Categories
Diversity Reading Challenge

Pink is for Boys by Robb Pearlman, Illustrated by Eda Kaban

Pink is for Boys

 

 

A little guy, who is now a young man, once told me, when I complimented him on his blue nail polish that “Blue is for everyone” and I never forgot that thought. Why? Because it’s true. Colors don’t belong to people.

Pink is for Boys is the cutest ding dang book I’ve seen all year! I’m not sure when colors began as boy or girl colors but I think it’s a ridiculous practice that should have ended decades ago. What Pink is for Boys points out is that colors are for everyone! The opening illustrations show children of all ethnicities wearing pink clothes in a pink room, dancing, singing and having a party to alert the reader that pink is for everyone.

Blue is for girls, by the way, in case you didn’t know. And it’s also for boys. Especially when they are wearing baseball uniforms and play on a team. Let’s not forget that yellow is the color of stars and crowns. Throughout the book the reader is bombarded with the positive message that colors are not gender specific AND the children are multiethnic and have differing abilities.

I love this book so hard. If you have little ones in your home, add this to your library ASAP because colors are for EVERYONE.

(crying)

Categories
Diversity Reading Challenge

Me, Myself & Him by Chris Tebbetts. LOOOOOOOOOOOOVE.

Me, Myself and Him

 

Here’s a book that you need but don’t know you need. Why is that? Because #1 if you’re looking for books containing an LGBTQ hero, here’s your book. But not because it’s your typical Coming Out. Story. While those are important, we’re past that. We need books where the kids are out and they’re living their lives (not everyone is Tiny Dancer, even though we love him too).

The problem with LGBTQ kids living their lives in Me, Myself, and Him is that there are alternating realities in this book. Whaaaaaaaaaat?

Yep. So if you don’t like the first timeline, hang around til the next chapter and you’ll get to the OTHER reality. Or vice versa. Or maybe you’ll like both timelines? So, yeah. That’s not REALLY a problem is it?

When Chris Schweitzer takes a hit of whippets and passes out face first on the cement, his nose isn’t the only thing that changes forever. Instead of staying home with his friends for the last summer after high school, he’s shipped off to live with his famous physicist but royal jerk of a father to prove he can “play by the rules” before Dad will pay for college.

Or . . . not.

So. Much. Fun.

I don’t need to tell you that this qualifies for the Diversity Reading Challenge, right?

Categories
Diversity Reading Challenge

Immigration Stories We Need to Hear: America Deconstructed by Chaithanya Sohan and Shaima Adin

America Deconstructed by
Chaithanya Sohan and Shaima Adin

Here’s a collection of immigration stories. Stories so timely and eye opening to their struggles.

Naseer was nine years old when he escaped Taliban and fled Afghanistan with his mom and siblings… “There are some people who are coming to take me away”, chronicles the resilience of a nine year old boy as he traveled from Afghanistan to America in his quest for the American dream. “I saw a ripe mango I’d like to pluck” showcases the love story of Chidiebere and Ifeyinwa, which begins in rustic Nigeria and culminates into a life in America.

Their journey chronicles their struggles with language, culture and being African in America. In the story “ Kosovo, really…cool”, Lisian takes us through his journey to America and often being asked his identity in spite of being white. In the story “I am exotic, mocha, P-diddy”, Parag describes his journey from a young sixth grader who hid his attraction to boys in conservative India to embracing his sexuality in America.

America Deconstructed follows the journeys of sixteen immigrants who have left their home countries in search of the American dream. The stories combine humor and emotions as the protagonists maneuver cultural differences, accents and uncomfortable situations while feeling a sense of belonging in America.

This moving collection counts as part of the Diversity Reading Challenge.

Categories
Banned Books Books

Banned Books Week

Why were these books banned?

1. I Am Jazz by Jessica Hershel and Jazz Jennings

I Am Jazz

Here’s my review. Hint: I loved it!

2. Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan

Two Boys Kissing isn’t my favorite book but that doesn’t mean it needs to be banned! I didn’t care for the choir of people in the background. But  the book is  totally suitable for teens.

3. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

I read this the year it came out. Also another trip to BEA to meet the author (oh the perks of working in a bookstore)! Not sure why there’s no review.  I LOVE THIS BOOK SO HARD.

 

 

4.  It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris

It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris

I am completely unfamiliar with this book but it appears to be designed to talk to kids about
their changing bodies and sex. Knowledge is power, people. We don’t want a bunch of hormone
enraged middle schoolers doing things that they don’t know the consequences of. This reminds me of those
great books by the American Girl doll people who discuss puberty with young tweens. Kids need to know that
it’s all perfectly normal, even if it feels weird.

