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Sunday Reflections: On Male Rage

Trigger Warning: Sexual Violence discussed. Also, I break my rule about cussing to make a point.


I was driving in my car listening to the Kavanaugh questioning when Kavanaugh began to speak. Soon after, I saw pictures and video of his testimony. My first thought was: I know this man.

Ask most women, and we know this man.

He is the father who quickly whips his belt out of the loops of his pants when he feels like a child is disrespecting him.

He is the teenage boy that calls you from the end of the street to let you know you stupid cuntwhorebitch that he knows that even though you turned him down for a date, he knows you went on a date and he knows who with and what time you left and what time you came back.

He is the teenage boy that tells you about his girlfriend that he loves then asks you to give him a blow job and calls you a stupid cuntwhorebitch when you refuse.

He is the college friend that says he’ll drive you to the study session and drives right past the place where you’re supposed to study and when you ask him why he is taking you to an abandoned industrial warehouse, he rages and froths at the mouth when you suggest he is anything but a good man.

He is the man waiting at the bus stop who gets up and follows you for blocks and when you call and ask for help, he calls you a stupid cuntwhorebitch.

He is the man at the Reference desk who raged because you refused to answer a personal question and made a complaint to the library board letting it be known that you are a stupid cuntwhorebitch who was rude and disrespectful.

He’s the man who won’t admit he is wrong, even when the evidence is right before his own eyes.

He’s the man who confuses fear for respect.

He’s the man who thinks retribution is justice.

He’s the man who thinks he’s entitled to the things that he wants whenever he wants them and on his own terms.

Rage is a weapon. It is a power move meant to intimidate and control.

But not all rage is unjustified. Jesus raged in the temple and threw over the tables of the money changers. This is one of the most commonly cited examples of justified rage.

I felt rage when my grandmother asked me to ignore my own abuse at the hands of a family member because he was a good man.

I felt rage when my daughter told me what a supposed friend had said to her about what she could and should do with him.

I felt rage every time a friend has called and asked me what to do because they just found out that their sons or daughters had been sexually abused.

I have felt rage.

I have felt rage often since our country elected an admitted sexual predator to office and I have felt rage often when I read yet another newspaper headline about a man found guilty of rape given zero to very little sentence.

The same people who are in the media trying to justify Kavanaugh’s rage have tried to discount female rage for years. Women, you see, are not allowed to feel rage. Serena Williams rages and she is vilified. The black mothers of black teenage boys shot far too young by the police that are supposed to protect them express rage and they are vilified. Women rage against sexual violence and we are vilified.

Not all rage is created equal.

We accept and excuse and justify male rage and it harms us all. The ways that we accept male rage and reject female rage are another example of toxic masculinity.

Men, we are told, are supposed to rage.

Women, we are told, are supposed to smile.

I was not smiling when I heard potential Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh rage. I was shaking in fear. Because I know that man. He’s not fair or balanced or impartial. He has shown us who he is. He has shown us what type of man he is and the truth is, he is exactly the type of man that the patriarchy wants to affirm for this nomination because he represents everything that they hold so dear.

After listening to him rage, there are calls today for women to be silent online. Some have chosen silence, but I am not. We have been silenced for far too long and I can no longer be silent.

I will rage.

I will rage for the past me who was silenced for so very long and for every other victim that has been forced to sit in silence.

I will rage so that any future victims will be able to seek justice and support without blame or ridicule or dismissal.

I will rage so that my daughters will know that it is not okay for a man to fly into a rage and call you a stupid cuntwhorebitch just because you tell him no.

I will rage until we no longer tolerate male rage and vilify female rage.

I will rage until we no longer need to rage because we consider men and women equal, until we have honest conversations about consent and sexual violence, and until I know that the people we elect to represent us are held to the highest of standards and respect and represent all Americans equally and thoughtfully.

Today is not that day and I am not silent.

Friday Finds: September 28, 2018

tltbutton3This Week at TLT

Post-it Note Reviews of Elementary and Middle Grade Books

Book Review: Dig by A. S. King, an important reflection on white privilege in YA literature

Book Review: 500 Words or Less by Juleah del Rosario

Things I Never Learned in Library School: Training Staff to Work with Transgender Teens

Sunday Reflections: It Was a Rough Week to be a Teenage Girl

Around the Web

Substantial racial stereotyping toward young children of color found among white adults who work with them

What About the Girls?

Meet Four Women of Color Who Are Revolutionizing Books for Young Readers

Assistant principal at Tennessee high school on leave after saying girls “ruin everything”



Post-it Note Reviews of Elementary and Middle Grade Books


Now that I work in an elementary library, I’m reading a lot more titles for younger readers. It’s been super interesting to me to see what the students (grades K-5) check out. I’ve spent so long completely in the world of YA and am glad for an opportunity to work with younger readers and to read all of the great picture books, chapter books, and middle grade books I’ve missed out on!

Post-It Note reviews are a great way to display books in your library or classroom, a way to let kids recommend their favorite titles without having to get up in front of everyone and do a book talk, and an easy way to offer a more personal recommendation than just the flap copy offers.

All summaries are from the publishers. Transcription of Post-it note review under the summary.





Soar by Joan Bauer

Newbery Honor winner Joan Bauer hits a home run with her newest protagonist, who always sees the positive side of any situation.

Jeremiah is not one to let anything keep him down. Starting with his adoption by computer genius Walt, Jeremiah has looked on his life as a series of lucky breaks. When a weak heart keeps him from playing his beloved baseball, Jeremiah appoints himself the team coach. When Walt has to move for another new assignment, Jeremiah sees it as a great chance to explore a new town. But no sooner do they arrive than a doping scandal is revealed and the town feels betrayed and disgraced. Jeremiah takes it as his personal mission to restore the town’s morale and help the teams bounce back and remember how to soar. Full of humor, heart, and baseball lore, Soar is Joan Bauer at her best.

(POST-IT SAYS: I usually love Joan Bauer, but this title lacked depth—characters felt like props and MC doesn’t feel nuanced. People who like “inspirational” unrelenting positivity and adult-sounding sixth graders may enjoy this. Ages 10-14)


Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar

From the author of the acclaimed bestseller 
Holes, winner of the Newbery Award and the National Book Award, comes Fuzzy Mud, a New York Times bestseller. 

