Archive for January, 2016

Review of Loveability, by Robert Holden

Friday, January 15th, 2016

loveability_largeLoveability

Knowing How to Love and Be Loved

by Robert Holden

Hay House, Carlsbad, California, 2013. 219 pages.
Starred Review
2015 Sonderbooks Stand-out: #4 Other Nonfiction

Robert Holden’s books are written in a conversational style and the concepts aren’t hard to understand. But they pack a surprising punch. Carrying out these ideas isn’t necessarily as simple as they sound, and the results can be life-changing.

This one’s about one of the fundamentals of a happy life: Knowing how to love and be loved.

Here’s how Robert Holden puts it in the introduction:

This book, Loveability, is a meditation on love. It addresses the most important thing you will ever learn. All the happiness, health, and abundance you experience in life comes directly from your ability to love and be loved. This ability is innate, not acquired. It does not need to be taught afresh, in the way you might learn some new algebra theory or memorize lines from Romeo and Juliet. It is a natural ability that is encoded in the essence of who you are. Any learning feels more like remembering something you have always known about.

He does start with self-love. He says that the basic truth is “I am loveable” and the basic fear is “I am not loveable.” He gives exercises that will help you access that basic truth. And the book goes on to help you build your love for others by looking at common blocks to love, such as trying to place conditions on love and refusal to forgive.

This book resonated with me, and I found myself quoting from it often in Sonderquotes. Check those quotes, and if this sounds like a message that would do you good, you may want to take a closer look. I guarantee you will be uplifted and your life will be enriched by this closer look and helpful advice on how to love.

robertholden.org
hayhouse.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Nonfiction/loveability.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on my own copy, purchased at a bookstore in Portland, Oregon.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

ALA Midwinter Meeting, Youth Media Awards

Wednesday, January 13th, 2016

The final day of ALA Midwinter Meeting is the morning when the Youth Media Awards are announced!

YMA1

I got up early and went to the awards and enjoyed the celebration of books! It’s a tremendous place to be – so much energy and excitement about wonderful books being honored. You can find a list of all the award winners at ilovelibraries.org.

Before announcing the awards they showed a message from the recently announced new Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, Gene Luen Yang.

YMA2

The message was directed to Librarians, telling us how important we are because we match people with books they love.

YMA3

He definitely made the crowd there happy!

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I’ll comment on a few things from the awards.

Jerry Pinkney won both the Coretta Scott King – Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award for a substantial and lasting contribution for children’s literature. Reaction in the hall was surprise that he hadn’t already won either award. They are both well-deserved honors. I have heard Jerry Pinkney speak many times, and he comes across as a wonderful warm and caring person with a love for art and a love for children. How wonderful that he was doubly honored this year.

Another wonderful person who was honored was Jacqueline Woodson. She will present the 2017 May Hill Arbuthnot Lecture. This is an honor that comes with a requirement to work hard. The lecture is to be a significant work on children’s literature.

David Levithan won the Margaret A. Edwards Award, which is YALSA’s award for lifetime achievement.

There’s something in me that’s happy that a book about a transgender child, George, by Alex Gino, won the Stonewall Book Award.

For the Caldecott, right when I first read it early last year, I’d had hopes that Sophie Blackall would win for illustrating A Fine Dessert. However, objections to how some slaves were depicted having a happy moment together in one of the four episodes of the book started some controversy. Sophie Blackall still won though, but for Finding Winnie. (My review is written, but not posted yet. Soon!)

The funny thing to me about Finding Winnie is that it was the second book about the bear who inspired Winnie-the-Pooh to be published in 2016. In fact, because the first book, Winnie, was so good, I didn’t want to enjoy Finding Winnie as much as I did. But it is so wonderful, I fell in love, and am very happy about that Caldecott. I’m only kicking myself for not naming it a Sonderbooks Stand-out. The truth is that I had a hard time deciding between the two history-of-Winnie-the-Pooh books and ended up listing neither.

I hadn’t read as many middle grade novels as usual this year, so I didn’t expect to necessarily have read the Newbery winner. In fact, I haven’t read any of the Honor books yet. (Even though I got an Advance Reader’s Copy of The War That Saved My Life at ALA Midwinter last year! It won Newbery Honor, a Schneider Family Award, and the Odyssey Award.)

However, I was on the Fiction Picture Books panel for the Cybils Awards, and one of our finalists won the Newbery Medal! Yes, the first picture book chosen to win, and the first Latino winner was The Last Stop on Market Street, by Matt de la Pena. The illustrator, Christian Robinson, won Caldecott Honor and Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor.

Be sure to read this article about Matt de la Pena from 2013. He finished reading his first novel in college — and that ended up changing his life. And he brings that message to kids today. He writes plenty of novels — what a wonderful surprise that he won the Newbery Medal with a picture book — a truly wonderful and deserving picture book.

How can a picture book win the Newbery Medal? Well, the criteria states that it’s the most distinguished contribution to literature for children in the award year, with consideration mainly given to the text. The text is evaluated based on criteria of excellence in various things, and books are rated based on the audience they are for. The writing in Last Stop on Market Street is poetic and beautifully conveys the story of a kid and his grandmother riding the bus to the soup kitchen after church. The pictures do not detract.

Review of Crenshaw, by Katherine Applegate

Monday, January 11th, 2016

crenshaw_largeCrenshaw

by Katherine Applegate

Feiwel and Friends, New York, 2015. 245 pages.
Starred Review
2015 Sonderbooks Stand-out: #6 Children’s Fiction

A kid starting fifth grade is not supposed to have an imaginary friend. When Jackson’s years-ago imaginary friend Crenshaw the giant cat shows up riding a surfboard and carrying an umbrella, Jackson’s afraid he’s going crazy.

Crenshaw first appeared in his life right after first grade when his family was homeless and lived in their minivan for fourteen weeks.

When they finally put together enough money, my parents moved us to Swanlake Village. It was about forty miles from our old house, which meant I had to start at a new school. I didn’t care at all. At least I was going back to school. A place where facts mattered and things made sense.

Instead of a house, we moved into a small, tired-looking apartment. It seemed like a palace to us. A place where you could be warm and dry and safe.

I started school late, but eventually I made new friends. I never told them about the time we were homeless. Not even Marisol. I just couldn’t.

If I never talked about it, I felt like it couldn’t ever happen again.

