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Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Friday Finds: December 2, 2016

fridayfindsThis Week at TLT

Sunday Reflections: Common Sense isn’t Really all that Common

Middle School Monday: Professional Development. Not the Optional Kind.

Teaching Teens Media Literacy 101

Book Review: A Tragic Kind of Wonderful by Eric Lindstrom

Book Review: Safe is Not Enough: Better Schools for LGBTQ Students by Michael Sadowski

Video Games Weekly: Lego Harry Potter Collection

Behold the Power of Reading; Or, how my 8-year-old was inspired to start her own #TrashTuesdays

#MHYALit: Unbearable: A Reflection on Hunger, a guest post by Lindsay Eagar

#SJYALit, Social Justice in YA Lit – The 2017 TLT Project

Finding an Authentic Teenage Voice, a guest post by author Amy S. Foster

Around the Web

Raising A Child With Dyslexia: 3 Things Parents Can Do

Lemont H.S. class reading list questioned by parents

Not about teens, but worth a read.

Betsy DeVos and the Wrong Way to Fix Schools

Fullness of Humanity: Native Americans in Youth Literature

Team for YA Best-Seller ‘Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

 

Finding an Authentic Teenage Voice, a guest post by author Amy S. Foster

riftuprising

One of the main reasons that I wrote The Rift Uprising was because I felt like the label ‘Young Adult’ had become a bit of a misnomer. The first YA novel I ever read was Judy Blume’s Forever. Forever IS NOT Are You There God It’s Me Margaret? It deals with very mature themes, tackling them relentlessly, head on, without toning anything down. As an author I took my cues from her. As a fan of Judy Blume’s, I related so much to the books she wrote throughout the various years of my childhood and adolescence. Her female protagonists acted and sounded like me and my friends. Today, YA skews much younger. There’s plenty out there for thirteen year olds, but, for seventeen year olds, there seems to be a gap.

Using a dystopian or fantastical setting has given authors a way around this problem. When kids are living in a world entirely of the writer’s design, where there are no cell phones or snap chat, the character’s vernacular changes and while I love those worlds, I wanted to do something different. I wanted to create this secret, hidden world in the present where young people are living extraordinary lives when everyone else around them is going about their business like normal people do. I wanted them to sound like actual teenagers regardless of their circumstances.

I couldn’t have done this without the input of my teenage daughters and their friends. I thought I knew what was cool. I thought, yeah, sure I’m old(er!) but I’m not old. I know what’s up. Spoiler Alert…I don’t know what’s up. I had no idea for example, that my daughters and their friends never email. Why would they? When they could text or Face Time or Snap an expression on their faces instead of writing anything at all? I had my older daughter vet every bit of dialogue I wrote. She would tell me, yeah, that’s good or NO WAY! NO TEENAGER WOULD EVER SAY THAT! This to me was invaluable. It was great to have something to talk about with my kid but it was also great to create characters who I think are genuine and authentic young people. I hear it time and time again in the reviews for The Rift Uprising“These people sound like me.” It’s such a compliment.

However, taking this route means that there is swearing. It means there is dark humor. It means talking a lot about sex. It also means that there isn’t a ton of empathy. Empathy doesn’t always come naturally for teens. So, I had to balance this out. I had to find a way to make my characters self-involved, but still willing to make sacrifices. I had to give them a touch of narcissism while still having steadfast loyalty. I think this is why my book is in the adult sci-fi section instead of the YA one. It pushes a lot of envelops. Still, I wish, as I’m sure many of you out there do too, that the “New Adult” category extended beyond romance. I would be so thrilled if there was New Adult Sci-Fi, New Adult Fantasy, New Adult Thriller. It would be so much easier and so great for those older teens who are looking for books they can truly identify with.

MORE ABOUT THE RIFT UPRISING

Normal seventeen-year-old girls go to high school, binge watch TV shows all weekend, and flirt with everyone on the face of the Earth. But Ryn Whitaker is trying to save it.

