rgz

readergirlz is a literacy and social media project for teens, awarded the National Book Foundation's Innovations in Reading Prize. The rgz blog serves as a depot for news and YA reviews from industry professionals and teens. As volunteers return full force to their own YA writing, the organization continues to hold one initiative a year to impact teen literacy. All are welcome to "like" us on Facebook!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

READERGIRLZ LIBRARY LOVE

Our longtime readergirlz friend, Dawn Rutherford is here with us today. She's the terrific Teen Services Coordinator for Sno-Isle Libraries. Welcome Dawn

Tell us about Sno-Isle libraries 

We are an awesome library system just a bit North of Seattle with 22 locations spread over two counties.  I’ve been working here for seven years, and before that I worked at King County and also Chicago Public.  My job is to oversee all things teen at a system-wide level.  This includes our great teen website, events like Teen Read and Teen Tech Months, trainings for staff, spearheading proposals for shared programming kits and equipment, and generally supporting my Teen Contacts at each location to do the best they can for serving teens.  This year has been an exciting one.  We are currently working on a GenYZ project with the consultant OrangeBoy Inc. to craft better strategies and services for 13-29 year olds. And we just finalized our brand new Teen Service Purpose Statement which will not only focus and strengthen our services to teens (which we define as 12-18), but expands it to better serve tweens (9-12) and young adults (19-20).


Outside of the wonderful work I get to do for Sno-Isle, I’m also active in YALSA, and have worn many hats for them. 

Photo -YALSA fashion show

My favorites were co-planning an amazing Get Graphic @ Your Library graphic novel pre-conference (where I got to meet and introduce Neil Gaiman), chairing the first Great Graphic Novel for Teens committee, serving on the Margaret A. Edwards award committee that honored Francescia Lia Block, and now I’m chairing this year’s Odyssey Award committee.


The Skinny: What do you love most about your work?   
My stock answer used to be “working with the teens”, but the sad fact is that I’ve reached a point in my career where to best utilize my experience and abilities to serve teens, I don’t actually get to interact with them all that often.  I’m hoping to change this over the next year by implementing a brand new system of teen councils at our libraries, with representatives that will serve on a virtual council that works directly with me.  But even if I don’t get the face time with them much anymore, I love that I get to constantly work creatively to connect teens with libraries and all they have to offer…especially books.  I served on Spokane Public Library’s Young Adult Advisory Committee (YAAC) back in the 80s under the late great Christy Tyson, and I still cherish the connections I was able to make with library staff and other book loving teens.  Thank goodness for Facebook…not only do I still connect with some librarians and other YAAC members through that, but I’m now friends with former teens who were dear to me at previous jobs.  More than anything I love the connections I make with individuals: be it teens, library staff, authors, fellow YALSA members…and if we can share a good book, all the better!

A Mighty Librarian Roar!
Human civilization exists largely in information our species has created and shares together to make stories of how the world should be.  Storing this information externally (outside our brains) gives us tremendous room for growth and possibility, but it also sets up potential for loss and disconnection if that information is not accessible.  Libraries have grown beyond a physical place where information is stored, into a gateway to the world. Library staff don’t just help you find the right book, but help set you on the journey to the place you want to be, and the person you are aspiring to become.  And all of this happens because communities believe individual should have this sort of access and assistance, which to me is a very hopeful and beautiful thing.

Library Laughs

I was very fortunate early in my days at Sno-Isle to have made a connection Shannon Hale before she hit it big, and was asked by her publisher if I could host her and Libba Bray on their joint tour. 



Shannon Hale, Dawn and Libba Bray
[photo from flickr set: keepingfaith


I worked extra hard to plan a fun even that would be enjoyable for both the authors and the audience, because I love both of these author’s work and wanted to share my excitement with everyone.  When they showed up, it turned out all three of us were wearing practically the same outfit…black cardigans, dresses, and black boots.   We had so much fun…I still feel lucky to have gotten to know them before they both got huge :D


Pride of Programs
Hmmm.  Two of my favorite programs I’ve done are probably Book Buddies and last summer’s pilot of the Sno-Isle Super Summer Scavenganza

 
Book Buddies is a program where teens mentor struggling readers in 2nd-4th grade over the summer.  It is a wonderful intergenerational program and not only helps kids enjoy reading more and get comfortable doing it, but it is really great for the teens, too! The Scavengana is a two month long online scavenger hunt where teams of teens were given missions each day of the summer, and competed against each other by making videos, writing book reviews, and other creative endeavors.

