Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Do You Know: Reflection Press & Children’s Books as a Radical Act, a Diversity Audit Resource

I’ve been working on updating my information and resources on doing a diversity audit when I stumbled upon another wonderful resource I want to make sure everyone is aware of: Reflection Press. Reflection Press has taken information from the 2017 CCBC U.S. publishing diversity data and turned it into a very well done inforgraphic. One of the things I really like about this infographic is that is specifically compares publication data to demographic data and gives concrete numbers for how many more titles would have to be published to reach the bare minimum of representation. This breakdown of the data suggests that another 1,421 books by indigenous and poc authors would be needed to bring the number of titles published anywhere close to population data. You can view the entire infographic and their analysis of the data at Reflection Press.

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One of the questions I get asked every time I do a presentation on a diversity audit is, what are the target goals I should meet in building diverse/inclusive collections? I don’t have concrete answers for this question in part because I don’t want to say we should buy x number of titles by own voices authors and this number only. For one, the question itself and any answer I could give would still presume that white is the default, which is a mindset that white librarians like myself must deconstruct, dismantle and move away from if we really want to work towards achieving the goal of equity and inclusion.

So while I don’t in any way want to imply that this number is the goal – in part because achieving the bare minimum from year to year will do very little to truly help us build inclusive collections because of the way that the white narrative has historically dominated publishing and the books that already sit on our shelves – I do think that this data helps to illustrate in concrete ways how under-represented marginalized groups are and how hard everyone, but especially white librarians like myself, have to work to truly build inclusive collections in which all of our patrons find themselves represented. Because indigenous and poc authors are so vastly under-represented, this means we have to be very aware and conscious of this information and work with intention to make sure we are finding and buying own voices books.

The CCBC data and the ongoing discussion around it makes very important distinctions in books about vs. books by, as do other advocates of inclusive collections like Lee and Low books. This difference is important because it discusses who gets to tell whose story. This shift towards #ownvoices authors is something that I hope all of us in librarianship who are tasked with collection development are paying attention to. It’s not enough in the year 2019 to make sure we have books that feature diverse characters, I think we also have to pay time and attention to detail as to whose books we are purchasing, what authors we are highlighting, and how we can make sure our teen readers can find not only characters that look like them and understand their world experiences, but authors as well.

More about Own Voices http://www.corinneduyvis.net/ownvoices/

Many years ago I used to work at a library that was close to a juvenile male detention facility, which I was frequently invited to visit. I would often ask a male staff member to go with me. When I was leaving that position and was training my replacement, we had a conversation about these visits and what I did. When I told her that I often took a male staff member with me she replied, “I’m not afraid, I don’t need to take a man with me.” To which I replied, “you misunderstand, I don’t take a male staff member with me because I’m afraid, I take one with me because these are young male teens who need to see positive male role models that read and talk about reading enthusiastically and talk about working in libraries. This isn’t about fear, it’s about modeling.” I didn’t have the words then that I have now, but even back then I was beginning to understand the hows and whys of representation and why it matters. Over the years, my understanding of this concept has grown, solidified, and I believe that we all – but again, especially white librarians like myself who make up approximately 80% of librarianship – need to do our due diligence in building inclusive collections. Representation matters and we have a responsibility to our communities to understand this.

As Reflection Press and others, like We Need Diverse Books and Lee and Low, point out: building a library collection and providing access to books is a radical act. We need to make sure we are doing it right and with intentionality.

Book Review: Our Year of Maybe by Rachel Lynn Solomon

Publisher’s description

our yearFrom the author of You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone comes a stunning contemporary novel that examines the complicated aftermath of a kidney transplant between best friends.

Aspiring choreographer Sophie Orenstein would do anything for Peter Rosenthal-Porter, who’s been on the kidney transplant list as long as she’s known him. Peter, a gifted pianist, is everything to Sophie: best friend, musical collaborator, secret crush. When she learns she’s a match, donating a kidney is an easy, obvious choice. She can’t help wondering if after the transplant, he’ll love her back the way she’s always wanted.

