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1. The State of the University Press

intelligent-books-to-read

Recently, a spate of articles appeared surrounding the future of the university press. Many of these, of course, focused on the roles institutional library sales, e-books, and shifting concerns around tenure play in determining the strictures and limitations to be overcome as scholarly publishing moves forward in an increasingly digital age. Last week, Book Business published an profile on what goes on behind the scenes as discussions about these issues shape, abet, and occasionally undermine the relationships between the university press, its supporting institution, its constituents, and the consumers and scholars for whom it markets its books. Including commentary from directors at the University of North Carolina Press, the University of California Press, and Johns Hopkins University Press, the piece also included a conversation with our own director, Garrett Kiely:

From Dan Eldridge’s “The State of the University Presses” at Book Business:

Talk to University of Chicago Press director Garrett Kiely, who also sits on the board of the Association of American University Presses (AAUP), and he’ll tell you that many of the presses that are struggling today — financially or otherwise — are dealing with the same sort of headaches being suffered by their colleagues in the commercial world. And yet there is one major difference: “The commercial imperative,” says Kiely, “has never been a requirement for many of these [university] presses.”

Historically, Kiely explains, an understanding has existed between university presses and their affiliated schools that the presses are publishing primarily to disseminate scholarly information. That’s a valuable service, you might say, that feeds the public good, regardless of profit. “But at the same time,” he adds, “as everything gets tight [regarding] the universities and the amount of money they spend on supporting their presses, those things get looked at very carefully.”

As a result, Kiely says, there’s an increasingly strong push today to align the interests of a press with its university. At the University of Chicago, for instance, both the institution and its press are well known for their strong sociology offerings. But because more and more library budgets today are going toward the scientific fields, a catalog filled with even the strongest of humanities titles isn’t necessarily the best thing for a press’ bottom line.

 The shift the digital, in particular, was a pivot point for much of Kiely’s discussion, which went on to consider some of the more successful—as well as awkward—endeavors embraced by the press as part of a publishing culture blatantly faced with the need to experiment via new modalities in order to meet the interlinked demands of expanding scholarship and changing technology. Today, the formerly comfortable terrain once tackled by academic publishing is ever-changing, and with an increasing rapidity, which as the article asserts, may leave “more questions than answers.” As Kiely put it:

“I think the speed with which new ideas can be tested, and either pursued or abandoned is very different than it was five years ago. . . . We’ve found you can very quickly go down the rabbit hole. And then you start wondering, ‘Is there a market for this? Is this really the way we should be going?’”

To read more from “The State of the University Press,” click here.

 

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2. Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ thoughts on reading The Boxcar Children

The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner, the first book in the series, has come to life in the animated film, “The Boxcar Children,” with voice actors Joey King, Mackenzie Foy, Zachary Gordon, and Jaden Sand.  Directors include Daniel Chuba and Mark A. Z. Dippé. It’s now on sale wherever DVDs are sold!

Boxcar DVD cover

Susan Elizabeth Phillips, a New York Times Bestselling author of over twenty novels, writes about how reading The Boxcar Children as a young girl helped shape her love of reading for pleasure:

The Boxcar Children is the book that changed my life. An exaggeration? Nope. Cross my heart. I was seven years old and in second grade. Learning to read had been a terrible struggle for me, and my seven-year-old brain could not comprehend reading for pleasure. And then Mrs. Martin began reading The Boxcar Children to the class at the end of each school day.

BC cover 51DMhV03xGL__SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

I was enraptured with the story from the first page, and to this day, I remember the sick feeling in my stomach when the school bell rang, and Mrs. Martin closed the book—the story UNFINISHED. Then, the agonizing wait through the next day for the magical moment—would it ever arrive?—when she would open the book again.

After that introduction, how could I not beg my mother—not that it took much begging—to take me to the library to get Surprise Island. And then The Yellow House Mystery. My lifelong love of reading had begun.

herosaremyweakness

Phillips’ newest book Heroes Are My Weakness is on sale everywhere that books are sold beginning on August 26th. You can visit her website; follow her on Twitter, and like her Facebook page.


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3. Thoughts on Ferguson and Recommended Resources

The following is a note from our Publisher, Jason Low, published in this month’s e-newsletter:

image from BirdIt’s been a hard few weeks for those of us following the news out of Ferguson, Missouri. While the exact details of Michael Brown’s death remain unknown, we can already see how this latest incident fits into a larger narrative in this country in which people of color are routinely discriminated against and subject to violence based on the color of their skin. Healing and change cannot begin until we as a country acknowledge the role racism plays not just in events like Michael Brown’s death, but in the everyday lived experiences of the 37% of America that is not white.

From a distance, it can seem like our book-filled corner of the world doesn’t have much to do with Michael Brown’s death, but we know better. The need for more diverse books and better representation is urgent. Poor representation doesn’t just damage self-esteem and confidence of children of color, it also perpetuates a skewed version of society as a whole. How can true equality ever exist if we are literally not even on the same page? Promoting diverse books is about creating a safer space for all children.

There are no easy ways to teach children about what’s happening in Ferguson, but here are couple links we’ve come across that help illuminate the issues and, perhaps, let us find teachable moments:

The Murder of Sean Bell: From Pain to Poetry

What did you tell your kids after the Zimmerman Verdict?

5 Books to Instill Confidence in African American Children

A Dream Conferred: Seven Ways to Explore Race in the Classroom

10 Resources for Teaching About Racism

America’s Racial Divide, Charted

The Case for Reparations

Stark Racial Divisions in Reactions to Ferguson Police Shooting

We’ll add more links as we find them; meanwhile, please do share your favorites in the comments.


