Thursday, April 17, 2014

On teachable moments and consent

Infographic from
The other day the Tween came out of the house wearing a pair of shorts from last summer, which means they were now both too short and too tight. It was a stark reminder to me that it was, once again, time to go shopping. These kids won't stop growing.

So the next day she came home and I proudly handed her two pairs of shorts that I had bought for her, because I love her. Because I saw her plight and I wanted to her to know that I think about her. My mistake, of course, was that I bought her clothes without her approval so of course she hated them. She tried on a pair and then took them right back off; she didn't like they way they felt. Which I understand, I often buy clothes and then decide I don't like the way they feel or fit or look.

But I was a little sad, because I had tried to do a nice thing and it didn't work out the way I planned. I will admit it, I moped.

Seeing my sad face, the Tween then said to me, "It's okay mom. I'll wear the shorts." And she got up to go put them on. BUT . . . this actually terrified me because it made me think about consent. Yes, consent. Stay with me here, I'll tie it all together in a moment.

When we talk about sex, consent is when one party willingly agrees to have sex with another party. Consent is willingly and enthusiastically saying yes. Consent must always be freely given. When we talk about rape, we always say that No means No. But when we talk about consent, it's not just the absence of no that matters, but the presence of YES. And that YES must be freely given - meaning there is no guilt, manipulation, threats or coercion.

What this means is that if party A asks for or tries to initiate sex and party B says no, that no needs to be respected. That doesn't mean Party A then begins to use guilt, manipulation, threats or coercion to ask for sex and try to change that no into a yes. It means that the no is respected and we move on to the next topic or part ways. It does NOT mean that you now begin a campaign to change my mind and turn my no into a reluctant yes.

And yet here my very sensitive daughter was agreeing to do something because she saw that her no made me sad. And alarm bells went off in my head because I thought, I don't want her to think that she can't say no. I don't want her to wear these shorts because she sees that I am sad and feels guilty. Because the truth is, being able to stand up for yourself can be a lot of little lessons that we learn throughout our life. And this moment, I thought, was one of those moments where I could remind the Tween that she has a right to say no and that she is not responsible for the feelings and emotions of others. So we had a conversation and it went like this:

Me: Tween, it's okay that you don't like the shorts. And it's okay that I am sad that you don't like the shorts. But that doesn't mean that you need to wear the shorts to make me happy because you are not responsible for my feelings or my happiness. You don't have to do things just because you think it would make me happy. You should never let anyone's feelings guilt you or manipulate you into doing something you don't want to do. You are allowed to your own opinions and feelings.  You're allowed to say no and to stand up for yourself.

Now she doesn't know that we were having a conversation that was laying down a foundation for consent, but I do. Because I looked at that moment and thought this is an important moment; this is a teachable moment where I can either teach her to stand up for herself or I can use guilt and manipulation to make her do what I want her to do knowing that it would set a dangerous precedent for others to do the same in the future.

Beware the Return of Point Horror

Scholastic has heard your pleas for more horror and is in the midst of releasing some cool, easy and very accessible horror with the Point Horror line. This relaunched line combines technology with horror to create some fun, fast reads. I was able to read these titles quickly and, being a horror fan, I found them entertaining. So if you are looking for some fun horror titles to catch even your reluctant readers, give these a try (each title clocks out around 250 pages). It definitely reminds me of the golden age not long ago when R. L. Stine and Christopher Pike lined the shelves and readers couldn't get enough of those scary reads.

Don't open the door. Don't answer your phone. And whatever you do, DON'T turn on your computer. . . .

Followers by Anna Davies

To tweet or not to tweet . . . what a deadly question.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

What's In a Name? Diversity and Discrimination in YA Lit

An interesting thing happened at TLA. I was waiting in line when a fellow librarian walked into the Simon and Schuster booth and was reading the backs of books to learn more about them. This person picked up the book PANIC by Sharon Draper. She started to read the back which begins, "Diamond and Mercedes . . . "

This librarian made what can only be described as an ick face and put the book down. She then went on a little rant about people naming book characters ridiculous names and why couldn't they just be named Mary or something.

Here's the thing- Sharon Draper is an amazing author. She also happens to be an African American author who writes about black characters. And in Panic, those characters happen to be named Mercedes and Diamond.

Christie's TLA in a Nutshell 
So I had an awesome time at the Texas Library Association last week. I got to meet Justin the Librarian and we talked and mutually fancrushed, and I got some wonderful ideas from his makerspace presentation that I'm implementing. He also reinforced what I've been thinking and saying (mumbling) all along:

 Karen and I got in tons and tons of author lines,
and I got hugs, HUGS I TELL YOU from Alex London!!!