Be careful. Your next step may be your last.

Fifth grader Tamaya Dhilwaddi and seventh grader Marshall Walsh have been walking to and from Woodridge Academy together since elementary school. But their routine is disrupted when bully Chad Hilligas challenges Marshall to a fight. To avoid the conflict, Marshall takes a shortcut home through the off-limits woods. Tamaya, unaware of the reason for the detour, reluctantly follows. They soon get lost. And then they find trouble. Bigger trouble than anyone could ever have imagined.

In the days and weeks that follow, the authorities and the U.S. Senate become involved, and what they uncover might affect the future of the world.

(POST-IT SAYS: This was great—fast-paced, super interesting, and filled with tension. The cautionary tale puts the characters in real peril. Readers will race through this suspenseful story. Ages 9-12)


Book Scavenger (Book Scavenger Series #1) by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman

For twelve-year-old Emily, the best thing about moving to San Francisco is that it’s the home city of her literary idol: Garrison Griswold, book publisher and creator of the online sensation Book Scavenger (a game where books are hidden in cities all over the country and clues to find them are revealed through puzzles). Upon her arrival, however, Emily learns that Griswold has been attacked and is now in a coma, and no one knows anything about the epic new game he had been poised to launch. Then Emily and her new friend James discover an odd book, which they come to believe is from Griswold himself, and might contain the only copy of his mysterious new game.

Racing against time, Emily and James rush from clue to clue, desperate to figure out the secret at the heart of Griswold’s new game—before those who attacked Griswold come after them too.


(POST-IT SAYS: An excellent addition to the field of puzzle-solving books. Suspend your disbelief and get caught up in the mystery, ciphers, literary allusions, and the journeys around San Francisco. Fun and satisfying. Books #2 and #3 are out, too. Ages 9-13)





Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson

Jacqueline Woodson is the 2018-2019 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature

Jacqueline Woodson’s first middle-grade novel since National Book Award winner Brown Girl Dreaming celebrates the healing that can occur when a group of students share their stories.

It all starts when six kids have to meet for a weekly chat—by themselves, with no adults to listen in. There, in the room they soon dub the ARTT Room (short for “A Room to Talk”), they discover it’s safe to talk about what’s bothering them—everything from Esteban’s father’s deportation and Haley’s father’s incarceration to Amari’s fears of racial profiling and Ashton’s adjustment to his changing family fortunes. When the six are together, they can express the feelings and fears they have to hide from the rest of the world. And together, they can grow braver and more ready for the rest of their lives.


(POST-IT SAYS: Beautiful. Amazing. Phenomenal. A deeply moving and compassionate look at politics and policies and how they affect children and families. A masterful story of community and friendship. Ages 10-14)




Tight by Torrey Maldonado

Tight: Lately, Bryan’s been feeling it in all kinds of ways . . .

Bryan knows what’s tight for him—reading comics, drawing superheroes, and hanging out with no drama. But drama is every day where he’s from, and that gets him tight, wound up.

And now Bryan’s friend Mike pressures him with ideas of fun that are crazy risky. At first, it’s a rush following Mike, hopping turnstiles, subway surfing, and getting into all kinds of trouble. But Bryan never really feels right acting so wrong, and drama really isn’t him. So which way will he go, especially when his dad tells him it’s better to be hard and feared than liked?

But if there’s one thing Bryan’s gotten from his comic heroes, it’s that he has power—to stand up for what he feels . . .

Torrey Maldonado delivers a fast-paced, insightful, dynamic story capturing urban community life. Readers will connect with Bryan’s journey as he navigates a tough world with a heartfelt desire for a different life.


(POST-IT SAYS: An emotionally honest look at friendship, choices, and the pressure to be seen as tough. Complex characters and tense situations drive this story about identity, family, and positive choices/personal responsibility. Ages 10-14)





Sweet Senior Pups by Kama Einhorn

Photo-packed series explores the stories and science behind animal sanctuaries. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? Visit the Senior Dog Sanctuary of Maryland to meet three very special old dogs—Mino, Buffy, and Jack—who are ready and waiting to make new families very happy. Includes full-color photos, maps, and graphics throughout.

At many animal shelters, older pets are often overlooked in favor of puppies and kittens. But you’ll find only dogs over the age of six at the Senior Dog Sanctuary of Maryland. Mino, Jack, and Buffy are three dog roommates at the SDS, each having a unique personality but all of them in need of a new home. For every dog at SDS, the road to release is a different one but always features rescue, recovery, rehabilitation, and ultimately release. Join Mino as he shares stories about Buffy, Jack, and the SDS staff they get ready for their forever families. Other books in the photo-packed Sanctuary Stories series include Welcome, Wombat.


(POST-IT SAYS: Of course I recommend this book about senior dogs and animal sanctuaries! Lots of information about rescue, health, rehabilitation, building trust, new homes, and even death. Sweet stories of new homes and happiness are mixed in throughout. Ages 7-10)

My senior dogs, including rescue Oscar, approve of this book!




Kristy’s Big Day: Full-Color Edition (The Baby-Sitters Club Graphix Series #6) by Gale Galligan

Kristy’s mom is getting married, and Kristy is going to be a bridesmaid! The only problem? Fourteen kids are coming to town for the wedding. Kristy, Claudia, Mary Anne, Stacey, Dawn, and Mallory think they can handle it, but that’s before they spend a week changing diapers, stopping arguments, solving mix-ups, and planning activities. It’s the biggest job the BSC has ever had, but they’ll work together to make sure Kristy’s big day is a success!

(POST-IT SAYS: Can’t go wrong with this series. For some reason, this title’s details really stuck in my mind for 30ish years. Fun to see it come to life. I was wary of the series losing Raina’s art, but the books remain great. Ages 8-12)


Click by Kayla Miller

For fans of Smile and Real Friends comes a debut graphic novel about friendship and finding where you “click” in middle school.