Ryn is a Citadel. A soldier. A liar. Ryn and her fellow Citadels were specially chosen and trained to guard a Rift—one of fourteen unpredictable tears in the fabric of the universe that serve as doorways to alternate Earths. Unbeknownst to her family, Ryn leaves for school each day and then reports for duty as an elite, cybernetically-altered soldier who can run faster, jump farther, and fight better than a Navy SEAL—which comes in handy when she’s not sure if axe-wielding Vikings or any number of other terrified and often dangerous beings come through the Rift. A fine-tuned weapon, Ryn is a picture-perfect Citadel. But that’s all about to change.

When a young man named Ezra is pulled through the Rift, Ryn finds herself immediately drawn to him, despite her training. What starts as a physical attraction quickly grows deeper, and Ezra’s curiosity throws Ryn off balance when he starts questioning the Rifts, the mysterious organization that oversees them, and the Citadels themselves—questions that lead Ryn to wonder if the lies she’s been telling her family are just the surface of a much bigger lie told to her. As Ryn and Ezra desperately try to get to that truth, they discover that each revelation blurs the line between the villains and the heroes even more.

ABOUT AMY S. FOSTER

Amy S. Foster is a celebrated songwriter, best known as Michael Bublé’s writing partner. You might recognize her work in his four hit singles, including “Home” and “Haven’t Met You Yet.” She has also collaborated with Destiny’s Child, Diana Krall, Andrea Bocelli, Josh Groban and a host of other artists. She is also the author of the novel When Autumn Leaves. When she’s not in a studio in Nashville, Amy lives in the Pacific Northwest with her family. Amy is the daughter of singer B.J. Cook and the legendary music producer, David Foster. Fun fact about Amy: Her extended family tree includes Bella and Gigi Hadid, Sara and Erin Foster and Brody and Brandon Jenner, and Clay Aiken! The Rift Uprising, her YA debut, will be released on October 4, 2016.
Brianna Robinson
Wunderkind PR
brianna@wunderkind-pr.com
www.wunderkind-pr.com

#SJYALit, Social Justice in YA Lit – The 2017 TLT Project

sjyalit

Since November 9th, 2016, the Southern Poverty Law Center has been keeping track of the tremendous increase in hate crimes in the United States. This news, combined with increasing threats to education, freedom of the press, freedom of speech, attacks on healthcare and more, has left the librarians at TLT worrying about the teens that we have committed ourselves to serving, both now and in the future. So we have decided to respond in the only way we know how – through books and information.

Beginning in 2014, we began our campaign on sexual violence (#SVYALit). In 2015, we focused on faith and spirituality (#FSYALit). This year, we focused on mental health (#MHYALit). All those campaigns will continue.

In 2017, we will focus on social justice. #SJYALit. We want to talk about poverty, racism, sexism and all the other issues which have been more fully brought to the surface in this election. This year, we are working to more fully understand the issues and will share our journey with our readership. It is our hope that we can equip those who work with teens with background and information sources that will grow their understanding of and compassion for our teens. Together, we can teach teens to be knowledgeable, compassionate members of society who understand their value.

Social justice is defined as “… promoting a just society by challenging injustice and valuing diversity.” It exists when “all people share a common humanity and therefore have a right to equitable treatment, support for their human rights, and a fair allocation of community resources.” In conditions of social justice, people are “not be discriminated against, nor their welfare and well-being constrained or prejudiced on the basis of gender, sexuality, religion, political affiliations, age, race, belief, disability, location, social class, socioeconomic circumstances, or other characteristic of background or group membership” (Toowoomba Catholic Education, 2006). (Robinson,  https://gjs.appstate.edu/social-justice-and-human-rights/what-social-justice)

My daughter is 14. She will be voting in the next presidential election. So will all of her friends. So will many of your children. So will the teens I work with every day here in my library.

