How many times have you picked up a book and had so many feelings and reactions while reading it, that you just wanted to share them with the next reader? Look no further than The Margin Project! The Margin Project is something done at many public and school libraries, as well as being championed by writer Jen Malone (find out more about her here). The Margin Project is a great way to bring aspects of social media to reading, thus socializing books!
Tag: reader’s advisory
The benefits of reading go beyond entertainment and into therapeutic tools when focusing on loss and grief in young adult literature. This year, the practice of bibliotherapy celebrates 100 years* in assisting mental health professionals and readers cope with many issues through informed choices about reading material. It is especially relevant to young adult readers in understanding loss and the grief process.
Teenagers today are said to have higher levels of anxiety and depression and informed readers’ advisory creates an opportunity to help teens by using the comfort and familiarity of reading. However, it is not to be misunderstood or considered as true therapy unless a therapist is involved. Through readers’ advisory, especially in a school setting, adults can both assist in book recommendations and also listen to teenagers (and possibly notice when teens need to speak to a school counselor). Just as librarians do not parent or restrict readers, we also do not assume any professional opinion about therapy or mental illness. See this article on the difference between bibliotherapy and readers’ advisory. The actual practice of bibliotherapy includes a skilled therapist, but adults who are familiar with stories of loss can assist with recommendations. After all, we already know the interest of our readers (and reading levels) and can offer novels that address grief and coping.
It’s difficult to talk about gender definitions and not talk about labels, double standards, and stereotypes. There is a fine line between narrowing the focus in a book search based on gender and narrowing topics or experiences. How do you recommend books? Do you begin by asking questions or immediately name a title? While understanding gender roles is necessary to form one’s identity, should gender be a significant role in choosing reading material? There is a place for gendered booklists, but it should not be the deciding factor and it does not remain the focus of reader’s advisory. After all, how often have you asked an adult “Are you reading a ‘boy’ or a ‘girl’ book?”
Some Background on Gender Roles
As adolescents begin to form their own identity we encourage curiosity through learning, yet topics are restricted once labels are introduced. The preteen and teen years are the years when adolescents broaden their views. Therefore, a variety of sources is required to shape a full image of gender to prepare them to enter the adult world.
While not every reader of The Hub is a librarian, we know a lot of you are going to be interested in this new product…
Queer characters in young adult fiction are hardly ubiquitous; the majority of books still feature cisgender, heterosexual characters. But a growing number of young adult novels feature characters that are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. They are moving beyond traditional coming out stories, and it’s becoming more common to see these characters in fantasy or sci-fi or for stories to feature characters with ambiguous identities.
Some of these novels are explicitly marketed as LGBTQ books, and it’s easy to tell from the synopsis or book jacket that a novel features queer characters, but other times you might never know without reading the book. While it’s important for readers who seek these types of stories to be able to discover them, it’s also valuable for readers to encounter them in stories with conflicts or plots that don’t revolve around the character’s identity. The following guide is intended to give an overview of the diversity within queer YA fiction for readers looking to explore these stories. It features well-known books as well as recently or soon-to-be published titles. A PDF copy of this graphic guide to LGBTQ YA literature is also available.
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!
Here are some example scenarios:
If you read book blogs (obviously), you’re probably familiar with “diversity challenges,” in which a reader tries to expand his or her reading tastes and worldview by reading books only by female authors for a year, or one writer of color a month, or a book from the perspective of every letter of QUILTBAG, or what have you. The people who set these challenges for themselves are avid readers, and generally they start off their challenge by noting the great disparities that exist in literature when it comes to race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, ability, or probably some other things I am forgetting to mention.
Don’t get me wrong. I have said things like this in my own blog before, and I completely support anyone who is identifying the clear problems in publishing (all areas, but for the purposes of you Hub readers, we’ll go with YA) when it comes to having too many white ladies writing about white ladies, and too little of everything else. And, of course, any time you are trying to read more books more of the time, you are doing something right.
But there’s something about such challenges that makes me uncomfortable.
Emotionally intense! Snarky! Action-packed! Fast-paced! Lush! Talking books with teens is fun, especially when using buzzwords that energize and colorize a book to make it downright enticing — at least enticing enough to spark a compelling curiosity for a teen to hold the book and read the inside flap. Progress, indeed! When enthusiasm for talking about books is backed up with a canon of teen buzzwords, your booktalk can become an effective powerhouse tool for getting teens to read.
So, what are buzzwords? The buzzwords I’m talking about are the appeal terms most often used to describe the key components of a teen book: the storyline, the pace, the tone, and the writing style. What are some of those booktalk buzzwords that will get teens interested in a book? Let’s take John Green’s wildly popular The Fault in Our Stars as an example. When I booktalk this book with teens I incorporate these buzzwords:
- character-driven to describe a storyline dedicated to the development of characterization
- leisurely paced to emphasize the gradual unveiling of the story through detail and language
- snarky, dark humor, with emotional intensity, but thought provoking (John Green has an ability to bring out a variety of emotion and feeling in his books) to highlight the overall tone
- sophisticated, witty, and compelling to describe the overall writing style of the author
Have you ever picked up a fantasy book and loved it, then tried to follow-up with another, only to find that it’s just not working for you? Have your friends ever complained that they just couldn’t get into fantasy, but when you ask, they’ve only tried one or two books before giving up on the whole genre? If you answered yes to either question, you or someone you know may need to discover their “brand” of fantasy!
Fantasy is a huge genre, divided into many distinct and varied sub-genres. While some readers may love to delve into any type of fantasy, others may find themselves loving one book, then being utterly bored or bewildered by the next. Some readers may even be amazed to discover that they are reading a fantasy because the fantastic elements might be so subtle within the novel.
For example, one reader could love Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones but be unable to finish Christopher Paolini’s Eragon. Another could love Eragon but immediately dislike Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere. Yet another could love Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, but be put off by Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus.
So how would a reader discover what fantasies they do like?