The 2020 Alex Awards winners will be celebrated virtually next week on June 11 at 3:30pm EST and will run for 75 minutes. The virtual…
Category: Conferences and Events
The 2018 Teen Read Week (TRW) site is now live. Teen Read Week will be celebrated October 7–13 with the theme “It’s Written in the Stars: READ.”
Library staff, afterschool providers, and educators can use the theme to encourage teens to think and read outside of the box, as well as seek out fantasy, science fiction and other out-of- this-world reads.
Library staff are also encouraged to join the free Teen Read Week site for full access to a variety of resources to help plan their Teen Read Week activities, including:
- Forums: Discuss and share TRW-related resources and experiences;
- Grants: Teen Read Week Activity Grant and Teens’ Top Ten Book Giveaway;
- Planningand publicity tools;
- Products: Posters, bookmarks, manuals and more;
- Themed logo (site members only): Downloadable low-resolution theme logo;
- Webinars (site members only): Free access to live and archived webinars;
- and more resources and perks to come
One of the best highlights of this year’s trip to ALA Annual was undoubtedly the Alex Award ceremony on Sunday, June 26th. A small group of dedicated individuals, including current and former committee members, made their way to the South Conference Center to listen to 2016 Chair Angela Craig deliver a brief presentation on the top ten award-winners and the vetted titles and hear the acceptance speech of special guest Ryan Gattis, author of All Involved (2016 Alex Award Winner).
In the wake of the acquittals over Rodney King’s beating at the hands of a few members in the Los Angeles Police Department, much of the Los Angeles metropolitan area experienced riots, lootings, arson, and violence including murders. Just six days of lawlessness resulted in:
- eleven thousand fires
- just under eleven thousand arrests
- over two thousand people injured
- more than $1 billion in property damages
- approximately sixty deaths.
During these six days, Gattis set his novel and chose various characters taken from real interviews with those who experienced the riots, bringing to life the different realities during this turbulent period. Gang members, a firefighter, a nurse, a dreamer, an artist, a homeless man, and others give unique testimonies to all sides of the 1992 violence and show the complexities of survival, vengeance, desperation, and loss.
For more information about the history of the period, see www.lariotsallinvolved.com.
During Ryan’s acceptance speech, he described his own history with violence and how it created an author:
“I was seventeen when my nose was torn out of my face. Seventeen, when I had two facial reconstructive surgeries to fix it. I was eighteen when my senses of smell and taste returned. Before, I was on track to apply to the US Air Force Academy, and after, all I wanted to be was a storyteller.
Suffering violence, enduring it and not allowing it to determine everything about me has made me who I am today. And that is a very difficult thing to say, but an important thing.”
Winning an Alex has brought about some powerful results for Gattis, who shortly after the award, was asked to speak at Marco Antonio Firebaugh High School in Lynwood in South Central Los Angeles, an area described: “as inextricable from Compton as Long Beach Boulevard, sharing all of its violence and troubles but none of its notoriety”. They had not known he had won an Alex, but afterwards, were more enthused at the news. Upon his visit, in an area where “South Central Los Angeles is an island unto itself [and] the cities within it are locked off from the LA tax base and school system and must fend for themselves,” Ryan and his publishers (Ecco, HarperCollins, Picador and Macmillan in the UK, and Writers House in New York) were able to donate 150 books to students and over 100 to the library, including 2016 Alex Award titles. He found that the high school students knew very little of the Rodney King riots because “the generation before them had made an unspoken pact not to raise their children as they had been raised”. This discovery was “incredibly moving” and “filled [me] with hope for Lynwood and its future”. He shared with attendees a few photos and described his experience:
“Their students are young and excited and so eager to learn but they don’t read. They don’t read enough. So all I did when I went in there was talk about what reading means to me and how it changed my life. Especially the year of my life where I was basically a hermit trying to recover from my surgeries and…and my injury…”
Soon after this visit, he describes how he was invited to Lynwood Middle School and visited immediately after a second 8th grader was killed due to gang violence, an 8th grader whose “body had been discovered in a parked car at the end of an alley”.
He notes: “Standing in front of a room full of young teenagers who know the cost of violence, who are dealing with its monstrous grief, at that very moment being asked to comfort them, to inspire them, is by far the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. And yet…nowhere was it more important to say that reading helps us learn the consequences of behavior without having to suffer them ourselves. I remain in awe of the decision that the Alex committee have, not least because its incredible foresight forced me to see my work more clearly but it also pushed me to refocus my efforts to make certain that I reach an entirely new generation in Lynwood, and I do whatever I can to inspire them to be writers to tell their own stories to the world.”
Did you know that YALSA has Interest Groups?
Well, technically, YALSA has just two interest groups : Teen Mental Health, convened by Meaghan Hunt-Wilson, and the Washington DC Metro Area, convened by Carrie Kausch. But next week at the ALA Annual Conference, the YALSA Board will be discussing the revitalization of interest groups. The possibilities for interest groups topics are as vast and varied as the teens we work with. As evidenced by the interest groups listed above, the focus can be a specific issue, or it can be the virtual meeting space for a geographical area, or something completely different that falls under the banner of young adult library services.