Filed under: Dear Readers, Diversity, Race, and Representation, Educator Resources Tagged: Ferguson, race, Race issues, racism, teaching about race

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4. A Graphic Novel About Sisters

Sisters by Raina Telgemeier

Sisters(for ages 8-12) by Raina Telgemeier

When she was young, Raina was so excited to become a big sister. She couldn’t wait to have a sibling to play with! She hoped it would be like having a built-in friend who would never have to go home before dinnertime. But when Amara was born, Raina found having a sibling wasn’t quite what she expected. She was a cute baby, but she cried a lot.

Now that Raina is starting middle school, she can hardly get a minute of privacy at home, especially because she’s crammed into one bedroom with her younger sister and her younger brother Will. To keep the peace between Raina and Amara, Mom and Dad decide to do some room rearranging. Raina will get her own room, and Will and Amara will share the big bedroom. Mom and Dad will move to a sofa bed in the living room.

Will these two sisters finally figure out how to get along?

Sisters by Raina Telgemeier

Check out this video preview of Sisters

! Doesn’t the art remind you of Raina Telgemeier’s other books Smile and Drama?

Do you have any siblings? What do you love the most about having a brother or sister? What parts don’t you love about it? Tell us what you think in the Comments below!

Marisa, STACKS Intern

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5. Choose Your Own Adventure, Part 3

Adventure Books Bash

Welcome back to Choose Your Own Adventure! In a choose-your-own-adventure story, you read a chapter and then you get a few choices of what the character should do next. For the STACKS Adventure Books Bash, we’re celebrating adventure with a choose-your-own-adventure story written by me! Have you read Part 1 and Part 2 yet? Pay attention to your answer choices because when the story is done, your answers will reveal the adventure hero you are most like. Are you ready???

Part 3

You know it’s going to be dark soon, and also time for dinner, but you are mesmerized by your new discovery. Curiosity gets the best of you, and you reach out and pull on the knob.

Nothing budges.

You try twisting and pushing, but nothing happens. The door is totally stuck. Frustrated, you plop down on the grass and watch the last rays of the sun as it slides behind the horizon.

After a while, you start to feel chilly and kind of hungry, so you decide to go home. As you stand up, though, the ground beneath you starts to tremble. As the trembling intensifies, you hear a loud rattling noise. You look over and see that the door is shaking and bright light is seeping out from the edges.

Scared, you start crawling backwards. The sky, which was completely clear only a moment ago, is full of dark clouds. With a loud CRACK, rain begins pouring from the sky. The wind picks up and intensifies until you feel like you’re being battered by rain on all sides.

You start running towards a large tree in the middle of the field, thinking you can hide in it, when suddenly a bolt of lightning slices through the air and strikes the tree, exploding it. Screaming, you start running back towards the woods and your house. The ground is getting muddy and you are slipping and sliding, so it’s taking you a long time to cover the last twenty yards. Before you can process what’s happening, another bolt of lightning strikes a small shrub only a few yards to your left.  You keep running and lightning strikes another patch of grass to your right. You’re about a foot away from the door, which is still shaking violently like someone—or something—is trying to escape.

You . . .

A) knock and see if anyone answers.

B) keep running for a place to hide!

C) try to remember everything you learned in wilderness safety class. You remember something about lying face down on the ground. That might not be the most accurate memory, but it’ll do—so you do it.

D) know that metal conducts electricity in a thunderstorm so you do NOT touch that metal doorknob.

E) pull on the knob! You need to get indoors and you need to get indoors NOW!

What would YOU do? Share your answer in the Comments below! And check back for the next installment of the story.

 Also, please plan to come to the Readathon!

See ya next time,

image from kids.scholastic.com — En-Szu, STACKS Staffer

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6. Loot

Loot by Jude Watson (for ages 9-12)

LOSERS, WEEPERS. STEALERS, KEEPERS.

When Rick Riordan, author of the Percy Jackson series, says a book is “the perfect summer read,” you know it’s got to be good! He (and we!) love Loot, an action-packed heist book by The 39 Clues author Jude Watson.

Loot starts when March McQuin’s criminal father, Alfie, falls off a high rooftop in a heist gone wrong. As Alfie speaks his last words, he manages to tell March to “find jewels.” But March soon learns that “jewels” is actually “Jules” — a twin sister he’s never heard of!

After finding each other, March and Jules plan to follow their father’s footsteps and find a new life for themselves. With just one well-planned heist, the two could be living beyond their wildest dreams! The only question is how? It all becomes clear when March begins to discover hints his father left behind…

Start reading the action-packed Loot here!

Would you have the courage to pull off a heist like March and Jules? What friends would you take along the way?  Post your answers in the Comments below!

 

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7. Revolution: Review Haiku

Freedom Summer as
you haven't seen it before.
Pair this with Delphine.

Revolution by Deborah Wiles. Scholastic, 2014, 544 pages.

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8. Worlds End 11oz Ceramic Mugs


A look at our NEW Merchandise

Hi Folks,

I’m pleased to announce today that, at long last, we have launched the full range of new Worlds End 11oz Ceramic Mugs.

So without further ado… you can check out the full range of artwork available here in the Wizards keep News Pages

The full range of six Worlds End Series 01 Mugs are available now to purchase from the Wizards Keep & Worlds End Shops!

They are just the job for enjoying your favourite brew whilst reading Worlds End any time of day, any time of year.

Until next time, have fun!

Tim Perkins…
August18th 2014

0 Comments on Worlds End 11oz Ceramic Mugs as of 8/19/2014 9:25:00 AM
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9. Ice Cream Personality Quiz

Ice creamWhat Ice Cream Flavor Are You?