Olive wants to get in on the act . . .
. . . Any act!

Olive “clicks” with everyone in the fifth grade—until one day she doesn’t. When a school variety show leaves Olive stranded without an act to join, she begins to panic, wondering why all her friends have already formed their own groups . . . without her. With the performance drawing closer by the minute, will Olive be able to find her own place in the show before the curtain comes up?Author-illustrator Kayla Miller has woven together a heartfelt and insightful story about navigating friendships, leaning on family, and learning to take the stage in the most important role of all.

(POST-IT SAYS: Absolutely charming and great. A really heartfelt and positive exploration of friendship, fitting in, and standing out. Fortunately, it looks like this is the first in a series about Olive’s adventures. Ages 8-12)

Book Review: Dig by A. S. King, an important reflection on white privilege in YA literature

digPublisher’s Book Description:

Acclaimed master of the YA novel A. S. King’s eleventh book is a surreal and searing dive into the tangled secrets of an upper-middle-class white family in suburban Pennsylvania and the terrible cost the family’s children pay to maintain the family name.

The Shoveler, the Freak, CanIHelpYou?, Loretta the Flea-Circus Ring Mistress, and First-Class Malcolm. These are the five teenagers lost in the Hemmings family’s maze of tangled secrets. Only a generation removed from being simple Pennsylvania potato farmers, Gottfried and Marla Hemmings managed to trade digging spuds for developing subdivisions and now sit atop a seven-figure bank account, wealth they’ve declined to pass on to their adult children or their teenage grand children. “Because we want them to thrive,” Marla always says. What does thriving look like? Like carrying a snow shovel everywhere. Like selling pot at the Arby’s drive-thru window. Like a first class ticket to Jamiaca between cancer treatments. Like a flea-circus in a doublewide. Like the GPS coordinates to a mound of dirt in a New Jersey forest. As the rot just beneath the surface of the Hemmings precious white suburban respectability begins to spread, the far flung grand children gradually find their ways back to each other, just in time to uncover the terrible cost of maintaining the family name.

With her inimitable surrealism and insight into teenage experience, A.S. King explores how a corrosive culture of polite, affluent white supremacy tears a family apart and how one determined generation can save themselves.

This book will be released in March 2019. I read an ARC that I received via the publisher. ISBN: 9781101994917

Karen’s Thoughts:

I just finished reading an ARC of DIG by A. S. King and my mind is blown, as it always is. And I mean I just literally finished reading it. I closed the pages and had to sit down at my computer and talk about this book. It’s a little early to be talking about this book, but talk about it I must. No spoilers.

A. S. King is one of those authors that adults always say teens aren’t reading, in part because they’re always underestimating teens. They say this at the same time that they assign things in class like Kafka’s Metamorphosis or Shakespeare or Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. There is some real disconnect in the way that adults talk about teens. They often under-estimate them and have zero to little faith in them. Teens know this; they know that many of the adults who claim to love them or value them or be in the process of educating them are doing very few of those things because they don’t actually respect teens. They know this and they resent it. Yes, not all adults and yes not all teens, but on the whole, that’s been the history of adolescence. Adults complain about teens even though they did the same things as teens and we underestimate them even though we resented the ways adults underestimated us as teens and we keep repeating this vicious cycle.

Make no mistake, A. S. King writes seriously weird and trippy books. I mentioned Metamorphosis above for a reason, King does not write straightforward literature. She takes a trippy, winding path with allusions and metaphors and surrealism that takes a while to get to the point but when you get there, your mind is both blown and sure that you missed a lot of stuff along the way. You could read an A. S. King book over and over again and find something new and different every time. And you will probably walk away sure that you didn’t fully get it every time. It’s that type of literature. It’s bold and confusing and maddening and dark yet inspiring and profound and moving.

If I’m being honest, I will tell you that although I name A. S. King as one of my favorite authors, and this is a true fact, I find her books difficult to begin. It takes a while to get into the rhythm of each book, to find out what’s knitting this particular book together, to suss out what’s real and what’s not. This is true for Dig as well, it takes a while to figure out who is who and what is going on. This is part of the reason, I think, that adults think that King doesn’t write YA. And yet King really gets into the heart of what it means to be a teenager in current times. She writes teens more authentically then some of the bestselling YA authors. She isn’t an adult writing YA for the adults that buy YA, she is an adult writing YA for the teens that read YA because she cares about teenagers and the teenage experience. Teen readers feel this in the pages and relate, even when adult readers find the books unrelatable or unapproachable. When I read the thoughts and conversations that the teens have in this book, they correlate to what I am hearing my own teens talk about and in the ways that they talk about them. It’s an authentic voice captured in radically unique ways.

Now I’m writing this and worried A. S. King will stumble across this post and wonder why I keep saying that adults think that teens don’t like her work but the truth is, many YA librarians have said this to me. Every time I post about A. S. King I get emails and replies, “yes but, teens don’t really like her work” or “it’s too intellectual for teens”. I find that to be a worrisome thing for YA librarians to say, because it means from the get go we are underestimating the very people we serve.

Dig is a multi-generational novel that brings together a host of characters and talks about things like racism, abuse, family dysfunction and mental health. It introduces a bunch of incredibly weird characters who seemingly have nothing to do with a cohesive story and then it just blows your mind in the way all the pieces are woven together. Once that final piece of the puzzle is put into place, you see the complete picture and you are stunned. In some ways, this is one of her most accessible books because the topics these teens are facing are so relevant to current events and discussions. Also, some of the more surreal elements are rooted in reality in ways that ultimately make sense to the story. The part of the story that made the least amount of sense to me, that was the most confusing, became an important element of the story that really works. That’s some good storytelling.

A. S. King is also one of the growing number of authors who seek to include frank discussions about sex, sexuality and sexual abuse in their novels because they recognize that this is a very real part of the teenage years. Teens think about sex. They’re trying to figure it out. A lot of them are doing it. This is one of the few YA novels that talks frankly not only about masturbation, but about female masturbation. King’s honesty resonates with teen readers because they feel heard, valued, respected and understood. King acknowledges the truth of adolescence, which makes her books that much more authentic to teens as readers.