But now Jackson’s parents are selling almost everything they own in a garage sale. They’re talking quietly together about paying the rent. They try to joke about it and say everything will be okay. His little sister is scared, too. Then Crenshaw shows up, just like he did before, only bigger. He says he won’t leave until Jackson doesn’t need him.

But what kind of fifth grader needs an imaginary friend?
And does this mean they’re going to be homeless again?

This book by Newbery-winning author Katherine Applegate packs a punch. It shows the human side of homelessness. The family were told about shelters, but none of the homeless shelters in their town would allow husbands and wives to stay together.

Sometimes I just wanted to be treated like a grown-up. I wanted to hear the truth, even if it wasn’t a happy truth. I understood things. I knew way more than they thought I did.

But my parents were optimists. They looked at half a glass of water and figured it was half full, not half empty.

Not me. Scientists can’t afford to be optimists or pessimists. They just observe the world and see what it is. They look at a glass of water and measure 3.75 ounces or whatever, and that’s the end of the discussion.

This is a children’s book. It does have a relatively happy ending, without being too simplistic. Jackson does learn something from Crenshaw about being a friend, imaginary or not. I would have liked a little more, a little longer book – but I think this is all the better for child readers. Here’s a relatable character in a recognizable situation – but one we don’t usually talk about.

And on top of his family’s poverty, Jackson is dealing with a giant, flamboyant, imaginary cat.

mackids.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Fiction/crenshaw.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

ALA Midwinter Meeting, Day Three

Sunday, January 10th, 2016

Today was the third day of 2016 ALA Midwinter Meeting. Today my plan was again to make it to an 8:30 am session.

I left my hotel room and got into a crowded elevator — and author Mac Barnett entered the elevator next to me!

I’m a year behind — but Sam and Dave Dig a Hole is one of my 2015 Sonderbooks Stand-outs.

When we got off the elevator, so we weren’t surrounded by others, I said, “What do you do when you’re in an elevator next to a celebrity?”

He said, “Hi, I’m Mac.”

I said, “I know.”

I said more things, but they came out rather idiotic (I thought), and I left the hotel to get on the bus to go to the convention center. He wished me a good day at the conference.

Then I went to a session on Teens and Social Media presented by Denise Agosto, whom I think I had a class with when I was an online student at Drexel University. (I know I read several of her papers.)

The session was very informative. She’d done extensive studies and based this information on what she’d found.

First, she cleared up some myths about teens and social media. Click through to the links for her hand-outs on the topic.

Teens are far more savvy about internet privacy than adults tend to think they are. She did find that schools that allow social media use — and model good practices via the teachers and staff — have much more savvy teens.

Social media is opening up new ways of collaborating and creating, and teens are getting in on that.

She also did some studies on Teen Attitudes toward Privacy and Safety.

Youth Attitudes Toward Privacy:
1) They believe there’s no such thing as true privacy online.
It’s a perspective change: They tend to assume anything they say online is as public as speaking out loud in an auditorium.

2) Discomfort with unintended audiences accessing/capturing personal data.
As an example, one boy was horrified to discover that if you googled his name old pictures of him from a closed account of when he was in middle school would come up.

3) Tension between the desire to share and withhold information.
They want a following but still want privacy.

4) Privacy concerns affect technology choices.
Teens now use Facebook primarily to connect with relatives.

Youth Attitudes Toward Safety:
1) Generally more concerned about potential loss of online privacy than about potential safety issues.
A feeling of: Everyone else is risky, but I’m safe.

2) Online safety is a learning process that takes time to develop and also develops with increased age, maturity, and experience.

3) Teens tend to believe that other generations are less knowledgeable than they are about online safety.
They roll their eyes at some things their parents do, but are also willing to act as media mentors for middle school and younger students.

After talking about attitudes, we talked about best practices.

1) Be social media role models. (Where schools allow social media — for students and staff — this is more effective.)

2) Provide social media education.
Doesn’t have to be in-house. A college or church may be willing to provide a speaker.
Kids are tired of videos, though. Provide hands-on time in a computer lab where you actually look at privacy settings and what the different settings mean and allow them to set them. Tell them their options.
Let people tell their own stories. Discussion is worth far more than a video.
Avoid scare tactics — frame lessons in positive terms.
Talk about it in terms of risks vs benefits.

3) Provide positive examples: Passive and active social media programming.

Some Passive Programming Ideas:
— Let teens share book/movie/media reviews online via social media.
— Set up a podcast station for their best library story or experience.
— Online forum where teens share tech tips, gaming tips, media reviews.

Some Active Programming Ideas:
— Host an author Q&A on Google Hangouts
— Run online book discussion groups. (Let the teens pick which platform.)
— Drop in social media question session.
— Totally tech teen lock-in party.

***

After that program finished, I introduced myself to Dr. Agosto as a former Drexel student. Then I went into the exhibits and found Sarah Brannen doing an author signing.

Sarah Brannen

Sarah is the author of Madame Martine, which was my #1 Sonderbooks Stand-out for Picture Books I read in 2015. She also wrote a wonderful sequel, Madame Martine Breaks the Rules. Lucky Sarah had to go to Paris to research the books! She said she saw many old ladies walking dogs on the grounds of the Eiffel Tower.

Living near Washington, D. C., as I do, I took the message of Madame Martine to heart and have made a goal in 2016 of doing at least one adventurous outing each month. (Of course, for January, the outing is going to ALA Midwinter Meeting!)

After purchasing two copies of Madame Martine and getting them signed to my little nieces, I went to a Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Book Buzz. I have to say that Book Buzz sessions only make me want to read *more* books. I got a list of books I will watch for (adult books this time), but I did manage to stay away from their booth after the talk and not grab a copy of each book they had mentioned.

After eating lunch, I went to hear Stephon Alexander, the author of The Jazz of Physics.

StephonAlexander1

He was born in Trinidad and Tobago and grew up in the Bronx. He is now a full professor of physics at Brown University.

In many ways, his book is about inclusivity. His musical life was in the closet with his physics colleagues, and he didn’t talk about physics with his musician friends.

Only 5% of American professors of physics are female. But only 2% are African-American or Latino. But the great physicists of the twentieth century were children of immigrants. They were different, too.

His book is also about narrative. He was taught physics through storytelling.

And his book concretely addresses the intersection of music and physics. His high school physics teacher was also his music teacher.

His family expected him to be a musician. But he found he was more interested in how music works.

The book is also about analogies and metaphors. Mathematics itself is an analogy. Music notes are a metaphor.

How to improvise is an art, science and craft.

