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GEPL Teens: National Poetry Month

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 142 - ImageYou may already know this (especially if you follow us on Tumblr!), but April is National Poetry Month.  Not surprisingly, this is often a popular month at libraries!  While we love to celebrate more than books, there’s no denying that libraries have a special connection to the written word.  And whether you’re a big fan of poetry or not, there’s also no denying that poems are often some of the best and most creative uses of those words.  From Homer to Rumi, from Shakespeare to Maya Angelou, poets and poetry have been part of human culture almost as long as language has.

Blog Entry 142 - Image 3It’s hard to say what draws us to poetry, but there does seem to be something that appeals to us on a totally different level than plain old prose.  I personally have always thought of myself as being not a big poetry person.  I certainly have never read a whole book of poetry, and have always preferred to discuss and analyze novels.  But as I sat down to write about National Poetry Month, I started really thinking about poetry and my experiences, and I realized something: I have read, recited, and enjoyed a lot of poetry in my life.  I have translated Sappho and Catullus and fallen in love with the beauty of their words in any language; I have memorized Tennyson and Dylan Thomas just to ensure their poems stayed fixed in my mind; I have sat rapt at performances of Shakespeare; I devoured The Ballad of Reading Gaol by my favorite author, Oscar Wilde; Blog Entry 142 - Image 2and I felt my heart swell the first time I read – and again the first time I listened to – Still I Rise by Maya Angelou.   When it comes down to it, poetry has been part of my life for years.

But for all I’ve discovered that maybe I am a poetry person, at least a little bit, I still don’t know entirely know why I or anyone else are drawn to poetry rather than prose.  I know for me it has something to do with the beauty of the words and the rhythm of meter, but I can get beauty and meter in songs or elegant prose (like anything Wilde has written, for instance!)  For other people, it might be the power of the imagery, the satisfaction of a rhyme, or the way certain disruptions of structure are so jarring.  It could be the mood or the meaning of the poem, or a memory it evokes.  Blog Entry 142 - Image 4But again, those are all things that can be found elsewhere.  Perhaps it is just the way poems bring all these elements together, or perhaps it is something more intangible.  I’m not even sure I wish I knew – maybe some of the power of poetry for me lies in the mystery of its appeal!

This National Poetry Month, I want to challenge you to read a poem or two, long or short.  But I also want to add to that challenge – think about poetry you have read and loved in the past (there must be some – Mother Goose or Shel Silverstein, if nothing else!)  What poetry have you loved?  What did you love about it?  And what draws you to poetry?  Poetry is worth celebrating, so I hope you’ll spend just a few minutes this month re-discovering why!

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Kids: Books as Windows and Mirrors

Providing Inclusive Reading Experiences for Children

By: Renee Grassi, GEPL Youth Department Director

Books are often referred to as both windows and mirrors. Like windows, books can offer different perspectives of the world and the people who experience it. In a similar way, books are like mirrors, in that they can reflect aspects of our own selves and help us understand who we are. When sharing books with children, it’s important that they not only see themselves in the books that they read, but also they have an opportunity to be exposed to other diverse experiences.

In recognition of April of Autism Awareness Month, here is a selection of fiction and non-fiction children’s books that are both windows and mirrors to the experience of those with autism spectrum disorder.

PreK – Grade 3
My Brother Charlie

Grades 4 – 8
Temple Grandin
Posted in GEPL Kids

GEPL Teens: Teens Write – Back to the Future

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 141 - ImageRecently, the teen section in the library has organized a new book display. The theme is “Back to the Future,” Meaning that all the novels are set in the future. I have recently been very interested in the futuristic novels; they are exciting, unique, and adventurous.  There are over 50 novels, some are a part of a series and others are not. Some titles include the Divergent Trilogy by Veronica Ruth; a novel about a young female lead who lives in Chicago in the future. The city is split into five factions, she must choose the faction she wants to live with, but her life takes a turn when her new so called home becomes a war machine. Another novel in the collection is Life as we Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer. This novel is about the effect that the moon has on the world after it moves closer to the Earth. The story focuses on how a female lead, her family, and town all react/cope with the new conditions of their world. The moon, being so close to the Earth, has affected the weather, daylight, and resources that human beings need to survive. This book is truly intriguing and I highly suggest it. Other novels include the Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins, Acid by Emma Pass, The Giver by Lois Lowry, and many more. I have to admit before reading the Divergent series I was quite skeptical of the future set novels, but now I can’t get enough. All of them sound so interesting, and different. I have a huge list of books I want to read running through my head. The only bad part is that the list keeps growing and I can’t keep up. :-)