  1. You like to eat your ice cream . . . A) atop a warm piece of apple pie. B) from a waffle cone. C) in a giant sundae. D) from a cup.
  2. Your favorite topping is . . .  A) whipped cream and a cherry. You’re so classic! B) rainbow sprinkles! You love some extra color and crunch.  C) hot fudge. Extra chocolate, please! D) chocolate crunchies. Yummy and sophisticated!
  3. If an avalanche of ice cream were coming right at you, you would . . . A) drizzle chocolate sauce onto it from an airplane. B) sculpt it into beautiful shapes. C) dive right in and eat your way out of the ice cream rubble.  D) practice snowboarding tricks off the chocolate chunk cliffs!
  4. Choose a vacation destination.  A) London. B) New York. C) Florida D) California.
  5. If you drove an ice cream truck, the song it would play is . . .  A) “Classic” by MKTO. B) “What Makes You Beautiful” by One Direction
. C) “Happy” by Pharrell Williams. D)”“Really Don’t Care” by Demi Lovato.
  • Your favorite summer footwear is . . . A) tennis shoes. B) barefoot. C) flip-flops. D) fancy sandals.
  • Choose a dessert besides ice cream.  A) Sugar cookies. Simple but delicious! B) Cupcakes. Do we have funfetti sprinkles? C) Brownies. Bring on the chocolate! D) Thin Mints. Can I have a glass of milk, please?
  • The word that describes you best is . . . A) kind. B) curious. C) cheerful. D) edgy.
  • Ready to find out what ice cream flavor you are? Count up your answers to find out!

    If you answered mostly A’s: You are vanilla bean!
    Cool, traditional, and always one of the most popular – that’s you! There’s no drama when it comes to you, which makes you an incredible friend to have! You are a warm and comforting friend, and you get along with everyone.

    If you answered mostly B’s: You are rainbow sherbet!
    You’re adventurous and curious about everything, and you’ve got a great head on your shoulders! You’ve got an exotic flair, and people are always interested in learning more about you. You always know how to keep friends entertained, and you have a brilliant creative spark!

    If you answered mostly C’s: You are chocolate fudge brownie!
    You are totally decadent – hanging out with you is like living in the lap of luxury. You live life to the fullest, and you know that chocolate is the best way to cheer up anyone who’s down. Nobody can resist your generous and cheerful personality!

    If you answered mostly D’s: You are mint chocolate chip!
    You’re a little different, and most importantly, you are super-refreshing. You are calm, refined, and always keep your cool. Don’t forget the chocolate chips – you’ve got a bit of an edgy side as well, and it’s part of what makes you so interesting!

    —Marisa, STACKS Intern

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    10. West of the Moon: Review Haiku

    Moody and odd, as
    only Scandihoovians
    can be. Quite a trip.

    West of the Moon by Margi Preus. Amulet, 2014, 224 pages.

    0 Comments on West of the Moon: Review Haiku as of 8/18/2014 7:13:00 AM
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    11. Back-to-School Who Would Win

    Back to School

    It’s time to go back to school!

    It’s finally time to go back to school! YAYYYY!!! There are so many reasons to get excited about going back to school but for today’s Who Would Win, please choose between these 2:

    Which is better?

    Having the best school library OR having the best school supplies in your school bag?

    Back to School

    Leave your vote in the Comments. And tell us your favorite part about going back to school

    .

    –Sonja, STACKS Staffer

    The librarian photo credit aussiegal; My schoool bag photo credit anasararojas

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    12. The Six People Who Shaped My Life

    “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” ~ George Bernard Shaw

    My life might have been entirely different had I not befriended seven people along life’s journey. It has been said that to understand the path of our life we have to review it in reverse, starting with the early years.

    Beyond parents and siblings, throughout my life I have had six people leave deep footprints on my heart: a landscape architect (Dave), a family practitioner (John/Dr. Jensen), an English teacher (Miss Starr Hacker), a professor (Dr. Ralph H. Hunkins), my wife, (Marilyn), and a poet (Shel Silverstein.) Whom and what we love seems to shape the person we become.

    I grew up next door to Dave in Queens, New York, until he turned five. Then his family moved 30 miles away. Our parents were great friends. The friendship survived the move because on Thursdays the men met to play cards in the kitchen and the women met to sew sweaters and chat in the living room. They took turns visiting one another with a small group of lifelong friends.

    During the summer Dave and I would always spend a week or two at each other’s home. We shared several important interests: chasing girls for dates, blue ribbons on the track team, and a Regents diploma. In our teens, it was frequently more satisfying to write volumes to one another about girls, sports, school, and our domineering fathers than to do anything else. Our moms faithfully exchanged our letters every Thursday. We called it the “Pocketbook Mail Express.” No stamps needed.

    Our dads asked a lot from themselves and those they loved. And our generation was the one where kids were seen but not heard. Sometimes our letters were a forum for complaints against the universe. Sometimes they were simply tales of teen triumphs and defeats.

    I admired Dave and his family because they took summer vacation trips together. Dave was a Boy Scout, had cute girlfriends, and attended church with his family. He always wore shiny black shoes, a pressed white shirt, and a tie to church. Dave was the first person who taught me how to make a presentable knot. Now whenever I put on a tie, I think of Dave and how I kept my vow to be like his Dad by vacationing with my kids during their formative years. Thanks to Dave and his vacation stories I became a better father than I might have been.

    John, the doctor-to-be, was very analytical and loved baseball. As a youngster, I hated playing “Go Fish!” with him because had a photographic mind.  I was better at playing stoop ball, stickball, or sandlot baseball. Because he lived a bike ride away, we played ball all of the time. We grew up loving baseball and rooting for two different New York teams. We had baseball and family in common—Christmas dinners, birthdays, confirmation, and more.

    John taught me to stand up for myself, enjoy family gatherings, and cherish our moments outdoors or indoors together. Some of the best laughs we had were watching the “Jackie Gleason Show” and rolling with laugher on the living room floor. We even earned money together by sharing a big paper route. At the age of 12, we sometimes took the train into the city by ourselves with our earnings and attended a Yankee day game. John encouraged me to go after whatever I wanted, but never to lose my sense of humor in the process.

