Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Book Review: Real Talk About Sex and Consent: What Every Teen Needs To Know by Cheryl M Bradshaw

When I’m reviewing books for professional publications, I stay quiet about them on social media. I’m always really excited once a review comes out to be able to talk about the book, finally! Here’s one of my most recent reviews, a STARRED review, which originally appeared in an issue of School Library Journal.

Real Talk About Sex and Consent: What Every Teen Needs to Know

New Harbinger. (Instant Help Solutions). Oct. 2020. 200p. pap. $17.95. ISBN 9781684034499.

 Gr 8 Up–This comprehensive guide to the legal, emotional, social, and physical aspects of consent shows teens that this issue is much more complicated than just saying “yes” or “no.” Bradshaw, who is a registered psychotherapist, focuses on creating healthy relationships that are safe and respectful, have boundaries, and involve enthusiastic consent. Readers are given the skills to communicate effectively and clearly. Bradshaw provides many examples of scenarios and scripts that depict what consent looks and sounds like. Aimed at all genders and all sexualities, chapters examine getting to know yourself and your desires, identities, and attractions; gendered stereotypes and dynamics; pornography, nudes, and sexting; laws regarding age, power dynamics, and the ability to consent; warning signals; solutions and approaches to conflict; factors that may affect consent; and how to recognize sexual assault and get help. Conversational, honest, and accessible, with an emphasis on consent as a complete way to approach intimacy, this resource is invaluable. Repetition and summaries drive home which aspects are involved in total consent. The text makes it clear that all people deserve respect and the ability to be in control while emphasizing that consent is an ongoing component of healthy, happy, safe, and respectful relationships. Back matter includes resources (books, videos, articles), sexual assault intervention training and programs, and where to find support.

VERDICT: A truly vital and nuanced guide that is as empowering as it is educational.

On Taking My Teen to Vote for the Very First Time

Earlier today, you heard my teenage daughter Riley Jensen talking about going to vote for her very first time. I thought I would share a little bit about what I did to prepare her as both a librarian and a mother.

Regular readers know that the Jensens are feminists, so we’ve been talking about the right to vote since she was in my womb. I took her with me when I went and voted for Barack Obama, both times. So she was no stranger to the polling place or the importance of using your voice.

Trying to get her registered to vote over the summer during a pandemic was a bit harder then I realized it would be. We were able to do it by mail, but when her voter registration card came in the mail they had spelled her name incorrectly. She also only had a driver’s permit which expired on her birthday, and trying to replace it or get the photo ID she would need to vote was challenging. But we dotted all of our i’s and crossed all of our t’s because I knew that especially in this election where the outcome seems so life changing, she would be devastated if she didn’t get to vote.

Then we talked about making a plan to vote. We live in a small, conservative Texas town and there were rumblings of armed Trump supporters being sent out to “patrol the polling places”. Which meant that I told her that I wanted us to go as a family for her first time voting not just because I wanted to share the moment with her – which I did – but because I was concerned about her safety. She has anxiety and I didn’t want anything to happen at the polling location to cause a panic attack or make her feel like she couldn’t safely vote. So her father and I went with her to share the moment, to help make sure her anxiety was okay during a new situation, and to keep her safe in the event that there were any safety issues.

The morning of we sat down and talked her through the process step by step. We let her know what she would need to do waiting in line, with each person she saw inside the building, and how the actual process of voting worked. We reminded her that she could fill out any, all or none of the categories if she didn’t feel comfortable or didn’t feel like she knew enough about an issue. I reminded her that on the actual issues you had to be very careful about the wording because they were often worded in a way designed to trick voters. Because she knew what party she wanted to vote for, we looked up who those candidates were and reminded her that in most of the races, their party affiliation would be next to their name.

The most important thing we told her is that after she filled out her ballot, that she should double check that it says what she wants it to before she submits it. This is important in all situations, but when you are a person with anxiety taking a moment to double check your work can help later when anxious thoughts come up or when you start seeing the inevitable social media posts proclaiming that people’s votes are being changed by the computers.

As she mentioned in her post, we went on the very first day of early voting and waited in line a little over an hour. Everyone was masked up and socially distanced, so we felt very safe in that way. And there were no outside poll enforcers or whatever they were threatening, for which I was very glad. I’m not going to lie, with all of the chatter I did feel afraid and I hate that.

