Heart in Darkness

What do you remember about being a teenager? Highs and lows, friendships and breakups, betrayals and comraderie? Did your reading selections reflect the events in your life or did you search out escapist literature? Did adults interfere in what you read?


Sherman Alexie writes a powerful piece about some of the darkest moments in his teenage life, and the impetus they gave him to write for YA. Here is an excerpt:

“And now I write books for teenagers because I vividly remember what it felt like to be a teen facing everyday and epic dangers. I don’t write to protect them. It’s far too late for that. I write to give them weapons–in the form of words and ideas-that will help them fight their monsters. I write in blood because I remember what it felt like to bleed.”

Reading as Non-Violent Protest

First Amendment
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peacable to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Bill of Rights, US Constitution
Which banned books have YOU read? Bridge to Terabithia, A Wrinkle in Time? Fahrenheit 451? The Handmaid’s Tale? The Harry Potter series? Julie of the Wolves? Blubber?
In the infographic highlighted in an earlier post, you can see the top 100 banned books from 2000-2009. Take a look–you might be surprised at some of the included titles. What can you do?

Challenge yourself to read one of the books in a public place. Emphasize the power of reading, education, and connections with others. Tell others about your favorite books and characters and why they’re important to you. If we pledge ourselves to share and encourage and promote, then we can combat those who would rather hide, condemn, and censor. Start by telling us, sharing a photo of you and your favorite banned book, and how it changed you.

Visit this website for a podcast about banned books!

Happy Reading!

So You Want to Be a Children’s Librarian…

“In library school, I wasn’t really sure what sort of librarian I wanted to be. I flirted with cataloging, contemplated academia, made googly-eyes at special collections, and dated teen services pretty seriously. But the one thing I was certain I didn’t want to be was a children’s librarian. “I don’t like to sing songs and I hate flannel boards,” I remember responding to the instructor in the one exclusively children’s class I took in library school. Children’s librarians were important and necessary, but not my tribe. I couldn’t imagine myself as one of them.”

Jenn Estepp is the Children’s Librarian at the Glendale Community Library, part of the Queens Library System. In this blog post, she shares her journey into this unexpected career as well as important tips for success. 

” …when a child clutches a book you gave them to their chest, rushes in for “more like this one” or actually does a little dance out the door, it’s pretty much the best thing ever.”

Thanks, Jenn, for being an awesome advocate for reading and children’s literature!

Get Ready for Pickle!

Here at iYouth, we like to feature author events, because we want you library students to go and meet local authors. Hopefully when you have a library of your own, you’ll invite them to come and do events and readings. So it’s important to start networking now. Plus authors are super friendly, and so are librarians!

Therefore we are thrilled to announce that local Seattle author Kim Baker is having a Book Launch and reading/signing party at Secret Garden Books in Ballard, on Tuesday, September 4, at 7pm. And you are all invited!

Here’s the link to more information at the local SCBWI* chapter’s blog. Kim’s middle-grade novel, Pickle, is a hilariously wonderful adventure, full of hijinks and pranks that will keep you entertained and wanting more. Read it, come to the signing, meet Kim, and eat a pickle or two!

*SCBWI stands for Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. They’re an international organization, with local chapters all over, and the Western Washington chapter is quite well published and well known in the publishing and library industries. Lots of networking potential here!