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Who Chooses What You Read?

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Freedom to Read

Freedom to Read Week is nearly upon us.

I think it's safe to say that most people here in Canada feel pretty confident that no one is trying to control the information they can access. I mean, we have Libraries, we have the Internet, we have Google, we have bookstores...if anything, we have too much information to deal with.

However! An abundance of information is not equivalent to equal access to information, or access to correct information, and it certainly dosn't stop people from trying to limit our access to information. There is no doubt that Canadians are among the information priviledged, so we should not stand idly by while other nations and people (sometimes in our backyard), cannot read or access the information they need.

This, our need to assert the right of all people to access information freely, is why we celebrate Freedom to Read Week! Everyone: Pick up a banned book and read it! Three cheers for the FREEDOM TO READ! Hip hip hooray!

If you can't imagine a world where the freedom to read is limited, I recommend you read The Book Thief by Markus Zusak or for something a little more fanciful try Matched by Ally Condie. The freedom to read what you want to and when you need to is incredibly important to our society's heath and well-being. If you disagree, consider recent events in Libya where the country was taken off the internet in the middle of a civil war. Or for something closer to home, look at this long list of books and magazines that were challenged here in Canada in 2011.

So, like I said, it is time to celebrate the freedom to read!!!

Announcing our annual Freedom to Read Contest: Who chooses what you read?

Here are the rules:

Express your thoughts on the freedom to read with words, film or graphic arts.

Choose one of the following methods:

Make a poster: draw, paint, or use photography and other graphic arts (8 ½ x 14” or 11 x 17”)

Write: a poem, short story, or essay (max. 300 words)

Create a film: (3 min. or less)

All content must be original, except for short, cited quotations.

Criteria:
1. Persuade an audience and support your point of view.
2. Use techniques of form effectively to engage an audience.

Contest is open to Calgary students in Grades 7 – 9. Include your name, school, grade, and telephone number with your entry. Enter by email: freedomtoread@calgarypubliclibrary.com AND upload to Teens Create; OR submit your hardcopy to any Calgary Public Library location. One entry per person. Entries must be received no later than midnight Wednesday February 15th 2011.

And of course...there will be prizes!

I'll be home for Christmas...

by Alexandra - 1 Comment(s)

Everyone has a list of Christmas Classics that they work their way through every year. I only have three that I haven't yet watched in 2011 (both "Grinches" and "Home Alone")... but it's only Christmas Eve! I like to keep the magic going and watch a bunch of movies well into Boxing Day as well. "Love, Actually" and "The Holiday" are two that I've already seen six times this year, but that's 'cause they're good year-round, and I'm a perennial Christmas-in-July-er.

But when I was looking at my list, I realized that there's a pretty huge gap in the genre, and that movies geared towards teens just aren't factoring into the Hollywood Christmas equation. I find this strange, since Teen Choice is pretty much ruling the scene in every other facet of entertainment. At any rate, it seems like flicks go straight from sickly sweet Kid's movies to R-rated College movies, and there's no mid-range for Jr. High or High School. Maybe I'm wrong though. Maybe you can help me compile a list of the best of the best for Teen Christmas. It's going to be piecemeal, we're going to have to stitch it together bit by bit, but maybe that's what Teen Christmas is all about... holding on to what remains of your childhood, grasping on to what you want out of your future... and add a healthy dose of sarcasm and humour. Merry Christmas... and pardon my gifs.

There is one GLARING exception to that statement, which is, of course, the glaring exception to MOST things. It's Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas. Part Christmas, part Halloween, part creepy, part adorable, mix some morbid, macabre, grossie bits with equal parts lovely, romantic, heartfelt bits, and you've got yourself an instant teen classic. It's not for kids (I wasn't allowed to watch it 'cause my mom new I'd get... nightmares...) and not for adults, unless they grew up with it (Movie Maniac Moe can't watch ANY Tim Burton movies because the animations freak her out). But teens hold up Jack Skellington as a paradigm of awesome; you can see his face plastered on everything from hoodies to watches... and poor Sally fits into our metaphor of a patched-together Christmas perfectly.

