November 22, 2017

The Advocate's Toolbox

Archives for June 2007

Librarians Weigh in on Arizona’s Dewey-Less Library

Residents of Gilbert, AZ, might think they’re at Barnes & Noble rather than the Perry Branch Library when it opens later this month. That’s because it’s one of the first in the nation to get rid of the Dewey decimal system.

Instead, the library’s entire 31,000-item collection will be shelved by topic and alphabetized by an author’s last name, the same way it’s done at bookstores, says Marshall Shore, coordinator for adult services for the Maricopa County Library District.

The reason for […]

Yo, Hamlet! Using Hip Hop With Your Students

How one teacher uses hip-hop to unlock the classics

It’s not often that an English teacher working with poor inner-city kids ends up at the White House. But that’s exactly where Alan Sitomer was on April 26—standing in the Oval Office, cracking jokes and shaking hands with President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura.

Sitomer and 53 other State Teachers of the Year were invited to Washington, DC, to attend a Rose Garden ceremony honoring their hard work and dedication. But […]

Can We Make Peace with Wikipedia?

Every day, librarians around the world turn to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) as the definitive resource. This trusted authority, however, has a shocking secret—the venerable OED began life as a wiki. Well, sort of. Thousands of volunteer readers back in the day composed more than 400,000 definitions by submitting slips of paper with quotations that detailed word usage. Lacking wiki software meant organizing over five million slips to form this collective intelligence project, a process that lasted from 1857 […]

Read-Alouds? Think Again | Up for Discussion

The true purpose of the Geisel Children’s Book Award

Wrong to read a book aloud? How can this be possible? What’s up? Of course, it’s never a mistake to read a book aloud to young children. Sometimes, however, reading aloud can preempt other options for young readers, especially those youngsters just beginning to read independently. While this may seem like an insignificant point, it is a really important one for those of us who spent the better part of a year […]

Step Up to the Plate: Teens & Controversial Materials | Teenage Riot

Providing teens with controversial materials is easier than you think

Everyone knows that a library’s main mission is to provide access to information. But what happens when a young adult librarian wants to supply materials that address controversial themes like sex, suicide, and teen pregnancy?

I developed a plan to encourage teens and the community to talk about these important issues by organizing a 10-day event at my library that examined the inner lives of young people. Inspired by David Levithan’s […]

Holden Caulfield in Chanel, Size 4: Interview with James St. James | Under Cover

James St. James on the ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS ‘Freak Show’

Freak Show tells the story of Billy Bloom—self-described “gender obscurist”—who lands at the conservative Dwight D. Eisenhower Academy wearing Vivienne Westwood and ends up causing no end of mayhem. First, the inevitable question: how autobiographical is Freak Show?

The concept is completely autobiographic. But I hadn’t thought of writing for teens until Mark McVeigh at Dutton, who had read my earlier book, Disco Bloodbath [later made into the film Party Monster] called […]

No Child Deprived of History | Consider the Source

Are we treating history like a Starbucks menu?

Last March, I was in Boston to host a panel on multicultural history at the Kennedy Presidential Library. I was joined by children’s book authors Alma Flor Ada, Tanya Bolden, Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve, and Lawrence Yep as part of a conference called “One Country, Many Voices: Cultural Connections to Our History.” The night before, we enjoyed a fine dinner together, and later that evening, I started reading Jacque Le Goff’s Time, Work, […]

They Love to See That Bite! | NonFiction BookTalker

When animals eat other animals, kids savor the gore

Yuckkkk! Eyeewww! Half-delight and half-disgust, these are the sounds young voices make when children confront something grandly gross: photographs of animals eating other animals. Yowwww! Young readers relish this stuff. And publishers seem ever eager to dish up more. Sandra Markle’s three series for Lerner Publishing Group, “Animal Prey,” “Animal Predators,” and “Animal Scavengers,” provide fine reading and tangy, titillating information for little fans of big bites.

In Octopuses (2007), Markle describes […]

The Great Cover-Up: Do Kids Judge Books by Their Cover?

Do kids judge books by their cover? You bet they do.

A few years back, I decided to try something different from the usual booktalks—with the hope of nudging my school students to consider those books that rarely circulated in our middle school library. As the eighth graders filed in with their reading teacher, they clustered around the tables and scanned the half sheets of paper I had laid out, each of which contained the Cataloging in Publication (CIP) summaries for […]

Interview with Lois Lowry, Margaret A. Edwards Award Winner

The Edwards Award-winner talks about The Giver’s controversial past and, yes, its enigmatic ending

Who would’ve guessed that the author of a sci-fi masterpiece would live in a Federal Colonial house with a picket fence? But then again, it’s never wise to second-guess Lois Lowry. In the early ’90s, in a radical departure from her previous 20 novels for young readers, Lowry wrote The Giver (1993), the tale of a futuristic society that appears to have everything under control, including war, […]