today in stupid.

Nah, kids don’t need to look up words. Especially in SCHOOL of all places. Their vocabularies are perfectly cromulent as they are. So shine on, you crazy school in LA, and keep those dictionaries away from kids. They should be using a more hands-on approach to learning about oral sex, anyway.

UGH.

And for the record? Restricting access=CENSORSHIP.

Suck on that for awhile, fourth- and fifth-grade classrooms at Oak Meadows Elementary School.

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i want to be the frank zappa of librarians.

This list is interesting, if flawed, but what I really enjoyed reading was Tony Buchsbaum’s hijacking of the thread to talk about rating books, censorship, and everyone’s favorite topic,  thinking of the children.

I’m going to shoot my mouth off here and say that I don’t believe that people use ratings. I think they either ignore them completely, or obey them without question. I don’t believe that anyone stops to consider the nuances of TV 14 LV, or R, or any of those well-meaning Tipper Gorey ratings labels. I can’t imagine the discussions of whether ’tis more damaging for a child to see a breast or to see an act of violence.

I have a theory that kids can more easily process sex, violence, and other heavy issues when they are reading. When you are reading, the sex is only as sexy as your imagination can make it; the gore is only as gory as your personal frame of reference. If you keep your ten year old from watching Saw XXVIIV and other films like it, and you lock down the soft-core on the cable, you have a fairly good chance of managing the scope of your child’s frame of reference for quite a while. Yes, your kid will still hear lots and lots of violent and sexy talk from the world at large, and perhaps even hear some sung, but if he doesn’t have a catalog of Tarantino images to draw from in his mind, the worst he can imagine is the worst he can imagine.

Words on a page and words set to a beat are just that–words. Until you give them power, they are powerless. Until you flesh them out, they are only as much or as little as your mind chooses to make of them.

If I were a parent, I’d let my kids read whatever they wanted, and imagine what they could. And what they couldn’t? Well, I can only hope they’d come talk to me about it.

wishes.

I wish these book/bookmark sets were real (from Icoeye).

I wish I could read more lovely “why I am a librarian” stories like this one.

I wish my library had a pony, or a pot-bellied pig. It could carry books to and from the sorting room, as well as help keep control of the after-school chaos. A goat would work as well. Or a sheep. Could also keep the grass out front short, saving lots of money on landscaping. Would have to have an MLS, of course.

divulging.

Here in the ol’ intertubes, there’s been much hubub about racism and whitewashing in and on books for children and young adults. It’s probably been going on for ages, but I most keenly became aware of it when the controversy over Liar happened. That ended fairly well, with the cover ending up a bit more true-to-art than the initial image, but the fact that the issue arose at all is interesting and saddening.

I’ve made this issue personal. My nephew is bi-racial, and I think he deserves, just as much as any other child, to see himself in the literature he reads (or, at this point, has read to him). Also, as a(n unpublished) writer, I think it is disrespectful to utterly disregard what an author has put into the content of the book when creating the packaging for the outside of it.

There are a couple of new cases whitewashed covers cropping up at the moment, and I’m sure there are many, many more that are going unnoticed. I think that on this day, when we are supposedly honoring Dr. King and his work, we might want to consider why we’re allowing this to keep happening.

I don’t really have too much to say that is original, so I’ll offer a list of resrources to conversations that have already begun:

SLJ talks about mulitculuralism in children’s books.

The blog Reading in Color tackles the Magic Under Glass cover.

Color Online pokes fun at Bloomsbury’s next possible whitewashing.

This post at Chasing Ray has links to all sorts of conversations.

I will also highlight a few blogs that focus on multiculturalism in kid/yalit, in no particular order:

Black Threads in Kid’s Lit

Color Online

Reading in Color

American Indians in Children’s Literature

I’m Here, I’m Queer, What the Hell Do I Read?

Those are just a few. If you have any others, please mention them in the comments.

dream: job.