I do NOT think this is pornography, but you be the judge.

 

5.  The Color Purple By Alice Walker

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It may seem trite to discuss The Color Purple because it seems as if everyone is familiar with this important title.  The thing of it is, I read this book in college shortly after it came out.  Back then it was an interesting and difficult read but I had no idea how it would rock the literary and African American community.  Personally I was angry, sad, and confused by the treatment of the female protagonists.

Taking place mostly in rural Georgia, the story focuses on the life of women of color in the southern United States in the 1930s, addressing numerous issues including their exceedingly low position in American social culture.

It is for these reasons that the book is challenged and banned.  The situations seem so violent and yet so personal that it’s no wonder The Color Purple is on the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books list. I think the main reason The Color Purple is so frequently challenged is that schools are concerned about exposing students to sexual violence and other aggressions.  I suppose depending on what age the students are reading the material that could be true. You certainly don’t want a child younger than 16 reading this book, but these are my personal feelings and I wouldn’t subject them on others.  For the right age group, the book is excellent insight into race and women in the South.

What are your thoughts on The Color Purple?

Come on people. It’s time to stop banning books.

 

Categories
Banned Books Books

Banned Books Week Starts TODAY!

We all know the importance of knowledge and learning, right? I don’t want to waste anymore time talking about why banning books is dumb. Let’s celebrate the great books that have been challenged and you can decide for yourself what you think.

1. Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

perks of being a wallflower

I love this tiny book so hard. First because it is set in my hometown of Pittsburgh, PA and second because the setting is the 80s which is also when I grew up, although the author is a couple years younger than I am. Our experiences are kind of similar: no cell phones, record players, pac man and hairspray to name a few.  This is a coming of age tale that is beautifully told about the man character who suffers from some dangerous mental health issues.

Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mix tapes, family dramas and new friends; the world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. But he can’t stay on the sideline forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.

I am a tad confused about why books about teens and intended for teens should be completely sterile. Kids want to read about situations that are similar to what they are experiencing; at least when they are reading realistic fiction, right? So why then, do people insist on challenging books that  “…deals with sexual situations and drug use.” ?

Again, this is a title you should read for yourself.

2. Looking for Alaska by John Green

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This is by far my fave John Green book.

Miles “Pudge” Halter’s whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the “Great Perhaps” (François Rabelais, poet) even more. He heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart.

Oh how this title reminds me of some of the books we read in high school: the what’s it all about and how do i make a difference in this world type of books!

The book was challenged because of sexual content.  Again. Teens, experimenting with sex. It’s what they do, right?  This one, however, is rather mild considering what I’ve read in other books.  It’s a botched BJ and while that might not be appropriate material for young teens or even middle grade readers, I guarantee your older teen has read worse. Or heard worse on the bus. Check it out for yourself before you pass judgement. As always, parents have a right to decide what’s best for their own kiddos, just not for everyone.

3. Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers

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Ironically, Fallen Angels was

Challenged on the Danbury Middle School reading list in Toledo, Ohio (2013) because of inappropriate language. The book depicts the reality of the Vietnam War, with sometimes gruesome descriptions of combat and frequent foul language from soldiers.

But here’s the question that I’d like answered: what kind of language would you expect soldiers to use? I know the books are for young teens but depicting soldiers using language that is a little too clean, might be a little too unrealistic.  I don’t know about where you live, but around here, Fallen Angels is on many schools’ required reading lists.

Have you read it?

4. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

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Please don’t confuse Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison with The Invisible Man by HG Wells!

As he journeys from the Deep South to the streets and basements of Harlem, from a horrifying “battle royal” where black men are reduced to fighting animals, to a Communist rally where they are elevated to the status of trophies, Ralph Ellison’s nameless protagonist ushers readers into a parallel universe that throws our own into harsh and even hilarious relief. Suspenseful and sardonic, narrated in a voice that takes in the symphonic range of the American language, black and white, Invisible Man is one of the most audacious and dazzling novels of our century.

 

For the same reasons that Invisible Man is an important read to understand the struggles of the African American community, Invisible Man has also been challenged. To be sure, the book contains strong language but you cannot properly depict the struggles of that era by using tame language, I think.  Either way, it’ll make you think. This book is so so so well written.

 

5. The Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq

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There is so much to learn about the Middle Eastern region and so little time to read.

Alia Muhammad Baker is a librarian in Basra, Iraq. For fourteen years, her library has been a meeting place for those who love books. Until now. Now war has come, and Alia fears that the library–along with the thirty thousand books within it–will be destroyed forever.

