Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The #SVYALit Project: When Yes is Not Really Yes, Coercion is Not Consent (part 2)

The #SVYALit Project Index
The other night at karate, the sensei was passing out lanyards and the 5-year-old wanted one even though she wasn't a student there. So she went and asked if she could please have one. His reply was this, "if you give me a hug, I will give you one." I suddenly appeared from across the room, panicky. I realize he thought nothing of this simple statement, but it sets such a dangerous precedent. You see, he was withholding something she wanted and suggesting that the only way she could get it was to do something to him physically. He was, in fact, coercing a hug out of her. Sure, there's nothing wrong with a hug - when it's freely given. But coercion is not consent. In order for true consent to happen, it means both people have to have a choice in saying no and that they instead choose to say yes.

Coercion is defined as "the practice of persuading someone to do something by using force or threats" (Dictionary.com) Sexual coercion is "the act of being persuaded to have sex (or some other sexual activity) when you don't want to." (Sexual Coercion Resources, this is a really good resource that outlines sexual coercion) "Coercion is a tactic used by perpetrators to intimidate, trick, or force someone to have sex with them without physical force." (from the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center discussion Coercion and Consent)

is the act of being persuaded to have sex (or engage in other sexual activities) when you don't want to. - See more at: http://bandbacktogether.com/sexual-coercion-resources/#sthash.7IVMb3HE.dpuf
Sexual coercion is the act of being persuaded to have sex (or engage in other sexual activities) when you don't want to. - See more at: http://bandbacktogether.com/sexual-coercion-resources/#sthash.7IVMb3HE.dpuf
When we talk about sexual violence, the current cultural discussion suggests moving away from the idea that no means no to that of enthusiast consent, the idea that yes means yes. But the truth is, sometimes yes isn't always yes. Sometimes, that yes is born out of coercion and manipulation, sometimes it is born out of a threat. It may look like a yes to an outside observer, legally it may even hold up as a yes, but ethically it is not truly a yes. That's why when we talk about consent, it is defined as someone who is willing and able saying yes out of their own free will. Free will, self-sovereignty, is an important component of true consent.

Which brings us to Bleed Like Me by Christa Desir

The #SVYALit Project: Bleed Like Me and Emotional Coercion, a guest post by Christa Desir (part 1)

The other day a blogger asked me what I wanted people to walk away from BLEED LIKE ME thinking about. This is always a tricky question because it implies that authors have this big agenda when it comes to their fictional stories. We do not. We’re telling stories. And yet, at the same time, it is hard to interact with me in any way (personally or through my books) without knowing I have pretty strong opinions about feminism and being a girl/woman. The reality of BLM is that at its core, it asks the question of what we’re willing to suck up to be loved.

And I think this question is an important one, particularly for girls. Because from the very moment we start being able to interact with other humans, we learn that much of our value is determined by who we are to men. It’s tiny messages, things like “Now you put your finger through Mommy’s ring” in Pat the Bunny. Mommy is a wife, don’t you know? And it’s also big messages, the abundance of weddings at the end of Disney princess movies. The princesses being saved over and over again by dudes. Yes, there are outliers (Thank you, Paper Bag Princess), but these are written more as a point of contrast, an intentional paradigm shift, than as an example of diversity in the genre. And think about how prominent this message is in everything we see. Where are the guy cheerleaders on the sidelines for women’s basketball games? Where are the reality TV shows about househusbands? There is a reason the Bechdel test came about in the first place. We are a gender-biased culture.

So after being spoon-fed this diet of bias as a child, it is certainly no wonder that so much of a straight teen girl’s life is spent worrying about/craving/obsessing over, etc. boyfriends. Do guys want this too? Of course. But their status, who they are as people, does not seem to hinge on their relationship (or lack of relationship) in quite the same way as girls.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Middle Grade Monday - Have I told you lately that I love you? (A collaborative book list, eventually.)

Middle grade students are a special breed. The people I know who work with them are a dedicated bunch, full of a deep affection for this age and all of it's attendant terrors and triumphs. Students need to see this affection in the books they read and in the teachers they know. I do sometimes wonder how there are enough professional educators who enjoy working with them to staff the schools. Which is not to say that I don't enjoy them. As I recently tweeted to our newest blogger, Amanda,

For those of you from other areas of the country, 'pinch their heads off' is a southern expression of exasperated affection. I'm sure any of you who work with (or have your own) tweens know what I'm talking about, but I thought I'd give you my favorite example from today.

