|African-American Read-In at Burney-Harris-Lyons Middle School in Athens, Georgia|
Photo by Anne McLeod
|ALAN Online News - February 2013|
February, despite its mere 28 days, can still turn into a slog. The happy reunion with friends after the holidays and excitement at having new class schedules, new teachers and students, inevitably wear thin until we're no longer counting our blessings but instead beginning a weary countdown till spring break. We click on Weather.com in hopes of a rare Georgia snow day that never materializes. Instead we get cold and wet, with only occasional peeks at the sun.
But last week the sun shone brightly in my library with the African-American Read-In. And the 8th graders whose faces you see above (and the ones hiding behind their books and printed poem), those kids and almost a hundred others who came together to celebrate the work of African-American writers, they made it happen. Their teachers, beset by pre-tests, district walk-throughs, and not near enough caffeine to make it through February in a middle school, are my heroes.
Organizing a Read-In, an event sponsored by the Black Caucus of NCTE and NCTE, is so simple, you still have time to let this light shine down in your own classroom or library before the end of the month. The article below tells how we did it and offers suggestions for planning. Because I'm already looking forward to February 2014.
Editor, ALAN Online News
P.S. ALAN's new logo makes its debut in the newsletter. The black and white version of the book logo was among four designs created by Marci Tyree. The Board of Directors surveyed members at the November workshop and chose the graphic above as ALAN's primary brand.
|Missing your issue of TAR?|
|A Valentine's Day Special
Renew at 2012 Rates If Postmarked by February 14
ALAN's membership dues went up in January for the first time in decades, but you can feel the ALAN love for another year (or two or three) at the lower rates, if your membership is postmarked by this Thursday.
Renew now and you will pay just $20 per year for individual membership and $30 for institutional members. These increased to $30/individuals and $50/institutions, so please consider renewing for more than one year to lock in your savings and to continue receiving the ALAN Review. Student memberships remain $10, one of the absolute best deals around.
We hope to offer an online renewal option in the future, but for now you will need to print the 2012 membership form and mail it in. Here are links to both the 2012 and 2013 forms with the higher rates, in case you are unable to renew this week.
Have questions? Email Membership Secretary Karin Perry for more information.
Website Moves to a Ning Platform
ALAN's website has been through a number of changes in recent years, all aimed at making the site more interactive with social media, yet easy to maintain. Jon Ostenson, ALAN's new webmaster, follows David Macinnis Gill, who oversaw ALAN's move to a Connected Community site that included a strong social media presence. He explains here how the new ALAN site includes the connectivity many members enjoyed while offering easy access to information we all need.
"We recently moved the ALAN community to a new home on the web that uses Ning software. We're hopeful that the new site will provide a cleaner interface allowing members to more easily find the information and resources they need. The new site (located at www.alan-ya.org) still offers social networking features, including discussion forums and blogs for individual members. However, we've set a premium on making sure that content is available to everyone (whether you have an account or not) and that the most frequently needed information is easily accessible."
Jon encourages members to visit the new site and create an account but explains that "An account is optional but useful if you want to connect with other ALAN members via the site." Much of the content of the previous site is now there, but expect to see further updates over the coming weeks.
If you have suggestions for the new site or questions, please contact Jon Ostenson.
|ALAN Student Groups|
Are you interested in starting an ALAN Student Group? Having your students become members of ALAN? Receive the ALAN Review and ALAN Online News?
ALAN would very much like to include more students in their ALAN Membership. We want to nurture the future leaders of young adult literature.
If you are interested in starting an ALAN Student Group at your school, contact Dr. Joan Kaywell at Kaywell@usf.edu and/or Dr. Jeff Kaplan at Jeffrey.Kaplan@ucf.edu and let them know of your interest. They will help you get started.
In Darkness by Nick Lake Named 2013 Printz Winner
2012 ALAN Workshop Authors Among ALA Youth Media Award Winners
The American Library Association announced the winners of its Youth Media Awards last month at their Mid-Winter meeting. The 2013 Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in literature written for young adults went to Nick Lake for In Darkness. Published by Bloomsbury Books for Young Readers, the novel intertwines the story of a teen trapped in a collapsed building during the Haitian earthquake of 2010 with that of Toussaint L'Ouverture, who led his country to freedom.