Mean Girls is NOT a Christmas movie, but it does have two of the greatest snapshots of School Christmas ever to be caught on film: 1) Candy Grams, the best-tasting, most bittersweet test of popularity to ever exist, and

2) The annual Talent Show/Christmas Pagaent/Winter Musical showcase of mediocre "dance skillz" by resident school hotties.

This is pretty much exactly what Jr. High was like for me, and if you haven't seen it yet, watch it, and tell me if it holds up to your school experience. I LOVE THIS MOVIE!

Ummmmmmmm Charlie is a kid in the first Santa Clause, and a graffiti-ing teen in the second... that counts, right? Teens love spraypaint, right?

There's a pretty excellent scene in the full-length Grinch where our green buddy tries shaving for the first time. That's a standard teen trope if ever I saw one!

Buddy the Elf's parents were High School sweethearts. And now I know I'm stretching this way too far. Also thanks to hawkeyefan31 for this gif. If you can't tell, I'm just learning how to make them, and they're pretty sad.

And of course, Christmas Classics aren't limited to movies. After all, what is Christmas without music. Here are some of my favourite Christmas tunes... I'm sure I'm missing plenty, so please send along your favourite playlist so I can add it to mine.

Top of the list is Sufujan Stevens Songs for Christmas. If you haven't already heard it, I'm really sorry Christmas is over and you'll have to wait until next year (because we all know Christmas music after the 26th is a taboo - right?). Songs for Christmas is a brilliant album where Stevens remixes a ton of Christmas classics, mostly religious, in his folksy, quirky way. He also throws in some great original compositions.

Next on my list is Hawksley Workman's First Snow of the Year which captures the joy you feel as a kid when you look out the window and shout 'It's snowing!!' and also, his great tune Merry Christmas (I Love You)

I just recently discovered The Bones of Winter by Said The Whale. This is a darker, more sombre tune that captures the desperate feeling we sometimes have around winter solstice when we know there are 3 more months without sun... it is a lovely song.

Similarly, Joni Mitchell's River is sad song capturing the desparation of loneliness... absolutely beautiful.

I love Fall Out Boy's cover of What's This? It's lots of fun.

And what is Christmas without Vince Guaraldi Trio's Christmas Time is Here ! I'm sure I don't need to tell you that this masterpiece is a Christmas staple and among the most popular Christmas tunes.

So there you have it. The best of the best we could come with with for Christmas and Teens. If you know of a teen movie or song that I'm missing out on, weigh in on the comments board. I hope you all have a very merry Christmas, and we'll see you on the other side.

Coming of Age and Religion

by Jilliane - 2 Comment(s)

One of the reasons I love yalit is the coming of age theme that runs throughout it. Coming of age stories come in all shapes and sizes--naturally, because our lives have many different problems and concerns. At the core, coming of age stories are looking at identity and transitions. Transitions from childhood to adolescence to adulthood...and, well, I believe we are all transitioning all the time so coming of ages stories are relevant to all of us.

Although these stories can come across as melodramatic or angst-y at times, I think they are pretty awesome. Coming of age stories allow us to learn something about the human experience. They give readers the ability to play out different scenarios in their mind, to explore new ideas and to see how other people experience the world--and they are often very beautiful.

One of my favourite coming of age stories is Converting Kate. What I love about this book is the theme of religion--a rarely tackled topic in the coming of age genre. Transitioning to adulthood is a time of exploration when trying out new ideas and ideologies is like exercise for the mind--totally essential for your health. This book beautifuly illustrates this experience.

Book Cover

Converting Kate explores the effects of being raised in a strong religious tradition. 16-year-old Kate's world is rocked when her father passes away and she is torn from her home in Arizona. She and her fundamentalist mother move to Maine to help her Aunt run a bed and breakfast. Thrust into a new community and grieving her father, Kate, who has long been questioning her faith, begins to reveal her true feelings to her mother. Having been raised in the fictitious Church of the Holy Divine, Kate has followed a long list of commandments unwaveringly--only reading church-approved materials, always wearing a skirt, never going to the mall, fasting every Sunday and the list goes on and on and on. For the first time Kate refuses to go to church, igniting a lasting debate with her mother. Kate's inner conflict is illustrated through her narrative of sorting through her thoughts and feelings and pulling her own ideas away from the inner dialogue of her church. Kate emerges as a strong-willed, independent thinker and realizes that there is more to the world than her very censored, sheltered upbrining allowed her to explore.

