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The Book for Our Times: True or False: A CIA Analyst’s Guide to Spotting Fake News by Cindy L. Otis

On Monday, you saw that TLT announced that it’s 2021 focus project will be #FactsMatter, a deep dive into nonfiction and information literacy. Earlier this year, I bought this book which seems like the book of our times. We hear a lot about “Fake News”, so this book is timely and so very needed.

A CIA Analyst’s Guide to Spotting Fake News

by Cindy L. Otis

Publisher’s Book Description

“If I could pick one book to hand to every teen—and adult—on earth, this is the one. True or False is accessible, thorough, and searingly honest, and we desperately needed it.” —Becky Albertalli, author of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

A former CIA analyst unveils the true history of fake news and gives readers tips on how to avoid falling victim to it in this highly designed informative YA nonfiction title.

“Fake news” is a term you’ve probably heard a lot in the last few years, but it’s not a new phenomenon. From the ancient Egyptians to the French Revolution to Jack the Ripper and the founding fathers, fake news has been around as long as human civilization. But that doesn’t mean that we should just give up on the idea of finding the truth.

In True or False, former CIA analyst Cindy Otis will take readers through the history and impact of misinformation over the centuries, sharing stories from the past and insights that readers today can gain from them. Then, she shares lessons learned in over a decade working for the CIA, including actionable tips on how to spot fake news, how to make sense of the information we receive each day, and, perhaps most importantly, how to understand and see past our own information biases, so that we can think critically about important issues and put events happening around us into context.

True or False includes a wealth of photo illustrations, informative inserts, and sidebars containing interesting facts and trivia sure to engage readers in critical thinking and analysis.

Brief Thoughts

This book received Starred Reviews from Publishers Weekly and School Library Journal and is highly recommended for all YA and High School collections. It was also recommended by several people on Twitter today when I asked about books to beef up a library collection on information and digital literacy. It’s tone, mixture of graphics and text and insight are all greatly valuable and readable.

#FactsMatter: The 2021 Project Focusing on Nonfiction and Information Literacy

At TLT, we have often focused on middle grade and young adult fiction when we talk about books. But if there is anything that the last year of our lives have shown us, it’s that we have done our world a disservice. We have done our youth a disservice. Each year Teen Librarian Toolbox announces a yearly project, an area of focus to guide us. This year we will be focusing on juvenile and teen nonfiction and information literacy. This doesn’t mean we won’t continue to talk about, read, and review fiction, it just means that we will be working hard to highlight nonfiction titles as well.

And we could use your help, as always, with our yearly project.

If you are an author, a teacher, a librarian or a publisher, please contact us to write a guest post, talk about your book, or share what you are doing in the classroom or in your libraries to help your youth become informed consumers of information. Share your favorite resources, tools, etc. If you have a topic that fits and want a space to share it, we are here for you.

If you would like to participate by writing a post, please fill out this Google Form: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSe7-unzEqgqmOZdwKa_0hZ5NOa_Q1gFlzGpkmnJvsDqfdY90w/viewform?usp=sf_link

Keep checking back here as we will try and update this post periodically with links to all of the posts after 2021 kicks off, so that all the posts are in one place.

Join TLT as We Interview Kate Moore, author of The Radium Girls on Tuesday, October 27

Tomorrow, October 27th at 6:00 PM Central, I will have the honor of interviewing author Kate Moore about her book, The Radium Girls.

About THE RADIUM GIRLS

The incredible true story of the women who fought America’s Undark danger

The Curies’ newly discovered element of radium makes gleaming headlines across the nation as the fresh face of beauty, and wonder drug of the medical community. From body lotion to tonic water, the popular new element shines bright in the otherwise dark years of the First World War.

Meanwhile, hundreds of girls toil amidst the glowing dust of the radium-dial factories. The glittering chemical covers their bodies from head to toe; they light up the night like industrious fireflies. With such a coveted job, these “shining girls” are the luckiest alive — until they begin to fall mysteriously ill.

