Still thinking about going to see Avatar: The Last Airbender despite the terrible reviews? Gene Luen Yang tells you why that’s a bad idea, in handy cartoon form!
Brendan Halpin wants us to take another look at how we use those high school stock characters: who says the football player has to be a bad guy? Always good to be reminded not to fall into the easy traps of those stereotypical high school roles.
Really great post on white readers reading and responding to books by and about people of color. What they boil it down to: stay aware of the fact that you are white, and remember that every book concerns ethnicity – even if we don’t neccesarily think about it that way because whiteness is the default for so many people. (Hat tip to The Rejectionist)
After that last link, take a look at this essay on White Mind – it looks at how unconscious bias in white people’s perspectives, and applies it directly to children’s literature. (Hat tip to Neesha Meminger)
As long as Shannon Hale keeps being brilliant about books, I will keep linking to her. This time it’s about how the power in stories comes from their openness.
Adam Rex and Editorial Anynomous both crack me up. And here they are, together at last! After reading, go watch the booktrailers for Adam Rex’s excellent new book, Fat Vampire. If you want me to watch book trailers, make them like this.
Elizabeth Bluemle put together a LibraryThing library of books that feature characters of color but are not specifically about race. This is a great collection development tool – I’m using it as part of my goal to have my library’s collection more closely reflect the diversity of my community.
In the Horn Book, Ellen Wittlinger writes about the changes to the Lambda Literary Foundations’ book awards, and how she feels as a straight author who writes about queer characters and is no longer eligible for the award. I think this is a tough question – at least for me, there is not a right or a wrong answer here. I do think changing the award after it’s been done one way for so long is maybe not the best way to accomplish their goals – a new award specifically for LGBTQ authors sounds awesome, though.
Arthur A Levine is thinking about this same issue on his new blog, which leads him to some thoughts about making fiction more inclusive. (Edited to add: Wow, also go read the comments on this post. Some really well thought out discussion going on over there.)
Why are we making it so hard for our patrons to read ebooks? David Lee King is absolutely right here – DRM is an issue, but it’s not the only issue. Design and usability are important, guys. Let’s not ignore them.
SLJ’s latest editorial is about that tool of censors everywhere, Comon Sense Media’s book ratings. They do a nice job of outlining exactly why these ratings are less a useful tool for concerned parents and more a scary guide for folks who want to keep ideas out of the hands of children. Liz Burns’ response, in which she takes a look at their transparency and comes to a new decision about Common Sense Media, is also worth reading.
We’re Number 3! We’re Number 3! (The third largest library by collection volume, that is, according to this new ALA fact sheet. And #1 public!) Edited to add: Just took another look at this link, and they’ve added the branch library collections and bumped us up to #2!
R. David Lankes looks at ways that e-readers could be reinventing books and reading at School Library Journal.
This post on some of the REALLY COOL and innovative ways that libraries are being used in Helsinki makes me want to move there. RIGHT NOW. So many things about this make me excited: libraries as content generators! Patron-driven programming! Citizen Media Computers! (Hat tip to Tame the Web.)
This is a gallery called “Hot Guys Reading Books.” I have nothing to add.
A good conversation happening in the comments of this KidLit.com post on swearing in YA fiction. (My opinion: would the character say it? Then it should be there.)
Neesha Meminger’s post on bullying is wonderful. I especially appreciated her thoughts on what gatekeepers can do to empower kids who are “easy targets.” If you haven’t read this one yet, I highly suggest giving it some of your time.
The Book Smugglers gathered some poll data and dug deep into the way we relate to book covers, and how they can influence our purchasing and enjoyment of the books we read. They ask some genuinely interesting questions.
Scott Westerfeld shares one of the best tidbits he found while conducting his book research, and it’s about the legalization of pants on ladies. Sadly, there’s a current tie-in to actions in schools.
At this point I’m pretty sure that I’m just linking to every single thing Shannon Hale has ever said on the internet. But she keeps saying such worthwhile things! This time it’s about book banning and how books can start important conversations.
