Young Adults

Not Your Parents High School Library

Lamar (TX) High School’s library is in the midst of an overhaul that is shifting around more than the books. The project is redefining how the study space will be used and how students will access the information resources it holds.

More specifically, the conversion under way means fewer physical books on the shelves (and fewer shelves), but more equipment on site for tapping into the books, periodicals and research tools available in electronic formats.

As explained by Principal James McSwain, the project includes:

Laptop computers (100 now and hopefully 100 more to follow) that can be checked out for use only in the new center and accessible only by a student ID code that also connects to the new Lamar portal, “Sky Drive.”

Longer hours of operation, (6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.) to increase access to the new computer equipment and online information for students who might not have other study venues or research tools.

Space for peer tutoring and teacher-led tutorials, and

A small coffee bar that also serves healthy snacks for studying. Students in the culinary division of Lamar’s magnet program in business management will run the new amenity.

Lauren Myracle Reads (and Writes) Banned Books, Do You?

Lauren Myracle, author of ttyl and Luv Ya Bunches, two frequently challenged books, writes about the phenomenon of Banned Books. She says that parents anger springs from fear. Grown-ups who care about what kids read aren't the enemy.

From Shelf Awareness: As 2009's number one most frequently challenged author in the country (Mom, cover your ears), I often catch flack for writing about topics that certain parents, teachers and librarians would prefer I didn't. Like what? Like a teenager kissing her female best friend, or high school kids drinking too much and doing really stupid things, or a discussion of the pros and cons of thongs.

I've also come under fire for writing (lovingly) about a fifth-grader who has two moms, as well as a boy who won't join the Boy Scouts because of the Boy Scouts' discriminatory policies. Biology gets me in trouble, too. For example, parents get all kinds of upset about a scene in one of my novels in which a 12-year-old girl sits down with a box of tampons and attempts to make heads and tails of the dense instruction pamphlet.

In grappling with issues surrounding censorship, I've come to the conclusion that the enemy--at least in part--is the inevitable us/them dichotomy that arises in discussions of intellectual freedom.

Author Proclaims "I Would Be Dead Without Libraries"

From Telegraph Herald OnLine: A librarian saved Gary Paulsen's life. More than 100 people listened with amazement Sunday as the self-proclaimed street kid who became an award-winning author shared his life story at the Carnegie-Stout Public Library in Dubuque IA.

"I would be dead without libraries," said Paulsen, 71.

Dressed in a black turtleneck sweater and blue jeans, the author of three Newbery Honor Books -- "Hatchet," "Dogsong" and "The Winter Room" -- held nothing back.

Paulsen described how he sold newspapers as a teenager at bars. One cold night, he walked into a library to keep warm until the drunks got so sloshed that he could easily swipe extra change.

Once inside, something amazing happened. A librarian asked Paulsen if he would like a library card.

"Nobody gave me anything," Paulsen said. He was shocked when the librarian gave him his very own card with his name correctly spelled. She encouraged Paulsen to read more and more books over the next few years.

Although he failed in almost everything at school, Paulsen continued to read. "Everything that I am or ever will be in writing is because
of (that librarian)," he said.

Internet Can Be a Dangerous Place for Unsupervised Children

Internet predators are using more sophisticated means to lure children into dangerous situations says The News Chief of Winter Haven, FL.

In July, the Federal Trade Commission released a report concerning child safety on the Internet. The report stated that in 2004, 45 percent of American children had a personal cellular phone, while in 2009, the number of children with a phone grew to 75 percent.

Cellular phones have become more sophisticated, allowing the user to access the Internet, chat, text, e-mail, photograph and play games - all on one device. The report raises concerns about the amount of personal information teens and older children inadvertently may share by making online purchases and browsing the Web. In response, the FTC has concentrated its efforts in combating Internet predators by expanding its Internet lab and developing tools to assist in mobile-related investigations.

This is something Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd has been focusing on for much of his career. "There is no fail-safe protection from these predators," said Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Donna Wood. "This is a new frontier for crime.

Fight for Libraries As You Do for Freedom

A very powerful op-ed piece by novelist Karin Slaughter in today's Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

"My father and his eight siblings grew up in the kind of poverty that America doesn’t like to talk about unless something like Katrina happens, and then the conversation only lasts as long as the news cycle. His family squatted in shacks. The children scavenged the forest for food. They put cardboard over empty windowpanes so the cold wouldn’t kill them.

Books did not exist here. When your kids are starving, you can’t point with pride to a book you’ve just spent six hours reading. Picking cotton, sewing flour bags into clothes — those were the skills my father grew up appreciating.

And yet, when he noticed that I, his youngest daughter, showed an interest in reading, he took me to our local Jonesboro library and told me that I could read any book in the building so long as I promised to talk to him about it if I read something I didn’t understand. I think this is the greatest gift my father ever gave me. Though he was not a reader himself, he understood that reading is not just an escape. It is access to a better way of life."

Read more: AJC.

