June Book Display: LGBT Pride!

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One of my first projects here at my new library has been analyzing the YA fiction and nonfiction. Specifically, I’ve been weeding old titles that don’t circulate well and looking for collection gaps. One of the immediate gaps I noticed in my new collection was a lack of LGBT titles. With June being PRIDE month, I knew I wanted to do something about it.

So I went on a shopping spree and snagged some wonderful titles. I created a “PRIDE!” pennant banner and printed out LGBT triangles to hang in the window. Finally, I arranged the aforementioned titles and put them on display.

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I’m really pleased with how this display turned out. More importantly, I’m pleased that I can be an ally and promote diverse books. Next year, I’ll expand the display to include additional gender identities (asexual, pansexual, etc.) I want all of my teens to be able to have access to characters they can identify with.

I’ve included a list of some of my recommended titles below. Any others you think I should add? Comment and let me know!

LGBT READS

Lesbian:

Everything Leads to You

Ask the Passengers

Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel

Ash

A Love Story Starring my Dead Best Friend

The Miseducation of Cameron Post

Gay:

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Two Boys Kissing

Will Grayson, Will Grayson

Openly Straight

One Man Guy

Gone, Gone, Gone

 

Bi:

Grasshopper Jungle

Far From You

Empress of the World

Cut Both Ways

Fans of the Impossible Life

Boyfriends with Girlfriends

Not Otherwise Specified

Trans

Almost Perfect

Being Emily

I am J

Jumpstart the World

Beyond Magenta

Luna

Teen MLK “Black Lives Matter” Display

IMG_3335“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

In the wake of the events in Ferguson and New York, when January rolled around I knew I had to do something. As a teen librarian, I want to inspire my teens to slip into the shoes of others. I want them to feel empathy, to stand up for their fellow citizens, and make a difference in our community.

Add to that the fact Martin Luther King day was January 19th, and I knew right away what I needed to do: create a book display featuring African-American protagonists.

I specifically zeroed-in on books that dealt with issues of social justice: equality, poverty, GLBT issues. I wanted books that, just like the lives of their protagonists, mattered. I also made mini posters featuring quotes by famous African Americans – Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou, Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King Jr., etc – and put them in the windows.

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I’m posting the titles that I included in my display below. Since February is African-American history month, I challenge you to read as many of these titles as you can (and encourage your teens to do the same). The only way to combat ignorance is through education, and books like these can be powerful tools.

MLK Book Display Titles:

Tyrell by Coe Booth

Bronxwood by Coe Booth

Copper Sun by Sharon Draper

Cy in Chains by David L. Dudley

Lockdown by Walter Dean Myers

Monster by Walter Dean Myers

How it Went Down by Kekla Magoon

If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodson

The House You Pass on the Way by Jacqueline Woodson

Know of any titles I should’ve added? Please post them below. Let’s make this an ongoing conversation. Black lives matter.

Children’s Hanukkah Craft and Story Time

YS December 2014 130In my quest to support diversity at our branch, I did something we’ve never done before: a Hanukkah Craft and Story Time. After all, if we offer a Christmas Craft & Story Time, we should do one for Hanukkah too!

Supplies:

  • Popsicle sticks
  • Washable markers
  • Stickers
  • Adhesive jewels, stickers, etc.

I started off by asking the kids what they knew about Hanukkah (since we had some curious, non-Jewish kids in the group). This gave me a chance to gauge their understanding and introduce them to the basics (Menorahs, the Maccabees, Latkes, etc.) Then I let the kiddos choose which story they wanted to read. This year, they decided on Hoppy Hanukkah by Linda Glaser.

This image was borrowed from Amazon.com

This image was borrowed from Amazon.com

Afterwards, I turned the kids loose to make our craft: Star of David ornaments that they could hang around their homes or on their tree (for interfaith families).

YS December 2014 119

YS December 2014 115

Next year, I think I’d like to go even bigger: bring in some gelt, bake some latkes, etc. Otherwise, it was a successful program and everyone had a great time.

YS December 2014 128

We Need Diverse Books: The YA Holiday Edition

IMG_2895I was one of those kids who got bullied/excluded when I was little, which means, as an adult, I have a minor obsession with making sure everyone feels included.

