Wednesday, November 14, 2012

censorship (again) (unfortunately)

I wish I could post this link with the words "presented without comment," but I can't really do that since the whole point of this blog assignment is for me to present my comments on certain issues. But the author of this article perfectly articulates my feelings. So with that, I give you this: How Utah School Officials Are Violating The First Amendment In Library Book Case. It's really hard for me to comprehend why this is still an issue in today's society. I don't understand why people feel the need to limit other peoples' freedoms (in this case, freely choosing library materials) just because they personally disagree with the content of those materials. Storing In Our Mothers' House behind the desk perpetuates feelings of hostility and intolerance towards the GLBTQ community. I say good on ya, Ms. Weber, for challenging this needless censorship. Because ultimately:
"Children come from all types of families, and the school libraries should serve the entire school community. The fact of the matter is that children with same-sex parents attend schools across the country – including in Davis School District. Removing books from the shelves won’t change that. Regardless of the race, sex or marital status of a child’s parents, they are part of the school community, and their families should not be hidden away as something shameful." -- Joshua Block

rebuilding New Jersey libraries

Caitlyn put up a post and I put up a comment on the on-going effort to re-open public libraries that have been affected by Hurricane Sandy. It's still incredible to learn of the extent of the damage and to think that many areas are still without power. Within her post are links to contribute to rebuild the New Jersey libraries. Definitely a worthy cause if I may say so.

pets at the library

I recently read this interesting post over at the blog of the Association for Library Service to Children and made this comment. I'd never heard of librarians keeping pets at the library to serve as teaching tools for young kids, but it makes a lot of sense and seems to be working for the author of the post. It's recommended reading for animal lovers!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

changes in teen spaces

I just read this post on the YALSA blog about possible changes we might see in teen spaces in the next few years. I also left this comment on my thoughts. They definitely present some interesting ideas on the future of teen spaces!

Saturday, November 10, 2012


I realize I'm about a month behind with this (it happens sometimes), but I just spent some time exploring the ALA's site for information on banned & challenged books (linked here) and I recommend you do the same. The ALA writes we need to be aware of all attempts to censor literature, and that "Censorship can be subtle, almost imperceptible, as well as blatant and overt, but, nonetheless, harmful." I was also happy to see a quote from John Stuart Mill's On Liberty - sort of a nice little callback to 502! There's also a very informative timeline to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Banned Books Week (found here), highlighting significant challenged and banned books from 1982-on.

Overall, I highly enjoyed reading through the reasons people and institutions come up with for challenging classic books - most of which are, for lack of a better word, completely insane (in this author's opinion). I was pleased to learn that quite a few of the most highly challenged classics were required readings for me in both junior high and high school. Looking back on it from this point in my life, I'm thankful that my teachers assigned these novels despite the risk of complaints from parents and other school higher-ups.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

progressing toward normalcy

Like many Americans, I've been captivated by news coverage of Hurricane Sandy. As a lifelong Midwesterner, these weather events rarely have a direct impact on my life, but I've always had a tremendous interest in how others are able to recover from such storms. I can only imagine then that this story about the re-opening of public libraries in Staten Island shows that things are very slowly returning to normal in New York City and beyond. Public libraries serve as, amongst other things, a stabilizing, unifying place in our communities. That they're re-opening in these hurricane-stricken areas is a great sign.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

kids vote too

Election day is almost here, and in keeping with the political theme, I decided to explore what public libraries are doing to help youth become interested in the political process. I came across this article from the Denver Post detailing the efforts of the Mamie Doud Eisenhower Public Library (located in Broomfield, Colorado) in teaching kids about the importance of voting. Young children can cast their votes for their favorite stuffed animals as well as their favorite types of books. Teens, meanwhile, are able to vote for their preferred presidential candidate in somewhat more realistic mock election. The Broomfield Election Division even lent real voting booths to the library to add an air of authenticity to the experience.
Based on the article, it seems as though the children are having fun and learning a lot in the process, which is always an important part of youth programs. This particular program also allows the kids to relate to their parents by having them cast their votes in a mock election. And I am of the opinion that it’s never too early to teach youth about the importance of voting and participating in the political process. I’m glad the librarians at the Mamie Doud Eisenhower Public Library feel the same way.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

another review

This week, I read a few reviews (here and here) of yet another children’s book that I hope to check out. It’s called I’m Bored and it’s written by one of my all-around favorite persons, Michael Ian Black. The book tells the story of a young girl who protests that she is bored, and so she picks up a potato to play with. The potato, in turn, tells her that he is bored and would rather play with a flamingo than with a kid. Annoyed, the girl walks off to go play. In comes a flamingo, who then complains to the potato that he is bored. The message here is clear: people who complain they are bored are no fun to be around, and you’re better off thinking up ways to occupy your time. Not a bad message to send in my opinion!

