The official newsletter of the Young Adult Library Services Association, a division of the American Library Association


Volume 6, Number 1, Fall 2006

Behind the Screen /
Meeting Place /
Getting Resourceful /

behind the screen

amy alessio
Though the fall issue of
YAttitudes is published in November 2006, it covers through January—the first month of our 50th anniversary year! Each issue for the next year will have a fun survey question or two to answer about our great organization.

Among other interesting articles, this issue highlights two committees instead of the usual one. These two committees have very exciting things coming up—one an award with an application due December 1, and the other a program at Midwinter.

Ron Koertge wrote a humorous piece for
YAttitudes on how libraries now go out of their way to attract boys. I liked this, especially as my teen advisory board has been made up of mostly high school boys for the past few years.

Amy Alessio

Calendar of Events

November 2006–January 2007

By Cindy Welch

National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC); Atlanta, Ga.
National Association for Multicultural Education (NAME), “Honoring Multicultural Communities, Stories and Struggles in a Contested Land,” Phoenix, Ariz.
American Education Week, “Great Public Schools: A Basic Right and Our Responsibility,” sponsored by NEA.
IRA West Regional Conference, “Reading the WRITE Way,” Kamuela, Hawaii.
National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Annual Conference, “The Complete Teacher: Bringing Together Knowledge, Experience and Research,” Nashville Tenn.
National Family Volunteer Day.
26–Dec. 4
19th Guadalajara International Book Fair, Exhibition Center, Jalisco, Mexico.
29–Dec. 2
National Reading Conference (Annual Conference), Los Angeles, Calif.
Deadline to apply for YALSA grants totaling more than $30,000!
Deadline to apply for ALA “Let’s Talk about It” programming grants; the topic is Jewish Literature: Identity and Imagination, and there are six themes from which to choose.
International Volunteer Day.
ALA Midwinter Meeting, Seattle, Wash.
Deadline to apply for ALA “We the People Bookshelf,” fifteen titles covering K–12 on the theme of “Pursuit of Happiness.” Title lists and application information available at

Cindy Welch is a doctoral student at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois. The calendar is a recurring feature by her for YAttitudes.

Behind the Screen /
Meeting Place /
Getting Resourceful /

meeting place

Committee Up Close

Outreach to Young Adults with Special Needs Committee

Written by the Committee Members

The Outreach to Young Adults with Special Needs Committee exists to address the needs of young adults who do not or cannot use the library because of socioeconomic, legal, educational, or physical factors. Composed of ten YALSA members committed to improving young adult library services, the committee serves as a liaison between underserved young adult groups and their service providers. The committee identifies and promotes library programs, resources, and services that meet the special needs of these populations. The committee has existed, though not in its current form, for more than fifteen years. In 1991, the YALSA board agreed to form an outreach committee. The board then merged the outreach committee with the Special Needs Committee in 1997.

During the past several years, the Outreach to Young Adults with Special Needs Committee has provided programs at conferences, written articles, and compiled booklists on topics concerning outreach to immigrant young adults, English-language learners, teen reluctant readers, and incarcerated young adults. The committee has investigated booktalking, bilingual materials, and audiobooks for teens.

Most recently it worked on the Great Stories CLUB to create teen book discussion groups for juvenile halls and alternative schools. In October 2005, Oprah’s Angel Network granted YALSA $50,000 for this project. After two months of passionate e-mail discussion, the committee chose books for the book groups, created sample book discussion questions for each of the books, created a how-to-run-a-book-group tip sheet, compiled book lists for further reading, and wrote a tip sheet on partnering with organizations. The theme for the Great Stories CLUB was teens facing challenges. For the club’s three books, the outreach committee chose
The First Part Last by Angela Johnson,
Born Blue by Han Nolan, and
Stuck in Neutral by Terry Trueman. The grant program awarded eleven sets of each of the three books to applicants wishing to begin young adult book clubs in incarceration and alternative school facilities. The results can be found on the ALA Web site at the
Great Stories CLUB. Though the grant stage of the program has ended, libraries around the country can utilize the still-available resources to improve services to teenagers.