It's a lovely depiction of the difficult and common experience of the faith crisis by debut author, Becky Weinheimer.

As I said, religion is a rarely tackled topic in the coming of age genre--have any good reads to suggest?

What do we do when the world falls apart?

by Jilliane - 4 Comment(s)

Although I can't explain it, teen publishing trends clearly demonstrate that we are obsessed with our own destruction.

The truth is, I'm getting a little tired of dystopic reads, but there isn't a lot I can do about it because publishers just keep churning them out. And, truth be told, there are a lot of great dystopic reads out there. Let me tell you about just a few of my favourites:

Bacigalupi paints a bleak future for earth--a world where fossil fuels have all been used and the oceans have risen to drown coastal cities. It is here that we meet Nailer, a ship breaker. He and many others are foreced to scavenge beached oil tankers for things like copper wire and fuel. When Nailer finds a beached clipper he is forced to decide if he will strip the ship of its wealth and become a rich man, or try and save the ships only survivor--a rich girl, daughter of a shipping-company's owner.

Book CoverGeneticists have developed a vaccine for all physical ailments and administered it to a whole generation. What they didn't know, was that their vaccine was a time-bomb. The children of this generation are now susceptible to a virus that claims the lives of men at 25 and women at 20. There are few remaining first-generation individuals who are now aging, and working hard to develop an antidote. Meanwhile, perpetuating the species is of the utmost importance. The need for new births has spawned an ugly breeding program where young women are kidnapped and forced into polygamist marriages. Rhine, a 16-year old, has been taken from her Manhattan home and thrust into the hands of a wealthy young man as his fourth wife. Her determination to escape never wavers, despite the privilge and comfort of her husband's mansion.

book coverCassia Reyes lives in a perfect society. What's more, she is perfect--a model student, daughter and citizen who has everything she needs: food, shelter, education, training and even a future husband that has been carefully chosen just for her. Cassia even knows when she will die--after all, every citizen in this perfectly controlled, perfectly monitored world dies at 80--the perfect age to die.

At Cassia's Match Banquet she is paired with Xander, her best friend and definitely her soul mate, and everything seems fine. But when a computer error shows Cassia Ky's face instead of Xander's, Cassia starts to have questions. Her mind begins to work differently and and suddenly Cassia's society doesn't seem so perfect anymore.

Matched has been compared to Margared Atwood's Handmaid's Tale, Lois Lowry's The Giver as well as George Orwell's 1984. Definitely worth the read.

Book Cover

It is time for Tally Youngblood to party. Her sixteenth birthday is coming up and soon she will be transormed into a great beauty. Scott Westerfeld paints a world where people are perfectly proportioned, perfecly groomed and perfectly lovely. Modern science has developed a surgery that has elimited all forms of ugliness--but at what expense?

Right before her surgery, Tally meets Shay, a wild, willful girl who decides she doesn't want the surgery. To Tally, this is unheard of--or is it?

Tally discovers a group of runaways who have all chosen not to have the surgery and live at a refugee camp -- the Smoke. It is there that Tally and the other refugess start to learn more about the perfection surgery and the price you pay for beauty.

Book Cover

Years ago a grand experiment led to the development of Incarceron -- a gigantic prison made of metal and designed with cutting edge technology. Incarceron was created to lock away all undersirables, resulting in a perfect utopia.

The experiement failed and Incarceron became self-aware, sentient and tyrannical, and generations of inmates have been struggling to survive. Technolgy has now been outlawed and society has reverted to a feudal state.

Claudia, daughter of Incarceron's warden has an arranged marriage to an impending heir. When the marriage is moved forward, Claudia vows to do whatever it takes to avoid it --i ncluding helping a prisoner of Incarceron to escape.

Book CoverIn order to end war, society has been divided into five factions: Abnegation (selflessness), Dauntless (fearlessness), Candor (truth), Erudite (intellect), Amity (friendship). At sixteen, you are allowed to decide which faction you will spend the rest of your life in.

