Hunt for History

ABC-CLIO’s 3rd Annual “Hunt for History” Brings History to Life with Scavenger Hunt for School Library Media Specialists, Teachers and their Students

Winners to be announced in May. Prizes include iPads and online database subscriptions

ABC-CLIO is calling for school library media specialists and social studies teachers around the country to join the 2012 “Hunt for History” and win valuable prizes such as iPads and subscriptions to the company’s suite of databases.

To take the Hunt for History challenge, ABC-CLIO will open up its American History online database for a month to school library media specialists and teachers. Participants will then utilize this user-friendly and authoritative history resource to find and submit the answers to 10 questions about historical events, people, issues and dilemmas. The competition launches on April 2, and the deadline for submitting answers is April 30. Winners will be announced the first week in May.

“The Hunt for History contest was easy, I learned a lot, and it was a great introduction to the databases.” noted Deb Dominick, a social studies teacher at Susquehannock High School in Glen Rock, PA and a winner in last year’s Hunt for History contest. “I have been extremely impressed with the content of the 4 databases we received and our students have made use of them this year.”

“We are excited to reprise our Hunt for History competition, allowing school library media specialists and teachers across the United States to discover history with their students through a stimulating scavenger hunt.” said Becky Snyder, president, ABC-CLIO. “We are committed to providing the highest quality resources to teachers and students to build research, writing and critical-thinking skills.”

This year’s four Hunt for History grand-prize winners will receive an Apple iPad and a subscription to ABC-CLIO’s 14 databases for one year. Another sixteen first-prize winners will receive a one-year school-wide subscription to any four ABC-CLIO databases. ABC-CLIO integrates three essential resources, A Library, A Textbook, and Perspectives, into each one of its 14 online databases for middle and high school students, making them the ideal answer for effective integration of the library into the classroom curriculum.

Hunt for History is open only to teachers and school library media specialists in accredited, public and private schools in the United States and U.S. territories and is limited to one entry per individual.

For more information, go to

Trending in Color

We hear a lot about what’s trending in YA lit (can you say DYSTOPIA?) but what’s trending when it comes to books with POC as main characters or books written by authors of color? What are you seeing that you haven’t read before? What seems to be repeating?


This is what I’m noticing, please feel free to add to the discussing because I know there are things going on that I’m not seeing.



  • Authors of color are no longer focusing on race as the main issue in books which feature characters of color. This really started a few years ago but people now seem to be noticing.
  • It seems there are fewer YA books written  published this year that were written by Native American, Asian or Middle Eastern authors.
  • Books by authors of color are being published in a wider variety of genre. While more authors of color are publishing speculative fiction, I can’t say I’ve seen any write publish dystopian books. They’re left out of this loop.
  • I’m not seeing an increase in the numbers of books written by authors of color. In fact, the numbers are pretty much the same as the previous year’s, as if the quota gets met every year.
  • More books are being written with multicultural casts. I’ve even considered writing a post on this. From Drama High to Divergent and yes, even the Hunger Games we’re seeing books written that reflect the real world. While some authors are just painting color on a face, others write to reflect what they experience in real life.
  • While I see more YA books getting trailers and graphic novels based on the original, I see this happening to very few books by authors of color.  And movies??

I have a few questions with regards to trends that I think really address the literacy skills we want to develop in our YAs.

  • I’d like to know how likely YAs are to read books with main characters outside their own ethnic group. I’m in a 96% Black school, so I don’t know what others are doing. I know my students read a wide variety of books.
  • Are YAs of color engaging with ereaders? book apps? audiobooks? Or, or they mainly reading print?
  • Are YAs of color encouraged to write and publish their own stories, poems or graphic novels?
  • Are YAs of color picking up non-fiction? The new common core standards are shifting reading materials to a heavy reliance on non-fiction. Are our students willing to read these sources for enjoyment as well as for information?
  • Do YAs of color request books they want from libraries and bookstores or do they just pick up what’s on the shelf?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this including anecdotal evidence or more questions.


