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speak loudly. September 21, 2010

Posted by Katie in community.
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These days, I’m a quiet presence in the book blogging community. I still interact with y’all on Twitter. I still read all of your entries, but I’ve taken a step back from updating here as often as I used to.

When news surfaced late last week that Laurie Halse Anderson’s book “Speak” was under fire again in a town in Missouri (along with Sarah Ockler’s “Twenty Boy Summer” and Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse Five”), I struggled to give words to my reaction. After days of reflection, I am sad and I am angry still.

“Speak” had a profound meaning in my life. It was published when I was in ninth grade and was one of the first books that I recall ever really being written for contemporary teens. It was a book that, I believe, led me to becoming a librarian by showing me that teen literature existed.

“Speak” has also had a profound meaning in the lives of the teens that I work with. We have three copies (a lot for my small-medium sized public library — we only have three copies of “Twilight” too), and they are constantly being checked out. And of course, many teens have shared with me their personal “Speak” stories. Stories that are always about finding strength through this work of literature.

It’s hard for me to sit here and know that this book banning is going on around me, and for me to have nothing to do, for lack of a better term. I struggle with not being able to squelch this challenge, with not being able to stamp out the fire that it is causing. I struggle to know how to help a community that I am not a part of.

Instead, I focus on the little bits that I can control. Tonight was Teen Book Club and I set aside five minutes to remind my teens how lucky they are that they have the freedom to read. I told them about this challenge, and reminded them that no one [other than their parents/guardians, of course] had any business telling them what was appropriate for them to read. And I emphasized that I will always be here to help them if a challenge happens to them.

Twenty teens are now reminded that I am their ally. And maybe I will be able to sleep just a little bit better tonight.


banned books week wrap-up. October 2, 2009

Posted by Katie in library work.
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Well, it has been an eventful Banned Books Week for me.

But, I really want to take the time to talk about a few things.

First of all, it’s true that books aren’t banned in the traditional sense anymore in the United States. (Yeah, I’m admitting it — the Wall Street Journal got it right…partially.)

But censorship is still alive and well and for a lot of my teens the library is the only place to get a book.

Just a quick wrap-up of what’s gone in the world just this week/month that prevented teens from reading books:

And that’s only what I’ve heard about.

I’ll wrap this entry up by telling you what I did for my library. I made a display to educate my teens about BBW. I spent a lot of time researching book challenges and came up with four categories: “Challenged,” “Restricted,” “Unresolved,” and “Banned.” I covered the books in brown paper, marked them as their category and on the back of the book wrote what happened (excluding why the book was challenged so as not to anger parents and my director).

I labeled the display “Freedom to Read?”

Every day after school, I had teens asking me about the display. Every day after school, I gave a brief talk by the display to explain what it was. This went over so much better than previous BBW displays.

My teens and I agree, the week should be re-titled “Celebrate Freedom to Read.”

[Pictures to come when I get home and upload from my camera.]

review: “the boyfriend list” & “the boy book” challenge September 28, 2009

Posted by Katie in reviews.
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The story on the challenge (actually it’s the sequel that was challenged, but I had the original book review ready to go): “The Boy Book: A Study of Habits and Behaviors, Plus Techniques for Taming Them” — Challenged in the Keller, Texas Independent School District (2009) because some say it is “too adult for young eyes.” [From the Banned Books Week guide found online on the Illinois Library Association’s website.]

More info: CBS 11 News article about the challenge. E. Lockhart blogs about the challenge and Q&A with E. Lockhart at The BookKids Blog.

On to the review!


The Boyfriend List by E. Lockhart.
Delacorte // Paperback // 256 pages.
Reviewed from purchased copy.

Ruby Oliver’s stuck on a shrink’s couch all because of a few panic attacks. But when Doctor Z. asks her to write down a list of all the boys who she dated, liked, kissed, thought about, hung around with — no matter how official they are. As Ruby begins to think about the boys, readers get a glimpse into what led Ruby to Doctor Z.’s chair and what might have caused those pesky panic attacks. And as for the ceramic frogs, you’ll just have to read the book to figure those out.

This was a book that I bought, and then shelved in my room and lost until I found it again. I’m so sad that I didn’t read this book right away. Ruby is adorable and spunky. I was immediately concerned about her and had to keep reading to make sure that she was okay. Her outlook on the world is hysterical, but she does have her serious moments and situations.

The supporting characters in the book — particularly Ruby’s boyfriend stories — are incredibly detailed and rooted in reality. Readers really get a sense of what’s happening to Ruby through the stories.

One my favorite things about the book were the footnotes. I know that some people had issues with them (mostly adults), but I thought they really added to the story and set it apart from all the other chick lit books that are out there. Also, another librarian at my library listened to the book on audio and said that the footnotes were even better read aloud.

Small complaints — the chapters are a bit long, I wanted a break during some of them. And, Ruby doesn’t grow as much as I’d like her to within the course of the book. But, there are two sequels already (and a fourth book on the way), so Ruby might grow as the series progresses.

A definitely awesome edition to libraries; my teen girls love it.

SWAN catalog
E. Lockhart


banned books week 2009 September 27, 2009

Posted by Katie in library work.
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Banned Books Week is a topic near and dear to my heart. I was fortunate enough to have parents who encouraged my reading, no matter what it was I was reading. They let me read Sweet Valley High, Anne Rice, and Sue Grafton books in high school. When I got really into “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” I read a ton of history books on vampires and witchcraft at my local library. They didn’t mind if was reading “trashy” novels or adult books or non-fiction books that didn’t mesh with our religion — they just liked the fact that I was reading.

I’ve been planning to celebrate on the blog for a long while. This week will feature some reviews of books, some discussion, and some pictures of my library’s YA display.

In the meantime, some resources for you to peruse:

And some bloggers that are also celebrating Banned Books Week on their blogs:

Lemme know if you’re celebrating and how, I’ll link your blog! And be sure to check back this week for more Banned Books Week celebrations!