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Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

TPiB: Soldering with teens: just like hot glue, but metal

tpibBefore I did it, soldering seemed like some kind of Super Advanced Tech Stuff that was way out of my league for teen programming. The only soldering I’d done was using a wide tipped soldering iron in stained glass work which, a friend observed, was more like using a bulldozer than the garden trowel required in soldering printed circuit boards. I’m here to tell you, folks: if you can use a hot glue gun, you can use a soldering iron.

Supplies

Soldering does require a good number of supplies. The startup costs are moderate, but easier to swallow when you keep in mind that most of the supplies can be purchased once and used multiple times. I started with this Elenco Learn To Solder kit which includes nearly everything you need and can be found for less than $12. This includes the project and a soldering iron. Additional items that you’ll need to pick up:

a kitchen sponge or high quality paper towels that can be dampened

a “helping hand” or “third hand” (optional)

non-slip shelf liners   that can be used as anti-static placemat style workspaces

a box fan if your meeting room has less than awesome ventilation

Preparation

Like with all programs, you want to be prepared. Take an afternoon and work on the project yourself. Watch some YouTube videos to see the techniques that other people use. Read some tutorials. Ask a friend to lend a hand if you know anyone who is into HAM radio or electronics or uses soldering in their work. You can do this.

When the day of the event comes, I suggest setting up each participant’s workstation before hand. There’s something about walking into the room to see tidy individual workspaces that immediately sets the tone for the group and says it’s not a free for all. It’s a focused class.

Troubleshooting

Some of the projects are going to work. Some are not. When they don’t, encourage the teen to look at all of the contacts and see if any solder is shorting out a connection. Check the direction of the pieces — are any inserted backwards? Make sure that they assembled the kit right side up… not upside down like I did the first time! Troubleshooting is part of the process and as valuable a lesson to work through as the soldering itself is. Not everything works the first time, and that’s ok.

Safety

Yes, it seems scary to give teens hot metal pointy sticks. But if you can imagine the group using a hot glue gun to attach seed beads, you can give them soldering irons. Make it clear how to be safe: the tips always need to rest in their holders when they’re not in use. Always watch where the iron is and be conscious of the cords (I attach a multi-outlet strip to the table with duct tape so that there aren’t cords trailing off of the table.) Unplug the iron and let it cool before you move it. Have a first aid kit at the ready just in case someone does get burned. If you are soldering with a large group in a room without good ventilation, setting up a fan to circulate air will make for a more comfortable experience.

Projects

I’ve used several different kits, and in addition to the above linked learn to solder kit, I really liked Adafruit’s Game Of Life kit. This is great for beginners because there are multiples of most of the pieces and you get a lot of practice at the actual soldering without needing to know a whole lot about the different components. Plus, you can connect them together, it flashes cool lights and there’s no obnoxious alarm!

Beyond kits, there are lots of small projects that you can tackle from basic circuits to light up corsages.

The Intersection of #Ownvoices, Genre Fiction, and Empathy: Guest post by Shaila Patel

sjyalitIn a recent ruling by a Virginia court, five teens (described as two whites and three minorities) were sentenced to read one book a month for an entire year as punishment for defacing a historic black schoolhouse with racist and anti-Semitic graffiti. The books assigned were mostly works of literary fiction with diverse characters and/or racial themes like To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Night by Elie Wiesel, and Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe.

Judging by the conversations I’d seen on the internet, most people thought it was a great idea. I think it’s genius. But could it be taken a step further?

The purpose of the sentence was to impart a lesson in compassion and empathy—the idea that you can put yourself in another person’s shoes and see things from the other person’s perspective. Reading about diverse characters gives these teens the opportunity to realize that even though circumstances and appearances may be different, we’re all the same at heart.

This is the magical part of storytelling, and what drew me to writing in the first place—the ability to cast readers into a thousand different roles in a thousand different places.

I’m often asked if choosing to make my young adult debut as an #ownvoices novel was intentional, as if they’re really asking whether I’d purposely set out to teach teens a lesson on diversity, empathy, and racial equality. My answer, in case you’re curious, is no. I wrote my Indian-American character Laxshmi Kapadia because it’s what I know. Who better than me, an Indian-American, to show a sliver of what it’s like to grow up straddling both cultures. It’s what the #ownvoices designation is all about—authenticity.

If a teen can relate to an elf going on a quest, they can surely relate to an Asian heroine going on one.

soulmatedMy novel, Soulmated, is a young adult paranormal romance about empaths and psychics—it’s the farthest thing from being preachy—but maybe that’s not such a bad thing. After all, for most teens, genre fiction would rank quite a bit higher than their school’s required reading list. Part of me intuitively knew that setting my novel in a paranormal world might even attract someone who ordinarily wouldn’t have picked up a contemporary novel about an Indian-American girl because—let’s face it—some non-Indian-American readers might have looked at that book and thought they couldn’t relate.

That’s a learned response, because clearly, teen readers are connecting with hobbits, monsters, and vampires.

labyrinthlostIf a teen can relate to an elf going on a quest, they can surely relate to an Asian heroine going on one. (The Reader by Traci Chee or Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon.) And how is a werewolf trying to save her pack any different than a Latinx bruja trying to save her family from a spell gone wrong? (Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova.) Even in my own novel, Laxshmi’s empath abilities are emerging, somewhat like superheroes who are just learning to use their powers. The only difference is that I’ve peppered references to my Indian-American culture, portraying her as any other girl struggling against pressures from home and expectations she balks at.