This collection of books truly gives any reader the opportunity to go outside your reading comfort zones, and to embrace some interesting ideas. I can assure you that none of these books are like anything you have read before. Each one is unique in their own way. The first book you grab may be about the world coming to its end; while the next could be about the battles of children fighting for their lives against a corrupted government. The beauty of these innovative narratives is that you will never get bored. The authors of these novels have some tremendously creative ideas, and by writing them down for us you are given the opportunity to go on an adventure without leaving your couch. Many people are forgetting the magic of reading a real page turner, and falling in love with their favorite characters. I feel that with a new perspective and interest we can stop that catastrophe from happening.  With this kind of collection you can be guaranteed a new outlook on the world and the norms that society follows. I encourage you to try something new, read a genre you have never read before.  You never know, you may just fall in love.  Happy reading!

-Ashley M.

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Tweens: April Is National Poetry Month


By: Christina Keasler, Tween Librarian

It’s April, and know that April showers bring May flowers, but did you know it’s also National Poetry Month? To celebrate, I have gathered a list of stories told in verse that you should totally pick up. Sure, stories in verse doesn’t necessarily mean poetry in its truest sense, but if you’re looking for pure poetry, you can always check out the nonfiction section. These books and other great works of poetry are also available on our poetry display at the front of the Youth Department.

Posted in GEPL Tweens

GEPL Teens: What I’m Reading Now – The Young Elites

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 140 - ImageToday I thought I’d take a break from talking about books I’ve already finished, and go back today to talking about a book I’m right in the middle of reading (or rather, of listening to.)

What I’m Reading Now: The Young Elites by Marie Lu

What’s It About (Jacket Description): I am tired of being used, hurt, and cast aside.

Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all.

Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen.

Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.

It is my turn to use. My turn to hurt.

Do I Like It: I’m really intrigued by it, and I like what I’ve read so far, but I can tell some big stuff is going to happen, so the jury is still out on my overall opinion.

Thoughts: First off, for all you Marie Lu fans out there, the world of The Young Elites is a far cry from the world of Legend, and the main characters are a far cry from Day and June, whatever the description might make you think. This is straight up fantasy, although the fantasy world in question is plenty dark enough to please dystopia fans. And Adelina, Enzo, and Teren are, to be perfectly honest, far nastier and less likeable than June or Day. Which is amazing, in my opinion.

I think the subversion of your typical fantasy/hero/villain tropes is easily my favorite part of this book so far. I haven’t had a chance to see as much of Teren or Enzo as I have of Adelina, but what I’ve seen of them is enough to convince me that they’re both deeply flawed, and devoted to their causes obsessively enough to be harmful to themselves and others. But Adelina – oh Adelina! She has suffered so much, and been treated cruelly and unfairly, so her rage is certainly understandable. And she does love her sister very much, despite her resentment of her. But she is also hateful, angry, ambitious, bitter, and power-hungry. She fights her more hurtful tendencies – sometimes – but they are also what make her a completely engaging character and a strong, powerful person. Adelina is an anti-hero in the best sense of the word (so far – I’ve heard some rumors that Marie Lu wrote this book about a villain’s journey, rather than a hero’s? So we’ll see.)

Compared to the characters, the plot has been relatively slow, but I don’t think that’s a bad sign. While there’s been some action and certainly the tension is rising, it’s also given me a chance to get to know the characters and the world, and see some of the pieces of a larger conflict falling into place. But it also means that I can’t fully embrace the book and say I love it until I see what happens when the action picks up, since that can hugely change my reading of any book. But it’s safe to say that I’m enjoying The Young Elites so far, especially Adelina Anti-Hero, and I’m excited to see what happens next.