The book is about how the universe is structured. There was vibrational energy in the early universe, and of course vibration is at the heart of music.

He did play his saxophone for us to illustrate some of the principles.

StephonAlexander2

He talked about the pentatonic scale and its underlying symmetry.

He has reframed the Uncertainty Principle as the Improvisation Principle.

In questions, someone asked about the Imposter Syndrome he’d mentioned. I liked what he said that bringing his music to his physics helps him feel better about making his own contribution. He also said that we’re all Frauds! The great physicists of the past were outsiders, too.

He did say that science needs to be more inclusive. It’s time to make use of our natural human resources.

And he echoed something I’d heard in other places this weekend — that it’s about PLAY!

When he got his first saxophone, he saw it as a toy, unlike the piano, which he’d been told to practice. We learn when we’re playful and not afraid to make mistakes.

***

After the talk, I was able to get a signed Advance Reader Copy of his book. And, yes, I mentioned my prime factorization sweater and other mathematical knitting, and he told me to come to his signing in the booth later (He was out of time on the stage) so he could tell me more about physics and knitting.

Next it was time to mail my books home! I have to check out of my hotel room tomorrow, and I knew I needed the use of my rolling carry-on to get the books to a place where I could ship them.

I’m afraid I hurt myself carting them back to the convention center (This meant a shuttle bus ride back to the hotel and then a shuttle bus ride back to the convention center — It was pouring rain.), and almost fell over when I lifted them up the stairs of the bus. But I made it! There actually wasn’t much of a line in the post office, and I was able to fit my books into three flat rate boxes and sent them home!

Then, of course, I went back to talk to Stephon Alexander more. And this time, I had my prime factorization scarf with me. And the Outliers Scarf, for which I’m sewing in the ends.

He liked them so much, he called up his girlfriend, who was elsewhere in the exhibits, and asked her to come see them, because she’s an artist, and he thought she’d like to see them.

StephonAlexander3

He did, also, tell me a story about a great physicist who said that grandmothers knitting know more than beginning physics students.

And I’m afraid the whole delightful encounter increased my impression that book people, in general, don’t necessarily appreciate the beauty in math the way people in math or science fields do. I still say they are NOT mutually exclusive! Anyway, I loved what Stephon Alexander had to say about the intersection of music and physics, and I’m looking forward to reading his book!

***

And to cap the day off, when I got back to my hotel, I saw an elevator with its door about to close and rushed to catch it, as the man inside kept the door from closing. When I stepped inside — It was Mac Barnett!

I apologized for my incoherence in the morning and this time managed to introduce myself. He did remember me because of my reviews, and the whole encounter made me much happier and far less mortified with myself than the one that started the day!

Of course the highlight of the whole conference happens tomorrow morning, when the Newbery and Caldecott and many other award winners are all announced! I will be there cheering, and tweeting the results!

ALA Midwinter Meeting, Day Two

Saturday, January 9th, 2016

Laurie Halse Anderson

Today was my first full day at ALA Midwinter Meeting 2016 in Boston.

The day began with a meeting called “Leadership in ALSC.” I went to this because I’m chair of the Grants Administration Committee this year. I get to meet people who are active in ALSC — the other committee chairs, priority group consultants, and the ALSC Board. These are people who care about children and libraries — a wonderful group indeed!

Today we talked a lot about the recently revised Competencies for Librarians Serving Children in Public Libraries. It’s a wonderfully comprehensive document — I plan to take a good look at it and show it to my co-workers (those who work with children and those who don’t).

Then I went to the exhibit hall. I caught the end of a talk on “Fantasy in Middle Grade” and got signed books from S. E. Grove, James Riley, and Monica Tesler. Then I grabbed more books — and went to the post office and mailed them home. (They will probably beat me home.)

After lunch was a session sponsored by ALSC on Curiosity and Creating. Here are my notes:

Curiosity Creates: Research and Best Practices

Curiosity sparks learning!
We are wired for curiosity.

Our Mission: To ignite and advance creative thinking for all children.
Presenter works at the Bay Area Discovery Museum in Sausalito, CA.
Have we gone too far scheduling kids’ time? Do schools squelch curiosity?
Center for Childhood Creativity launched
Creativity = Workforce Readiness
What we need children to learn is totally different than what they used to need.
We no longer primarily need people who follow directions.
Agricultural Age > Industrial Age > Information Age >>> Conceptual Age

What you do with what you know is more important than what you happen to be holding in your brain.
We need disruptive thinkers, inventive kids, creative kids.
65% of kids today will be in jobs that don’t yet exist.
What are we doing to prepare kids for their adult lives?
We know it will be important to be lifelong learners.

How to build a generation of innovative creators?
They have built an interdisciplinary team — neuroscientists, psychologists, economists, etc.

Today’s focus: Research & Resources.
“Resources for Promoting Childhood Creativity through Libraries”
Had 150 activities — good examples of something you can do and then screened for libraries.
Top 10 librarian selected activities. Photocopyable handouts.
Download at Centerforchildhoodcreativity.org
Go there and download research for free!
Also you can Join Their List!
Have coming out in the next 2 months two useful resources: Searchable collection of activities and Spanish translation of paper.

Considerations for programming in libraries: Space & volume constraints
Staffing constraints
Budgetary constraints
Unpredictable attendance
Activities should not feel like school.
Need flexible, inclusive activities.

Three Main Ideas:
Emphasize the learning process over the end product.
Shift language to open-ended prompts.
Choose activities for their playfulness and tinkerability.
Does that activity allow the child to choose what to do?
We’re looking for intrinsic motivation.

What is Creativity?
Heritability of creativity: Estimated to be 20-50% inheritability — less connected to genes and more to environment. Impact of the environment is tremendous.

Key Research Questions
1. What skills contribute to children’s creativity?
2. What types of learning environments foster creativity in children?
One of their kids invented a less expensive Braille printer with Lego Mindstorms.

7 Critical Components of Creativity. (155 studies cited from a variety of fields.)
42 specific recommendations.
14 exercises.

We’re wired for curiosity, which is why learning feels so good.
What we know about the brain changes every 6 months! About children, only since the 1990s do we have studies about their brain.
Much more brain engagement with open-ended questions.
Playing is an excellent way to learn.
We’re probably stopping children from playing too early.

Recent studies: Being curious before you have information significantly increases the likelihood you’ll retain that information. Curiosity relief effect.
When you’re curious, there’s arousal in your brain.
Because there’s a link between emotion and memory, satisfied curiosity helps you learn.