But Peter’s life post-transplant isn’t what either of them expected. Though he once had feelings for Sophie, too, he’s now drawn to Chase, the guitarist in a band that happens to be looking for a keyboardist. And while neglected parts of Sophie’s world are calling to her—dance opportunities, new friends, a sister and niece she barely knows—she longs for a now-distant Peter more than ever, growing increasingly bitter he doesn’t seem to feel the same connection.

Peter fears he’ll forever be indebted to her. Sophie isn’t sure who she is without him. Then one heartbreaking night twists their relationship into something neither of them recognizes, leading them to question their past, their future, and whether their friendship is even worth fighting for.

 

Amanda’s thoughts

I am a character-driven reader who honestly doesn’t care if there’s much plot beyond watching characters live out their daily lives and all of the complexities that come with that. Because that’s PLENTY of plot. Hinge the story on one thing, let them talk and feel and grow a lot, and I’m good. Much like with Solomon’s first book, I absolutely loved this book. Do yourself a favor and go read You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone if you haven’t already. Really great.

 

The summary up there does an adequate job of hitting all the major parts of the story, but does nothing to convey how deeply complicated Peter and Sophie’s relationship is. That’s what this story is about—a lifelong friendship, love (in its many forms), growth, pain, joy, and possibilities. Sophie has spent most of her life ignoring all other social interaction in favor of always being with Peter, her homeschooled neighbor with kidney disease. Now 18, she’s able to donate a kidney to Peter, which she of course does. He’s her best friend, she’s in love with him (a fact he doesn’t know), and she thinks that this will make them closer than ever. But, of course, life rarely goes as we wish it to. After the transplant and recovery time, Peter is able to go back to attending public school, where he has new experiences and meets new people, including intriguing musician Chase, who invites Peter to join his band. There’s a spark there between them; Peter is bisexual and out to his parents but no one else (including Sophie). Peter knows he really loves Sophie, but maybe not in that way. So much of his hesitation and thoughts revolve around wondering how their friendship would survive if they dated and then split up. Sophie confesses how she feels and suggests they just give it a try, but Peter can’t do that.

 

So maybe that’s it. They just stay friends, Peter starts to date Chase, that’s the journey. But it’s not that simple. Peter’s life becomes complicated by beginning to think about exploring religion, by his newfound freedom, and by his new friendships and having a boyfriend. Sophie makes friends with some of the girls on the dance team and begins to start to consider a life not entirely based around Peter and his plans. She grows closer with her younger sister, who lives at home with her toddler, and watches her parents reconnect with Peter’s parents after years of distance. And then, when Chase tells Peter he has got to figure out all his stuff with Sophie, things collapse after something that seems like it might finally solidify them as a couple helps drive them apart and make feelings clear.

 

Readers who like really complex relationships and lots of wonderful, well-developed secondary characters (and warm, supportive, interesting families) will love this book. It’s emotional and complicated and thoughtful. The characters grow and change in ways that are both realistic and unexpected. Great writing, unique characters, and a vivid Seattle setting all make this book one not to miss. With wide appeal, this is an easy one to recommend to teens who love realistic fiction. 

 

 

Review copy courtesy of Edelweiss 

ISBN-13: 9781481497763
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication date: 01/15/2019

Friday Finds: January 18, 2019

tltbutton3This Week at TLT

Thoughts on Collection Development

Cindy Crushes Programming: DIY Silhouette Mugs

Book Review: The Whispers by Greg Howard

Helping Patrons Find What They’re Looking for On Our Shelves

Sunday Reflections: My Wild and Weird YA Librarian Resume

Around the Web

Forget Screen Time Rules — Lean In To Parenting Your Wired Child, Author Says

2019 Walter Awards

Vaping has created teen nicotine addicts with few treatment options

Under Rainy Skies, Los Angeles Teachers Take To The Picket Lines

 

 

Thoughts on Collection Development

Having discussions about collection development and book selection, so I tweeted out some thoughts which I am gathering here so I have them in the future. Also, often non-library people don’t know what all happens behind the scenes to get those books into the local library and they may find this interesting.

