A note from teenage librarian Angie Reid
Reading young adult literature is one of my favorite things to do. I know there are many adults who also enjoy reading YA books and have found a way to connect with young people by sharing this love.
We reached out to Victoria Finney, a media specialist at Washburn Rural High School, presenting at the 2022 Young Adult Library Services Association Symposium in Baltimore, Maryland. Below, she shares her passion for connecting with her fellow educators and librarians and discussing the power of YA literature. Finney outlines how she and her peers created a book club, the books they discussed, and how it benefited them. Read her take.
If you’re interested in suggesting a title or following in Victoria’s footsteps and creating a YA book club to discuss the strong work being released for us, feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org please. Youth of this age!
Guest Author Victoria Finney, Library Media Specialist, Washburn Rural High School
see yourself in reading
When was the last time you saw yourself in a book? did you really see yourself? Remember how great it was? Did the characters not only act like you and share your interests, but were they really like you?
it wasn’t until i read between you and me and the bees By Amelia Diane Coombs (2021) Seeing Herself in a Book. Her main character, Josie, has recently graduated from high school and spends her summers working with her mother on a bee farm. I may not have graduated from high school recently, but I had just started my own hive. Bonus: Josie has red hair and has some of the same silly quirks I’ve seen myself.All those elements became reading material between you and me and the bees much more fun.
growth as a reader
Every year we grow and change as readers. The books we see today may not be the same books we will need five or ten years from now. If reading a book about a red-haired beekeeper was so much fun for me as an adult, imagine what effect it would have on the teenagers in the book. Even better, what impact will it have on a group of educators? We love the classics, but the stories are not about teenage life in the 21st century. If you could get young adult (YA) literature to read, would they be able to see your students, their diverse lives and experiences in a new light?
Librarians are passionate about ensuring we have books that are representative of our own diverse population, but they are also passionate about exposing students to different perspectives and identities. help you to My co-librarian and I have built a fairly diverse collection. But in recent years, we’ve struggled to get those books into the hands of students. , and some with a more toxic anti-library and anti-public education air in the air, we feel like we’re fighting an uphill battle.
motivational school reading
In my first year as a public school librarian, I started the 1,000,000 page challenge. The goal was for students and all school staff to work together to record 1,000,000 pages of reading.
It’s been a huge success for two reasons. First, I was very prominent in handing out reading prizes at school. Students and staff won small prizes for reading 1,000, 5,000, and 10,000 pages. Second, the staff got involved! Students watched their teachers read books and win prizes. That year we read 721,277 of his pages and the circulation increased. It was amazing!
In the years that followed, we tried different reading tasks to encourage reading. Between COVID (as above) and all the other problems in the world, nothing has matched the success of the 1,000,000 page challenge. I needed to find a way to get more staff to read books (hopefully he was a YA), get students to the library, and finally bring back the reading culture to the school.
YA book club first challenge
Created the Staff Young Adult Book Club in 2019. The rules were simple:
- Be an employee of a junior high school or high school
- Let’s read YA books!
We met quarterly, virtually or in person, for two years. We share the latest YA readings and bring our own book style. Each year, the same 10 of her staff enrolled and the same 3 to 5 of her staff (librarian, reading teacher, English teacher) actively participated.
At the end of the 2020-2021 school year, I was frustrated and about to give up. Guidance from the library Miller and Bass (2019) and read for action Boyd and Dollar (2019). These titles explored how librarians lead schools while engaging students in social justice debates.
The words of Miller and Bass particularly stood out.
social justice book club
In the summer of 2021, I thought about a few things. My particular building is not Title 1, nor is it the most culturally and racially diverse building. However, the elementary school building that houses our high school is closed. In addition, there is great socioeconomic diversity among students and active Black Student Union and Gay Straight Alliance organizations. I wanted to support them, but at the same time I wanted more staff to join my Young Adult Book Club. The following August, I told the principal about the Staff YA Social Justice Book Club.
The structure of the club was similar to the original club, but staff were asked to read a different themed YA book each quarter. As an added incentive, we offered a book club as a professional development opportunity. They can rate their book and earn points for discussing the title with the group. My goal was to get more staff to read his YA books, exposing them to the different demographics and perspectives that represent students.
|2021-2022 theme||2022-2023 theme|
|Q1 – Racial and LGBTQ+ Diversity
Second Quarter – Poverty and Social Inequality
Q3 – Disability and Mental Health
Q4 – Global Inequality and Immigration
|Q1 – Banned Books
Second Quarter – Indigenous Peoples
Third Quarter – Environmental Disparities
Quarter 4 – Fantasy ft. Diverse Characters
View full list
Book club progress
In the first year, 25 middle and high school staff enrolled, with 11-13 actively participating each quarter. Technically, the participants were twice as big as he was in a standard book club, allowing him to participate in a more diverse group of educators. However, she struggled to get staff to read her diverse YA literature. When we surveyed participants, they said they enjoyed the club and want it to stay.
How can we get more staff involved? How can we get more staff to read a variety of YA novels instead of sniffing at such “unsophisticated” literature?
Social Media Limits Your Worldview
I recently gave a digital citizenship lesson in one of my computer applications classes. Social media algorithms are great at recommending curated content for you, but they also limit your view of the world.after seeing social dilemma (2020), I asked the class how they could “fight back” without letting go of the phone altogether. I suggested reading!
Reading, especially young adult literature, opens the door to different perspectives, experiences, and realities that are different from our own. As adults, especially as adults working every day in young adult lives, we not only need to promote diverse young adult literature to our students, but we need to model diverse young adult literature reading. Hopefully, through this act, we can restore not only a culture of reading, but a culture driven by empathy.