YA Lit Symposium Pre-Conference: Meet Them Where They Are and Open the Door: Urban Teens, Street Lit, and Reader’s Advisory

Meet Them Where They Are and Open the’  Door: Urban Teens, Street Lit, and Reader’s Advisory brought together the expertise of Megan Honig of New York Public Library, Beth Saxton of Cleveland Public Library, and Sofia Quintero, author of the YA novel Efraim’s Secret (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2010).

Presenters Honig and Saxton demanded participants think critically about the definitions of “urban” and “street lit,” as well as admit, on paper, their biases, preconceived notions, and reservations about recommending street lit to young adults.’  The discussion and reflection segments of this pre-conference proved particularly valuable. Continue reading

YA Lit Symposium — Meet Them Where They Are and Open the Door

The YA Literature Symposium is quickly approaching! Have you registered yet? The list of programs with times is now available.

The featured program this week/today is:

Meet Them Where They Are and Open the Door: Urban Teens, Street Lit, and Reader’s Advisory

Socioeconomically disadvantaged urban teens are often stereotyped as non-readers, reluctant readers, or readers of a single genre. But just as with other teens, urban teens’ reading choices are informed by their needs, interests, and social landscape. In this session, we will discuss factors that contribute to urban teens’ reading choices, demystify the increasingly popular genre of street lit, and demonstrate proven reader’s advisory techniques and programs for connecting urban teens with a variety of books that speak to them. Presenters:’  Megan Honig and Beth Saxton

Presenters Megan Honig and Beth Saxton kindly answered my questions.

KH: Can you share one interesting or thought provoking fact from your presentation?
Beth:’  There is not a large chain bookstore within the Cleveland city limits, or a bookstore selling a variety of new books for teens.’  It would take a teen who lives near downtown at least an hour on the bus to get to the nearest Borders or Barnes & Noble on a good day.’  There is a Borders Express at the mall downtown, the same mall that does not allow anyone under 18 without a parent.

KH: Who should come to your presentation?
Megan: Anyone who wants to learn more about why teens are drawn to street lit and how to do reader’s advisory for street lit fans (HINT: respect their reading tastes!!).

Beth: I think we could have called this “Respect the reader”.’  I would say anyone who is interested in how to raise reader’s awareness of titles and who wants to get more books into the hands of their teens.

The full interview with Megan and Beth is available at the YA Lit Symposium Online Community.

The YA Literature Symposium is November 5-7 in Albuquerque, NM. To give everyone a sneak peek into the presentations I be posting portions of interviews with program presenters weekly until the symposium. Full interviews will be available at the YA Lit Symposium Online Community.

Banned Books Week: All About Risky Business

Celebrating Banned Books Week is all about risk-taking. By celebrating titles that have been, or might be, banned in a library, those working with teens are saying to the world, “Look, we have controversial books in the library and we are proud of it.” That’s quite a risk and it’s a risk that many teen librarians accept and value.

In this video, Connie Urquhart and Lisa Lindsay (Fresno County Public Library) talk about the risks they’ve taken in collection development and in teen services – Including risks that went really well and risks that weren’t as successful as was hoped.

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Street Lit: More Questions than Answers

For years, my library’s relationship with street lit has been tentative. Supporting & providing street lit isn’t necessarily the issue: the issue is, does it belong in the teen or adult section? Or both? Along with this question comes a slew of potential implications.

My personal take on it is that in an ideal world, street lit would be available in both collections. But we all know that, especially with so many budgets being slashed, this is not an ideal world. When I proposed to my library’s Teen Selection Committee that we purchase street lit for the teen section (currently being housed in adult), the consensus from the teen librarians was that if it’s in adult, they’ll still be able to find it, and plenty of adults ask for those titles too. I got the sense from most of them that while they fully supported the books in the library, they felt uncomfortable with the idea that they’d be the ones left to justify their existence in their teen sections to unhappy patrons. What we decided from there was to continue to supplement the street lit collection with our funds but assign them to the adult collection, along with creating a booklist to lead teens there. Continue reading

Street Lit and Urban Teen Reading

Why do so many teens gravitate toward street lit?

The Baltimore City Paper has a provocative article about the dearth of YA fiction reflecting the lives of teens in urban poverty.

Though librarians often think of authors like Walter Dean Myers, Coe Booth, and Sharon Flake as the answer to teens of color looking for reflections of themselves in literature, Corbin believes they don’t go far enough: Continue reading