March by John Lewis

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Lewis, J., Aydin, A., Powell, N., & Walton, L. (2016). March (Vols. 1-3). Marietta, GA: Top Shelf Productions.

5Q 4P J S Graphic Format

March has been a graphic novel series on my radar since I watched John Lewis’s incredibly moving National Book Award acceptance speech. The story is an account of Lewis’s life from growing up poor in segregated Alabama, to the 1963 March on Washington. I’m always on the look out for both good memoirs and historical fiction that isn’t about WWII (there’s too much of that time period, and not enough for everything else, in my opinion), and this series is both. Being a graphic novel series, it’s an easy read series on a complicated subject.

This series absolutely belongs in a young adult collection! It is a powerful depiction of what it was like to live in a segregated country, and the hardships that those fighting for civil rights faced. More importantly, the story is told by an own voices author. John Lewis’s story can tell us more than a history textbook, because in addition to the political struggles, he also reveals his emotional struggles. Nate Powell’s black and white illustrations are also very well done.

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Long, M., & Powell, N. & Demonakos, J.  (2012). The silence of our friends. New York: Roaring Brook Press.

A semi-autobiograhpical story set in 1967 Texas during the Civil Rights Movement. A white and black family join together to fight for the freedom of five black college students wrongfully charged with the murder of a police officer. Found using the NoveList database.

Shared appeal terms: Compelling writing style, autobiographical comics, graphic novels. Both stories are graphic novels about race, set during the Civil Rights era, and feature black and white illustrations from artist Nate Powell.

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What Trendy Teens Talk About

When researching trends, Veronica and I of course wanted to look into social media to see what was the most popular app amongst teens. The winner was Snapchat. According to one survey, when asked what the most important social network is, Snapchat ranked the highest at 28%. This means Snapchat is rising in popularity, as previous surveys had only 17% and 19% of teens naming Snapchat (King, 2016, para. 2-5). Another survey found that 72% of Snapchat users are between the ages of 12 and 24 (King, 2016, para. 14). This survey from CNN Wire was pulled from the CUNY One Search database. 

From there, Veronica and I decided on a collection development policy that implements Snapchat as a form of Reader’s Advisory. Rather than rely only on starred book reviews or award winners for collection development, we suggested that teen patrons create Snapchat stories about their favorite books. This would help librarians build a collection that is shaped by the teens in their community. Teens are smarter than most people give them credit for, and they know what they like. Yet teens are very rarely asked what they like, and what they think is cool. We wanted to put the power in their hands, and collaborate with them. We thought that this was a fun and smart way to build the teen book collection, and would help teens see that their voices matter.

Hope King. (2016, April 13). Snapchat overtakes Instagram as ‘most important social network’ among teens. CNN Wire, p. CNN Wire, April 13, 2016.

Goals of a Teen Librarian

As a teen librarian, my goal is to provide a diverse and informative collection for the teens in the community. In Agosto’s article, it was sad to see how research in young adult services has been known to leave out teen input. I found the story of the teen girl who was confused by the sign reading “Young Adult Paperbacks” to be especially memorable. As the article states, “Young adult is a term known only to librarians (and publishers) to mean ‘adolescents'” (Agosto, 2013, p. 42). As an avid young adult reader myself, when people ask me what books I enjoy reading,  I have the urge to explain exactly what young adult means. It’s true that YA is a term that isn’t really used outside of the publishing world. The story really stuck with me. It shows how librarians must take care that everything in the young adult department, from the book collection, to the programs, to the decor, must be made with the teen community in mind. Librarians must always ask themselves what the teens would want when developing the department, and if they aren’t certain of the answer, they must ask for input from the teens themselves.

My strategy as a teen librarian would be to focus on my passions, and then to work from there. My interests are teen fantasy, science fiction, and teen contemporaries. I’m already very well read in these areas, and would enjoy collection development for them. I would search for holes in these genres. Perhaps the fantasy books are missing diverse protagonists, or the science fiction books have too many dystopians and not enough space operas. Most importantly, I would pay attention to the teens who come into the library. I could see what materials the teen checks out the most, as well as what materials teens are asking for that we don’t have. There are young adult resources that I am not as well versed in. For example, I don’t think I have an especially good eye for interior design. In these areas, I would rely on the teens even more. I would interview teens, perhaps some of the regular patrons, and ask them how I could decorate and furnish the room to cater to their interests.

Lastly, it’s important to consider the teen room beyond being just a place for books. “We need to move away from this library-centered focus to the teen-centered focus…” (Agosto, 2014, p. 45). If teens need the computers, then we have to make sure our computers are up to date. Maybe they’re looking to make friends in a safe environment, and rely on the library’s programs for that. Just as the article says, I agree that it’s important to ask teens what they’re using the library for, and to then respond accordingly.

Agosto, D. (2013). “Envisaging Young Adult Librarianship from a Teen-Centered Perspective.” In Transforming Young Adult Services, edited by Anthony Bernier, pp. 3352. Chicago: Neal-Schuman.

How Understanding Media Can Help Educators Connect With Teens

Youth, Popular Culture, and the Media Examining Race, Class, Gender, Sexuality, and Social Histories

  • Educators must understand what is popular, why it is popular, and use this knowledge to both educate youth and help them dismantle media misrepresentations of people based on race, gender, sexuality, etc. (p. 34)
  • Popular culture isn’t limited to taste, but is determined by systemic construction. Today it is still defined as the experiences of the white, thin, heterosexual, able-bodied, and wealthy (p. 23).
  • While this is true, it’s also true that what’s popular is constantly changing, and educators must keep up with these changes in order to educate and connect with young people.

Measuring time spent with media: the Common Sense census of media use by US 8- to 18-year-olds

  • Many of the assumptions we make about teen media consumption are incorrect. For example, we may think that most teens text frequently, but only about half of teens in the U.S. send any text messages at all.
  • Girls and boys have different media preferences.. On a given day, a little less than half of boys play video games, while the number for girls is much smaller. Girls spend more time on social media and listening to music than boys do.

The first article urges educators to understand how media affects young people. The second article provides the statistics of how much media teens consume, and how demographics affect what they consume. It is important to understand which groups are consuming which types of media and why in order to better advocate for them.

Haddix, M., Garcia, A., and Price-Dennis, D. (2017). Youth, Popular Culture, and the Media: Examining Race, Class, Gender, Sexuality, and Social Histories. In Hinchman, K. A., Appleman, D. (eds.) Adolescent literacies: A handbook of practice-based research, pp.21-37. New York: The Guilford Press.

Rideout, V. (2016). Measuring time spent with media: the Common Sense census of media use by US 8-to 18-yearolds. Journal of Children and Media, 10(1), 138-144.