But the factories that once offered golden opportunities are now ignoring all claims of the gruesome side effects, and the women’s cries of corruption. And as the fatal poison of the radium takes hold, the brave shining girls find themselves embroiled in one of the biggest scandals of America’s early 20th century, and in a groundbreaking battle for workers’ rights that will echo for centuries to come.

Written with a sparkling voice and breakneck pace, The Radium Girls fully illuminates the inspiring young women exposed to the “wonder” substance of radium, and their awe-inspiring strength in the face of almost impossible circumstances. Their courage and tenacity led to life-changing regulations, research into nuclear bombing, and ultimately saved hundreds of thousands of lives…

Join us on Tuesday for a discussion by registering here: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_f5xjGiXoQi6cMRtn6OpkmQ

You’re graduating high school, now what?

I stayed up all night last night reading an ARC of GLORY O’BRIEN’S HISTORY OF THE FUTURE by A. S. King (dear lord people, so much glorious goodness coming this fall – make a note to read it!). This book is many amazing things, but it perfectly captures that moment when you graduate from high school and realize you have to figure out what comes next. For a lot of teens, the what next is college. For some, like Glory, it is a gap year. For others, it is straight to work.

Yesterday we talked about high school, but here are a couple of books from Zest Books that can help us all with the moments that come after high school.

77 Things You Absolutely Have to Do Before You Finish College by Halley Bondy

I’m not going to lie, my favorite item in this book was number 23: Spend quality time in the library . . . without doing homework. I was lucky enough to go to college in a town with two colleges, and the other college – Kenyon College – had the most amazing bookstore ever. We used to go all the time and hang out there; you would find wondrous things that you never knew existed. If you ever find yourself in Mount Vernon Ohio, go there. Even if you are kinda maybe a little bit close, drive in for a visit.

Some other good tips include taking a class that has nothing to do with your major, learn a language you’ve never studied, try a sport you’ve never tried (intramurals can be a good way to do this), and join an a capella group (or at least watch the movie Pitch Perfect and do this vicariously). And as an aside, many of these will apply to those who choose an alternate, non-college plan after high school. You can even find alternate ways to do some of the education related ones – like study a language or take a class outside of your major – by using your local library resources or taking a local community class.
Undecided: Navigating Life and Learning After High School by Genevieve Morgan
The truth is, most of us don’t have our lives figured out when we graduate high school. I changed majors mid-stream and have a whole extra year of credits (and debt!) to show for it. Want to know what’s even better? I have an undergraduate degree in youth ministry that I basically don’t use (although I will admit the info was very informative to being a YA librarian). And college isn’t the right choice for everyone. And sadly, for many teens, it isn’t really an option at all.Undecided is a pretty good look at the many options that one has after high school, including not only higher education but military services and internships. There is a brief section on gap years (I just like saying gap years because I only learned they were called that last year – in a YA book no less!). Undecided also acknowledges the issue of money and has a chapter dedicated to budgets and planning. I really liked that this section talked about debt and acknowledged that anything they said in the book might already be irrelevant because the conversation kept changing so quickly: “Media reports regularly address what is going on with student loan debt, and things are changing so fast that what I tell you today probably will be out of date tomorrow” (page 68).  But the reality is, “Many college students and grads (even not-so-recent grads) are shackled by debt and the inability to get a job with a high enough salary to pay off that debt” (page 69). I thought the end advice was very spot on: “Take on as little debt as possible to pay for your education – even if this means needing more time to get your degree and working. Or going to a state school instead of a private college. If you do get a loan, read your contract carefully” (page 70).

So while I thought 77 Things You Absolutely Have to Do Before You Finish College was fun and even insightful, I found Undecided to be a very important and helpful tool. Of course one is aimed more at high school students who are trying to figure out what comes after high school and the other is aimed at students who are past that point and are already in college.  They both meet their stated goals and are good resources.

77 Things You Absolutely Have to Do Before You Finish High School by Halley Bondy. Zest Books, 2014. 191 pages. ISBN: 978-1-936976-00-3.

Undecided: Navigating Life and Learning After High School by Genevieve Morgan. Zest Books, 2014. 247 pages. ISBN: 978-1-93676-32-4.