I also like that in Dig King shares a lot about the adults in these teens’ lives. They are real, raw, human and flawed, but they are there and an important part of the story. This is, ultimately, a story about family and dysfunction and secrets and finding your own way – of digging yourself out of your genes and your family history – and it is profound. That’s what all teenagers are trying to do, right? Trying to find their own place in this world, to find their own voice, to set their own path, to break free of outside expectations and desires to truly find a sense of self and future. That’s what these teens are doing, and that’s why teen readers will relate.

Some of the topics in this story that are touched on include: racism, poverty, domestic violence, death and grief, secrets, the long lasting effects of trauma, teenage pregnancy, family dynamics and dysfunction, and depression and anxiety. Just to name a few. King really asks the readers to consider things like privilege, especially economic and white privilege. Characters often talk about race and bias and privilege and I think it is valuable and needed, but also handled well in the context of this novel. Even some of the characters who may consider themselves “woke” have personal revelations that indicate that they may not be as “woke” as they seem. I hate to keep using the word profound, but I found it it to be truly profound. As someone who is also wrestling with white privilege and what it means to live in our world in 2018 and how to be a good ally, it is nice to read a book that asks me to think about these issues in real and honest ways.

I keep a journal where I write down a lot of my favorite quotes from books and I marked a ton of quotes that I will be adding to that journal. Dig doesn’t come out until March of 2019 so it’s far too early to share them with you, but I wish that I could. There are some very moving reflections on the nature of self and family that I will be reflecting on for a very long time. The Teen is currently reading this book and I’ll let you know what she thinks once she finishes.

At the end of the day, this is a book I hope that everyone will read as it genuinely asks the reader to reflect on the concept of white privilege and it does not shy away from that discussion. What other books on this topic would you recommend?

Book Review: 500 Words or Less by Juleah del Rosario

Publisher’s description

500 words or lessA high school senior attempts to salvage her reputation among her Ivy League–obsessed classmates by writing their college admissions essays and in the process learns big truths about herself in this mesmerizing debut novel-in-verse, perfect for fans of Gayle Forman and Sonya Sones.

Nic Chen refuses to spend her senior year branded as the girl who cheated on her charismatic and lovable boyfriend. To redefine her reputation among her Ivy League–obsessed classmates, Nic begins writing their college admissions essays.

But the more essays Nic writes for other people, the less sure she becomes of herself, the kind of person she is, and whether her moral compass even points north anymore.

Provocative, brilliant, and achingly honest, 500 Words or Less explores the heartbreak and hope that marks the search for your truest self.



Amanda’s thoughts

There is something so satisfying about a novel in verse that is done well. To be honest, they don’t often work for me. I find that my eyes want to skim the lines and I finish in record time, which I like, but feel like I don’t retain a whole lot of what I read. Or, I feel like the story isn’t served well by the structure—like I want more, but can’t get it in this format. Thankfully, neither was necessarily (more on that later) true with this title.


The summary up there does a fairly tidy job of giving you the plot. The plot is a lot more of an internal journey than anything, which is fine by me (for the millionth time I’ll say it—go ahead and close people into a room to talk or put me inside someone’s head while they just think and I’m perfectly happy to keep reading). Biracial Nic Chen is at the top of her class. She’s smart, involved, and has applied early decision to Princeton, but she feels like she’s still not perfect enough for her dad and stepmom. She’s also constantly whispered about at school, her locker defaced with the word “whore” on it, feeling totally lost without her lifelong friendships with Jordan and Ben—friendships that fell apart when Jordan and Nic, who was dating Ben, slept together. But Jordan doesn’t seem to be suffering the same fallout as Nic—he’s still adored, no one is writing slurs on his locker, and he is still best friends with Ben, who no longer has anything to do with Nic. It’s all fairly lonely for Nic, who doesn’t appear to have many friends. It’s only because she starts writing college application essays for her classmates that she starts to interact more and realize some things not just about her peers but about herself. By writing about their lives, trying to see the world through their eyes and experiences, she also reveals parts of herself. She begins to realize that there are so many versions of herself that she shows and hides. Though she always felt held at an emotional distance by Ben, even when they were dating, she starts to see that she, too, held not just Ben but everyone at a distance. There are some pretty compelling reasons for this, including her mom’s disappearance from her life, but prior to this, Nic hasn’t thought too hard about them. Though Nic started writing the essays as a way to keep her from ruminating on her own life too much, she finds that this is a time in her life to be particularly reflective, especially once Ben reappears and things grow even more complicated with her feelings for him and for Jordan. 


The one part that I felt didn’t work for me was a thing that happens about 4/5 of the way through the book, a tragedy that I will avoid talking about here because of spoilers. I will say that it felt like a bit of a tidy/easy way to help both Nic and Jordan come to some realizations about their lives and their futures. It didn’t make me dislike the book, but it felt contrived and kind of like a cop-out. I also wish that we actually got to know the larger cast of characters better—the peers whose letters Nic writes, her friends Kitty and Ashok, and maybe even Nic herself, who holds the reader at a bit of the same emotional distance she grapples with in her life. The interesting plot of writing letters for others, of seeing through their eyes, thus highlighting and revealing Nic’s own loneliness, is an appealing one. A strong if imperfect look at guilt, regret, and forgiveness. 


Review copy (ARC) courtesy of the publisher and Edelweiss

ISBN-13: 9781534410442
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication date: 09/25/2018

Things I Never Learned in Library School: Training Staff to Work with Transgender Teens

thingsineverlearnedinlibraryschoolIn 25 years of working with teens in a public library, it is only recently that I have served and worked with teens that openly identified as transgender. I’ve made a lot of mistakes in working with them and they have been gracious in helping me understand those mistakes. I’ve also had to work with admin to discuss policy challenges and work with general staff to provide quality customer service to these teens. So today, I wanted to share with you some of what I’ve been learning. Let me be the first to say that there is a lot of terminology and language used when discussing transgender teens that I am just beginning to understand and that I may use or may be using incorrectly. I am an older cisgender woman from a conservative Christian background who is just learning and I want to share what I am learning with others like myself. It’s vitally important that we talk with our staff about GLBTQ issues and customer service to make sure that every patron who walks into our library is afforded the same equity, respect and quality customer service.