Biblioburro: The Donkey Library

If you missed Biblioburro on you local PBS station, you can view it here.  I’ve got to start considering a blog platform that will allow me to embed a wider variety of videos!

I watched this quiet story several weeks ago and was drawn into the labor intensive effort of delivering books to students in the Colombian country side. I was struck by the impact of violence upon these children in what appears to be such a tranquil environment. At the same time, I couldn’t help but note how this reminded me of the violence children at my school face just as frequently. Luis Soriano’s dedication is so inspiring not just in terms of working to spread literacy but in reminding us to do whatever is we have to do to accomplish what we believe in.

Here are ideas on donating to the Biblioburro project or supporting literacy on a global level.

Dividing and Conquering

I’ve been thinking about books and literacy for a while now, thinking I better master a new tech tool before returning to the same ol’ job and finding effective ways to implement and teach … new literacies. I have developed and action plan quite yet, but Librarian by Day has got me thinking.

You don’t know this about me, but not too long ago, I was functionally illiterate. I was unable to read, write and even speak, in the culture in which I lived. I lived in Taiwan but couldn’t read or speak enough Mandarin for it to matter.  I could successfully live on the fringes of the culture by using the Internet to find sites that had been translated into English and by having friends write useful phrases for me but I knew nothing about what was in the news, what the weather forecast was or even what students had to say about the day’s lesson.

 I was reminded of that existence when Will Richarsdon wrote about his children being illiterate because in their classrooms they’re not meeting the National Council for Teachers of English definition of literacy which says they should be “designing and sharing information for global communities to meet a variety of purposes.”

Remember when literacy simply meant being able to read and compute at a 4th grade level? I would call that basic, functional literacy at best today. The term ‘literacy’ has been attached to cultural-, science-, health-, financial-, math- and other terms to promote the essential information we need to have to survive in society.

For me, the essential literacy is ‘information literacy’. I think children need to be able to acquire knowledge from a variety of sources, that they should have the ability to learn from/to read from a variety of platforms, but I’m still working with that concept.

Here’s where it begins to get tricky for me. Students should learn how to read text, right? Some read it by sight, some by feel and some even within those two basic categories have a variety of ways they perceive information which makes reading text a challenge. So, we have audiobooks which provide the exact same information, but requiring a while new skill set. Rather than decoding letter combinations, they’re listening for inflections and speech patterns. Are they giving up something by not reading text, I mean they’re still acquiring information and isn’t that the important thing, that they acquire information?

This is another definition of literacy from Ed Social Media.

The definition of literacy is dynamic, evolving, and reflects the continual changes in our society.  Literacy has, for instance, expanded to include literacy in information and communication technologies and critical literacy (Cunningham, 2000; Harste, 1994; Leu, 2002; Mol1, 1994; Paris, Lipson & Wixson, 1994; Yopp & Singer, 1994).

I think this expands the definition a bit to say it’s not enough to know how to read what’s on a webpage but we need to know how to access it as well. There’s a discussion of ‘digital literacy’ and knowing how to use cameras. I would ad being able to ‘read’ an image for information.  If we don’t know social networking, are we becoming illiterate?

I think my response found clarity on TheYoungandtheDigital which discusses the digital divide. While some think the numbers which indicate high usage of cell phones among African American and Latino teens for Internet access seems to indicate a closing of the digital divide, this article keenly points out not so! No, not if they’re not using the more expensive smart phones instead of feature phones and not if they’re not creating innovative learning experiences.

The issue, of course, is not that young people’s adoption of mobile phones causes an achievement gap that began long before any of us ever heard of the Internet or mobile phones.  Rather, what is the potential for learning and engagement with mobile media in closing the learning divides that exist between low and middle income students?  The mere adoption of mobile phones is certainly not the solution to the achievement gap.  Technology—social network sites, laptops, smart phones, games, tablets, interactive books and maps—alone will never close America’s learning divide.  This is the myth of the “digital native” narrative, the notion that youth can thrive in the digital world without any adult support, mentoring, or scaffolding of rich learning experiences.  While a greater diversity of young people are using digital and mobile platforms than ever before not all media ecologies are equal.  Thus it’s very possible that if poor and working class students adopt technologies like mobile phones in environments that do not offer adult engagement and scaffolding the potential benefits in terms of learning and empowerment may not be realized. 

