Tuesday, August 7, 2012

100 Best YA

The world has voted, and the results are in!

NPR's list of 100 Best Young Adult Novels:

I know I saw quite a few of my favorites on the list!

What do you think? Are there any that they missed?

Friday, July 6, 2012

So, hey, I graduated!

As of May 20, 2012 I became a "real" librarian, MLIS degree and everything.

It's been an interesting transition.

Being out of school is such a new experience for me. I have been in school for the past 20 years of my life, with never more than a 3 month break between 9 month hauls of school has trained me and given me a different outlook on life. It is strange to think that I will never have to write another paper or attend another lecture unless I really really want to (which, to be honest, I usually really wanted to attend lectures while I was in school anyway. It's the nerd in me. I couldn't help myself.)

I have been having a bit of trouble adjusting to life without school. I constantly feel like there are things that I am supposed to be doing, when in reality I no longer have homework to stress over. I can, in fact, watch a movie or a couple episodes of a TV show and not feel terribly guilty about it, but I still have that nagging thought in the back of my mind that there is homework to be done and I am procrastinating.

I guess I still have homework and assignments, but it's a new variety called job applications and resume updating. They never end, and currently the job prospects aren't all that good. No one wants a fresh faced, newly minted librarian, they want someone with professional experience. There also aren't many full time positions available for youth services librarians, but I'm not giving up hope yet!

I've had a few interviews and I'm anxiously awaitng responses.

Keep your fingers crossed!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Rating YA Books

An article was published recently by U.S. News (and can be found here) that discusses the idea of rating YA books for content.

"Coyne thinks a ratings system on book jackets would help parents decide what's appropriate for their kids to read. It's a subject many are afraid to touch, with the talk of censorship or restricting books conjuring up images of book burnings and infringing on First Amendment Rights."

Content ratings, like age ratings, do nothing but take power away from the child. Children all grow and mature at different rates. What one 12 year old child is ready for may be completely inappropriate for another child the same age. By knowing your child, and having their interests and maturity and reading levels in mind, parents can help their children choose appropriate materials.

Kids and young adults will read what they are ready for. Does that mean that they are going to read books with profanity? Yes. Young adults use profanity. It's a fact of life. Teens swear and children talk about bodily functions. How they speak and what they talk about is reflected in their literature. Are these things going to stunt them for life? Probably not.

Maybe I'm biased because I grew up in a house where I was allowed to read whatever I wanted. I was never kept from reading something. If I wasn't ready for it, I would put it down and choose something else. And I think I grew up to be a rather well-adjusted individual.

Beth Yoke, YALSA's executive director, said it best, "Books can be a safe way for young people to explore edgier, sensitive, or complicated topics, and they provide parents the opportunity to help their teens grow and understand these kinds of sensitive issues."

By allowing children to choose, you open up the door for conversations about tough topics and issues that might not be discussed otherwise. And by talking with your children, you can let them know what is OK to read, and what topics should be avoided, at least for now. Just because the books aren't being read doesn't mean that their subject matter isn't happening in the real world. I would much rather have a child explore a topic by reading about it, especially the grittier aspects of life, instead of experiencing them firsthand. Allowing children access to books on tough subjects empowers them, opens their eyes to things that happen in the world, prepares them for the future, and shows that you trust and respect them.

There's a world of great books out there. Rating them would create a barrier to access and keep kids from learning about tough topics in a safe way.

Read and decide for yourself. This is only my opinion.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

YA is Most Certainly not just for Teens

I'm going to comment on this, but first I need to simmer down.


* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Ok. Now that I have let this sit for a few days, here's my take on it.

This article was published in the "Room for Debate" section of the NY Times. Mr. Joel Stein seems to believe that by reading young adult books, I am embarrassing myself. Mr. Stein, it is you who should be embarrassed; embarrassed for thinking books written for children and teens would be anything but complex. He, like many others, seems to be taking the younger populations for granted, and belittling the great works of fiction that today's YA authors are writing for our children and young adults.

YA authors take risks. They delve into things that make us uncomfortable. As Patricia McCormick, author of Sold, a YA book about sex trafficking (Sex trafficking for YA! That is beautifully written!) wrote in her article "Authors Taking Risks Isn't Kid Stuff",
"Here are a few audacious books you won’t find in the adult section of the library. A Holocaust memoir narrated by Death. A novel written entirely in electronic messages. A historical novel in prose poems. A murder mystery in screenplay format. A 550-page novel in pictures and words that may or may not have been written by an automaton... Young adults are willing to accompany an author just about anywhere -- to a dystopian future or the ancient past -- but they will not tolerate anything extraneous or self indulgent."

Yes, these things are located in the Children's or YA sections of our bookstores and libraries, but am I ashamed that these are the sections where I spend 90% of my time?

Absolutely not.

Mr. Stein, you say you do not know if the Hunger Games delves into problems of identity or self-justification, but let me say, you are missing out. It is so much more. More than a dystopic love story written for hormonal teens, but a commentary on society and where we are heading. (An interesting take on the Hunger Games, by Mr. Hank Green, brother to author John Green, can be found here.)

Feel free to stay up on your high horse with your "3,000 years of fiction written for adults," because then my lowly and embarrassing self who lives down here in YA land won't have to deal with you.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Oh Library, How I've Missed You.

I started an internship at my library this week. A few things it has made me realize (or, actually, remember):

1. I've really missed my job. Shelving just isn't the same. I've missed helping people.

2. My love for public libraries only continues to grow.

I love public libraries because of the questions that get thrown at you when you're working the reference desk, and even when you're not. People will ask you questions about anything! Which makes my job so much fun.

Today was my first day back on the reference desk where I was actually allowed to answer questions, and not just observe.

My first question, via phone, was an easy one (and one we public librarians get constantly for the first 4 or 5 months of the year):

"Do you have tax forms? State and Federal?"

Question 2: Also via phone was from a woman who wanted me to locate a book for her. When I couldn't find it after several minutes of searching, I took her information and told her I would do some more research and call her back. It turns out that the book she wanted didn't actually exist, but instead was an online internet archive hosted by a university. When I called her back to give her this information, she was surprised, but even more surprised when I had a web address for her and explained what it was she would be looking at.

This was followed by many more tax questions. Which will not end until the end of April. And this is how many librarians feel by the end of tax season:

I then was approached by a woman who pulled out a letter. This letter was from 1902. She wasn't sure what language it was in, but she wanted to know if we could help her translate it. Through trial and error (and some reference interviewing) we discovered that the letter was in Swedish, and we sent her off with a Swedish dictionary, and I told her about online translation sites, such as Google translate.

Followed by tax questions. Lots and lots of tax questions.

This has been day 3 in the life of a new library intern. Who has greatly missed her job, and looks forward to heading back on Friday for another round.