“ . . . social justice is about assuring the protection of equal access to liberties, rights, and opportunities, as well as taking care of the least advantaged members of society.” (Rawls, https://gjs.appstate.edu/social-justice-and-human-rights/what-social-justice)

Please help us. Those of us at TLT are all white women. We know there are many issues that we cannot speak to. But not all of us are straight, not all of us are Christians, and many of us struggle with mental health issues. And all of us love many people who don’t love, think, or believe like us. We care and we need your help.

So here’s what we’re going to do and we are asking for your help. Next year, we will read books, recommend books, and talk about books that focus on social justice issues. We will compile lists. We will compile resources. We will raise awareness and do our best to listen and grow and ask others to listen and grow with us.



The topics we will be covering include:

  • Civil Rights
  • Disabilities
  • Dystopian (A look at the role of government)
  • Education
  • Environmental Rights and Protection
  • Feminist YA
  • GLBTQ Issues and Representation
  • Healthcare
  • Homelessness
  • Immigration
  • Incarceration
  • Labor (Jobs, Employment, Wages, etc.)
  • Mental Health
  • Own Voices/Representation
  • Politics (Government, Voter’s Rights)
  • Poverty & Income Inequality
  • Religious Freedom (Faith and Spirituality)
  • Reproductive Freedom and Education
  • Sexual Violence
  • Social Justice 101
  • Teen Activism

Each member of TLT will be responsible for coordinating posts on various topics. It will look something like this:

Karen Jensen – Dystopian Lit, Environmental Rights & Protections, Homelessness, Labor, Politics

Heather Booth – Healthcare, Immigration, Own Voices/Representation

Amanda MacGregror – LGBTQIA+,  Muslim Rep/Own Voices, Reproductive Freedom, Sexual Violence

Robin Willis – Civil Rights, Education, Incareration, Poverty/Income Inequality

Ally Watkins – Feminist YA, Mental Health, Religious Freedom

 

You can contact any of us to participate through Twitter or Email:

Karen Jensen – @tlt16, kjensenmls at yahoo dot com

Heather Booth – @boothheather, teenreadersadvisor at gmail dot com

Amanda MacGregor – @CiteSomething, amanda dot macgregor at gmail dot com

Robin Willis –  @robinreads, robinkwillis at gmail dot com

Ally Watkins – @aswatki1, allison dot watkins at eagles dot usm dot edu

In addition, we will be asking you to join us for a monthly book club read and online Twitter chat. We will kick off January with All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely. More information will be coming soon.

#MHYALit: Unbearable: A Reflection on Hunger, a guest post by Lindsay Eagar

MHYALitlogoofficfialMy main memory of high school and the immediate years following is of hunger.

As the straight-A student, oldest daughter, star of the school plays, and overall golden child, I often carried the weight of others’ expectations on my shoulders, and I did so gladly. I knew I was capable. I wanted to please the adults around me. I had ambitions and I was a hard worker.

 

But all of that collapsed when I turned fifteen.

 

Let me paint you a picture.

 

It’s sophomore year of high school. I have been dating this boy for over a year. I am on one of our “dates”—all-day stretches in his basement where he plays video games and I watch. My stomach growls, because like many normal human teenagers, I require food and water every three or four hours. But the boy I am dating doesn’t notice. Of course he doesn’t—I’m sitting on the arm of his chair while he plays his game silently, and is it my fault for letting him treat me this way, or is it his fault for being a jackass, or is it the world’s collective fault for raising boys like this who fail to nurture, fail to care? When he finally does pause his game, it’s not a food break, it’s a fooling-around break.

 

Hours later, we are in the middle of a tear-soaked fight over the phone, a weekly occurrence for us. He says, with a sigh so loud it practically swallows me, “You’re saying you want commitment?” As if fidelity is a ridiculous thing to put on the table. “We’re in high school. You’re asking for too much.”

 

Too much.