    In my senior year in high school, I realized that I wasn’t going to be a professional baseball player. My English teacher, Miss Starr Hacker, thought that I was a promising writer. She believed in me. For her, I wrote my heart out. My weekly essays always had a large red “A” scribbled on them. I actively participated in her class. My mind was growing with possibilities. I started believing that I could be an English teacher or a writer, thanks to her.

     I longed to make a difference in the lives of others, just like Miss Hacker. I even considered being a sixth grade teacher because mine was so dull that I thought that I could do better!

    My first education course was taught by Dr. Ralph H. Hunkins. He was a kind, intelligent, and enthusiastic. We immediately hit it right off in class. I loved studying about teaching, especially theories of education and men like John Dewey. Two pet projects of Dr. Hunkins were defining what education really is and fostering World Peace. In his classroom I was politely outspoken. After doing an Independent Study with him, we became friends, and I wrote him often after I graduated. He once told me that my letters about school were better than John Holt’s writings about education. Sometimes I even had the pleasure of his wife’s delicious cooking and friendly company. Thanks to them, my confidence as a future educator or writer was growing.

    Around the time I met Ralph, I also met my bride-to-be, Marilyn Dufford. We fell madly in love. I thought she was perfect, beautiful on the inside and the outside. And she loved kids. She wanted to be an early childhood teacher. We studied a lot in the college dorm. She taught me how to really study, love long walks, chick flicks, and pizza at “Arnies.”

    We married two weeks after our June graduation. In September she was teaching kindergarten, and I was teaching sixth grade in the same school district. I felt the happiest I ever felt in my life. I taught elementary school for thirty-three years.  She taught public school for fifteen years, became a religious director, and raised two lovely daughters. She finished her teaching career as a Special Education teacher. The two of us always loved teaching kids, books, stories, and words.

    Thanks to Ralph’s inspiring words about writing, I published a number of articles for parents and teachers in national magazines, and I fell in love with the works of Shel Silverstein, especially A Light in the Attic and Where the Sidewalk Ends.

    Poets like the late Shel Silverstein made the ordinary different and exciting. I read and enjoyed his poetry so much that I internalized it. I never met the man, but he became my mentor and friend. Whenever there was a break from the regular school schedule, I read his poetry to my delighted students. They loved the joy and craziness in his poems. And sometimes his poetry even gave them thoughts to ponder. They treasured the book of poems they created in June. If as a teacher you can make kids laugh, think and create for themselves, they are more apt to become self-actualized students, encouraging the best from themselves and their teachers.

    My students encouraged me to be to write and perform poetry for our class and other classes. Now I am the luckiest man alive helping kids to laugh, think, and write, whenever I am invited into school as a poet. Each school is my stadium. Each stage is my diamond. And Coach Sottile enjoys his players and our moments in the limelight, thanks to Shel and six others.   

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    13. The Sex

     Edwin_Meese_publicity_shot (This is a picture of Attorney General Edwin Meese, who commissioned the Meese Report on Pornography. He’ll be keeping an eye on things, just so no one gets the giggles.)

    I had the pleasure last week of teaching a class with Carrie Mesrobian at the Loft Literary Center. For three hours every day, we had the attentions of a dozen teenage writers. And what did we do with their attentions? We talked, read, and wrote about sex and violence. In essence, it was a class about crafting dramatic conflict and intense personal interaction. I cannot vouch for the students, but I can say it was an education for me.

    This was not a focus group; I wasn’t there to discover what teens in general want to read. I tried to keep my primary engagement with them on the level of writer and editor. But I was keenly interested in listening to them talk and reading their writing, particularly about sex. I was interested in what things they perceived as clichés and as fertile, unplowed YA soil. Outside of increasingly unreliable memory, this was as good a window into experience as I was going to get. I tried hard not to blink and miss something. Here are seven things the class showed us that might be of interest to those who write about teenagers:

    1. Girls masturbate, and the writers and readers in this class have noticed a distinct lack of same in YA fiction. A couple students talked about scenes they wished they could read (and will probably write) dialogue that connected the experience of masturbation with the experience of partnered sex. (More on this one later.)

    2. Virginity is more a point on a life’s timeline than it is a character trait. To be a virgin is not necessarily to be virginal.

    3. More mixed-race relationships. In the context of the class, I took this to mean they wanted to write and read about these relationships without having the mere existence of the relationship become the story.

    4. They have a very sophisticated sense of the diversity of sexual orientations. Nobody thought the word “pansexual” was particularly novel or exotic. As people, these teenagers took their sexuality much less for granted than we generally imagine, and as writers they were vastly more interested in exploration than categorization. They’re impatient even with the non-diversity of our so-called diverse books when it comes to explorations and expressions of gender and sexuality.

    5. Oral sex is a two way street. We asked the students to identify sexual clichés toward the beginning of the class, and then near the end we asked for the anti-clichés—the missed opportunities as they saw them. One student wrote “girls getting eaten out” three times on her anti-cliché list. Her general sentiment was not unique. This one was very interesting to me. Yes, reconsider the cunnilingus-to-fellatio ratio—duh—but I thought this comment also shined a light on how we adults so often write about teen sex—especially oral sex acts—symbolically. The no-strings-attached quickie blow-job can be a character development move in much of YA fiction. The girl who goes down on a guy but won’t have intercourse with him is a certain kind of person, etc. But what about depictions that aren’t concerned so much with what the act signifies as how the newly experienced desire feels to the character? Would the world come to an end if a YA novel captured a character discovering that she wanted to give a blow job? To capture this is to get ahold of something so much more personal and fleeting than the purely symbolic.