Katherine Applegate received the Newbery Medal for The One and Only Ivan, published by HarperCollins Children's Books. Andrea Pinkney won the Coretta Scott King award for authors for Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men Who Changed America, illustrated byher husband Brian Pinkney and published by Disney/Jump at the Sun Books, an imprint of Disney Book Group.
|Benjamin Alire S�enz, Winner of Stonewall and Pura Belpr� Awards|
Photo by Don Gallo
At least three authors who spoke at the 2012 ALAN Workshop in Las Vegas were also recognized by ALA's Youth Media Awards. Benjamin Alire S�enz, author of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, won both the Stonewall and Pura Belpre Awards and was named a Printz Honor Book.
|Raina Telgemeier, Author of Drama|
Photo by Don Gallo
Raina Telgemeier's graphic novel Drama, published by Scholastic, was named a Stonewall Honor Book. The book tells the story of Callie, a seventh-grader who's the set designer for her school drama club. Romantic and technical difficulties challenge her throughout the club's latest production, Moon Over Mississippi, and upper elementary and middle school students will enjoy reading about how this enthusiastic young teen finds a way to deal with every complication.
Author of My Friend Dahmer
Photo by Don Gallo
Derf Backderf's My Friend Dahmer, a haunting graphic novel describing the high school years of future serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, was among the Alex Awards given for ten best adult books with appeal for YA audiences. As Backderf emphasized during his panel, Dahmer bore the responsibility once he took his first victim's life. But the failure of the adults around him to recognize the extent of his mental instability is staggering and a reminder that we ignore such problems at our peril.
Respecting Different Perspectives
I regularly ask my students to consider the purposes of schooling, encouraging them to consider the ways in which education and democracy are inextricably linked. This tends to result in the recognition that schooling both allows and requires students to be exposed to multiple perspectives, especially those that don't align with what they have come to believe or understand as a result of their lived experiences in and out of the classroom.
In school, I argue, students should learn that we don't all agree - and that that's okay. They should learn that it's necessary to recognize diverse ways of knowing and doing as a necessary precursor to formulating our own perspectives. They should learn to support whatever they choose to believe with sound reasoning and evidence - regardless of whether or not the resulting views match those of the adults in their lives.
This same honoring of the "other" is important in our consideration of school and library censorship. It's easy to surround ourselves with the opinions and views of those who share our commitment to preserving our students' freedom to read and reject out of hand any claims to the contrary. However, knowing the views of those who disagree allows us to not only understand (or at least imagine) another perspective but to also think more deeply and carefully about what we believe.
In the spirit of democracy and pluralism, this month's column encourages us to hold, even briefly, the perspectives of those who advocate for the removal of texts from our classrooms and libraries. We highlight an organization to which we likely do not belong: PABBIS, or Parents Against Bad Books in Schools.
As noted on the PABBIS website, the group's leaders aim to "identify some books that might be considered bad and why someone might consider them bad" and "to provide information related to bad books in schools." The opening page comes with a warning: "Since some of the material in these K-12 school books is extremely controversial and many people would consider it objectionable or inappropriate for children, we have set up an adult content website for the book material. You will have to verify that you are 18 years of age to enter."
Upon entering the site, viewers find a list of questionable books followed by excerpts taken from each title and annotated to evidence the danger it poses to young readers. By way of brief example, Chris Crutcher's short story, "A Brief Moment in the Life of Angus Bethune" (from Athletic Shorts), is defined as a bad book given its inclusion of these elements and lines:
A story about a very fat boy who has been elected, as a joke, as the Senior Winter Ball King. He will have to dance with the Senior Winter Ball Queen who he has been in love with [from a distance] since kindergarten. His mom and dad are divorced. His mom remarried another woman and his dad remarried another man.
"..Angus, the fat kid with perverted parents.. don't.. spend all my life bitching about being [ugly], or about having parents a shade to the left of the middle on your normal bell-shaped sexual curve.. phantoms of sexual perversity.. point me out for public mockery."
"Granddad.. took me to San Francisco to see some gay people... it didn't help much.. my parents.. are with only the person they're with, and [San Francisco] was filled with people looking like they were headed for a.. leather swap meet."
