Torchlight Lullaby and the Midwinter Wiki

Torchlight Lullaby

By Ryan Fisher

White Rabbit Comics, 2016

ISBN: 9780989026222

How is a Seattle-based graphic novelist related to ALA and the YALSA Midwinter Wiki? This is a story of resourcefulness.

The Pacific Northwest is home to a multitude of creative endeavors, but my personal brush with it comes in the form of a relationship built almost two decades ago. Once upon a time, I taught high school Marketing as well as Forensics (speech and debate, not dead bodies) classes.   Ryan Fisher was one of my students who,incidentally, was invited to Artist’s Alley at the 2017 ALA Conference in Chicago.

Three things about Ryan stand out:

  • He’s a  Seattle author/artist (the connection to the location is starting to coalesce)
  • The themes of his book Torchlight Lullaby resonate with our teens who have survived trauma (the connection to our work at YALSA is becoming more apparent)
  • He availed himself of the RESOURCES around him (and BOOM the main point of this posting)

Ryan has had to be resilient.  Nothing has been handed to him. His success is the result of building relationships with a network of people who can connect him to needed resources. I got to be one of those resources.  Even after he graduated from high school, we continued communicating about his ideas and how he might go about making the world a better place through his writing. After creating two successful webcomics, he focused his energy on creating Torchlight Lullaby. I display his graphic novel with pride in my school library, since it represents the fulfillment of a dream of a former graduate. Want a copy? They are tough to come by.  Without the backing of a publisher and marketing team, Ryan promoted his self-published title (which currently enjoys a 4.5 rating on Goodreads) and sold out of the first run.  While he is waiting for a larger publisher to pick up a second run, he’s working on The Night Crew, a new trilogy of graphic novels featuring teens that he describes as a drama/mystery.

The use of available resources makes for a much more successful and satisfying venture. As the date for Midwinter approaches, YALSA members have a great resource for discovering some of the exciting things that will be happening at the conference as well as some fabulous sights to see and restaurants to visit. For the past couple of weeks, the members of the Midwinter Marketing and Local Arrangements Task Force have been updating the Midwinter Wiki. Want to know if your favorite book won an award? Check out the wiki to find out when the awards session will be occurring. Questions about how much it costs to hop a bus or Light Rail? Look it up in the Getting Around section of the wiki. Is your mouth watering for the best vegan restaurants in the Seattle area? You guessed it, there’s a section for that on the wiki. YALSA members are some of the most welcoming, fun members of any professional organization of which I have been a part. We hope this resource will enhance your experience with YALSA and make your stay in Seattle memorable.

Jodi Kruse is a Teacher Librarian at R.A. Long High School.

 

Libraries Welcome All Families: Community Partnerships to Fund Collection Development for English Learners in Urban Connecticut

One of the most difficult moments of the month was observing my English Learners come to check out books with their classes and not be able to find anything they could read at the high school level. It broke my heart to see dejection on their faces. It did not matter that I myself could not understand the words they were saying; I could just see it. Students perform better academically in literature courses when they see themselves in the materials and simply enjoy independent reading more. While I had some titles of interest for my Latinx students topically, all of them were in English. I set out to add books to my school library collection to assist my Spanish-speaking students. To purchase fiction in Spanish, I first posted a request on Donors Choose (www.donorschoose.org) for just ten novels. When the project was funded and the books arrived, I labeled each with a green S and shelved them above our fiction cases to aid new students trying to find them. After that success, I added another Donors Choose project to bring ten Spanish memoirs to West Haven High School, as all of our seniors must read a memoir.     

This project garnered the attention of the Greater Bridgeport Latino Network (GBLN), a local organization working to feature Latinx success stories, encourage political activism, and support community endeavors. GBLN showcased the story on their website, and it was subsequently picked up by a local newspaper, the New Haven Register. It was my desire to inform the audience it was not just me, my school, or my district needing these materials and support from the Latinx community:

“Literacy is necessary for being a productive member of society. Volunteering time such as reading at a toddler story hour, helping at a resume writing class, or speaking on a vocation or cause are all ways to support local libraries, especially those serving predominantly Latino communities. Woychowski welcomes the donation of new or gently used books to her own library, but she also encourages readers to donate both books and time to their own local school or public libraries.” (http://gbln.net/books-in-spanish-needed-for-high-school-library/)

Sharing this story via social media has been a blessing in terms of the varied audience reached. Links to the story appeared on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and were shared numerous times by personal friends and professional connections. Books began appearing on my home front porch and in my school mailbox from all corners of the community, from a prominent defense attorney to a small Catholic Church to a representative of the Hispanic Nurses Association of a large local hospital. Our community’s support of literacy is invaluable, and as school librarians, we must be willing to advocate for it on behalf of our students.