Personally, I think forming interest groups is ideal for members with an affection for specific collection development topics. These could be the hot topics of the day, such as an interest group that promotes diversity in library materials, or an ageless topic, such as interest groups that suggest good books for class discussions. Although YALSA creates wonderful lists and chooses literary awards each year, there’s still so much left to explore.
Take graphic novels, for example. YALSA compiles an annual list of noteworthy graphic novels published over the previous 15 months, called Great Graphic Novels for Teens. Perhaps an interest group focusing on graphic novels may be more interested in creating topical lists, or grade level recommendations. Interest groups are member-driven and flexible, very different from YALSA committees that must be aligned with the objectives of the strategic plan.
Each year, School Library Journal presents a Day of Dialog, which allows librarians, educators, and library students the chance to come together and learn the latest about childrens and teens publishing trends and upcoming releases. This was the first time I have attended a Day of Dialog and I would definitely recommend future attendance to anyone who works with children and/or teens promoting books and reading. Check out my recap of the middle school/high school panels and speakers from the day!
Newbery award winner, Kwame Alexander visited my school, Pulaski Academy in Little Rock, Arkansas, this month. His novel The Crossover (2014) has received recognition and numerous awards: the Newbery Medal (2015), NCTE Charlotte Huck Award Honor for Outstanding Fiction for Children (2015), Coretta Scott King Author Honor (2015). Penn State/Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award (2015), and Paterson Poetry Prize for Young People’s Literature (2015).
The appeal of The Crossover stretches beyond age and gender of the reader – and reading level as many reluctant readers have enjoyed the focus on basketball in this story. It focuses on fourteen-year-old twin basketball stars Josh and Jordan who wrestle with the highs and lows of high school (on and off the court) while their father ignores his declining health. The “Basketball Rules” mentioned throughout The Crossover are inspiring rules that can be incorporated in life, not just basketball.
After a very engaging talk to middle school students, I was able to sit down with Mr. Alexander and ask what were his 5 good picks for (older) teens.
The highlight of my trip to ALA Midwinter was attending the Best Fiction for Young Adults teen feedback session. A diverse group of teens from the Boston area had the opportunity to share their thoughts about titles nominated for the Best Fiction for Young Adults list. Their uncensored, frank and articulate opinions—both positive and negative—were a delight to hear. Here are the highlights!
Many teens shared gushing, glowing reviews of these books, which I’d say were informally the most popular picks of the teens present.
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
“Very realistic, reflects how teens actually think/talk.”
Another reading thought it was “perfectly executed” and loved the mystery of Blue’s identity and the “adorable romance.”
Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
The book left one reader “feeling breathless.” She liked the unexpected ending and that the main character had everyday problems in addition to her peculiar medical condition.
“sweet and romantic.”
Another reader thought it had an engaging plot and deep complex character relationships. She loved diagrams and drawings.
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
“An emotional roller coaster.”
“Sarah J. Maas is a genius. Loved. So many plot twists. Action packed.”
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
“Euphoric, divine reading experience. Tragic and beautiful. Think long and hard, inspired to read and wander.”
“Takes the gold medal for sappy romance.”
Other Positive Feedback
Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman
One teen liked this book because it “focused on what’s important, not fluff.”
The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds
A young man enjoyed this book. He related to the main character’s struggle after losing a mother figure himself, and as a resident of inner-city Boston, he thought the urban setting was familiar and thought that Reynold’s captured the voice of teens with accurate dialogue.
Kissing Ted Callahan (and Other Guys) by Amy Spalding
One teen liked this because unlike some of the other favorites, it wasn’t too deep or heart-wrenching. It was “delightful and full of laughs” and didn’t take itself too seriously.
Sorry this wrap-up is so late, dear Hubbers – conferences always knock me out for at least a week after. Anyways, I was happy to attend the “New Adulthood: Literature & Services for NA Patrons” presented by Meg Hunt Wilson, Teen Librarian & Reference Librarian in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (my home state!) and our own Hub member manager, Molly Wetta, Collection Development Librarian at the Lawrence (Kansas) Public Library. They focused on four aspects of the NA market – what is new adult, appeal and marketing, booktalks, and library services. I was thoroughly fascinated by their presentation, and without further ado – here’s the highlights of their talk at the 2015 YALSA YA Services Symposium.
So – what is New Adult?
New adult titles are geared towards teens who are just past high school life – 18-25 years of age is the common age range. NA books began as a self-publishing phenomenon, but eventually move on to the “regular” publishing world. The books are mostly set on college campuses, are relationship centric, fast-paced, and emotionally intense. And, oooh! Are they ever steamy! As one of my teens told me when I told her about this panel: “aren’t those the books with a lot of sex in them?”
On the Schedule at a Glance in the Symposium’s program, Saturday’s list of events included a “Book Blitz” from 5:00-7:00 p.m. The only information about this event were a few pages in the program dedicated to Book Blitz Author Bios and a small box that stated: Each attendee will receive 6 tickets to exchange with these authors for free signed books!
Symposium veterans knew what to expect from the Blitz, but newcomers could be heard Friday evening and Saturday afternoon pondering, “What is this Book Blitz all about?”
This tweet from attendee Lauren Regenhardt sums up the experience pretty well:
Hunger Games: Librarian style – stick 25 authors, free books, and 300 people in one room. #yalsa15
— Lauren Regenhardt (@PagelaurenPage) November 8, 2015