Friday, April 22, 2016 is National Earth Day, a day celebrated around the globe to demonstrate support for environmental protection. Started in 1970 and gaining momentum in the 1990s, Earth Day is great time to reevaluate the impact that we are having on the planet. Environmentalism has often been a cause taken up with passion by teens and new adults, and one recent study shows that during the recession years, conservations efforts among teens rose.
In honor of Earth Day, here is a list of nonfiction and fiction titles that explore a variety of aspects of environmental issues and conservation actions.
It’s Getting Hot in Here: The Past, Present, and Future of Climate Change by Bridget Heos
Exploring the science behind global warming, Heos examines the past, present, and future of climate change, the effects of political denial, and how we can work together, tackle, and lessen the impacts of a warming world.
Plants Vs. Meats: The Health, History, and Ethics of What We Eat by Meredith Sayles Hughes
Covering the historical, nutritional, and ethical impacts of what and how humans eat, Hughes brings in discussion around popular diets; the health and science of what we ingest; environmental impacts of food production; political, ethical, religious factors that lead to personal decisions; and what the future of food may look like.
The Story of Seeds: From Mendel’s Garden to your Plate, and How There’s More of Less to Eat Around the World by Nancy F. Castaldo
Another look at the impact that food production has on the environment with the importance of plant biodiversity prolonged by seed preservation. It also explores the impact of monocultures and genetic engineering on food production.
Eyes Wide Open: Going Behind the Environmental Headlines by Paul Fleischman
A guide to help teens navigate conflicting information around environmental issues that are represented in a variety of newsfeeds. Full of resources and ways that teens can make a difference. Also, see the updated resources and information from Fleischman on the book’s website.
Unstoppable: Harnessing Science to Change the World by Bill Nye
Nye applies his scientific rigorous understanding of the world to climate change, showing opportunities in today’s environmental crisis as a new beginning to create a cleaner and healthier world.
Climate Changed: A Personal Journey Through the Science by Philippe Squarzoni
Post-apocalyptic fiction is a sub-genre of science fiction. For a novel to be post-apocalyptic, the setting must be one where the end of the world has already taken place and characters are trying to survive and start anew. The end of the world event that occurred can be anything from war, to plague, to natural or man made disasters. Post-apocalyptic fiction differs from apocalyptic fiction, where the end of the world is currently taking place and the characters and fighting to survive it.
Post-apocalyptic fiction can be set in the current day or the far off future. Additionally, the story can take place right after the cataclysmic event or years after the event. In post-apocalyptic novels, technology can be that which we have never seen before, or there can be no technology at all. Also, characters can remember what the world was like, or they can’t remember at all what the world was like and will fantasize about the way it used to be or even go so far as to create myths about the world before the destruction (often our current day).
The stories of post-apocalyptic novels are often action and adventure, survival stories. When post-apocalyptic fiction is written for teens, the protagonist or protagonists are surviving on their own or in packs, and oftentimes the “hero” of the story has outstanding survival skills and can figure out how to survive in this new world. As with most novels written for teens, adults can be absent in post-apocalyptic novels. However, it is not uncommon to have an adult in a post-apocalyptic novel positioned as an evil figurehead, or the one person our hero or heroes are trying to find or keep safe. Post-apocalyptic novels can have elements of other genres in their story. The most common is to have dystopian governments in place. Continue reading Genre Guide: Post-Apocalyptic Fiction for Teens
I was nervous a few months ago when I tackled the popular series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer for the “What Would They Read” series here on The Hub, where we pair up favorite TV characters with YA lit recommendations– but I’m even more apprehensive with this blog entry. Joss Whedon’s Firefly found its end far too soon and yet has been kept alive by extremely passionate fans. This is a massive undertaking in the vast world of fandoms. Feel free to comment on my selections below.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Firefly, here is a brief synopsis: Firefly takes place in a future world with new star systems with moons and planets that have been terraformed to replicate life on Earth. Although the technology of the future is far more advanced that technology today, the new settlements on the moons most resemble the Old West. The Alliance is the central government, comprised of the only two superpowers left; America and China. Because of China’s power, Chinese influences in fashion and language and dispersed throughout everyday life. The show follows a specific ship that resembles a firefly named Serenity. Captain Malcom Reynolds and his crew live on the shady side of the law, delivering stolen government goods to planets in need and making deals with some unpleasant people. In an attempt to appear more respectable and make a little extra money, Mal decides to take on a few passengers. Instead situations because even more complicated.
It is true that a majority of Serenity’s crew would no sooner read a book than play professional football, I would like to believe my statement that there is a book for every reader. With no further ado, here are my reading recommendations.
Mal Reynolds – Initially, Mal has a stern, no-nonsense personality. Although, as the show progresses, we see a bit of a sense of humor emerging for time to time. There’s no question that Mal would prefer a book with a strong action-packed plot with a slight hint of a romance. Mal may think he’s kidding everyone with his love/hate relationship with Inara, but we know it’s there. Also, Mal was on the losing side of the civil war against the Alliance and thus does not respect government authority. For Mal, I would definitely recommend Legend by Marie Lu (2012 Teens’ Top Ten) as well as the other two books in the series, Prodigy and Champion. Mal and Day have similar personality traits, the main one being their need to help out the little guy from being trampled by the oppressive government. Continue reading What Would They Read?: Firefly
I saw the movie Elysium when it opened earlier this month. This dystopian movie includes a multicultural future, with Matt Damon plays Max daCosta, a Hispanic anti-hero in future LA. This look at a Hispanic main character given the chance to change the world or save his life (he can’t do both) was a break from the usual round of science fiction in general and Dystopia stories in particular, where the man or woman who rights wrongs and changes society is usually white. A search of recent young adult and middle grade books led me to several that provide readers with a future filled with heroes of different backgrounds, ethnicities, locations and circumstances.