    6. One girl said she preferred writing queer sex scenes because it felt like she was working in a room less crowded with other people, an analogy I will not soon shake. In general as writers and readers, the class often found depictions of queer sex more appealing because such depictions had to rely more on “data” (Carrie’s extremely useful word for sex scenes that actually have anatomic specifics) and less on cliché or coy euphemism or nudge-nudge wink-wink. Makes sense, right? To conjure a non-heterosexual sex act, a writer has to be specific about bodies if she has any hope of putting a specific picture in a reader’s head. Spreading petals and silk and exploding stars fading to black doesn’t get the job done.

    7. While they’re not looking for things to be “left to the imagination,” they are similarly uninterested in the sexual simulacrum that is porn (at least they were uninterested as writers—they were teenagers with pulses so I imagine they might have been interested in porn in other capacities). The girl who wrote “girls getting eaten out” was not ignorant of the fact that she could find millions of hours of cunnilingus with a single Google search. She was after something else. They don’t want symbols, wish fulfillment, or pretend sex. The sexual weariness, frustration, and disappointment so common to literary fiction about adults are uninteresting and foreign to them. Several said they wanted to write and read sex scenes that include conversations about the sex, which, while possibly terrible as writing advice, is a fascinating observation. Teen sexuality is its own unique thing in the vast universe of human sexuality.

    I'm beginning to think of sex in YA this way: the processes of discovering

    • the facts of any given sex act,
    • the desire to have it,
    • and then of the opportunity to have it

    are not necessarily erotic or symbolic or easily recalled by an adult, but they are none the less distinct, absolutely fascinating, and true to the experience of being a teenager. And isn’t that the whole point of the genre?

    One last observation. But first, it’s not an exaggeration to say that being allowed to listen to a group of teenagers who are serious readers and writers discuss sex, reading, and writing in an open and unashamed way for many hours is a privilege and implies a certain amount of trust and respect. I hope I am honoring that trust, and I want it to be clear when I recount this next student question that I’m doing so with the considerable respect it is due:

    "Why would I want to put a dick in my mouth? Do adults even do that?" asked one young writer.

    At the time, Carrie and I answered with glib, adult equivalents of “yes” on the latter inquiry, but after a week’s reflection, her questions are far more valuable to me than our answer was to her.

    Teenagers have always existed in a weird chasm between childhood innocence and adult experience. And the progress they make across that chasm on the way to adulthood is uneven and sporadic. Desire outpaces understanding. Understanding lurches ahead of desire. You know that people put penises in their mouths—and a dozen other things completely incomprehensible to the last vestiges of your child-self—before your new self quite feels the desire to do it. Or you feel the desire for intense and unfamiliar intimacy but don't know how bodies—your body, another’s body—can quite satisfy it. Your mind surprises you. Your body surprises you. And on and on. The one thing of true value in all this chaos is honest, specific depictions.

    “Yes, adults do that, but it’s not the same as what you might feel. No, I cannot really explain why you would want to do that or anything else, but trust me that if you do, you are not weird or a symbol of anything other than yourself. Though I cannot give you a reason, I can try as hard as I can to do justice to the process you will go through,” I wish I had answered.

    If you as a writer take the specifics of adolescent sex—all of them—for granted, or let its symbolism be the primary force in the book, then you miss an opportunity to express something breathtakingly true about this thing that is being a teenager. And that would be a shame.

    0 Comments on The Sex as of 8/17/2014 10:23:00 PM
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    14. The Secret Kingdom Series

    The Secret Kingdom

    The Lowdown on the Secret Kingdom Series (for ages 7-10)

    Have you read the Secret Kingdom series? If you haven’t heard about these magical books, here’s everything you need to know to get started:

    The girls in charge: Ellie, Summer, and Jasmine! These three best friends find an enchanted box that whisks them away to a place called the Secret Kingdom, where they go on amazing adventures and have to save the day from . . .

    the villain, better known as Queen Malice. She lives on a grey thundercloud, so you can imagine how mean she is! She is constantly trying to take over the Secret Kingdom and she makes everyone who lives there simply miserable, especially her brother . . .

    the good guy. King Merry is just a happy royal with a knack for inventing magical things. He wants the best for all his loving citizens, but unfortunately, he’s often forgetful and gets confused easily.

    Luckily, Ellie, Summer, and Jasmine don’t have to save the Secret Kingdom alone – they have Trixi the Pixie to cast spells and help them defeat Queen Malice!

    To read an exclusive excerpt from their first adventure in the Secret Kingdom, click here

    .

    If you love it as much as we think you will, you’ll be happy to know there are LOTS more books in the series! Look for Book 2: Unicorn Valley, and help Ellie, Summer, and Jasmine save the Secret Kingdom yet again!

     

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    15. Dylan Jones on The Life and Death of Elvis Presley

    Dylan Jones, author of ELVIS HAS LEFT THE BUILDING: The Death of the King and the Rise of Punk Rock, offers a quick commentary on the milestones in the life of Elvis Presley: <!--[if gte mso 9]> <![endif]--> <!--[if gte mso 9]> Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE

    0 Comments on Dylan Jones on The Life and Death of Elvis Presley as of 8/17/2014 11:35:00 AM
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    16. Character Education, Part 1: How To Choose Books For Core Value Study

    As we cluster in workshops, around webinars, and near the water cooler, we are already thinking about and preparing what skills and knowledge we want to teach. Yet, to truly have a successful year, let’s ponder an additional question: who do we want to teach?

    The start of school is a popular time to model and instill core values because August and September are a fresh start: our time as teachers, librarians, and administrators to create and cultivate a community bound and motivated by the same values and goals. It is during this period that we can expose our students to stories with strong morals that feature both examples and non-examples of how to react in tough situations and learn from one’s mistakes.

    However, it can be very difficult to select just the right text to teach values that will guide our students through academic and developmental challenges over the coming year and lay the groundwork for the community we hope to build.

