pencils, and thumbtack) for teens to write or draw out their predictions and add them to the board. This could be offered as a passive activity or integrated with another program.


In the future, we may not have time to eat meals the way we do now, but food pills may provide us with all the nutrition we need. Teens can concoct a complete ‘meal’ using Jelly Belly jellybeans. Provide sample menus (see the official Jelly Belly website for ideas or encourage teens to write down their favorite combinations. As an alternative to Jelly Belly jellybeans, purchase another brand of jellybeans and assign a flavor based on color. Red jellybeans could represent apples, while orange jellybeans could be oranges, tangerines, or other citrus fruit. Serve in cupcake liners.



‘Bright Future’ Sunglasses

Hot glue
Puff paint



Teens will need a pair of shades for their bright futures. Set out a variety of embellishments and hot glue guns for personalizing the sunglasses. After the teens have had a chance to decorate, have an informal sunglasses fashion show and admire their creations.


Games and Activities

Skills of the (Dystopian) Future

Teens will need to master a variety of skills to survive in the dystopian future. Set up different stations for teens to practice knot tying, plant identification and birdcalls.

Knot Tying

Purchase ¼- to ½-inch thick nylon rope (available at hardware stores) and cut into lengths of 12 inches. Each teen should have 3 or 4 pieces of rope for ample practice opportunities. Provide diagrams and instructions of different types of knots from knot-tying books in your library’s collection. Alternatively, show video tutorials that teens can follow along with. I Will Knot! ( very clear, step-by-step tutorials. Challenge teens to master at least 3 different types of knots.

Plant Identification

If possible, invite a horticulturist to speak briefly about the types of vegetation native to your area. Identify 5 or so plants that grow around your library and collect samples. Create a plant identification game by making cards with identifying characteristics on one side (such as “stemless” and “3 inches wide”) and the name of the plant (“agave”) on the other. Challenge teens to correctly match the identifying characteristics with the correct plant. See a list and photographs of plants in Texas at the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service website (

Bird Calls

Set-up a birdcall listening station with a CD player and a book with an audio CD of birdcalls, such as Common Birds and their Songs by Lang Elliott. Select 4 or 5 birds common to your area and have teens quiz each other to see if they can correctly identify the bird by song. An online resource for birdcalls is (

Time Capsule

To assemble a time capsule, each teen will need a container. Large jars or coffee cans work well. Teens should choose a year in the future to open their time capsule (such as 2022, 10 years in the future). Ask teens to write out their predictions for what the world will be like in whatever year they have chosen. What will our houses look like? What will people wear? What will the latest trend be? Provide magazines for teens to create collages of what life is like today, so they’ll be able to see how much has changed.


Web-Based Activities

FutureMe - Teens can write and send an e-mail to their future self.

MASH - Teens can fill in potential career choices, cars and places to live and have their futures predicted.


13 Going on 30 (97 minutes)

Back to the Future  (116 minutes)


Professional Resources

Common Birds and their Songs by Lang Elliott

Edible and Useful Plants of Texas and the Southwest by Delena Tull

Knots: More than 50 of the Most Useful Knots for Camping, Sailing, Fishing, and Climbing by Peter Owen

eNature - features the songs of more than 550 North American birds.

I Will Knot! - Provides step-by-step visual instruction for successfully tying a variety of knots.

United States Department of AgricultureNatural Resources Conservation Service - Search by state for names (common and scientific), characteristics and photographs of plants native to Texas.

Page last modified: October 4, 2011