Book Review: Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares is the story of two people who first meet on the pages of a red moleskin notebook. One day Dash is perusing the shelves of his favorite bookstore, the Strand, and instead of a first edition Salinger, he finds a notebook challenging him to follow the dares left for him by a girl named Lily and leave some of his own in return. As they follow the clues (and dares) of a total stranger, Dash and Lily end up everywhere from NYC’s Macy’s during the week before Christmas to a club in the middle of the night (listening to a band called Sorry Rabbi, Tricks are for Yids). Each dare reveals something new about Dash and Lily and brings them closer to the day they will actually meet. When that day finally arrives, they are forced to reconcile the versions of each other they had in their heads with the real thing.

This book has a frenetic energy about it, like everything is happening so quickly that neither Dash nor Lily can keep their changing opinions straight. It’s like an explosion of hormones and opinions and pretentious language and really honest emotion, all barely contained within a shell of insecurity and feigned apathy. It’s like this book is screaming, “READ ME IF YOU ARE A TEENAGER. NO, SERIOUSLY.”

In true Levithan-Cohn style, this book is full of snarky dialogue, the craziest and most awesome array of characters ever (from a gay Jewish hipster couple to a family not unlike the mafia, if you replace violence with Christmas cheer), and a plotline so ridiculous and serendipitous that it’s almost impossible not to enjoy yourself.

Even with all of this to choose from, what I love most about this book is that it is a romance that isn’t really a romance. In most YA romances, the narrator is usually a girl who develops an all-consuming crush on a boy, they meet, and then lots of sexy scenes are spliced together with lots of mushy, let’s-express-our-feelings scenes. While these books are definitely fun to read, they aren’t always the most honest or healthy portrayal of what a couple can be like.

For most of this novel, Dash and Lily never actually occupy the same space. The promise of romance is always there, but it takes a backseat to the emotional development of the characters. Because of the dares they challenge each other with, both Dash and Lily are forced to look at the world through someone else’s eyes: they challenge each other’s ideas, they unknowingly push each other outside of their comfort zones, and they ultimately help each other form a better understanding of themselves.

MAE Award for Best Literature Program for Teens

Win $500 and an additional $500 for your library with the MAE Award for Best Literature Program for Teens

Here’s your chance to win $500 for your pocket and another $500 for your library! YALSA members are eligible to apply for this award recognizing an outstanding reading or literature program for young adults. If you have created an exceptional reading or literature program in the 12 months before December 1st consider applying for the MAE Award for Best Literature Program for Teens. The MAE Award is sponsored by the Margaret A. Edwards Trust. The winner receives $500 and additional $500 for their library.
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Legislative Issues Affecting YA Library Services

What are the major legislative issues affecting young adult library services?’ This post will focus on two.

First, the 2011 funding level for the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA). ALA is encouraging members to ask their congressional leaders to fund LSTA at $300 million for FY 2011.

LSTA funding is distributed to states by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) through population-based grants.’ LSTA is the only source of federal funding for public libraries, and with more and more public libraries facing state and local budget cuts, it is critically important that libraries receive this money. In this case, we are not seeking to pass legislation, but to influence the funding level for legislation that is already in effect.

Second, the good news. In August, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 1586, a $26-billion state aid package intended to prevent layoffs of educators and other state and local government workers. $10 billion will go specifically to education, and school librarians can benefit from this funding.

However, ALA is continuing to lobby for additional support to school libraries, specifically for the inclusion of school libraries in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). ALA is pushing for the ESEA to include a goal of having a school library staffed by a state-licensed school librarian in every public school, and to open state and local professional development funds to school libraries for the recruiting and training of school librarians.

The ESEA legislation will determine education policy for years to come. We need to make sure that it includes school libraries.

Where can you find information about legislative issues affecting libraries?
ALA’s Legislative Alerts and Updates page
Or the more extensive, “Legislation We are Watching” page

Advocating for your Library

With all the talk of advocacy in ALA, you might ask yourself: “How can I be an advocate? I’m just a librarian.” No one is “just a librarian.” Each voice counts and everything you do for your teens affects not only them but your community.

Librarians can be advocates by speaking out. A well thought out email or letter to a legislator can be persuasive. I talked to one legislator and she said that she hears from the same people all the time. Most people do not have the time or inclination to write their legislators and so only a minority of voices gets heard. Also, it is usually the same people who always go to open forums like a city council meeting. If you feel you have something to say, thoughtfully write it out and bring it to your council. Bring your teens along with you as it gives them an opportunity to participate in the political process as well as let officials know who they are helping.

You do not only have to speak out to people in government but your own administrators need to hear your voice too. Many times they do not know the problems or concerns among their staff. Some members of administration may only see teens as a nuisance instead of important patrons at the library. It is important to talk openly with administration to dismiss these beliefs, let them know what your teens are doing, and what administration can be doing for them.