It has been amazing watching my daughter become the amazing young woman that she is. She’s intelligent, informed and passionate and seeing her put that into action at the polls and getting to share that with her was truly a powerful moment for me. I hope the election turns out the way that she wants it to, so that her future is safer.

As a parent and a teen services librarian, here are some things we need to discuss with teens about voting:

  1. How to register to vote
  2. How to research the candidates and the issues on the ballot
  3. How to make a plan to vote, including sample ballots and things like early voting, absentee voting and in person voting on election day
  4. What will happen inside the polling location and what the rules are
  5. How to be politically active and engaged throughout your life, not just during election season

Friday Finds: October 16, 2020

This Week at TLT

Book Review: You Know I’m No Good by Jessie Ann Foley

Take 5: Creepy(ish) Teen Reads for the Month of October (and always)

Morgan’s Mumbles: Taking Mental Breaks, by Teen Contributor Morgan Randall

On Writing Black Sidekicks and Fleshing Out Supporting Characters, a guest post by Ben Philippe

An Examination of the Troubled Teen Industry, Thirteen Years in the Making, a guest post by Jessie Ann Foley

Dyslexia Awareness Month: What Makes a Book Dyslexia Friendly?

Break Means Break Not Work: A Treatise Against Homework Over School Breaks, By Teen Contributor Riley Jensen

Around the Web

The History of Black Towns and Communities in the U.S., From Tulsa to Rosewood

8 Million Have Slipped Into Poverty Since May as Federal Aid Has Dried Up

CDC: Almost all of the US kids and teens who’ve died from COVID-19 were Hispanic or Black

Eric Hale is the first Black man named Texas Teacher of the Year: ‘I’m not the first to deserve it’

Twitter suspends accounts claiming to be black Trump supporters

HBO Developing Adaptation Of Ibi Zoboi’s ‘Pride’

Book Review: You Know I’m No Good by Jessie Ann Foley

You Know I'm No Good

Publisher’s description

This razor-sharp novel from Printz Honor winner and Morris Award finalist Jessie Ann Foley will appeal to fans of Rory Power and Mindy McGinnis.

Mia is officially a Troubled Teen™— she gets bad grades, drinks too much, and has probably gone too far with too many guys.

But she doesn’t realize how out of control she seems until she is taken from her home in the middle of the night and sent away to Red Oak Academy, a therapeutic girls’ boarding school in the middle of nowhere.

While there, Mia is forced to confront her painful past at the same time she questions why she’s at Red Oak. If she were a boy, would her behavior be considered wild enough to get sent away? But what happens when circumstances outside of her control compel Mia to make herself vulnerable enough to be truly seen?

Challenging and thought-provoking, this stunning contemporary YA novel examines the ways society is stacked against teen girls and what one young woman will do to even the odds.

Amanda’s thoughts

The thing about 2020 is that it’s hard to find joy in anything or to be able to concentrate on anything. One afternoon, I picked up this book, read two pages, and put it down. It was immediately clear to me that this book was not for this day. I needed something lighter. Something different. So I set this book aside for a week, then came back to it. I knew I would. I’ve loved Foley’s other books and think this one may be her best yet.

Mia, who’s “gifted” and really smart, likes writing “almost as much as [she] likes cutting class to smoke weed in the parking lot behind the bankrupt Sears at Six Corners” (pg 4). She calms down her overactive brain with books, drugs, and boys. Books rarely do harm, unless you throw them hard enough, but drugs and boys prove to be toxic choices. Mia’s big thing is acting like she doesn’t care. Hardly a revolutionary attitude to cop as a teenager, but while it may be derivative, it gets her through. Mia’s run out of second chances, and her dad and stepmom ship her off to the wilds of Minnesota to get some help. It’s a traumatic departure—she’s essentially kidnapped—and suddenly all of her vices are gone and she’s left with just her own self and a bunch of other “troubled” girls.

It’s here that Mia beings to really think about herself, her choices, what’s happened to her, and what she wants out of life. Many of these ruminations are spawned from therapy sessions, but Mia has long been in therapy. It’s only here, now, that she seems able to actually hear what she’s being told and truly understand her life. She grapples with wondering if she’s “bad” or just “not good.” How does her mother’s murder, when Mia was only 3, fit into her life, really? Is suffering and trauma hereditary? How should we deal with difficult women?