So why might teens find characters from marginalized groups, like mine or any others, difficult to relate to? Maybe it brings up uncomfortable issues they don’t want to face or don’t think affects them, like racism, bullying, and bigotry. Maybe their family has unknowingly taught them that our differences are more important than our similarities. Maybe they’ve learned that “other” is equivalent to “less than” and therefore not worth the effort. It all comes back to empathy and using compassion and understanding to connect with a fellow human being despite our outward differences.

According to the Melbourne Child Psychology Journal, the ability to empathize is a skill that is still developing during the teenage years and is on the rise beginning at about 13-15 years of age. It makes it even more important to provide stories from different perspectives to these teens. It’s like exercising the emerging skill. From my own experience with my 16-year-old son, reading, paired with the appropriate analysis and discussion, is definitely worth the effort. The only drawback, however, is that he quickly loses interest when he sees it as a lesson.

No one argues that a diet high in vegetables is healthy, but as every parent knows, sometimes smothering the broccoli with cheddar cheese is the best way to get it to go down. While comparing this to reading is a bit oversimplified, it does illustrate the idea that some “lessons” are more effective if we make them more palatable.

Laura M. Jiménez, PhD, in an interview with the blog Reading While White, describes her experience teaching diverse children’s literature to a group of mostly white women who were studying to become teachers. She said that they had a difficult time connecting with stories outside their lived experiences, but she also observed that the more stereotypical and trope-ful the book, the easier they were able to connect with it.

If adults find diverse fiction easier to relate to when staged in commercial wrappings, it only reinforces an idea that we’ve already accepted: Sometimes it’s just easier to get a teen to enjoy reading if it’s genre fiction. And if it’s filled with characters written by #ownvoices authors? Even better.

 Stories designated as #ownvoices provide an authentic view of what the “other” side looks like, and placing that fictional setting in a spaceship, a dystopian world, or one with psychics and empaths, might just be your handiest tool in creating a more empathetic reader.

If you’re looking for ways to support more #ownvoices genre fiction, here are some suggestions:

  • Have your readers write and post a book review of an #ownvoices work in their favorite subgenre and have them show similarities to a more established work with comparable tropes or themes.
  • Start a book club for #ownvoices genre fiction, and don’t forget to tell the authors and publishers that you’ve chosen their books.
  • Contact #ownvoices authors and ask them to speak via video conference call to a class or a book club. Most authors would love the opportunity.

A far wider selection of diverse books and resources now exists compared to even five years ago, but finding a curated list of #ownvoices genre fiction has been difficult. One of the most helpful sites for diverse young adult fiction (including both literary and commercial) is Diversity in YA. Another site that’s a great resource for multiple age groups is We Need Diverse Books. You can also search Tumblr and Goodreads lists for #ownvoices works. Although the lists are unlikely to be curated, it’s a great place to start and familiarize yourself with what’s out there and meet bloggers who are passionate about promoting #ownvoices speculative fiction.

BIO:

author: Shaila PatelShaila Patel is a pharmacist by training, a pediatric-office manager by day, and a writer by night. SOULMATED, her debut young adult paranormal romance won the 2015 Chanticleer Book Reviews Paranormal Awards in YA. A huge fan of epilogues, she also enjoys traveling, craft beer, tea, and reading in cozy window seats. She writes from her home in the Carolinas.

 

Contact Links:

Website (http://www.shailapatelauthor.com)

Facebook (http://bit.ly/2btIJLK)

Twitter (http://bit.ly/2aVbeiR)

Instagram (http://bit.ly/2btID6X)

Pinterest (http://bit.ly/2biBDeH)

Goodreads (http://bit.ly/2btJp3S)

TPiB: 3 cheap and easy after school programs

I’m always looking for small program ideas that don’t take a lot of planning time, are inexpensive, are flexible, and appeal widely. Here are three to try.

Sci-Fi Stitches – or – Embroidered notecards

You can be silly or serious with this one. I did both and both were fun. For the “sci-fi stitches” I printed a bunch of different old timey photos onto cardstock (check Pinterest, there are gobs of people who have boards full of quirky and interesting old black and white photos). For the embroidered notecards, I supplied some adult coloring sheets to use as templates.

IMG_20170112_165822354 IMG_20170112_163628900

IMG_20170124_210229700 IMG_20170124_203629464

Supplies

  • embroidery floss
  • embroidery needles
  • small pieces of corrugated cardboard
  • cardstock
  • tape
  • thumbtacks
  1. Draw your pattern onto the cardstock
  2. Place the cardstock on top of the cardboard. Using the thumbtack, poke holes along the pattern. If you’re using a coloring sheet as a template, you can punch right through the sheet itself.
  3. Thread your needle and start stitching into the holes. Use the tape to secure the floss at the back of the card.

Zenstones, aka draw on rocks

Seriously, drawing on rocks sounded kind of boring, but if you call it zenstones… or maybe rock-dalas… or meditation nuggets…  suddenly it’s a THING!