We also need to sleep! In your deepest sleep, your brain has the time to encode working memory into long-term memory.

Activity: Ice Exploration. Freeze interesting objects in ice. Have kids decide how to get the objects. (Provide salt, brushes, hot water…)

7 Components:
1) Imagination and Originality
2) Flexibility
A lot of innovations are recombining things.
We see it emerge in children related to language acquisition.
3) Decision Making
4) Communication and Self-Expression
5) Motivation
6) Collaboration
7) Action & Movement

On Imagination & Originality:
Childhood pretend play predicts later creativity.
Synthesizing ideas is a skill that predicts creativity.

Activity: Animal Remix — Imagine about it. (Front of one animal and back of another, then tell about it.)

Powerful Phrases: I wonder… (Showcasing your own curiosity about the world.)
I notice… (Sharing your interest and that you’re observing what they did. Not making a judgment.)
Tell me more… (Be sure to pause and listen after you say this.) (Try this!)
This gives kids the space and permission to elaborate on their ideas and go farther.

Activity: Finish the Drawing
It’s easier to measure convergent thinking than divergent thinking, so we don’t teach as much of that. Be sure in museums and libraries we give them time to play around with divergent thinking.

Key Concept: Design Thinking
Empathize Define Ideate Prototype Test Iterate
Adults listening to kids’ ideas is tremendously important.

Activity: Absolutely Very Worst Possible Idea Ever

Motivators: Intrinsic vs Extrinsic
Cultivate growth mindsets — Read book “Mindset.”
Use the word YET. “I can’t do that yet.”

Collaborative Activity: Build a cardboard maze collaboratively.
One word stories (each person adds one word).

Action & Movement — Physical activity is associated with better focus and ability to learn.
Read paper for even more! Go to their website
@C4Creativity on Twitter!

After this presentation, we saw what people were doing with Curiosity Creates Grants.
There was a new children’s area with a sensory table.
Another library did a Star Wars Reads Day with Creative Exploration (including a martial arts academy teaching light saber training! At another station, kids made their light sabers from wrapping paper rolls.) There was a BB-8 Maze.
Another library made “Toolkits for Emerging Artists and Innovators” — Robotics, fiber arts, engineering and paper crafts, with a different kit available for check-out each month and a launch party each month.
Finally, a library made an Open Art Studio called The Creative Edge. A tech-free zone with clay, paint, collage, oil pastels, and toddler crayons. They nurture creative confidence.
They told about a new Herve Tullet book: Art Workshops for Children

#alsccreates

After that session, I went back in the exhibits and met Laurie Halse Anderson (see picture above).

I went to the Random House Book Buzz and of course now want to read *all* their books coming out this Spring. I got some more books from their booth, not being sure I hadn’t already gotten them and shipped them to myself.

And I finished off the day going to hear Lizzie Velasquez give an inspiring message. She has a medical condition that affects her growth and her appearance. When she was 17, she found a YouTube video someone had posted of her as “The Ugliest Woman in the World.” There were thousands of comments, saying horrible things. She read them all, looking for just one comment taking her side, and didn’t find even one.

That devastated her, but I’m going to interject that it’s wonderful that she was able to tell her parents about it. Cyberbullying is incredibly horrible — which I learned at the YALSA Institute in November. But Aija Mayrock was younger when her cyberbullying happened, and she didn’t know how to tell her parents.

Both women, though, have gone on to tell their stories and be proud of who they are and speak up with a strong message against bullying.

Lizzie Velasquez gets great meaning out of sharing her story and helping other people who might be facing hard things.

She wasn’t going to let the bullies define who she was.

Now she’d thank that bully, because that event ultimately helped her find her passion for public speaking and helping others.

ALA Midwinter Meeting Day One

Friday, January 8th, 2016

This morning I got up early and my son drove me to the airport — and we survived the experience! (It was his first time driving in months. I have a hard time not exclaiming aloud when in the passenger’s seat. Sometimes, I had to just close my eyes. This was mostly the backing out of the garage part.)

In the plane, I was seated next to another librarian. (Surprise, Surprise!) (We can pick each other out.) We had matching color carry-ons and coats. We were staying at the same hotel, so we navigated the subway together. We live in the same neighborhood, but she’s a cataloger for the Library of Congress. But it was a friendly way to start the conference!

I decided to walk from my hotel to the Convention Center. It’s a mile — if you don’t take a wrong turn. If you take a wrong turn, it turns out that you can see the Convention Center, but it’s hard to actually reach the Convention Center. But I did so eventually. And it was a nice walk. I do like Boston.

I decided to spend the afternoon at the ALSC Notable Books Committee meeting. They were discussing picture books. While I was there, they discussed titles starting with F through M. Since I was just on the Cybils panel for Fiction Picture Books, I especially enjoyed it when committee members shared my enthusiasm for certain titles and my concerns for other titles. I won’t say which!

Then I went to catch the Booklist Author Forum, featuring Ken Burns, Terry Tempest Williams, and Mark Kurlansky. I walked in a little late, so didn’t get the intro, but their conversation was fascinating. The moderator was Donna Seaman.

When I walked in, they were talking about National Parks. Terry Tempest Williams’ new book is about that. Here are my notes:

Ken Burns: National Parks: We don’t have cathedrals, but look what we have.
You feel your atomic insignificance, but you’re made larger by that.
A wonderful thing that the parks do.

Terry: The Hour of Land, out in June.
Writing this book was a transcendent experience.
Not sure they’re our best idea. They’re an evolving idea. There’s a shadow side to our national parks.
Writing this book, she didn’t have anything to hide behind. Her vision has been too small.

Mark Kurlansky: His view of the living world (does both fiction and nonfiction). Much easier to write fiction and nonfiction at the same time than two of the same.
What they have in common is they have to be true.
Where do you get that truth?
In fiction — lots of self-searching and reflection. Often don’t turn out like you thought they would.
In nonfiction, the stories in real life are so great, you could never invent something that great.

Ken Burns is writing a children’s book about Presidents.
When his daughter was 4 or 5, they would lie in bed and go through the sequence of the presidents. Her favorite part was “Grover Cleveland, AGAIN!” Now she’s 33.
A book to teach the sequence of the presidents. “Grover Cleveland, Again!”
Can use it with several age groups.

Talk about bringing humor to complicated subjects:
Mark: Humor is what we live on. Tells his editors: “If it’s funny, I’m not going to cut it!”

