New: Check-out our “Lifestory” box in the ES picture book section

So many good picture books have been published about famous historical figures lately that we had to make a new section to feature them. Please ask any staff member to point you to the “Genre_Lifestory” boxes where you will find books like this one about Mary Shelley who grew up to become one of the first major female writers. You will also find books about famous scientists, explorers, inventors and more. All of these books have great illustrations but will not overwhelm the reader with text. Other biographical books with more writing and fewer visual features will remain in the general biography section J 921. Happy reading!

Podcast Special: Crazy/Genius and Gonads

As you know, in addition to reading, many of us enjoy listening to podcasts and here are two that I would like to recommend. First of all “Gonads” by Radiolab is an excellent series about human biology and identity. Radiolab always seems to make first class, professionally edited podcasts. Check out the full list of their offerings online.

Another great science (and more) podcast is Crazy/Genius which is produced by The Atlantic. Each program addresses a very current question in technology or culture. Some of my favorites were: Should We Dim the Skies to Save the World? and Should We Break Up Amazon? Excellent 20 minute discussions with experts reveal both sides of the issues.

 

End of Year Procedures and Big Dates

The End of the Year is a great time to complete all your library business and spring clean your account.

We expect that every library account (for students, teachers, and parents) is clear, with no overdues, when school is out on June 20.  Only official summer checkouts (with the August due date) should be on your account.

Every student from Grade 6-11 will need to complete a checkout form with a library signature.  All overdue books will need to be cleared, either through return or payment. If you have any concerns or questions, please feel free to see us.  

Grades 5 and below will be receiving emails and reminders to clear accounts from the library in the same way.  If you have been receiving emails from us, please make every effort to complete the business. It will make the end of the year much smoother for you and for us.

Summer Checkout Reminders and Procedures:

Any patron that wants to checkout books for summer must have a clear account as of June 8th: No overdues or incomplete business.  

Returning patrons can checkout 15 items for summer.

Grades 4 and above can utilize summer checkout on their own accounts.  Grades 3 and below can have checkouts on parent accounts only.  

Parents can take 15 books out on their own account or on their spouse’s account, but any other patrons must be present for checkout.

Any renewals should be done with the physical item present (if you want to keep a book for the summer because you are still reading, you are welcome to, but you need to bring the book to show us).

Important Dates:

June 1: Last Day of checkout for all students and parents.

June 4-8: Week of returning books, checking accounts, and working on the book chain!

June 9: (Saturday) Summer checkout begins.

June 11-15: BLU (Book Lovers United) Week

June 11: Book Banquets

June 12: Breakout Boxes

June 13: Guest Readers

June 14: Breakfast and Browse, After School Book Swap Event, Additional Book Banquets and Breakout Boxes

June 15: Breakfast and Browse, DEAR (Drop Everything and Read)

June 20: Summer checkout ends and school is out!

BLU and Book Chain Programs:

Book Lovers United is our new program.  We will have a week of book celebration, with a paper chain full of your reading, guest readers (if you want to sign up to read to kids, come and see us!!), Drop Everything And Read Day, and browsing events for our adults.  You are welcome to participate in any way you can.

We will be working on a paper chain with the reading of all the students, teachers, parents, and community members.  Please stop in to add to our community reading visual!

Librarians Read: The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding

I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding in the weeks leading up to Halloween and think it will be a great slightly-creepy tale for any middle grade student. As with many Jekyll/Hyde characters, I was more charmed by the demon (Alastor, potential heir to the underworld) than by the human (Prosper, the least valued member of his illustrious family). When the two worked together to achieve some joint goals the narrative was infinitely fun.

Recommended for Grade 4-7.

Banned Books Week, Day 3

Banned Books week is a time to celebrate the Freedom to Read that we express in our school community and library.  Books are challenged for a variety of reasons, often within different school districts in the U.S. and Canada. Patrons, parents, or school administration may challenge a book and attempt to pull it off the shelves of the library or from the curriculum of the school, often because they want to protect the students, or prevent other patrons from reading.

