World Book Night: The Hate U Give

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World Book Night is a celebration of reading and books that takes place on 23 April every year. WBN celebrates the power of books and the difference that reading makes to people’s lives. WBN is run by mega amazing Reading Agency, a national charity that tackles life’s big challenges through the proven power of reading. 

Free books are given out across the UK with a focus on reaching those who don’t regularly read, and are gifted through organisations including prisons, libraries, colleges, hospitals, care homes and homeless shelters.

For the first time this year, they are also giving away a free eBook! There are a limited number of downloads of the bestselling Turtles All the Way Down by John Green available. Anyone can apply to receive a copy through an online survey; just fill in the survey before midnight on Monday 8 April.

Apply to receive an audio download on 23 April here.

My colleague entered the bid to receive free books from the Reading Agency to give away to our students on WBN and we were successful! We are very excited to be giving away 160 copies of Angie Thomas’ bestselling novel The Hate U Give.

Books have arrived

The Hate U Give is such a good YA novel. I recently read it and really enjoyed it. It’s funny, powerful. gripping and real. The book was inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement. It follows Starr, a 16 year old girl who is the sole witness to her best friend’s murder at the hands of a white police officer. The novel shows the unjust reality of life for many people. Themes of race, poverty, drugs, gun violence, police brutality, love, friendship and community permeate the pages.

It was recently adapted into a film but I really recommend you read the book first.

Starr’s journey through grief, anger and resentment ends with her eventually finding her voice and being brave enough to use it even when society wishes to keep her quiet. It is inspiring to be reminded that even though the world is a shit show, we all have a voice. We all need to speak up and use it when we witness the injustices of the world!

I can’t wait to gift this book to students and talk about the issues raised in the novel.

Reading is power!

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Youth Libraries Group Conference 2018

I was recently very lucky to attend the Youth Libraries Group Conference in Manchester. Work paid for me to attend on the Saturday (tiny bit disappointed that I wasn’t able to attend the Enid Blyton midnight pyjama feast though). The conference explored the importance of reading as a key plank in library provision and the impact it can have on children, young people and their life chances.

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The conference programme can be viewed here: https://www.cilip.org.uk/events/EventDetails.aspx?id=1059241&group

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I registered and got a fabulous canvas bag to add to my collection.

The welcome session was delivered by Matt Goodfellow, a stockport based poet.

http://www.mattgoodfellow.yolasite.com/

Matt’s high-energy performance made me feel like a child once again. I think Matt’s session may have been the highlight of the day actually. He was so funny! My favourite poem was Chicken on the Roof which required some audience participation… It certainly woke us up and set the tone for the day…

There’s a chicken there’s a chicken there’s a chicken on the roof. So catchy!

Booktrust Reading Segments Research

Jill Coleman presented key findings of recent research into the reading engagement of children aged 0 – 16. The research breaks down the types of families that exist when it comes to engagement with books and reading for pleasure.

Families will start reading to their children when they are around 14 months old and generally the family reading activities start to slow at 7 years and 7 months. The segmentation identifies different types of family and reading engagement. The report is available from the BookTrust website 

Breakout Session: Readers & Rights with Rowena Seabrook (Human Rights Education Manager, Amnesty International UK)

In this session, we explored ways in which literature can be used to explore human rights and to challenge, empower and motivate young people.

Rowena showed us Take Up Space by Vanessa Kisuule which I had not seen – it calls on ALL women to stop shrinking themselves and to TAKE UP SPACE! Vanessa is my new favourite person. Her talent is off the chart!

We explored the human rights issues behind two very different books: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and There’s a bear on my chair by Ross Collins

Despite There’s a bear on my chair being a children’s book, the activity is appropriate for all age groups, including adults. As a group we read the story and put a human rights bookmark in the pages we thought addressed or touched upon an important concept. The bookmarks had basic human rights printed on them: fairness, equality, knowledge, truth, safety and freedom. We then discussed how the book addressed these issues and talked about them in more detail.

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We did a similar activity with The Hate U Give. We were given photocopied extracts to read and discuss. The extracts were thought provoking and led to a very rich group discussion.

Putting human rights at the centre of a book club is something I am now planning on doing after attending this session. I am also going to use, share and build upon the *brilliant* education materials provided by Amnesty International to help our teachers to use literature to explore important issues. Amnesty really have done all of the hard work, check out their resources if you are unfamiliar.

https://www.amnesty.org.uk/cilip-carnegie-and-greenaway-medal-shortlisted-books-2018-and-human-rights-story-explorer-resources

Finally, Rowena introduced us to Words That Burn: an international project for young people that explores human rights abuses through poetry. I think we can all agree that there is nothing more powerful than poetry. Amnesty have again provided free teaching resources that I encourage you to check out, use and share https://www.amnesty.org.uk/issues/words-that-burn

I left Rowena’s session feeling empowered and inspired!

Keynote

Frank Cottrell Boyce, acclaimed screenwriter and Carnegie Medal winner gave the keynote speech after eventually arriving in Manchester after some car trouble on the motorway (not what you want before a keynote). He was fabulous though of course. He talked about the joy of reading and shared anecdotes from his childhood; my favourite being the kind librarian that allowed him to borrow a big, expensive reference book.