Duct Tape! Check out Sticky Fingers, plus learn from my mistakes – cool tips

I own no less than 20 rolls of Duck/Duct Tape. Okay, technically I bought them for the Tween. But you know, I get to play with them too! Plus, I have regular Duct Tape crafting days at the library. Suffice it to say at this point, I am an expert on Duct Tape crafts.

In fact, I have some important tips for you:

1. Don’t use scissors! Buy an exacto knife and a cutting mat. So much easier to use. If you do use scissors, have lots of Goo Gone on hand to keep cleaning your scissors.

2. To make strips, you can in fact use a scrapbook paper cutter thingy. They look like this. They work wonders. I find this particularly useful to make strips to make a piece of “duct tape material” as it is sometimes called, which you can use, for example, as a duct tape wallet base.

3. You can save little pieces you cut off, like corners and such, on a removable surface, like the backside of your cutting mat, and use them to make picture collages on canvas. Or folders.

4. Once a piece of duct tape gets stuck to itself there is no saving it. Just throw it away and get a new piece.

5. Always make sure you have solid color options to balance the cool print options.

I have shared several posts of some of my favorite activities and books, but here is a new book coming out in July from Zest Books called Sticky Fingers: DIY Duct Tape Projects by Sophie Maletsky (ISBN: 978-1-936976-54-6)

I love the step-by-step instructions in full color! And how the activities are not the same ole’, same ole’ activities again.


Duct Tape Crafts and Even More Duct Tape Crafts

Life Hacks with The How To Handbook (Plus, some of my favorite Life Hacks posts/resources)

life·hack
ˈlīfˌhak/
noun

informal
noun: life hack 
1. a strategy or technique adopted in order to manage one’s time and daily activities in a more efficient way.
If you spend any time at Buzzfeed or Pinterest, you know that Life Hacks are a thing. Kitchen hacks, school hacks, craft hacks . . . you can always find fun posts that highlight fast and creative ways to solve a problem, re-use an item, etc. I am obsessed with finding fun and creative life hacks.
But here’s the truth, I don’t do very many of them because, well, I am not overly domestic. True story. So kitchen hacks? Cool, but not practical for me because I avoid the kitchen like the plague.

So then I was reading this story about how teens don’t know how to do a lot of the basic skills that we used to take for granted because no one is teaching them.  Know how to sew on a button? Most teens don’t. Know how to tie a knot or pitch a tent? Sadly, a lot of teens don’t.

Every time I see the book The How-to-Handbook I keep thinking that I want to put together a program series called Life Hacks – perfect for a series of Throw Back Thursday themed programs – where we teach teens how to do these basic types of skills. Family Circle has a really good highlight of some of the things we need to make sure teens know, including money skills and clothing skills (there’s that sewing on a button thing again).
And because of the cover of the The How-to-Handbook, I always think I want to do is as an old school badging program. Or, if you want, electronic badges. In my mind it is set up in one of two ways:

1) Do it over spring break with a different themed day every day. Set up stations where tweens and teens do different tasks.  For example, you could have a clothing themed day where at one station they sew a button, in another they sort baskets of clothes for washing, and in another they fold fitted sheets. And a lot of these activities can be turned into types of relay games to make it fun.

or . . .

2) Do a series of Thursday programs (because, you know, Throwback Thursday) for say a month. Again, each week of the month gets a theme.  You can also throw in some old school board and video games. And crafts!

Here’s a look at some of my favorite skills in the book that I think might make for good elements in the series:
Part 1: Everyday Essentials
Manage Your Money
Pack a Suitcase (this could be a fun racing type game)
Wrap a Gift
Part 2: Looking and Smelling Good
Iron a Pair of Pants
 Tie a Bowtie/Tie a Tie
Part 3: Get to Know Your Kitchen
Kitchen essentials
Set a table
Eat a balanced meal
Part 4: Clean Up Like a Pro
Clean your room in five minutes
Do the laundry
Fold a fitted sheet (again, another fun relay type activity could be done here)
Unstick chewing gum
Part 5: Do It Yourself
Fix a flat
Pitch a tent
Sew on a button
Part 6: Emergency Skills 101
Dress a cut
Extract a splinter
Help a choking victim
Take a pule
And of course you could add to this in any way you wanted to. Basic computer skills, job seeking skills, etc.