The committee currently is promoting the Sagebrush Award for a Young Adult Reading or Literature Program. Have you developed an outstanding reading or literature program that brought books and young adults together to foster a lifelong love of reading? The Sagebrush Award is designed to recognize such a program in a public, school, or special library. Every year, a grant from the Sagebrush Corporation provides $1,000 to the winner to support his or her attendance at an upcoming ALA Annual Conference.

Although the committee no longer selects the winner of the Sagebrush Award (a new award jury will do so), committee members encourage librarians to apply for the award. The recognition helps promote your library’s programs within the community, while the financial assistance for Conference attendance provides opportunities for networking, enriching personal skills, and accumulating new ideas for improved services.

Past winner Amelia Shelley, youth and outreach services manager at the Laramie County (Wyo.) Library System, comments, “Not only did it [the Sagebrush Award] give me and my library publicity, it brought national recognition to the project, which helped elevate its efforts to a new level.” Another past winner, Paulette Goodman, a librarian at Kennedy Junior High in Lisle, Illinois, remarks, “It helped me bring my project to fruition and set off a continuing set of events that affected our Kennedy Junior High students for quite some time.”

Over the years, the Sagebrush Award has honored a variety of literacy-related activities, such as detention center programs, summer reading club endeavors, conferences, and more. If your library offers an innovative program promoting literacy among young adults, consider applying for this award. The deadline for the Sagebrush Award is December 1, 2007. For more information on the award and the application form, visit the
Sagebrush Award page.

The Outreach to Young Adults with Special Needs Committee continues to investigate topics and services that will improve libraries’ abilities to reach all of our young adults, including those with special needs. The committee endeavors to utilize new technologies and interest trends to encourage literacy and deliver information to young adults. The committee welcomes your comments, concerns, and questions. Please feel free to e-mail the committee chair Lisa Youngblood at

2007 Midwinter Institute Task Force

By Committee Chair Carrie Bryniak

The 2007 Midwinter Institute Task Force is charged with arranging an institute for ALA’s 2007 Midwinter Meeting, which will be held in Seattle. Our committee consists of seven members who work primarily through e-mail with each other after having met at the Annual Conference. These members work together to decide what topics are central to librarians in the young adult profession and then base the institute around one of those topics. We secure speakers and work with the YALSA office on sponsorships and other conference details. If you are interested in participating on this task force in the future, please fill out a
committee volunteer form. Your term of service would be just under one year.

Ours is a very dynamic group, and we have enjoyed many lively and enlightening discussions during the planning process. Current task force members include Linda Braun, Frances Jacobson Harris, Mary Hastler, Mary Plews, Jami Schwarzwalder, and Frances Trager-Jackson.

This year’s institute, “Teens, Life Online, and Libraries—Building Teen Communities,” will be an exciting look at using technology-based programs to strengthen the sense of teen community and involvement in your library. The all-day session will take place on Friday, January 19, 2007. The Midwinter task force is happy to partner with the Advocacy Institute Task Force in presenting a joint lunch featuring a panel discussion on encouraging children and young adults to be lifelong library advocates.

The institute will feature many wonderful, knowledgeable speakers. Audra Caplan, director of Harford County (Md.) Public Library, will share her thoughts on ways to propose technology programs to administration along with the challenges administrators face in light of technology. Kathy Lussier and Vickie Been-Beavers, of the Southeast Massachusetts Library System, will regale attendees with details about the
My Own Café project. The task force is also thrilled to report that GameCrazy will once again participate in the gaming reception that evening.

Institute participants will receive a toolbox of handouts, goodies, and great ideas to take back to their libraries and put to use. Of course, no institute on technology would be complete without a chance to try your hand at some of the new technologies available. Attendees will have the opportunity to engage in an exercise where they choose what new technology they wish to experiment with and then share their experience with the group.

Carrie Byrniak has worked in various positions of the library field for about ten years. Currently she is employed as a YA Librarian for Harford County (Md.) Public Library. Carrie enjoyes being active on various committees in her system and working with YALSA. Some of her leisure activities include gaming, sewing, traveling, and, of course, reading.

Author! Author!