 

The two moments are forever linked together. This is when it becomes clear to me—to desire anything at all is too much. Appetite is the enemy, and one of its main artilleries is food.

 

This is when I decide to bask in the feeling of hunger, and kill the thing inside me that wanted things.

 

I started with food.

 

lindsay1I’m not going to describe any of my specific eating disorder behaviors here, because I don’t want to risk triggering vulnerable readers who may be struggling themselves. But I will tell you this: I carefully conned my way into surviving on very little food. I lied to everyone—including myself—about how hungry I really was. I never whittled down to bones, but I was unhealthily skinny and undernourished. Later, after high school, I began writing down my daily calories in and calories out—my world became one of numbers, measuring and tracking and feeling disgusted if I didn’t hit my targets.

 

There were a lot of things I did in high school and the years after that I’m not proud of, and I’d like to share them with you now, because there may be others who have done similar things.

 

I suppressed my urge to make comments in class and stopped raising my hand. I stopped caring about my homework. I stopped going after academic achievements like National Honors’ Society and Sterling Scholars.

 

I suppressed my hunger for commitment or affection or even eye contact when the boy snubbed me at school, and I pretended none of it mattered, even though I died inside every time he kissed another girl, sometimes mere hours after he had been with me and told me he loved me.

 

I suppressed my hunger for real food when he asked me to the senior prom, pocketed the money his mother gave him for our reservation at P.F. Chang’s, and instilled a three dollar limit when he drove me through Del Taco on the way to the dance.

 

I suppressed my desires to travel when he asked me not to apply to any out-of-state colleges, and I threw away the pamphlets for Trinity College in Dublin I had taped up on my walls.

 

I suppressed my gag reflex when I let him take credit for my own accomplishments—from my essays to my ideas to a one-act play I wrote that was selected for a state-wide award to the song I composed and sang in front of the school in an assembly. “We wrote this together,” he said as he picked up my guitar and sang my part, and I quietly hummed the countermelody, relinquishing myself to the part of background singer in my own life.

 

I was hungry, and cold, and lonely, and sad, and full of profound self-loathing for myself. That was who I was in high school. My own parents barely recognized me.

 

lindsay2Our girls have a problem with wanting things, with being hungry. We’re not supposed to be hungry for good grades, or academic awards, or ambitions, or career goals—consider how Hillary Clinton was painted as “power-hungry,” as if that’s a bad thing, to want to be an influence on the world.

 

We’re also not supposed to be hungry for love, or affection, or marriage, or children. We’re definitely not supposed to be hungry for a good piece of chocolate cake. I remember feeling embarrassed whenever I needed something, terrified of being called “high maintenance,” worried that if I requested more than the emotional scraps I was given to survive on, I would be seen as unlovable or unsexy or “attention-seeking.” I put away things I had been dreaming of since I was five—finishing a novel, getting published, traveling the world.

 

I wish that I had listened to the adults in my life who saw me withering away and offered help. I wish I could have told them what was happening in my head.

 

I wish YA had been a thing. I would have loved to read a character like Celaena Sardothien in Sarah Maas’s THRONE OF GLASS, who delighted in her food and dresses and piano-playing with no regrets.

 

I would have loved to read Anna-Marie McLemore’s gorgeous YAs, THE WEIGHT OF FEATHERS and WHEN THE MOON WAS OURS, both about girls who make healthy relationships for themselves and don’t pretend that romance is a sinful dessert to be politely declined.

 

Maybe I would have read TINY PRETTY THINGS by Sona Charaipotra and found a kinship with other teenage girls who had ambitions, who busted their butts to get places, who felt pressure.

 

Maybe I would have read NOT OTHERWISE SPECIFIED by Hannah Moskowitz, and finally exhaled, knowing someone else understood.

 

It’s embarrassing to be an adult now and look back at all the stupid ways I starved myself.

 

It’s not embarrassing to be hungry.

 

It’s not wrong to want things.

 

It’s not annoying to be needy.