Cindy Crushes Programming: DIY Silhouette Mugs

cindycrushesprogramming

Like most librarians, I get many ideas from Pinterest. When I saw a Disney castle mug made of decorative dots, I knew my teens would love it because Disney inspired crafts are very popular at my branch. Although we focused on Disney inspired silhouettes, any silhouette would work. In fact, you can turn your own photo into a silhouette using this tutorial.

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Supplies

  • Dollar Store Mugs
  • Paint Sharpies
  • Tape
  • A silhouette image for a template (these can be made on a cameo machine). You can also use large, removable stickers. For example, large letters for initials works well.

Here’s an entire Pinterest Board dedicated to Sharpie Mug Art

Steps

  1. Wash and dry the mugs
  2. Tape a silhouette to the mug. Make sure the tape is under the silhouette. You do not want to cover the part of the mug where you will paint with the tape.
  3. Make sure all paint sharpies are prepared and shaken so the paint will come out.
  4. Have teens test sharpies on a piece of paper so they are aware of how the paint will come out.
  5. Then have the teens start adding paint dots around the silhouette. Make sure they are very close together. If the cardstock is thick enough, it is fine to touch the cardstock with the paint pen. They need to make dots all around the image and as close to it as possible.
  6. This process can be done on both sides of the mug.
  7. Allow the paint to dry and then remove your silhouette template.
  8. To complete the mugs, you can instruct teens to bake the mugs at home in an oven for 30 minutes at about 350 degrees. However, this step is recommended but it is not necessary.

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While your mugs are drying, you can tie this craft into the great artistic technique known as pointillism. Artists like Georges Seurat and Paul Signac made entire masterpieces using nothing but dots and their artwork is still influencing artists of today. You can learn more about pointillism here.

Working Title/Artist: Study for A Sunday on La Grande JatteDepartment: Nineteenth-Century, Modern, and Contemporary ArtCulture/Period/Location: HB/TOA Date Code: Working Date: 1884 photography by mma, Digital File DT1026.tif retouched by film and media (jnc) 9_29_11

Final thoughts: This was a fun craft. It is a little bit more expensive than some other crafts because of the cost of paint sharpies. Couponing can help. As long as the teens are patient, they should get good results.

Editor’s Note: This would also work well on a blank canvas, a t-shirt, or even on a piece of card stock that you then frame.

Book Review: The Whispers by Greg Howard

Publisher’s description

whispersA middle grade debut that’s a heartrending coming-of-age tale, perfect for fans of Bridge to Terabithia and Counting By 7s.

Eleven-year-old Riley believes in the whispers, magical fairies that will grant you wishes if you leave them tributes. Riley has a lot of wishes. He wishes bullies at school would stop picking on him. He wishes Dylan, his 8th grade crush, liked him, and Riley wishes he would stop wetting the bed. But most of all, Riley wishes for his mom to come back home. She disappeared a few months ago, and Riley is determined to crack the case. He even meets with a detective, Frank, to go over his witness statement time and time again.

Frustrated with the lack of progress in the investigation, Riley decides to take matters into his own hands. So he goes on a camping trip with his friend Gary to find the whispers and ask them to bring his mom back home. But Riley doesn’t realize the trip will shake the foundation of everything that he believes in forever.

 

Amanda’s thoughts

11-year-old Riley’s mother always told him a story about wish-granting Whispers that live in the woods behind their South Carolina home. Just leave them a tribute, tell them your heart’s desire, and the Whispers, who know all the secrets in the universe, will take care of you. When Riley’s mother disappears, he desperately hopes this story isn’t just fiction.

 

Riley’s mom has been missing for four months when we meet Riley. He’s repeatedly interrogated by a detective but can’t come up with any other details to help them find her—Riley was at home playing, his mother was napping, there was a mysterious car nearby, then she was gone. They keep going over the details, and Riley has no hope that the detective, who he thinks is incompetent, will ever find his mom. It’s up to him. It’s up to the Whispers in the woods behind his house. They must know where his mom is.