Over at The Rejectionist, Zetta Elliot takes a closer look at the myth of meritocracy in the publishing industry by re-imagining Peggy McIntosh’s classic article on white privilege. She also points out the UK Publishing Equalities Charter and the need for something similar in the US.
Maggie Stiefvater, who has written some pretty awful YA parents in her day, weighs in on the “oh-no-there-are-no-good-mommies-and-daddies-in-YA” debate.
When Paolo Bacigalupi found a “distinct lack of ass-kicking” in books for young people, he up and wrote Shipbreaker with “knife-fights and sea battles and the bio-engineered warbeasts called half-men that are a lethal mix of tiger and dog and hyena and human.” While I don’t know that I agree with him on the lack of kickassery, I can definitely say that his book kicks a lot of it. Also liked his comments on the difference in tone between writing for YA and adults. Good interview. (Hat tip to Chasing Ray)
Just in case there is someone out there who hasn’t seen the Bronte Sisters Doll video that has been turning up all over my RSS reader lately – Go! Watch! (Hat tip to lots of people, but first time I saw it was courtesy of Chris Ashworth)
BEA! Woohoo! If you see somebody wandering around with purple hair, there’s a pretty good bet that it’s me – stop me and say hi!
First things first: it’s not too late! You can still donate books to schools serving Navajo and Apache teens. I gave Chameleon by Charles R. Smith to one school, and Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers to the other. What did you send?
Liz B reacts to a recent article on “problem parents” in YA lit. I don’t really have anything to add beyond “You tell ’em, Liz!”
A school district in Illinois is requiring that every student get a public library card. This really shouldn’t be a new and exciting idea, but I know how tough meaningful collaborations can be, and hooray for School District U-46 for going for it.
Book Aunt has put together an exceptional annotated booklist on Tricksters in kids’ and YA lit. So much good stuff on here – and so much I’ve yet to read!
I enjoyed The Horn Book’s short conversation with Rita Garcia-Williams. I especially liked hearing her first answer on how she kept the tight focus in her recent historical novel One Crazy Summer – she would repeat the phrase “Through Delphine’s eyes” every time she felt herself straying off into an interesting tangent. I think that tight focus is a big part of what makes One Crazy Summer such a wonderful middle-grade read.
The lovely Edi at Crazy Quilts recently asked me a few questions as part of her celebration of school libraries – it was a pleasure chatting with such a dedicated school librarian!
Shannon Hale always does an exceptional job of articulating why graphic novels are good and important for kids – and this time she ties it into a love of libraries, so I enjoyed reading it even more than usual.
A look at a few of the early kids-book ipad apps. I hope that this is just the beginning of the creativity that we’ll see on the first popular e-book platform that is really kidsbook-friendly. (Hat tip to Mitali Perkins)
Totally sweet website design AND excellent tips for making your library genuinely patron-friendly? Oh yeah!
Some statistics that refute the notion that certain sections of the population don’t have regular internet access because they don’t want it. (Do people actually think that in this day and age? Goodness, I hope not.) Also includes some interesting quotes on how dial-up is worse than no internet at all, and a very sad quote about families using the library for internet access.
Great article on Henry Jenkins, who makes connections between fannish-ness and important literacy and learning skills. I can’t believe I’ve never heard of this guy before! This is a gap in my knowledge that I plan to fix, pronto. (Hat tip to Libraries and Transliteracy)
I have loved reading Laini Taylor‘s recent series of posts on plot and plotting. She’s a smart lady – listen up, writers! I especially enjoyed the third post on the connections between plot and structure.
Have you played book review cliche bingo yet? I’m a little bit afraid to try this on my own reviews – I have a bad habit of calling books “compelling.”