Moderator: Terry, you bring beauty and sensuousness to your books. Is that a habit from journal-keeping?
Terry: Beauty is truth, truth is beauty for me. We’re witnessing terrible beauties. Like a swirling rainbow from an oil spill.
How she deals with this is she writes. It’s an act of consequence. Takes hard truths and attempts to recreate them on the page. That’s an act of beauty, of creation.
We are now at the Hour of Land.
Ultimately, the earth will survive us. Wanted the book to be an object of beauty. Photographs, but not feel-good images.

Ken: In Terry’s work, there’s an idea of presence. Youu force me back into this moment, which is a great gift.

Moderator: I think of your work, Ken, as slowing down time.
Ken: In a book, the author has no control over how long you spend with it. He tries to ask for your attention at that moment.
In film you have a little more power to control the moment.
Humor is an important glue in his war films. And helps bridge the gap to different times.
We think because we’re here we know a lot more than folks a hundred years ago.

Moderator: Mark’s forthcoming book is about paper. A uniquely human trait is that people record.
Mark: The history of humans is the story of trying to service this urge to tell stories. Search for more and more efficient ways of writing… and it goes on. We want to tell our stories. We want to pass our experiences on. That will continue as long as we’re around.
Every new idea is confronted with the same objections. Plato said that learning by reading isn’t true knowledge.

Terry: I have a disease with journals. It’s not real unless I hand write it down. Goes through a journal a month. She’s witnessing on the page.
Her journal is her personal library of experience. She feels like she lives twice. Uses them as reference points when she’s writing. Wow. Told about an amazing experience she saw with bison in Yellowstone. Had to get it down in writing right away.
In the act of writing it, it becomes you.

Ken: I write everything out by hand. It doesn’t seem as real without writing it out.
“beautifully pathetic grasp at immortality.” Stories are a way to try to live on.
A seemingly chhaotic world– story puts order into our lives. It keeps us from perceiving our mortality. A wonderful kind of distraction. Writing down things makes sense of it.

Mark: I sometimes think that we talk too much.
With writing, you’re alone with your thoughts and there’s not a lot of talking.
At a Benedictine monastery, the silence keeps the effect of beautiful music.

Moderator: Thinking about distillation. Each of you deal with huge topics. How painful is it to edit it down?

Terry: Out of 400 national parks, focused on 12, and in 30 seconds, each park is its own universse. Was paralyzing. Had to come to grips with her own limitations. The only way to go foorward was to say, “I’m a storyteller.” and approach it that way. You can deal with the world that way.

Ken: It takes 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of maple syrup. Exactly like making a film.
Shooting ratio of easily 40 to 1.
Began to understand this is not dissimilar to sculpture. What’s on the floor of the studio is not part 2. It’s the negative space. In order to be a there, there has to be a not-there.
Doesn’t like Director’s Cut or extras on DVDs.

Terry — after she was interviewed by Ken Burns for 4 hours, she cried like never before. It was that outpouring of emotion that made her realize she had to write about it.

Ken: It’s important to be challenged, important to bite off more than you can chew and learn to chew it.

Mark: It’s painful to get research into a manuscript. He blows a conch shell when he’s done with that part.

Ken rings a cowbell. Terry howls.

Mark: Then he cuts it and pares it. It’s his favorite part, doing that paring.

Terry: And then you have to return to your family.

Moderator: Tales from the front?
Mark: I love research, and do it myself. Research is learning. It’s exciting and fun and why I do the kind of books I do.
There’s no substitute for a personal experience. Doing the salt book, he went to the site of Carthage — and understood the Roman empire in a way I never have before.
“You have to go places and see things, and when possible talk to people.”

Ken: All history, all biography is failure. Think of the people closest to you and how inscrutable they remain. But we have to try. You can’t farm out the research.
Terry: when she went to Rwanda, she made a pilgrimage to the Library of Congress and looked at all the maps of Rwanda she could find.
One of most powerful things has been curating the photographs.
Researching the images changed her perception of what a park was.

Moderator: Their energy level went up when they started talking about research!

What sticks in Ken’s mind about the Civil War is that Winchester, VA, changed hands 72 times.

Terry: Those details! Was wondering if there were prairie dogs in Gunnison County — found out in a museum.

Ken: In publishing, we’re results-oriented. Research is about practice. What it’s about, really.
He’s exhilarated that it’s the process.
The second it’s done, it’s yours, not mine. What’s mine is the process.

Mark: I know so much more about writing now. Writing is about the only thing you get better at with age.

Moderator: “Collaboration is the only way forward.” What do you mean by collaboration?
Terry: This converstaion is a collaboration. Books are a collaboration with the reader and those who take your words seriously.
It’s especially important for writers because our tendency is solitude. Seeing the world from all these different angles as we become more and more complex. In that prism we see the beauty of the spectrum.

***
After the talk, we were given books or parts of books by all three authors and they signed them. With Ken Burns, it was pages from his book Grover Cleveland, Again! With Terry Tempest Williams, it was a nice chapbook with the chapter on Grand Tetons National Park from her upcoming book The Hour of Land. With Mark Kurlansky, it was an Advance Reader Copy of his upcoming book Paper. I definitely want to read all three! (And I got about halfway through the chapbook while standing in line for the other two. This is good writing!)

Then came the exhibits!

You know how medieval soldiers used to go berserk? There is a Book Frenzy which takes hold of a normally mild-mannered librarian on Opening Night of ALA, which I believe is similar.

I tried to thwart it a little bit by not participating in the Running of the Librarians when the ribbon is cut and the exhibits open. Instead I waited in line for the signed books.

However, I did collect 30 more books, 3 tote bags, and a hungry tomato.

And the Post Office on the Exhibit Floor isn’t open on Friday night, so I inevitably spend the rest of the conference figuring out where I will tote all those books to ship them home. There is a UPS store across the street from my hotel….

ALALootDay1

Review of Nine Essential Things I’ve Learned About Life, by Harold S. Kushner

Thursday, January 7th, 2016

9_essential_things_largeNine Essential Things I’ve Learned About Life

by Harold S. Kushner

Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2015. 169 pages.
Starred Review
2015 Sonderbooks Stand-out: #5 Other Nonfiction

The wise rabbi who wrote When Bad Things Happen to Good People is 80 years old, and he has some wisdom to share with the world.