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Kids: Can You Teach Your Baby to Read?

By: Carolyn Wissmiller, Youth Programming Associate

Flashcards for babies! I’ve overheard parents talking about it. I’ve seen it advertised online. I’ve even seen “evidence” on YouTube videos. Can you really teach your baby to read?

I have a degree in Early Childhood Education. Admittedly, I earned my degree decades ago, but even my rusty memory recalls child development courses emphasizing many important activities for caregivers and babies – teaching reading was definitely NOT one of them.

A recent study (February 2014) by the Department of Teaching and Learning at NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development found that while babies are learning a variety of skills at an astonishing rate, learning to read through flash cards is NOT one of those skills. Read a summary of their study.

So, what can we adults do to help our charges at the earliest stages in their development? Here are “7 Super Things Parents & Caregivers Can Do” as suggested by the Early Childhood-Head Start Task Force of the U.S. Department of Education and Health & Human Services:

  1. Talk often with your children from the day they are born.
  2. Hug them, hold them, and respond to their needs and interests.
  3. Listen carefully as your children communicate with you.
  4. Read aloud to your children every day, even when they are babies. Play and sing with them often.
  5. Say “yes” and “I love you” as much as you say “no” and “don’t.”
  6. Ensure a safe, orderly, and predictable environment, wherever they are.
  7. Set limits on their behavior and discipline them calmly, not harshly.

Remember to come to the library for books with more ideas on how to enhance your baby’s intellectual, emotional, physical, and social development. Here are a few suggestions:

Posted in GEPL Kids

GEPL Teens: Teens Write – Tough Stuff Display, Take Two

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 139 - ImageAdolescence. Whether you don’t want it to end, or can’t wait for it to be over, it seems to us in the moment that it is the defining period of our lives. And regardless of popularity, economic status, and ethnicity, we all go through tough stuff. It feels like in society, major issues we face are ignored or pushed aside. But luckily there are books like Speak and Crank that focus on issues such as rape and drug abuse, and other books that focus on other tough subjects. They educate us and prove to us again and again that we are not alone in our struggle. This is why a tough stuff book display has been created, to show some of the books that focus on these subjects.

Both Suicide Notes and Thirteen Reasons Why focus on suicide. Through Jeff’s recovery in a psychiatric ward, and Clay’s influence and understanding of Hannah’s suicide, both novels show the causes and effects of suicide and act as cautionary tales to prevent these actions from the readers.

Though Cut and Willow focus on self-abuse, and Wintergirls and Skinny focus on eating disorders, all these titles enlighten about the nature of self-destructive behaviors. They educate about the misconceptions about insecurities that prevent ending obesity, and the fear that makes anorexia so difficult to overcome. Cut emphasizes how isolated people who cut themselves feel, and Willow shows how important support is for any person, especially those who have suffered from a tragedy. These books focus on these topics to better educate society by encouraging tolerance, and therefore inspire more support for people suffering due to self-abuse.

Books were created to spread knowledge, which is why it is so important that books focusing on prevalent issues for our age group are recognized and emphasized. Whether historical struggles such as surviving a concentration camp, shown in the book Night, or more recent issues, like school shootings depicted in Hate List, our book display covers them. It is pertinent that these topics are discussed because it is necessary to understand the problems we face now in order to fight for solutions in the future.


Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Tweens: Battle of the Books Winner


By: Christina Keasler, Tween Librarian

School Library Journal’s Battle of the Books has found its winner, and so have we! Kiera Akines won our Tween bracket challenge with 8 correct answers.

Kiera Akines BoBKiera is a 7th grader at Hadley Junior High. Out of this year’s contenders, she had previously read Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson and looks forward to reading Poisoned Apples by Christine Hepperman. Normally, Kiera looks for books that she thinks will hold her interest and keep her guessing. She enjoys being a part of GEPL’s Middle School Volunteers and helping the library “look more presentable”. Outside of school and the library, she’s a track superstar, and appreciates nice manicures and shopping trips.