Who wants to roadtrip to SXYA? That’s right, Forever YA has put together a (sadly, imaginary) festival of their favorite bands from YA novels. I’d have to add a couple bands to this list – I’ve got to see Rage/Tectonic from Fat Kid Rules the World, and speaking of bands from K.L. Going books, how about Aunt Pete’s awesome glam rock band from King of the Screwups? And we need a little queercore – The Jerk Offs from Nick and Norah’s Ultimate Playlist! Of course no list of YA bands is complete without the band-with-an-ever-changing-name from King Dork. Who else would you add to the lineup?
Peachtree Publishers shares an in-depth look at how many changes can go into a book’s cover design. I love the final result, and it’s even better after reading a behind-the-scenes look at how they got there.
An oh-so-heartwarming story from the New York Times about a father and daughter who read out loud together every night for 3,218 nights, all the way up until she started college. Just goes to show – reading aloud can be valuable at any age. (Hat tip to Mitali Perkins)
Things I already knew about Oliver Jeffers: he writes wonderful picture books. Things I learned about Oliver Jeffers from this fantastic interview: 1. Oliver Jeffers is writing a new book about the boy and the penguin (hooray!) 2. Oliver Jeffers has a truly excellent mustache 3. I would very much like to buy Oliver Jeffers a beer. I get the feeling that he wants one.
A look at the length of novels and what factors contributed to novels coming in somewhere around a standard size, and how that might be changing. (Hat tip to Andrew Sullivan)
This dad has had enough of five picture book plots. I’m going to go a little bit less generic with my choice of least favorite picture book plot cliche – polar bears who teach us an important lesson about global warming. If I have to read another picture book about global warming, can’t I at least learn my important lesson about global warming from an arctic fox or something? What’s your least favorite overused picture book plot? (Hat tip to Mitali Perkins)
A couple of interviews with the awesome Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich have turned up recently, and they’re both well worth a read. Here’s one at Edith Cohen’s blog, and the other is a two-parter at Neesha Meminger’s blog that starts right here.
Hooray for the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, which is starting a new partnership to bring affordable, healthy food into urban neighborhoods that don’t have access to local supermarkets. This is such a wonderful example of a library addressing a true community need in an innovative way. Three cheers! (Hat tip to PC Sweeney)
A very cool video and accompanying article looking at how the advent of eye-tracking software in e-readers could change the ways in which we interact with texts. I can imagine this capability being used in some really innovative ways.
Take a look at how 10 different libraries are using iphone apps to connect with their patrons. I was interested to see the wide range of services that are offered.
Finally, Mitali Perkins shares a heartfelt plea from an eighth-grader about the importance of school librarians. It’s so important to share these stories.
Zetta Elliott has a wonderful essay in the March/April edition of Horn Book, sort of a personal history of race and children’s literature and how the intersection between the two can affect imagination and creativity in a child. Lucky for us you can read it online: Decolonizing the Imagination.
Hyphen, a magazine that explores Asian-American culture, has an article exploring the changes in teen and kidlit books with Asian protagonists. They find that many of the books are no longer primarily about the experience of being Asian-American, but can tell all kinds of stories with characters that happen to be Asian. Hooray!
Sociological Images explores the covers of books featuring overweight women. What they find isn’t going to surprise anyone, but it’s always good to draw more attention.
Need another reason to get upset about library branch closures? This graphic showing the demographics of home broadband access will give you one.
Liz B talks a little bit about the recent cover controversy, and what she feels is her personal responsibility. It’s nice to see people putting thought into what they can do.
Penguin shows off some of the things they’re hoping to do on ebooks for the ipad. I think we’re going to be seeing some really cool stuff being developed – I’m excited!
This article cracks me up – somebody measured student work during March Madness by looking at the number of articles accessed through library databases.
And finally, a super-interesting video that shows the full process of designing and creating a book cover through screenshots of the process. I watched this about 10 times – the video itself is already mesmerizing, but the music puts it over the top. Go watch!
Over at Booklights they’re trying to answer that age-old parenting question: how do you decide when your child is ready for great books that deal with tough themes? Here they’re looking specifically at Charlotte’s Web.
Looking for specific action you can take on whitewashing of book covers? School for Activists has some tips for booksellers who would like to add their voice.