Jillian Woychowski is a School Library Media Specialist at West Haven High School and is a member of the AASL/ALSC/YALSA Interdivisional Committee on School-Public Library Cooperation.

Why Makerspaces Are So Important in Public Libraries

From large urban libraries to small rural ones, makerspaces are happening. Spaces like these are important because they give people of all ages the opportunity to gain knowledge on their own through hands-on exploration. The possibilities are endless and can range from being tech-based, such as 3D printing and multi-media, to art carts and building stations.

Libraries are Always Ahead of the Game:

In 2015, The Teen Tech Week theme Libraries are for Making highlighted the fact that indeed libraries have always been “centers for “making” and “creation” for as long as we have been having crafts, programs, and classes! Everyone seems to think that a makerspace needs to be high-tech and technology driven, but all it really needs to be is a program or space that enables and encourages teens to explore, create, and share.,” says Christie Gibrich, Senior Librarian at Grand Prairie Library System. (Young Adult Library Services, Volume 13, Number 2)

Our Art Cart

I work at the Reading Public Library, District Center in Reading, PA located in Berks County. We are fortunate to have a space dedicated to teens called the Teen Loft. In that space, teens have simple makerspace areas that I have created based on the interest of the teens and the resources many lack at home. One of those spaces is our Art Cart. We take for granted having access to simple things such as crayons, markers, paper, scissors, and glue. Our building makerspace consists of K’Nex, Legos, Moon Sand, and more. We also have a monthly themed makerspace challenge to keep things interesting such as our Granny Square project and decorating bookends that we featured for Teen Read Week this year. In many circumstances, these are luxuries for our patrons because their parents and guardians cannot afford them. They look to us for a space to relax and socialize with their peers. Programs are great and fortunately, we can provide them daily, but there is something about being able to have the time to explore on your own terms. Makerspaces provide that opportunity and support resources in our collection.

How Do I Start a Makerspace?

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Teen Read Week: It’s Written in the Stars at Liberty Middle School

I am one of the lucky 2018 Teen Read Week grantees, and I need to give a huge THANK YOU shout out to YALSA and Dollar General for providing funds to help me make this an astronomically successful week (see what I did there?).

I work in a middle school in central Virginia. We have about 1100 students and each year we struggle to meet the needs of both our high achieving students while balancing it with the more urgent need of reading scores on state tests. I think I helped with both this year! Students did not have school on the Monday of Teen Read Week due to a holiday. However, we began advertising our events with daily announcements, posters, and of course an eye-catching display as soon as you entered the library.

We needed daily announcements so that students could sign up for the programs I offered. It may seem as if we have a captive audience, but many teachers are reluctant to allow students to leave their class for a library program due to the almighty state test preparation. Once a student signs up, I have to create passes to leave class, forward names to teachers who have them in class, get teacher permission and get approval from administration. For every program event. Fortunately, I can attest to the fact that the students LOVE to come to library programs and are willing to miss even their “fun” classes or lunch to attend.

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Teen Read Week: Community Involvement at Meadowcreek High School

IMG_9908_polarrThis year for Teen Read Week we celebrated and awarded students for “Reading Woke.”  The Read Woke Challenge is a incentive based reading program that rewards students for reading books that:

• Challenge a social norm

• Give voice to the voiceless

• Provide information about a group that has been disenfranchised

• Seek to challenge the status quo

• Have a protagonist from an underrepresented or oppressed group

I started the challenge last year but this year I was able to really expand the program thanks to the Teen Read Week grant sponsored by Dollar General and YALSA.  Last year, many students were not able to receive the prizes they earned but this year I made sure all students who completed the challenge received their prizes.  This year’s program was different because I had more community involvement.  In past years, I have worked alone and not really involved others.  When I opened the doors up to the community, it made my program even better.  I have established relationships and connections that have helped me to make a bigger impact.  Because of the Teen Read Grant, I reached out to the manager of Dollar General.  He was very supportive of the program and he was excited to be a part of our event.