Even though I’m not Jewish, I can see the deep wisdom in most of the “essential things” Rabbi Kushner talks about. I have a few minor disagreements with some theological points. (Most notable is that I do think thoughts can be sinful even without actions. What does he do with the commandment “Thou shalt not covet”?) But overall, I find myself filling this book with post-it notes marking outstanding quotes. May we benefit from his years of experience and his wisdom.

In the first chapter, he talks about the influences that shaped and changed his view of God from the theology he was taught as a child.

More than anything else, my half century of congregational service and my dozen or so books have been dedicated to reformulating that traditional theology. I’ve done this not to protect God from bad theologians and people’s righteous anger, but to rescue people who need God from having to choose between a cruel God and no God at all.

An idea I liked very much indeed was found in the second chapter, “God Is Not a Man Who Lives in the Sky.” It is that when someone tells you he is an atheist, you can respond, “Tell me about the God you don’t believe in; maybe I don’t believe in him either.”

He talks about many versions of God which he doesn’t believe in and concludes that chapter:

The God I believe in is under no obligation to be the kind of God we would like Him to be, or even the kind of God we need Him to be. Begging Him, bargaining with Him, even living by His mandates will not cause the rain to fall and give us an abundant harvest, nor will it cure our disease or help us win the lottery. God’s role is not to make our lives easier, to make the hard things go away, or to do them for us. God’s role is to give us the vision to know what we need to do, to bless us with the qualities of soul that we will need in order to do them ourselves, no matter how hard they may be, and to accompany us on that journey.

The remaining chapter titles will give you an idea of the topics covered in the other Essential Things: “God Does Not Send the Problem; God Sends Us the Strength to Deal with the Problem,” “Forgiveness Is a Favor You Do Yourself,” “Some Things Are Just Wrong: Knowing That Makes Us Human,” “Religion Is What You Do, Not What You Believe,” “Leave Room for Doubt and Anger in Your Religious Outlook,” “To Feel Better About Yourself, Find Someone to Help,” and “Give God the Benefit of the Doubt.”

Check Sonderquotes for some bits of wisdom. If you like what you read, I do recommend this book. Read one Essential Thing each morning, and you’ll be uplifted, encouraged, and motivated.

Rabbi Kushner closes with “A Love Letter to a World That May or May Not Deserve It,” which is simply beautiful. The first paragraph talks about all he and the world have been through together. Then he says:

But with it all, I choose to love you. I love you, whether you deserve it or not (and how does one measure that?). I love you in part because you are the only world I have. I love you because I like who I am better when I do. But mostly I love you because loving you makes it easier for me to be grateful for today and hopeful about tomorrow. Love does that.

There. Simply typing that out made my day suddenly much better. Rabbi Kushner is right. And there are many more wise gems where that came from.

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Nonfiction/9_essential_things.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

YALSA Institute Part Four – Filling the Library with Teens and Digital Literacy for Teens

Wednesday, January 6th, 2016

Here are notes from the last two programs I attended at the November 2015 YALSA Teen Services Institute

Yes You Can!
Presenter: Jenn Cournoyer

Mission Part One: Fill the Library with Teens!

Their program had a real divide – most teens from the wrong side of the tracks.
They had a quiet place to do homework and changed to a Teen Den.
Attitudes you’re fighting: “Us against them,” “This is how we’ve always done it,” “That doesn’t work here.”

Step One: Start with what you have.
She had an anime club, so got to know some of the teens.
Use fresh eyes to assess the space and how patrons are using it.

Step Two: Make the space teen friendly.
Have available food and drink! After school, they’re hungry! It helps behavior to feed them.
The library will be cleaner when patrons aren’t trying to hide food.
Wifi and computer access for teens.
Comfortable seating
Positive signage (Watch the tone of signs!)
Attractive displays of teen materials

Step Three: Be Accessible
Have a Teen Librarian Desk.
Do your teens know how to contact you? Email, Facebook…
SAY HELLO! Introduce yourself to teens in the library.
Hang out. Be yourself.

Step Four: Give the Teens a Voice
Have a white board/ chalkboard.
What do you Geek? Posters with pictures of the teens
Teen Newsletter – sent electronically to middle school and high school. Let them highlight books.
Showcase their work on Facebook, around the library, local news.
Let teens create a display.

Step Five: Let’s talk programming.
Build off the audience you have, not the audience you wish you had. (They started with an anime club rather than a book club.)
Use your own passions and interests as a springboard. (Writer’s workshop, coding club, Hour of Code…)
Don’t be afraid to try something and fail.
Don’t cancel a program just because no one signed up.
Market, market, market!
Advertise on Parent Facebook pages from the schools.
Have program reviews. If teens write it, give them a piece of candy at the end of the program.
Start listservs for program reminders.
Passive Programs – have at least one every month
Don’t forget your volunteers!

Step Six: Bookstore your collection!
They got rid of spinners and added genre baskets.
Get face-out shelving (like bookstores!)
New books display
They have 2-3 displays at any time (use Pinterest for ideas!)

Step Seven: Outreach
She’s had trouble with schools, but good relationships with Boys & Girls Clubs, Phoenix House, etc.

Mission Part Two: Create Buy-in

Model to other staff how to talk to and interact with teens.
Introduce your teens to other staff and brag about them.
Talk about how you handle issues. It’s not a secret.
Empower staff to use behavior modification they are comfortable with.
Have a staff training with role playing.
Remind staff they don’t have to be you, or use your style.
Acknowledge the power of a name – Get to know and use the names of regulars.
Get your Admin’s blessing – use the YALSA report.

Mission Part Three: Keep Your Sanity

Only you know how much you can do.
Consider your budget and your time.
Ask for what you need. The worst that can happen is “No.”
Find a formula and go with it for as long as it works. (Try a monthly routine for programs.)
Don’t reinvent the wheel! Your colleagues – and Pinterest – are great resources.
Take a vacation! You should want to come to work.
Good is not the enemy of perfect.

Final thoughts:
Never make it you and the teens against the other staff.
Back up your colleagues.
Ask for your colleagues’ input.
Change your story: What’s one thing you can change? (More programs? Contact with PTO?)
It’s ultimately about the teens!!!

***

Using Digital Literacy with Teens
Darlene Encomio, Martin County Library System, Florida

Vision: Introduce teens to technology and information, opening the gates of creation and communication.

Technology: Makey Makey, Arduino, Raspberry Pi, 3D printer, Circuit Scribe.
Most of the technology came through grants and donations.
Used open source software and social media.

