She radiates fire and demands justice be served to those who have so wronged others.
Out there in the interwebs somewhere exists a person with the name Joe Nutt.
Mr. Nutt has published an article that I will not link to here, as to not give his ridiculous idea more attention by way of web traffic. This article argues that Young Adult fiction is a dangerous fantasy.
Now, I do not read YA fiction regularly. I have read it in the past, and I have enjoyed what I’ve read in the past.
I am not an avid YA reader, nor can I name the top YA novels out today.
However, I am against people criticizing anyone for reading anything, .
All reading (even reading his article) is, by nature, reading. And reading is good.
No matter whether that takes the form of a graphic novel, comic strip, back of a cereal box, Shakespearean play, or YA novel.
In the paragraphs below, I will examine some of the points Mr. Nutt makes and attempt to counter them.
Be ready. This article is much more… blunt… than my typical works.
His first paragraph is probably the worst paragraph I’ve read in quite awhile, and that includes the many outrageous things Mr. Trump says.
What he describes is his idea for a YA novel, and it implies that being a transgender school dropout with autism and being a self-harmer is a bad thing. Excuse me. I’m sorry that people are transgender. I’m sorry they have autism. I’m sorry they drop out. I’m sorry they self harm.
Actually, no I’m not.
Because there are people who are transgender. There are people who are on the autism spectrum. There are people who self harm. There are people who have dropped out.
We need books that relate to their readers.
I’m sorry that your classic novels don’t relate to their readers. Not everything can relate. And that’s okay. Not everything has to relate. However, when the goal is to get people reading, having stories that they can relate to is a good thing.
Additionally, having stories with diverse characters and situations is good for everyone who reads them, even people who can’t directly relate. Because empathy is important, and spending time in a story with someone who is experiencing those things can teach us about their situation and open our minds to things we never would have seen otherwise.
As a side note, I don’t believe that embarking “on a magical quest to find an ancient crystal with the power to render all weapons useless” really is a plot line that you would find in a YA novel, anyway. That would fit better in other genres. But I digress.
Next, Mr. Nutt describes his life as a teacher of English. He describes his painstaking efforts to create “genuinely literate adults” as if “literate adults” are somehow not genuine.
Do tell me what the difference is.
Let’s take a look at what our dear friend, the dictionary, has to say on being literate:
Do you see anywhere in there where it says that a literate person has to be genuine or only read a specific type of writing? I don’t.
I see that they need to have the ability to read and write. I also see that they can be versed in literature and/or creative writing. Now, before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s take a look at the definition of “literature” as well.
Hmmm. Mr. Nutt appears to be implying that YA novels are not “considered to be very good” or that they might “have lasting importance.” Now, we wouldn’t want to attempt to assume that we know what will be deemed as “very good” and important to future generations, would we?
If we look at the second and third points, we see a much broader definition of literature. Now, unless you can prove to me that a YA novel is not a book, I believe YA fits into this definition.
Next, he states that teenagers don’t like books that proselytize. No, they probably don’t. Then, he insinuates that YA novels are attempting to proselytize teenagers to something he doesn’t clearly define.
He argues that YA is “nothing more than gossip fodder” and is like reading a novelized form of a gossip/celebrity magazine.
I don’t believe so, but even if they were.
People are reading. People are empathizing. People are learning.
Does it matter what form that it takes?
Next he goes on to describe that school libraries (in the UK) are emptying their shelves of nonfiction.
I can’t speak to situations in the UK, but in learning about the state of school libraries at my university here in the US, I see that budgets are being cut. When budgets are cut, libraries take a hit. Nonfiction isn’t always cheap.
Personally, I love nonfiction, and I love reading it. I see the importance of allowing our youth to read nonfiction. I will take the stance of one who encourages people to read nonfiction… just like Mr. Nutt should encourage people to read novels he deems appropriate.
However, neither of us should criticize anyone for reading what they enjoy reading. That’s not our jobs. Our job is to encourage reading in all forms and to allow them the chance to branch out. If they do, great. If they don’t, great.
After that, he goes on a tangent about how we as a society should look at how we’ve starved these poor children from a proper “literary inheritance.”
He says, “There is a world of difference between being able to decode symbols on a page and engaging with the thoughts and ideas of intelligent men and women who have important things to say, things which may even make that adult life, still some years off, a richer and a happier experience.”
It appears, again, that Mr. Nutt has placed judgement on something he shouldn’t be judging.
Are YA authors not intelligent? Do they not have important things to say? Can their novels not make adult life a richer and happier experience?
He then poses several questions to publishers.
Are YA novels culturally valid and something we should value? Do they introduce teenagers to the adult world?