We had dinner with Little, Brown Publishing and got to chat with Holly Brown, Kami Garcia, Paolo Bacigalupi and Libba Bray....

Did I mention Libba Bray?

 Karen had a moment...  I had mine later with Rae Carson, Alex London,
and Laini Taylor, to name a few....
 I then crashed the Maverick's 5th anniversary party on the advice of WONDER WOMAN ( @librariansti) who was at my panel in the morning, and while no one told me it was a fancy dress party, I actually found my people!

If you don't know, the Maverick Graphic Novel List is an annual list done by librarians across Texas to recommend graphic novels to librarians of ll areas of interest. Tuan (the Joker above) was one of the founders, and I am going to haunt him for an interview for our Comic Week coming up.

And I got to meet some of the wonderful teens on Thursday who got to take advantange of the Teen Day- it's an awesome program and if you can get your administration to do it, go for it. They get discounts, and a room just for them, and special speakers- and wonderful energy. (Otterbox rules!)

The exhibits wonderful, and I really enjoy how Texas does it's author signings- with the majority of them in numbered booths to the side in a specific area. I really wish those at ALA would take note- it makes things a lot easier in the aisles.

I took That Guy along with me as roadie and geek, and unfortunately he had a huge work deadline so he didn't get to meet as many authors as he would have liked, but we scrimped and saved and splurged on one big thing: the Dinner with an Author dinner, which was Zombie night. It was a wonderful event, and we got to hear passages read by Paolo Bacigalupi, John Campbell, Jonathan Maberry, Diana Rowland, and David Wellington. We got to hear about Maberry's adult works, and got introduced to Bacigalupi's zombie book that he wrote for his wife's class (makes me adore him even more), and I got to geek out on other authors.

 And That Guy got his picture taken with Jonathan Maberry afterwards.

I'm still trying to figure out how to turn my google doc of my presentation notes into something that will play nice with blogger- if I can't figure it out by Friday, then I'll just cut and paste. My presentation with Peter Coyl and David Levithan went well- the best takeaway was to be the best to your library, and don't cater to the censors.

And I took home two suitcases full of books and ARCs which I've yet to unpack, and I got to meet people I only talk to on twitter, and I met some wonderful new friends, so it was all good.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Take 5: My Favorite Friendships

I'm often struck by how beautifully written friendships are in YA. In fact, they are often much more important and detailed than any other personal relationships - dating or family. I suppose it makes sense, since the teen years are a time when we practice separating from our family and are only just learning how to date, that our friendships wold take on primary importance.

Far and away my favorite YA friendship is the one between (capital letters) Will Grayson and Tiny Cooper in John Green and David Levithan's co-authored Will Grayson, Will Grayson. It is beautiful and sincere and touching as well as hilarious and full of mischief. Will and Tiny are in high school but have been best friends since elementary. It's hard to explain what is so magical about this relationship. I can only sum it up by saying "Everyone should have a friend like Tiny Cooper." It's funny to me that this relationship is almost exclusively portrayed in the John Green written parts of the novel, since I think of David Levithan as being the master of the teenage friendship. Not that John Green is a slacker. Anyway, read it, will you please? Then come back and tell me your favorite part.

Take 5: 5 Reasons I Love THIS SIDE OF SALVATION by Jeri Smith-Ready

Back Cover Description: Everyone mourns differently. When his older brother was killed, David got angry. As in, fist-meets-someone-else’s-face furious. But his parents? They got religious. David’s still figuring out his relationship with a higher power, but there’s one thing he does know for sure: The closer he gets to new-girl Bailey, the better, brighter, happier, more he feels.

Then his parents start cutting all their worldly ties to prepare for the Rush, the divine moment when the faithful will be whisked off to Heaven…and they want David to do the same. David’s torn. There’s a big difference between living in the moment and giving up his best friend, varsity baseball, and Bailey—especially Bailey—in hope of salvation.

But when he comes home late from prom, and late for the Rush, to find that his parents have vanished, David is in more trouble than he ever could have imagined...

TSoS is told in alternating timelines: there is the countdown until the Rush (the Rapture event) and then the investigation afterwards to find David's parents.  We see how the family has come to this one moment in time and how they are managing to deal with it afterwards. I ended up really loving some things about this book and I am here to tell you why.

1. You Gotta Have Faith

Monday, April 14, 2014

Middle Grade Monday - Being the Change

I've been struggling a lot lately with the reality of the impact of poverty on the lives of the children I see every day. Many of my students come from homes where the adults work multiple jobs that add up to more than 40 hours a week each. But the pay they receive is so low, they are barely able to keep their families clothed and fed. Some of them need help to keep their electricity on.  There is no money for extras. There is certainly no money for field trips - especially not $80 field trips to Washington, D.C.