The first thing you should know is that sex and gender are not the same thing. I wish I could explain this to you further, but it’s a concept that I’m still trying to wrap my head around. Boiled down to the very basics, sex is the biological construct while gender is the social construct. For more on this important discussion, I suggest doing some extensive research.

Sex and gender: Meanings, definition, identity, and expression

Sex and gender: what is the difference? | Journal of Applied Physiology

In addition, gender is not purely a chromosomal presentation despite what you probably learned in your basic genetics class. In the scientific community, they talk a lot about things like gender dysphoria, gene expression, endocrine disruptions, and more. However, I’m not a scientist and neither are most library staff. I feel like at the end of the day, the how, when, where and why don’t matter. It’s important that remember that the thing that matters is the person standing before us in our library.

It’s also important to keep in mind that language evolves. Transexuality, transvestite and transgender are all terms that have been used to identify members of the transgender community. Older members of the transgender community may refer to themselves in one way and younger members of the community may refer to themselves as a different way. Even a brief look into our MARC records reveals that the subject headings have changed. I have had some conversations with technical services about subject headings. I would love to see that catalog subject headings linked so that all titles would come up regardless what term a patron searches.

Transsexual, Transgender, Transvestite: Here’s what you should know

GLBT Controlled Vocabularies and Classification Schemes

In addition to talking with and respecting my teens, I have done a lot of research and reading on these issues to help me move past my own personal upbringing and biases to better understand and serve my teens. I’ve read a lot, for example, on the various things that they believe influences gender identity. From sex genes to endocrine disruptors to fertility treatments, there are a lot of environmental factors that influence gender expression. At the end of the day, none of this matters because what matters is the person standing before you asking to be treated with basic human dignity and respect. We owe it to our fellow humans to extend that basic respect to them and as a matter of good customer service, which every library should be striving to achieve, it’s the basic foundation: treat the person standing before you with common courtesy, basic respect, and with a full recognition that we’re all just fellow humans trying to make it day to day.

Source: https://imgur.com/gallery/unLhY

Source: https://imgur.com/gallery/unLhY

It’s also important that we recognize that there is a lot of hostility towards the GLBTQ community and that there are high incidences of homelessness, depression and anxiety, and suicide among GLBTQ teens. How we as teen librarians and how our staff as public servants respond to our transgender patrons is vitally important. It’s not an exaggeration for me to say that it can be a matter of life and death.

Pronouns Matter

When a transgender person “comes out” (and I’m not sure that is the correct terminology), they are making known to the public that they identify with a gender different from what they have previously appeared or presented on the outside. So although they may have presented or been identified as female, they have known for quite some time that they are male and at some point they make the decision to finally let the world know and live as their authentic self. From what my teens have shared with me, this is a very important and freeing moment. It’s very important to respect your teens and honor their requests to be called by the names and pronouns that they prefer. At some point, your teens may come to you and ask to be referred to as a different pronoun and this is vitally important.

What Are Pronouns? Why Do They Matter?

Why Pronouns Matter – GSAFE

I will be the first to admit that changing pronouns can be challenging. Not because I haven’t respected my teens wishes, but because of force of habit. On occasion I slip and when I do, I always make a point of apologizing. Try to use the correct pronouns and when you mess up, apologize.

They/Them Pronouns

One day, after another pronoun slip, I declared to one of my teens that I was closer to that I was just going to start using they/them pronouns for everyone. This teen actually declared that this was a really good habit to get into to help avoid misgendering people that you didn’t really know yet. Our cultural go to has always been to default to he/she, which has often led to those moments on the public service desk when you have just misgendered someone. Training staff to default to they/them pronouns helps to ensure any misgendering by avoiding any assumptions of gender.

Using They/Them to Avoid Misgendering People?

Where is the bathroom?

I have often worked in a library where there is a men’s and a women’s bathroom and they are in different locations in the building. A coworker recently shared with me that when she is asked where the bathroom is, she makes no assumptions and just answers the question by giving directions to both bathrooms. Again, we serve a lot of patrons and trying to determine what bathroom they may be asking about can be tricky. I admit to having that moment where I have told someone the directions to the women’s restroom after assuming that they were female only to learn that they were male and were asking for directions to the male restroom. Being in the common practice of just providing directions to both bathrooms is another way that we can stop assuming we can easily see how a patron identifies and provide quality customer service. When someone asks for directions to the bathroom, don’t assume you know which bathroom they need and just provide directions to all the bathrooms.

Nongendered Bathrooms and Bathroom Laws

I’m not particularly in the habit of paying attention to when and how patrons are going to the bathroom, so I didn’t really know that our transgender male teens were using the male restroom until a man complained. An older gentleman came to our management and expressed concern that a teenage girl had walked into the restroom and he didn’t want to be accused of taking her in there and doing anything to her. What this older gentleman didn’t know is that this teen was a transgender male. We then began researching bathroom policies and even met with an architect to determine if there were ways that we could change our bathrooms to make them non-gendered. I was surprised to learn that there are a lot of laws regulating bathrooms, including how many bathrooms you must have and how they must be labelled. These laws vary by state and it’s important that you consult with legal counsel to make sure that you are following the law and providing the best case scenarios for all of your library patrons. In part because of this bathroom issue, but also because of some other issues such as drug use, the library that I was working at eventually decided to have the bathrooms be locking restrooms where the key had to be requested at the Circulation Desk.

Transgender bathroom laws: Facts and myths – CNN – CNN.com

Let me take a moment here to add that having a family restroom or nongendered bathroom isn’t just a transgender issue, there are many disabled adults who may need assistance as well as children. Moving forward, every public space should definitely include inclusive bathrooms. If you can retrofit your bathrooms, please consider doing so.