IMG_20170126_160502185 IMG_20170126_160509579 IMG_20170126_155408110

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Supplies

  • bag of rocks
  • permanent markers (black for light colored rocks, silver for black rocks)

This one was stone simple [lol!]. I had a bag of rocks left over from a gardening craft and I borrowed a few of the silver sharpies from the Tech Processing department and that was it. The kids did this for close to an hour. It was kind of amazing. This would be an easy pick for self-directed programming and could dovetail nicely with a number of seasonal themes.

Emoji Spelling Bee

Hey look! It’s not a craft! I heard about the “First Ever Emoji Spelling Bee” that happened at last fall’s Emojicon (a celebration of all things emoji) and it seemed like an activity begging to be turned into a teen program.

emojis: snail, minus sign, shell

Supplies

  • a list of silly words and phrases
  • teen supplied phones OR a computer projected onto a shared screen that can access an Emoji Keyboard Online
  • a timer

Have the teens come up with the words and phrases to challenge each other or make a list ahead of time. For each turn, give a teen one word/phrase clue and set a timer. When the timer is up, they are done and the rest of the group gets to decide if the phrase is “spelled” correctly or not.

“Nevertheless, She Persisted” A Take 5 List, plus 1

IMG_4145Last night, Senator Elizabeth Warren was warned, then given an explanation, but neverthelessshe persisted in reading the words of another woman who was warned, given an explanation, and persisted: Coretta Scott King. In honor and in recognition of these and other women who, despite warning and explanation, persist in their efforts, we offer you this list of persistent young women.

 

 

 

Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith

Book cover: against the backdrop of a cloudy sky with planes overhead, a young woman in pilot garb faces forward with her eyes looking skyward

Ida Mae Jones dreams of flight. Her daddy was a pilot and being black didn’t stop him from fulfilling his dreams. But her daddy’s gone now, and being a woman, and being black, are two strikes against her.

When America enters the war with Germany and Japan, the Army creates the WASP, the Women Airforce Service Pilots – and Ida suddenly sees a way to fly as well as do something significant to help her brother stationed in the Pacific. But even the WASP won’t accept her as a black woman, forcing Ida Mae to make a difficult choice of “passing,” of pretending to be white to be accepted into the program. Hiding one’s racial heritage, denying one’s family, denying one’s self is a heavy burden. And while Ida Mae chases her dream, she must also decide who it is she really wants to be. (Publisher description)

Dime by E.R. Frank

Book cover: black bricks in the shape of a D over a red background reveal the profile of a young girl looking resolutely aheadLost in Newark, New Jersey’s foster care system, Dime is persuaded into sexual slavery by a sweet talking older man. The family-like dynamic of their home is appealing for a time, and the services she is forced to perform seem the understandable price to pay for such safety and security. But her eyes are opened to the grave reality of her situation when Lollipop, a new, younger girl is brought in and the incomprehensibly awful truth of her situation is revealed. Dime takes solace and strength in the written word and stops at nothing to seek safety and justice for Lollipop, even as she understands that there might not be a way out for herself.

 

 

Evolution, Me, and Other Freaks of Nature by Robin Brande

Book cover: spiral bound notebook paper shows the book title in loopy scriptSpeaking up is hard. It’s even harder when speaking up for what you know is right loses you friends, family, and your church. Mena starts school as a pariah after standing up to the minister of her church in defense of a gay peer. She knows she did the right thing, but everyone around her is telling her it’s wrong.

Ten Days a Madwoman by Deborah Noyes

Book cover: a photograph of Nellie Bly wearing a high necked lace collar and looking forward, stylized in a deep teal

Young Nellie Bly had ambitious goals, especially for a woman at the end of the nineteenth century, when the few female journalists were relegated to writing columns about cleaning or fashion. But fresh off a train from Pittsburgh, Nellie knew she was destined for more and pulled a major journalistic stunt that skyrocketed her to fame: feigning insanity, being committed to the notorious asylum on Blackwell’s Island, and writing a shocking exposé of the clinic’s horrific treatment of its patients.

Nellie Bly became a household name as the world followed her enthralling career in “stunt” journalism that raised awareness of political corruption, poverty, and abuses of human rights. (Publisher’s description)

I Am Malala
Book cover: Malala Yousafzai wears a magenta hijab and looks at the camera with an expression that is peaceful and resolute

Do we even need to explain this one?

 

And because we just can’t get enough women who persist…

Rad Women Worldwide

Book cover: Black and white illustrations in front of bold swaths of red, teal, and orange, depict a soccer player with a ponytail, Malala Yousafzai, and Frida Kahlo

From the authors of the New York Times bestselling book Rad American Women A-Z, comes a bold new collection of 40 biographical profiles, each accompanied by a striking illustrated portrait, showcasing extraordinary women from around the world.

In Rad Women Worldwide, writer Kate Schatz and artist Miriam Klein Stahl tell fresh, engaging, and inspiring tales of perseverance and radical success by pairing well researched and riveting biographies with powerful and expressive cut-paper portraits. Featuring an array of diverse figures from Hatshepsut (the great female king who ruled Egypt peacefully for two decades) and Malala Yousafzi (the youngest person to win the Nobel Peace Prize) to Poly Styrene (legendary teenage punk and lead singer of X-Ray Spex) and Liv Arnesen and Ann Bancroft (polar explorers and the first women to cross Antarctica), this progressive and visually arresting book is a compelling addition to women’s history.