He then goes on to judge publishers for patronizing teenagers and turning them off to reading “with books they think are good for them, instead of helping them seek out and enjoy books that matter.”
Tell me this is satire.
Mr. Nutt is doing the same thing he accuses them of doing. He believes he knows what is best for young readers, and YA isn’t it.
He believes he knows what books matter and what books don’t matter.
That is not okay.
I’m sorry that you can’t see the value in YA, but don’t try and shut off an entire group of books from people who enjoy them because you don’t believe they matter.
Lastly, YA is often read by adults more than teenagers, so everything he’s arguing is nearly invalid anyway.
Thanks for sticking through that with me!
“Literate.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 22 Aug. 2016. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/literate
“Literature.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 22 Aug. 2016. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/literature
It had been years since I last saw a production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Back then, I was still in my early teenage years and was watching a high school’s interpretation of the musical.
The show is essentially a musical retelling of the Biblical story of Joseph and his coat of many colors.
Both the original story and the plot of the flashy musical bother me, but I won’t focus on those.
Instead, I’ll focus on the choices of the director and choreographer, Andy Blankenbuehler, and the choices of the actors.
To start, I was very impressed by all of the uses of technology during the introduction (and the whole show). They made very good use of curtain screens and projectors to help introduce you to the setting of the show. Ryan was extremely impressed with the use of the projectors.
The costumes were spectacular, as to be expected with a Broadway performance, but they were a bit too sexy to be deemed kid-friendly in my opinion. Most of the women wore skirts or pants with what, at best, can be described as bikini tops and, at worst, can be described as bras. Many of the male characters went shirtless.
Regardless, the songs are catchy, and the acting was well-done.
But, as can happen with live theatre, things can go wrong.
Part of the way through the show, an announcement came on to say that, due to technical difficulties, the show would be paused. They then lowered the curtain.
During the announcement, the actors froze, and you couldn’t tell there was anything wrong before the announcement.
During the pause, Daniel and I discussed our theories of what went wrong, and we explained to Ryan about how live theatre differs from movies and TV shows in the fact that things can go wrong that can’t be edited out.
It turned out that a piece of the set that was supposed to be lowered into a table (and eventually a bed) failed to lower.
Once they figured everything out, they restarted the scene and continued on.
Here’s where things got uncomfortable (spoilers)…
So Joseph gets seduced by the wife of his master. Fine. Things happen.
What made it uncomfortable was that two people (one that was very scantily-clad) were on a bed, straddled each other, and then were covered in a bed sheet so they can kick around under the sheets. That is a bit too sexy and way too obvious for it to be called a family-friendly show. It’s not family-friendly.
A five or six year old may not know what’s going on, but an eleven year old knew that what was going on was something he shouldn’t be seeing.
As adults, my husband and I were uncomfortable with watching the scene. I don’t know what Daniel did, but both Ryan and I covered our eyes.
Ryan even called them out on it. He said, “I thought this was supposed to be a kid-friendly show.”
We thought so, too, as we had looked into reviews of the current production. Yeah, they mentioned some sexiness and that the seduction part was a bit more obvious than it needed to be, but we didn’t think it would be that bad, since there were a TON of kids there. Plus, the news and actors had been reporting it was very kid-friendly.
Moving along, there was one other technical difficulty, but they didn’t stop the show for it. During the song “Benjamin Calypso,” the microphone for Joesph’s brother, Judah, was covered by something, which prevented the audience from hearing him (it was like he was speaking from the far end of a very long tunnel).
After that, though, everything went well.
Even though I get that sexy costumes and dances “sell” or attract people, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is not the show to incorporate sexiness into.
It’s supposed to be a fun, catchy, and enjoyable retelling of the Biblical story for kids. Adults do not need swirly hips and abs and skin (from all of the actors, not just the women) to be entertained by the show. The show itself stands out.
Leave out the sexiness, and you have a great show with incredible usage of technology, wonderful actors, and a fun evening.
I turned 21 this year, and I think the experience was different for me than it was for a lot of my peers.
After starting at university at 15 and graduating at 20, I felt like I have been 21 for a long time.
All of my friends are in their mid-twenties at this point, and there I was, the minor. But nobody remembered my age (which didn’t help me remember it either)! I cannot tell you how many times I was invited to 21 and over restaurants, bars, parties, etc. and had to decline because of my age.
Then, I would be met with the awkward conversation of, “Oh, I forgot how young you were… sorry.” But then a little while later, I would find myself back at that conversation. However, worse than having to decline an invitation is being neglected completely, and luckily, that hasn’t happened often.
Second, I have been left out of so many opportunities because of my age, and it sucks.
