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Middle School Monday: I Wish Donald Trump Knew That… by J.

MSM1Creative writing…am I right? So many benefits for our students. Writing for expression. Empowerment. Literacy gains. Ownership. Imagination. Empathy.

I don’t do enough of it with our students. I’m working to change that. One of my goals is to make creative writing a cornerstone of my library practice.

A group of students recently participated in the creative writing exercise–“I wish everyone knew that…” This exercise is not new, of course—it’s not a revolutionary concept, but that doesn’t mean it’s not powerful. I love this activity. I added another writing prompt in case any student wanted to extend the idea:

I wish __________ (a specific person or group of people) knew that…

I thought that some students might choose that option and write about family, teachers, girls, etc. How small and limiting my thinking was! As always, our students are big thinkers who care about national and global issues.

I’m reprinting the work of one of our writers—J—with his permission and my thanks. No commentary from me is necessary, other than to say, our students deserve the world—and our time and respect as they work to one day change it.

I wish Donald Trump knew that not all Mexicans and foreigners come to the United States of America to sell drugs or rape or commit other crimes. Immigrants like me come to America or came to America to live a better life. To escape from their horrible jobs and get ones to provide for themselves and family. WE come to get better jobs. WE COME FOR OPPORTUNITIES!    J

I’m Julie Stivers at @BespokeLib—and my students are amazing. I look forward to seeing them every Monday!

Middle School Monday: G. Neri Writer-in-Residence

MSM1A Week in Quotes.

How does one tell the story of a week where our students got to meet and learn from an award-winning author?

You share some quotes. Of course!

I love how you made Reina a brave, strong girl. ~Jalen, 6th Grader

To prepare for the lucky reality that was G. Neri serving as a Writer-in-Residence at our school for a week, we underwent extensive prep. Every student in the school read G. Neri’s short story in verse Under Berlin—part of the Open Mic collection, edited by Mitali Perkins (2013) and then created digital book covers. Students connected to this story of turning prejudice on its head and when they signed a welcome poster, they included thoughts on the story and main character, Reina.

Yummy was the best book I have ever read. ~Multiple. Various.

I have never seen students as interested in a book as they were in G. Neri’s graphic novel Yummy (2010). All 7th and 8th grade students read the book and participated in a creative, critical thinking activity as a culminating project in the weeks and months leading up to our author visit. On the welcome poster, many students expressed this sentiment. How amazing is it that students then got to MEET the author of their new favorite book?

My books are the ammunition and I’m shooting them out with the hope that they hit you. ~G. Neri

The week started with two large group sessions where G. Neri gave presentations on his books, his unique entry into a writing career, and the writing process. In thinking of books as Weapons of Mass Information, G. Neri carried this analogy to his own many books and his hope that they would hit students with information. Knowledge. Make them think.

Everyone is a natural storyteller. ~G. Neri

This was touched on in his school-wide presentations, but when G. Neri starting working with his three writing groups for the week, he expanded on this idea, reminding students that they tell stories every day. Their verbal experiences with friends, family, classmates, and teachers have already taught them the rhythms and the hooks of story. Writing is just putting that to paper.

whole class

Give yourself permission to suck. Just try it. Get it down. ~G. Neri

As the writing groups—20 students in all—began working, G. Neri stressed the importance of not over-thinking that first effort. Powerful words for writing, but also life. Our work doesn’t have to be perfect immediately—we just need to start. Try it. Get it down.

A good stopping point comes at a dramatic beat. ~G. Neri

As G. Neri worked with those 20 students over the course of five days—in three separate groups—he framed their writing activities around technical advice on the mechanics of creative writing from character to setting to pace.

williamandjamarcus

You can use your voice to help people understand how you feel and change perceptions. ~G. Neri

In one activity, students were tasked with thinking of a situation where they or someone they knew was discriminated against. In addition to being a springboard for reflection and powerful writing, it served as inspiration for our students to use their bold and unique voices to…well…change the world.

jose

Why would I pick another book? Yummy is so amazing. ~Shania, 8th grader

Each of our students chose which of G. Neri’s books they would like to keep and then had him sign either the book or a book plate while he was here. Yummy was the most popular choice, but many students chose Chess Rumble (2007), Ghetto Cowboy (2011), or Tru and Nelle (2016).