Sunday Reflections: Greater words than ours

sundayreflections1

This week, TLT is taking a break from its usual Sunday Reflections. Instead of reading our words, please spend a moment reading or listening to words from The Honorable John Lewis’s long career.

Here is his  “Speech at the March on Washington” from August 28, 1963 when he was 23 years old.

You can view the speech below.

We invite our readership to share favorite words from or thoughts on John Lewis in the comments.

You may also like:

Book Review: March Against Fear

Making a Social Justice Book Display that Engages Teens

Screening Ava DuVernay’s The 13th

Thinking About Ferguson

Sassy is gone forever, but lucky you, there’s Teen Vogue

Women of  a certain age are still lamenting the early demise of Sassy magazine. To those of you who are nodding your heads right now, I implore you: give Teen Vogue a chance, and while you’re at it, gift a subscription to a young woman in your life.

Yes, Sassy was pivotal…

Sassy magazine cover featuring Curt Cobain and Courtney LoveHelmed by Jane Pratt, Sassy provided a marked departure from the other teen glossies that we ogled in grocery checkout lines. Remember the ’90s? Remember the red ribbons and the flannel and how we chained ourselves to trees and Rocked The Vote with the help of R.E.M’s longboxes? It was a big deal and Sassy got it. It got that we were more than teeny boppers into fashion and trendy music. It got that we were people, on our own, outside of being coupled with someone. And that was kind of revolutionary for a glossy teen fashion mag.

but Teen Vogue takes it to the next level, and then some.

cover of Teen Vogue; headline reads While Sassy treated us like people, Teen Vogue is treating today’s young women like the thoughtful, powerful, political, engaged movers and shakers they are. There was something in Lauren Duca’s gaslighting article that struck a chord with a much larger readership. Was it the concise, clear way that it laid out an issue and made it relatable? Was it how it used a political issue to steer young readers toward an understanding of abusive relationships without specifically saying that’s what it was doing? Was it the tone, which was authoritative but still comfortable? Was it the historical background informed by linguistics, politics, and pop culture? Yes. It was all of that, and thinking that it only had to be one of those is the specific problem that Teen Vogue is addressing: young women are not to be underestimated. I’ve said before that, for all of their problems, glossy fashion mags are, for some, the bible of girlhood. This one respects girls enough to know that eyebrows and crunches are but one facet of the lived experience of young women, that they spend a lot of time thinking, talking, and acting on a wide range of political, social, and personal issues regardless of the color of their nail polish.

This didn’t just happen

It’s been widely pointed out that perhaps the incisiveness of Teen Vogue is due to being helmed by Elaine Welteroth as Editor in Chief, the first African American woman to hold that position and only the second to be Editor in Chief at a Condé Nast publication. While Beauty Editor, she pushed for more inclusive coverage, a move that has translated well to feature articles. The team approach to direction of the magazine also includes creative director Marie Souter and Phillip Picardi as the digital editorial director who recalls a realization that magazines can be used for social good when he read an Anna Wintour letter in Vogue about marriage equality. The magazine’s boundary pushing approach is by design and being actively managed by a team that gets it.

We want more of it – A GIVEAWAY!

We can praise the editorial direction and forward thinking, inclusive content that’s respectful of its teen readership all we want, but we all know that it’s the dollars that matter in publishing. For this reason, the writers of the Teen Librarian Toolbox are sponsoring ten more subscriptions to Teen Vogue. Get one for yourself, get one for your library, get one for a classroom, get one for a teen. The first ten commenters below can pick their recipient of a one year subscription. Must be US addresses. After you leave a comment, please email Karen at kjensenmls at yahoo dot com (we don’t want you to leave your address publicly). The first 10 comments/emails get a free subscription.  Thanks for the interest all — we have our 10 subscriptions all accounted for.

What Others are Saying

Teen Vogue’s Political Coverage Isn’t Surprising

Teen Vogue’s Trump takedown is not a surprise

If You’re Shocked Teen Vogue Is Great, You’re Not Paying Attention

A user’s guide to Teen Vogue, which is quietly doing very good journalism

And Check Out These Teen Vogue Posts

Mike Pence’s Record on Reproductive and LGBTQ Rights

Why We Should Be Talking More About the Victims of the Charleston Church Shooting

National Parks May Be in Danger Under Trump Presidency

The Little-Known Federal Program That Is Concerning to Muslim Americans

Guys Read Sexual Assault Stories

Screening The 13th: Questions to ask yourself #SJYALit

sjyalitI recently heard about how “video visits” were growing in popularity with prisons. As the details unfolded, my initial impression of interest (“Oh that’s nice – families could maybe see their incarcerated loved ones more often or from greater distances.”) turned to revulsion. The strategy is being used largely by local jails as a way to reduce the need for security staff to supervise visits.  Families still have to travel the same distance but now can’t even be in the same room as their loved one. It seems so dehumanizing to people on both sides of the bars.

 

After watching Ava DuVernay’s new documentary, The 13th, now streaming on Netflix, I can only believe that “dehumanizing” was by design. I am encouraging the TLT readership to make viewing The 13th a priority by the end of 2016. It’s essential viewing for our times. Another reason to shuffle this to the top of your queue: The other day I spotted this tweet in response to a request for permission to screen the movie:

You guys get what a big deal this is, right? Offering free public screenings of new films by award winning directors like DuVernay is not something that happens every day. Do you have a film discussion group at your library or another way to, as the director encourages, “show + share”?