Personal Opinions Don’t Matter When it Comes to Good Customer Service

For some of our staff, it was pretty easy to respect the teens wishes to be identified as they requested. For others, there was some real resistance. The issue of being transgender is very controversial for many people and there are some strongly held opinions on the topic. Though we can’t control what our coworkers believe, think or feel about GLBTQ issues, we can and should demand that they treat all of our patrons with equal respect and honor the wishes of our transgender teens in how they are identified. If a patron asks to be called a particular pronoun or asks to be called by a different name, it’s really important that our staff respect that. Demanding that our staff treat our GLBTQ patrons with respect is no different then demanding that they treat any and all patrons with respect. Failure to do so should be met with coaching and ultimately termination if needed.


When a person comes out or transitions, to whatever degree they choose to transition or not, they will often choose a new name that better represents their true identity. For example, a teen perceived as female at birth may have been named Colleen by their parents but when they are finally ready to share with the world that they are male they may choose the name Cole. This example, by the way, is completely made up because as a librarian I respect patron privacy. Cole may not yet have legally changed his name to Cole, in part because minors have limited legal rights and also in part because there is a process and a cost to changing one’s legal name. However, it is important that all staff refer to Cole as Cole. Calling Cole by the name of Colleen is deadnaming and it is considered an offensive and very hurtful act of aggression.

How to Be Human: Talking to People Who Are Transgender – Healthline

Deadnaming: What Is It and Why Is It Harmful? – Healthline

If a transgender teen asks to be called by a different name, a note should be make in their library card status letting staff know about this desire. If you can, change the library card name altogether. But if you work with an administration that is a stickler for legal names, at least make a note of it and train your staff to call a patron by their preferred name. It’s not the same by any means, but I’ll use my husband as an example. His legal name is Timothy but he goes by the name Tim. I have only once ever heard someone call him Timothy and neither one of us responded because although that’s his legal name which he signs and appears on all of his documentation, he doesn’t go by that and it didn’t occur to him that someone was trying to get his attention using that name. My point is this: we allow people to shorten their names or go by nicknames all of the time. The first day of each new school year we allow students to tell us what name they prefer to go by when we call the first roll call. We can call our transgender patrons by their correct name, no matter what the legal paperwork says. It’s actually a standard practice and to not extend it to transgender individuals just reveals our own personal bias.

A Note About Transitioning

In some cases, a transgender individual will choose, or not, to transition to their gender. What that looks like is different for every person. For teens, it is even more limited in what they can do because they have to have parental support, financial means, and usually doctors will wait until a person is past puberty before hormone treatment or surgery is considered. That means that most teens have very limited ways in which they can control transitioning. Transgender male teens, for example, may choose to wear binders and cut their hair and buy all male clothes, but there are a lot of limitations to what transgender teens can do. I mention this only because I was in a meeting once with a coworker discussing our bathroom complaint and this co-worker said, “outside of cutting their hair, they haven’t really done anything.” The implication seemed to be that they weren’t trying very hard or putting in very much effort. It’s important for everyone who is cisgender to remember that coming out as transgender is a process, that there are a lot of cultural and financial barriers, and that transgender individuals don’t owe it to anyone to transition in a way or time that works best for anyone but themselves.

ENBY and Gender Fluid Teens

When talking about gender, we should also keep in mind that there are more than just cisgender and transgender people. Enby is a term that is used by non-binary individuals. An enby is a nonbinary person who identifies as neither male or female. The Teen is friends with an individual who is very femme (traditionally female presenting), has chosen a male name, and identifies as enby. This invidiual uses they/them pronouns. Other teens are what they refer to as gender fluid. They may fluctuate between genders or identify as any and all genders at once.

57 bus

I highly recommend to everyone the book The 57 Bus which has some good discussion of these terms within it. In fact, as we really began exploring these issues I requested from my administration that my staff be allowed to read this book on staff time because it’s an important and relevant book to serving our patrons and I don’t believe in asking staff to do something that they aren’t getting paid for.

Training Staff is the Goal

This is by no means an exhaustive look into any of the issues facing the transgender community nor is it a complete discussion of what public and school libraries need to know when considering serving the transgender community. What it is, however, is a reminder that we need to be having these discussion in the larger professional context but also at the local level. If your library hasn’t already, you need to go through your policies and procedures and make sure they are a good foundation for helping your staff know how to provide exemplary customer service to the transgender community. You need to be training staff in how to work with transgender individuals and reminding them that their personal opinions don’t matter when they’re at work, because I guarantee that you are employing some individuals that have very hostile feelings about the GLBTQ and transgender community.

This was not a thing that I had ever been trained about or discussed in almost 20 years of public library service, but necessity became the mother of invention. I am truly honored that my teens trusted me enough to share their journey with me, that they allowed me to fumble as I tried to figure out how best to serve them, and that I had the opportunity to advocate for them when issues came up. And make no mistake, issues came up and will continue to come up. I was forced to be reactive, but moving forward I will have the advantage of experience on my side and can now be more proactive. I highly recommend being proactive.

Libraries Respond: Protections for Our Nation’s Transgender Students

Serving Your LGBT Teen Patrons » Public Libraries Online

Inclusive Information for Trans* Persons: Public Library Quarterly

Supporting Transgender Individuals in Libraries

One final point I would like to make. Just as no group is a monolith, not all transgender individuals are the same either. I’m sharing with you here what my teens have taught me in our journey together. Take a moment to talk to and listen to a wide variety of members of the LGBTQA+ and keep listening. Language evolves, people change, and what we know about each other and the basics of good customer service are always evolving. Do the work and then keep doing the work.

Sunday Reflections: It Was a Rough Week to be a Teenage Girl

Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault and Violence


This past week, John Kerry said that Trump had the “insecurity of a teenage girl.” Are teenage girls insecure? Some of them are, perhaps in part because we continue to use being a girl and femininity as an insult. Or perhaps it’s because teenage girls are told that they have to be sexy, but not too sexy because then you’re asking for it. Or perhaps it’s because teenage girls are told that they have to be smart but not too smart because then they are intimidating. Or perhaps it’s because teenage girls are told they have to speak up but no too loudly because then they are shrill and bossy. Or perhaps it’s because teenage girls are told that they have to be perfect and bear responsibility not only for themselves, but for the education of the boys around them (dress codes), for the future of the human race (pregnancy and maternal instinct) and for, well, everything it feels like.