 
I really hope to do it again next year, but with some simplifications and tweaks to make it easier to run and participate in!  It was one of the most satisfying projects I’ve worked on in a long time.  We left everything up on the website, and here are some photo highlights of the teams entries.

Teen Library Scene
To me the best indicators of passion for our libraries are some of the entries for contests our teens have made for us.  My personal favorite is Emily B.’s submission from our 2012 art contest (http://www.sno-isle.org/teens/art-contest-winners/), a Harry Potter themed synchronized swim that two sisters made for our Scavenganza last summer, and this infomercial by another Scavenganza team, Dragon Army.  That our fans are willing to create such wonderful things for our library community is super exciting to me.

 
Art Contest Winner Emily B.

Andrew K. - Mill Creek: “One thing I really like about the Sno-Isle teen section, on the website at least, is that it feels like you can contribute to it, i.e. the reviews, which you seem to be the main moderator for! I also enjoy that there are lists by subject matter added and edited once in awhile, and when I was first especially looking for new books before I started using GoodReads, those lists were extremely helpful! I still check back on them once in awhile if some are updated.”

Sophie K. - Arlington: "The founders of our nation believed in self-education-the idea that every single individual ought to learn by reading books and studying the thoughts and ideas of those who have come before them. Can you imagine our nation without libraries where you can accomplish this goal? I know of no better place than a library to explore ideas, rethink your philosophies, entertain different thoughts, and change your mind. Just one person can change the world-and just one library can change a person."


 Pic of Teen Advisors

Author! Author!       
For me, the perfect author visit is one where the readers are super jazzed and have all read the book and have tons of questions for the author.  And then the author responds to teens with total respect, humor, and grace.  Some of my favorites have included the one I mentioned with Shannon Hale and Libba Bray at the Mountlake Terrace library, when we had Scott Westerfeld at the Edmonds library, a Skype interview Adam Rex did with the teens of the Mukilteo Library, and great guest visits at two different Teen-Adult Book groups I’ve co-run with school libraries:  Ben Michaelson at Tillicum Middle School, and Kendare Blake at Brier-Terrace Middle school.


Let’s Link

Blog:  Snoisleteens http://snoisleteens.tumblr.com/
Library Website: sno-isle.org/teens/  http://www.sno-isle.org/teens/

Facebook:  snoisleteens https://www.facebook.com/snoisleteens
Twitter: @snoisleteens  https://twitter.com/snoisleteens

Pinterest: snoisleteens http://www.pinterest.com/snoisleteens/

Thanks again for the terrific interview, Dawn!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

rgz Newsflash: #WeNeedDiverseBooks Indiegogo

Have you checked out the indiegogo for #WeNeedDiverseBooks? Matt de la Pena is such a great spokesman.

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/we-need-diverse-books


Diverse Campaign w Thanks Card from Undercurrent on Vimeo.

Here's what diva Melissa Walker recommends to encourage progress:

1. Request diverse books at your local library and bookstore. Make sure your booksellers and librarians know that you want to read about people from various backgrounds.
2. Join the Twitter activism with#WeNeedDiverseBooks -- the conversation is buzzing daily (onTumblr too).
3. Support the indiegogo campaign (video above, starring favorite authors like John Green, Matt de la Peña and Jacqueline Woodson) to help keep the movement growing.

One Founder of the movement, author Ellen Oh, explained to NPR, "We need the representation, but we also need white kids to read about us, to recognize us, and not push us off into the other...not to think of us as exotic or being so very different." Follow the hashtagand the tumblr to hear some powerful stories.

Even donating to the cause, less than a latte, can help the campaign. Think about it, rgz. As Matt says, "Books are mirrors and windows."

LorieAnncard2010small.jpg image by readergirlz

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Watch for It: One Thing Stolen

Thank you, Chronicle Books and Beth Kephart, for preparing to release another of Beth's beautiful novels into the world!



The book itself is a nest of treasure with rich imagery, lyrical language, metaphor, and winged flights through the city of Florence. Nadia is trapped in theft, a loss of words, and a loss of reality while she repeatedly loses consciousness during her family's relocation in Italy. And there is a boy, a boy whose hair glows, who leads her through the streets of Santa Croce, and there is a best girlfriend, who will give all to find him again for Nadia, never losing hope for her.

Keep this one in mind, readergirlz. You'll have a wait for its release. But isn't Beth always worth it?