"I don't care who's with who or what you do in the sack at night, I screamed [at parents].. Just don't kiss in front of me!.. I like girls!.. [don't want to see] boys kissing boys. [or] girls kissing girls!"
Ball Queen tells him that she is bulemic. He says, "I'm a fat kid with faggot parents who's been in therapy on and off for 18 years."
Ball Queen asks him to dance more after first dance and her boyfriend gets mad at her. "You bitch!.. You bitch!... You bitch."
The idea behind the site, then, is that concerned parents can use this list to justify whatever attack on the title they hope to make; they don't even need to read the text in its entirety and potentially expose themselves to a full dose of potential filth and degradation.
Okay, okay, I must admit that my first reaction to these lines was to argue immediately with the person who crafted and posted them: The excerpts are presented out of context; certain views are normalized at the expense of others; the lens through which they are annotated reflects a particular agenda.
But as I pondered, I realized that I have my context and normalized views and agenda, too. And, just like someone who finds connection and solace in her PABBIS membership, I, through ALAN, am united with those who share my belief system.
We both think we're fighting for what's in the best interest of young people, and, ironically, we both believe deeply in the power of story to change lives. So, for just a moment, I'll pause and hold and empathize and, ideally, try to understand even though I can't agree. I will listen as we ask others to listen and invite you to do the same.
-Wendy Glenn on behalf of the ALAN Anti-censorship Committee
Organizing Your African-American Read-In This Month
Bookfaces from BHL Middle School's Read-In
Photo by Anne McLeod
For the last few years, my school has participated in the African-American Read-In, sponsored by the Black Caucus of NCTE and NCTE itself. This year, after losing my media center parapro to district budget cuts and with teachers adjusting to the demands of Common Core, plus the adoption of International Baccalaureate's Middle Years Programme, I wondered if one more event that demanded time from teachers would even be possible. But it was, and as I described above, the Read-In turned into a real highlight, one of those moments in education that lets tired teachers know that, yes, they are doing the right thing.
Because it's an open mic event, your Read-In can be as simple or as extravagant as you need it to me. Here are some tips that will help you organize a simple Read-In before the end of February, Black History Month, so that your event can be counted as participation in the nationwide NCTE event.
- Give teachers a heads-up and get a core group involved as quickly as possible.
- Identify the best location for your event. We've used the school cafeteria, but the media center has a more intimate feel.
- Decide whether to have the Read-In during the school day or as an after-school event. If you have time and the people to publicize an after-school Read-In, go for it. Otherwise, have it during the day. This year ours ran from 9:30 till 3:45, with classes coming in throughout the day.
- Publicize the Read-In among your school with displays of books by African-American authors. Have multiple announcements to students, get it on the school's news video, and send it out to parent listservs. Parents may be interested in coming in and sharing their own favorite readings.
- Set a time limit for readings. Our classes came down for half the period, so we kept readings to no more than 2 minutes. This way everyone has the time to share.
- Ensure access to literature. Set up times for students to go to the library or to have the library brought to them via mobile checkouts in the classroom.
- Make time for students to prepare an original poem, rap, story, or essay, if they wish. Let's encourage the next generation of African-American writers!
- Make sure students and teachers know that this is part of a nationwide celebration and not just a single event taking place at their school. Readers need to know they're part of a larger effort to showcase poetry and books by Black authors.
- Be flexible. We've included digital literacy projects about African-American writers as part of the Read-In. Has someone done a great video presentation on Zora Neale Hurston? Share that with the group.
- Speaking of which, take pictures and make videos. Try to have an attractive background and good audio. Have signed student media permission so that these can be used to show the great things that are going in our libraries and classrooms.
- Don't forget to pick out a reading you want to share yourself.
- Sit back and listen. Thank your readers and make them feel special. They are.
| Spotlight on an ALAN Member
Jan Kamiya, Young Adult Librarian at McCully-Mōʽiliʽili Public Library, Hawaii
One of the first people I met at last fall's author reception was Jan Kamiya. A YA librarian from Honolulu, Jan is also an adjunct instructor in the Library and Information Sciences Program
at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa, a member of Beta Phi Mu, Xi Chapter, and an ALAN State Representative since 2011. She graduated with an MLISc from the University of Hawaii at Mānoa 2004. Located in busy urban Honolulu, the McCully-Mōʽiliʽili Public Library is one of 50 libraries--on six islands--in the Hawaii State Public Library System (HSPLS).