Here are some of my favorite LifeHack posts/resources:
Huffington Post: 20 DIY Lifehacks with Office Junk that will Blow Your Mind
Tumblr: Daily Life Hacks on Teenager Posts
Bored Panda: 40 Life Hacks That Will Change Your Life
Buzzfeed: 26 Clever and Inexpensive Crafting Hacks
Lifehacker.com: Tons of life hacks

Please people, feed my obsession! Share your favorite Life Hacks in the comments.

Take 5: Your High School Survival Pack

Some people are busy preparing to survive the zombie apocalypse, but the truth is there is something much harder that we all have to survive – High School!

Don’t get me wrong, there were some awesome things about high school. Friday night football games are fun. First love is fun (and terrifying). Watching scary movies with friends, also fun. But I would definitely not want to go back and do it again. Nope, not at all.

So here are some tools to help you – or someone you love – survive high school. While preppers are busy hoarding food and building underground tunnels, all you need is to throw a few good books in your survival pack. And I know just the books . . .


Real teens share their high school stories and survival tips. Been There is divided into 3 sections: Social advice, Academic advice, and Practical advice.  This is a very practical guide for not only your Freshman year, but just your middle school and high school years in general as only some of the advice would specific to your Freshman year.  The advice is real, and you can tell it is written by real teens.  What’s the number 1 thing not to do while making new friends? Fart of course.  And yet there is some real honest, raw and heartfelt advice given here: For instance, it can be really disorienting when your best friend since 3rd grade starts eating lunch somewhere else . . . But your friend’s behavior probably has very little to do with you.  Maybe he’s wanting to expand his own circle of friends. . . Friends come and go, and losing and gaining friends is all part of the experience of growing up and . . . surviving high school (page 18).

Forget the Oxford English Dictionary, THIS is the dictionary you need. From acne to varsity, this mock dictionary provides you with humor and insight into high school life. Want an example, look at this entry for GPA:

I get parents coming in a lot and asking for books to help their kids learn how to study. We talk about studying, but we don’t often really teach kids/teens HOW to do it. This is a really informative guide that helps you get organized, learn techniques, and discusses things like how to take notes and understanding your teachers expectation. At 135 pages it tackles the topic without being exhaustive and overwhelming.

Every time my Tween opens her backpack I cringe and shudder, simultaneously. Papers are shoved inside, all wrinkled and chaos. Then she cries because she can’t find the paper she needed to tell her how to do her science project. She needs this book! Where’s My Stuff is an older title, but one of my favorites because it discusses things like organizing your backpack, organizing your school work, organizing your room and even organizing your time. A little organization can help you be so much more successful in school.

I am a complete sucker for a book of lists. They’re fun and browseable, and who doesn’t like to go through them and mentally check things off? This title is not only a fun list, but it gives a brief overview of some interesting topics like connecting with a role model and ending a argument. The items are divided into various categories including things to do for in each category. The categories are highlighted here with examples in parenthesis: Things to do for your personal development (attend a theater performance, develop the art of conversations, make a public speech), with or for friends (make a gift, start a book club, take a road trip), with or for family (record an oral history, make peace with a sibling, cook a three-course meal), for you body (establish an exercise routine, determine your blood type, study food labels, learn about safe sex), get to know the world around you (create a comic strip, design a t-shirt, write a real letter), to benefit your community and environment (volunteer, go green, understand how a farm works), because you should (write a resume, learn basic car maintenance, learn CPR) and, finally, because you’re only young once (confess a crush, build a bonfire, bury a time capsule).

Guess what? You can win this high school survival pack – for you, for your library, for someone you love. Just do the Rafflecopter thingy below for a variety of ways to enter. Open through the end of this week to U.S. residents. 