    Many teachers dust off their tried-and-true character education read alouds each coming school year or rely on word of mouth recommendations that send us back to the classics year in, year out. During my first year of teaching, I remember everyone scrambling to find a book that demonstrated “respect” or “persistence.” When a master teacher on campus mentioned that she used a particular title for the start of every first week of school, that sounded like hard proof to me and I was grateful. I went out and bought it.

    Yet, there is not just one book that will make the abstract concept of “empathy” or “leadership” concrete to third graders or kindergartners. With such dependence on the same books, many of my third graders had read The Lorax three years in a row to learn about responsibility and respect. It’s an outstanding book to explore these values, but still…three years? It was time to shake things up.

    Whether your school has campus-wide core values or you can determine your own, I encourage you to think carefully about which books you use to teach core values. They are the foundation of a classroom or school’s culture and can guide children’s social, intellectual, and emotional development.

    For successful character education study, choose a set of books that:

    1. Have protagonists that both exemplify and struggle with at least one of the classroom’s core values. Don’t just present stories with perfect, role model-worthy characters! Students should see multiple examples of people and situations of the core value in action to learn that one’s character is made, not born. Finding books where characters (protagonists and antagonists) lie, cheat, lose their cool, or are hurtful to other characters can be just as powerful as exemplary characters, if not more so. Students can discuss what they can learn from both examples and non-examples, share advice for different scenarios, and reflect on similar experiences in their lives where they struggled to make the right decision.

    2. Are both fiction and nonfiction. Pair fiction with nonfiction texts to show students a range of experiences and real world applications. Reading a biography of a famous leader practicing or struggling with a core value gives students the chance to visualize the core value in their environment and daily lives, as well as let them see that knowing how to make good choices doesn’t come naturally and needs to be practiced.

    3. Align with the Common Core ELA Standards. Character education doesn’t need to be separate from ELA instruction or your curriculum. In fact, core value study is great for teaching close reading, determining central ideas and author’s message, analyzing word choice, and comparing two or more texts.

    4. Have protagonists students can identify with based on race, gender, family background, language, and experience. Although students absolutely learn from characters different from themselves, it is very meaningful for children to see someone on the cover and in the pages they identify with struggling or succeeding to make good choices. Especially for younger students, relating to aspects of a character’s identity helps students visualize themselves in the character’s situation and develop empathy. Additionally, for children who are new to school or are English Language Learners, having characters that remind them of themselves or their families may give the children more confidence to participate in class, which is critical to building a strong classroom/school community at the beginning of the year.

    Looking to refresh your character education read aloud shelf? For book recommendations demonstrating your classroom’s core values, check out our Pinterest boards:

    What core values do you teach children? What are your favorite books to teach these core values? Let us know below!

    Jill_EisenbergJill Eisenberg, our Resident Literacy Expert, began her career teaching English as a Foreign Language to second through sixth graders in Yilan, Taiwan as a Fulbright Fellow. She went on to become a literacy teacher for third grade in San Jose, CA as a Teach for America corps member. She is certified in Project Glad instruction to promote English language acquisition and academic achievement. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators. 


    Filed under: Common Core State Standards, Educator Resources, ELL/ESL and Bilingual Books Tagged: CCSS, children's books, close reading, diversity, Educators, ELA common core standards, Reading Aloud, reading comprehension

    1 Comments on Character Education, Part 1: How To Choose Books For Core Value Study, last added: 8/16/2014
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    17. Choose Your Own Adventure, Part 2

    Adventure Books Bash

    Welcome back to Choose Your Own Adventure! In a choose-your-own-adventure story, you read a chapter and then you get a few choices of what the character should do next. For the STACKS Adventure Books Bash, we’re celebrating adventure with a choose-your-own-adventure story written by me! Have you read Part 1 yet? Pay attention to your answer choices because when the story is done, your answers will reveal the adventure hero you are most like. Are you ready???

    Part 2

    “Alfie!” you say. You don’t want to be left alone, and he’s acting weird. “Come back!” He looks back a few times and barks, but soon his fluffy, yellow tail is out of sight. You sigh and think, “So much for loyalty.”

    You start walking deeper into the field. You’re still mad at Kyle and don’t want to go home just yet. You’re distractedly wondering why Alfie was behaving so strangely when you trip and nearly fall on your face.

    At first you think you tripped over a large rock or piece of garbage. After all, the grass is pretty unruly and tall, and sometimes rowdy teenagers leave trash here. But when you look back, you see something glinting in the light of the setting sun — a shiny, metal doorknob covered in strange symbols.

    Curious, you lean in closer and can see that it is attached to a wooden door in the ground. The door isn’t very big and it looks old, but the knob looks very new.

    You . . .

    a) call a friend and tell him/her to come take a look before deciding what to do next.b) think it looks pretty cool and you want to look at it later, but for now it’s more important to find gross bugs to stick in your brother’s bed.d) take a picture of the doorknob with your phone. Then go home to do some research on the meaning of the symbols.new installments of the story.

    See ya next time,

    image from kids.scholastic.com — En-Szu, STACKS Staffer

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    18. Wikipedia and the Politics of Openness

    When you think about Wikipedia, you might not immediately envision it as a locus for a political theory of openness—and that might well be due to a cut-and-paste utopian haze that masks the site’s very real politicking around issues of shared decision-making, administrative organization, and the push for and against transparencies. In Wikipedia and the Politics of Openness, forthcoming this December, Nathaniel Tkacz cuts throw the glow and establishes how issues integral to the concept of “openness” play themselves out in the day-to-day reality of Wikipedia’s existence. Recently, critic Alan Liu, whose prescient scholarship on the relationship between our literary/historical and technological imaginations has shaped much of the humanities turn to new media, endorsed the book via Twitter:

    Untitled

    With that in mind, the book’s jacket copy furthers a frame for Tkacz’s argument:

    Few virtues are as celebrated in contemporary culture as openness. Rooted in software culture and carrying more than a whiff of Silicon Valley technical utopianism, openness—of decision-making, data, and organizational structure—is seen as the cure for many problems in politics and business.