At home, Mia didn’t have real friends, just people who could hook her up with stuff or get into trouble with her. But at Red Oak, she actually connects with some of the other girls, sharing their pain and secrets. Mia beings to see how she’s been used by boys and hurt by girls and women. Finally facing some painful realities (including the understanding that her first sexual encounter was rape), Mia starts to see that she deserves better, that she needs to fight, to stand up for herself. And, most importantly, she needs to be the one who defines who she is, not rumors or bad choices or the names she gets called. She is more than just what has been done to her, or what’s been said about her, or what she’s done. Unfortunately, healing is rarely linear, and Mia takes a big swerve off her path of progress when she and another girl run away from the facility and have to figure out what they truly want in life.

This is one of those great books that manages to be both devastatingly sad and hopeful. Mia is a fierce character who works hard to keep her walls built up around her, but experiences real, believable growth over the course of the story. She is flawed, vulnerable, and resilient. A really moving look at trauma, choices, recovery, and healing.

Review copy (ARC) courtesy of

ISBN-13: 9780062957085
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/13/2020
Age Range: 14 – 17 Years

Morgan’s Mumbles: Taking Mental Breaks, by Teen Contributor Morgan Randall

Teen contributor Morgan Randall talks with us today about taking mental breaks

As this is the midpoint for a lot of colleges’ fall semester, I (like many other college students) am starting to struggle a lot with mental fatigue especially that which comes from the lack of social interactions with purely online classes. Staring at a computer, on average for eight hours a day, is taking a toll on me mentally as it makes me feel isolated. And the lack of sunlight is having an effect on my mental health. Right now would be the perfect time for a break, one where I could go outside and take time to mentally reboot. However, my college (like a lot of other ones) has opted to not have a fall break this year, and in exchange releasing us from the fall semester earlier. I understand why, with the fear of another large wave of COVID, however, going to a large college COVID cases are already high and a majority of students aren’t in person anyways. I do think it is important to try and limit contact, and if the university thinks this is the best way to do so then I pray it works. However, by doing this it doesn’t allow people time to re-cooperate after midterms or even just to have a few days to reset mentally.

I have one professor who canceled one of our classes this week as a “break” but he still assigned us work, and every other of my classes are still happening. I understand my professors have a lot to teach us in little time, however with the amount of information being crammed into my mind at this rate I will not retain any of it. Mentally I need time to breathe and process everything happening, along with having time to practice some healthy self-care. Since I am currently limited on how I can do that, due to both COVID and the lack of having a break, I am trying to come up with some ways I can still have a mental reset without missing classes and risking the safety of anyone.

Some of the ways I have come up with is to take a walk, it can be hard to get a long walk in when a majority of your classes are spread throughout the day but even taking a short walk normally helps my have some mental clarity. Journaling has also been really helpful, sometimes I journal about things that are on my mind, and other times I just find random journaling prompts and work off of those. I have been trying to explore more music recently and trying to find smaller artists to support. Music has always brought me some kind of happiness, so find something that sparks joy for you and find a way to incorporate that in your everyday life. One of my roommates paints, and I also really enjoy embroidery. Cleaning and organizing have also (oddly enough) become really soothing since I live in a very contained area, any messy area effects my mental clarity. I like to pick up throughout the day, and then whenever I am feeling real slumped I’ll push myself to deep clean something or organize another area so that in turn I will feel better mentally and my space will be cleaner.

These are things I would typically do over a break from school, during high school, so now I am just trying to find ways to incorporate these in my everyday life. That way a break isn’t the only time you get to mentally reset. If you are someone who normally gets to travel over breaks, and can’t do so now. I recommend trying to find a local campsite you can visit, so that you have no (or little) contact to other people but can still feel like you got to get away. Or if you live close to a lake, ocean, mountains, or large forested area take a day trip just to have a change of scenery and find something to do there. If you are able to, take a road trip with roommates or family, pick a location and make it a fun trip. By limiting your space to your car (and as few stops as possible) you can limit spread but also still make a day or a few interesting.            

I hope that this gave you some ideas of things to do if you aren’t going to get a break anytime soon, and I hope it will help you mentally reset.

Morgan RandallTeen Contributor

Morgan recently graduated high school and is currently enrolled to attend college in the fall getting her BA in Theatre and Dance with an emphasis on Design and Technology. She loves theatre, writing, reading, and learning. But something that has always been important to her is being a voice for those who feel like they don’t have one, and being a catalyst for change in any way possible.