Marion Ravenwood’s Alter-ego

By Penny Blubaugh

When one of your favorite movies is
Raiders of the Lost Ark, and your favorite character is Marion Ravenwood, you’ve got to be one interesting person. Cecil Castellucci is just that. She’s written two books,
Boy Proof (an ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers in 2006, a BBYA 2006, and a Booksense 76 Children’s Pick), and
The Queen of Cool. She has a third book,
Beige, coming out next year. She’s a singer, a songwriter, and a performance artist. She recently wrote and directed her first feature film,
Happy Is Not Hard to Be, which had its debut at the Egyptian Theater in Los Angeles. She has a soon-to-be-announced graphic novel coming out in 2007. And yes, she would absolutely go out with Batman if asked! Meet Cecil Castellucci.

So, you’re a comic geek and superhero friendly. Name three favorite books.

Tin Tin by Herge, anything on Vertigo (Fables, Sandman, Deadenders, Lucifer, Hellblazer, Animal Man), anything by Brian K Vaughan (
Ex Machina, Y: The Last Man, Runaways).

Superheros I would date: Wolverine, Batman, The Thing


Buffy, Veronica Mars, Firefly—yes or no? How about best TV shows, alive or dead?

Firefly—yes!! I LOVE
Firefly! LOVE IT!

I will now dish for you a dirty Cecil secret. Like a really big dirty secret. I don’t have broadcast or cable TV capabilities in my house. Haven’t for ten years. So I don’t really watch TV. I do have a DVD player and a TV monitor. I rent TV. I have never watched
Buffy or
Veronica Mars, although they are both on my Netflix queue.

So that said: Top twenty classic TV shows I think rule.

  1. Star Trek—all series (currently working my way through
  2. The Prisoner
  3. Seinfeld
  4. Ren and Stimpy
  5. Coupling (BBC)
  6. The Office (BBC)
  7. Ab Fab
  8. SCTV
  9. Monty Python
  10. Kids in the Hall
  11. The Honeymooners
  12. I Love Lucy
  13. Mary Tyler Moore
  14. Yes, Minister
  15. The Larry Sanders Show
  16. The Muppet Show
  17. The Twilight Zone
  18. Wooster and Jeeves
  19. Pee Wee’s Playhouse
  20. Babylon 5

What movie would you most like to have been in? What part?

CC: Marion Ravenwood—
Raiders of the Lost Ark. I can’t even begin to tell you how perfect a movie it is. It pleases me on so many levels. I’ve seen this movie more times than
Star Wars. Like, more than two hundred times in the theater. The love I have for Marion Ravenwood knows no bounds. She’s tough as nails. Pretty. Well-traveled. Extremely smart. Independent. Can drink a man under a table. Game to do stuff. Adventurous. Stubborn. Wonderful.

You write poetry as well as prose. Why write it and why read it? Favorite poet and poem?

CC: It’s funny. I never thought I wrote poetry until someone a few months ago said to me that they liked the poem on my
Web site. Then it dawned on me that maybe I was writing poetry, and that perhaps it was because I don’t really write songs anymore and needed that same short-form outlet. I love the sparseness and the economical use of words in poems and lyrics; I think it is a direct route to the heart. I think poems, and, by extension, lyrics, are the purest way to summing up the inexpressible condition of being human. It’s almost as if the absence of too much information makes it extremely universal. There is a real joy in reading someone else’s words and saying “Yes that’s it!” I don’t know much about poetry, not having read much of it—yet. Recently I found this
poem by
John Ashbery that I adore.

Describe a typical writing day.

CC: Instructions. Print these out. Cut them up. Put in hat. Pull out five. That is my typical day.

Wake up. Make coffee. Stub toe. Shake fist at sky. Check e-mail. Make phone call. Consider writing. Go to bookstore. Look at books. Get fire under me. Go immediately home. Do Internet “research.” Go shopping. Check e-mail. Short burst of creativity. Take nap. Drink juice. Take bath. Stare at ceiling. Watch a DVD. Laugh at my own joke. Get mad at myself. Blog about it. Dance around in living room. Call friend. Take hike. Do dishes. Write. Write. Write. Write. Write. Write.

Paper and pencil or computer for first draft? (If paper, what kind? If computer, Mac or PC?)

