Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Romances That Teens Should Never Read

Before all the wonderful YA librarians in the States start writing comments on how this blog entry may be infringing on teen's right to read, rest assured that issue has been considered. The opinion remains in tact that certain fictional romances just do not benefit teens in any way shape or form. In fact, it harms the fragile teen psyche. Teens have many things to worry about in life, such as how they look, succeeding in school, and being liked by the boy or girl that they have a secret crush on. The list is endless. Where do some teens go to look for ideas on how to behave in a relationship? In the books, movies and songs that are popular at the moment. Valentine's Day has passed, which means that this is the perfect opportunity to express some love-hate for characters that just give out the wrong vibes about love.

Bella and Edward of Twilight is one prime example of a girl losing her self-esteem to an older guy. All right, Edward is the extreme in older men being several hundred years old. However, the fact that Bella just adores Edward and can not believe that a guy as hunky as Edward could ever find her attractive is just pathetic. What is Ms. Meyers trying to teach young girls? That having a low self esteem is good and the only way to make it better is to fall for a guy who makes you realize all your faults. Let's face it Twilight is a Harlequin novel gone batty for Vampires.

Romeo and Juliet of William Shakespeare and other YA novels that deem it fit to retell the story for a young generation. Two star crossed lovers, with Romeo being the one who just loves to be in love, tragically end their lives because they can not live without each other. Let's delve into the young lovers' problem. First, their families hate each other. Second, they are crazy for each other. Of course, their parents would hate the idea of the two of the together, so this makes it even more romantic. Third, at a very young age, they know that they are so in love that they want to spend the rest of their lives together. Not a good thing to do as a teenager, as adults all know, events have a way of changing a situation. Fourth, suicides never has a good ending. What should teens learn from this tragic love story? Never think in terms of forever when your are a teenager. A new guy or gal will come along and turn your head around sound enough.

Last, and certainly not least, Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist is enough to drive any teen out of their mind with lust. Yes, lust. Cohn and Levithan try to be hip with latest trend in music and turn into a chance meeting between two teens who have nothing in common. Oh, wait, that's right they like the same music, spend the whole night together and end up on a charming first date together. Blah! Its true that fiction does not have to be completely real but if authors are going to use modern technology and times to base their stories,' the least they can do is acknowledge the real world. Fantasy loves plus unbelievable first encounter equals a book that leads teens to believe that this could happen to them. Someday. Somewhere. Let's be honest with the teens and add, on a planet far far away. At least it would be more accurate.

This list is by no means complete. There are so many tasteless, trashy, and terribly written YA romance novels that it is at times, overwhelming. This list may have been a bit harsh. However, there is one good thing about awful romance novels. They help readers appreciate he better written stories even more.

Monday, February 27, 2012

it's A Dog Book: PIcture Book Favorites!

In libraries across the country there are programs for reluctant readers known as Paws for Reading. This program opens up the world for many readers which gives humans another reason to call dogs man's best friend. What is the inspiration for this program? It must be due to the fact that dogs, children and books are a natural fit. It's actually proven historically that dogs have helped children of all ages enjoy a good book. Okay, so the dogs are fictional but they are young reader's best friend just the same.

Everyone can remember their favorite canine character from childhood tales. Each of these pups have characteristics that make them memorable. First, they work their way into a child's imagination and grab hold of their hearts. Either it's by their clumsiness or inquisitive nature. It could be a combination of both. Second, their stories are relatable, such as getting lost or going to school. Every child has or will have experienced these events in their lives. Third, they keep the readers coming back for more. This is true from the parents perspective. Often parents will read books to their children that their parents read to them as a child. The love for the character can go on for generations.

Each of these dogs are wonderful and unique in their own way. They come in all different sizes, colors and breads. Some are small like Flack's Angus who gets lost. Some have political ambition and can spin a interesting tale like Teague's Larue. Other small dogs, like Shannon's Fergus who stays one step ahead of trouble. Day's Carl provides readers with a dog's view of a day at the beach. While others have a big heart and adopt a penguin like Kellogg's Pinkerton. Of course, it would be a shame not to mention the largest dog, Bridwell's Clifford. Each of these dogs have romped through the pages of picture books creating hours of enjoyment for young readers. Which just proves the original point, dogs, books and children really are good together.

Finding the right dog and the right book is not a simple task. Basically because it is hard to pick a favorite. Why not help young reader's find a favorite by featuring one of these characters in a story time, book display or on the library's website. Children's librarian may want to start with their own personal favorite. Books are always better when they are shared.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Presidential Activiites: All Leaders are Readers

It's a pretty fair statement to point out that great leaders are readers. This is especially true of many of our nation's Presidents. Jefferson, Lincoln and George W. Bush are just a few examples of avid readers. Keeping this in mind, it became puzzling that there are no storytime that reminded children that great leaders were first avid readers. To fix this problem, it became a goal to find a way to make this topic work in a storytime program. Fitting in a biographical storytime is easier than one would think. There are delightful picture books that feature our great presidents such as Washington and Lincoln. Which makes for a wonderful half-hour program complete with crafts which includes making a stovepipe hat and beard. What child wouldn't love walking out of a program with a costume like that? Need a little music to go with the craft and stories, how about a Presidential parade with little feet marching to the tune of "Hail to the Chief". Still not convinced? Take a look at the following picture books listed below to discover the inspiration of entertaining while educating young minds.

It's very hard to do biographies in picture books. Lucky for children librarians and young readers everywhere there are talented authors who have taken up the task of remembering great men and women in history. Specifically, the books here focus on our two greatest Presidents. Margaret McNamara's George's Birthday: A Mostly True Tale is a fresh, interesting and full of fun facts about our first president. The story itself is a fiction, however McNamara cleverly fits in true facts about George through out the book that can lead to interesting discussion with children. The illustrations add a nice touch with a pint size George wearing a powdered wig.

After reading about George, move on to another picture book written by Maria Kalman titled Looking At Lincoln,. Inspired by the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C., Kalman retells the story of Lincoln's life, presidency and death with sensitivity and clarity that aids children of all ages understand the complicated issues that this president faced.

A books series titled, "Who Was..." is a wonderful introduction to biographies for young readers in the grades two and up. These books are filled with interesting facts, timelines and bibliographic references for young readers to look up additional information. Who Was Abraham Lincoln? by Janet B. Pascal and Who Was George Washington? by Roberta Edwards are excellent choices for quick reading and book discussions for the little "older" reader then the storytime crowd.

With a little imagination, and how can one not be inspired by the two greatest Presidents our nation has produced, a unique storytime that children and parents won't soon forget is ready to go. Who knows this storytime may be the building block for a budding future "President".

Would you like to see more book titles? It's easy to obtain by emailing and requesting an annotated President's day bibliography.