 

Riley, a self-professed mama’s boy, has been miserable since she disappeared. He’s started wetting the bed (which he refers to as “my condition”), his father hardly acknowledges him, and the bullying and teasing he’s always faced at school has gotten worse. He has one good friend, biracial Gary, and a protector in an older neighbor, Dylan, but beyond that, is alone. He’s carrying the heavy weight of guilt, worried that he somehow drove his mother away with his “other condition,” which is how he refers to the fact that he likes boys. He thinks that he’s being punished for this.

 

Deciding to take things into his own hands, Riley heads into the woods with Gary and Gary’s younger brother to camp, hoping to maybe hear more from the Whispers, who have been speaking to him lately. They tell him that “she’s here.” Believing them, believing that she’s in those woods, Riley heads deeper into the forest. He offers the ultimate tribute to the Whispers, but will it be enough for them to reveal where she is?

 

Readers will tear through this story, with many questions along the way. Is Riley hiding something from the detective? Or from the reader? What’s really going on with his neighbor, Dylan? Who is Kenny from Kentucky? What happened in the shed? Does the unlikely helper he encounters in the woods know something about his mother? Everything is eventually revealed and answered, and what readers learn will likely send them scrambling back to reread the story through new eyes. A moving, thoughtful examination of trauma, grief, and the power of imagination. 

 

 

Review copy courtesy of the publisher

ISBN-13: 9780525517498
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date: 01/15/2019

Helping Patrons Find What They’re Looking for On Our Shelves

I would like to propose something that will be complete heresy to many people in library land. But my friends, some of our standard operating procedures make it really difficult for our patrons to walk up to a shelf, find what they want or discover something new, and walk away a satisfied customer. So I have some revolutionary ideas I would like to propose.

We have to stop shelving books in strict alphabetical order

In most libraries, we shelve books alphabetically by author’s last name and then alphabetically by title within each author group. In a lot of cases this works perfectly well, except when the author writes a series or multiple series. What I propose is this: on our spine labels, we put the name of each series and the book number and shelve accordingly. Thus, each author who writes a series would have the series shelved numerically and patron’s browsing the shelves would clearly see what the series is and what book number it is.

seriescutters

This is a patron based system that helps make each library visit successful and satisfying for our patrons. Take, for example, Jennifer Lynne Barnes who writes multiple (all very good) ya series. Here we see that among the various series one of those is The Naturals and by putting that information on the spine label and shelving them in order on the shelf, patrons can walk up to the shelf and find the next book in the series.

dcicons

My corollary to this is that we should also think about the ways in which we catalog certain series. For example, there is currently a DC Icons series which has various titles written by popular YA authors, which means that each book in the series would be shelves by author. However, if we shelved the books by series name, DC Icons, all the DC character books would be shelved together. This one in particular is tricky because some people might want to read Wonder Woman by Leigh Bardugo because they are Leigh Bardugo or Wonder Woman fans and not care about the other books in the series, while some readers will want to read the entire series. In this scenario I am still inclined to shelve all the titles together as DC Icons, but it’s possible that I am wrong.

On shelf merchandising

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Rows and rows and rows of full shelves can cause browsing fatigue. Even I, a librarian who loves YA, can walk up to a book shelf and start browsing for something new to read and I get overwhelmed by the sheer number of titles that stand before me. This is part of the reason that those in the know about marketing and merchandising suggest having your shelves no more than 1/2 to 2/3 full. But there is something else we can do on our shelves to help break up the shelves and prevent browsing fatigue:

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If you have multiple copies of titles, face those titles out right in the middle of the shelf. This works best with multiple copies because it allows a patron to take a copy and there are still a couple before it holding the row of books up. When scanning the shelves of books, having copies facing out in the middle of a row helps to break up that browsing fatigue and keeps the eye engaged.