From what I’ve seen, the illustrations seem to perfectly pair with the story’s style. I was intrigued to learn the illustrator maintained a blog throughout the writing/drawing process. It can be found here and provides a unique, behind-the-scenes view into the publication process. The New York Times review has a suggested age range of between 3 and 8 years old.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

teaching kindness

As a way of continuing this week’s bulletin board assignment about book reviews, I decided to check out the latest offerings from the New York Times. Conveniently, there was a recent review (linked here) to coincide with October being known as National Anti-Bullying Awareness Month (admittedly, this was news to me). I decided to do a bit more research and came across the website for Stomp Out Bullying, whose focus is on “reducing and preventing bullying, cyberbullying, sexting and other digital abuse, educating against homophobia, racism and hatred, decreasing school absenteeism, and deterring violence in schools, online and in communities across the country.” I feel this is both a noble and necessary cause that deserves national attention. While I don’t have kids of my own, and don’t really spend a ton of time around young children, I know how hurtful they can be towards one another. And raising awareness of the issue is one of the first steps towards positive change.

The three books mentioned in the review focus on accepting and appreciating people for who they are. Of the three, I took a particular interest in the message presented in Lauren Thompson’s The Forgiveness Garden. The book tells of a long-standing feud between two villages and how two children worked together to dismantle the hatred. The book ends with an open-ended question that allows the reader to imagine what was said when these two former enemies speak to each other for the first time. This is a powerful message to send to young children, and I hope to check out the book myself to see if it does the same for adults.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

kids and e-readers

While catching up with a friend of mine at the LEEP dinner this evening, talk turned to what was going on in our classes, which led to a brief chat about this blog. She then suggested I look into TumbleBooks, which bill themselves as “e-books for e-kids.” More specifically, TumbleBooks are animated, talking picture books and include a number of popular titles from major publishing companies. Subscriptions to TumbleBooks are available to public and school libraries, and kids can also gain access to the books from their homes. The targeted audience for these e-books range from pre-school aged children to later elementary aged kids. I was struck by the notion that parents would use e-readers to teach their young children to learn how to read, and sought some public (and scholarly) opinion on the matter.
As it turns out, e-readers may not be the best option for teaching young kids to read. This report on a study conducted by researchers at Temple University’s Infant Laboratory in Philadelphia and Erikson Institute in Chicago suggests that use of e-readers severely limits interaction between parents and children, to the detriment of kids’ burgeoning comprehension skills. This article from Time Magazine touches on another interesting idea: parents are less than enthusiastic about letting their kids handle their expensive tablets and e-readers, which could lead to a less than favorable experience for both parties. And lastly, this article from the New York Times provides opinions from many parents (who are frequent users of e-reading devices themselves) who prefer to read with their kids solely using print books.
The research suggests that we shouldn’t mess with tradition – kids seem to learn better when reading from print books. And despite the fact that kids learn a great deal by imitating their parents, it seems it would be best to hold off on using e-readers until they’ve acquired basic reading skills.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

happy birthday, Clifford!

I got a call from my mom the other day and she asked if I'd heard the news about Clifford. I told her I hadn't and figured it was just another excuse for her to bring up the fact that I played Clifford in my school's book parade when I was in fourth grade. Those of us in the library club got to dress up as children's book characters and spend part of the school day at the primary school, which taught kids from kindergarten to second grade. (I had a pretty awesome get-up... but don't worry, I won't subject you to photographs)

So I looked into it and found this article on NPR's website. It's amazing to think that Clifford the Big Red Dog has been around for fifty years. It doesn't seem like that long ago since I was reading them myself! The interview with Mr. & Mrs. Bridwell was particularly touching. When he says they try to respond to each letter they get, I wonder if they mean emails or actual hand-written letters. A lot has certainly changed since the time I was reading Clifford books (or parading around in his likeness) but it's nice to know that the seemingly timeless stories are still helping kids learn to read.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

finding inspiration

Having never created a blog before, I struggled a bit to think up a title for my blog that was both: a) memorable and b) appropriate for the purposes of this class. I decided to find inspiration by borrowing from the thoughts of others... and in doing so, I came across this quote by Horace Mann:
A house without books is like a room without windows. No man has a right to bring up his children without surrounding them with books, if he has the means to buy them. It is a wrong to his family. Children learn to read by being in the presence of books. The love of knowledge comes with reading and grows upon it. And the love of knowledge, in a young mind, is almost always a warrant against the inferior excitement of passions and vices. 
Because it's always important to consider the context of quotes, a bit of background information on Mr. Mann: Considered by many to be the Father of American Public School Education, Horace Mann was born into poverty in Franklin, Massachusetts in 1796. He struggled to put himself through college and eventually studied law and became a politician. In 1837, he left the political sphere and was appointed the first Secretary of the State Board of Education in Massachusetts. While at this post, Mann campaigned endlessly to reform educational policies and was responsible for establishing school district libraries. (source)

With that biographical information in mind, it's easy to see why Mann placed such stock in books and reading.

In thinking back on my own emergent literacy, I found this quote to be extremely relatable. This particular line really spoke to me - "Children learn to read by being in the presence of books." I credit my nightly storytimes with my parents for contributing to my learning to read. But having been raised in a house full of books, it seems like it was almost a matter of time before I picked up a book and started reading. And as my mother recalls, that is precisely what happened. One day, a three year old me picked up the copy of In Cold Blood which she had been reading from its place on the kitchen table and just started reading it aloud. (I realize that's not the most age-appropriate book but such is life) Looking back on it, I think my learning to read was the result of those storytimes as much as it was a matter of circumstance. Either way, I am eternally grateful to my parents for raising me in a house full of books.

Sunday, September 9, 2012


Hello fellow 506ers. Just to warn you all: I'm way new at this, but I'll get some content up as soon as possible!