Characters who struggle are more interesting. ~G. Neri

Neri meant this as writing advice, but it felt like a life affirmation for our students. At our alternative school, all of our students have some sort of struggle in their pasts, at the very least, academic difficulties at their base schools. Many, though, have faced other challenges in terms of family, behavior, or peer groups. People who struggle ARE more interesting. Yes, of course, in the pages of books, but also simply as our teens navigate their life stories.

When I was reading the book, that is just what I imagined! ~William, 7th Grader

The students who belonged to the 7th and 8th grade writing groups read Ghetto Cowboy in advance of the visit. While he was here, G. Neri showed the students some exclusive footage of real-life urban Philadelphia cowboys shot by the filmmakers who are turning Ghetto Cowboy into a movie. Exciting news! And, exciting for students to see what they had seen in their own heads turned into footage on a screen.

He had a mushroom haircut. ~Amin, 8th Grade Booster

Hearing the students share their own writing is what our Writer-in-Residence weeks are all about. Their voices are funny, brave, insightful. Magical. Often, too personal to include here. With this five-word on-target description of a character, Amin demonstrated how to visually depict someone and was rewarded with laughter from all of his fellow writers.

Yummy had me about to shed a tear. ~Kiyah, 7th Grader

On the morning of G. Neri’s last day, a group of students that were not part of the writing groups were invited to the library to have breakfast with the author for an informal session. The students asked questions and shared their sentiments about the book. Whenever the conversation moved away from Yummy, Kiyah would bring it back, finally exclaiming just how wrapped up she was in Yummy’s story.

We got G. Neri. ~Christopher and DJ, 8th Graders

During a break on that last day, G. Neri played kickball with a class of 8th grade PE students. How meaningful for our students to be able to adamantly claim a favorite author as a member of their kickball team!

I am in the writing group. ~Jerry, 8th Grader

The welcome sign the students created is filled with quotable phrases about specific books and characters. This, though, from Jerry is my favorite quote. When, I first saw it, I chuckled. Then, I almost cried. With this bold statement, Jerry is cloaking himself in the identity of writer. A powerful gesture for him to make and an empowering identity to wear.

I’m Julie Stivers at @BespokeLib ~ thank you to both G. Neri for working with our students and to our school administration for supporting our Mount Vernon writers!

 

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)

Friday Finds: March 10, 2017

fridayfindsThis Week at TLT

Middle School Monday: Preparing for Visiting Authors

Book Review: The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

A Day without Women

Video Games Weekly: Abzu

Book Review: Secrets and Sequences: Secret Coders by Gene Luen Yang and Mike Holmes, a guest post by Callum (age 10)

Around the Web

Supreme Court won’t say if trans teen can pick bathroom

White supremacists are recruiting like crazy on college campuses

Agile Makerspaces

UNDER THE GAYDAR: YAS WITH UNDERREPRESENTED IDENTITIES IN SECONDARY CHARACTERS

 

Middle School Monday: Preparing for Visiting Authors

MSM1This week, G. Neri is visiting our school for a week-long Writer-in-Residence. I know. I know. We’re crazy lucky.

Preparing for his visit has been the focus of my teaching for over two months. Every student in our school has read Under Berlin [G. Neri’s short story from the wonderful collection Open Mic, edited by Mitali Perkins] and created a digital book cover. All 7th and 8th grade students read Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty. Afterwards, we examined what it would mean to alter one element of Yummy’s story. How would that have changed his narrative? Students were empowered to do creative, critical thinking for this project. They each chose one action or reality to change in Yummy’s childhood and then rewrote Yummy’s story by producing animated videos of his new narrative via Biteable. [They were amazing. I might have cried while we were having our mini-movie premieres. Okay. I did cry.]

With two 7th and 8th grade writing groups, we’ve been reading Ghetto Cowboy during an elective-like period. The students in these groups will be working for one or two classes each day with G. Neri on different aspects of creative writing.

I can’t stress enough how important logistics and preparation are in terms of welcoming authors into our schools. I recently wrote about this topic and I want to touch on that today.

The January/February 2017 Knowledge Quest, the journal of the American Association of School Librarians, focused on Equality vs. Equity. The issue was subtitled Diversity Matters: Moving Beyond Equality toward Equity in Youth Services and edited by Kafi Kumasi and Sandra Hughes-Hassell.