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Teen Read Week at Montville Township Public Library

We at Montville Township Public Library were very grateful to be awarded the Teen Read Week Grant this year and used it to do a four program series relating to Constructed Languages in Science Fiction and Fantasy. First, a book discussion related to this concept, choosing books in which a constructed language is major part of the story, in our case, the invented languages of Christopher Paolini’s Alagaësia, Newspeak from the novel 1984, and the future English of Riddley Walker. Then, virtual guest lectures by Christopher Paolini, the author of Eragon, and David J. Peterson, the linguist for HBO’s Games of Thrones. Finally, we ended with a Conlanging Workshop devoted to creating new languages, using the rules of David J. Peterson’s The Art of Language Invention. Throughout, we touched on the theory of linguistic relativity, the idea that the structure of a language actually affects how each speaker thinks and views the world. Further, as attendees were introduced to the workings of myriad languages, they saw that things that seem obvious to English speakers are not necessarily the case.

Over the four programs, attendees learned language and culture are intrinsically tied together, and were able to see its impact on a variety of different worldviews. The possibilities of language are vast, there is no set way to do things. For example, the attendees learned that English uses dummy pronouns, the ‘it’ in “It’s raining,” yet most languages do not work this way, simply opting for their word for ‘raining’ (Afterall, what is the ‘it’ referring to?). Similarly, I showed them an example of a constructed language that didn’t even use verbs. They learned that the word ‘butterfly’ used to be ‘flutterby’ and someone made a mistake hundreds of years ago that stuck. Not only is that an amazing fact, but the realization that most words have stories behind their formation was of great interest to them as well. Lastly, learning all the ways that one’s language affects their worldview and behavior, from speakers of tenseless language being healthier and more financially stable, to speakers of languages that used cardinal directions instead of left and right being able to navigate better, was especially interesting to them.

Personally, I find language fascinating, and I knew many of our teenage patrons thought the same. But what I found in doing these programs is the widespread appeal of the topic of language. People I would’ve never guessed attended some of the programs. Some patrons, for example, who had only ever attended our Super Smash Bros. Tournaments, eagerly attended the Conlanging Workshop. People who had no real interest wound up attending out of curiosity or to accompany a friend, and left amazed and intrigued. To see them speechless as they learned each mind blowing linguistic fact was wonderful.

Language is something so natural to us, so ubiquitous, that we often pay it no mind. But to see behind the curtains, to see the impact it has on us and we on it, is where I think the appeal lies. The newfound interest could lead to them investigating further, to possibly delving into related topics of psychology, philosophy, education, language teaching, sociology, anthropology, computer science, and even artificial intelligence. If a library is looking for an educational opportunity for its teenage patrons, language is an excellent starting point.

Jeff Cupo is the Young Adult/Community Services Librarian at Montville Township Public Library.

An Academic Librarian Crashes YALSA’s Symposium

This weekend, I ventured to Salt Lake City, Utah to hang out with YA librarian crowd and I was not disappointed. Why would an academic librarian want to attend a conference geared toward YA librarians? Well, because I am the Education and Teaching Librarian at my university and a large percentage of my collection supports the curriculum for future educators, including children’s and young adult literature classes.

If I am honest, the main reason I registered for this symposium was the session Disability in YA: Representing All Teens. As a person with Cerebral Palsy, I have seen many books with token characters or books where the character’s disability seems to be the only interesting thing about them. After listening to this panel, I realized I was not the only one who felt this way. It was great to hear from the authors and librarians on this panel about their own experiences as people with disabilities or loved ones with disabilities. I especially related with author Leigh Burdugo when she talked about her hesitancy to begin using an assistive device, in her case a cane. In my case, a few years ago, crutches. I am excited to explore the world she created in Six of Crows and just as thrilled to see librarians across the country tackle the subject of disability with their teens.

I also liked hearing from Karen Keys, Coordinator of Young Adult Services in Brooklyn, NY in her session Later Literacy: Engaging Teens in Books and Stories. She argued for the need to focus on teen literacy as much as we do early literacy and I agree! I believe that literacy at all stages and reading helps students develop students’ ability to think critically—something that we all need for “adulting” in general, not to mention academic coursework. So many students come to college unprepared to use these necessary skills. More emphasis on teen literacy and reading broadly can only help. I loved the practical tips in this session for including teens in readers’ advisory. I can see this translating easily to the student workers in my library. I also appreciated Karen’s slightly sarcastic sense of humor, which definitely kept the audience engaged. I loved her statement: “Read, read anything, everything counts, read whatever you like.” It is definitely a mantra to live by.

