Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

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Kaufman, A., & Kristoff, J. (2017). Illuminae. New York: Ember.

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Girl meets boy. Girl breaks up with boy. Girl must survive with boy as planet is invaded, a an enemy warship pursues them, and a deadly virus breaks out.

Like many of the books I read, Illuminae caught my interest because I read so many rave reviews when it was first published. I had my misgivings about this book. The format is very unique. The story is told through documents, interviews, emails, journal entries, etc. While most readers will initially be drawn in by this, I worried that it looked more like an owner’s manual than an actual book. Still, the reviews were so overwhelmingly positive that, being the YA science fiction fan that I am, I decided to read it anyway.

Based on popular demand alone, Illuminae belongs in a YA collection. Teens are easily able to keep up with the latest trends. If they go to the library looking for the latest “cool” science fiction novel and the librarian doesn’t have it, the library is going to look outdated. Libraries deal with the stigma that they’re obsolete in the digital age enough as it is. It is a violent book, but so are most of the action films your kids are watching (and movies are much more graphic). This book is exciting and unique. Despite it’s intimidatingly large size, Illuminae deserves a spot on your shelf.

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Ryan, A. K. (2011). Glow. New York: St. Martins Griffin.

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Fifteen-year-old Waverly is expected to marry and have children in order to repopulate the planet, but an unsuspecting attack from the sister ship puts her in danger.

Shared appeal terms: Science fiction genre, 7-12 grade levels, both contain space flight, space vehicles, and artificial intelligence. Found using the NoveList database.

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Review Post #1

Review #1: In the style of School Library Journal

This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki

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A dreamy coming of age story about two girls who deal with challenges involving their family, growing up, and crushes. Every summer Rose and Windy go to their lake houses in Awago Beach, but this summer things change. With surreal blue and white illustrations and a stream of conscious narrative, this Caldecott Honor graphic novel is a character story. Some readers may find the plot, lacking in twists and turns as it does, tedious, but this lack of action from the main characters also enhances how confusing a time this is for them. As preadolescences, they’re no longer children, but are not quite teenagers yet either. They know about things like dating and sex, but they don’t have the tools or experiences to truly understand them. The graphic novel also deals with issues including teen pregnancy, women shaming, and depression. The girls are dealing with these issues for the first time and must figure out how to navigate them, all while not having much power in any of the situations they face. The way the graphic novel enhances these feelings of helplessness, and the way it affects the friendship of Rose and Windy, is what makes it such a strong story. Verdict: A picturesque story about girlhood and growing up that’s recommended for both tweens and teens who like character driven stories.

Review #2: In the style of VOYA

 

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The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

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Probably the most important young adult book published this year, The Hate U Give is a novel inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement. Teenager Starr Carter witnesses the shooting of her friend Khalil, who was unarmed. Then the media begins to twist the story, where Khalil is presented as a thug and the white police officer who shot him was only protecting himself. Despite her fears, Starr decides to speak up and defend Khalil.

The Hate U Give bluntly rips into an issue that desperately needed to be ripped into. Author Angie Thomas does so brilliantly, while also weaving many different perspectives into the narrative; Starr’s uncle is a cop, and her boyfriend is white. Starr also faces other issues as a young black girl. She must behave differently in her privileged school environment than when she is in her hometown. When one of her white friends makes a fried chicken joke, something she views as harmless, Starr tries to help her understand why the joke is a problem. Starr speaks from her experiences as a black girl, with the emotional struggles that come with that. This is a book that everyone should read. Fortunately, it’s wonderfully written and hard to put down.

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.

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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.

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.

Libraries Aren’t Immune to Media Bias Against Teens

Teen slashed opponent with knife during game, police say

I selected this article because I wanted recent news that happened near the East Meadow Public Library where I work. The incident occurred across the street from the library in Eisenhower Park. The article describes how a Uniondale teen slashed another teen in the face with a knife during a basketball game.

The phrase “became irate”, stated by Nassau County Police, is quoted in the article. The article says that the motivation for the stabbing isn’t clear. Based on stereotypes against teens, the article subtly portrays him as possibly emotionally unstable. As Morgan so adequately stated in her post, “silently affecting the situation’s portrayal” is the fact that the teen in my article is a POC. Similar to Morgan’s article, there are other factors in my article that feed into stereotypes. The picture, for example, shows the teen with blood shot eyes and a scowling expression.

It’s easy to view this as an isolated incident. We could say that this story is about one bad seed, and harmless to teens in general. However, the bias against teenagers is very real. Unfortunately, these biases affect how libraries treat teens too. When I studied library spaces to research for a community profile, it was apparent to me how often teen spaces are small and isolated from the rest of the library. At a library I used to frequent, the clerks were harsher toward the teens than other patrons, and the security guard would shout at them for talking too much. The whole library could hear him, and there were multiple scenarios where he threatened to call the police. Library workers need to be extra careful about what news they read, and about their own internal biases when serving teen patrons.

Boyle, M. (2017, August 29). What Can Be Learned From News Stories About Local Teens. Retrieved August 30, 2017, from https://morganlefay73.wordpress.com/2017/08/29/what-can-be-learned-from-news-stories-about-local-teens/

Valenti, J. (2017, August 28). Teen slashed with knife during game, cops say. Retrieved August 30, 2017, from http://www.newsday.com/long-island/crime/teen-slashed-opponent-with-knife-during-game-police-say-1.14094506