I was lucky enough to write about my #MdlPwriters that worked with visiting author Matt de la Peña last year and I’ve been revisiting my reflections on logistics and preparations these past few months. I think this plan works because it’s grounded in an equity-based framework.

The ideas paraphrased below were originally written about in: #MdlPwriters: 14 Powerful Voices by J. Stivers (2017). Knowledge Quest, 45 (3), 29-37.

As librarians hosting a Writer-in-Residence, it’s imperative that we:

  • make sure visiting authors reflect our students and the wonderful reality that is our diverse world;
  • prepare students so they are familiar with the author’s work;
  • flood the curriculum with the author’s reflective literature;
  • use culturally relevant practices in classes and groups to examine the author’s writing;
  • assemble writing groups—and any other opportunities for face time with the author—within an equity framework, i.e. do not base face-time with the author on book purchases!; and,
  • ensure that the entire experience is student-centered.

When we prepare using this framework, we are then able to essentially get out of the way and let our students and the author powerfully connect via literature and creative writing.

I’m Julie Stivers at @BespokeLib—have a great week!

DVD Review: Political Animals + Giveaway

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 (or, in this case, DVD), finally! Here’s one of my most recent reviews, which originally appeared in the February 2017 issue of School Library Journal.

 

political animalsPolitical Animals

87 min and 53 sec., Dist. by the Video Project. 2016. $89.

Gr 9 Up–The personal is political in this examination of the hard-fought progress for LGBT rights. This engrossing documentary focuses on the work of the first four openly gay state legislators in California, all lesbians. Pioneering politicians Sheila Kuehl, Carole Migden, Jackie Goldberg, and Christine Kehoe (all elected between 1994 and 2000) advocated for laws protecting LGBT people and expanding civil rights. The film looks at the bills these groundbreaking legislators authored, such as one adding sexual orientation to the list of protected identities in schools. Included are extensive archival footage from legislative meetings from the 1990s and early 2000s, interviews with the women, information on their history of activism, and a reunion of the four. Fierce advocates for equal protection, the women also discuss the importance of straight allies and how it felt to listen to their colleagues fight against fundamental rights these four were being denied. The profile ends with the victory of marriage equality in 2015. The state assembly sessions scenes highlight the women’s impassioned speeches and the heated debates often marked by hostility from other legislators. Listening to testimonies and watching bills (particularly the one protecting LGBT students) fail repeatedly reveal just how hard the fight has been. This is a compelling and enlightening exploration of trailblazing women and their lawmaking. VERDICT: Highly recommended for public library collections where documentaries are popular and for high school history curricula on LGBTQ rights, pioneering women, and political movements.

 

Head on over to the Rafflecopter to enter to win this DVD. If you’re a librarian or a teacher, this would be a good addition to your collection! Ends Thursday, March 2. US ONLY. 

#SJYALit May 4, 1970: The Day the Vietnam War Came Home, a guest post by Sabrina Fedel

sjyalitOn May 4th, 1970, tragedy struck the campus of Kent State University when National Guard troops opened fire on unarmed student protestors. The Guard fired 67 rounds over thirteen seconds into a crowd of several thousand. M1 bullets struck trees, shattered windshields, and lodged in two separate dormitories where, moments before, students had been crowding windows to watch the protest. Four students lay dead and nine more were seriously injured, one of them paralyzed.
The nation was shocked, but also deeply divided over the Guard’s use of force. President Nixon said that night on television that he was sorry about the dead and injured students, but that “tragedy is invited when dissent turns to violence.” The National Student Association called for a nationwide strike to protest the “appalling use of force,” while news outlets interviewed average citizens who said things like “they should have shot them all.”

Kent, Ohio, was a typical college town in 1970. It had a robust bar reputation thanks to a vibrant music scene. There had been small protests in Kent, but the major clashes were happening at schools like UC Berkeley and Ohio University. No one predicted that the penultimate clash between citizen protestors and the Nixon Administration would occur in sleepy Kent.

On Thursday, April 30, 1970, President Nixon announced that American troops had invaded Cambodia to drive the North Vietnamese out of that country. Young people across the U.S. saw this as a blatant escalation in Vietnam and another broken promise to end the war.

