My picks from YALSA’s 2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults

I know it’s a little late in the year to be posting about last year’s books but I’m gonna do it anyway!

I read several books on YALSA’s Best Fiction for Young Adults list for 2012. Here are the ones I absolutely loved:

  • The Diviners by Libba Bray
  • Every Day by David Levithan
  • Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick

These books I also liked but didn’t quite blow me away like the first 3 did:

  • Croak by Gina Damico (recommended to me by a teen)
  • The Butterfly Clues by Kate Ellison
  • The Fault in our Stars by John Green
  • Chomp by Carl Hiaasen (listened to the audio read by James van der Beek)
  • Ask the Passengers by A.S. King

I started these books but never finished (usually because some other book was screaming “Read me NOW!):

  • The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth
  • The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour (would like to try again with this one!)
  • Boy21 by Matthew Quick
  • The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman (currently reading)

Books on my MUST READ list:

  • Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
  • The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa
  • The Brides of Rollock Island by Margo Lanagan
  • I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga
  • Cinder by Marissa Meyer
  • Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Wish me luck in getting around to the rest of these books!


The Facebook Sonnet

Welcome to the endless high-school
Reunion. Welcome to past friends
And lovers, however kind or cruel.
Let’s undervalue and unmend

The present. Why can’t we pretend
Every stage of life is the same?
Let’s exhume, resume and extend
Childhood. Let’s all play the games

That preoccupy the young. Let fame
And shame intertwine. Let one’s search
For God become public domain.
Let church.com become our church.

Let’s sign up, sign in and confess
Here at the altar of loneliness.

 

By Sherman Alexie


Protect yourself from Identity Theft

ponyangry

This Little Pony is angry because her identity was stolen

This morning, a patron called wanting to know how to protect his identity from being stolen by hackers on the Internet. He mentioned a service that could protect you through the use of one password. I wasn’t aware of a service like that but a quick online search will show you that they do exist. Lifelock is one such website.

But should you have to pay that much to be protected from hackers stealing your identity? I don’t think so. There are free alternatives that anyone can use and everyone should know about. Including me… As a librarian in the digital age, I must know this stuff like the back of my hand. It’s called financial literacy–just another form of literacy that libraries need to actively promote. The Public Library Association agrees.

Here are the best online resources I’ve found on identity theft:

Federal Trade Commision – Consumer Information – Identity Theft

“How to protect yourself from identity theft for free,” USA Today, Nov 9, 2012

Identity Theft Resource Center – NPO

Suspicious Emails & Identity Theft – irs.gov

And don’t forget the 3 credit reporting agencies (your new BFFs):

Experian

TransUnion

Equifax


Animals are confusing!

You’d think getting people books or information about animals would be easy. But it’s deceptively difficult. Here’s a few examples:

Black Panthers

blackjaguarA woman and her teenaged son came in asking for a book on black panthers. I had to ask, “As in Black Panther Party or animal?” So animal it was. I thought black panthers were their own species of big cat. Looking through books turned up nothing. Then I checked the indexes of animal encyclopedias and still was confused. Where are the Black Panthers, YO? I finally found an entry that confused me even more. It said that black panthers were really black leopards or black jaguars. It wasn’t until I read the Wikipedia article on black panthers that I got the gist of it. They aren’t their own species. It’s just what we call a big cat that has a gene which causes its fur to be black from excess melanin. They sometimes still have spots like their jaguar or leopard mommies and daddies. So “black panther” is more of a nickname than a real scientific classification.

Groundhogs

groundhogAWWW! So cute! But when one is living under your porch and eating all your plants and vegetables and you are pulling your hair out trying to make it scram, then you come to the library for answers. “What do groundhogs eat,” she wants to know, “because we’re gonna try to trap him.” Again, I can’t find any books on groundhogs on the shelf, and the encyclopedia index says “SEE woodchuck”. So they are called woodchucks, whistle-pigs, land-beavers. They are part of the marmot family and they love to eat fruits and veggies and other green things. (How is this guy so fat?) The best answer I got, including techniques on how to trap one, was from the Internet. I avoided the Internet at first because she said she wanted a book. But she was happy with the information anyway. Good luck to her! I hope the groundhog didn’t ruin the foundation of her home! (Something else I learned they are capable of…)

Pill Bug

pill bugI feel sad to even put this guy on the same page with that cute groundhog… But a boy was doing a report on the pill bug and needed to use at least 2 books for writing his report. It’s nice to know that some teachers are still requiring books to be used for research, not just the Internet. But again, is Pill Bug its “true” name? I was stumped by the books, and the Internet was also confusing. Did he want the pill bug aka woodlice aka Armadillidiidae (Arma-Dilla-Dee-Day-Ding-Dong)? Or was it really the pill millipede which looks very similar but has no other relation? I gave him the info on the woodlice variety, but geez, did it really have to be that hard?