The Silver Six is a middle grade dystopian graphic novel written by A.J. Lieberman, and illustrated by Darren Rawlings and published in 2013 by Graphix. The cover shows the six heroes: Phoebe, Hannah Yoshiama, Patel, Oliver, Rebecca, Phoebe, and Ian. Their scientist parents are assassinated after they discover a cheap form of power that would free humanity from bondage to Craven Mining, the world’s only energy supplier.
The children meet at an orphanage where they are assigned silver jumpsuits, a sleeping pod, dangerous jobs, and little food (the future is truly cruel to orphans). Thus begins a story that will have young readers turning pages as the children learn the value of friendship and sticking together, and work to find a place they can call their own. They discover that their parents’ deaths was not an accident and find a way to beat Craven Mining and have their own, peronal paradise. The science is more fun than real, but the pages are full of heart and love and self-discovery, the graphics are fun, and kids who are into science fiction will enjoy this story.
Only a month after many librarians were in Chicago for the 2013 ALA conference, a number repacked their bags this week and headed for the Cincinnati, Ohio/Covington, Kentucky area for the 8th National Conference of African American Librarians. The theme of the conference was Culture Keepers: Challenges of the 21st Century: Empowering People, Changing Lives. The conference had several tracks, and the Diversity and Cultural Heritage track included a panel called “Empowering the Voice of the Black Male in Children’s and Teen Lit.” The panelists and audience discussed a number of YA books and how they might or might not attract reluctant teen readers, especially young black men. The discussion began with talks about how black male children perceive the world of fiction: many see American fiction as a place where they do not belong or are not wanted. The result of this alienation is lower reading abilities and standardized test scores among these young men. The discussion centered on the differences in the kinds of material that attract boys vs girls, especially regarding covers, and how to change the current status quo.
With summer in full swing, I don’t know about you, but I’ve been attending my fair share of family barbecues, kids’ birthday parties, and other get-togethers. Aside from the usual commiserations over sunburns, bug bites, and other summertime hazards, the discussions usually turn to work.
While my close friends and family all know exactly what my job entails from listening to me enthuse endlessly over books and programs, I’m always amused at the reactions I get from those who are just learning that I’m a youth services librarian … and that I specialize in teen services. Aside from the general puzzled looks, I sometimes get the follow up question, “Does that mean you read kids’ books all day?”
Though most who ask this question seem excited and sometimes even a little envious until I confess that, no, that’s not part of my official job (sadly), there are a few who seem to view the idea with disdain. These are the adults to whom I then proceed to describe my job in enthusiastic detail, just before launching into a full-scale personalized book recommendation that I’m sure they were not at all prepared to accept. (Some days I truly love what I do!) I fully believe that no matter how skeptical someone may be about “kids’ books” that I can find a young adult book that will appeal to any adult reader. Sometimes, you just have to be a little sneaky about how you present the book to them!
Every dystopian tale shares a few traits: the perfect-yet-horribly-imperfect society, the futuristic setting, and a rebellion against it all. Dystopian fiction written for teens and dystopian fiction written for adults both have those key elements, but otherwise, their differing audiences make sure that most other important aspects are not alike.
Presentation and backstory
Most noticeably, adult and young adult dystopias differ in their presentation. Adult dystopias are often more subtle with their set-up of the dystopias themselves. For instance, in The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, the main character weaves current happenings in the story with memories of the time before the dystopia, though her memories are revealed out of order chronologically. This allows the reader to understand what happened to create her fundamentalist, patriarchal Christian society, but not all at once. The makeup of the society itself becomes totally clear only towards the end, a puzzle forming an image piece by piece. Adult dystopias assume a more mature reader, and often take this approach because an adult should be able to understand it.
Attending Book Expo America is a massive spectacle that never fails to inspire. Of my pile of free books and advance reading copies this year, obtained based on my entirely unscientific wanderings about the exhibit hall, about half of them are middle grade. This age group has been on my mind this year, as I look at youth services as a department and think about continuous services to youth from elementary, through middle, to high school. Middle grade has some great titles for younger teens, reluctant readers, and those who are looking for books with a little less romance and violence. These upcoming offerings are largely on the high-action, wacky humor end of the spectrum, with just a few that promise quieter character-driven stories.
April is National Letter Writing Month … and National Humor Month. We’ve combined the two to commemorate one of the most sacred teen traditions: embarrassing stories!
Do you ever feel like you’re the only one who’s peed their pants in front of the cutest girl in school? Think again. These embarrassing stories will make her laugh so hard that she’ll pee her pants in front of you! YA characters may seem airbrushed and perfect on the book cover, but beneath that glossy jacket they’re just like you and me. Take a look for yourself … and see if you can guess their true identities. (Check out the key at the bottom for the answers.)