Each day during this week, we will feature a title from each of our three divisions to learn more about the challenges in other schools, districts, and with other readers to highlight the challenge stories that readers across the globe face.  The AAS Library believes in the freedom to read, and the access to information for our all of our patrons.

Most teachers and parents will recognize the Goosebumps Series, small spooky stories written by R.L. Stine. This series is in the top 100 most banned books of the decade, along with several of his other titles for older readers. These books have haunted young readers since 1992, with titles like Night of the Living Dummy, A Night in Terror Tower, and Bad Hare Day.

Some people say that “the books are too scary for kids,” “there are disturbing scenes, violence, and dialogue,” and “children will be unable to handle the frightening content.”  While the series seems almost out of date in the year 2017, the “too scary” challenge is quite common.  

“Unsuited for Age Group” is a common challenge placed against books.  Adults often underestimate children and what they can manage, as well as their ability to choose what they consider too scary.  Should books be pulled from the shelves because of the reactions of some of the readers?

See another perspective here about R.L. Stine and his works.

Religion is a contentious issue in the world of literature, with many of the challenges against certain books led by religious organizations.  The His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman has been challenged, restricted, and banned because of the book’s critique against organized religion.

His book is no exception in the world of fantasy.  The Harry Potter series is among the most challenged of all time, because of its “encouragement” of witchcraft and wizardry.  However, with Dark Materials, the series is considered “anti-religious” and “anti-Christian,” especially with interview notes from the author confirming that he is an atheist.  One school even put a note on the inside cover of the books telling readers that the church in the story is not reflective of the real Roman Catholic Church.

While these challenges have fallen from this title because of its age and popularity, there still are other titles that critique and threaten organized religions beyond Christianity.  Should books be pulled from the shelves because they offer a view that might be offensive?

See the top 10 lists here.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has been challenged time and again since its release in 1884.  Schools have put it on required reading lists and then removed it from those lists, primarily because of racial slurs.  The book has been challenged as racist, oppressive, insensitive, and degrading.

Some schools have retained this title, both on the shelves and in the curriculum, while others have changed their curricula to put the novel in context.  Still other schools required teachers to attend seminars on how to deal with race in the classroom before they taught the book.  There is debate about whether or not the book contributes to a racist environment, or if the historical context is worth more than the language that it is written with.  Other more current books that tackle racial themes have been released and found glowing receptions from readers, but this book stays on reading lists throughout the US.

Should books like these, with their historical use of language, be used in school curricula as classes?  Should the context of the racial history be found in a different way, through modern texts?
See a quick summary of Huck Finn here.

Librarians Read: Tash Hearts Tolstoy

There’s no way I could have seen this title and not picked it up, given our location here in the heart of Russia.

This story follows a young woman who is adapting Anna Karenina into a YouTube television series, producing and filming and finding her way in her art while also stumbling around relationships.  It’s a fairly typical YA novel with a few new twists, which you will discover if you read.

Recommended for middle school up to high school students.

Librarians Read: Still Life With Tornado

In the beginning of Still Life with Tornado you see that Sarah is struggling – she is feeling uncomfortable at school, she can’t seem to open up to her parents even though they express concern, she is losing touch with friends. As the novel progresses the reader slowly gets to chip into the tornado of her reality to get clues to her breakdown. There are a lot of repressed memories as well as past family events that have been hidden from her. This is a complex and multi-layered story that I found to be very rewarding. A. S. King often includes elements of surrealism and in this books we have our protagonist, 16-year-old Sarah, as well as a few visits from 10, 23 and 40-year old Sarahs as well. (Recommended for grades 7 and up.)

Librarians Read: The Tsar of Love and Techno

This book is beautiful, and gives a special insight into the Russia that we are seeing as expats here.

This book is a collection of short stories that are all interlinked, with a few pieces or details bleeding into another story, and characters popping up into other parts of the story.

The book encompasses a variety of time periods, from the censorship times, to the breakdown in the 90s, to the current outer space.  It was a fantastic read of Russia, even while it it wasn’t my favorite books.  It was still a good Russia themed read.

Recommended for adults.