     But what does openness mean, and what would a political theory of openness look like? With Wikipedia and the Politics of Openness, Nathaniel Tkacz uses Wikipedia, the most prominent product of open organization, to analyze the theory and politics of openness in practice—and to break its spell. Through discussions of edit wars, article deletion policies, user access levels, and more, Tkacz enables us to see how the key concepts of openness—including collaboration, ad-hocracy, and the splitting of contested projects through “forking”—play out in reality.

    The resulting book is the richest critical analysis of openness to date, one that roots media theory in messy reality and thereby helps us move beyond the vaporware promises of digital utopians and take the first steps toward truly understanding what openness does, and does not, have to offer.

    Read more about Wikipedia and the Politics of Openness, available December 2014, here.

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    19. Absolutely Almost: Review Haiku

    Oh, Albie - let me
    rescue you and Calista.
    You can live with me.

    Absolutely Almost by Lisa Graff. Philomel, 2014, 304 pages.

    0 Comments on Absolutely Almost: Review Haiku as of 8/1/2014 6:40:00 PM
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    20. Against Prediction: #Ferguson

     

    628x471

    Photo by: Scott Olson, Getty Images, via Associated Press

    From Bernard E. Harcourt’s Against Prediction: Profiling, Policing, and Punishing in an Actuarial Age

    ***

    The ratchet [also] contributes to an exaggerated general perception in the public imagination and among police officers of an association between being African American and being a criminal—between, in Dorothy Roberts’s words, “blackness and criminality.” As she explains,

    One of the main tests in American culture for distinguishing law-abiding from lawless people is their race. Many, if not most, Americans believe that Black people are “prone to violence” and make race-based assessments of the danger posed by strangers they encounter. The myth of Black criminality is part of a belief system deeply embedded in American culture that is premised on the superiority of whites and inferiority of Blacks. Stereotypes that originated in slavery are perpetuated today by the media and reinforced by the huge numbers of Blacks under criminal justice supervision. As Jody Armour puts it, “it is unrealistic to dispute the depressing conclusion that, for many Americans, crime has a black face.”

    Roberts discusses one extremely revealing symptom of the “black face” of crime, namely, the strong tendency of white victims and eyewitnesses to misidentify suspects in cross-racial situations. Studies show a disproportionate rate of false identifications when the person identifying is white and the person identified is black. In face, according to Sheri Lynn Johnson, “this expectation is so strong that whites may observe an interracial scene in which a white person is the aggressor, yet remember the black person as the aggressor.” The black face has become the criminal in our collective subconscious. “The unconscious association between Blacks and crime is so powerful that it supersedes reality.” Roberts observes: ”it predisposes whites to literally see Black people as criminals. Their skin color marks Blacks as visibly lawless.”

    This, in turn, further undermines the ability of African Americans to obtain employment or pursue educational opportunities. It has a delegitimizing effect on the criminal justice system that may encourage disaffected youths to commit crime. It may also erode community-police relations, hampering law enforcement efforts as minority community members become less willing to report crime, to testify, and to convict. The feedback mechanisms, in turn, accelerate the imbalance in the prison population and the growing correlation between race and criminality.

    And the costs are deeply personal as well. Dorothy Roberts discusses the personal harm poignantly in a more private voice in her brilliant essay, Race, Vagueness, and the Social Meaning of Order-Maintenance Policing, sharing with the reader a conversation that she had with her sixteen-year-old son, who is African American:

    In the middle of writing this Foreword, I had a revealing conversation with my sixteen-year-old son about police and loitering. I told my son that I was discussing the constitutionality of a city ordinance that allowed the police to disperse people talking on the sidewalk if any one of them looked as if he belonged in a gang. My son responded apathetically, “What’s new about that? The police do it all the time, anyway. They don’t like Black kids standing around stores where white people shop, so they tell us to move.” He then casually recounted a couple of instances when he and his friends were ordered by officers to move along when they gathered after school to shoot the breeze on the streets of our integrated community in New Jersey. He seemed resigned to this treatment as a fact of life, just another indignity of growing up Black in America. He was used to being viewed with suspicion: being hassled by police was similar to the way store owners followed him with hawk eyes as he walked through the aisles of neighborhood stores or women clutched their purses as he approached them on the street.

    Even my relatively privileged son had become acculturated to one of the salient social norms of contemporary America: Black children, as well as adults, are presumed to be lawless, and that status is enforced by the police. He has learned that as a Black person he cannot expect to be treated with the same dignity and respect accorded his white classmates. Of course, Black teens in inner-city communities are subjected to more routine and brutal forms of police harassment.

    To read more about Against Prediction, click here.

     

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    21. Dealing With Rejection: Keeping Your Dream Going

    Thelma Lynne GodinThelma Lynne Godin is the debut author of The Hula-Hoopin’ Queen, which received starred reviews from Kirkus Reviews and Shelf Awareness. She lives with her husband in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In this post, we asked her to share advice on believing in your dreams for those submitting to the New Voices Award and other aspiring authors.

    “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”― Eleanor Roosevelt

    As a child I was an avid dreamer and reader. I lived in the world of books. Sometimes I was the little girl in the Cat in the Hat enjoying the fun, but worrying about the mother coming home and finding out about the chaos. Other times I was Laura Ingalls Wilder, sleeping in a covered wagon with Pa, Ma, and Mary out on the prairie. As I grew older I dreamt of being a writer and creating worlds for kids to lose themselves in. But I let that dream drift as grown-up life became a reality. My careers as a mother, a librarian, and a social worker took up much of my time and energy, even though I continued to read and enjoy books for children. I was working as a school librarian and struggling with both my kids leaving for college when I noticed a picture book writing class being offered at a local art college. And suddenly, I was back in that drifting dream. Taking that class and being with people who shared the same dream was a giant step forward in my twisty road to publication. Sometimes I could glide on effortlessly, and other times I would round a curve to find a huge hill that I had to toil up.