Jan, please tell us how you first heard about ALAN.
Two of my colleagues, Edna Weeks and Mary Ann Collignon were past state representatives for ALAN. At one of our rare Young Adult Librarian meetings, they gave a presentation on ALAN and raved about the sheer awesomeness of the ALAN conference. I remember promising myself that somehow I just had to get myself to a conference! A few months later I received an e-mail from Joan Kaywell inviting me to be the ALAN State Representative and that was it--my first ALAN Conference was in Chicago in 2011 and I was hooked. I've been singing ALAN's praises ever since!
At a time when libraries are still suffering from budget cuts, I am reassured to see ones like yours that have a YA librarian or are perhaps advertising positions again after they've been unfilled for a while. How long have you worked as a young adult librarian and how did you wind up in the position?
I have been a young adult librarian for a little over eight years, and have been coveting this particular position at the McCully-Mōʽiliʽili Library ever since I decided I wanted to be a young adult librarian. This was "my" community library and I grew up surrounded by these beloved shelves of books. I wanted so much to come back to make a difference in the lives of the teens of this community and after seven years, my wish has come true.
I remember when I was in middle school, a public librarian came to my class and talked about books she liked to read. She listened to me and later sent me a postcard telling me about a new book from one of my favorite authors. Talk about making an impact! Many years later I remembered that small kindness and I vowed that I wanted to be that kind of YA Librarian.
I am especially fortunate to work with two impressive colleagues, Hillary Chang and Linnel Yamashita, who see the value in YA librarianship as they were once YA Librarians themselves. Since there are many public schools in the surrounding area, I am in the perfect location to join in outreach opportunities such as booktalking and partnering with school librarians on projects. Our local "Friends of the McCully Library" help to fund and support our programming efforts and encourage professional development for staff (such as attending the ALAN Conference!). Because of this support network, I grateful that I have the tools to build a welcoming YA library section.
What books and library programs are popular with teens in Honolulu?
The most popular books with teens seem to be mirroring the national trend toward paranormal romance and dystopian novels. At the same time, I have been happily surprised at the diversity of tastes of our YA readership. Adventure, Science fiction, Fantasy, Chick Lit, LGBTQ, Realistic Fiction, Historical Fiction...they read it all. And each year our circulation numbers increase! More teens are getting bolder and making sure that I purchase soon-to-be published books by authors they like. This makes me really happy!
We have such a great team of library staff at McCully-Mōʽiliʽili--they are up for whatever programming idea we crazy librarians have. My library manager, Hillary Chang, is the graphic novel goddess of Hawaii and each year we hold a "mini-con." A miniature version of the comic con in San Diego, we have local artists give art workshops and personal evaluative sessions with budding teen artists. We all cosplay, give away prizes, and watch anime. Teens from all over the island come to the library dressed up as their favorite characters and to celebrate everything anime and manga. Free Comic Book Day is also very popular. Statewide, our most popular program of the year is HSPLS' Summer Reading Program. Last year 29,000 readers of all ages participated and read over 300,000 books.
What were some of your most memorable moments from the ALAN 2012 workshop and NCTE in Las Vegas?
I love going to the ALAN Conference because it inspires me to do more and to aim to be a better librarian. I come back with new ideas on how to reach my teens and feel motivated to share my ALAN experience with my colleagues.
Some of my favorite moments of Las Vegas included:
Meeting Sherman Alexie. His talk was funny, inspirational, irreverent, and electrifying. During his talk about how kids feel stuck in the world that they live in, he stopped suddenly, choked up a little, and told the audience, "I love you all. I love you." He said that what we do is reach out to teens is so important, especially to those who feel trapped--by their parents, by others expectations, by their community, by themselves. Reading books shows them that there are options in life; that there are many different paths to get to someplace, and that they don't have to stay where they are.