Lessons learned? Do a quick online search before you hit the books, just to make sure if your animal of choice goes by another name or has any confusing varieties or is even really an animal! Then look it up in the books.

 


April’s Teen Book Club – Divergent

fanpop by bussykussi

fanpop by bussykussi

I’ve started a teen book club at my library. The Teen Advisory Board suggested it. At our first meeting in February, we read Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. That was a pretty heavy book about suicide, blame, bullying, and depression. When I asked the group what they wanted to read next, they wanted something completely different than Thirteen Reasons Why. “Science fiction! Mystery! Anything not about suicide!” And I thought people would be dying to read a realistic tome about high school horribleness. 🙂

Non-realistic genres are very popular now in YA lit and popular with our teens as well. Fantasy, science fiction, and action/adventure books are always circulating. I read these genres as a way to take a break from the problems of the real world. I can see why teens like them too. Adolescence is not the most peaceful or stress-free time of one’s life. Reading fantasy or science fiction can give teens an entertaining mental break from exams, packed schedules, and social navigating.

For our next book club in April, I chose Divergent by Veronica Roth. A popular trilogy often compared to The Hunger Games, I think Divergent will prove to be a bigger, better choice for book club than Thirteen Reasons Why. While TRW had plenty of tough subjects to discuss, Divergent will appeal to teens’ desire for action, suspense, and pure entertainment. Let’s face it. Divergent will be more fun to read than a book about suicide. Now I don’t mean to discredit choosing a more serious book for a teen book club. We had an excellent discussion with multiple points-of-view and opinions about Hannah Baker’s decision to end her life. But I understand the need to mix it up and lighten the mood.

Divergent is not without its themes – issues of identity, belonging, difficult choices, questioning authority. We will talk about all those things and more at the book club. I also have an idea for a fun activity involving the book’s 5 factions of society. This fan website describes the factions really well. I want to find a way of testing the teens to see which faction they would belong to, and then see if they would change the recommendation and choose a completely different faction, just like Tris does in the book. We get to pretend we are in Tris’s world and also ask ourselves questions about our identities. Can we really be pinned down to one category or are we all “divergent?”


Censoring a graphic Graphic Novel

How graphic is too graphic? A library director in Greenville, SC has taken a graphic novel, “Neonomicon” by award-winning author Alan Moore, off the shelves after a patron complained about its “offensive” content. The library went through its formal process of review by a committee who recommended that it stay in the library’s collection. But the library director has the final say: she opposed the committee’s recommendation and chose to “de-select” the book.

Is this library director right? Should she go against the committee’s well-thought-out and well-researched decision to keep the book? Having the book on the shelf is not the same as reading it. There are many controversial books in libraries, ie. Fifty Shades of Grey, that patrons can make their own decisions about. I believe that libraries have a duty to their patrons to provide stories that are from all areas of life, whether or not they may be offensive to some groups of people. Now that I am working in a public library and on the front lines of service, I see that it may be very tricky to decide on objections to the collection. For example, should we keep books that are about Neo-Nazis and their beliefs? On the one hand, it could be a very objective look at Neo-Nazism for people who may be doing a research report or project on hate groups in America. On the other hand, the book may be seen as subversively promoting Neo-Nazi values which I suspect many people would object to. Where’s the line? It’s hard to tell.

ImageFrom the graphic novel “Neonomicon”


2012’s Most Read YA Authors at AFL

Wordle: 2012's Most Read YA Authors at Abington Free Library

Click on the pic above to see the word cloud I created showing the most read Young Adult authors in my library in 2012. The bigger the name, the more popular the author. I pulled this information from the top 50 circulating YA titles last year. I’d like to print this out and put it up somewhere in the YA area to promote the collection and also let teens see what authors are hot right now.

Top 10 YA Titles of 2012 at Abington Free Library

  1. Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
  2. Son of Neptune – Rick Riordan
  3. Divergent – Veronica Roth
  4. Heroes of Olympus: The Lost Hero – Rick Riordan
  5. What Happened to Goodbye – Sarah Dessen
  6. The Book Thief – Markus Zusak
  7. Clockwork Prince – Cassandra Clare
  8. Legend – Marie Lu (and my personal favorite!)
  9. Scorch Trials – James Dashner
  10. Matched – Ally Condie

Every $10 invested in PA public libraries, $55 returned to taxpayers

A 2006 statewide survey conducted by the University of North Carolina in partnership with the University of Pittsburgh concluded that for every $10 invested in public libraries, $55 is returned to Pennsylvania taxpayers.

