Young Adults

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.

Evil Librarians, Oh My!

Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson is a hilarious, tongue-in-cheek story that had me laughing out loud right from the beginning. It’s a fast paced book that creates a fascinating world, but doesn’t get bogged down with too many details. It’s similar to Harry Potter in that Alcatraz is an orphan who is unaware of his special power and the whole secret world he is from. The thing that sets it apart is that Alcatraz narrates the book as if he is writing it and often speaks directly to the reader—with hysterical results.

Read more: ALCATRAZ VERUS THE EVIL LIBRARIANS by Brandon Sanderson | Daemon's Books http://www.daemonsbooks.com/2010/06/29/alcatraz-verus-the-evil-librarians-by-brandon-sanders...

15-yr-old Gay Book Blogger Has Something to Say to Librarians

An avid reader who co-authors a book review blog, The Naughty Book Kitties, 15-yr-old Brent wrote a guest post at Pinched Nerves that has received thousands of views since it was posted on June 15th and linked by The Atlantic's Andrew Sullivan the same day.

The post, titled Gay teen blogger/book reviewer takes librarians to task over LGBT lit, describes Brent's disappointing encounters with librarians and libraries (and awareness that not all librarians are like those he's encountered), what he'd like to see in a well-rounded GLBTQ YA book collection (hint: not just coming-out narratives), and how crucial books with gay teen characters have been to his development as a proud gay teen.

Don't miss the good discussion in the comments left on the post--many by librarians and a few by YA authors, including Ellen Hopkins and Michael Grant.

Free Library of Philadelphia Youth Empowerment Summit

Hundreds of eager high school students packed the halls of the Parkway
Central Library on May 19th for the Free Library of Philadelphia’s
11th annual Youth Empowerment Summit (YES). With keynote from
acclaimed poet and educator Sonia Sanchez, the all-day event included
workshops on college and career transition issues, an Information Fair
with participants representing colleges and employers, and of course
plenty of refreshments.

The annual event is planned by the teens it attracts, and previous summits have featured “hip-hop intellectual” Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, authors Veronica Chambers (Mama’s Girl) and Mat Johnson (Incognegro), author Lorene Cary (Black Ice; The Price of a Child), and novelist/playwright/screenwriter Walter Mosley. For more details, access http://libwww.freelibrary.org/PressRel/Pressrel.cfm?id=456.

Queens Teens Love Manga, but Their Passion Is Jeopardized by Funding Cuts

They come from all over the ethnic patchwork of this neighborhood of modest-to-fancy brick houses and square green lawns in the borough of Queens, New York: East Asian, South Asian, Caribbean, African-American, Jewish. (Only one speaks Japanese at home.) But at the library, they identify as otaku — Japanese slang for manga aficionados — and their divisions run purely along manga lines. Fans of shonen action manga challenge partisans of romantic shojo; experts debate the merits of series like Full Metal Alchemist, Death Note and Fruits Basket. Readers pool their knowledge to puzzle out magic spells, ninja moves and warrior codes that dominate the manga universe.

Manga clubs have coalesced in libraries in various Queens neighborhoods — Flushing, Jamaica, Long Island City — and the genre has colonized young-adult rooms in libraries around the country.

Now, librarians write books and journal articles to figure out how to tap into this powerful vein of interest that seizes early adolescents just at the age when they are most likely to drift away from libraries.

The manga mania, like so much else in the city during the recession, is threatened by budget cuts. Beginning in July, proposed cuts would reduce library staff by more than one-third and opening hours by nearly half, library officials say. Thirty-four community libraries would be open only two or three days a week. New York Times reports.

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