Beatrice Prior was raised as an Abnegation, but is certain she does not want to remain there. She takes her aptitude test to discover which faction she is best suited to and surprisingly, is given several options. Beatrice is Divergent -- a fact that she cannot reveal to anyone. She chooses to join the Dauntless faction and undergoes an exhausting initiation ritual which will determine if she can remain with the faction or must go factionless.

Beatrice slowly discovers what it means to be Divergent and learns more about how her society has maintained peace.

This is such a popular topic, Tyler posted on it just last year, so if you want to hear abour more dystopic reads check out his post.

Now, one final thought. Because thoughts of our impending destruction (or not) have been on my mind, I've started collecting dystopic songs to make a little 'The world is going to be destroyed and we're all gonna die' playlist. There are tons of great tunes on this topic--clearly people have been thinking about the end of the world for a long time. This is what I've collected so far:

  • You and the Candles Hawksley Workman
  • Tables and Chairs Andrew Bird
  • It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine) REM
  • The Beginning After the End Stars
  • The Eve of Destruction Barry McGuire
  • Animals andThe Wall Pink Floyd
  • They Are Night Zombies!! They Are Neighbors!! They Have Come Back From the Dead!! Ahhhh! Sufjan Stevens
  • 2+2=5 Radiohead
  • Citizens of Tomorrow Tokyo Police Club
  • Silent Running (On Dangerous Ground) by Mike + The Mechanics

What am I missing? Tell me all your best end of the world songs so I can beef up my list!

Synergy

by Jilliane - 0 Comment(s)

We are super stoked to welcome the artwork of Sir John Franklin School into our youth space on the 2nd floor of the Central Library. For a long time we had bare, boring walls---but not any more! Every corner of our youth space is now brightly and brilliantly decorated with artwork from young Calgarians. The cool thing is, this is just the beginning--we have forged a partnership with Sir John Franklin, an art centered school, and our walls have become their gallery for the year. So...more art to come!

The current show, Synergy, is running from November 3rd -- February 11th. That leaves lots of time for you to stroll on by and check out this awesome artwork. And I'm telling you, you won't want to miss this show. There are some seriously great pieces from very cool young artists. I had the privilege of meeting these artists and their families at the opening and their energy and enthusiasm was contagious. They love art. And so do we. You should too.

Here's the show description -- hope to see you soon!

Synergy – the multidisciplinary art created by the students of SJF

Synergy as defined on dictionary.com states:

synergy syn·er·gy (sin'?r-je)
n.
The interaction of two or more agents or forces so that their combined effect is greater than the sum of their individual effects.

Sir John Franklin School has a focus on learning through the arts and this show is a small showcase of how teachers and students infuse the visual arts into the core curriculums of math, science, and humanities--and there is a pinch of creating art for arts sake.

Through the various works in this showcase, students have successfully illustrated their further understandings of self and community, the geometric patterns of flips and rotations, as well as the structures and inner workings of cells. It is also important to note that each individual piece has a sense of the artists’ own personality, from the flamboyant to the more reserved.

We hope that you take the time to wander through the various pieces and get to know our students through their works as well as what our school is all about.

Here's a sneak peak at the art & artists:

Teen Read Week Photography Contest

by Jilliane - 0 Comment(s)

Teen Read Week Contest Banner

Teen Read Week is from October 16th -- October 22nd.

To celebrate we are having a photo contest with the YALSA (the Young Adult Library Services Association)

The Challenge: Choose an awesome book and take a photo that visually represents it in a interesting, unique way.

Prizes:

  • YALSA prize: an e-reader loaded with all sorts of awesome books as well as a signed copy of Jay Asher's new book Future of Us.
  • CPL prize: A gift package from Calgary Public Library including a gift certificate to Chapters Indigo.

Contest rules: Because we are running the contest with YALSA, we are following their rules.

How to enter: You need to enter your photo in both contests to be eligible for both prizes. To enter YALSA's contest send your photo here. and to enter CPL's contest upload your photo to Teens Create and email it to teenservices@calgarypubliclibrary.com , please include your name in the email.