First program: Makey Makey – Piano with cups of water.
Their website is great – Watch the 2-minute video with them and have them go to the How-to page.

MIT’s Scratch Lab
Pulled up video. Show them the ideas from Pinterest – let teens decide what to do.

BookTube
Teens love to see themselves on film. They posted the videos on the library’s YouTube channel – The library’s stats went right up!
Used a MacBook and had the teens write their own booktalks.
Edited in YouTube video editor and sound editor – FREE.

3D Printer
They had a small Mini Makerbot

Arduino and Raspberry Pi
“wonderful for the advanced tech teens” especially those who want to mentor others.
Use instructables. Patron base will be smaller groups for this.
For ideas, show them Hackster.io and Kickstarter. Get them thinking about inventing…
Show them the Arduino TED talk.
It’s a great way to introduce technology and engineering. (Though arguably Lego Mindstorms does it a little better.)
They often start Teen Tech Lab with a video.

Circuit Scribe
Great website and Pinterest pages.

Programs

STEAM Break – every day of Spring Break
10-12 Technology. (Got funding to order subs for lunch.)
12-2 Science program (Teachers came in and did experiments)
2-3 Art programs

3D Printing Showcase
Vendor came in and set up 3D printers in the hallway

Summer Camp Visit Expo
When summer camps visited the library (groups of 30), they brought out the technology.

Teen Tech Lab
Once a month, 2 hours on a Saturday.
(Would also bring out Makey Makeys on demand.)

3D Printing Resources
(They’d allow one 3D print-out per day.)
Thingiverse
Tinkercad – need to be a little more familiar with this
3DHubs – locate 3D printer vendors. (Do a showcase?)
Makerbot

Don’t tell teens step by step what to do. Show them where to find ideas.
Seek out donors and grants. (They got $80,000 from Jim Moran Foundation for Homework Center.)

Benefits
VolunTeens – Teens helping teens. Empowerment and resume building.
Quality Programming
Got teens into the library. Allows them to fail in a safe place and try things out.
(If just starting a program, Lego Mindstorms are good value for the money.)

Resources
Instructables.com
Makeymakey.com
Booktube
https://scratch.mit.edu/

Teen Tech Lab Series
1) Ice breakers and creating YouTube videos. (Bean Boozled challenge was their ice breaker. They filmed the challenge and uploaded onto YouTube.
2) Makey Makey
3) Create a story using Scratch.
4) Arduino and Raspberry Pi
5) Digital Art Portfolio/Online Resume
6) 3D printing
7) Circuit Scribe (This is a little more involved – use Pinterest.)
8) Stop Motion Videos (Programs: Stop Motion Studio app and YouTube. Make a challenge, with prizes.)

Then they took questions.
They had four Makey Makey kits – 4 kids per kit.
Check their Make It Idaho Facebook page.
“Makerspaces and the participatory library.”

***

And that’s the end of my notes from YALSA Teen Services Institute. You can see why my head was spinning with ideas! Will I be able to carry any of these out at my library? We’ll see….

Then there was the fun part of the Institute. There was a Reception Friday night at the top of the hotel. And it ended up with a Teen Poetry Slam.

Saturday night, there was a big room full of authors signing books, and we got tickets for six free books. I met Anne Jacobus and knew I had been to a conference with her. It took a few tries before I realized that she was at the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators conference I went to in Paris exactly 10 years earlier! And she was one of the organizers.

Ann Jacobus

Here are the free signed books I got at the conference. A very manageable amount this time!

YALSA Signed Books

YALSA Institute, Part Three — Teen Programming

Tuesday, January 5th, 2016

Here are my notes from two afternoon sessions on November 7, 2015, at the YALSA Institute in Portland, Oregon.

If You Build It, They Will Come: Establishing Teen Services in Public Libraries
Presented by Molly Kelly and Kat Tigges

After months of research and proposals, they got a renovated teen space at a branch of Chicago Public Library and established a dynamic Teen Services department.

How They Did It:

Build a Framework: Why?

Theoretical Framework: What informs your practice? Consider the developmental needs of teens.

Structural Framework: Work out how your practice will be organized. Their Teen Services became its own department. Where does Teen Services fit in your library?

These speakers recommended putting Teen Services under Adult Services if they can’t have their own department. It’s more attractive to teens than when part of Children’s Services.

HOMAGO: Hanging out, messing around, geeking out.

These are different levels of engagement:
HO: Spontaneous, Flexible, Natural
MA: Self-directed, interest driven, experimentation
GO: Focused, Instruction, Advancement (Level Up)

Connected Learning:
Learning principles: Interests, peer culture, academically oriented
Design principles: Production-centered, openly networked, shared purpose
Core values: Equity, social connections, full participation
Want to be a link between home, school, and community

Legwork
After you know why, assess what you’ve got and where you are. This was a huge long process. Start with the big picture and work your way down.

Break it into the component parts.

Know your audience: Administrators like options. Make a timeline of component parts.

Empower the whole staff and community: Get input.

Research: Look on the internet for photos of teen spaces.

Prepare patrons. They will offer valuable input (in their case, providing enough outlets) and will feel valued when you use their ideas.

What You Can Do

Work with what you’ve got.
Capitalize on your resources no matter what they are.
They kept board games out and available without check-out.
Remember Numbers lead to Funding!

Be visible. “Hey! I saw you at my school!” Outreach and marketing don’t have to be perfect. Be out there! Show them what they’re getting in terms of programs and impact.

Get input from teens. Make it easy for them to tell you what they want.
Have a Suggestions Box: It’s your space. What do you want to do with it?
Survey for gift cards
Let Volunteers give you info – rather than shelf-reading
Just Ask!

Then make their wishes come true! Ask what they want, then make it happen.
You gain credibility when you follow their suggestions. They heard one teen say, “I asked for couches, and they got couches!” If one teen believes in you, they’ll tell their friends.

Remember Teen You. Be honest with yourself about who you really were.

Be Real. Teens can smell BS a mile away. Teens really like honesty. They really like being treated like adults. Your interests are valid points of connection. You can get them to respond to you.

It won’t be easy!
Get support. Online if not in person.

Funding is a numbers game. Have proof teens are interested.

It really takes: Two YEARS of constant effort to get regulars.
Keep existing participants engaged. Where are they? (including online) Go there.
Keep track of what you’re doing.