In a war-stricken country where civilians–especially women–have little power, this true story about a librarian’s struggle to save her community’s priceless collection of books reminds us all how, throughout the world, the love of literature and the respect for knowledge know no boundaries. Illustrated by Jeanette Winter in bright acrylic and ink.

Sounds great, right? Other people obviously don’t feel the same way and have challenged the book “because of violent illustrations and storyline” which  is rather irrational because what would kind of story do you expect to hear when reading about a war torn country? Perhaps the age group was not appropriate for the book.

 

 

Categories
Banned Books

Banned Books Week is Coming!

In Honor of Banned Books Week, which starts TOMORROW,
Here are 4 Banned Books for Teens

1. The Diary of Anne Frank

I’m sure most adults are familiar with the tragic story of Anne Frank and her family.  Most adults have also probably read the book in high school as a reading assignment.  To be sure, the story is depressing, tragic, and at times, unreal.  After all, it is difficult to imagine a time when people where being killed for professing a certain religious belief.

Irrespective of when you last read Anne Frank, read it again as an adult. More pointedly, as a parent.  It will change your mindset.  My heart hurts that a young girl is forced to hide for so long only to ultimately perish in one of the worst ways possible.  As a mother with a daughter of a similar age, it hurts that the girl doesnt have the best relationship with her own mother.

If this is such a classic book, why then is it on the banned book list? To be sure, the story of The Holocaust is grossly violent, but most people believe it is truth and history so worthy of being studied.  To be sure, everyone knows the young Anne dies in the end, which is tragic.  This story, however, contains more than these facts: it’s a story about relationships and the girl’s view of the world.

Anne’s death isn’t described in detail unlike much teen literature that’s available today.  There is also no description of  violence, no sex, and no vampires: reasons which other books have been banned.  Challengers to the book claim that some versions of Anne Frank’s book contain sexually explicit and homosexual scenes.  The version I had did not contain those scenes. And so what if they did?

Regardless of the version you read, you cannot ban this book because some versions have scenes which you find objectionable or because of violent back stories.  It is your right as a parent to choose what your child reads. You cannot choose what other people’s children read.

Books want to be freely read. Agree? Disagree? Want more? Go see what others are reading and talking about this week!

P.S.  There is a newish book out, fiction, I believe, about her sister Margot.  Has anyone read it?

 

2. Go Ask Alice

Revisiting Go Ask Alice:  I know schools are still requiring this book.  Since my original post I’ve discovered that research suggests that this book is truly a work of fiction and not based on a real person.

Wow. Go Ask Alice is my current read for Banned Books Week. And all I can say is: Wow. Seriously.  Supposedly based on a diary of a young teenage girl, the book had me gripped from beginning to end.

I’m sure the book was banned due to its drug use and sex references. But, unlike some books (and many movies) these  experiences are NOT glamorized at all. At ALL.  The main character (whom I do NOT believe to be named Alice, although she references an Alice) complains and suffers bitterly because of her drug use.

If she could do a PSA I’m pretty sure she would say “don’t use drugs. ever!” But, alas, she does not get the chance.

Multiculturalism is a sticky wicket in this book.  I am 100% certain that all the characters in this book are Anglo, however, the main character does interact with her Jewish friend.  The setting is a middle class neighborhood in the early 70s where mothers still stayed at home, etc.  The sticky wicket is the drug activity.  A few references to homosexuality bump this book up to slightly more pluralistic viewpoint than many of the other books I’ve read recently.

Something scary about this? I just NOW noticed that there is a face on the cover of this book.  Wow.  Never saw that before and I look at this book OFTEN.

I HIGHLY recommend that you read this book with your children. Young teens (13+) need to get this lesson.

3. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

I want to revisit this title. Again. The story is so good and the movie was so…not.  Anyway, I now see teens buying this book so I’m guessing classrooms have realized how important this work is.  As always, book is BETTER.

“What about a teakettle? What if the spot opened and closed when the steam came out, so it would become a mouth, and it could whistle pretty melodies, or do Shakespeare, or just crack up with me? “

To be sure, Safran Foer’s new novel, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, is as interesting as his debut novel, Everything is Illuminated.  Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close revolves around 9 year old Oskar Schell, his family, and his father’s death after the Sept 11th events.  Do not be deceived: the story is neither for children (although possibly YA) nor a drab account of the terror attack.

Individual family members suffer with what appears to be post traumatic stress disorder through generations of terrorism and war.  Given his background, it is little wonder that Oskar suffers from anxiety as he copes with and searches for answers to his father’s death.  Safran’s story is imaginative in its presentation, providing photographs and other graphic representations: several pages are empty like pages in a blank book.  The book is clever enough to be different from every other novel, yet at times just a little too clever.

