For our last discussion board entry for my online grad school class to end the summer semester, (I am pursuing my MLS~ Master of Library Science) our professor asked us to answer four questions and share the answers with each other. Since I put considerable thought into my answers, and since my heart is in this profession as well as in youth, I considered that it may be worthy of sharing here as well.
(The book shown above was written this year. I read for our class blog in which we kept a record of all the books that we chose to acquaint ourselves with thoroughly, and shared them with each other. I recommend this one, which deals with issues of bullying and gay teens.)
Here is my discussion board entry, posted this evening to my classmates:
~What I gained most from the course~
I grew a lot during the ‘course of this course’ in that I gained a deeper appreciation for what is OUT there for teens. I was made well-aware of the gamut of resources and genres available to them. The importance of this cannot be overstated for me. The field of YA Lit has grown so far and so wide since I was a teenager myself (late 70’s, early 80’s) and is treated with such elegance and respect, in many ways, by both adult authors and adult readers that the evolution astounds me. This new realization is one that I value highly. I had never considered, until now, reading YA Lit seriously, as a true, right, excellent, fun and/or meaningful alternative to books written specifically for adults. My respect for the genre grew by leaps and bounds, which means that my perspective for what I can offer teenagers has been altered in a most positive and extended way.
~What I understand now that I didn’t before~
In the beginning of this semester, I remember reading about how YA Lit is replete with books to help teens cope not only through nonfiction, but through fiction. I read repeatedly, in both books, about how teens might be feeling isolated in a particular circumstance, and reading about a character dealing with that circumstance can help them through. In the process of reading the books for the YA Blog, and summarizing them in my own words, I became acutely aware of my own experience of relating to the teen book characters and having my eyes opened to issues they face. Observing the struggles through the thought processes in their heads revealed a new avenue for me to truly GET what is going on for teens NOW. I learned that reading YA literature can actually feel comforting and educational as well as wildly entertaining.
~Biggest *aha* moment~
I had a huge AHA! moment while composing my lists of books and anime films for display for my made-up Manga-fest event for our Program Plan paper. As I typed out what graphic novels, manga, and anime to have available for the teens to sift through on display tables, I found myself coming across many materials labeled “For 17-up” or “For Mature Teens,” that kind of thing. I automatically found myself “starring” those items and telling myself that I needed to reconsider whether it was appropriate to put those out, because I didn’t want any parents (even hypothetical parents, in this case~ ha ha) to disapprove or complain. I mentioned this dilemma to a librarian I work with on Wednesday mornings, and she got a big smile on her face, and said, “But you have to put them all out! You don’t have to decide.” IT HIT ME. I WAS CENSORING. It was the first time I truly encountered the problematic feeling of parenting vs. librarianship, which was the source of the big discussion we had in the course of our study. It was truly enlightening and led to some great conversations with friends and family as a consequence.
~What am I inspired to do with YA services/librarianship~
I am inspired to be an inspiration to teenagers, and also to adults; to encourage them to embrace their own “still-there- teenage-ness” that they try eagerly to suppress or deny in the attempt to somehow mature; my challenge to others is to live life fully and without reservation by celebrating youth no matter our age; I believe optimism and enthusiasm are the key to happiness! I truly think that discovering the book treasures in the world of YA literature has given me permission to abandon some of those adult reservations and seriousness in the books I read~ that I don’t always have to read heavy things or deeply educational/enlightening things for it to “count.” I want to revel in the delight and forward-looking attitudes, as well as healing and light, we can bring to teenager’s lives, as well as to one another’s lives. Life is all about relationships, and as librarians, it is exciting to learn how the resources we can share are able to enhance them. We can make a difference in the world by influencing one kid at a time by perhaps directing them to just the right thing. I love that.