Congratulations to Kiera! Meet lots of interesting tweens like Kiera at any of our programs, and be sure to keep reading!

Posted in GEPL Tweens

GEPL Teens: What I Just Read – All the Rage

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 138 - ImageSome books I love because they’re fun.  Some because they’re exciting and adventurous.  Some books just make me happy.

Today’s What I Just Read is not any of those things, but I still loved it, and can’t wait to recommend it to as many people as possible.  It comes out on April 14 and we have it ordered already, so get your holds placed ASAP!

What I Just Read: All the Rage by Courtney Summers

What’s It About (Jacket Description): The sheriff’s son, Kellan Turner, is not the golden boy everyone thinks he is, and Romy Grey knows that for a fact. Because no one wants to believe a girl from the wrong side of town, the truth about him has cost her everything—friends, family, and her community. Branded a liar and bullied relentlessly by a group of kids she used to hang out with, Romy’s only refuge is the diner where she works outside of town. No one knows her name or her past there; she can finally be anonymous. But when a girl with ties to both Romy and Kellan goes missing after a party, and news of him assaulting another girl in a town close by gets out, Romy must decide whether she wants to fight or carry the burden of knowing more girls could get hurt if she doesn’t speak up. Nobody believed her the first time—and they certainly won’t now — but the cost of her silence might be more than she can bear.

With a shocking conclusion and writing that will absolutely knock you out, All the Rage examines the shame and silence inflicted upon young women after an act of sexual violence, forcing us to ask ourselves: In a culture that refuses to protect its young girls, how can they survive?

Did I Like It: “I loved it” and was “I was wrecked by it” would be more accurate phrases

Thoughts: I’m going to be honest – this book was really tough to read sometimes.  But I mean that in the best possible way.

All the Rage is not a happy book.  It’s not cheerful, or fun.  But it is real – real in a way that makes it difficult to read, because in its brutality, it so clearly reflects the world around us.  What Romy goes through is so recognizable, so beautifully and emotionally portrayed, that reading about it really did leave me a mess.  But it was worth it.

Like so many books I love, a strong, flawed, incredibly well-drawn character is at the heart of All the Rage.  Romy makes mistakes – a lot of them.  She has suffered and continues to suffer in ways that not only seem hard to bear, but are so blatantly nasty and unfair that it’s hard to read about them.  But she carries on, she finds joy in little things, and strength in herself.  She loves her family deeply, and cares for the people around her as well as she can.  This love and caring are some of the things that made me like her, even when she’s making her worst and most hurtful decisions.  She also has a strong sense of what is right, even if it’s hard for her to act on it sometimes.  And her strength is not the kind we sometimes see in young adult novels – she has no great physical prowess, nor the strength of will to change the world around her.  It’s a strength we see more often in our real world – the strength to endure, to see past the immediate despair and to a brighter future, and to try and do what’s right, even if it seems hopeless or pointless.

There is no magical happy ending to this book.  But there is hope, and there is courage, and there is Romy standing on her own two feet and facing the world.  And while that didn’t leave me feeling any less heartbroken at the end, it did allow some hope and positivity to co-exist with the heartbreak.

All the Rage is powerful, raw, real, and important, and I loved it.

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Kids: Comics Support Children’s Literacy

By: Sia Paganis, Youth Programming Associate

Comic Strip Support Children's Literacy

Comic Strip Support Children's Literacy

Comic Strip Support Children's Literacy

Do you feel like your child only wants to read comics? Don’t worry, comics have been shown to increase children’s engagement with reading and books. Reading comics, actually, can be difficult. Many children race to decode text, but comics slow their eyes down to read the visual elements on the page. This can increase the comprehension of the text for many readers.

So next time your child races to the graphic novels. . . rest assured, they are reading!

Here are some great comics for kids:

Luke on the Loose
Tiny Titans Treehouse
Hilda and The Black Hound
Gettysburg The Graphic Novel
Posted in GEPL Kids