At the beginning of each school year, I cover basic library procedures with all of my students. We discuss where everything is located, how to find what you're looking for, and how to treat it. As a part of this, I explain how to find and use the most magical of library equipment - the bookmark. I send out for free bookmarks from companies and the federal government. I create bookmarks highlighting lists of books, library programs, school wide reading initiatives, etc. I encourage the students to take as many as they need - they're free, I'll get more!

So when I see this:

I feel justified in my exasperated affection. To make lemonade out of lemons, I made this:
That was a long explanation for a book list. Sorry. Here are all the titles I can remember which illustrate the genuine affection middle grade teachers have for their students:

  • Frindle by Andrew Clements
  • Liar and Spy by Rebecca Stead
  • Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
  • Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick
Please chime in through the comments section to add your favorites.

Banned Books Week 2014

If you were to visit the Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County (in Ohio) and ask to read their board minutes, you would find my name in there twice. The second time is when I left for a new job and they passed a proclamation in my honor regarding how I had helped to start their YA services program. But the first time . . . well, that was when a patron went all the way to the board to complain about my Banned Books Week display. It was offensive she said because of course we should be censoring books - that's how we protect our children.

The thing is, I don't necessarily agree that our children need protecting. I think that they need empowering and equipping. I think that they need the tools to live in this world full of people who are different then them, who think differently then them. That is one of the hallmarks of freedom, intellectual freedom. I think that they need the tools to help them develop empathy and compassion, which is something that story can help us do. Recent research has indicated that reading Harry Potter, for example, makes for very compassionate kids. That's a good goal.

But more importantly, those very people who want to censor books because they say it is protecting kids, they need to realize that many of our kids are actually living those stories. Those books help give those kids a voice. If we censor their stories, we are sending messages that shame them and keep them silent. But if we read stories of lives that seem almost exactly like theirs - what an empowering moment that can be for them. Story can take that which hides in the dark and shine a light on it.

So when my name appeared in the board minutes at the PLMVKC, you should know that the board made the right call and the Banned Books Week display remained. Because while every librarian supports your right to raise your children as you want, what we don't support is the right for you to put your personal views and opinions on children that are not your own. One day this summer The Tween came home crying from a friend's house. You see, she had called and asked if she could watch a movie - a horror movie - and I said no. So instead of choosing another movie, her friends asked her to go sit in the bathroom for an hour or so while they watched it. Instead, she just came home. That's how this works, I decide for my children and you decide for yours. And that's why Banned Books Week exists, to remind us all that there are those who would still want to censor books, which is a very bad thing. Because those who control the flow of information can control the world, which is why I - and librarians like me - support intellectual freedom. And intellectual freedom demands that we be willing to allow those books that we might personally find offensive to co-exist with those books that we readily embrace.  Because when we talk about censorship our first question should always be: who gets to be the censor? Chances are it's not going to be you.

So in honor of our freedom to read, here are some previous Banned Books Week posts at TLT:

A Banned Books Week Primer  

Teen Fiction Is . . . too dark?

Annie On My Mind and On My Banned Books Week Calendar 

The Giver by Lois Lowry - a guest post by Elsa Ouvrard-Prettol  

The Harry Potter Series - a guest post by Geri Diorio   

An important Banned Books Week read - The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa 

Considering throwing our your materials challenge form?

When the censorship comes from inside the building 

An anonymous letter to those who would ban Eleanor and Park

Redefining the 3 R's for Banned Books Week

This one time, at Banned camp . . . (An adventure of Super Librarian for Banned Books Week)

Dirty Little Library Secrets: We forgot to tell the staff not to ban the books

Amy speaks: Pretty Amy's censorship uncensored (a guest post by Lisa Burstein)

Banned Books Week Roundup: Read In, Speak Out for Libraries!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Sunday Reflections: Why I Care About Kate Middleton's Pregnancy, reflections on HG

I tried to hide from the news that Kate Middleton was pregnant. I tried to hide from all of the press. Sometimes I want to put my head in the sand and pretend that Hypermesis Gravidarum, a severe pregnancy illness, does not exist, or that I am somehow so far removed from it now that it can no longer haunt me.

But haunt me it does.

This week I got sick. So I took to my bed and missed a couple more days of my kids lives. I have missed far too many.

When she was 6, I had to have a friend take The Tween trick or treating. I lay in bed, devastated that I was losing yet another memory, another moment of her life as I tried to bring her baby sister into this world.

You see, because of Hyperemesis Gravidarum I had already missed almost 2 years of the Tween's life. I spent them in the bathroom, vomiting, on the stairs, passing out, in the hospital, being fed by an IV, and in my bed, trying not to lose another baby. I had already lost one - and almost my life - and that was a devastating experience. And this pregnancy, Thing 2's pregnancy, was in jeopardy from the get go.