Using eBooks in School

With varying degrees of success, area schools and libraries have begun making use of ebooks like the Nook and similar devices. The hand-held devices can compactly replace a whole stack of textbooks, lightening the load for students.

In today’s technology-driven age, where children have grown up in front of computers and video games, challenging them to read a book has become more difficult.

Marian Parker, librarian at Seneca Grade School decided to test electronic books with students last school year in a pilot program to see how they would respond to getting their reading from a hand-held device.

“Last year’s pilot program had 18 Kindles, which were used by seventh- and eighth-grade students,” Parker said. “This year, we have 106, and have six more ordered.

Read more: Morris Daily Herald, Morris IL.

Stockton Book Ban Upheld 7-0 in Packed Public Forum

Stockton MO -- The Stockton Missouri school board voted unanimously Wednesday night to uphold its April decision to ban a book from the school curriculum. The 7-0 vote came after a public forum about the novel, "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" by Sherman Alexie.

The board also voted, 7-2, against a proposal to return the book to the high school library with restrictions.

Board member Rod Tucker said his main concern was the book's language, that it had too much profanity to be of value. He rejected the argument that most kids are familiar with such language and use it regularly. [ed- note to Rod Tucker: don't forget you live in the 'show me' state]

Supporters of the book said it was chosen to get high school boys, particularly, interested in reading. Another board member said that was a mistake because the book's reading level is low for high school readers. "We're dumbing down our educational standards if we do that," Ken Spurgeon said.

Cheryl Marcum, a resident who had pushed the board to explain and reverse its decision, was disappointed by the vote. She said she's heard about the issue from young people who have left Stockton.

"They said, 'I left Stockton because stuff like that happens there,'" she said.

Got Mockingjay?

Iowa City, IA — The hold shelves Tuesday at the Iowa City Public Library were peppered with the pale blue spine of "Mockingjay," the third and supposedly final installment in "The Hunger Games" blockbuster trilogy of young-adult novels by Suzanne Collins. Katniss Everdeen, 16, is the protagonist in a dystopian future version of North America known as Panem. It's a harsh dictatorship, where children from 12 blighted districts battle each other to the death in an annual reality-TV game show, to the delight of the pampered citizens.

I spent part of my summer reading the first two installments in the series, 2008's "The Hunger Games" and last year's "Catching Fire."
I think I'm OK revealing that, because I've learned I'm hardly alone among allegedly mature readers.

Jason Paulios, 32, the librarian in the young adults' corner here in the Iowa City library, tallied a "mind-boggling" 93 holds for "Mockingjay," released Tuesday.

Glen Rock, NJ - on Monday the library hosted its first-ever sleepover party, in conjunction with the release of "Mockingjay," Suzanne Collins' newest book in the "Hunger Games" series.

Nancy Pearl's twitter feed: Mockingjay: triumphant finale: painfully sad,many deaths,hard decisions;same courageous Katniss. Made me want to reread 1&2 in the series.

Texas Teen Lit Festival Will Be Minus Several Authors

UPDATE According to the Houston Observer, the scheduled festival has BEEN CANCELLED in its entirely, due to the number of participants who have chosen not to attend.
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The Teen Lit Fest in Humble is a huge deal for renowned writers of young adult fiction and the kids they're writing for. Which is why it's a huge deal that half of the authors have dropped out of the January 2011 festival.

It all started when an Humble ISD librarian complained to some influential parents about New York Times bestselling author Ellen Hopkins, who was scheduled to appear at the festival. (Hopkins writes about cheery subjects like drug addiction, suicide, and religious intolerance.) Houston Press reports.

Those parents then allegedly bent the ear of Superintendent Guy Sconzo, who ordered another librarian to uninvite Hopkins -- even though she had already appeared at two of the festivals Humble-area high schools, without causing any of the teenagers to slit their wrists, become pregnant, or turn to prostitution to subsidize chronic substance-abuse problems.

When fellow writer and invitee Pete Hautman heard about it, he decided to drop out of the festival, and, according to his blog three more writers have dropped out -- Melissa de la Cruz, Tara Lynn Childs and Matt de la Pena. -- Read More

Banned Book To Be Read at Show in New Jersey

Critics of a decision to pull a gay-themed book from two local libraries will stage a protest this weekend -- by reading aloud from the controversial work.

Sunday's free show at a Cinnaminson theater marks the South Jersey debut of a theater group that supports the book, "Revolutionary Voices" an anthology of first-person pieces by gay youths.

Brandon Monokian, a 23-year-old actor-director from Passaic County, formed the group after the book was ordered removed in May from the library at Rancocas Valley Regional High School in Mount Holly. That decision followed a citizen's complaint over the book's sexual content. "Revolutionary Voices," which won an award when it was published in 1990, also was removed this spring from the Burlington County Library.

"This book is a valuable resource to youths who might have questions about their lives, and the fact that a small group of people could have it banned is upsetting," said Monokian, a Lumberton native and a 2005 graduate of Rancocas Valley.

Here's an editorial from the South Brunswick Post in response to the book having been removed from both school and public libraries.

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