So I was determined this holiday season to incorporate not just Christmas books but Hanukkah and Kwanzaa titles into my book display.

Surely, I thought, there would be a bevy of titles I could incorporate. After all, we have an unholy amount of picture books on the subject. There just had to be titles for teens as well, right?

Wrong.

After countless hours of searching the Internet, pestering Facebook friends, authors, and so on, I realized that there’s next to nothing available for non-Christian teens during the holidays.

It was baffling. I mean, it’s 2014 for goodness’ sake. But after sifting through dozens of (admittedly lovely) holiday titles, I only found two non-Christmas titles for teens: one for Hanukkah and one for Kwanzaa. I ended up having to add two middle grade titles – The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming and Feast of Lights – to my display just to balance things out.

Now I get it. We all have cultural biases. But we need to work to overcome those biases so no one is left out. Teens, just like children, need to see themselves and their traditions represented in the books they read. And diversity in books isn’t just something for our little ones: our middle and high schoolers need it as well.

So to all my author friends: Gimme some YA Hanukkah and Kwanzaa books. Stat.

For everyone else, here are the two diverse YA holiday titles I ended up going with:

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My True Love Gave to Me: 12 Holiday Stories

A beautiful, well thought out, much-needed addition to the YA holiday marketplace. As the publisher states, “Whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah, Winter Solstice or Kwanzaa, there’s something here for everyone.”

 

 

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Listen for the Fig Tree by Sharon Belle Mathis

An older yet moving YA novel about a blind sixteen year-old, Muffin Johnson, who struggles with an alcoholic mother. Muffin is trying to find light in her dark world and Kwanzaa plays a role in that quest.

 

Any diverse YA holiday titles I’ve missed? Help a librarian out. Post them in the comments section below. Thanks and Happy Chrismakwanzikkah!

Sitting on the Sidelines: ALA and the NFL’s Gender Parity Problem

m5Confession: I’ve never been a big sports fan.

I was one of those awkward kids who never knew to do with their bodies. I was clumsy: tripping, falling, crashing into everything. I always dreaded P.E. class whenever it occurred. I was the smallest. The slowest. The weakest. The lowest. The girl who was always picked last.

Not to mention the fact that, amongst family and peers, sports was clearly a “boy” thing. We watched my male cousins play baseball. We cheered at their basketball games. I attended my brother’s soccer and karate matches. My job was to watch: not play.

Admittedly, I didn’t exactly ask to play. None of the girls I knew played sports. Theater, dance, and music were our thing. I also 48_504483045529_75801209_30208066_6571_nloved to read. I could gobble up a book an hour. But out of all the childhood stories I remember to this day, not a single one featured girls playing sports.

Basically, I didn’t think playing was a possibility. It wasn’t part of our culture: my family’s or mine. Sports were an alien, foreign thing.

But then, halfway through my 4th grade year, we moved to North Carolina – to a podunk town by the name of Burnsville with a population of 1,673 people. There were no ballet lessons to be had. Singing lessons were unheard of. I didn’t participate in a single play the entire six months we lived there.

There was, however, one thing the 4th grade girls in Burnsville enjoyed doing. One thing which they participated in together and formed fast friendships doing. It was the thing that consumed their waking moments, that brought out their competitive streaks. It was the thing that made them feel like they belonged.

Softball.

I had never played softball. I didn’t even know what it was. I didn’t know there was “baseball” for girls. I could ‘t wrap my head around it. But there was nothing else to do and no other way to get “in” with those shy, mountain girls. So, for the very first time in my life, I decided to play a sport.

And I loved it.

My competitive streak, which was a mile wide, was channeled into a positive outlet. Yes, I played catcher and left field (aka the positions for people who suck). Yes, I was still clumsy and awkward and tripped all over myself.  But the way I felt about myself changed dramatically.  I felt strong. Brave. Significant. I didn’t feel small. Or weak.

I had a team. A safety net. A place where I belonged. I had friends who believed in me and cheered me on – even when I failed. Angel, Tuesday, June: I still remember their names.

When my parents told me we were moving back to Florida and that I’d miss our softball finals, I sobbed. Bitterly. It felt like my 4th grade world was ending.