On Friday afternoon, a group of about 500 students gathered near the Victory Bell on the KSU campus. Two graduate students who were Vietnam veterans burned their draft cards and buried a copy of the constitution because, they said, Nixon had killed it.

That night, students gathered downtown for their usual bar hopping. Some stopped cars to ask drivers what they thought of the invasion. A couple of trash can bonfires were lit. The police moved in and shut the bars down, pushing a large, drunk crowd into the street. A small riot ensued as beer bottles were thrown through store windows and at police cruisers. Police drove the crowd back to campus, but Main Street was a disaster.

On Saturday morning, rumors flew as people gathered to clean up downtown. Many residents believed that outside communist agitators, the kind they had been hearing about for months in the news, were waiting to descend on Kent to poison the water and plant bombs. These fears were not totally without foundation. The country had suffered a series of domestic terrorism attacks that leant an air of possibility to these fears. Kent’s mayor wasn’t taking chances. He requested National Guard support from Governor Jim Rhodes.

Governor Rhodes was in a tight senate race with a member of the popular Taft family and eager to establish his reputation as a “law and order” official. By late afternoon, National Guard troops had moved into Kent.

The students were ordered to stay on campus that night. This led to an impromptu protest and the burning of the ROTC building on campus. Bayoneted Guardsmen clashed with students as they struggled to regain order and lock up the dorms for the night.

By Sunday, the campus was calm again. Students mingled in the warm weather checking out the damage to the ROTC building and even taking photo ops with the Guardsmen. But there was growing unrest at the idea of being treated like naughty children. The students wanted the Guard to leave. They wanted the curfew lifted and their rights to move freely restored.
Their anger was becoming as much about authoritarian rule as it was about Vietnam.

On Monday, May 4th, students gathered to protest. The crowd of several hundred quickly swelled as kids walked through the commons on their way to noon classes. Many stopped to watch the guard march around and demand the students disperse. A small number of protesters heckled the guard or threw rocks. Chants of “One, Two, Three, Four, We Don’t Want Your Fucking War,” and “Pigs Off Campus,” echoed over the hillside. The Guard responded with tear gas, but the day was windy and it had little effect. The Guard, apparently in a show of force, marched down the hill to a practice field and became trapped between a fence and the protestors. “We have you surrounded,” they announced and a roar of laughter erupted.

The Guardsmen huddled on the field before walking back up the hill toward Taylor Hall. Many students thought the protest was over and began to head to class. When the Guard reached the top of the hill, however, they turned in one motion and began firing into the crowd. Not a single student was close enough to be a danger to the Guardsmen.

The Vietnam War, with all its ugliness and social injustice, had come home. Despite massive inquiries in the ensuing decade, no definitive evidence has surfaced to explain the Guard’s attack. Several Guardsmen claimed they feared for their lives, but no Guardsman involved has ever been able to explain why they believed that. An FBI investigation found the force used was “unnecessary, unwarranted, and inexcusable.” Slowly, the massacre at Kent became the final straw in America’s tolerance for the war, leaving us with a legacy of questions, but also a clear sense of the unacceptable use of deadly force to counter unarmed civil protest.

 

profile pic 2Sabrina Fedel’s debut Young Adult novel, Leaving Kent State, was recently released from Harvard Square Editions. Her YA short story, Honor’s Justice, was nominated for a 2017 Pushcart Prize, as well as a 2016 storySouth Million Writers Award and a Sundress Publications Best of the Net ’16 award. She holds her MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University. You can find Sabrina at her website, www.sabrinafedel.com, or on twitter (@writeawhile) or Instagram.

Friday Finds: February 17, 2017

fridayfindsThis Week at TLT

Sunday Reflections: Muslim Voices

Middle School Monday: Spy on History Blog Tour and Giveaway

Book Review: American Street by Ibi Zoboi

Dr. Bully, a guest post by M.G. Hennessey

Everything, Everything Movie Trailer is Here!

TPiB: 3 cheap and easy after school programs

#SJYALit Hello, I’m Your Social Justice Librarian, a guest post by Perlita Payne

Book Review: We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

Around the Web

12-Year-Old Marley Dias Signs Book Deal To Write Kids Activism Guide

21 YA Books For Black History Month

Young Adult Author Nina LaCour on Why You Shouldn’t Talk Down to Your Readers

Philip Pullman to Release First Volume in New ‘Book of Dust’ Trilogy

The 2016 Cybils Winners!