Twice, I missed opportunities to network with people in my career field because their chosen venue did not allow those under 21 years old. Most recently, this happened just ten days before my 21st birthday.
I don’t blame my peers (the world does not revolve around me; there will always be more networking opportunities), but I do think that we, as a country, need to reevaluate our legal drinking age.
How insane is it that I was able to have a B.A., vote, be married, and do a lot of other things, but I couldn’t network with people in my career field because of my age?
With that, I wouldn’t have even been able to sit in the passenger’s seat while my husband drove with a learner’s permit. No matter that I had five years of driving experience, a college degree, or that I was married to him; I couldn’t sit there because I was only twenty.
My young age hasn’t just been a curse and a source of angst for me, though. I have been able to learn from watching my friends turn 21 and go through the struggles of being “old enough.”
I have learned that drinking too much leads to getting too friendly with the commode.
I have learned that being “old enough” means bearing more responsibilities for yourself than you previously had to.
I have learned that drinking isn’t the point of turning 21. The point is to learn self-control.
The best part is that I didn’t have to learn any of this “the hard way.” I was able to learn it all from the comfort of my home and “under-21” venues (i.e., restaurants).
I still have four years until my brain is fully developed, so I still have a lot of learning and growing to do. However, the lessons I learned before turning 21 are those that many people don’t learn until after 21. I believe that the best way to learn about our limits with alcohol, to prevent alcohol-related injuries and driving violations, to allow students to focus on their work, and to let us learn these lessons is to lower the legal age of drinking and let kids get it out before they get behind the wheel.
I definitely don’t have the answers, nor have I personally done research on the matter, but I do have my own personal experiences, and I believe that it’s high time we reevaluate our policy towards alcohol… especially since so many kids drink anyway. Let their first experiences be with their parents, not hiding away with friends.
Turning 21 was very symbolic for me. It meant that, for the first time, I would feel truly a part of my circle of friends and feel somewhat competent in front of my peers. I am no longer “that girl that had to stay behind.” Now I can go out with my peers, not drink (or drink just a little), and not be conscious of my young age.
Last week, the library system I work for held their annual Staff Day, which worked like a mini conference for all of our employees. I had a great time, and I left feeling validated and excited for my future in libraries. Below are some of the main concepts and ideas I took away from the meeting:
Teamwork and Outreach
One of the sessions I attended focused on outreach and collaboration between our library branches and the surrounding communities. However, I found a hidden message in the speech: teamwork is essential to the success of a library. One of the speakers, a manager from a branch in a neighborhood similar to mine, spoke about how she encourages her staff to work together to help their branch reach their potential.
Rather than taking on the job, as the branch manager, of reaching out to and forming partnerships with community organizations alone, she allows her employees to go to community meetings, form partnerships, maintain those partnerships, and so on. She shares the task of keeping the branch involved to her employees, and she trusts them to understand how partnerships work, how to keep them going, to know when to end partnerships, and how to enrich them.
Together, they have combined their knowledge and resources to bring in organizations that can help their patrons and they have made their branch a focal point and gathering place for the community. That is what I hope for every single library I will ever work for.
Libraries and Communities
Libraries are no longer a place to find books, they are community centers in disguise. They work with and for their patrons. They are information hubs, and they don’t just know books anymore. They know community resources. They know where to find help for struggling patrons. They either know it, or they know where they can find it.
However, a library can’t just open up and say, “We’re here; let’s get started.” They need to listen to and know their community. What her patrons need may not be what my patrons need; what my patrons need isn’t what a branch in a wealthy neighborhood needs. We, as libraries, can’t go into a community and assume we have all the answers. We need to know our patrons; we need to know the needs of our community; and we need to know what our community needs from us. Our job isn’t to tell them what we do; our job is to listen to our community and then work with them to figure out what we can do to best help our community grow stronger.
Whether we serve as a gathering place for community leaders, or whether we offer and instruct classes and programs that help our patrons succeed, we need to listen to our communities first.
Teamwork and Your Library
In this post, I have done my best to try and explain the importance of libraries and communities using teamwork to make the community stronger, and I have done my best to outline that it’s not the job of the library to determine what the community needs; the library has to listen to the community to best figure out what they can do to be a part of the community and make it grow.
I want to return to a point I made earlier about the branch manager and her staff. They did everything together and as a team. They demonstrated what makes libraries work best, and that is delegating tasks and trusting each other.
No one person can hold a library together. The community uses the library, the library needs the community, and the library staff makes sure nothing falls apart. A library works best when the tasks are delegated to all of the staff members. Being given responsibilities outside of their “regular” duties allows staff members to feel connected to their branch, and it gives them a sense of purpose.