CC: Paper and pen while not at home and for jotting. Moleskine and fountain pen (Pelikan or Parker).

First draft is now on computer on my brand new MacBook. Then I print out little skinny drafts with place holders that say things like “put scene where something good happens here.” Or “brilliant conflict here” I bring that hardcopy manuscript to a café and hand write scenes with my fountain pen on blank pieces of computer paper.

Lather, rinse, repeat

In your journal you talk about your lost Moleskins, with your book tour jottings. When it showed up at your door weeks later and you reread it, what was the best entry?

CC: He popped the trunk. “I popped the trunk.” Ring, ring.

“Yes, well you need to get my bag.”

“The Trunk is popped.”


“Oh. All right.” Uncomfortable. Ringing phone. We exit the car.

He pulls my bag out of the trunk. The phone is still ringing.

“I’m sorry you missed your call.”

“I can call them back.”

“Thank you.”

Full retreat. Full retreat. Body. No. Soul crouching inside of body.

“Well, so maybe I’ll see you again sometime in the next few years.”

Cold. He’s turned cold.


“Well then goodbye.”


I open my arms. He is horrified. I make him hug me. I hold him. He is uncomfortable.

How did you end up in the fabulous field of YA literature?

CC: I have always wanted to write YA literature. I told everyone I ever met that I was going to write a YA book one day. I even wrote Madeleine L’Engle a letter telling her I’d like to do it. She told me then I should just do it. So I did.

What’s the age where you’re stuck—your “real” age?

CC: I used to think that I would always be fifteen. I find it quite amazing that elementary school or middle school never cross my mind. High school was this awkward time for me where my personality was so big and I wasn’t mature enough to know what to do with it. That caused a lot of angst for me. Strangely, though, I find that lately I’m like seventeen. Is it possible for your inner self to grow up? I think yes!

I also am very excited to be an old wise woman, with a chateau in France and silver-white hair, who invites all artists to come feast at my table. So my real age is everything between 15 and 123. I think now I am both very young and very old.

Name one book and one CD you’d take with you to the proverbial desert island.

Persuasion by Jane Austen,
Madame Butterfly by Puccini.

Penny Blubaugh is the Young Adult Librarian at Eisenhower Public Library in Harwood Heights, Ill. In addition to her MLS, she holds a MFA in Writing for Children from Vermont College.

Behind the Screen /
Meeting Place /
Getting Resourceful /

getting resourceful

Sites Unseen

Music Online

By Samantha Faruggia

Purchasing music for the young adult collection can sometimes be a daunting task. With a limited budget and a multitude of choices (parental advisory? bonus DVDs?), finding the right music may be tricky. Fortunately, there are plenty of Web sites that you can use to select what’s right for your collection.

Billboard,, is a good starting point to learn what is currently popular in a variety of music genres. The charts are divided into different categories listing the top sales or radio airplay for that week. While it is a subscription site, the chart information available to the general user is still quite extensive.

An obvious choice, Amazon,, is a good source for finding music while also making collection development easier. Amazon generates a list of items that are similar to ones that you have purchased, which is great for finding music you may have overlooked or just did not know about at all. The “New & Future Releases” section lists album release dates, which can be narrowed down by category.

When looking for reviews of albums, try using, It compiles abstracts of professional reviews (some with full-text links) and then combines them together to create a “metascore.” While it isn’t exhaustive, this site has a good selection of music.,, is a great resource for listening to samples and finding reviews, similar albums, and release dates—essentially, anything you need to find out about an artist or album.

Social networking sites offer an inside look at what music teens like and are listening to at the moment.,, allows you to view the user rating of artists. Don’t overlook the audio section, where the one hundred most popular songs are listed daily. For music reviews written by teens and young adults, check out,

After a quick, informal survey of my Teen Advisory Board, they all agreed that the two places that they look for music online are MySpace and iTunes. MySpace,, is another social networking site that acts as both a marketing tool for musicians and a trend-sharing tool for users. The “Top Artists” area is a good example of this—it displays the most frequently viewed pages, which include both artist- and fan-created pages. To utilize iTunes,, to its fullest, you’ll need to download the program, but once you do you’ll have access to customer reviews, song samples, most downloaded music, and similar albums.