We do have a system for providing scholarships to some students. I requested one be provided for a student who is new to us this year when I found out her family was unable to pay. Normally, new eighth grade students slip by my radar, but this one is different. She visits the library almost every morning to get a book or two, bringing different friends most mornings, convincing them to check out books she has enjoyed. She greets me every morning, asks me how I am, is always extremely polite. I was deeply invested in this student having an opportunity to visit our nation's capitol. You can imagine my disappointment when I found out that, for this field trip, there would be no scholarships.

After contemplating this reality for a few moments, I decided to act on my impulse to provide the field trip fee myself. I do have the funds available at the moment (tax refund.) And honestly, nothing makes me feel more financially blessed than when I am able to do something like this. I feel confident that this student will take full advantage of the opportunity.

So, the next time I feel overwhelmed by the realities of living in a country where many employers ask themselves, "How little can I pay my employees so that I can maximize my profits?" rather than "How much can I pay my employees and still operate a thriving business?" I think I will dwell on what I can do, what is within my realm of control, instead. 

Out of the Closet and Onto the Shelves: A Tweetcap of Christie's GLBTQ Presentation at TLA

Christie presented at TLA this past week with Peter Coyl from Dallas Public Library and David Levithan. Here's a Tweetcap of their presentation.

#txla14 Come to room 202AB NOW to hear David Levithan, @mz_christie & @petercoyl discuss GLBT Lit
— TeenLibrarianToolbox(@TLT16) April 10, 2014

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sunday Reflections: A Tale of Two TLAs

I have always thought of the library as the great equalizer. As a librarian, I work ceaselessly to try and bridge many gaps that my patrons face in terms of access to information and resources and opportunities. And although I have worked at some very different libraries, I had not really thought a lot about the differences in meeting our patrons needs . . . until this past week.

This past week, I went to TLA, the Texas Library Association conference. A little over 7,000 librarians, authors and publishers were present - as well as just some good old fashioned readers, many of whom were teens. But let me back up and tell you about planning for TLA.

Due to a move for my husband's job, I moved to Texas a little over 2 years ago. I got a job working part-time at my current library system because as full-time staff leave, they are replacing them with part-time staff. This apparently is a trend as someone recently Tweeted a statistic that indicated that approximately 1/3 of professional - meaning degree holding - librarians are employed part-time. (Side note: so please consider this the next time you talk about poor people being lazy or stupid, lots of people out there holding degrees of various kinds are either un or under employed). As someone who is very passionate about libraries and teens and books, I knew I wanted to go to TLA - but I also knew it would be on my own very meager dime. So I was not able to sign up for the full conference experience. And I shared a hotel room with a great roommate in a part of town that we discovered the first night was probably not the best place to be walking through in the dark of night. In fact, every morning we loaded the shuttle bus that would pass under this magical lighted overpass that seemingly transport us into a different, magical world known as the convention center, but on the way we passed by some homeless people sleeping next to abandoned buildings and my heart ached.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Friday Finds - April 11, 2014

This Week at TLT

Sunday Reflection: Shelfie With Cardboard Boxes - In which Heather is an amazingly organized packer. Happy new house!

Politics and Sexual Violence in PLUS ONE, a guest post by author Elizabeth Fama (and a GIVEAWAY)

Middle Grade Monday - Upcoming Excitement!  In which I get excited about 3 upcoming titles from some of my favorite authors.

Take 5: Entries into Poetry - In which Heather is smart about easing teens into poetry.

The Relational Reading Revolution Revisited - Karen and Mindy McGinnis present at TLA on getting teens connected with authors through social media.

Book Review: Sekret by Lindsay Smith

Past is Prologue: Take 5 Historical Fictions for Dystopia Fans

Game Review: Star Fluxx - In which Christie gets her tweens and teens addicted to cards (in the good way.)

Top 5 Take-aways from ILEAD-USA - In which Heather goes to a really fascinating training and I'm not jealous at all.

Instagram Book Spine Poetry Mini Contest with The Library as Incubator Project

Previously at TLT

TPIB: Poetry and Writing Crafts

More Poetry Crafts!

Around the Web

TLA News! Karen got to meet Laurie Halse Anderson, and it was Epic! Also not jealous about this. Not at all.

Why Corporations Want Our Public Schools

In which I am amazed that 25 years later the teen stars of a movie don't see how much they were being manipulated. Also, yay for the 25th anniversary of one of my favorite movies! Also, I am old.

Everything in moderation. Even perseverance.

The importance of Owning Our Words from Kate Messner.