When staff members feel like they matter to their business more than just their job outline, I think they are likely to perform better. This all is just my opinion of course, but I’ve seen it happen.
As always, there are people who are just there for the paycheck to survive, and that is absolutely fine. But for employees lower on the “totem pole” and who are passionate about the work they do, being given responsibilities encourages them to perform better, and it boosts their morale.
I’m thankful to have been given the chance to attend Staff Day and to have listened to such an inspiring and thought-provoking session. A lot of what I’ve said here is just my opinion, but I think there’s some merit to it.
To be a successful library, we have to work together with our fellow staff members, and most importantly, we have to work with our community.
Every person has the ability to make change in their own way.
Many people choose to use their voice. Some voices are louder than others. Some are more articulate and thought-through. Some are emotional. Some are timid.
I know people who use their ability to captivate an audience to their advantage. They are able to inform others online and in person with facts at the drop of a hat, and they know it. I have a friend who can express everything I’m feeling long before I’ve ever figured out the right words. Those people are inspiring.
I also know people who may not be so good at coming up with what to say, so they “share” or refer to those who use their words well. That’s okay. I’m one of those people a lot of the time.
My friend does a lot to make change. She uses her voice, her right to vote, her influence on social media, and so much more to make change. It’s in her blood.
Like her, some people make change by using their voice. Some use media (social and otherwise). Some look to politics. Some look to education (for themselves and others). Some prefer to team up and work with people. Some choose to hold demonstrations and protests. Some take a strong and public stand against injustices in our world. Some are terrified, for reasons that don’t have to be known, to express their opinions publicly.
There are so many ways to make change; you just have to pick one. You don’t have to be like my friend and take a strong public stance, but you have to do something. If you don’t want to be in the public eye, reach out to those who do speak up loudly and ask how you can make change. They’ll have ideas. The only thing you can’t do is nothing.
I’m a fan of the band Rush, and they have a lyric that goes “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.” Though they aren’t talking about making change, the lyric still rings true for me.
My biggest point is that, no matter how you choose to make change, understand that everyone has their own way of making a difference. No one facing the same goal should criticize one another on how they choose to make change. We all need to stand together and use our strengths to our advantage. Not everyone can stand up and be a strong-voiced leader, but we all have our own way of making change; we just have to start doing it.
And we all have to stand together and support one another.
No goal gets accomplished if we all bicker over how to best make change. We all make change differently, and we all have to support each other. So if you would rather demonstrate with a group, do it. If you would rather be a loud voice on social media, do it. If you would rather make a movie about injustices, do it. If you would rather be a supporting voice rather than the main voice, do it. If you don’t know what to do, ask someone.
Working as a team gets more done than fighting with one another about who’s making the best change and why. We all just have to work together and do it.
So whether you want people to know how what’s happening in Ferguson affects us and that #BlackLivesMatter; or whether you want to make your community stronger; or whether you want to fight racial (or any other) injustices; or whether you want to make any other kind of change, find your way and do it.
Every person has the ability to make change in their own way.
Now you just have to find your way and do it.
This comic and blog post on zenpencils.com started out on the On My Radar post for Week 3. However, as I started talking about it, I found a bit of passion that I hadn’t been able to express in writing, and it became a bit long for an On My Radar post. So, I decided to give the topic it’s very own post.
Our education system (especially in the US) seems to stamp out all things that are creative, especially dance. I spent thirteen years of my life dancing in the evenings after school. I learned how to work with a team, work on my own, a bit of French, and an appreciation for the art. I learned that the more work you put into something, the more you see and are satisfied with your results (aka, dance taught me work ethic).
I was able to keep active and healthy, especially in a time where kids never went outside to play. I gained the confidence to go on stage in front of thousands of people. I learned memorization skills, and I have more of an awareness of my body in space (I think dance improved my spacial development as a child).
However, none of that seems to matter to those in charge of the educational system. We are discouraged from doing things such as drama and dance in favor of more “practical” things. We are told that we won’t ever get a job doing something in the arts, so why even try? Well, there are about seven billion people on this earth. Does every single one of them have to fit into a box of careers?
Surely not everyone can or should be in the same career fields. With so many people (and many of which are quite content with sticking to the “traditional” careers), I think we should encourage more people to follow their dreams in the arts. I’ve seen so many people have fulfilling lives and careers in dance and drama that I can’t imagine them doing anything else.
With so many people who all have their own thoughts, wants, and dreams, why do we try to fit them into a box? Why extinguish creativity? Why not let them decide what they want to pursue? After all, we all should choose what to do with our lives, not let someone else dictate it.