Now all you have to decide is whether to buy the “explicit” or “clean” version.

Samantha Farruggia is the Young Adult/Reference Librarian at La Grange Park (Ill.) Public Library. She is the new author of the regular Sites Unseen column for YAttitudes.

Book It

Sports Grrrl: Girls in Sports

By Maggie Hommel

Averett, Edward.

The Rhyming Season
(Clarion, 2005)

Brenda’s new high school basketball coach brings some unexpected changes to the team—including a requirement that players recite poetry on the basketball court.

Bildner, Phil.

Playing the Field
(Simon, 2006)

A farcical story about Darcy, a girl who wants to play on the boys’ baseball team, that includes mistaken lesbian identity, mom-principal romance, and madcap twists and turns.

Beim, Gloria.

The Female Athlete’s Body Book: How to Prevent and Treat Sports Injuries in Women and Girls
(McGraw-Hill, 2003)

Orthopedic surgeon Beim covers common injuries that women face in multiple popular sports and offers basic prevention and treatment strategies.

Blumenthal, Karen.

Let Me Play: The Story of Title IX, The Law That Changed the Future of Girls in America
(Atheneum, 2005)

This nonfiction account of how Title IX came to be features personal accounts, facts, and memorable images illuminating the past of organized women’s sports and offering implications for the future.

Coleman, Evelyn.

Born in Sin
(Atheneum, 2001)

A hard-edged, but ultimately hopeful, novel about Keisha, a girl from the projects who is outraged at being placed in a summer at-risk program but begins to discover a natural talent for swimming.

Lake, Sanoe, and Steven Jarrett.

Surfer Girl: A Guide to the Surfing Life
(Little, 2005)

Full of colorful photos and chatty text, this book from two experienced surfers is an insider’s look at the sport that will answer every surfer (or wannabe surfer) girl’s questions.

Murdock, Catherine.

Dairy Queen
(Houghton, 2006)

A football book ... for
girls. Farm girl and jock D. J. begins secretly training (and crushing on) Brian, the rival school’s quarterback, then decides to try out for her own school’s football team.

Mackal, Kathy.

(HarperCollins, 2005)

MadCat Campione is thrilled when her fastpitch softball team qualifies for Nationals, but making it to the big-time brings pressure and requires sacrifice that she didn’t expect.

Ritter, John.

Under the Baseball Moon
(Philomel, 2006)

Skateboarding, trumpet-playing Andy Ramos’ trumpet riffs inspire and spur on promising softball-pitcher Glory Martinez in this unique, jazz-laden book.

Roberts, Kristi.

My Thirteenth Season
(Holt, 2005)

Star little-leaguer Fran gets a shock when she moves to a new town—here she is not welcome on the all-male baseball team. Though a sheriff’s visit ensures she can play, she becomes locked in battle of wills with her coach and teammates.

Seino, Shizuru.

Girl Got Game, vol. 1
(Tokyopop, 2004)

In this sports manga, Kyo’s basketball-obsessed dad urges her to pose as a boy at her new high school so she can try out for the school’s high-profile basketball team.

Spinnelli, Jerry.

There’s a Girl in My Hammerlock
(Simon, 1991)

An oldie but goodie, this novel follows Carly’s struggles and triumphs as the only female wrestler on her high school wrestling team.

Summitt, Pat.

Reach for the Summit
(Broadway, 1998)

The legendary women’s college basketball coach gives tips for winning in sports and in life.

Maggie Hommel is the Young Adult Librarian at the Park Ridge (Ill.) Public Library. While she can’t claim to be an athlete, she is an avid sports fan.

Program Possibilities

Brook Book Club: Bringing Students, Books, and Authors Together

By April Aultman Becker and Michelle Buckley

The goal of the Brook Book Club at the Clear Brook Library in Friendswood, Texas, is to get kids reading and talking about literature. Even more, we want the students to personally connect with the authors of the literature they are reading. But our library isn’t struggling to coordinate class schedules or pay author premiums, plane tickets, or hotel bills—this program is inexpensive, fun, and can be easily replicated at any school.