In the end I am satisfied with the author’s ending and the resolution of the character’s situations.  Multiculturally, the main characters are Jewish and while not openly practicing, appeals to my need for ethnic diversity.

 

4. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

I’m so excited for today’s review because it was written by none other than my Pumpkin!  At 15 Pumpkin is an avid reader and I love to share books with her.  In fact, she’s the one who got me hooked on Twilight and The Hunger Games series.  So I blame her for some of my madness.

Let’s see what Pumpkin says about Perks:

he perks of being a wallflower is a great book but I can see why it is on the banned book list. There is a lot of underage drinking, sex, and drugs going on without the mention of how bad they are. Charlie, the main speaker of the story, has become one of my favorite characters out of all the books I’ve read because of how honest he is. I also felt like I could feel his emotions in the story from the vivid explanations, the story had me crying at many points!

don’t think I could find anything wrong with the book. I feel it gives a real interpretation of how a kids who gets pulled into a great friendship would react.  Although many of the characters do wrong to Charlie at some point in the book, you don’t end up hating any of them at the end of of the book because of how kind speaking Charlie is about them. He always has a way of forgiving characters or seeing past their rudeness. This is a character trait I love because nowadays, most of the books I read are about people hating people.

Schools should overlook the drug usage and such in the book because The Perks Of Being A Wallflower makes you see things through other peoples eyes and shows you good life lessons. This book has been added to my favorites list!

I couldn’t agree more: you can’t hide drug use from kids, they already know about it

What are your thoughts? Worth challenging/banning?

Categories
Children Young Adult

Big Issues in YA from #KidLitCon in Hershey, PA

Big Issues in YA

Last week I had the thrill of  a lifetime to chair the committee and bring KidLitCon to Hershey PA! Hershey was a great venue and I’ll talk more about that later but right now I want to share with you a session I co-hosted with Donna Gaffney. Donna is a therapist and very knowledgeable about kids books and uses them in therapy with her clients. She’s also a very cool person.

We talked about issues that kids and teens face today and books that represent these issues in literature. Turning to books in a time of crisis is very common and helps the reader process their situation.  We listed the issues on poster paper and then encouraged the audience to list book titles under the appropriate issues.  This link should is a pdf of the results: BIG ISSUES in YA LITKidlitcon17

I think you’ll find the lists very interesting. Many thanks to Donna for quickly compiling the list. I hope this resource helps you.

More to come about KidLitCon in another post!

 

 

 

 

Categories
Diversity Reading Challenge Young Adult

On my TBR List: Sovereign, Nemesis Book Two by April Daniels

Sovereign, Nemesis: Book Two

There are a few things going on in Sovereign that interest me. There’s a female superhero, an LGBTQ sensibility, a trans person, and mental health issues. That’s a lot to cover in one book, for sure, but since Sovereign is book two, and the world has already been built, perhaps these issues won’t be so difficult to tack. I’m looking forward to cracking the spin of this book. If the main character is LGBTQ like I think, then Sovereign qualifies for the Diversity Reading Challenge.

Categories
Diversity Reading Challenge

Rumplepimple by Suzanne DeWitt Hall, illustrated by Kevin Scott Gierman = Superdoggo!

Rumplepimple

 

Rumplepimple is a silly name for a pooch who takes care of some serious business. To be sure, his moms (he has two) think he’s a naughty little terrier. But when you look at the situation from Rumplepimple’s eyes you’ll see that he is just trying to help.

Rumplepimple gets loose and runs inside a grocery store because he hears a child crying for help. Turns out the little tyke is being tormented by her older brother and Rumplepimple swoops in, grabs the little girl’s blanked from the brother and returns it to the little girl. Now THAT’s a good doggo! No matter that he doesn’t belong in the grocery store, or that he peed on the boy’s shoes. Rumplepimple is just doing what a good dog should: caring for humans.

I love Rumplepimple and I love the easy way the diversity of the two moms is a non issue in the book. There’s no grand announcement of the LGBTQ life; they just happened to be two women who have a rambunctious terrier and a bossy chicken. I DEF want to see more Rumplepimple save the day! I almost forgot to mention that the illustrations are gloriously inclusive of people of color. Bravo!

Categories
Banned Books

Banned Books Week-And Tango Makes Three.


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Here’s a book for the littles:

3. And Tango Makes Three, Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell

And Tango Makes Three, Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell

Here’s my review.

I’m pretty sure it’s obvious why this book was challenged; it “promotes the homosexual agenda”. This book is
so adorable it hurts.

Check it out!