December Eureka Moments

We’re almost to 2013! Though I know you’re probably busy with end-of-year plans, projects, and tasks, I wanted to tell you about some recent news, research, and innovation you might find informative or inspiring for your library work.

  • A study recently published in the Journal of Educational Computing Research surveyed middle school students on their experiences with cyberbullying and found that those who engage are most often both victims and perpetrators. They looked at reporting behaviors, too, and found that even when students report cyberbullying, it rarely stops. If you’ve been addressing only one end of cyberbullying, you may want to consider changing up your programming to look at why it is that students both engage and suffer from it, and your teen advisory group might be interested in discussing methods that reporting and prevention programs can be made more effective.
    Holfield, Brett, and Grabe, Mark. (2012). Middle school students’ perceptions of and responses to cyber bullying. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 46(4), 395-413.
  • It’s that time of year – rather, it’s been that time of year since before Halloween – when all the ads and commercials you see have a Christmas twist to them. Have you seen this viral video that parodies the Coca Cola bears to draw attention to the harmful health effects of drinking too much soda? Called The Real Bears and sponsored by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the video features a song by Jason Mraz (no doubt to hook people who don’t know what it’s about) and shows a family of bears slowly getting sicker and sicker as they make soda more of a part of their diet. Have your teens seen it? With a lot of strong reactions in both directions, the video might make for a great conversation starter in one of your advisory groups, or it could prompt some programming or displays on health and nutrition. Continue reading
  • Join the Conversation about Teen Reading!

    On October 17, 2012, help YALSA celebrate Teen Read Weekâ„¢ by joining the conversation about teen reading and young adult literature via a Tweet-a-thon!’  YALSA wants to know: what’s on your YA lit reading list right now? ‘ Steampunk? Audiobooks? ‘ Horror? Graphic Novels?’  Nonfiction?’  Something else?

    We’re encouraging people of all ages to Tweet their YA lit reading lists, recommendations, thoughts and ideas with the hashtag #TRW12 any time on Oct. 17.’  We’ll be following and re-tweeting our favorites.’  We want to hear from teens, librarians, library workers, educators, authors, editors and more!’  What might you Tweet on Oct. 17? Here are just a few ideas:

    • What you are reading, or want you want to read
    • Your opinions on who the contenders are for the Printz or other YA lit awards
    • Innovative ways that libraries are bringing reading to teens
    • Quotes about YA lit, or about reading in general
    • Book recommendations for others
    • Tips for getting more teens reading
    • Links to booklists, contests and other resources
    • What trends you’re seeing in YA lit right now
    • Visuals! Show us what you have going on for Teen Read Week by Tweeting a photo
    • Whatever else you’d like to share about teen reading and YA literature

    So, librarians, library workers and educators please alert your teens — and encourage all the adults you know to participate, too. ‘ ‘ To learn more about Teen Read Week, please visit www.ala.org/teenread.

    Great First Lines YA Book Display

    Pick up an M. T. Anderson book and chances are the first line will wow you. Maybe most notably, Feed starts out with “We went to the moon to have fun, but the moon turned out to completely suck.” In Thirsty, Anderson goes for the foreboding feel with “In the spring, there are vampires in the wind.” And the humor returns with “‘Great scott!’ cried Jasper Dash, Boy Technonaut. ‘Your mother just lost her hand in the rotating band saw!’” in The Clue of the Linoleum Lederhosen. Lines like these show how much fun a writer has with his or her work and hopefully serve to pull the reader into the book from the very first words.

    Marketing books can be easy if they have famous authors, cool covers or belong to a popular series. But with so many books (and so little time) it’s possible for great titles to get lost in the crowd. Finding interesting ways to display books is one of the things I enjoy about my job. I love seeing titles get checked out from a display I worked on and I always get a little excited when I have to restock. Teens are a busy bunch of people and ready-made displays can make it easy for them to grab a book that interests them.

    The “Great First Lines” display has been well used this summer because quotes like “The monster showed up just after midnight.” (A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness) grab someone’s attention and beg to be read. Continue reading

    YA Lit Symposium: Some Post-Conference Reflections

    There’ve been some great summaries of sessions at the 2010 YA Lit Symposium here, and I’ve written in detail about all of the sessions I attended on my own blog, but now that I’ve had some time to process everything I heard and talked about over the weekend and what I’ve read about the symposium since then, I thought I’d share some of my overall impressions from the entire conference here to continue the discussion.

    One of of the themes I saw come up across multiple sessions was that reading allows us to vicariously experience things that are not part of our own lived experience, so reading books about people who are different from us helps educate us, allows us to test our values, and de-Others people like the character. In “Beyond Good Intentions and Chicken Soup: YA Lit and Disability Diversity: How Far Have We Come?” the presenters mentioned that for a lot of teens, reading a book about a person with disabilities may be their first experience with disability. Making sure that portrayal is balanced rather than stereotypical and that the character’s disability isn’t the primary problem in the story gives teens a more accurate portrayal of what people with disabilities can be like–that is, that people with disabilities are people, too. Continue reading

    YA Lit Symposium: A Side Trip…

    As I was unable to make it to the YA Lit Symposium’s Pre-Conference Session: On Beyond Stonewall, I decided to head to a local bookstore Friday night for an intimate and informal discussion about LGBT issues in teen literature.’  Present were authors Malinda Lo (Ash), Lauren Bjorkman (My Invented Life), Megan Frazer (Secrets of Truth and Beauty), Alexandra Diaz (Of all the Stupid Things) and Kirstin Cronn-Mills (The Sky always hears me and the hills don’t mind), all of whose books feature characters dealing with LGBT issues. Continue reading

    D.C. Tips – YA Literature outside the Conference

    Though you will have many opportunities to see and hear from authors at the conference, there are a few teen-focused events elsewhere in DC that might warrant a little exploration.