On Writing Black Sidekicks and Fleshing Out Supporting Characters, a guest post by Ben Philippe

If you grew up on television like I did, and happened to be black, like I was, you always noticed yourself on the screen. The ongoing conversations about diversity and representation in children’s entertainment happening today were never about ‘absence’ in my experience. Black characters were, if nothing else, always present in teenaged stories.

If representation amounted to seeing or yourself in the background or walking down a school hallway behind the main characters clutching books to your chest and nodding to their woes, then I was very much visible. YA literature will likewise never run out of faces in the crowd that are broadly described as “dark-skinned with a toothy grin.” (You might think there’s literally no other way of smiling.)

It took a few years for me to realize that these characters were hollow glass figures. They had no interiority, no depth. Everything about them lived on the surface of their skins and if they taught me anything, it was to see myself in the white leads instead, an ability for which I’m now grateful. You learn to define yourself through character traits and personality rather than their physical appearance. You might say that that should be a given of fiction, but how many books have you put down or walked past simply because of the assumptions made about the face on the cover? It often goes beyond not having been grabbed by a cover to underlying assumptions that “there couldn’t possibly be anything for me here.”

Learning to see past that is, in my opinion, its own reading muscle. Someone really should come up with an adage. Don’t judge a book by its something, something…

Whether it was intentional or by design, all my YA protagonists thus far have come from that batch of easily dismissed archetypes. Norris Kaplan, the protagonist of my first book, was the new foreign kid in town. I imagine that in a different book, he would be his white friend Liam’s sidekick and I shamelessly enjoyed reversing that polarity.

Nearly two years later, the same can now be said for Henri, the protagonist of CHARMING AS A VERB. Henri is the tall popular Black guy and a bit of an academic jock who, at a glance, could narratively max out as “the best friend of the white basketball player.” You know the archetype… the walking set of catchphrases that stands slightly behind the real love protagonist at the party and exists to provide the occasional fist bump. That was the stick figure I was working against in writing Henri’s easy charm and ability to get along with everyone. Henri is both effortlessly charming and open while being staunchly private. His family is poor, his apartment is small, and his dreams are as big as any of his Manhattan classmates — though, they perhaps may not be his own…

Two YA novels in, I might say that my philosophy is that there is no such thing as “a side character.” In giving primacy to a Henri or a Norris, you inevitably push other characters to the background. (Limited number of pages and all.) There is a true joy for me in playing with that distance on the page.

I like writing in the limited first-person perspective or the close third perspective because they turn those limitations in access to surrounding characters’ inner lives into something both the reader and protagonist must navigate together.

In truth, ‘Show; Don’t Tell’ is a universal bit of screenwriting wisdom that doesn’t always translate to prose fiction for me. Sometimes, the joy is in deciphering what was told but not shown, or what might have been mispresented by one character to another. I like my protagonists to occasionally turn the corner and realize that their “supporting characters” are in the midst of their own messy lives or one step ahead of them and one regard or another. I like writing in the limited first-person perspective or the close third perspective because they turn those limitations in access to surrounding characters’ inner lives into something both the reader and protagonist must navigate together.

These characters do not simply exist for the protagonist to bounce clever dialogue on or to advance the plot… To me, they have their feelings and thoughts which might throw the protagonist for a loop and I live for these moments where the tiny village of the story I’m writing is now alive with activity, conflict, and lives that are happening off-screen.

One of my greatest joys as a writer is reaching a scene in which a real argument or conversation can naturally take place. Things have been withheld between characters; mistakes and lies have been uncovered. In these moments, you, the reader, realize that these supporting and previously passive characters continued to live their lives away from the page and it’s a delightful jolt. To an only child, which I very much was, it is sort of like coming home to find that all your toys have been playing without you all day and it’s a pretty great feeling.

Meet Ben Philippe

Ben Philippe is a New York–based writer and screenwriter, born in Haiti and raised in Montreal, Canada. He has a Bachelor of Arts from Columbia University and an MFA in fiction and screenwriting from the Michener Center for Writers in Austin, Texas. He also teaches screenwriting at Columbia University. He is the author of Field Guide to the North American Teenager. He can be found online at www.benphilippe.com.