But if teenage girls weren’t already feeling insecure about being used metaphorically to take down a sitting president by pointing out their, well, insecurity, they were also told repeatedly by political, cultural, and spiritual leaders that their safety doesn’t matter. Especially if it means that we might have to reconsider our current Supreme Court candidate and have to put pushing a political agenda on hold to try and find a conservative Supreme Court candidate that hasn’t been accused of attempted sexual assault. That’s right, teenage girls got to spend the entire week hearing about how their sexual safety really doesn’t matter, which definitely won’t make them feel insecure, am I right? Boys will be boys and we just have to accept that, even if it means that we have to sacrifice the long term emotional well being of our daughters. Even if it means we have to place yet another alleged sexual predator on the Supreme Court. If the current version of the future plays out the way the GOP wants it to play out, that means that teenage girls will get to grow up in a world where two sitting Supreme Court justices have been accused of sexual violence and harassment. If that doesn’t make you feel insecure and fearful about your place in the world, I can’t really figure out what would.


In the meantime, they got to hear elected representatives, including our own personal self-confessed sexual predator president, talk about how the pain of teenage girls doesn’t really matter. Of course, we shouldn’t find this surprising from the man who confessed that he liked to walk in on teenage girls changing clothes in the dressing room of the beauty pageant he owned. So I’m not going to lie, as a former teenage girl who was sexually abused, I don’t really care what this man has to say about sexual abuse and harassment. Self-confessed perpetrators don’t get to tell survivors of sexual violence how they should think or feel about what has happened to them.

Then the hashtag #whyIdidntreport started trending. It’s important to note that this is not the first time a hashtag of this nature has trended and it, most infuriatingly, won’t be the last. Why don’t victims of sexual violence immediately report their abuse? Because we know that 9 times out of 10 we won’t be believed and even if we are, the men who victimize us will pay very little consequences. Remember Brock Turner? There are thousands of Brock Turners who are serving too little time for violating us. And there are far too many people in our culture who worry about the effects of jail time on men like Brock Turner’s future then there are those that worry about the long term effects of sexual violence on the girls that men like Brock Turner rape. Maybe teenage girls are insecure because we keep telling them that their pain doesn’t matter and that they are the sacrifices we are willing to make to sustain the lives of men.


When you think about the world that teenage girls are growing up in, and I mean really think about it, they are doing a bang up job in all honesty. They are out there marching, demanding to be heard, learning, growing, and more. They are rising up, as they always have, against a patriarchy that continues to claim that they are somehow lesser, so much lesser that even some of our most progressive elected representatives still find it far too easy to use them as a negative comparison to make a political point. Yes, I’m side eyeing you John Kerry.

It was a rough week to be a teenage girl, as most weeks are when you live in a patriarchy. I don’t blame teenage girls though, because it is the adults that are making life hard for them. When I marched in the Women’s March one of the signs I kept seeing was a sign that said, “I can’t believe I’m still marching for the same shit.” That’s what this week has felt like. Why are we still here? Why are we still willing to sacrifice our daughters for the sake of our sons political careers? It’s 2018, maybe we can find someone who hasn’t been accused of sexual violence to serve in the highest court of our land. Maybe, just this once, we can send a different message to send to our sons and daughters and let them know that character matters and female pain isn’t an acceptable sacrifice.

My daughters aren’t an acceptable sacrifice for your political agenda.

Friday Finds: September 21, 2018

tltbutton3This Week at TLT

Walk the Jagged Streets of Gentrification with Ibi Zoboi’s Pride, a guest post by Marie Marquardt

Collecting Comics: September 2018 edition with Ally Watkins

New and forthcoming YA and MG to know about

Highlighting the Immigrant Experience through Art and Young Adult Literature, A guest post by librarian Lisa Krok

Sunday Reflections: Stop the Massage Train, we don’t need to be asking professionals to touch one another

Around the Web

Life as the Teacher Librarian at LeBron James’s I PROMISE School

Booksellers Navigate New Trends in Middle Grade

Fall 2018’s Can’t-Miss Young Adult Books

Trump admin moves $260M from cancer research, HIV/AIDS and other programs to cover custody of immigrant children costs


Walk the Jagged Streets of Gentrification with Ibi Zoboi’s Pride, a guest post by Marie Marquardt

ReadForChange copyTeen Librarian Toolbox is excited to be partnering with Marie Marquardt for her #ReadForChange project. Hop on over to this post to learn more about the initiative. Today, she and Ibi Zoboi join us for a conversation about gentrification, identity, and Zoboi’s excellent new novel, Pride. 




Step onto my block

and walk these jagged

broken streets and sidewalk cracks

like rickety bridges across our backs

to the end of rainbows

reflecting off broken glass

where the pot of gold

is way on the other side

of this world.

– from “Girls in the Hood” a poem by Zuri Benitez, Pride


Breaking Past Invisible Walls with Pride


prideI’m thrilled and honored to have Ibi Zoboi back to #ReadForChange as we celebrate the launch of her highly-anticipated YA novel, Pride. If you saw my February feature on American Street, you already know that I am a huge fan of Ibi’s stories. I was fortunate enough to get my hands on a copy of this gorgeous (inside and out!) book a few weeks ago, and I couldn’t put it down.


Pride is a contemporary retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, set in the rapidly-gentrifying Brooklyn neighborhood of Bushwick. Zuri Benitez, the second daughter in a Haitian-Dominican family, has lived her entire life in a crowded Bushwick apartment, surrounded by love, a good dose of chaos, and much delicious food. When the wealthy Darcy family moves in across the street after funding an “Extreme Makeover: Bushwick Edition,” Zuri’s mom is beside herself with anticipation for the possibilities of a good match, and her giggly younger sisters can’t get enough of the handsome Darcy brothers, Ainsley and Darius.