Zest Books Week 2014

 
This week is once again Zest Books week here at TLT. Zest Books is one of my favorite nonfiction publishers for young adults. Here’s a look at the various books we’ve talked about so far on TLT, including book reviews and program/party outlines. There’s a little bit of something for everyone.

Dear Teen Me, authors write letters to their teen selves edited by E. Kristin Anderson and Miranda Kenneally
The End, a look at books containing epidemics based on The End: 50 apocalyptic Visions from Pop Culture That You Should Know About . . . before it’s too late by Laura Barcella
Uncool (Book Review)
Girls Against Girls (Book Review and Discussion)
Historical Heartthrobs (Book Review)
How Not to be a Dick (Book Review)
Little Fish, a different kind of memoir (and a different kind of TPiB)
Super Pop! (Book Review)
Prom (TPiB)
Where’s My Stuff? A look at organization (and a TPiB)
My First Love (and Break Up): Books about falling in and out of love
Scared Stiff: A Look at 50 Famous Phobias (Book Review)

Book Review: Scared Stiff, Everything you need to know about 50 famous phobias by Sara Latta

Crowds. I don’t like being in a crowded place where people are pressed together wall to wall and you look around and think, if this place catches on fire there is no way I can get out. I always want to make sure there is a solid exit strategy. Apparently, this is claustrophobia which is not just a fear of tight, confined spaces, but a fear of no escape.

Have you read Coraline by Neil Gaiman? It taps into an interesting fear called Koumpounophobia: the fear of buttons (page 96).

And today’s current zombie craze? A possible product of Kinemortophobia: a fear of zombies. Interestingly enough, people aren’t so much afraid of being eaten by zombies (not high on my list), but of being turned in to a zombie (even lower on my list). And although there seems to be no such thing as zombies, there really are zombie ants. These ants are taken over by a fungus (page 92).

I imagine a lot of people have the newer phobia Nomophobia, a fear of being out of mobile phone contact. If you feel anxiety when you have to turn off your phone or get jittery or headaches if you’re separated from your phone, you may have this (page 113). My cell phone dies all the time and I’m okay so I’m pretty sure that this one isn’t an issue for me.

My daughter refused to read Doll Bones by Holly Black because she thought the cover was too scary – she may have Pediophobia: a fear of dolls.

Scared Stiff is a look at 50 Famous Phobias, from the fear of different types of animals (including cats, dogs, mice, pigs, snakes and birds) to the fear of clowns (which Stephen King did nothing to help with his book It, also Johnny Depp has this fear). A phobia is an extreme fear and can have dramatic impact on how a person lives their life. There are literally hundreds of types of phobias out there and they are a source of interest for many readers, which will make Scared Stiff a very popular title.

Like most Zest titles, this is a quick, interesting read. It’s organized alphabetically by fear and gives some basic information, including the word origin, examples of the fear, and some quotes about the fear.

Although the topic is interesting, it can also be quite serious because phobias are very real and can have very dramatic impacts on people’s lives, which is why they include an appendix on overcoming one’s fears. It is noted that social phobias and more general anxiety disorders usually require professional help to overcome. There is a brief overview of some of the techniques that a therapist might use to help a person learn to manage their phobias. Scared Stiff manages to be informative and fun to read while giving thoughtful recognition to the impact that a phobia can have on a person’s life. Elizabeth McMahon, Ph.D. is noted as a contributor and it seems her input was used to make sure the information was both accurate and respectful.

And thankfully, there is an index. I am a geek who loves a good index.

I highly recommend this book. It’s the type of nonfiction title that is browseable and of interest not just for school reports.

Scared Stiff: Everything you Need to Know About 50 Famous Phobias by Sara Latta. Zest Books, 2013. ISBN: 978-1-936976-49-2.