Some of Ben’s favorite indie bookstores include:

About Charming as a Verb

Charming as a Verb

From the award-winning author of The Field Guide to the North American Teenager comes a whip-smart and layered romantic comedy. Perfect for fans of Nicola Yoon and Jenny Han. 

Henri “Halti” Haltiwanger can charm just about anyone. He is a star debater and popular student at the prestigious FATE academy, the dutiful first-generation Haitian son, and the trusted dog walker for his wealthy New York City neighbors. But his easy smiles mask a burning ambition to attend his dream college, Columbia University.

There is only one person who seems immune to Henri’s charms: his “intense” classmate and neighbor Corinne Troy. When she uncovers Henri’s less-than-honest dog-walking scheme, she blackmails him into helping her change her image at school. Henri agrees, seeing a potential upside for himself.

Soon what started as a mutual hustle turns into something more surprising than either of them ever bargained for. . . .

This is a sharply funny and insightful novel about the countless hustles we have to keep from doing the hardest thing: being ourselves.

ISBN-13: 9780062824141
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/13/2020
Age Range: 13 – 17 Years

An Examination of the Troubled Teen Industry, Thirteen Years in the Making, a guest post by Jessie Ann Foley

You Know I'm No Good

The seed for You Know I’m No Good was planted all the way back in 2007, when, for three days in a row, one of my freshman students didn’t show up to class. On the fourth day, I contacted our counseling office, where I learned that Penny* had been taken from her bed in the middle of the night and sent to a school for “troubled teens” in the remote Arizona desert.

Penny had grown up in a wealthy family on Chicago’s affluent North Shore, and I knew that her parents had high expectations for her success. I adored her—she was hardworking and diligent, vulnerable and funny. She was also loud and unfiltered; always blurting her opinions in class, breaking dress code, gushing about her crushes. She struck me as a freshman who was, like most freshman, still trying to figure herself out. None of her behaviors, at least during school hours, struck me as wildly out of the ordinary for a girl her age. I wondered, if Penny had been a boy, would she have faced the same consequences?

Over the past thirteen years, I started and stopped this novel many times. It required more research than any project I’d ever attempted, and therapeutic boarding schools are notoriously secretive places. Of the more than dozen I approached to interview, only one agreed to speak with me, and only one other, a coed school in a remote area of northeastern Oklahoma, allowed me to visit. All further research had to be gleaned from reading articles, Facebook and Reddit threads, and tracking down interviewees on Instagram.

I thought these obstacles, plus the intensity of the world-building the book required, were the reason why You Know I’m No Good was,despite being my fourth novel, by far the most difficult to write.

I lied to myself until the very end.

Because when I completed the final draft, I closed my laptop, blasted Ani DiFranco’s “32 Flavors,” rested my head on my desk and cried. It was suddenly so obvious to me: the process of writing this book was so painful because all along, I wasn’t writing about Penny: I was writing about myself. 

To paraphrase the great Joan Didion, we don’t think about something and then write it; we write it so that we can find out what we’re thinking. Didion was an essayist, but the same rule applies to fiction; perhaps even more so. With fiction, one can place a veil between the story and the truth; one can write about the truth of one’s experiences without ever having to name them directly. By hiding inside the fictional characters and settings I’ve created, I can throw myself off the scent of my own pain. After all, I never attended a therapeutic boarding school, so how could You Know I’m No Good be about me?

Well, because this book isn’t about therapeutic boarding schools.

This book is about sexual assault—something that 1 in 5 women experience in their lifetimes. It’s about how sexual assault causes feelings of loneliness, then shame, then a cratering sense of self esteem. It’s about how these feelings can ignite other issues, issues that make it far more likely that these women will engage in risky behaviors that open the door to more trauma.

My characters know this.

 I know it too.

But here’s something else Mia discovers and that I did, too: how to retrain your heart to love itself again—and the beauty and joy that opens up to you when this occurs. That is why I believe this book is necessary. I wrote You Know I’m No Good for the girls—and the boys—who need to hear its message and feel less alone. I wrote it for Penny. I wrote it for the friends I’ve lost. I wrote it for my three young daughters in the hope that its message will play a tiny part in changing things for the better from one generation to the next. I wrote it for my younger self. I wrote it for every kid who’s been called “troubled,” and took this label as a life sentence, an inevitable marker of how things had to be. And because of this, I know one thing for sure: the tears and the darkness, the torn-up drafts and the thirteen years of circling closer and closer to what I needed, finally, to say: it was worth it.