Remember: It’s worth it! You can make a difference in a teen’s life!
You’re playing the long game. Look and listen. Try things, and see what works.
Every failure is the chance for a new beginning.
Done is better than perfect.

The next session:

A Series of Fortunate Events: Library Collaborations that help LGBTQ Young Adults Transition to College Life
Amanda Melilli – Curriculum materials
Ashley Nebe – AP teacher
Rosan Mitola – Outreach librarian
David Levithan – Author of Another Day
Susan Kuklin – Author of Beyond Magenta
Ann Bausum – Author of Stonewall
Mariko Tamaki – Author of Saving Montgomery Sole

First, report from librarians. Their program is in the 5th largest school district in the nation. They built a partnership between a high school and a local university.

Look up the GLSEN Report on LGBTQ teens.

High school victimization means teens are less likely to go to college, more likely to miss school, and more likely to be depressed.

The more supportive staff, the more helpful. Supportive staff can help keep kids in school.

Recommendations:
Support student clubs such as Gay-Straight Alliances
Provide training
Increase student access to appropriate and accurate information.
The first day of school can be stressful for trans students.
Student success in college is measured by retention, progression, and completion.
For student engagement, focus on: Active & Collaborative Learning, Student-Librarian Interaction, and Supportive Campus Environment.

The library supported high school and university LGBTQIA organizations.
They began with Banned Books Week. Did a Book Tasting with Banned Books.
An event for all people, highlighting LGBTQ issues in everyday events.
Charger Coffee House event – a Talent showcase
Author events
Partnered with UNLV for the Las Vegas Pride Parade.

The library is a way of connecting people. They brought in many different groups from the community.

UNLV partnered with a high school Gay-Straight Alliance – made kids excited about going to college.

Then there was discussion with the authors present:

Question: Major barriers to LGBTQ teens in education?
MT: The word “appropriate” Comfort level is tricky. In her books, she talks about boundaries and feelings more than sex.
DL: Talking about identity. Kids aren’t seeing people saying, “I’m ___.” They think their identity is invisible. If adults aren’t willing to talk about it, how can they?
AB & SK: Safe places are important?

Question: Why is LGBTQ Literature important?
DL: Interesting and frustrating that we still have to defend it. We are reflecting the population of our students. They need actual stories, getting emotional context from fiction and historical context from nonfiction. This is what books do so well.
AB: Historical events allow you to have a conversation about difficult topics.
MT: LGBTQ literature is important and also amazing.
SK: To provide windows and mirrors.
The four authors write on the same subject, but write so differently.

Question: Talk about “politicizing” of the issues.
SK: It’s about identity, individuals, and human beings. How do we treat the marginalized?
AB: How can a school have integrity if they won’t look at difficult issues?
DL: Volunteer to take out all books dealing with social issues! It’s who you are. It’s the challenging that politicizes it.

Question: What can we do as librarians to improve the lives of LGBTQ teens?
DL: Let LGBTQ teens know you’ve got books for them.
AB: Provide books that put human faces on the community.
SK: Creating very safe space to all come together.
MT: Include LGBTQ books in their broader context.
Moderator: “We’ve all read Harry Potter and none of us are wizards.”

Question: Talk about the transition to college.
MT: It was amazing – She made gay friends. It was an opportunity to put on a new identity.
DL: Freedom is exciting, but also scary. The narrative of their lives has gotten more complicated. Still an exploration.
AB: Trickiest part: A very vulnerable place. They don’t have allies and friends yet. Knowing about resources helps. Safety nets are critical.

Question: What are the needs of young adults after graduation?
MT: Very similar: Community and support. In high school, you’re trying on personalities. Same thing in university.
AB: New generation grows up at a different pace. More vulnerabilities.

Question: What groups can libraries connect with to support LGBTQ teens?
MT: Activist groups in every community.
DL: Trevor Project. Try to get 4 different generations in the room at the same time.
SK: Queer Theater. See the back matter in her books.

Summing up:
DL: Teens don’t make as much of a distinction any more. It’s no longer true that only queer kids are in the queer books.
SK: It’s a natural thing to write characters as a picture of the community.

Jack Gantos Lunch – YALSA Institute, Part Two

Tuesday, January 5th, 2016

Here’s another installment of notes from the YALSA Institute I went to in Portland last month. I want to get the notes posted before I go to ALA Midwinter Meeting next week. If you attend a conference and never go over your notes, did it really happen? There were some good ideas offered, and copying out the notes reminds me of them in a setting where I can take my time thinking about them.

The next event of November 7, after the events of Part One of my notes, was an Author Lunch with Jack Gantos.

JackGantos

I was wonderfully lucky and accidentally found a place at the same table with Jack Gantos!

He’s delightful to talk with in person. I still haven’t read his new book, which is biographical, but we were given a copy and it’s at the top of my pile of books to read next. After we ate, he got up front and gave a presentation to everyone.

He began with appreciation for librarians (knowing his audience).

“I love the library because they have to take you in.”

He has written 20-25 books in the Boston Public Library, but has since switched to the Boston Atheneum, a subscription library. If anyone dares use a cell phone in that library, he comes down!

The library is the place where everyone comes together. In the library, you are anyone you want to be at any age you ever were.

He talked about other authors and books. Kevin Henkes is too nice. When Jack Gantos stands next to him, he feels the blackness in his own soul.

The magic of literacy is that when Frog is sad, Toad is sad, and the reader is sad, too.

We’re reckless junkies for feelings – that’s why we read.

You want the book to move into you like a squatter – for about 3 days.

Writing a picture book takes the same energy as writing young adult or middle grade novels.

He writes from his childhood journals. He went to 10 schools in 12 grades. His friends were the Joey Pigza kids – they’d worn out everyone else, so they were friendly to the new kid.

Here are his notes about where he lived in Florida:

Gantos_Slide

When you’re at the library, watch someone reading a book and see their face change.

We know this simple truth about each other: Inside there’s so much more than on the outside.

There’s something exclusively yours every time you read a book. Yet you want to share.

There’s a time in your life when you’re completely uneven. His new book, The Trouble in Me, is about that unevenness and self-loathing.

His books have been used for Community Reads. Everyone leaves feeling so connected.

There’s a Literary Spiritualism among those of us who read and get involved in the community of readers.

You wouldn’t be the same person if you didn’t read good books and put good books in the hands of other readers.

Let’s be little fires for literacy.

JackGantosEnthusiasm
(This is a terrible picture, but it shows his enthusiastic gestures.)