Should you incorporate this into your teen programming? Let’s talk about this.

What’s it about?

From IMDB: An in-depth look at the prison system in the United States and how it reveals the nation’s history of racial inequality.

This is a comprehensive, statistic and history packed documentary about the evolution of the prison system since the 13th Amendment’s abolition of slavery and how federal and local policies and institutionalized racism work to feed Black Americans into the system at a much higher demographic rate than is represented in society at large. It is not light viewing. It’s not pleasant, it’s not easy, it’s not fun. It’s not supposed to be. This is a challenging film on many fronts.

A TV-MA rating*?

Yep. Sure is. As we all know, teens are living lives every day that people say they shouldn’t be allowed to read about or watch. This is a powerful movie with difficult content. But it’s not the language–as in the prevalence of the n-word–or nudity–in the form of brief prison security camera footage from Kalif Browder’s three years at Riker’s Island–that is the most difficult. It’s the 911 calls and cell phone videos that captured the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Philando Castile, Tamir Rice, and Eric Garner that are played as the film, step by crushingly methodical step, takes the viewer decade by decade through the politics and consequences that lead directly to those heartbreaking, devastating moments.

Yes, this is a film for mature audiences in the most literal sense of the word. It is sobering and requires maturity. It’s also a good time to think about who gets to have the privilege being considered too immature to remain unaware of the realities of the film.

Questions to ask yourself

This is not a simple film for screening or discussion. Expect big feelings. Expect challenging reactions. Expect a lot of questions. Most importantly, expect to hold a conversation after the film. I feel that screening this–especially with a teen audience–and not hosting a discussion afterwards would be a disservice to the viewers and to the message of the film. Before you embark on a screening, consider the following:

  • Have you watched the film yourself at least twice? Watch it once, immersing yourself in the narrative. Then watch it again with an eye to detail and quotes. Take notes. Mark timestamps of specific elements that you want to emphasize in conversation so you can be sure you got them right.
  • Have you read/listened up on the surrounding issues? If this is your first introduction to the topic, don’t let it be your last. See the suggested titles at the end of this post for some book suggestions. Other jumping off points:
  • Who will come to the event? Think about the teens in your community: do you know who’s going to show up? Do you have a hunch? Who will be in the room and what experiences and emotions will they bring to the conversation? Who will you invite? What kind of balance will you seek between demographics like age, race, or gender? What ages will be welcome and how will your library or school address the rating, keeping in mind that TV ratings are voluntarily assigned by networks and producers are and not legally binding? What situations has your community or your teen patron base at large been involved in that relate to the subjects of the movie that they will bring with them to the viewing?
  • How heavily moderated will the conversation be? Will you steer the discussion to specific points? Will you allow or encourage discussion of specific politicians? Specific policies? Specific incidents? Or will you strive to keep the conversation more general? What is your plan for maintaining courteous discourse between the participants? What will your ground-rules be?
  • Are you equipped to handle the political and emotional complexity of conversation? It’s ok if you’re not the right person to lead the conversation. Who else in the community could you call on? Are there teachers, community leaders, local clergy, or organizers who the library could partner to facilitate a productive discussion?
  • How will you answer the inevitable question, “So how do we fix it?” This film doesn’t end with a tidy answer or any direct suggestions for ways to remedy the enmeshment of social, economic, and political issues that result in the imprisonment problem. I feel that it’s important to offer options and solutions to teens. My suggestion: share with your teens DuVernay’s own words from an interview last month with The Atlantic and invite them to respond with their own ideas:

    I believe in fortification and I believe that at this time, we should be fortifying ourselves through knowledge, through self-care, through community. All of these speak through art. It’s really about rallying around this moment and taking in a totality of what it is, and making it internal in whatever way that means to you. If you know all this stuff, great. Pass it on. If you don’t know it, know it. You need to know it. Because at this point, after you see 13th, silence in this case is consent. You know all of this. You’re a forward-thinking person, you care about it. You can’t just walk out into the night after you see the movie or put down your iPad after you see it on Netflix and do nothing about it.

    I’m not saying you have to join a march. I’m not saying you have to push for legislation. I’m saying what this film talks about is the very way that we deal with each other in the everyday. It’s about our relationship to each other as it deals with race. So there’s a lot there to be done. I’m stepping out of the conversation as it relates to this film. I’m doing two weekends talking to people and kind of giving birth to it and putting it out into the world. And then I’m going away because it’s not mine anymore. This is out in the world. I don’t want my voice clouding the conversation. I want people to be having their own conversation about it. That’s my great hope.

    Show + share, indeed.