Early in the pregnancy, I began bleeding. At the end of my second pregnancy, the one where my baby died and I almost did, I had finally found out the name for what was happening to me: Hypermesis Gravidarum, or HG. Quite literally, HG means excessive vomiting of pregnancy. Not much is known about it, except that it is genetic and possibly auto-immune. And unlike regular morning sickness, HG can be deadly. So with this new pregnancy, we were prepared. Or, at least, we thought we were. We had a new doctor. We had an aggressive plan. We had hope. But then one day, some bright spots of red came to dash those hopes.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Friday Finds - September 19, 2014

This Week at TLT

Sunday Reflections: That time I had to explain to The Tween why a kid at her school was beaten to death by a parent, reflections on violence

Book Review: Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick

Middle Grade Monday: Let's Talk About Sex

Book Reviews: Rethinking Normal: A Memoir in Transition by Katie Rain Hill and Some Assembly Required: The Not-So-Secret Life of a Transgender Teen by Arin Andrews

Take 5: Doing Time, by Robin

Hello Kitty Craft Books

Self Directed and Free Range Programming

Blog Tour and Giveaway - Firebug by Lish McBride

Around the Web

Author Beth Kephart talks about honest, relevant fiction. 

Is adolescence getting longer?

Want an illustration of the vast and ever-growing yawning chasm between GDP and median income? Here you go.

Alert! New A.S. King novel on the horizon! This is not a drill! You will also see in this rights report that #SVYALit Project awesomesauce and YA author extraordinaire Christa Desir has also sold her next novel, Twelve.

And finally, the 2014 Cybils judges have been announced and our own Karen Jensen will be judging in the first rounds of the YA Speculative Fiction category.

TPiB: Self Directed and Free Range Program Ideas

Not all teen programming has to be a come to the library at this time and place and do this activity type of an event. Sometimes, we can put together programming where teens participate in their own time. Many libraries call this "passive programming", but thanks to the brilliance of someone at a webinar I once attended (and I'm sorry I don't know who you are), I have transitioned from calling them passive programs to "self-directed programs." And my co-author and co-blogger Heather Booth refers to them at times as Free Range Programs. (See The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services pages 84-85). The benefit is that these types of programs can last for a longer period of time, and without the strict time constraints you can sometimes get not only more, but different participation because it makes it easier for your over-scheduled teens to participate since they can do so in a bigger time window.

So here are some Self Directed and Free Range Program Ideas

1. #3wordbooktalk

The #3wordbooktalk is easy, fun, and it allows you to tap into social media. I came up with this idea at a teen book festival after Victoria Scott described her books using only 3 words. It's such a challenge, but a fun one. You can find out more about this here and here. We're actually getting ready to do this as our Teen Read Week activity and I'm super excited.

2. 6 Second Booktalk

A Vine video is exactly 6 seconds. Can you record a 6 second booktalk? As an example, here's Megan Bannen sharing a 6 second booktalk for We Were Liars by E. Lockhart (be warned, there be spoilers!) : http://elockhartbooks.tumblr.com/post/93306712319/6-second-book-talk-for-we-were-liars-by-e

Using Vine to do a 6 second booktalk gets teens thinking creativity, using tech, and, again, it taps into current social media trends.

3. Scratch Off Tickets

My co-worker found this fun idea and we are using it to hand out prizes for Teen Read Week. It's like creating a lottery ticket, but instead of money we are taking an inventory of all our left over prizes from previous events and teens will get what they get in this really fun way.

4. Book Jar

Don't know what book to read next? Stick your hand in the book jar and see what title is recommended by the luck of the draw. Heather has mentioned this one before, but it's a fun one. Rincey Reads has a DIY tutorial on YouTube.

5. Book Speed Dating

Way back in 2012 Stephanie Wilkes shared her book speed dating program with us. You can revisit it here. And here's a look at the form she put together that you can use as a model to make your own. Have fun with it!

And now it's your turn! Share your favorite self-directed and free range programming ideas in the comments. I'm looking for my next fun program.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Blog Tour and Giveaway - Firebug by Lish McBride

We are so pleased to be a stop on Lish McBride's Blog Tour for her upcoming novel Firebug! In case you missed it, you can read my review of it here. (OMG, you guys, dream. come. true.)

Firebug will be available next Tuesday, September 23! Lish joins us today to answer some very silly and somewhat personal questions that have been weighing heavily on my mind...

Congratulations on the new baby! Are there any books you got so sick of reading to your first baby that you're planning on hiding them before this one is old enough to ask for them?
Thanks! He’s certainly been a dramatic little guy so far!
As for reading material, no—we get rid of those books as soon as the baby turns around. And for the new ones we get, well, we’ll ask our ten year old to read those. You know, until he catches on. I did read Goodnight, Moon so many times I memorized it, though. It always makes me think of the Simpsons where they had Christopher Walken reading it. 