For more info email teenservices@calgarypubliclibrary.com

Deadline: October 31st

Youth Advisory Council

by Jilliane Yawney - 0 Comment(s)

You may have heard that we have started a Youth Advisory Council. Yay!

Last April we ran a YAC (great acronym, eh?) for three weeks and we loved all the feedback we got from our youth volunteers. In fact, it went so well that we decided to establish a permanent one.

We started YAC because we realize that the best way to make our teen services and spaces better is to ask teens for their opinions and input. So--YAC will officially start in October.

The thing is, in order for YAC to run we need volunteers! We're looking for youth between the ages of 14-17 to volunteer for approximately 2 hours per week from October – June. If you are interested in this opportunity or have any questions about it please email TeenServices@calgarypubliclibrary.com and tell us why you would like to volunteer.

Now, let me tell you why this is an awesome opportunity. YAC will give you a chance to build leadership skills and to share your ideas. You will be able to help shape library programs and services so that we can make them better for youth throughout Calgary. It'll be great...for so many reasons. A good way to meet people, to have a say, to build your resume and to help make Calgary better.

Youth Image

ESL Teen Talk

by Jilliane Yawney - 0 Comment(s)

Here in Calgary summertime is precious -- but without school to go to every day, and if you don't have a job, there aren't always opportunites to socialize so come on down to the Central Library and be part of our ESL Teen Talk program. The cool thing is, this program is especially for newcomer youth who need practice using English. It's super a relaxed event--nothing like school. Basically, we play games, talk about slang and other stuff meant to demystify the English language -- all while hanging out and having fun. Here's what you need to know:

When: Monday August 22 -Friday August 26 from 2-3:30pm daily

Where: 2nd floor Central Library (616 Macleod Trail SE)

Register: by calling 260-2600 OR online

Tired of vamps, but lovin' the paranormal?

by Jilliane Yawney - 2 Comment(s)

I don't know about you, but I'm sick and tired of reading about vampires and fairies and pixies and werewolves and robot-humans.

It's just getting a little old and repetitive. Like your favourite jeans that were great when they were stiff and new, but are now worn, shredding and full of holes.

The trouble is, I do enjoy the mystery and fantasy of a new species. I love delving into a world that takes me out of this world. And most of all, I crave getting just a little bit freaked out and a little bit scared by a suspenseful, frightening plotline (but not too frightening!).

So, if you are like me, I have two books to recommend to you. These are books with a paranormal twist but they do not have vampires and they are interesting, exciting and based on a fresh, new idea.

book coverThe first book I recommend for the non-vamp, pro-paranormal folks out there is Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book.

The Graveyard Book transports you to the world of ghosts and life(?) after death. It opens on the scene of a crime, wherein a two-year-old boy manages to escape the bloody hands of a murderer who kills his family. Mercifully, miraculously, the boy ends up in a graveyard, where the ghostly residents adopt him and raise him as their own. Unfortunately, the boy is being relentessly pursued by the murderer and the safest place for him is in the confines of the graveyard.

Three words I would use to describe this novel: dark, witty, mysterious. Check out the book trailer.

You'll love it. It will keep you reading.

book coverMy second non-vamp, pro-paranormal pick is Miss Perengrin's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs.

As a child, Jacob's grandfather told him stories about growing up on a small island in a home with friends who...had special "abilities," like the levitating girl on the cover of the book. Jacob believes his grandfather, until he gets to old for "fairy stories." The trouble is, Jacob wants to believe the stories are true--or does he?

A levitating girl, an invisible boy, a young woman who can hold fire, and a bird who is actually a old woman are just a few of the people Jacob encounters in his search for the truth about his grandfather's stories.

The eerie characters in this book gave me chills and the mystery kept me glued to the pages. Riggs uses old victorian photos to illustrate the book and they lend a spooky mood. You will love it.

Watch the trailer here.

Win a copy of 'Shaken' by Eric Walters

by Jilliane Yawney - 0 Comment(s)

Eric Walters is coming to Calgary Public Library on April 15th!

To celebrate, we're giving away a free copy of his recent book Shaken.

To win, be the 3rd person to email cplteenservices@gmail.com and name 4 books written by Eric Walters!

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