I love this post on a class using google maps to track the action in Percy Jackson. What a fun way to make some clasroom connections between literature, geography, and technology! I think projects like this one can really inspire kids (and teachers and librarians!) to find new ways to look at the tools that are at our disposal. And some of the realizations that the kids have about the books are really cool. (Hat tip to Jen Robinson)
Collecting Children’s Books’ round-up of fictional stories about book reports cracked me up.
There’s been quite a bit of talk about gender in YA books recently, and Diana Peterfreund’s post When a Woman Does It really gets to the heart of it. I need to read this woman’s book!
This is such a wonderful list of resources put together by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich at the Tenners’ blog. It makes me all giddy to be put in the company of some amazing folks!
I really like Patrick Ness. I liked him even more when I get to the end of this Guardian review, where he asks a great question: why do we have the make the easy choice when it comes to gender and attraction in books? In this case, the boy who the male main character finds himself attracted to turns out, predictably, to be a woman in disguise. Good on Patrick Ness for calling other authors out on this, and for pointing out that gay teens might want to read genre books, too. The conversations continues at Bookwitch – do read the comments. (Hat tip to Read Alert.)
Want some total and complete horror in your life? Meet the people who are censoring your textbooks. And then meet the school that used school-issued laptops to spy on teens and families. And then go have a good cry and hide under your bed for the rest of the day.
If you need a little levity after reading those articles, head over to the always-delightful 100 Scope Notes to see what books are going to look like in the year 3001.
Still have folks asking you why whitewashing is such a big deal? This new post at The Book Smuggler’s is a great place to send them.
And finally: Is R.L. Stine phoning it in? Survey says yes! I think we have that first one at the library. (Hat tip to 100 Scope Notes.)
I’m currently working on a project with Ari and Doret to take a closer look at each of the major publishing house’s lists. We’re looking for books that have diverse characters, and also for a diversity of experiences in books about characters of color. If you think of any books published between 2007 and 2010 featuring people of color that might not be easily identified from the flap copy or reviews, please leave the name of the books in a comment here or at Ari’s.
XKCD on what happens when the fantasy novel is over.
Whitewashing isn’t the only racism we see on book covers. Check out this post on the consistent use of stereotypes on the covers of books with Asian authors or settings.
At the SFWA, writer Nisi Shawl shares some tips on writing about people from other races and cultures in a way that is sensitive and sincere. (Hat tip to Mitali Perkins)
A fun conversation between Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan on their very different writing styles.
This is exactly why librarians need to be at the front line of school improvement efforts. (Hat tip to Jen Robinson.)
I’m sure that you’ve all heard more than enough about the Macmillan/Amazon kerfuffle. In case you’re looking for more, here are three smart takes on what happened and why: Cory Doctorow, Scott Westerfeld, and Tobias Buckell.
It’s nice, every once in a while, to have somebody who’s not a librarian putting into words the vibrant community that you should see in a modern library. Thanks to the writer of this editorial, No Silence at the Library Suits Me Just Fine.
8-bit library wants to broaden readers advisory – why not base advisory services on a video game or a movie? I find this can be a great way to get a kid talking about what they like when they’re not a big reader – I haven’t met a kid yet who won’t tell me about their favorite game, tv show, or movie. I love the idea of taking that one step further and creating advisory lists and resources.
Some very cool design going on over here, with bookmarks that extend the book cover. I want! (Hat tip to Fuse #8)
Publisher’s Weekly has got the goods on Libba Bray’s upcoming series, which sounds AMAZING. A supernatural thriller set in ’20s Manhattan that features, in the words of the woman herself, “a wild new ride full of dames and dapper dons, jazz babies and Prohibition-defying parties, conspiracy and prophecy—and all manner of things that go bump in the neon-drenched night.” Wow wow wow YES!
Adam Rex presents his first Bookalike – pictures sent in from a reader who is pretty sure that the main character in The True Meaning of Smekday was based on her. I’m convinced!