Check This Out: Libraries in YA Lit

I think it’s safe to say that we here at The Hub – and all of you, of course – are avid lovers of books and libraries. I remember how my grandmother was my first introduction to the glories of the public library. She would take me to story hour each and every week, sometimes multiple times if the theme was great. She always let me check out whatever I wanted and encouraged me to read voraciously. She never seemed to care if I checked out 25 books, read through them in three days, and begged to go to the library again.

Library

As I got older, I began to develop friendships with the librarians. They knew me well enough to offer reading recommendations and cared enough to check up on my life. The children’s librarian was kind enough to stoke my thirst for knowledge and learning by letting me help with program setup and execution, giving me my first glimpses behind the scenes. I completed volunteer hours and job shadowing there to meet high school requirements. The library was my safe space, a comforting haven. It was in my childhood that I first dreamed of growing up and becoming a librarian.

Even today, the first thing I do after I move to a new city is to scope out the public library and get a library card. And now that I have a library degree myself, I not only understand the magic of a public library, I also grasp the vital role that libraries play in the community. Institutions of knowledge and learning, committed to freedom of thought and expression, stalwarts against censorship, advocates for the public. I’m very passionate about libraries and the importance they play in our society. But sometimes they also just make a darn good setting for a fictional yarn, so today I wanted to bring you some great books for a YA audience that feature a prominent library setting. Continue reading Check This Out: Libraries in YA Lit

Teenage Rebel With A Cause: Why I Love Banned Books Week

book burning Flickr Jason Verwey
image from Flickr user Jason Verwey

The teenage rebel has become a treasured image in American culture.  In fact, phrases like “pushing boundaries” and “classic teenage rebellion” frequently worm their way into conversations about adolescents.  Now, I generally don’t put any stock in the accuracy of stereotypes, especially about stereotypes about teenagers.  However, every nostalgic conversation among my colleagues or friends includes confessions from each individual’s brief past as a teenage rebel.  Whether it’s skipping school, sneaking out to a party, or simply dressing as bizarrely as possible, practically everyone has a memory of teenage rule-breaking–or at least rule-bending.  Even I clearly recall my version of  teenage rebellion–perhaps because the experience helped shape my current career.

Like many strange and wonderful stories, this one begins in eighth grade English class.  The curriculum included To Kill A Mockingbird and Fahrenheit 451–two novels that frequently feature in school assignments and lists of American classics.  Both titles also regularly appear on the Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books list compiled by the American Library Association.  I can’t recall if we discussed book banning and challenges during our study of To Kill A Mockingbird, but the subject obviously came up during of our reading of Fahrenheit 451.  Being a passionate reader, the situation described in Fahrenheit 451–a future where books have become illegal and book burning is the specialty of firemen–was my worst nightmare.  Books were my escape, my dearest companions and my guides.  The thought of outlawing books was unthinkably horrific–especially when I learned that book banning was still a reality here in the U.S. Continue reading Teenage Rebel With A Cause: Why I Love Banned Books Week