 

It’s normal to need to eat food, get thirsty, need hugs, need cuddles, need kisses, need passion, romance, to need trust.

 

It is not too much to want to be heard.

 

The body can only go so long without food. Same with the heart.

 

When I finally allowed myself to want things again—that’s when I started to heal.

 

Having a baby at 22 healed much of my relationship with my body. But it didn’t get rid of the voice in my head that still tells me, too much, too much. Too big, too loud, too talkative, too bold, too needy, too hungry, too much, too much. I do hear those voices sometimes, and when I do, I try my best to drown them out. I email writer friends who assure me I deserve my ambitions. I work on my projects, gleeful as I inch towards completed goals. I go for a walk or dance around my kitchen or kiss my husband or play with my babies, anything to remind myself that what my body is capable of doing is far greater than what it looks like. I take a selfie to remind myself that my body actually does look pretty good.

 

I did finally see a counselor at age 20, for my depression, and she suggested I had an ED-NOS, based on the behaviors I’d described. And I began a healing journey—not just with my hunger for food, but my acceptance of hunger as part of living, and fulfillment of hunger as the other part—the important part.

 

The best part.

 

Meet Lindsay Eagar

lindsay3Lindsay Eagar is the author of HOUR OF THE BEES (Candlewick Press, 2016) and the forthcoming RACE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA (Candlewick Press, 2017). She lives in the mountains of Utah Valley with her husband and two daughters and a mountain of books. Follow her on Twitter here: Lindsay Eagar (@lindsaymccall) | Twitter

Behold the Power of Reading; Or, how my 8-year-old was inspired to start her own #TrashTuesdays

Last Saturday, Thing 2 turned 8. For her birthday, a friend sent her the following three books:

trashtuesday4

Monday night, The Teen, Thing 2 and I curled up and bed and read them together. We cried as we read Malala’s story. We were inspired as we read about Barrack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

One thing that each of these stories has in common is that all three people started working at a young age to make the world a better place. They didn’t say, when I grow up . . . They started now. And that was a powerful message for Thing 2.

Thing 2 has often commented about the litter she sees around the world. We are an animal loving family and she is always worried about how the trash will harm not only the environment, but the animals. So that night, reading these books, she looked up at me and said, “I want us to go once a week as a family and clean up trash.” And so we did.

trashtuesday1

Thus was born what she has called #TrashTuesday. (Please note, I have later learned that there is a movement to pick up 10 pieces of trash every Tuesday, but she doesn’t know this and I’m not going to tell her because I don’t want to undermine her passion.) So yesterday, we grabbed some gloves and a big plastic garbage bag and we walked around our neighborhood picking up trash. We picked up water bottles, drink cups, napkins, and empty cigarette packs. Lots of them. We walked up one street and down another. “Maybe we should do it two days a week”, she said to me. (PS, if you are looking for me on Friday, I apparently have to go out and collect trash again.)

trashtuesday2

I couldn’t help but notice all the things that came out of a moment spent reading these books together. Yes, we got to cuddle and snuggle and practice our reading skills. Yes, we bonded as a family. But my girls also read powerful stories about people working hard and accomplishing things for the good of their world, and they were inspired. That inspiration didn’t just lead to a good feeling inside, it was an reminder to them that they can do something now, today – and they did. (The Teen might have gotten kind of dragged into it, but she’s a good kid and she’s supporting her sister.)

trashtuesday3

So here’s what I would like to ask of you. Next Tuesday, wherever you are, grab some gloves and some trash bags and join my baby in doing what we can to act now to make our world better. Email me or Tweet me a picture of you and your trash with the hashtag #TrashTuesday. I will share these pictures with my two girls and show them that they can start something, that they can be empowered and inspire others, and together we can show these two little girls that we can work together to make our world a better place.