If public libraries didn’t exist, the study said, the economic loss to our communities across the Commonwealth would total nearly $1.34 billion. That’s 5.5 times what we dedicate annually in local, state, and federal taxes for public libraries.

From the PA Forward website, a campaign started by the Pennsylvania Library Association (PaLA)


Harry Potter Quizzo

The Deathly Hallows

The Deathly Hallows

I held a Harry Potter Quizzo program last Wednesday for teens at my library. It was so much fun planning it, baking and buying goodies for it, writing the Quizzo questions, and watching the teens really enjoy themselves and have a great time.

Each Quizzo round was based on one of the Harry Potter books, so there were 7 rounds total with 8 questions and a bonus question each. I was rushing to fit in all the questions before our time was up! Some of the teens were Harry Potter fanatics so I really should have made the questions a lot harder than they were. These guys were so smart that they were catching me on technicalities – like the fact that in the fourth book, the person who brought Harry back to the castle after his battle with Voldemort could either be Mad Eye Moody or Barty Crouch Jr, since Barty was disguised as Mad Eye. I was floored by the things they remembered from the 4,224 pages that they read of the series. Never underestimate your teens! They will outsmart you every time.

Some other highlights from the program:

  • A group of 6 friends who dressed up in Hogwarts robes and Gryffindor scarves and ties, Luna Lovegood glasses, and even brought wands. They also baked some items from the Harry Potter cookbook and shared with everyone.
  • New friends were made! Score!
  • Everyone gobbled up my cupcakes and hot chocolate. I think chocolate is a BIG plus at events.
  • Teams gave themselves awesome names: Hermoine and the Graingers, Babbity Rabbity and the Cackling Stumps, Potterlock, and Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes.
  • Get a big group of teens together and they are gonna chat it up. I almost lost my voice that night talking over them but I never wanted to shush them. I let them do that to each other.
  • I had two wonderful volunteers who helped me to score each round. They made everything so much easier and I was so grateful!

Younger Americans are reading more than I thought!

Book Readers by Age

From the Pew Internet & American Life Project

My favorite research organization, the Pew Research Center, has come out with a new study showing the reading habits and library use of younger Americans aged 16-29. I was pleasantly surprised to see that older teens and young adults are reading more than I thought! A whopping 83% have read a book in the past year. Let me guess how many of them read The Hunger Games….

Older teens (ages 16-17) in particular are very interested in reading e-books on e-reader devices like the Kindle or NOOK. More than 50% of these teens who have not read an e-book don’t even know that they can borrow e-books from their public library. This is something I hear often from adults — “I had no idea I could get e-books here for free!” — but I don’t hear about from teens. In fact, I don’t hear much from my library’s teens about e-books at all, so I’m curious if they are as interested as the report says and they just aren’t vocal about it.

The report states that “some 58% of those under age 30 who do not currently borrow e-books from libraries say they would be “very” or “somewhat” likely to borrow pre-loaded e-readers if their library offered that service.” I was just thinking about this concept of pre-loaded e-readers the other day. In Lafayette Hill, PA, the William Jeanes Library has 12 NOOKs pre-loaded with books that they loan out. I would love to find out how they financed this and how its working so far. It could be a big hit here at my library too.

So why, then, are some teens drawn to the idea of e-books and e-readers? It could be the idea of not having to lug around yet another book in their bags, what with all the textbooks and such they carry around at school all day. But there’s something inevitably cool and futuristic about an e-reader device (or any tech device that fits nicely in your hands, for that matter.) Who wouldn’t want to try it out? If you can’t buy an iPad or other tablet, the next best thing is an e-reader, which seems to be morphing more into tablets lately anyway. I also wonder if teens want to give e-readers a shot because they secretly like reading but wouldn’t be caught dead in public with a print book in their hands. Like a print book says “I’m a nerd” but an e-reader says “I’m trendy.” This is just speculation but I’m willing to bet a few teens think of it this way.

I’m going to ask my Teen Advisory Board about it, get their opinions, see if they are even interested in e-books at all. The TAB has started off very well, by the way, with our first meeting having 13 members! And they had excellent ideas for the library. I noticed I was talking too much at the beginning and steered the conversation so that they would be running the show. What a great bunch of teens! I’m really pumped to keep the meetings going and start putting their ideas into action.