It’s back to my rant about blocking access rather than teaching how to use web services responsibly. Too many urban schools tell students they may not bring phones to school, may not use FB or Twitter under the guise of keeping them safe. Actually, they’re intensifying the digital divide and adding to our children’s illiteracy.

I don’t think we have to be overly careful in defining ‘literacy’. I do think exploring the term with educators, parents and students may begin getting more of us to see the ways education needs to change. While developing more literate students is critical, it’s more important to kindle the flame, to have young minds that want to learn! Maybe they already want to learn and maybe the students already know some of the literacies they need, or maybe they just know the ones they don’t need.

Can you believe people teach just for the paycheck?!

Don’t forget I’m still giving away a free book!







I went to a family bar-b-que yesterday and saw a few interesting things while driving across town. I was stunned to see a brothas on horseback, ghetto cowboys on the east side of Indy!  Corn was knee high just as it should be by the fourth of July! There were children, so many, many children and all of them gave up the video games in favor of playing with cousins, water guns and footballs in the hot, hot sun! My night ended with new-to-me episodes of West Wing and a surprise fireworks show that I could see from my window.

Even though I am a librarian, I am always learning of new things, new specialties that exist for librarians. I’m looking into what it takes to use my library skills to work as a researcher. I think the most interesting job I’ve seen (besides being a CNN librarian) was a woman who started her own business setting up libraries. Many companies don’t realize that they should have a library: a place

" If you’re interested in social justice issues, this is a good book to add to your TBR list." The Feminist Texan

where they collect and organize information related to their company and their industry. Some will collect materials for years and then realize the need for someone to come in and organize their information. It can take years to get a good library established in some places!

There are film librarians, textile and food librarians. There are academic librarians and there are prison librarians. The Feminist Texican has a really interesting post about why she wants to be a prison librarian along with a review of Running the Books.  After reviewing the book, she reminds us that prisons are a wonderful place to donate books. Their libraries are funded way less than school and public libraries which are already underfunded. I would imagine that prison librarians are paid less too and thus unable to come out of pocket for materials. [I’ve seen adds for librarians with community agencies who want full-time librarians with masters degrees that they’re going to pay $29K.] If you are unable to donate to you local prisons, here is a resource for donating books to prisons from the Feminist Texican.


Be warned!

<—- Have you seen these boxes in parking lots near you? I’ve seen two of them now and did a little research on them, thinking that they’d be worth telling my readers about. Well, I’m going to have to suggest to you NOT TO DONATE to Books for Charity. It seems that over half the books they receive are destroyed. Some are even sold for profit.

These boxes may not put books quite where you want them, either—–> Share A Book

The Share a Book website reports that 99% of their books go to thrift stores such as the  Womens Assistance League, Deseret Industries, and Salvation Army. No doubt, these agencies each serve important causes, but the books are not freely redistributed.

Even people who don’t like reading don’t like the idea of throwing away books. They’re objects that need to be passed on to someone else who will read, enjoy and cherish. I prefer the idea of passing on books to be read, assuming it is in good condition with contemporary and accurate information. Nonfiction books that would have been in my library when I was in high school pretty much need to be gone!

In America, 4 July is all about freedom.  And, so is literacy!






Free Summer Audiobooks

SYNC Summer 2011 has launched with 16 free YA & Classic books!

The first YA novel / Summer Reading Classic pairing  is available June 23 – June 29
Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
Romeo & Juliet by William Shakespeare

download here:

These upcoming titles will be of particular interest to readers of this blog:

Available July 7 – July 13
Where the Streets Had a Name by Randa Abdel-Fattah
Available July 21 – July 27
Chanda’s Secrets by Allan Stratton
Available August 11 – August 17
The Cay by Theodore Taylor

complete list
(Remember to complete the entire process to secure the final MP3. You have from June 23 – June 29 to download the MP3 audiobooks below, but there is no hurry to listen to it–the title does not expire.)