I love it when you post about the bookstore on Twitter! Describe the most interesting customer interaction you've had at the bookstore. Or, if you're not allowed to do that, what item is most frequently stolen from the bookstore?

We get a lot of great people in the bookstore. For those that haven’t been there, the idea behind Third Place Books is centered on one of Ray Oldenburg’s essays where he states that the first place is home, the second place is work, and the third place is community. So a large part of the bookstore is surrounded by this giant commons area where people can eat, knit, play board games, and meet up for language groups. A lot goes on there. The downside is…sometimes you see an odd side of people. I’ve seen some really weird stuff there. Really weird. Tales I probably shouldn’t tell. Let’s just say I’ve seen the cops a great deal for being in such a nice neighborhood and working in a bookstore. Personally, though, I’ve had ladies start randomly running their hands through my hair as I walk them to a section, and I had to stop wearing my name tag for a while because I got tired of people asking me if my name is short for “delicious.” (It’s not.)

I’ve seen topless guys shaving (and singing) in the men’s bathroom, there’s a lady who really likes our bear statue (she brings it presents) and I watched a guy OD once. That was sad. As for stuff getting stolen, I’m not sure we have a top item. Art books get stolen a lot, as does Graphica, which is one of my sections. Inventory is always off there.

Other than that, just normal bookstore stuff—like that time a customer wouldn’t believe me that the book she needed to get her daughter for school was in the Science Fiction/Fantasy section. She kept telling me, “No, no—it’s a classic. She needs it for school.” And I had to keep saying, “Yes, I know. It’s a popular book for High School English classes. Trust me, it’s a classic. You should read it when your daughter is finished with it. There are a lot of classics in that section.” After the third round of that, and her thinking that maybe she had the wrong book, she finally said, “Are you sure? And it’s in Science Fiction?” Then I just walked her back and handed her the book and cried a little inside.
The book was Fahrenheit 451 by Bradbury.

Do you like to travel? You get to do an author event anywhere in the world - where do you choose to go?

I do! Not a huge fan of planes, but I like going to all different kinds of places. If I could chose, I’d like to go back to either Ireland or Scotland. Love those countries.

You discover you are a were creature - what do you become? (Bonus - as this were creature, what is your most powerful ability?)

I’d become Keanu Reeves, because I think he’s my spirit animal. No, not really. I mean, I love Keanu, but he’s not an animal. He’s a man. So…I don’t know. A raccoon? An otter? Something small that gets into stuff. Man Friend says I’m a lot like Stitch from Lilo and Stitch, because I communicate mostly through hissing and pointing, and I like to destroy things, but Stitch is a made up creature, so I probably can’t use that. 

My most powerful ability would be super rabies if I were a raccoon, or the ability to hold things in my tiny paws, which works for either. Also maybe to look so cute people would get distracted, and then I’d take their wallets.

You are haunted by the spirit of a historical figure. Who is it and why are they haunting you?

Probably Charles Dickens, because I always say I want to go back in time and punch him. And that’s not nice, so he’s demanding an apology. Touché, Dickens. I’m sorry I said I wanted to punch you. I need to learn to use my words instead of my fists.

What is your favorite breakfast food?

So breakfast is sort of my nemesis, because I have several favorite foods, so every time we got out to eat, it becomes this showdown between waffles, French toast, and eggs Benedict. That being said, if the restaurant happens to have vegetarian biscuits and gravy (that does NOT involve mushroom gravy, as I am not a lover of fungus) then I usually order that. It’s hard to do a good vegetarian biscuits and gravy. My mom can do it, even though she must think it’s somewhat of an abomination. Because really, it should involve actual sausage, but she kindly indulges her weirdo vegetarian daughter. (My mom has always been quite supportive of my vegetarian ways.) One thing I miss about living in the south is the abundance of biscuits. They don’t eat them as much up in Seattle, and it’s just not right.

Enter here for a chance to win a free hardcover copy of Firebug: 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Get started before it comes out - download the first 5 chapters here

For the record, I would also like to punch Dickens.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Hello Kitty Craft Books

You probably heard the news: Hello Kitty is not, in fact, a cat. My middle school heart is broken, my childhood now dramatically altered. I spent most of my middle school allowance on all those cute Hello Kitty thing-a-ma-jigs (technical term). It was an obsession. So I was super excited when I received two fun Hello Kitty books in the mail from Quirk Books (thank you!).