Fans of Pride and Prejudice will not be surprised to learn that Darius initially comes across as arrogant and dismissive of Zuri and her family, and that Zuri despises him. Needless to say, by the end of the book, Darius and Zuri definitely don’t hate each other. As Zuri and Darius’ relationship moves toward it’s inevitable (and super-sweet) finale, Zuri has many chances to reflect on the complicated impacts of gentrification, and to experience the challenges of building relationships across differences of social class. Lucky for us readers, some of Zuri’s reflections come in the form of gorgeous and lyrical poetry, which is interspersed through the narrative.



“Reverse-gentrifying the Brit-Lit Canon”: An Interview with Ibi Zoboi

Ibi.Zoboi.2018.4MARIE: Throughout the story, Zuri offers so many subtle — but also powerful — observations about the ways gentrification impact everyday life in Bushwick. Were these drawn from your experience? What inspired you to write on themes of gentrification?  



IBI: Yes, these were definitely drawn from my experience. I live in a neighborhood in Brooklyn that’s undergoing lots of changes. In fact, I’ve been priced out of my neighborhood, too. Gentrification is about class, upward mobility, and ultimately, property ownership, all the themes that are also in Pride and Prejudice. It was the perfect issue to highlight for this retelling about two teens finding common ground and falling in love.



MARIE: Pride takes a head-on look at the effects of gentrification on families and communities, which means it also is a story about social class and belonging. You took some risks to address the complicated intersections of race, class, and identity. Why was it important for you to focus on these?



IBI: The Darcy family is wealthy and Black, and they’re moving into a lower income and working class community populated by people who look like them, Of course there would be issues of identity and big-picture questions about what it means to be Black in an urban landscape. But most importantly, my characters are teens who grapple with identity no matter what environment they’re in. Zuri is looking into a culture that she’s unfamiliar with, which is wealth and access. If she steps back a bit, she can see what is possible for her. Darius also sees what could’ve been possible for him had he not come from wealth. I wanted to examine the issues of upward mobility, education, and class through the eyes of these two teens.


MARIE:  Some might consider it odd that you went to the Brit-lit canon for inspiration to tell Zuri and Darius’ love story. Why Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice?
IBI: While I didn’t read Pride and Prejudice for school, many Black kids have had to. I think the better question is, why is the Brit-lit canon forced on Black and Brown students? What connections can a Caribbean or Latinx immigrant teen make between herself and the Regency world of Jane Austen? In the same way that wealthier newcomers to underserved neighborhoods erase the established cultures, this my very own way of reverse gentrifying the Brit-lit canon. Pride and Prejudice has so much to say about class and a woman’s place in the world, but those themes are not relegated to 19th century British women. A Haitian-Dominican teen in Brooklyn can grapple with those same issues.


Want to better understand gentrification? Check out Ibi’s excellent recommendations.


To get us started, an excellent nonfiction book:

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration 
by Isabel Wilkerson offers an excellent historical perspective on the gentrification of cities. It tells the story of the period from 1915 to 1970, when six million African-Americans left the Jim Crow South to build new lives in the cities.

warmpth of other suns

Now to a documentary:

Citizen Jane: Battle Cry for the City chronicles the visionary work of Jane Jacobs, an activist and author who fought to preserve the city.


And, finally, a podcast:

From WNYC’s The Takeaway – There Goes the Neighborhood: Race and Gentrification (Click here to listen)

Screen Shot 2018-09-19 at 3.09.55 PM


Want to take action? Ibi’s advice is simple:


IBI: I recommend students get involved with any community-centered organizations that advocate for fair housing, public spaces, and funding for the arts.


Win a copy of Pride, hot off the presses!

Here’s a link to the giveaway. We’ll be announcing the winner on Twitter @MarieFMarquardt and Instagram marie_marquardt October 1!


Meet Marie Marquardt

Women’s March, January 21, 2017

Women’s March, January 21, 2017

Marie Marquardt is the author of three YA novels: The Radius of UsDream Things True, and Flight Season (available 2/20/18). A Scholar-in-Residence at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology, Marie also has published several articles and co-authored two non-fiction books about Latin American immigration to the U.S. South. She is chair of El Refugio, a non-profit that serves detained immigrants and their families. She lives with her spouse, four kids, a dog and a bearded dragon in the book-lover’s mecca of Decatur, Georgia.

Collecting Comics: September 2018 edition with Ally Watkins


Here are some great September comics your teens and tweens will enjoy!


SLAM! The Next Jam by Pamela Ribon and illustrated by Marina Julia with Brittany Peer and Veronica Fish (BOOM! Box, September 11). Knockout and Can Can have broken one of the biggest rules in roller derby…not to mention some actual bones. When they get back to practice, can their teammates trust them? Collects all four issues of the limited run series.

Star Wars: A New Hope Graphic Novel Adaptation by Alessandro Ferrari (IDW Publishing, September 18). Faithfully bringing the film to the page, this graphic novel adaptation of Episode IV will thrill both your comics fans and your star wars fans. This volume is the first in a planned trilogy of adaptations of the original Star Wars series.

the unwanted

The Unwanted: Stories of the Syrian Refugees by Don Brown (HMH Books for Young Readers, September 18). In this full-color, nonfiction graphic work, Brown explores the realities of the Syrian refugee crisis and the life the Syrian people live while living in and fleeing a war zone.

Science Comics: Solar System: Our Place in Space by Rosemary Mosco, illustrated by Jon Chad (First Second, September 18). The wildly popular Science Comics series is back, this time exploring Earth and its neighbors in our solar system. Your nonfiction readers will love the art and the facts!


Check, Please! #Hockey by Ngozi Ukazu (First Second, September 18). The extraordinarily popular webcomic comes to print!  Eric is a former figure skater who scored a spot on the Samwell University hockey team his freshman year, but nothing could prepare him for the experience he’s about to have–or for Jack, his moody and attractive team captain.

Supernova (Amulet #8) by Kazu Kibuishi (Graphix, September 25). Kabuishi’s thrilling Amulet graphic novel series continues! In this installment, Emily has lost control of her amulet and must find a way to fight back.  Meanwhile, Navin is having his own problems as the Resistance prepares to do battle. Both siblings must fight their hardest to save themselves and planet Alledia.