 

 

Sunday Reflections: Dear World, Here’s What We Want You to Know about Teen Girls

The other day, in attempt to express contempt for President Trump’s Twitter use, Judd Apatow disparaged him by comparing him to a 14-year-old girl who tweets. This is not the first time that I have seen a tweet like this. The idea of being “like a girl”, especially a teenage girl, is a tried and true way of putting down others, especially men. For many, being like a girl is the worse insult they can think of. Teenage girls are so reviled that we effortlessly use them as insults and then we wonder why they are growing up feeling unempowered and rejected by the world around them.

So in response to not just Judd Apatow but to a culture that wants to continue to use teen girls as an insult and a put down, I tweeted about the various teen girls that I know, love, raise and spend time with in my life. You can read those tweets in a Storify here. But I want to tell you specifically what two 14-year-old girls spent last week doing.

forneybooks

For some time, The Teen, a close personal friend and I have been talking about starting an initative to try and get books into the hands of needy children and teens in our local community. One in five children go to bed hungry each night and if you can’t buy food, you are most certainly not buying books. And as a librarian I know and preach the value of libraries exactly for this reason, but I also know that there is something special about owning a few books and having your own personal library that is open all the time and you get to call yours. So these past few weeks we worked really hard to start making it happen in our local community.

b4fk6

We knew that getting books wouldn’t necessarily be a problem – many people have already donated – but we kept getting stuck on the how do we distribute the books portion. Then, our local food pantry announced that it was starting a backpack food program. If you’re community doesn’t do this I highly recommend looking into it. Each child who needs one gets a backpack full of food and snacks to take home on Friday afternoon so that they have some food to eat over the weekend. For many children, breakfast and lunch at school may be the only meal they get each week, and weekends are hard. The food backpack program helps bridge the gap over the weekend.

Making bookmarks

Making bookmarks

So we called the local food pantry, who will be putting the backpacks together each week, and asked if we could also put a book in each backpack. They said yes! So now we have begun collecting book donations (or the money to go buy books as some people prefer we buy the books). We also are making bookmarks and READ buttons to put with each book. Our goal is to put a book in each backpack a couple of times a month so that by the end of the school year these kids will have a handful of books to call their own and they can keep reading when they no longer have access to their school library.

Making buttons

Making buttons

So Friday night, out of all the things these two teenage girls could have been doing, they set up and assembly line to make buttons and bookmarks, placed them in books, and organized books by ages to be placed next week in backpacks. To date we have about 131 books.

b4fk5 b4fk1

We made signs and put collection boxes up around the neighborhood. And we brainstormed other ways we could get books into the hands of kids. For example, our community has a monthly farmer’s market and we talked about purchasing a cart that we can set up with a “here kids take a book” sign. The girls are excited about the prospect of spending their Saturday’s out in the community handing out books to kids.

These are just two teenage girls, there are tons more like them all over doing equally amazing things. So maybe we can stop using them as insults and instead start respecting, nurturing and empowering them. And hey, maybe once in a while tell them they’re awesome. Because they are.

Friday Finds: February 3, 2017

fridayfindsThis Week at TLT

Sunday Reflections: My Fellow Americans, You’re Breaking My Heart

Cover Reveal: 27 HOURS by Tristina Wright

Middle School Monday: What We Say—and Don’t Say—Matters

Book Review: Our Own Private Universe by Robin Talley

Book Review: The Careful Undressing of Love by Corey Ann Haydu

So You’re a Librarian (or Library), What Do You Do Now? Librarianing in the Time of Political Turmoil

January #ARCParty – A look at some new YA lit releases

#MakerSpace: Typewriter Fun

Recently in Book Mail

Take 5: A List of YA Lists on Refugees

Around the Web

#RewriteTheSpeech

Kwame Alexander: Take a knee

Jeff Zentner’s Morris Award Acceptance Speech for The Serpent King

New Guidelines Urge Schools To Rethink Recess

ALA opposes new administration policies that contradict core values

Boy Scouts Will Admit Transgender Boys

Gene Luen Yang Launches Annual Reading Without Walls Program for Young Readers