The Hello Kitty Baking Book: Recipes for Cookies, Cupcakes, Pies and More by Michele Chen Chock

"Do you know what a macaroon is?", The Tween is yelling at me from her bedroom. "What?", I inquire. She yells across the house again: "A macarons? It's a French thingie." (You can see where she gets her expansive vocabulary from.)

The book thief strikes again in my house. The Tween, seeing the Hello Kitty covers, had swiped the books off my table and she and a friend were looking through them in her room. One of the items in the cookbook is indeed a Hello Kitty French Macaron (page 18). There are also Hello Kitty ice cream sandwiches, cakes, cupcakes and a whole lot of yum. There is a brief introduction that discusses key ingredients and baking equipment, helpful for people like me who barely enter the kitchen. It turns out, unsalted butter is best for baking (I bet Robin knew this). There are two things I look for in a cookbook: 1) I want colored pictures of each and every recipe. 2) I want a detailed list of ingredients that's easy to find before I even start reading the recipe. And we have a winner because both of those things happen here. You have to buy a Hello Kitty cookie cutter for a couple of these recipes to work, but a brief Amazon search reveals that there are plenty to choose from and they are not overly expensive. There are also some templates that you need to photocopy and blow up to do a few of the recipes (and there are instructions for doing that).

Hello Kitty Crochet: Supercute Amigurumi Patterns for Sanrio Friends by Mei Li Lee

First things first: "In Japanese, Amigurumi refers to knitted or crocheted stuffed dolls." (page 5). This is a book that will help you make a ton of cute Hello Kitty and friends dolls. They are adorable. They are also way above my skill level it turns out. BUT, for those who can make these, best thing ever.

We begin with some front matter full of basic information, including a look at some of the common tools you'll need and an overview of some techniques you'll need to complete the projects. Then we have our instructions with full color pictures to show you what it is you're trying to make.

The Tween has now confiscated both of these books. Her and her friend are trying to learn to crochet because they want to make the Amigurumi dolls. This weekend we're making Hello Kitty French Macarons (The Tween is France obsessed). So these books are a win. The layout and design is perfect, the instructions seem easy to follow, and they have motivated us to try new things. Wish us luck!

As for Hello Kitty, apparently they are saying she is not literally a cat, but the cartoon personification of a cat. That's splitting hairs. It's not like my middle school self thought she was a literal cat, so I'm at peace with this news. All is right in the world once again. Go forth and craft.

Take 5: Doing Time, by Robin

Earlier this summer, on what may have been the most depressing car trip from North Carolina to Maryland ever, I managed to make it through the first 6 hours of the audiobook of Matt Taibi's The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap. It addresses, in great detail, the vastly different ways the U.S. criminal justice system deals with white collar crime versus 'street' crime. The part of the book I listened to examined the institution, consequences, and outcomes of the quota system established in the NYPD with the way the U.S. courts dealt with the highly irregular sale of Lehman Brothers that contributed greatly to the economic collapse in 2008. To summarize with a popular quote from the book, 
Poverty goes up. Crime goes down. The prison population doubles.
Fraud by the rich wipes out 40 percent of the world’s wealth. The rich get massively richer. No one goes to jail.
I had to stop listening at a little less than half way through, both because I was at the end of my journey and because I was so full of impotent rage and despair that I was worried about my own mental health. Fun fact about me - all the books I love to read all year, the fun, quirky novels with a slightly off-kilter sense of humor, are necessary to bring me back from the non fiction books and documentaries I consume each summer break. I might have a problem.

Similarly, I decided to celebrate my imminent return to school by viewing the last documentary in my Netflix summer queue, The House I Live In. It looks at the impact the U.S. 'War on Drugs' has had on our society as a whole, but most specifically on our marginalized and underrepresented people groups. It does a very good job of explaining how the 'War on Drugs' is similar in it's effects to many more famous historical efforts to remove 'distasteful' populations. 

One thing both of these had in common was their examination of the effects the criminal justice system in the United States has on the youth population, especially minority youth. It brought to mind several excellent YA books that we can share with our patrons to help them build empathy begin to think through these issues with compassion.

Walter Dean Myers' brilliant novel Monster is the seminal work on this topic. Told through alternating diary entries with a third person perspective screenplay, both written by the main character, Monster is the story of 15 year old Steve Harmon, on trial for his involvement in a robbery that resulted in murder. It is a must read for anyone who works with teens. 

Sadly, we lost Walter Dean Myers at the beginning of July. Although he has more than 100 books for young people to his credit, I know I am not alone in thinking it's not enough. He is gone too soon. I am thankful for the impact his books have had on the lives of the teens I serve.