Video Games Weekly: Lego Harry Potter Collection

The Lego Harry Potter Collection is the remastered PS4 edition of the original Lego Harry Potter games, (it’s unknown if a remastered edition will be released for Xbox or Nintendo) but this time the entire game is on one disc!  The release was timely considering the movie Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them came out in the same month.

YouTube Trailer:

Platform:  PS4

Rated: E10+

Single or Multiplayer: Both, up to two-player co-op
Storyline: The storyline is based off of the Harry Potter books.  Similar to the movie, the game focuses on key plot points and glosses over the details.  Hardcore fans of Harry Potter will notice how the storyline combines events together in order to make each chapter shorter, but the game is overall charming and will make players nostalgic for their favorite wizarding school days.

Gameplay: In a standard Lego game, players are encouraged to wreck/fix as many things as possible in order to collect studs.  Studs are the standard Lego game’s currency that can be used to unlock bonus content such as levels, characters, costumes, and special moves.  What makes Lego Harry Potter stand out is how instead of just punching items repetitively for studs, players can use specific spells to wreck or fix items.  For example, the first spell players learn is Wingardium Leviosa, which can be used to levitate books back on their shelves, or lift benches.  You can only lift things with Wingardium Leviosa, and it’s up to players to figure out what spell they need in order to move what objects.

The best part about spells is how they foreshadow what is to come later in the game.  One example is during  Year 1, players can see a bunch of Cornish Pixies holding golden cauldrons or blocking players from entering certain parts of the Hogwarts castle, but players know they won’t be able to get there until at least Year 2.  This also encourages players to replay previous levels once they have unlocked that one spell they needed, which in turn lengthens the gameplay using the same levels/maps.

 

Each year takes about an hour or two to beat, meaning it’ll take about 14 hours to beat the entire game the first time through.  Players will definitely replay the game to unlock bonus characters, golden bricks, and other fun items, so this game overall takes over 20 hours to beat.


Audience:
This game is made for any fans of Harry Potter, young or old.  The game is also more fun to play in multiplayer mode, so be sure to grab a friend or relative to enjoy this easy-to-learn game!

Verdict: Recommended for circulating collections where Lego games are popular, especially if any copies of Years 1-4 or 5-7 have gone missing over the years.

Questions? Comments? Tweet them at me!

By: Alanna Graves
Twitter: @LannaLibrarian

 

Pricing: $50 on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/LEGO-Harry-Potter-Collection-PlayStation-4/dp/B01LPO6WF6

that during?

Book Review: Safe is Not Enough: Better Schools for LGBTQ Students by Michael Sadowski

When I’m reviewing books for professional publications, I stay quiet about them on social media. I’m always really excited once a review comes out to be able to talk about the book, finally! Here’s one of my most recent reviews, which originally appeared in the November 2016 issue of School Library Journal.

 

safe-is-not-enoughSadowski, Michael. Safe Is Not Enough: Better Schools for LGBTQ Students 

ISBN-13: 9781612509426 Publisher: Harvard Education Press Publication date: 08/09/2016

★In his introduction, Sadowski writes, “Safety is an essential baseline…but it is not a sufficient goal in itself.” Aimed at educators, this book lays out many clear and detailed ways that schools can better meet the needs of LGBTQ students. The author advocates for moving beyond antibullying policies, safe spaces (often indicated by stickers), and gay-straight alliances (GSAs) to creating a more inclusive curriculum and environment. Chapters address integrating LGBTQ issues in the classroom, comprehensive inclusiveness throughout the school, the important work some GSAs are doing, the impact of race and socioeconomic status, transgender students’ unique needs, and avenues beyond GSAs for students to meet and talk. Sadowski profiles educators and programs, looks at policies, and offers arguments and counterarguments. He notes that progress is not uniform throughout the country and that students in some identity categories are more at risk than others. Additionally, there is a chapter dedicated to helping schools implement the ideas outlined here. It is clear that everyone benefits from more inclusive curriculum and policies and that moving beyond the idea of just being safe sends a stronger message of affirmation, value, respect, and acceptance. Though this is a brief volume, the detailed suggestions for advocacy and change are comprehensive and persuasive. Appended are a course syllabus, handouts, GSA materials, and a policy regarding transgender students that can be adapted for use. Online resources addressing curriculum, student support, and more are included. VERDICT As useful as it is essential.—Amanda MacGregor

