March 9 – 15 is YALSA’s annual Teen Tech Week, when libraries shine a spotlight on all of the great technological tools that they offer for their patrons. And though this event only lasts for one week, technology is a core element of most libraries’ mission year round. More and more are offering digital labs and makerspaces where patrons can learn to use technology to create fantastic projects and give free rein to their imagination.
One of my favorite examples of this is the prosthetic Robohand that was recently created for a young boy using the 3-D printer at the Johnson County Library Makerspace. As soon as I read the story, it got me thinking about all of the great stories I have read about technology being used to augment the human body or even change what it means to be a person. And, so, in honor of Teen Tech Week, I decided to create a list of some of my favorite books about technology being used to augment the human body or fundamentally alter humanity as we currently conceive of it. Continue reading Teen Tech Week: Building a Better Human
By Presidential Proclamation, the month of October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Despite legal efforts to eliminate discrimination and to increase access to education and job training, only 20.5% of people in America who have disabilities are employed. But, many people remain unaware of this inequity. This month, raise your awareness about disability employment by reading one of these books that highlight characters with disabilities in the workplace.
Miss Spitfire: Reaching Helen Keller by Sarah Miller â€“ While many are familiar with Helen Keller and her teacher Anne Sullivan, few realize that Sullivan was actually visually impaired herself. At a time when few women worked outside of the home, she nevertheless became Helen Keller’s governess and teacher at age 20. Learn more about her life in this fictionalized account, which draws heavily on Sullivan’s own writings. Continue reading Books for National Disability Employment Awareness Month
YA books with characters who are deaf or hard of hearing, or live with family members who are deaf, are few and far between, but they’re out there! These books have all the good stuff: first love, heartbreak, peer pressure, growing pains … but with the added perspective of teens who experience life in a diverse community.
Read My Lips by Teri Brown
Serena will do just about anything to fit in at her new high school, so when some popular girls find out that she is crazy good at reading lips, they befriend her hoping she can snoop out all the good gossip. But how far is Serena willing to go to reach the top of the school food-chain?
March is Music in Our Schools Month, and I think it is safe to say that music is a big part of our lives. Music is part of our cultures, our childhoods, and yes, even our literature. Some books are obvious — Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan is the first thing that popped into all of your heads right now, isn’t it? — but there are plenty of other books in which music is a key element to either the character development or the plot.
Janet Tashjian’s For What It’s Worth falls in the category of obvious, but it’s a great example of how music integrates into a plot and a character. Quinn is a virtual encyclopedia of music knowledge and is also growing up in LA during the tumultuous years of Vietnam. Besides having witty characters and an addictive plot that includes a draft dodger and a Ouija board, there are hand-drawn images, factoids, and lists of songs and albums that Quinn uses for his high school paper column, which is naturally all about music. Anyone with an appreciation for classic rock is going to have fun agreeing with (or disagreeing with) Quinn’s picks. Continue reading Hear Me Out: Music in YA Lit
Well, it’s getting to be that time again. Here in Texas, the air is getting slightly less hot, the birds have pretty much stayed where they are for the winter, and the leaves have stayed firmly on their trees. In more seasonally-inclined locales, though, you are probably enjoying crisp fall weather that’s perfect for cozying up with a good read. If the chilly air is keeping you from venturing out to the cinema this December, why not check out one of these books inspired by December’s new releases?
The Movie: If the holly-jolly feeling of November has you feeling more Scrooge-y than merry, you may be in the mood for the action-filled remake of Red Dawn that opened this week. When Korean paratroopers invade Spokane, Washington, who else to defend the town than a rag-tag gang of young folks?
Book Soulmate: If you’re looking for an action-filled book about teenagers defending their homeland from a mysterious foreign invasion, you can’t go wrong with the modern classic Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden. Australian teens who decide to go camping for a week in the bush have no idea that when they return their hometown will be abandoned, and an invading country will have taken over. The first book in this critically-acclaimed series is filled with action and the tension of life-and-death decisions.
YALSA’s upcoming YA Literature Symposium will explore the future of young adult literature. The symposium begins on November 2nd, but we wanted to get a head start here at The Hub, so we’re devoting October to 31 Days of the Next Big Thing. Each day of the month, we’ll bring you forecasts about where YA literature is headed and thoughts on how you can spot trends and predict the future yourself.
“Adventure” is one of those genre labels that, for me at least, gets murkier and less precise the longer I think about it. I start out excited to write about stories of exotic locales, heart-pounding action, and danger, danger, danger, and end up wondering if half of all contemporary YA fiction couldn’t be classified as “adventure.” I mean, look at the definition of “adventure fiction” provided by the WorldCat Genre guide: “works characterized by an emphasis on physical and often violent action, exotic locales, and danger, generally with little character development.” It’s kind of vague and I’m not sure I actually agree with it anyway.
The 2006 edition of Diana Tixier Herald’s Genreflecting posits that “the pure adventure, a story involving a hero (or heroine) taking risks and overcoming dangers to complete a journey or task, is a form on its own — and in fact, it is probably the oldest recorded genre in existence.” That sounds more like it, but applies to an awful lot of fiction and indeed, a quick Google search reveals an assortment of related or similar labels, things like Action-Adventure, Survival, Fantasy Adventure, and the like. If any story where action is at the fore and where the main character faces danger in the pursuit of a goal is considered “Adventure,” I have to wonder where one genre ends and another begins. Or if it even matters.
“You’re really pretty for someone in a wheel chair.”
As hard as it is for some to believe, YA novels are not all supernatural romance books about sparkly vampires or good vs evil, save-the-world-by-finding-the-chosen-one-and-watching-him/her/it uncover-special-powers-intended-to-overcome-the-forces-of-darkness novels. Okay, maybe lots of them fall into these categories, and, if we’re honest, we all have our favorites among them. However, many YA novels offer a deeper and more realistic look at life, self-discovery, and what it means to move toward adulthood as a part of a larger community. They help the reader see the world from a different perspective. One of these perspectives is that of a person with a disability.
I know there is controversy surrounding the correct terminology to use when discussing this topic, so let me start with this. I will be using person-first language (“person with disabilities” instead of “disabled person”) because we’re all people first. Also, while terms like “other-abled” or “differently-abled” may be apt and appropriate, I won’t be using them here.
YA literature is famous for tackling issues and not shying away from uncomfortable topics, which, for some, includes disabilities. So how has the world of YA literature presented the perspective of those with disabilities? The short answer is: in a variety of ways. Of course, we’re not just going with the short answer.