Worse still, when I got back to Florida, our old culture reasserted itself. My team was gone. My strength was gone. I was slow and small again. I went back to dreading P.E. To being the last girl picked. To being fiercely bullied for being weak. I never played sports again.

I returned to a world where only boys could succeed athletically. I observed them on the field. On the TV screen. Passively watching was my game.

This passivity, this lack of agency, was the hallmark of my young life. It followed all the way into adulthood. And into an absuive relationship.

When the story of Ray Rice broke on the news, I never asked why Janay didn’t leave. I knew the answer: she didn’t know how. She’d gotten too used to watching. She didn’t have anyone to encourage her when she failed.

She was stuck in a boy’s game.

The toxicity of this cultural tendency cannot be understated. And if you think there’s no correlation between the lack of gender parity in professional sports and violence against women, you’re not just mistaken: you’re wrong. As much as we might wish it to be so, we do not live in a post-feminist society. And the consequences of gender inequality are vast and far reaching.

Turn on your computer. Your television. Stop on the first sports-related thing you find. What will you see? Men. Only men. Sports are still for boys.

We know it shouldn’t be this way. Even the old guard knows it. But they’re not quite ready to do something about it, so they try to placate us instead. They give us “A Crucial Catch” and have their football players wear pink. They give us fitted baby doll tees emblazoned with our favorite teams’ logos. They tell us that women can be passionate about sports too, that we have a place in the arena.

Then they courteously dust off a bench and give us a seat on the sidelines.

But the tendency to marginalize women in sports isn’t confined to the NFL: it permeates our society as a whole, infecting even some of our most cherished organizations.

The American Library Association has long been an advocate of equality. They’ve championed the rights of minorities nationwide and reminded everyone that #WeNeedDiverseBooks. But diversity isn’t restricted solely to ethnicity or sexuality. It also includes gender.

And, when it comes to supporting gender diversity in sports, ALA has just failed. Utterly.

ALA Booklist’s “Top Ten Sports Books for Youth: 2014” was published on September 1st. And normally, most librarians would think of this as an exciting thing. These are the sort of lists we wait eagerly for and use to add books to our collection.

Except, in this list, not a single sports-playing protagonist happens to be female.

Let me say that again: all of ALA’s sports books feature only male MC’s.

I expect this from the NFL. Not condone, but expect. But to see this “boys club” mentality trickle down to ALA? In 2014? I am embarrassed for my profession.

Children are not dumb. They can read between the lines. They pick up on the cultural cues espoused by our books and media. And when girls don’t see themselves in sports books, they internalize the message that sports “aren’t for them.”

So I’ve compiled my own list of “Top Ten Sports Books for Youth in 2014” – books that actually feature female protagonists who are passionate about participating in sports. I’m going to be reading each and every one of these books over the next several months. I’m going to promote them to the teenagers in my life.

I hope you’ll do the same.

Better yet: come up with your own list.  Visit blogs like Sporty Girl Books. Hunt with me for titles published specifically in 2014. Then hop on twitter and tell ALA’s Booklist what you think of this nonsense. Let’s start a storm. #girlsplaysports #sportygirlbooks @ALA_Booklist

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The Loudmouth Librarian’s “Top Ten Sports Books for Girls in 2014”

crossing the ice

Crossing the Ice by Jennifer Comeaux (Pairs Figure Skating)

Gold Metal Winter by Donna Freitas

Gold Metal Winter by Donna Freitas (Figure Skating)

Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Kenneally

Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Kenneally (Running)

Blue Forty Two by Faith Nhira

Blue Forty Two by Faith Nhira (Football)

take me on

Take Me On by Kate McGarry (Kickboxing)

In Deep by Terra Elan McVoy

In Deep by Terra Elan McVoy (Swimming)

Being Sloane Jacobs by Lauren Morill

Being Sloane Jacobs by Lauren Morrill (Figure Skating and Hockey)

The Love Match by Monica Seles  (Tennis)

The Love Match by Monica Seles
(Tennis)

One the Road to Find Out by Rachel Torr (Running)

One the Road to Find Out by Rachel Torr
(Running)

Babe Conquers the World (sports nonfiction)

Babe Conquers the World by Rich and Sandra Wallace
(sports nonfiction)