Book Review: A Tragic Kind of Wonderful by Eric Lindstrom

When I’m reviewing books for professional publications, I stay quiet about them on social media. I’m always really excited once a review comes out to be able to talk about the book, finally! Here’s one of my most recent reviews, which originally appeared in the November 2016 issue of School Library Journal.

 

tragic

Lindstrom, Eric. A Tragic Kind of Wonderful

ISBN-13: 9780316260060 Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers Publication date: 02/07/2017

Gr 9 Up—Mel has bipolar disorder and professes to have a “superpower” that lets her avoid thinking about certain things, especially her dead brother or the real reasons why she lost her best friends around the time of her diagnosis. She has made new friends, but she has been able to hide her illness from them. Mel works at a nursing home where a retired psychiatrist keeps an eye on her, and she is in treatment with her own doctor, too. After she meets a resident’s grandson, David, she wants to get closer to him, but she is worried that as he really gets to know her, he won’t like her. Though she has her ups and downs, Mel can appear fairly even-keeled until an incident with her former friends begins a terrifying descent into a manic episode. Lindstrom offers an intense look at one person’s experience with bipolar disorder, but unfortunately, the story’s execution is unsatisfying. The characters are undeveloped, particularly Mel, who seems defined by her diagnosis. In addition, there is a troubling correlation between her mental illness and her sexual behavior, and there are cringeworthy scenes relating her constant desire to touch the hair of minority characters. The messages that Mel needs to keep fewer secrets in order to truly be close to others (and to more effectively treat her mental illness) and that real friends will stick around in spite of her diagnosis are nearly lost in the meandering narrative. VERDICT Weak character development and plotting make this an additional purchase.—Amanda MacGregor

Teaching Teens Media Literacy 101

tiwie13

In this post election season there has been a lot of focus on how fake and biased media influenced the election. It’s staggering to realize how much of an influence it has had. So yesterday I felt compelled to tweet to my teen (and adult followers) some tips for helping to examine the news and media we consume. The need for media literacy became even more evident for me yesterday when an article headline stated that Steve Bannon thinks that only homeowners should be allowed to vote. This is, of course, code for Steve Bannon thinks that only wealthy people who can afford to buy a home should vote. Decoded further, it really means Steven Bannon thinks only white people should vote, because white Americans still own a disproportionate amount of our country’s wealth. It’s a type of coded language – also known as a dog whistle (Dogwhistle politics is political messaging employing coded language that appears to mean one thing to the general population but has an additional, different or more specific resonance for a targeted subgroup.) – that can be easy to miss if you aren’t paying attention. Another example of this is the term “alt-right”, which is just a rebranding of white nationalism AKA racism. (See: AP Deems Term ‘Alt-Right’ A ‘Public-Relations Device’ That Enables Racism). Teaching teens how to really look at the media they consume has always been an important part of librarianship, but it is now taking on a new urgency. For an example of the influence on dog-whistles and the current rise of hate crimes, look no further than the current report by the Southern Poverty Law Center which reports a tremendous spike in post-election hate crimes.

Media Literacy 101




  1. A tweet string on media literacy.

    1) always review the source. Who? What? Why? Where? How?
    2) examine media bias
    3) examine personal bias



  2. 4) read entire piece
    5) after reading, write a real headline that summarizes article for self
    6) pay attention to what is AND isn't said


  3. 7) check for code words and euphemisms. Reread with real words in their place
    8) cross check with other reputable sources
    9) save for future


  4. 10) when talking w/others, be able to cite possibly multiple, reputable sources
    11) examine financial contributions of sources


  5. 12) to preserve freedom of press, pay for your news. Investigative journalists need to make a living. And we need them.