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Putting complete series on a new book shelf display, not just the newest title

Most libraries have a new book display section or shelf where we pull and put a new book on display. Sometimes, however, that book is book 2 or 3 in a trilogy, which means a patron who walks up and browses the display sees book 2 or 3 and now has to try and find books 1 and 2 before they can start reading book 3. What if we just put the entire trilogy on a the display shelf with the new book so patrons could walk up to the display, see the series, and check it all out at once? Yes, some readers only want book 3. But if we want to make things as easy as possible for our patrons, pulling books 1 and 2 and putting them on display with book 3 will help them discover a new series and walk away satisfied patrons.

display1

Don’t get me wrong, all of these proposals require more diligence on our part when it comes to merchandising. It means we have to constantly go back into our shelves and straighten, fill holes, pull books and re-shelve them. And for most libraries, changing the spine labels to represent series would require a lot of work (and money) and re-training of staff. But if we are being truly patron centered and thinking about ways in which we can help our patrons walk away successfully with a satisfying user experience, I think the extra work is worth the effort. I think these are particularly good practices for teen readers who often want to browse the shelves but don’t always want to ask an adult staff person for help finding the next book in a series or for book recommendations. And let’s face it, even our best staff don’t know every book series order and this helps staff as well as patrons. Our goal is satisfied customers checking out books and I believe these practices help make that happen.

Sunday Reflections: My Wild and Weird YA Librarian Resume

I was recently speaking with a friend when it occurred to me she didn’t really have any idea what I did as a YA librarian. Spoiler alert: we do not get paid to sit around all day in quiet and read. At the same time, I was going through and cleaning up my “office” space, which is really the dining room, and started really going through a bunch of old notebooks and papers, which made me spiral down a black hole of statistics. Given the lowest numbers, I came up with the following:

yalibrarian

These are low estimates as they don’t account for the years where I had daily after school programs or the years that I had programs every Tuesday with anywhere from 50 to 110 teens in attendance. They don’t count the years I had a Teen MakerSpace that was open daily and on the weekends. It doesn’t include all the school visits and tours, outreach events, and more. It’s just a very basic beginning look of stats I put together to help my friend understand on a very basic level exactly what it is that I do and why it meant so much to me.

But then I got to thinking, if I was going to put together a realistic resume, I could include a lot of fun things.

For example, I can make or modify a t-shirt in no less than 22 ways.

shirt3

I can write my name in Lego form.

I can turn a toothbrush into a mini-robot.

bristlebot1

I can write an interactive murder mystery, from scratch.

I can make slime in no less than 10 ways.

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I can make my own board game.

I can turn a beloved TV or book character into a party theme, complete with character themed decorations and food.

shrinkydinks

I know more than 10 creative ways to use Shrinky Dink film.

I can turn trash into art.

robots22 - Copy

I know all the lyrics to High School Musical, Hamilton, and many other musicals.

I can turn a simple fingerprint into an epic button.

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I can make a stop animation movie using a variety of artifacts, including clay, Legos and paper art.

I can turn a blank canvas into art in now less than 20 ways.

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In short, the life of a YA librarian contains multitudes. I’ve done a lot of cool things, learned a lot, and feel really blessed. If we were to truly make a resume that showed everything we could do, it would require reams of paper and would be a pretty creative document.

What unique skills would you put on your resume? I think it would be fun to see what we’re all putting on our next resume.

Friday Finds: January 11, 2019

tltbutton3This Week at TLT

Book Review: Standing Up Against Hate: How Black Women in the Army Helped Change the Course of WWII by Mary Cronk Farrell

How History (and Librarians) Inspire Freedom of the Press, a guest post by Mary Cronk Farrell

DIY Book Trading Cards

Book Review: Black Enough: Stories of Being Young and Black in America edited by Ibi Zoboi

WRITING YOUR OWN STORY (SORT OF), a guest post by Greg Howard

Book Review: Heretics Anonymous by Katie Henry

Book Review: Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams, a teen perspective

Around the Web

Parkland Shooting Panel Report Calls For Arming Teachers, Chronicles Slew Of Blunders