*I’ve changed her name for anonymity.

Jessie will be in conversation with Printz Honor winner and National Book Award finalist Elana K. Arnold on October 13, 2020 at 6 pm Central in a virtual launch with Women and Children First.

Meet Jessie Ann Foley

Jessie Ann Foley’s debut novel, The Carnival at Bray, was a Printz Honor Book, a Kirkus Best Book of 2014, a YALSA Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults title and a William C. Morris Award finalist. Her second novel, Neighborhood Girls, was a Booklist Editor’s Choice and YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults title. Sorry for Your Loss, her third novel, was a 2020 Illinois Reads selection. You Know I’m No Good is her fourth novel. Jessie lives with her husband and three daughters in Chicago, where she was born and raised. To learn more about Jessie, visit her online at www.jessieannfoley.com.

Find Jessie’s book at Women and Children First.

About You Know I’m No Good

You Know I'm No Good

This razor-sharp novel from Printz Honor winner and Morris Award finalist Jessie Ann Foley will appeal to fans of Rory Power and Mindy McGinnis.

Mia is officially a Troubled Teen™— she gets bad grades, drinks too much, and has probably gone too far with too many guys.

But she doesn’t realize how out of control she seems until she is taken from her home in the middle of the night and sent away to Red Oak Academy, a therapeutic girls’ boarding school in the middle of nowhere.

While there, Mia is forced to confront her painful past at the same time she questions why she’s at Red Oak. If she were a boy, would her behavior be considered wild enough to get sent away? But what happens when circumstances outside of her control compel Mia to make herself vulnerable enough to be truly seen?

Challenging and thought-provoking, this stunning contemporary YA novel examines the ways society is stacked against teen girls and what one young woman will do to even the odds.

ISBN-13: 9780062957085
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/13/2020
Age Range: 14 – 17 Years

Dyslexia Awareness Month: What Makes a Book Dyslexia Friendly?

It’s October which means that we are once again in the midst of Dyslexia Awareness Month. I do not have dyslexia myself, but as the parent to a child with dyslexia I am learning a lot and want to be an advocate for her and the 1 in 5 people that have dyslexia. You can find all of our dyselxia posts at the Dyslexia Awareness Dashboard. I also wanted to let you know that I recently had the honor of hosting a panel discussion on dyslexia and libraries as part of the upcoming School Library Journal Summit 2020 which will air on October 24th.

So a question I get asked frequently is this: What types of books should you look for to help a person with dyslexia? And the answer is complicated.

Why Accessibility Matters

We know that 1 in 5 people have dyslexia, but dyslexia is a spectrum learning disability. Not all people experience dyslexia in the same way. For some people, they may reverse letters. Or they may see letters kind of flicker on the page. Or lines may run together. Because dyslexia can look like more than one thing, libraries need to have a wide variety of options for the 1 in 5 people who have dyslexia so that they can find and choose the resource that is right for them. There is not one right answer to this question.

Formats to Consider in Creating a Dyslexia Friendly Library

Audiobooks are an important option that all libraries should make available. Ideally, you should have the book and audiobook available so that those who choose to can read on the page and listen to the book at the same time if they choose to.

Graphic novels are another important option that all libraries should make available. This means having a large enough graphic novel collection that readers can find all of their interests in the GN collection. And you need GNs for all ages and stages of life.

Large Print for all ages is also important. Former TLTer Heather Booth wrote this recent article about large print and equity for Booklist that everyone should check out. Large Print can help dyslexic readers of all ages as the larger font can help readers distinguish letters and they tend to have more white space on the page.

Hi/Lo readers are also a good choice. Hi/Lo readers, like books published by Orca, tend to have shorter paragraphs full of shorter sentences that make up shorter chapters in shorter books. All of this equals easier access for some of our dyslexic patrons.

What Makes a Book Dyslexia Friendly?

In terms of what to look for in a book, I recently attended a webinar in which Lorimer books announced that they had a line of dyslexia friendly books. Here’s a screenshot of the slide they shared highlighting what made their books dyslexic friendly:

Font

The Lorimer Dyslexic Friendly books used Open Dyslexic font which many people with dyslexia find easier to read. It is designed specifically to weight letters in specific ways to help make them easier to read and decode.