The book club idea started as an initiative to get the students and staff of our school reading for enjoyment. By accident, we found a
Web site for the
Book Club Cook Book that mentioned the names (along with the contact numbers) of authors willing to chat on the phone with book club members. Best-selling novelist Jodi Picoult was on the list, so we chose to read her novel,
My Sister’s Keeper, because we knew of its popularity among students. In addition, the book had received favorable reviews and earned a place on many award lists (it was a 2005 YALSA Teens Top Ten pick and a 2005 Alex Award winner). We contacted Picoult via e-mail and she replied quickly that she would be interested in talking to high school students for about thirty minutes at no cost to our library.

In preparation for the book club, we made flyers and bookmarks as well as decorated bulletin boards to promote the meetings and the author chat. We visited English classes and gave short booktalks to pique students’ interest. We ordered books through a wholesaler and sold them to students at a discounted price. To give students enough time to make it through the book, our first meeting was planned for the following month, and we sent grown-up looking invitations to remind them of our meeting.

On the day of the first book club meeting, we arranged a food spread that would appeal to teens and make them feel more adult, and we encouraged students to snack while discussing the novel. Anticipating that students would feel inhibited at our first meeting, we prepared generic book club questions (based on suggestions from the Seattle Public Library and Nancy Pearl) and kept our copy of
My Sister’s Keeper close at hand for reference. While discussing the novel, we jotted down questions that the students had about the book to ask the author when she would be joining us over the phone (such as “Why did the main character have to die?”), as well as personal questions for Picoult (such as “What activities were you involved in during high school?”).

Twenty students, three teachers, and an aide attended the first meeting with us. Students were ninth through twelfth graders, a mix of girls, boys, and different ethnicities. While opinions of the book varied, most students expressed that they enjoyed the book, and all were able to discuss the novel in a civilized fashion.

Two weeks later Jodi Picoult would be joining us for the meeting, so we publicized the event with flyers, announcements, and invitations. We reminded the author of our phone date, tested our phone system, set up a PA system so that the students could better hear Picoult (placing a microphone near the speaker of the telephone), and arranged the seating around the phone. Because it was difficult to hear students asking questions across the library (and because normally boisterous students become bashful under pressure), one librarian sat near the phone and asked questions that the students had prepared at the last meeting as well as questions that students and staff passed along on paper during the phone call. The conversation with Picoult was entertaining and enlightening. We all learned things about the book that we wouldn’t have known without speaking with the author. Students were able to get real answers to their questions straight from the source—an experience totally outside the realm of the typical school classroom.

Students left the book club meeting asking what the next selection would be; they were actually looking forward to reading and discussing a novel again! One student, a reluctant reader, confessed that
My Sister’s Keeper was the longest book she’d ever read, and another declared teary-eyed that it was the best book she’d ever read.

We have learned that authors are approachable and very willing to speak to students; all you have to do is ask. Through this project, we’ve found many ways to find contact information of authors. Almost every author has a Web page or a blog these days, and many offer their personal e-mail addresses to contact them. Publishers also offer e-mail addresses to contact authors (such as the Random House Publishing Group’s
Reader’s Circle).

We have found that, while the experience of being in a book club is great, connecting with the author of that book is even better, as it encourages thinking about the book for a longer period of time and allows for discussion of issues that might not be clear upon initial reading. Also, it reveals that authors are real people, something that is not done in English classes, where most authors read have been dead for centuries. This allows students to see that one day they, too, could be authors, or, at the very least, readers.

This is April Aultman Becker’s third year as a librarian. She received her MLS from the University of North Texas and a BA in English and History from Stephen F. Austin State University. She was an English teacher in Galena Park ISD in Houston, Tex. (where she met co-librarian Michelle Buckley), for six years before making the leap to the library.
Michelle Buckley has been a librarian for seven years. Before that, she was a math teacher. Her undergraduate degree is from Texas A&M–Corpus Christi and her graduate degree in library science is from University of Houston–Clear Lake. Both are currently librarians at Clear Creek ISD, League City, Tex.

Game On!

National Games Week

By Kelly Czarnecki

How is your library going to celebrate
National Games Week, which runs from November 19–26? Library student Jami Schwarzwalder encourages librarians on the
Game On blog to recognize this week by “hosting a collectable card game (CCG) tournament, having a family gaming night, or simply setting out a board game for the after school teens.”

