For many teens, technology has let them define old concepts in new ways.  These new definitions can be worrisome, incomprehensible, even dangerous to librarians and parents.  Yet perhaps it’s time we listen to the kids.

A few years ago, I participated in a project to provide middle schoolers with an online creative outlet.  Co-sponsored by my library system and the local school district, the website was intended to give tweens a voice as well as teach technology practices.  It took the steering committee of librarians from both organizations to establish rules and procedures.  We were concerned about making sure that students’ privacy wasn’t compromised.  We knew that unfortunately, to keep students safe, we had to go for stricter policies. Read More →

If you’ve never made a presentation at an event like the YA Literature Symposium, watching the speakers might make you wonder how it all comes together.  Those polished, funny, engaging speakers must have done some hard work, but they must also be lucky, right?  Yet the process of crafting the presentation and actually making it isn’t a mysterious one, as this tongue-in-cheek timeline for a speaker at the YA Lit Symposium illustrates.

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I’ve been writing for the YALSA blog over a year now, mostly about books and in particular YA classics.  I love talking and writing about books, and I’ve found that the New to Me columns have given me a new appreciation for YA literature and reading.

Prior to beginning, I didn’t care for most of the YA literary classics that I had read.  The Pigman felt much too dated to me and the characters were so unlikable that I couldn’t see the appeal of the novel.  The Chocolate War was better, but it was somewhat didactic.  And I still haven’t read The Outsiders, something that I’ve jokingly said will get me drummed out of the YA librarian corps.
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The fiftieth anniversary of To Kill a Mockingbird, a classic often read by teens, came this  past July.  This anniversary drew many tributes, leading to readathons and viewing parties of the superb film adaptation.  To Kill a Mockingbird was one of my favorite books in high school, and it’s one I’ve reread several times as an adult.  It’s an occupational hazard that you reread very few books as a librarian, so what makes me keep coming back to this book?
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When I was elected to the 2011 Michael L. Printz Award Committee, I was excited and nervous.  I was excited to have such a great opportunity, to help recognize the book that made the highest contribution to young adult literature.  But I was nervous because wow, that’s a big responsibility, picking the best book of the year!

At least, I told myself, I had served on another selection committee in the past and had some familarity with the process: with the YALSA nomination forms, with how the workflow would go, things like that.  Yet even with that knowledge, I’ve been surprised at what serving on the Printz Committee is actually like.  So here are some things to know if you’ve ever considered standing for election to the Printz Committee.
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More than just a love story between a poor boy and a rich girl, Gentlehands is the coming of age of a young man in the late 1970s.  M.E. Kerr was awarded the Edwards Award in 1993, noted as “one of the pioneers in realistic fiction for teenagers.”  So how has her work held up?

Gentlehands
M.E. Kerr
Published 1978

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If you like your YA literature gritty and urban, consider one of the earliest choices that meet those criteria: A Hero Ain’t Nothin’ But a Sandwich.  Alice Childress’ novel explores the world of a young heroin addict, at a time when there was no DARE, no “Just Say No”, and few options.  And in exposing the lack of options, Childress gives us a chilling look at how urban life used to be–yet it’s a world that doesn’t feel that distant from today’s cities.

A Hero Ain’t Nothin’ But a Sandwich
Alice Childress
Published 1973

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A forbidden classic, Flowers in the Attic is the story of four siblings subjected to years of abuse by their mother and grandmother.  It was the Twilight of the 1980s: wildly popular and passed around by teens, with the added bonus of being “dirty.”  But with today’s teens eagerly reading the chaste romance between a girl and a vampire, how does Flowers in the Attic compare?

Flowers in the Attic
V.C. Andrews
Published 1979

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