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Life Online by Andrew Walsh & Nicola Morgan

I LOVE that Andrew refers to himself as a playbrarian – he’s a genius. I must admit, Andrew is a bit of an idol of mine. I love his work promoting information literacy through play – especially escape rooms! I’ve been to several of his workshops and I’ve got 3 of his books. The latest I’ve purchased is The librarians’ book on teaching through games and play (9781911500070). It’s a would recommend!

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Andrew highlighted the new versions of the TeenTech research smarter sheets which are a staple in our library http://www.teentech.com/teentech-awards/supporting-materials/

He also introduced us to the new CILIP information literacy definition https://infolit.org.uk/new-il-definition/

In case you were wondering what info lit is, here’s the new broad definition:

Information literacy is the ability to think critically and make balanced judgements about any information we find and use. It empowers us as citizens to reach and express informed views and to engage fully with society”

Nicola Morgan, author of over 100 books, then took the stand to talk about life online. I choose this breakout session as we support students via our shelf help collection and I am personally, probably, a little bit addicted to my mobile phone…

Nicola picked some key points from her latest book Teen Guide to Life Online. She did state that the title is misleading as this book certainly is not just for teens. Her website is full of useful information and this page contains links and references to the research and articles which Nicola thinks will help people to understand what’s going on when we use our screens. Nicole likened screen addiction to many of the other addictions that plague modern life. To overcome them:

  1. You have to want to change your habits
  2. You need to know why you should change

Excessive screen time can lead to a variety of problems including mental stress, exhaustion, low self-esteem, distraction, loss of concentration and a reduction in physical activity. Unfortunately, just being around a mobile device is distracting. Having a device near you leads to a 10% reduction in performance! Screens and online content are designed to distract you. It’s not your fault that you cannot resist.

If you want to lower your screen time. Nicola advises you to:

  1. Keep them out of view (out of sight, out of mind)
  2. Distract yourself with other activities (pick up a book perhaps). Don’t sit twiddling your thumbs, dreaming of your mobile device.
  3. Create manageable goals – i.e. I will not use my phone for the next hour
  4. Seek help from those around you – remind them not to send you hilarious memes and cat videos every 5 minutes
  5. Keep reminding yourself why you are doing this – it is good for your mental health and productivity in the long run
  6. Notice the benefits – are you able concentrate better? (intrinsic motivation)

Mobile phones and devices do have their benefits but they also come with their own host of problems. I am not a parent therefore cannot comment on the convenience of giving a mobile device to a child to keep them quiet and entertained… but I am a little uncomfortable with the idea. One of the video diaries from the Family Reading Segment research shows a little girl in her cot. Her mum tells her that it is time to read and the little girl starts crying “but I don’t want to read, I want to play on my iPad”… and this made me a little bit sad.

I came home with so many goodies and books – the publishers were very kind and generous. The best book I came home with was My name is not Refugee.

My name is not refugee

The book asks young children ‘from a safe, comfortable background’ to think about what it must be like to ‘leave your home and make a journey into the unknown’. The illustrations are so beautiful and heart-breaking https://www.independent.co.uk/student/student-life/books/student-s-refugee-crisis-book-for-children-wins-va-illustration-award-a7051776.html

I gave my neighbour who has 3 children most of the books – the look of joy on their faces says it all. Books really are magical and this conference is a must for any librarian.

Thing 22: Goodreads (Mobile Things)

I had a go with the GUM app but it would not work with my iPad for some reason so I am going to review Goodreads instead.

“Knowledge is power, and power is best shared among readers” – Otis Chandler, CEO and Co-Founder of Goodreads

Goodreads is an online “social cataloguing” site and app. I am going to review the app because it is what I use the most and I prefer to use it over the website. You can search the user-populated database that boasts over 1.1 billion titles. I am actually considering signing up to be a Goodreads librarian. I would be able to help improve the metadata on the database to ensure that people can find books and get the best possible information about the titles they are interested in.

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These are my Goodreads bookshelves

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These are the books I’m reading at the moment.

I regularly use Goodreads to track my reading process, add books that I want to read and to keep a record of the books I’ve read. I always come across books that I want to read so I simply add them to my to-read shelf with the scan function which I LOVE! It works so well. I’ve never had a barcode that wasn’t scanable on Goodreads. I don’t know about anyone else but I find it really entertaining scanning books.

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A screenshot of the barcode scanning function in action. You need to get a little closer than this to scan but you get the idea.

My favourite function is the reading challenge. When I set my self a goal it makes it a lot harder to fail. So by setting myself a reading challenge on Goodreads I am essentially forcing myself to read which is good because I like reading… But it is easy to fall behind on my reading when I am busy and setting myself a yearly challenge helps me to keep up with my reading. I am not sure how many books I should set myself next year… How many books should a librarian be reading each year?

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I’ve read 20 books this year.

My least favourite function is actually the social element of the app. I am not really that interested in what everyone else is reading… I know that sounds kind of horrible but I think it is probably because not that many of my friends are using Goodreads. I do however check out other reader’s book reviews if I am unsure about a book and they usually help me to decide whether I should go ahead and start reading it. Most users are serious and respectful and will warn you if their review contains spoilers.

Goodreads has great functionality, it’s a fun way of tracking your reading process and it’s great for reading inspiration. One of the best apps on my phone! 🙂

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I am currently completing a free mobile learning course that teaches social media through social media for professional devlopment.