Book tie-ins

YA Fiction

book cover: All American Boys by Reynolds and KielyAll American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely

Rashad Butler is a quiet, artistic teen who hates ROTC but dutifully attends because father insists “there’s no better opportunity for a black boy in this country than to join the army.” He heads to Jerry’s corner store on a Friday night to buy chips, and ends up the victim of unwarranted arrest and police brutality: an event his white schoolmate Quinn Collins witnesses in terrified disbelief. Quinn is even more shocked because the cop is Paul Galluzzo, older brother of his best friend and Quinn’s mentor since his father died in Afghanistan. As events unfold, both boys are forced to confront the knowledge that racism in America has not disappeared and that change will not come unless they step forward. Reynolds and Kiely’s collaborative effort deftly explores the aftermath of police brutality, addressing the fear, confusion, and anger that affects entire communities. Diverse perspectives are presented in a manner that feels organic to the narrative, further emphasizing the tension created when privilege and racism cannot be ignored. Timely and powerful, this novel promises to have an impact long after the pages stop turning. (SLJ Review by Ashley Turner)

Cy in Chains book cover by David L. DudleyCy in Chains by David L. Dudley

Cy Williams, thirteen, has always known that he and the other black folks on Strong’s plantation have to obey white men, no question. Sure, he’s free, as black people have been since his grandfather’s day, but in rural Georgia, that means they’re free to be whipped, abused, even killed. Almost four years later, Cy yearns for that freedom, such as it was. Now he’s a chain gang laborer, forced to do backbreaking work, penned in and shackled like an animal, brutalized, beaten, and humiliated by the boss of the camp and his hired overseers. For Cy and the boys he’s chained to, there’s no way out, no way back.
And then hope begins to grow in him, along with strength and courage he didn’t know he had. Cy is sure that a chance at freedom is worth any risk, any sacrifice. This powerful, moving story opens a window on a painful chapter in the history of race relations. (Publisher description)

Rikers High book cover by Paul VolponiRikers High by Paul Volponi

Martin was sitting on the front stoop of his apartment building minding his own business when he was arrested for something he didn’t even mean to do. Five months later, he’s still locked up on Rikers Island, in a New York City jail. Just when it seems things couldn’t get much worse, Martin is caught between two warring prisoners, and his face is slashed. Now he’ll be forever marked with a prison scar. One good thing comes from the attack: Martin is transferred to a different part of Rikers where inmates are required to attend high school. If Martin opens up to a teacher who really seems to care, perhaps he’ll learn a lesson more valuable than any taught in class. An award-winning author, Paul Volponi is uniquely qualified to tell Martin’s story because he taught on Rikers Island for six years. He originally wrote Rikers for an adult audience. The book has been revised for young adults and is being republished as Rikers High. (Publisher’s Description)

book cover: X by Ilyash ShabazzX by Ilyasha Shabazz with Kekla Magoon

Cowritten by Malcolm X’s daughter, this riveting and revealing novel follows the formative years of the man whose words and actions shook the world. X follows Malcolm from his childhood to his imprisonment for theft at age twenty, when he found the faith that would lead him to forge a new path and command a voice that still resonates today.
Malcolm Little’s parents have always told him that he can achieve anything, but from what he can tell, that’s a pack of lies—after all, his father’s been murdered, his mother’s been taken away, and his dreams of becoming a lawyer have gotten him laughed out of school. There’s no point in trying, he figures, and lured by the nightlife of Boston and New York, he escapes into a world of fancy suits, jazz, girls, and reefer. But Malcolm’s efforts to leave the past behind lead him into increasingly dangerous territory. Deep down, he knows that the freedom he’s found is only an illusion—and that he can’t run forever. (Publisher’s description)

Nonfiction

book cover: Between the World and MeBetween the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

In a series of essays, written as a letter to his son, Coates confronts the notion of race in America and how it has shaped American history, many times at the cost of black bodies and lives. Thoughtfully exploring personal and historical events, from his time at Howard University to the Civil War, the author poignantly asks and attempts to answer difficult questions that plague modern society. In this short memoir, the “Atlantic” writer explains that the tragic examples of Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, and those killed in South Carolina are the results of a systematically constructed and maintained assault to black people–a structure that includes slavery, mass incarceration, and police brutality as part of its foundation. (Publisher’s description)

 

book cover: True Notebooks by Mark SalzmanTrue Notebooks by Mark Salzman

Wanting to add life to a cardboard juvenile delinquent character in the novel he was trying to finish, Salzman (Iron & Silk; Lying Awake) visited a juvie lockup for high-risk offenders where his friend taught a writing class. Despite entering the facility wishing “we could tilt L.A. County and shake it until everybody with a shaved head and tattoos falls into the ocean,” Salzman ended up teaching a class himself. The remarkable results are detailed in this wonderful book. Salzman found students who took writing more seriously than the college kids he’d taught. Both selections from the boys’ writing and Salzman’s taut storytelling give us multidimensional images of teenagers thrown into a justice system concerned only with punishment. Early in the book, a friend of Salzman’s complains that there are no good books about juvenile delinquents. Well, there’s one now–one that examines a broken system with grace, wit, and gripping storytelling. (Booklist review, John Green) 

book cover: The New Jim Crow by Michelle AlexanderThe New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

In this incisive critique, former litigator-turned-legal-scholar Michelle Alexander provocatively argues that we have not ended racial caste in America: we have simply redesigned it. Alexander shows that, by targeting black men and decimating communities of color, the U.S. criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control, even as it formally adheres to the principle of color blindness. The New Jim Crowchallenges the civil rights community — and all of us – -to place mass incarceration at the forefront of a new movement for racial justice in America. (Publisher’s description)

 

book cover: Slavery by Another Name by BlackmonSlavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black American from the Civil War to World War II by Douglas A. Blackmon

A Pulitzer Prize-winning account of the “Age of Neoslavery,” the American period following the Emancipation Proclamation in which convicts, mostly black men, were “leased” through forced labor camps operated by state and federal governments.