No post about the YALSA Symposium would be complete without mentioning the craziness that is Book Blitz. This is the librarian equivalent of Black Friday.  A few hundred librarians with four tickets each, twenty-seven top YA authors–a book signing free for all. Being a first-time attendee with limited luggage space, I found my four books and got out of there! I traded my tickets for signed books from Shane Burcaw, Julie Berry, Brenden Keily, and Vince Vawter, and who doesn’t love meeting authors?

I came away with something useful from each session I attended. For me, the most fun at the symposium were the dine-around dinners. It was simple to sign up and be able to go out with a group. I want to be more involved with YALSA and this gave me a chance to informally network. I met a few people that I hope will become good friends. Since most of the day was spent in sessions, I liked being able to explore the local restaurant options in the evenings. By the way, if you are ever in Salt Lake, I recommend Café Molise—the Crème Brule is amazing!

Rebecca Weber is an Assistant Professor of the Education and Teaching Library at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Transforming Teen Services Train the Trainer: Report from the Field

photos of participants in T3 face-to-face meeting in ChicagoIn July, State Library Agencies (SLAs) were invited by YALSA to apply for the pilot cohort of the Transforming Teen Services: A Train the Trainer Approach (now known as T3) IMLS grant funded initiative. A joint project from YALSA and the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies, T3 continues the work of the 2018 National Forum on Transforming Teen Services Through Continuing Education by training SLA staff and public library staff to facilitate workshops on implementing coding and computational thinking programming through the lens of connected learning.

Danielle Margarida, Youth Services Coordinator at the Rhode Island Office of Library and Information Services and Rebecca Ott, Young Adult Librarian at the Tiverton Public Library in Tiverton, Rhode Island threw their hat in the ring and were thrilled when Rhode Island was accepted as one of five states participating in the pilot. As a team, Danielle and Rebecca attended the first T3 meeting in Chicago during first weekend in October with an outstanding group of professionals from Alabama, Maine, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. The weekend consisted of activities that were both challenging and fruitful. The cohort spent time working on issues of identity and equity, connected learning, facilitation skills, and ways in which ways in which we’ll help our colleagues statewide recognize and integrate connected learning into daily librarianship, programming, and services to teens.
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Teen Read Week at Rancho Cucamonga Public Library

Greetings from the Rancho Cucamonga Public Library in Rancho Cucamonga, CA! We are honored to receive this year’s Teen Read Week Grant and are excited to share our plans for our upcoming programs.

Following this year’s Teen Read Week theme “It’s Written in the Stars… READ,” our programs are centered around an outer space theme. We also chose the book Railhead by Philip Reeve (which is set in several galaxies) to be our focal point. With the help of the grant, we will be able to purchase several copies of Railhead, which will be distributed a month prior to our programs to our teens. The goal here is to provide our teens with the reading material so they can discuss and analyze the novel while relating it to their hands-on experiences during the programs.

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Gimme a C for Collaboration: Meeting the Needs of Special Education Classrooms through Outreach and Advocacy

Last fall, I was approached by a teacher at Asbury Elementary, a public, K-5 school in my library’s service area, about bringing library resources into his special education classroom. As someone with almost no training in special education, forming this partnership has given me a greater awareness of how to best meet the needs of children who experience disabilities, both in the context of school outreach as well as in a traditional public library setting. I’m inspired to gather and share resources with my colleagues on how to effectively reach and serve children who experience a range of developmental, emotional, and physical disabilities, and how quality intersectional literature can aid educators and caregivers in understanding complex identities.

Background

Enacted in 1975, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) establishes the provision of a free and appropriate public school education for eligible students ages 3–21. According to the The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), 13 percent of public school students received special education services in the 2015-2016 school year (National Center for Education Statistics, April 2018.) Given the significant number of students receiving special education services in our public schools, now is a critical time for both school and public librarians to evaluate how we can better serve this population in every context. More importantly, now is a critical time to examine intersectionality and its role in the perception and portrayal of minority and traditionally underrepresented groups of children who also experience a range of disabilities.

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