  6. 13) Differentiate between verifiable facts and stated opinions.
    14) Ask follow up questions! How? Why?


  7. 15) Put everything in context. Historical. Regional. Context matters.

 See Also:

Fake News and the Internet Shell Game – The New York Times

We Tracked Down A Fake-News Creator In The Suburbs

Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during election

Some Fake News Publishers Just Happen to Be Donald Trump’s

How to Spot Fake News – FactCheck.org

From Hate Speech To Fake News: The Facebook Content Crisis

How To Recognize A Fake News Story | The Huffington Post

A Scientific Approach To Distinguishing Real From Fake News

How Fake News Goes Viral: A Case Study

Should I Share This News on Social Media

This post was edited 11/29 to add an introductory paragraph and resources. What tips and resources would you add? Please share in the comment.

Middle School Monday: Professional Development. Not the Optional Kind.

A Crucial Strand of PD.

We have an early-release day coming up. Does your school have those? Where you get to squeeze the work of a whole school day with students into a shorter time frame and then stay for meetings and/or professional development? Just typing that out is making me a bit tired.

This year, our staff is breaking up into small groups to work together on a professional development ‘strand’ of our choice. Two of our ELA teachers asked me to lead a strand on diverse literature. How awesome is that?

I eagerly said yes. Not only is it a favorite subject—and my guiding framework for collection development—but, we all need to be engaging in PD on this topic. We all need to continually be learning more. Thus, our REFLECTIVE LITERATURE PD strand was born. In addition to our ELA teachers from each grade, we also count our Assistant Principal and one of our Social Studies teachers as members.

Of course, the need for reflective literature is part of a larger conversation. When we talk about having books in our schools that reflect our students, their lived experiences, and their interests, it’s necessary to situate that idea in a discussion on culturally relevant pedagogy, structural inequities, institutional racism, and white privilege.

As we engage in these discussions with school staff, it’s helpful to remember that we are all at different points on our own cultural competence journeys. I thought I’d share our four point plan for our first meeting as these are resources or ideas that you might enjoy for yourself or want to share.

One. The Danger of a Single Story.

In Chimamanda Adichie’s illuminating TED Talk, The Danger of a Single Story, she shares her own first experiences with reading to drive home the point how “impressionable and vulnerable we are in the face of a story, particularly as children.” She brings together insights on reading, writing, power, stereotypes and story. And the joy of reading books that reflect you. Even if you’ve seen this before, each time is a gift for us as viewers—new understandings, powerful ideas, and favorite quotes. It made an ideal kick-off to our discussion.

Two. Diversity in Children’s Books 2015 Infographic.

The CCBC infographic below—Diversity in Children’s Books 2015—appeared on Sarah Park Dahlen’s post, Picture This: Follow Up. [The powerful imagery draws on the Windows/Mirrors analogy for literature first written by Rudine Sims Bishop. If you’ve never read her original article, find it here.]

diversityinchildrensbooks2015_f

This infographic is talking strictly about QUANTITY. Debbie Reese’s post at A Close Look at CCBC’s 2015 Data breaks down the 0.9% for American Indians/First Nations even further—taking into account reviews and authors. It is a crucial complement to the raw publishing data.

We didn’t start with these numbers to depress us, but rather to galvanize us.

Three. Race: The Power of an Illusion.

After a quick walk-through of PBS’s informative site, Race: The Power of an Illusion, we broke apart to engage with the site on our own.

Four. #ownvoices.

We then talked about the importance and necessity of #ownvoices titles. I had curated a stack of novels from our library collection and gave EXTREMELY quick booktalks on the titles. We each then chose one to read for our next PD strand meeting. Below are some of the titles chosen.

picture-of-five-covers-ownvoices

I’m Julie Stivers at @BespokeLib and I get excited talking about reflective literature!