Happy New Year! Here’s the latest in research and innovation from all areas that might interest you and your teens.

  • High school students in Tucson, Arizona, are outraged that the school board has chosen to eliminate its Mexican American Studies courses in the wake of extremist politics and laws that will deny funding to the Tucson Unified School District if it continues to offer the curriculum. In protest, many students walked out on Thursday and marched to TUSD headquarters, where their pleas were largely ignored. Even if you’re not a librarian in Arizona, you can use this timely piece of news to plan programming or encourage discussion and study of students’ rights, the history of educational policy, or the study of history itself, as well as to highlight relevant books in your YA and greater library collections, like Sarah Jamila Stevenson’s The Latte Rebellion or Paolo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed.
  • It’s probably not much of a stretch to get your male patrons interested in books on sports, nor to encourage them to get out and play sports themselves. If you’re looking for an angle to get in with your more physical activity-reluctant patrons, male or female, turn them on to new interviews and research published in the latest issues of Latina and Shape, which cite a multitude of benefits (aside from the normal ones, like long, healthy life) for people who engage in competitive sports. Girls who play sports are more likely to have better body images and to avoid teen pregnancy, and researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign found that athletes are more skilled at balancing mental activities and multitasking than those who don’t play sports. Between looking pretty and doing well at school, there’s a benefit for everyone. Letting your teens know about this should make your sports and fitness books get off the shelves a little easier.
    Colón, Suzan. “Love It, Dream It, Live It.” Latina, 16:4, 2012. 20-22.
    “On the Ball.” Shape, 31:5, 2012. 19.
  • New research suggests that certain combinations of weight and race lead to unhealthy sexual activity, multiple and older partners for teen girls, and lower rates of condom use. This study also sheds light on other social costs of obesity, like lower rates of college acceptance. The research found that these costs are especially high for non-Hispanic white females, for whom obesity is especially seen as socially limiting, whereas larger bodies are more culturally accepted in the African American community. However, while this eliminates some social stigmas, it also serves to diminish young black females’ tendency to seek out medical attention or lifestyle changes to combat what could still be dangerous weight levels. This extensive article details the specific dangers in sexual and physical lifestyle and habits that obese females of black and white races experience and is worth a read if your community struggles with weight issues. Knowing what specific types of populations you serve, take a look at the article to see what resources regarding sexual and physical health you may need to update.
    Leech, Tamara G.J. and Janice Johnson Dias. “Risky Sexual Behavior: A Race-specific Social Consequence of Obesity.” Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 41:1, 2012. 41-52.
  • If services like Pandora and Spotify have made it easier for everyone to enjoy and find out about new music anywhere they are, it has also made listening to music a much more solitary, singular activity. No more. Facebook is launching a “Listen With” app that allows users to listen to whatever a friend is listening to, essentially allowing users not only to be their own DJ but to turn their friends on to their favorites and new finds as well. Maybe you can get your patrons to follow your station? If not, use this as a way to tune in to what they’re already listening to, and become a fan of one of your patrons’ playlists.
  • How’s this for a creepy art project? In a move that sounds like it’s straight out of the show “Bones,” an MFA student decided to take Victorian-era skulls and re-visualize their faces and lives for an art project. This link to an interview with the student should prove not only to be endlessly fascinating, but also a jumping-off point for creative programming in a library or school. Tie the project into your collection by highlighting books that use found objects as the basis for creative work, like Ransom Riggs’ Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, various works of poetry by Walter Dean Myers, or PostSecret books.
  • Finally, in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Day, and the forthcoming Black History Month, here is an article from The Root on some of the forgotten parts of King’s message. If you are tired of the same old displays, this should give you inspiration to shake things up.
  • Until next month! As always, if you have suggestions or questions, please leave a comment here.

About Hannah Gómez

School librarian in Northern California. MA children's literature, MS library and information science (Simmons College). Sometime scholar, sometime reviewer, sometime creative writer, always media-obsessed.

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