2019 Video Game Release Schedule

12 of Our Most Anticipated Historical YA Fiction of 2019

Send Girls to See Captain Marvel

 

 

Book Review: Standing Up Against Hate: How Black Women in the Army Helped Change the Course of WWII by Mary Cronk Farrell

Publisher’s description

standingStanding Up Against Hate tells the stories of the African American women who enlisted in the newly formed Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) in World War II. They quickly discovered that they faced as many obstacles in the armed forces as they did in everyday life. However, they refused to back down. They interrupted careers and left family, friends, and loved ones to venture into unknown and sometimes dangerous territory. They survived racial prejudice and discrimination with dignity, succeeded in jobs women had never worked before, and made crucial contributions to the military war effort. The book centers around Charity Adams, who commanded the only black WAAC battalion sent overseas and became the highest ranking African American woman in the military by the end of the war. Along with Adams’s story are those of other black women who played a crucial role in integrating the armed forces. Their tales are both inspiring and heart-wrenching. The book includes a timeline, bibliography, and index.

 

Amanda’s thoughts

You know what I know literally nothing about? The role of black women in WWII. This book certainly changed that. Immensely readable and supported by a lot of photographs and newspaper clippings, this book will fill a gap in, I’m guessing, the knowledge of many. By the end of WWII, 6,520 black women served in the US Army. This book tells some of their stories.

 

The 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, an all-women and all-black group, was the only unit of black women allowed to serve overseas during WWII. These women sorted and redirected mail, an enormous undertaking given the amount of mail from home (often addressed with just the soldier’s first name, with no other identifying info) that had built up while soldiers were on the move. They know that no mail meant low morale for the soldiers, so their job was a vital one. Readers get some background on what the Jim Crow era was like in the South, with black people treated as second class citizens. When women began to be recruited for noncombat positions to free up men to fight, many thought there was no way they could handle it—many thought that women didn’t belong in the military and were really only fit to be housewives. This discrimination and doubt was doubly apparent when it came to accepting black women as part of the military. The women who enlisted, including Major Charity Adams, a former teacher (and one of only two black women to obtain the rank of Major in WWII), saw it as an opportunity. They went into the military expecting to face less segregation and discrimination, but found, perhaps unsurprisingly, that was not the case. Black women and white women were kept apart at the training center, a place where many of the black women expected to work as one corps, not two. Barriers did break down over time, in some ways, but the military was still a reflection of the world at large at the time. 

 

Though skilled, capable, and qualified, the black women found themselves being eliminated from certain opportunities and given the run around to keep them from applying. It was mainly white women who were allowed to go on for training for specialist positions while most black women were barred from any additional training. Often, black women were assigned menial labor tasks, especially in the South, where they were told that “Negroes know their place.” When some of the women refused, citing discrimination, they were threatened with court martial and jail time. In general, the black women throughout the various training camps and bases faced threats, verbal abuse, KKK intimidation, physical attacks, and police violence. In 1945, when they were overseas, they were welcomed in Birmingham and treated well. Free of the Jim Crow rules and racist attitudes of the US, they were treated with respect and welcomed into people’s homes. But, of course, attitudes within their own military didn’t magically transform, and the women of the 6888th continued to face scrutiny. In the fall of 1945, many black women reached the end of their tours of duty, returning home to the US to discrimination. Black soldiers weren’t given the hero’s welcome that white soldiers were. For the most part, they were just given their discharge papers and sent on their way. The final chapter reflects on what the women got out of their time in the military.

 

An author’s note looks at the continued racism and segregation in the US after WWII as well as military service by black men and women in the wars since then. A glossary, time line, notes on sources, and a select bibliography round out the text. Finished copies will include a forward by a black retired Major General.

 

This thorough look at the role black women played during WWII is an excellent addition to all collections. Well-written and incredibly engaging, with ample quotes from women involved in the 6888th and so many pictures, this book is highly recommended. 

 

Review copy courtesy of the publisher

ISBN-13: 9781419731600
Publisher: ABRAMS
Publication date: 01/08/2019