Using a vast record of original documents and personal narratives, Douglas A. Blackmon unearths the lost stories of slaves and their descendants who journeyed into freedom after the Emancipation Proclamation and then back into the shadow of involuntary servitude shortly thereafter. By turns moving, sobering, and shocking, this unprecedented account reveals the stories of those who fought unsuccessfully against the re-emergence of human labor trafficking, the companies that profited most from neoslavery, and the insidious legacy of racism that reverberates today. (Publisher’s description)

*Again, I’d like to remind everyone that TV ratings are voluntarily assigned and overseen by a panel made up no small part by corporate representatives. TV ratings are not laws. (For more on the problems in the movie rating industry, see the 2006 This Film Is Not Yet Rated.)

My Teen Daughter Gave Me Permission to Write about her Eating Disorder, ARFID By Stephanie Elliot

MHYALitlogoofficfialMy daughter has an eating disorder and it’s unlike the usual suspects. Everyone is familiar with bulimia and anorexia nervosa, but what my daughter has is called ARFID, which stands for Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder.

ARFID, simply put, is the fear of eating – extreme picky eating; the fear that if you try something new, you might very well die. It sounds completely unbelievable, but this is the mind-thought of those who have the disorder. It has nothing to do with feelings of self-esteem or image issues, and almost everyone who has it suffers from depression, anxiety, and other social issues. It is most definitely a mental disorder and is listed in the DSM-5. Children and adults with ARFID will gag or vomit if new foods are introduced to them. They restrict foods, only eating a bank of small ‘safe’ foods, and distant themselves from friends and family. The disorder can get so bad that some turn to self-harm and have suicidal ideation.

My daughter McKaelen is 17 and she’s had ARFID for almost her whole life, but was only diagnosed when she was 15. For years we knew something was wrong – she was an extremely picky eater, she became reclusive, avoided friends, was distant with us, and didn’t participate in any family occasions that involved food. Doctors and therapists had no answers for us. She was healthy, growing at an above-average pace, and appeared normal. Only when we found a specialist in ARFID who could properly diagnose her did we find a way to recovery.

While McKaelen was in a 20-week outpatient program to learn to get better, I was writing a fictional account of her experience. This was therapy for me. We had been dealing with her eating disorder for years and years and I was learning so much. If I could write about her experience, and share the knowledge I was gaining about this mental disorder in order to help others learn, then I was going to do it. About halfway through her intense therapy, I knew I had to tell her I was writing about her experience. If she felt uncomfortable about it, I would stop. Instead, she embraced the idea and I kept writing.

sadperfect_09eWhile Sad Perfect is fiction, the symptoms of ARFID, and the accompanying anxiety, depression, and social distress in the book are true to what my daughter personally experienced. With McKaelen’s permission and thoughtful input, I share her story so that other teens going through something similar will be able to read this and know they are not alone.

I want struggling teens to know that their disorder has a name. They need to know that they’re not an anomaly, they are not the only kid who can’t try a food, and that it’s okay. These kids need to know that when they sit at the dining room table and they feel threatened, paralyzed, and incapable of doing the simple everyday task of eating a meal, it’s because they may have ARFID. They also need to know that it is a disorder that is not very well-known yet, but people in healthcare are finally talking about it, there is help available, and they can get better, with the right care and treatment plan.

BIO:

Stephanie Elliot is the author of Sad Perfect (FSG, 2/28/17) and is an advocate for ARFID, Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder. She lives in Scottsdale, Arizona with her husband and her three children.

For more book information please visit http://www.stephanieelliot.com.

For more information on ARFID, please visit http://stephanieelliot.wixsite.com/arfid.

Embracing Content Creation Queries – Guest post by Lynette Pitrak

“I want to design a Gandalf figure to print on the 3D printer.”

“How do I insert text over my video in iMovie?”

“I want to take pictures of the fall leaves on the trees in my neighborhood… but it’s really cloudy today.”

I’m paraphrasing here, but all three of the above are questions I’ve received from teenagers over the past week. When confronted with complex content creation issues, I usually find myself having two thoughts simultaneously:

“I have the best job EVER— teenagers are so cool!!!”

“OMG I have no idea how to do that—  I am the worst librarian in the world!!!”

Maybe some of you can relate? If you’re anything like me, you had a specific major in college (for me— art history/painting) and then completed an MLS or MLIS degree to become a librarian. I didn’t study computer science/filmmaking/music editing/photography in college or graduate school. But still, patrons ask me questions about all of these things (and much more :)) on a regular basis.

And to make things more overwhelming, I want to give the right answer! Librarians are people pleasers; we got into this profession because we LOVE helping people and want to add value to their lives– whether that be in connecting someone with a new favorite author, finding a historical stock price a patron needs when filing taxes, recommending a great gluten-free cookbook, or helping a teenager capture a photographic image. Sometimes, it can feel to me like content creation questions are more daunting than any other kind, because in that situation, a teen is trying to make something that is dependent on the help I am giving them. Luckily though, as a librarian, I have some pretty awesome training and resources to rely on:

  1. LIBRARIANS CREATED THE REFERENCE INTERVIEW! This is one of the first things we probably all learned in library school, and still so important. This is usually the first thing I will try to remember when helping a teenager who has a content creation query. For example, when working with the teenager who wanted to design a Gandalf figure to print on the 3D printer, it was very helpful for me to ask a few background questions. The first of these was, “What program are you using the design the figure?” By asking this, I was able to have a great conversation with this teen. I realized she hadn’t ever coded anything before and wasn’t sure what kind of program to use. She just wanted a Gandalf figurine! This was awesome because first, I could direct her to a program called Thingiverse. This program contains pre-designed 3D images which can be downloaded and then printed on a 3D printer. Natalie was able to get her Gandalf figurine easily this way. Even cooler, she was really interested when I was explaining about how use a program like Tinkercad to code a design that could later be printed on the 3D printer. So we set up a future appointment so that I can teach her to use this program to do some basic coding! She’ll learn some new skills to gain confidence for designing her own figures (and, over time, maybe build up to coding something as complicated as a Gandalf).
  2. LIBRARIANS ARE SURROUNDED BY BOOKS AND THE INTERNET! When working at the library, I am literally surrounded by books and computers with internet access. The librarians who order in our 000s area have built and maintained a wonderful collection of books focused on effectively using technology. It has been important for me to remember that there is no reason why I should feel awkward grabbing one of those books to look up how to do a specific thing, such as laying text over video in the iMovie program!! This is exactly what I did when working with Sam. I consulted our copy of My iMovie by Craig Johnston and Cheryl Brumbaugh-Duncan and used the table of contents to locate the section that discussed text overlays. Sam didn’t think I was unintelligent for having to look up the answer to this question! He was just so happy that I was excited to help him, and that I was able to work with him to try out the techniques recommended in the book until we ended up with what he wanted to do in his film. Next time, he’ll not only know where we keep our resources for computer help, but he’ll also remember that the librarians are always willing to help him. I also use YouTube videos all of the time when answering questions like this. This super easy-to-follow and informative video is just 3 minutes long, and answered all of the questions we had about text overlay in iMovie. Videos such as this one were created by regular people to help viewers do particular things that the creators of the video have also struggled with, and they are in abundance on YouTube!
  3. LIBRARIANS KNOW HOW TO PLAY AROUND! When Chicago Public Library opened their first YOUMedia space, they centered the space around the HOMAGO (Hanging Out, Messing Around, Geeking Out) philosophy. One aspect of this model is that hands on, playful exploration leads to real learning. Working with content creation equipment and software is enhanced by being willing to experiment and play. When Jade asked me how to best take photographs that would emphasize the colorful falls leaves without becoming too dark (because the day was overcast), this was an opportunity to play with the library’s DSLR camera. A rule of thumb is that when shooting on a cloudy day, traditionally the camera’s aperture should be set to f/2.8 to f/4. However, other factors are also important to consider, such as depth of field, balance of shadows and light, and image clarity. Trial and error is key, and it is important to take a lot of bad pictures before finding the right combination. After consulting our library’s amazing IT Department assistant manager (shout out Jason!) for recommendations, we just played with the camera. I showed Jade how to use the DSLR camera’s menu settings to change aperture and shutter speed, how to check the light meter, and how to zoom in and out with the camera’s lens. Some pictures were totally washed out and some were blurry, but when we discovered a combination that worked (f/2.8, 1/100—tripod needed!), the results were beautiful! And now Jade feels confident that she can mess around with the DSLR to teach herself, which was the best part of that experience.
Too much light

Too much light

Not enough light

Not enough light

Good combination of aperture and shutter speed

Good combination of aperture and shutter speed

I hope these examples of some of the experiences I have recently had have been helpful for you!! Next time you a  re approached by a teen with a complicated content creation question, just take a moment to breathe and recall your librarian training… And recognize how lucky you are to have such amazing teens asking you for help!!! :)

 

Read more about Lynette’s work with teens in a creative makerspace setting:

View From Behind The Lens

View From Behind The Lens, It’s a Wrap!

View From the Director’s Chair

View from the Director’s ChairP It’s a Wrap!

Take 5 Community Reads for YA

Thinking about doing a community-wide read for teens? You could create a list of companion books for teens inspired by an adult selection like the St. Joseph County Public Libraries did, you could select a book specifically for your teens, or you could encourage the whole community to dive into teen lit by selecting a YA market book for everyone to read. There are lots of options. Check out these five titles that have been used around the country to create conversations, build community, and involve books and programming around books in teens’ lives in a big way.

Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

A contemporary realistic title with broad age appeal can open conversation to a wide audience on a variety of current issues that impact the daily lives of teens.

Selected by Goodnow Library, Sudbury, MA

https://goodnowlibrary.org/news/one-book-one-school/

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

A book with a strong fan base will make promoting the event a lot easier – readers who love the book will be your best advertisement.

Selected by Lenape Regional High School District, Shamong, NJ

http://www.lrhsd.org/domain/35

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Pull in so-called “non readers” by thinking beyond novels. Graphic novels and nonfiction appeal on topic and delivery in a way that gives you a great jumping off point for conversations and programming.

Selected by Newton South High School, Newton, MA

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson

Look to nonfiction about current issues with an engaging delivery to involve high school aged teens and adults for conversations that impact all of us in modern society.

Selected by Fairfield, CT

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

A well loved classic that offers lots of programming potential and builds on the nostalgia factor. Reading it again as a teen might bring surprising realizations for those who skimmed over bits when they were younger.

Selected by Westmont Public Library, Westmont, IL