Brian Herzog wrote an amusing post about a dream he had, wherein he chastised a library user for playing Marco Polo too loudly.

Have you ever dreamed about work? When I was still a preschool teacher, I would sometimes dream that somehow all of the children I taught had ended up in my apartment, and why was I sleeping when I was supposed to be watching the children? These days,  I dream about performing kick-ass storytimes, and about the busyness of the after-school rush.

I don’t mind dreaming about my job, because it is my dream job (god what a Carrie Bradshaw sentence. I apologize).  I really can’t imagine what job I’d rather have, outside of girlish fantasies of rockstardom (I totally wanted to be Jem when I was a child). During my first six months at my current position, I described my work situation as “being in the belly of a unicorn that poops rainbows and barfs sunshine.” A little gross, yes, but doesn’t it effectively demonstrate how violently and viscerally happy I am? If not, then let me say more clearly: I love, love, love my job.

My love for my job also leads me to be deeply sad when I come across librarians who have lost their passion for the work, or who never had any to begin with. Often they are older librarians who are unwilling and unready to retire, which would allow  passionate, new librarians (who may or may not be younger; there are many mid-career shifters entering the library field) to take their places.This is damaging in so many ways. The joyless librarians continue to be joyless, and they spread their misery to their coworkers and their library’s users. The enthusiastic librarians-to-be can’t get a job in their profession, so they end up unemployed, or underemployed, and the field is robbed of fresh ideas and people to implement them. The people who are served  by the joyless librarians miss out on exciting and new programs and materials. And on and on and on….

Have you ever worked with anyone who has no passion or joy when it comes to their work? How does that make you feel? Does it change that attitude that you have towards your work?

Or do you have that dream job, where everyone is happy all of the time?

*I heard today that the number of Library School graduates compared to the number of retiring librarians is not good; does anyone have any data to confirm that?

a crony, ms.

I have award fatigue right now. Trying to keep track of the Caudills, the Monarchs, the Cybills, the Lincolns, the Caldecotts, the Newberys, et al, has broken my brain. I realized today that I have no handle on the 2010 Monarch nominees. This is shameful. I begin reading in earnest tomorrow.

Speaking of reading (how’s THAT  for a transition, eh??) I started looking into the history of Summer Reading Programs just, you know, for a lark! Through wikipedia, I found a link to a 70 page paper someone wrote about it as part of her master’s degree in Library Science. I’ve only read a little bit of it, but I am interested so far. I am also so very, very glad that I no longer need to write scholarly papers.

Secret: Sometimes I think I am the only Children’s Librarian ever who really doesn’t like Summer Reading Programs. I mean, I don’t hate them; I’m not going to get all Grinchy and spirit away with all Summer Reading Programs…but nor am I as excited about them as I feel I should be. I like it when kids read, but something about Summer Reading Programs just doesn’t click with me, I guess.

I am also trying very, very hard to not use SRP, because I also sort of hate acronyms. Except for TARDIS. I LOVE that acronym. Am I the worst librarian ever, or what? Although, now that I consider it, SRP isn’t really an acronym, is it…unless people in other places run around saying SRP, like it is syrup without the “uh” sound in it. Because the crucial part of the acronym definition is that those initials form WORDS. So scuba–cool. Radar? Awesome! BLT? Wait a minute…that’s not a word!!

Don’t worry, BLT, you’re not alone (anything with bacon is never alone), there are tons of so-called acronyms that will never resemble actual words no matter  how you smush them together when saying them aloud (I’m looking at you, ALSC– both all four seven of you {wow, lots of ALSCesesss}! With much love, of course. Critical, judging love.) yet they are still considered acronyms. We can’t all be scuba, apparently.

In conclusion, I would like to say that you all should be glad you never had to read any of my scholarly work, because it was pretty much like the above…except…with footnotes. And not the fun, Thursday Next kind, either. The AWFUL kind. The kind with teeth.

With many fond regards,

Miss Julie.