Meeting Ruta Sepetys. I waited to be the last person in line and got to meet and talk with Ms. Sepetys, author of the decorated book Between Shades of Gray. The novel is the account of a young girl's experiences in WWII Lithuania under Stalin's rule and untold history of the people of the Baltic States.
On the topic of historical fiction, Ms. Sepetys argued its importance because it "helps us heal hearts and find hidden histories." On her personal family story (she did an amazing amount of research to write this book), she said tearfully, "With the millions of people who have suffered this fate, it was an aching reminder that I didn't even know my [own family's] story."
Meeting Ms. Sepetys and connecting with her was definitely one of the highlights of the conference for me. Her book touched my heart because I have always loved historical fiction. As a genealogist, I understand what she went through to research her family and country's painful past. Meeting Ms. Sepetys was an unforgettable experience. She wrote me a lovely e-mail the day after we met.
Meeting authors Joan Bauer, Lisa McMann, David Levithan, and Deborah Ellis! ♥
Running into old friends (ones I met in Chicago) and new friends!
I have to ask, since so many of us in the Lower 48 have been under winter storm watches and warnings lately, how is the weather in Honolulu right now? May we live vicariously through you and see some sunshine again?
Unfortunately I have little sunshine to share with the contiguous United States. For the past few weeks it has been uncharacteristically windy and rainy but I love it. Perfect reading weather with a cup of hot coffee - heaven! We have been experiencing a drought for the past year, so rain is very welcome. It won't last long so I will enjoy it while I can and it keeps everything fresh, green, and beautiful!
|Hipple Collection Receives Endowment
Young Adult Literature Special Collection Recipient of Anonymous Donation
The Ted Hipple Special Collection of Autographed YA Literaturereceived a very special gift last week. The new goal of the special collection is now my initial goal, which is to have every YA book ever published since S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders in one location.
The library has also initiated "Friends of the Hipple Collection" for anyone willing to donate a minimum of $1,000 for five years as a way to grow the endowment.
The USF Library in Tampa is a prime location to house these books for researchers to access the collection and enjoy Florida sunshine. Please help me grow this awesome collection by donating books you've collected over the years or by becoming a Hipple friend. E-mail me if you are interested in seeing the complete list of almost 3,000 autographed manuscripts, ARCs, first editions and subsequent paperbacks.
- Joan Kaywell, Professor of English Education
College of Education, University of South Florida
|YA Links in the News|The Florida Council of Teachers of English has named its first Kaywell Award winners: Laurie Halse Anderson and Chris Crutcher. The award was named for our own Joan Kaywell. Congratulations to the winners and to Joan for this tribute to her advocacy for YA literature.
The UK's Daily Mail received some attention after it coined the term "sick-lit" for "tales of teenage cancer, self-harm, and suicide." In fact, YA author John Green responded with a Tweet.
|Calls for Papers and Proposals |
From The ALAN Review
TAR 40th Anniversary Issue
Got a fond memory of ALAN? Want to share it in our 40th Anniversary issue? In 26 words or less, share a memory, thought, idea about ALAN and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fall 2013 Theme: Reading and Using Nonfiction Young Adult Literature
So often our schools tend to privilege the reading of fiction over the reading of nonfiction. But what about those kids who want to read something other than the novels we assign? What about the students who crave nonfiction? The theme of this issue asks us to consider the role of nonfiction in the classroom and in the personal choice reading of adolescents. What is it about nonfiction that grabs students? What role can/should nonfiction play in classrooms? What nonfiction have you used that empowered adolescents? What is it that we must consider or celebrate when we teach/use/ recommend nonfiction? This theme is meant to be open to interpretation, and we welcome manuscripts addressing pedagogy as well as theoretical concerns. General submissions are also welcome. Submission deadline: March 1, 2013.
Consider submitting to Stories from the Field
Stories from the Field invites readers to share a story about young adult literature. This section features brief vignettes (approximately 300 words) from practicing teachers and librarians who would like to share their interactions with students, parents, colleagues, and administrators around young adult literature. Please send your stories to: email@example.com .
|Remember to send a change of address to Membership Secretary Karin Perry. The postal service does not forward bulk mail, and if ALAN does not have your current mailing address, you will miss issues of TAR.