Layout and Design

The Lorimer books also use several layout and design elements to help as well. For example, they don’t hyphenate words at the end of a line. The only time they use a hyphen is if it’s grammatically necessary for the word.

The print is left justified, which is another design element that is often recommended to be accessible for dyslexic readers.

They also use wide margins, more spacing and shorter lines and paragraphs.

Paper

The Lorimer books use cream colored paper, which can help prevent glare. They also use heavier paper so the pages below don’t bleed into the page being read.

Through research and feedback from readers with dyslexia, these elements have been found to help some readers. But again, there is nothing that works 100% of the time for 100% of the people who have dyslexia. Which is wide a wide variety of formats and options is important to keep our libraries accessible to the 1 in 5 people who have dyslexia.

What Does All of This Mean for Libraries Trying to Serve People with Dyslexia in Intentional Ways?

So what we want to be doing in our libraries, school and public, is have a wide variety of formats and types – including audio books, large print, graphic novels, and hi/lo books – available and easy to find and use for our patrons. We should have the same titles available across the formats so they can be mixed and matched in a way that works best for a particular reader. And keep in mind that although I am talking here specifically about serving our youth with dyslexia, this is true for patrons of all ages and for a large number of disabilities outside of just dyslexia. Making sure our libraries are accessible is an equity issue. We are not equitably serving our entire public if we are not thinking about the ways that we can better make information and books accessible to the 1 in 5 patrons that have dyslexia.

Break Means Break Not Work: A Treatise Against Homework Over School Breaks, By Teen Contributor Riley Jensen

This week my school is out for fall break, but I still have a very large project to finish. This project is for my English class over a book that we have been reading for weeks. The project is over Dante’s Inferno and it’s a multiple part project. My class has been working on it for over 2 weeks and we will be presenting after the break. The problem is that the teacher hasn’t been giving us much time in class to complete each part. Each group has to write an essay, make a visual, and write a canto. Now, this may not seem like a lot, but she won’t give you a 100 if you just turn in a powerpoint. She wants things like videos or a whole diorama. I have no issue with the idea of making something like that, but I do have a problem with being told that I will have time in class when I won’t.

This teacher gave us two days for the essay, nobody finished. The teacher gave us two days to write our cantos, nobody finished. She has given us no time in class for our visual so obviously nobody has finished. We have no choice but to work over the break if we want to finish and make a 100. Everyone I have talked to is basically at the same point as us, and everyone is pretty concerned.

The project itself is fine. The instructions are easy to follow, but it’s just so many parts and not enough time. I thought the break was supposed to be my time to take some time away from doing assignments, but now it’s my time to finish a project. I know not many people get this break, but if they did then they would also want it to be an actual break.

Maybe you think I would have time to do this after school, but I don’t. I have tennis practice everyday after school except for Tuesday because that’s match day. Or maybe the other kids in my group could do it after school, but they can’t. They’re all in band. None of us have time. The break is our only option.

I was looking forward to this break. I have been working every night for hours. Some rest time would have been nice. This year has been stressful enough, but it’s getting even more stressful with this project.

I really just want a break, and I need it. Having to work is so tiring. I’m exhausted, but i have to keep working. Please make your breaks actual breaks. We all need it.

Riley, Teen Reviewer

I am a senior in high school and an avid reader. I have been reviewing books on this blog since 2012. I love musical theatre and listen to show tunes a lot. I also love murder books (both fiction and nonfiction), and she wants to go to college to be a forensic scientist after high school. Reading is one of my favorite things to do, so I must put that hobby to good use for my mom.

Friday Finds: October 9, 2020

This Week at TLT

Book Review: Charming as a Verb by Ben Philippe

Cindy Crushes Programming: Three Make and Take Programs for Teens, by teen librarian Cindy Shutts

Why are Teen Girls the new Sci-Fi Protagonists?, a guest post by Brea Grant

Raising Superheroes: How Tough Times Create Resilient Kids, by author Rebecca Behrens

Have Some K-Pop, By Teen Contributor Riley Jensen

Around the Web

Lumberjanes’ Animated TV Series Based On Boom! Comics From Noelle Stevenson Eyed By HBO Max

‘The Inheritance Games’: Grainne Godfree To Write & Executive Produce YA TV Series In Works At Amazon

Nicola and David Yoon Launch YA Romance Imprint Starring Heroes of Color

Enrollment Is Dropping In Public Schools Around the Country