ALA is gonna be Phat*

I emailed my friend Jackie that I would love to hop in a car and do an impulsive road trip to ALA this summer. C’mon, it’s in DC!! Add the wonderful museums and venues to the exhibitions and presenters and you’ve got hot summer plans! There are diversity events,  poetry events with Kwame Alexander, Sarah Blake, Nickole Brown, Henri Cole, Benjamin Alire Sáenz and Gwendolyn Zepeda and numerous programs and sessions. Toni Morrison is the keynote speaker!

One session I wouldn’t miss would be Phat* Fiction: Engaging Hip-Hop Literature in the Public Library (*phat=popular, hip and tempting fiction) moderated by K.C. Boyd, aka Miss. Domino. KC began blogging in November, 2009 and has given a voice to urban teen fiction. This is from her first blog entry:

After saying to myself for at least two years, “I’m going to start blogging” and the constant suggestions from friends, I found my nerves and some time to finally begin. Essentially, the ‘Miss Domino Blog’ is dedicated to the genre of Urban Fiction in particular those books and alternate titles that appeal to both pre-teens, teens and adults. From time to time, I will share my thoughts on books within this genre as well as other pressing issues that pertain to Library Information Science. I hope that you will enjoy my posts and log in from time to time to read what I have to say.

She borrowed her cat’s name, Domino, and has been blogging ever since!

Earlier this month, I read onK.C.’s blog that she would be joining a panel at the upcoming convention and I knew I wanted to be there, but wouldn’t. So, I decided the next best thing would be to promote the Phat* Fiction session to my readers. I began interviewing KC about the session, became quite awed by her librarianship, her passion and her intelligence. I’m sharing some of that interview with you now. PLEASE!! Promise me that when you do get to see her in DC to tell her that you read about her here and bring back some wisdom from her presentation!

K.C. could you start by giving a little of your library background?

I am responsible for managing approximately 100 school librarians in Chicago.  Some of the responsibilities include developing strong library programs, recommended purchasing lists, collection development, mentorship to new librarians.  Some of the special programs include Money Savvy Generation (a financial literacy program through the City of Chicago’s Treasurer’s Office), Summer Library Programs and professional development and of course the Mayor Daley’s Book Club program for middle school students.I was inspried by Barack Obama’s speech at the 2006 ALA Convention when he said, “Reading is the gateway skill that makes all learning possible”  Also I believe that the library is the heart of the school.I serve a great group of librarians on the south side of Chicago.  Together we strive to make a difference in the lives of the children we serve.

It sounds like great things are happening in the school libraries in Chicago! I think one of them is Mayor Daley’s Book Club about which you’ve recently posted. What was your involvement with that?

Since 2007, I have served as the Coordinator for the Mayor Daley’s Book Club Middle School Program.  The MDBC MS program is afterschool reading motivation program where students meet with their school facilitatator (the school librarian) and discuss one book  a month for 6 months.  The students read a variety of books fiction/non-fiction that generate discussion.  This program services 85 schools and approximatey 1,600 students within the Chicago Public Schools system.

The culminating event for this program is the MDBC Spring Conference where Middle school and High school book club members meet on a Saturday at a area high school to hear greetings from Mayor Richard Daley, a keynote speech given by a nationally known author (this year it was Allan Stratton “Chanda’s Wars”) and attend literacy related workshops given by industry professionals. I also select Urban Fiction books for the high school book club as well.

What do you enjoy about working as a librarian?

My motto is, “I’m a librarian and it’s the best job on the planet”.

My service as a librarian helps me give back to my community and make a difference in the lives of young people and their families.

How did you connect with the people with whom you’ll be presenting?

Through my blog. Susan McClellan works with the Evanston Public Library Reader’s Advisor and became a follower on my blog. We’ve never met, but correspond frequently in email. When the opportunity was presented to me to participate on this wonderful panel, I jumped at the chance.

I’m a fan of Coe Booth and have followed and quoted the writings of Vanessa Morris, Amy Pattee and Megan Honig for quite some time now. All ladies have been reference during my presentations about Urban Fiction.

Urban fiction is so very controversial. I think whether one likes it or not, you have to realize that it has a huge audience because it relates to so many people. What are some of the titles that are the most popular and what do you think makes them appeal to readers?

Urban Fiction is a genre that is greatly misunderstood by some. The stories represent the voice of a group of readers that are often ignored by publishing companies. These cautionary tales have value and merit because students can relate to the characters and the stories spark discussion amoung their peers.

Here are a couple of stories that I’ve recommended to students:

Urban Fiction Titles (high school)

Retaliation by Yasmin Shiraz

16 on the Block by Babygirl Daniels

Glitter by Babygirl Daniels

Hot Girls by Dream Jordan

Patterson Heights by Felicia Pride

The Coldest Winter Ever by Sister Souljah

The Hotlanta Series by Denene Milner and Mitzi Miller

Dopesick by Walter Dean Myers

Shortie Like Mine by NiNi Simone

Tyrell and Kendra by Coe Booth

Lite side of Urban Fiction (middle school)

Keysha’s Drama Series by Earl Sewell

The Bluford Series (in particular The Bully and The Gun by Paul Langan)

The So For Real Series by Nikki Carter

The Platnium Teen Series published by Kassamba Williams

The First Part Last by Angela Johnson

The Skin I’m In by Sharon Flake

After Tupac and D Foster by Jacqueline Woodson

Monster by Walter Dean Myers

Who You Wit by Paul Chase

Jaded by Monica McKayhan

K.C. this is a fantastic list that’s appropriate for school and public libraries! Thanks for this resource!

What do you most anticipate about your presentation at ALA?

I believe we will have a great discussion about the genre. Attendees will hear testimonials about how these books impact the lives of students and receive direction on how to introduce/defend the books in their collections.

Finally, K.C, can you tell us what you’re currently reading?

“Cool Like That” by Nikki Carter

Thanks, K.C.! And I can’t wait to hear back from you!  GOOD LUCK!

The PLA urban fiction panel presentation “PHAT Fiction: engaging urban literature in the public library”, will take place on Monday, June 28 at 10:30 a.m. in Washington Convention Center (WCC), Room 147B

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4 thoughts on “ALA is gonna be Phat*

  1. Edi,
    Thanks for your wonderful interview and profile of K.C. Boyd; passionate librarian and urban fiction advocate. Go get’em K.C.!
    I’m thrilled to be involved with this urban fiction panel at ALA, and I’m continually inspired by your Crazy Quilts blog.

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