    As writers it is sometimes hard to continue to believe in the beauty of your dreams. Daring to get started, actually putting your words on paper and then having the courage to share them with others is hard. And receiving a rejection for all that daring is like a kick in the arse. It is not for the faint hearted. I got, and still receive, my share of rejections.

    It was a cold, dreary, sunless day when I received a letter from Lee & Low regarding my submission of HULA HOOPIN’ QUEEN. I was at a low point in my writing path. I was at the bottom of one of those steep hills. I had just come home from a critique group meeting where one of my friends was sharing her newest book. While happy for her, I also felt despair of ever achieving that same dream. Feeling sure it was just another rejection, I tossed the letter from Lee & Low aside without even opening it. Several hours later, I noticed it sitting on the table, and I actually started toward the garbage with it in hand. I was in such a spot that I felt I couldn’t take another rejection. But suddenly, without even thinking it through, I had opened it.

    My first thought was, “Oh no! Now I’m getting two-page rejection letters!” But then I started to read it. It was two pages of things the editor liked about my story and also things she wanted me to think about working on for the possibility of Lee & Low accepting it. And suddenly my mood and the day became all sunshine and warmth, because that two-page letter was actually the beginning of my dream coming true.

    That is what this journey of being a writer is all about. Highs and lows; twists and turns. But through it all, even at the lowest point, you have your words and the magical thing that happens when your words become a story. You have the dream of having those stories touch a child’s heart. So we need to dare to dream, dare to believe in the beauty of our dreams, because those dreams are my future and yours.

    New Visions Award sealThe New Voices Award is given each year to an unpublished author of color for a picture book manuscript. Find more information on how to submit here.


    Filed under: New Voices/New Visions Award, Publishing 101, Writer Resources Tagged: aspiring authors, dealing with rejection, The Hula-Hoopin' Queen, Thelma Godin, writing

    1 Comments on Dealing With Rejection: Keeping Your Dream Going, last added: 8/14/2014
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    22. August Readathon

    Extra!You’re invited to a live readathon!Reading Buzz Message Board

  • How: Sign in to the Message Board at noon with your STACKS screen name. If you don’t have a screen name, it’s easy to get one – and free! Sign up now.
  • Hope to see you at the readathon! If you have school, you can still come join us after school! We will understand if you’re late!

    Sonja, STACKS Staffer

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    23. SEE IF YOU Like THIS ENCOURAGING POEM

    The Fire Insideby Anonymous When all is lost and hope has fled
    When fear is strong and strength is dead
    When love and joy abandon you
    When mental anguish grows in you

    When the last of efforts fail to save
    When your fate is ill, your mind enslaved
    And when your head hangs low in misery
    This is when you'll find the key

    A single ember from deep within
    Burns hotter and hotter, as flames begin
    The fire of truth will light the way
    And help you fight, this lonely day

    The battle is long, the struggle is rough
    Never regret not giving enough
    For when we offer our very best,
    Our very soul is put to the test

    Stand tall and true and you'll prevail
    Just hold on tight and never bail
    You will survive if you don't quit
    Victory is there, if you reach for it

    One day in the future, you will look to the past,
    And know you had what it takes to last
    So never give up and good things will come,
    Not just honor and pride, but a job well done.

    0 Comments on SEE IF YOU Like THIS ENCOURAGING POEM as of 8/15/2014 12:26:00 AM
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    24. Kelli Berglund in How to Build a Better Boy

    Kelli Berglund in How to Build a Better BoyAshley Argota)

    teases Mae about not having a date to the Homecoming Dance, the friends use a computer to program the perfect boy. What could possibly go wrong? Umm. . . lots.

    First let’s meet the boy, played by Marshall Williams.

    Check out this video.

    Now, let’s hear from Kelli.

    Q: What’s the most embarrassing that’s happened to you?

    Kelli: One time I was filming a scene, and I slipped and I fell right on my face. Billy [who plays her brother Chase on Lab Rats] and I tripped over each other and we just landed face-down in opposite directions. It was really funny! It was on camera, but we just got up and laughed it off.

    Q: Can you tell me one thing that you think would help to make the world a better place?Kelli: I think everyone should stop being so judgmental of everybody. I think if we started loving more–I honestly think that would definitely help make the world a better place.

    Q: What’s the best book you ever read (besides this one)

    ?

    Kelli: The Maze Runner (for ages 12 and up) and they are actually turning it into a movie, which I am really excited about. It was so good. It’s kind of similar to The Hunger Games (for ages 12 and up) but the storyline is completely different. It involves a lot of action and character development. I actually auditioned to be in the movie! And I was like, “I read the book and I’m prepared,” but I ended up not booking it. But it was cool just to audition for it.this brand new video.

    Are you excited for Kelli’s new movie? Share your thoughts in the comments below! And don’t forget to read our earlier interview with Kelli and her Lab Rats castmates

    , as well as our interview with Kelli’s new costar China Anne McClain!

    Interview by Sue Schneider
    Images courtesy of Disney XD

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    25. SPONSORED POST The Art of Duck Tape

    The Art of Duck Tapethese crafts

    ! for a necklace or bracelet.
  • Or cover your textbooks
  •  with amazing Duck Tape®patterns!
  • Then take the personality quiz
  • and find out what kind of Duck Tape® crafter you are.

    Do you have your own idea for a Duck Tape® craft? Share it in the Comments below!

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