    Politics and Prose is one of American’s greatest independent bookstores, and if that isn’t enough to get you to take a field trip, Thursday before the conference they are hosting John Green and David Levithan. Green and Levithan are also at the conference, but this may be a good opportunity to watch them interact with their teen target audience. On Monday, Lynne Rae Perkins is appearing, and her new book is getting lots of buzz. Check out the complete calendar of events at Politics and Prose.

    Right near the convention center is the Martin Luther King Library, and this year they will be the site of a reception for Capitol Choices. Capitol Choices is a group of librarians, teachers and booksellers from the Washington Metropolitan Region who discuss books for kids and teens and create a list of 100 books at year’s end. Come and enjoy refreshments, and chat with authors (including Jon Skovron, author of Struts and Frets) and many great advocates of children’s literature. The reception will be held on Sunday afternoon from 3-5.

    Apply by Nov. 30 to manage YALSA’s new blog

    Earlier this month, YALSA extended the deadline to apply to manage its new blog. The new blog (name TBD) will launch in 2010 and will focus young adult literature. We’re seeking candidates to manage the blog and help YALSA develop it further. The goal is to create a website that provides teens a resource – with blog posts and multimedia – for finding reading recommendations.

    After the jump, read the original announcement, which includes job requirements, qualifications and information on how to apply. Questions? Contact Beth Yoke at byoke@ala.org.

    Continue reading

    YALSA President’s Program, ALA annual 2006

    It took me a whole week to sort through my thoughts and notes for the YALSA President’s Program! Here they are at last.

    The YALSA President’s Program kicked off Monday afternoon June 26 with Pam Spencer Holly and Beth Yoke delivering highlights from the past year (did you know YALSA is the fastest growing division in ALA? 😉 It’s really amazing that not only has membership increased by 10%, but 25% of YALSA members are student members. Could a student interest group be in the works?

    The President’s 2005-2006 Report was well-organized and reflects accomplishments that align with the YALSA Strategic Plan.

    I think Pam was so eager to pass over her presidential gavel to incoming president Judy Nelson that she forgot to mention an item on the agenda – Friends of YALSA. The website shows that YALSA only has 18 friends! I slipped a form to my boss, and I think I can get my mom to contribute too – who can YOU ask?

    2007 sounds like it will be as busy as 2006! Tons of events are in the works as YALSA turns 50, Teen Tech Week lauches, and much, much more.

    Judy Nelson announced a return to our roots with the theme of her presidency, “Still Reading After All These Years,” a focus on the wonderful rich and diverse world of our beloved YA literature. Very fitting, and smart, in light of the recent misconceptions of YA novels as fluff and nonsense.

    Appropriately, the program that followed the membership meeting was all about the Renaissance of YA Literature, and a sequel to a program 10 years ago on the same topic: What’s so Adult about Young Adult? The afternoon was a celebration of crossover titles including the likes of Weetzie Bat (the original crossover novel) Perks of Being a Wallflower, and more. I missed the names of some of the speakers, so thanks in advance for any corrections you guys who attended can contribute.

    Author and YA lit critic Michael Cart (Booklist’s “Carte Blanche” column, My Father’s Scar, and editor of Rush Hour, who convened the original program on this topic, gave a brief history of crossover novels, lamenting that titles so appropriate for teens are published as adult for (mostly) economic reasons, and commenting on the lack of adult recognition of the value of YA lit, stated of those who think that YA lit is “the stuff of Sweet Valley High, more the fools, they.”

    What makes a crossover title? They share several traits:

    • first novels
    • young authors
    • coming of age theme (teen protagonist)
    • incorporate the mysterious, puzzling, and enigmatic

    Next, a publisher spoke (missed her name!), sharing the stat that of the top 50 bestselling juvenile titles, 9 are (currently YA titles), and explaining a little about why editors publish young adult books under adult imprints.

    Author Aidan Chambers (This is All, Postcards from No Man’s Land) offered the British perspective with humor and aplomb, quoting Shakespeare, poking fun at himself and explaining his position on the “life follows art” theory.

    Author Greg Galloway (As Simple as Snow) followed, and discussed literature as types of glass – the transparent “windex” kind popularized by the likes of Dan Brown, and the more complex stained glass kind in which literary greats such as Flannery O’Connor and Raymond Chandler delight in use of language.

    Sheila (Scofield? sorry Sheila!) provided the librarian in the field point of view, speaking about the gamut of authors and formats and genres teens ask for. She recommended promoting adult titles to young adults and young adult titles to adults by incorporating them into displays and booklists recommending YA titles to librarians serving adults, and asking the adult services librarians to recommend crossovers.” Promoting teen lit IS advocacy for teens, she said; her top suggestions are

    Pretties/Uglies/Specials by Scott Westerfield
    I is Someone Else by Patrick Cooper
    titles by Marcus Zusak
    Feed by M.T. Anderson

    She concluded by reminding us that authors tell stories; they don’t write for a selected audience, and quoted Ranganathan: “Every reader has his or her book; Every book has its reader.” The concept was followed up in the Q&A period when one of the panelists reminded us that the readership of a book is one (the original Long Tail?).

    Three excellent booklists distributed at this program are online at http://www.ala.org/ala/yalsa/annual.htm

    ~posted by Beth Gallaway