While it can be frightening to speak out to those that give us our paychecks, it is necessary if we desire change. The more you speak out, the easier it will come.

Tweets of the Week – October 29, 2010

A short list of tweets posted over the last week that librarians and the teens that they serve may find interesting:

  • Link by Link: Blurring the Line Between Apps and Books – @nyt_tech
  • 6 Free Sites for Creating Your Own Comics – – @mashable
  • If someone can come up with a model that WORKED, and allowed library circs, I’d so be there. Already losing circ b/c kids have own ereaders. – @infowitch
  • Harvard’s EdLabs and Droga5 Use “Burner” Cellphones to Rebrand Reading – @fastcompany Continue reading

ALA Advocacy Resources

ALA has many resources available online to help you advocate for your library and libraries in general.

The Advocacy University page includes links to many toolkits, including resources for frontline advocacy, advocating in a tough economy, and an advocacy toolkit geared specifically towards youth development and services.

The Advocacy Clearinghouse page provides advocacy fact sheets, a printable brochure including library facts, and links to advocacy pages geared towards specific types of libraries.

Check the Advocacy Events page for information on upcoming events with advocacy opportunities, and information from past advocacy events.

Not sure what issues need librarian advocates, or how to contact your legislators? Visit the Federal Legislation and Libraries page and the Issues and Advocacy page. These pages provide information on important issues, upcoming legislation that affects libraries, and information on contacting your federal legislators.

ALA provides one central page, the Advocacy for Libraries page, with all of these links and other links that you may find useful.

If you need further support or information about becoming a library advocate, contact the ALA Office for Library Advocacy.

YALSA Advocacy resources

YALSA has many resources to help you be an advocate for teens and teen services in your library. Are you aware of what YALSA has that can help you?

YALSA has a legislative committee. That’s us, writing these posts this week, to get you ready for the elections. We’re here to tell you where to find the information that you need so you can speak up for teen services.

YALSA has webinars. YALSA has even had a webinar on advocacy!Check the website for current information and find out what previous webinars YALSA has offered. If it is more than 2 months old, you can check the archives.

YALSA’s Professional Development Tools include many different things. I mention this page because of the extensive list of resources at the bottom of the page. These include white papers on hot topics such as the importance of teen literature. Important links, such as the YALSA advocacy toolkit are also included.

There’s also a link to the Legislative Advocacy Guide. This pdf document gives you steps to take to become aware of the issues and tells you how to get involved. It mentions listservs you can join to be informed about the upcoming topics, tells you how to find out who your representatives are, how to contact them, and gives tips for what to say to them. This is an excellent resource to help get you started.

YALSA’s wiki has a page about Advocating for Teen Services in Libraries.

The wiki has many resources as well, including the “Speaking up for library services to teens: a guide to advocacy” pdf. It is very text heavy, but contains many pointers for becoming an advocate.

The Advocacy Workbook is a true step-by-step, broken down guide on how to be an advocate. It gives advice and work space to develop your messages and keep track of the important issues.

Lastly, there is a pretty hefty ‘ list of links to other websites helpful for advocating for teen services.

App of the Week: MoMA

Name: MoMA, Museum of Modern Art
Platform: For iPhone and iPod touch
Cost: Free

Contemporary art can be one the weakest areas of school and public library collections. When teens want more about a modern artist than the one or two plates in the Abrams histories, the free MoMA app can be a tremendous boon.’  Through the iPhone and iPod touch, the MoMA app features unprecedented mobile access to the collection, including a digital image for most works.

The app will appeal to art lovers of all ages, but is ideal for both self-guided study and whole-group instruction as it features comprehensive artists’ biographies, an integrated database of subject terms from Grove Art Online, and particularly high quality digital images. Breradcrumbs link artists thematically through headings like Primitivism or 1930s Drawings. You can browse by artist, medium or through movement.

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Mid-Term Elections Countdown

As many of you know, it is exactly one week until Mid-Term Elections take place. All across the country, some new political candidates will move to the forefront, some will remain in positions of power, and some will be cast aside. As voters, it is our voices that will create this change.’  Now you may be asking yourself, what does this have to do with young adults and library service?

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YALSA’s Not So Silent Auction: Recipe Book and Survival kit

Everyone knows that some of the best cooks in the world are librarians. How would you like to make scrumptious cookies and amazing desserts ! You will have the opportunity to bid on a cookbook of dessert recipes from YALSA members. I sure hope cookbook organizer Amy Alessio includes her recipe for Double Peanut Butter Cookies. Mmm, Mmm, just imagine cakes , cookies , pies, oh my. Recipes for these delectables can be yours for the low cost of, whatever you bid at YALSA’s Not So Silent Auction on Friday January 7, 2011.

This wonderful recipe book is provide by Amy Alessio and other wonderful YALSA bakers. Check out Amy Alessio’s official website. Continue reading