Take 5: VOYA’s Nonfiction Honor List 2012

While historical fiction may be my Achilles hill (although I have now read 10 historical fiction titles this year – please hold your applause until the end of the post), nonfiction is something I like but just don’t ever read enough of.  As a reviewer for VOYA, they occasionally send me a nonfiction title to review.  For example, I reviewed Friend Me! Six Hundred Years of Social Networking in America by Francesca Davis Diapazza, which was a really interesting way to look at communication throughout history and compare it to our current social media craze.  I also just checked out and read Robotics: Discover the Science and Technology of the Future with 25 Projects by Kathy Ceceri, which had one of the best explanations of coding that I havw read and really helped the Tween understand what we were talking about.  Every year VOYA puts out its Nonfiction Honor List, and this year you can find it in the August 2013 issue of VOYA.  Here are 5 of my favorite titles from the list, which is always a really good list.

The End: 50 Apocalyptic Visions from Pop Culture That YOu Should Know About . . . Before It’s Too Late.  Zest Books, 2012

Okay, so this is a no brainer.  It’s about the apocalypse! It’s pop culture! And, of course, it is from Zest Books, whom I adore for their fun nonfiction titles.  This is a great resource for so many reasons.  Readers of all ages can flip through and learn some fun tidbits about the apocalypse as depicted in various books, movies, televisions shows, songs and more.  It’s easy to flip through casually.  BUT, as a librarian I can’t help but think of how I can use it to put together apocalypse themed displays, trivia contests, and social media contests.  With The Walking Dead season 4 getting ready to premiere (October 13th), it’s a great time to be plugging into pop culture at the library.  Plus, Catching Fire comes out in November.

What’s For Lunch? How Schoolchildren Eat Around the World by Andrea Curtis.  Red Deer, 2012.


Food is a huge issue, especially school food.  Today, 1 in 5 children go to bed hungry and for many American children, their only meals may be those that they have at school.  But is Ketchup a vegetable? (I say no by the way).  This is an interesting look at how children around the world eat lunch at school and how our school meals compare.  I am fascinated with Bento Box lunches from Japan.  I pack my daughters lunch each day and can assure you, they greatly pale in comparison.

Screen grab of a Bento box lunch image search on Google, aka not what my lunches look like

Learn to Speak Fashion: A Guide to Creating, Showcasing and Promoting Your Style by Laure deCarufel.  Owlkids, 2012.

Pair this with The Look Book, Fashion 101, and The Book of Styling (all from the style section on the Zest Books webpage), and you have a pretty thorough collection for budding fashionistas.  Learn to Speak Fashion provides details for putting together everything from your personal wardrobe to a runway show.  And we have already outlined some great fashion programs for you to use as a tie-in, see Project Fashion and Project Fashion, part 2.  And think of all the craft ideas you can do around fashion, from making Duct Tape accessories to upcyclying your jeans.

Rightfully Ours: How Women Won the Vote, 21 Activities by Kerrie Logan Hollihan.  Chicago Review, 2012.

I am the mom to 2 little girls and helping them understand how women used to be treated, how we got to the place that we are at, and how we need to keep fighting for equality (women still earn less then men for doing the same jobs, for example) is really important to me.  I don’t want them to take this life that they are living for granted and become so complacent that we lose the rights that we have gained.  So this book was a title that I jumped on.  It is chuck full of photographs, a timelines and even some hands-on activities (which make this a great title for schools).

The Secret Life of Money: A Kid’s Guide to Cash by Kira Vermond.  Owlkids, 2012.

I never carry cash so my kids think you can just whip out a magic plastic card and take things home from the store.  Financial literacy is so very important, and complicated.  The writing style of Secret Life is very irreverent, which makes it more accessible and less boring.  I remember economics from high school, it could be very dry.  The format of this title helps break down those barriers of interest while still providing the information teens need to become better financial stewards.

It was really hard for me to just pick five from the list.  In fact in this post I actually talk about and recommend 10 nonfiction titles great for tweens and teens.  I just wanted to point that out because I think I don’t talk about nonfiction enough.  Or read it enough.  Many of the titles I didn’t include were equally awesome and cover things like adventure (The Impossible Rescue, which is awesome), civil rights (We’ve Got a Job), and animals.  You can never go wrong with animals.    Check out your August 2013 VOYA for a complete look at the list.  Tell me in the comments, which titles would you add to your 2012 Nonfiction Honor List?