One Thing Stolen
by Beth Kephart
Chronicle Books, April 7, 2015

LorieAnncard2010small.jpg image by readergirlz

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Watch for it: DASH


 
Although Mitsi Kashino and her family are swept up in the wave of anti-Japanese sentiment following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Mitsi never expects to lose her home – or her beloved dog, Dash when she’s forced to move to an incarceration camp.

Kirby Larson  swings by readergirlz to chat with Janet Lee Carey  about her new middle-grade novel, DASH.

 

 
JLC - Welcome Kirby. Congratulations on your new historical fiction book and on the 2014 National Parenting Publications Gold Award (NAPPA) for DASH!

KL –  Thanks, Janet! It’s an honor to visit with you. And I am so delighted about the NAPPA award, as well as the two starred reviews, for my new book.

JLC - Tell us what inspired you to write Dash.

KL – I grew up on the West Coast and did not learn about the “evacuation” of 120,000 people of Japanese descent – most of them American citizens – during WWII until I was in college. I was shocked that something of that magnitude could have been omitted from my education. So I began to try to learn as much as I could about it; when I became a writer, I wanted to tell stories from that time period in hopes that no other child would grow up in ignorance about that shameful slice of history. One of the texts I read, Strawberry Days by Dave Niewert, had a short snippet of an interview with a woman named Mitsue Shiraishi, who told about being so heartbroken at the thought of having to leave her dog behind during the “evacuation” that she wrote to the man in charge, General John DeWitt, asking for permission to take her beloved Chubby to camp. He said “no,” so now Mitsi had a few days to find a home for Chubby; fortunately, a kind neighbor, Mrs. Charles Bovee, agreed to take him in.
 
Mrs. Charles knew how much Mitsi loved her dog so she kept a diary, in Chubby’s voice, of his first weeks in the Bovee household, and then mailed it to Mitsi at camp. Mitsi died as a very old woman and when her family was cleaning out her apartment, they found that diary in her nightstand. I was struck by the fact that of all the horrible things that had happened to Mitsi, the thing she held onto was a symbol of kindness and compassion. That heart hook into the story, plus the fact that I am madly in love with my own dog and couldn’t imagine having to leave him behind, lead me to write Dash.

JLC – Would you tell us a bit about your research, and give us a peek into your writing process?

KL – Do you have all day? ;-) As a researcher, I leave no stone unturned. For example, when I read that snippet about Mitsi in Mr. Niewert’s book, I began to reach out to everyone I knew in the Japanese American community to see if I could find Mitsi’s family. I did and they generously provided me with stories, photographs, and other ephemera to help me understand what Mitsi went through. I listen to music of the time period I’m researching, dig up recipes, put together outfits my characters might have worn (Pinterest is great for this!), and even scour second hand stores and eBay for old journals, letters and diaries to give me insights into the past. What I work hardest to find are primary resources – they are essential for helping me conjure up those delicious details that bring the past to life.

As for my writing process, it is a huge mess! I just jump in and start writing – no outline. No plan. What I do first, however, is get to know my character as thoroughly as possible. My work is very character driven.

JLC – The Kirkus starred review says: “Mitsi holds tight to her dream of the end of the war and her reunion with Dash. Larson makes this terrible event in American history personal with the story of one girl and her beloved pet.”
Would you share the secret of writing historical fiction in a way that makes it personal and real for young readers?

KL – I’m so flattered by this lovely review. I wish I knew the secret! What I do know is that if I don’t do my homework – really get myself grounded in a past time and place—I would never stand a chance of making history personal.

JLC – #WeNeedDiverseBooks is an important and long-awaited topic in the book world right now. Thoughts?

KL-   I am thrilled this conversation is taking place. Children need to see themselves – deserve to see themselves! -- in literature of all kinds. I do have a worry, however, that “diversity” could come to mean only ethnicity. It would be a shame to set such limits.

I’ve said this elsewhere: as a kid who grew up wearing hand me downs and sometimes finding the kitchen cupboards completely bare, I would have died and gone to heaven had I found books like Barbara O’Connor’s How to Steal a Dog or Janet Lee Carey’s The Double Life of Zoe Flynn, in which the main character is homeless. I hope and pray this #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign leads to an even richer and broader range of the kinds of kid characters and stories we’ll see in children’s and young adult literature.

JLC— What would you like readers to take away from this book?

KL – I want readers to take away their own meaning from all of my books. But if Dash made readers stop and think about what it means to be a decent human being, I wouldn’t mind that one bit.

By Kirby Larson
Scholastic, 10/2014