For the Good of the Cause

1. The Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy’s grant-making program seeks to develop or expand projects designed to support the development of literacy skills for adult primary care givers and their children. A total of approximately $650,000 will be awarded; no grant request should exceed $65,000. General Instructions, Application Guidelines, and a Checklist are online. deadline: 9 September 2011

2. CFP: The 5th Annual Conference of Institutes and Libraries for Chinese Overseas Studies seeks roundtable, panel and paper proposals as well as poster presentations on a list of topics which includes Chinese Literature; , Identity Issues, Values and Culture and Ethnic relations. more information 

3. YALSA is seeking a Member Manager for its YA literature-focused blog, The Hub, with the mission to provide a one-stop-shop for teens and librarians to help them locate high quality audio, video, and text content related to young adult literature. The deadline for applications has been extended to July 1, 2011. Learn more about The Hub at

The Member Manager will lead an advisory board and together the group will be responsible for the site, including recruiting bloggers and soliciting content submissions from the YALSA community.

List of Qualifications:

1.   Excellent verbal and written communications skills, in order to develop content and communicate with potential content providers and developers.

2.   Experience in web publishing with responsibilities including but not limited to: utilizing video clips, audio, and social media, maintaining a high standard of writing, and ensuring compliance with policies created for the maintenance of the site.

3.   Familiarity with WordPress, which YALSA uses for administration of blog sites; knowledge of plugins, tagging, categories, and other WordPress tools preferred

4.   PHP knowledge preferred

5.   Dynamic, self-motivated individual

6.   Ability to delegate work and to manage a variety of contributors and volunteers

7.   Strong organizational skills

8.   Ability to set and meet deadlines

9.   Experience with reviewing, evaluating and selecting young adult literature

10.   Ability to work well in a team environment

11.   Membership in YALSA

General Responsibilities:

·      Communicate with the Advisory Board and YALSA’s Web Services Manager on a regular basis in order to generate ideas for content, assign tasks, discuss marketing and sponsorship strategies, and discuss site management

·      Work with the Website Advisory Committee and the YALSAblog Member Manager to create cross-promotion of all YALSA’s web presences

·      Maintain communication with YALSA member groups whose work relates to young adult literature

·      With the Advisory Board review and edit content submitted to the site to make sure the quality is acceptable and that it includes YALSA branding prior to posting, when appropriate

·      With the Advisory Board manage postings regularly to guarantee quality of content and appropriate tagging and category identification

·      Manage comments and spam daily in order to guarantee that the blog content is appropriate

·      With the Advisory Board recruit contributors on a regular basis, which may include but is not limited to: YALSA members, publishers, authors and teens

·      Meet with and provide any necessary training to contributors as needed, including at ALA’s Annual Conference and Midwinter Meeting

·      Attend the All Committee meeting at Midwinter and Annual to recruit contributors and inform member groups about the site

·      Effectively motivate, support and manage a large and fluctuating group of contributors and volunteers

·      Write reports prior to the Annual Conference and Midwinter Meeting for submission to the YALSA Board

·      Work with YALSA’s Web Services Manager as appropriate to update and manage blog software

·      Monitor new technologies as they impact the site: add-ons and plug-ins to blog software, widgets or applications for hand-held devices, etc.

·      Work with the YALS and JRLYA editors as appropriate to coordinate dissemination of information to members and the library community.

·      Answer questions and inquiries about the site

·      Follow all established policies and guidelines, enforce them as necessary and periodically conduct a review of them to ensure currency

The Member Manager will be selected by the YALSA Executive Committee by August 1, 2011. The term of the appointment is two years beginning in August. The Member Manager will receive an honorarium of $500 per year plus $500 towards travel to each Annual Conference and Midwinter Meeting while serving as Member Manager. Candidates should send a cover letter and resume, which includes management, writing and web publishing experiences to All resumes, etc. must be submitted via email. The deadline for submission is July 1, 2011. Please note that this is not a salaried staff position. It is a member volunteer opportunity.

To learn more about The Hub, visit Please direct questions to Eve Gaus at or 1-800-545-2433, extension 5293.