Many libraries already offer board games as a service or a program, either in conjunction with a video game event or as a stand-alone experience, such as an intense power Monopoly tournament (
download a tournament kit), a
Dungeons and Dragons Adventure Afternoon, or even a design-your-own board game program.

What about trying out some board games that are a bit off the beaten path, but will still create a following of teens who are up for the challenge or just a relaxing afternoon to figure out something new? I had the fortunate opportunity to interview James Stubbs, who has been at the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County in North Carolina for eight years and is frequently consulted for his knowledge related to board games. The following are excerpts from our conversation:

What do you think are the benefits for libraries for offering board games as a program?

JS: Unlike most board games of the past, the newer breed of games mainly encourages cooperative play rather than the brutal “eliminate everyone else to be the winner” type of play. Games also are an ideal opportunity for parents or older adults to be able to have a common ground with teens and can provide open communication and socialization.

How do board games encourage or involve literacy?

JS: Many games have themes to them. War games are especially good in this regard, as many people like to study the tactics used in famous battles or wars and try to either recreate them or play what-if scenarios based on historical fact. Empire and civilization building games are similar in this sense too: What would happen if the Roman Empire had been more diplomatic with the people it conquered? Can the player copy the conquests of Alexander the Great?

Why do you think it’s important for libraries to try different board games (aside from the usual Uno, Monopoly, Clue, and so on) as a service?

JS: Because those old games are just that—OLD. These are the games their
parents played! The odds are good that any teens interested in board gaming have played those games to death. They want something new, different, and flashy. The new generation of board games offers new strategies, new challenges, and a different play styles than those old games, which have not fundamentally changed in the
decades since they’ve been out.

Give three examples of board games you would recommend for a library to purchase for a teen program, and why you chose those.

JS: Ticket to Ride, a railroad building game where the objective is to build as many rail connections as possible between major United States cities (also Ticket to Ride Europe). Cost: $26–$30.

Carcassonne: Hunters & Gatherers. Set in prehistoric France, where players guide the development of a tribe of people by carefully selecting good hunting grounds and fertile lands while competing against neighboring groups (the other players). There are endless varieties of Carcassonne with increasing complexity. Cost: $15.

Blokus is an abstract strategy game similar to Tetris. Spatial positioning, foresight, and contingency planning are skills learned in the game. Cost: $20–$25.

I picked these games because they can be played in an hour or less, they don’t eliminate players, the factor of luck is minimized, and they have appeal to both male and female players.

What are some resources you would recommend for librarians to search for further information on bringing new and different board games into the library?

JS: BoardGame Geek:

The first and premiere stop for all things board gaming. The discussion forums are very helpful.

Boardgame News:

This is the spot to keep track of the industry and to be aware of new and upcoming releases.

The Dice Tower podcast:

Board Games with Scott vidcast:

Gaming Zone blog post:

A list of games purchased from an LSTA grant for PLCMC.

James can be contacted by e-mail for questions or more information on board games at

Kelly Czarnecki is a Teen Librarian for ImaginOn, the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County in Charlotte, N.C. She is co-chair of the YALSA Gaming Teen Interest Group and actively promotes gaming at her library. Her Game On! column is a new recurring feature for YAttitudes.

Spreading the Word

Bringing Boys in the Library

By Ron Koertge

Bro—remember what a freaking drag it was to walk into a library and see all those long books? Well, forget that. They’re in the basement.

And forget Ms. You’re Overdue and the Fine Is, Like, Ten Virgins and a Yak. She’s history. Say good-bye to Ms. I’m Sure Your Teacher Meant Sherwood Anderson, Not Pamela. And a special adios to Mr. I’d Like to Help You, However Your Topic “How I Feel About Stuff” Feels a Trifle Unfocused.

Dude, we’ve got these Phi Beta Beauties instead. They like to party with smart guys. Check out their Just Say Know T-shirts. And they totally know, playuh. We just couldn’t list all the cool stuff on their shirts because then they’d be like huge and we wanted Amber’s and Tawny’s tops to really fit. If you know what I’m saying.

All you have to do is ask, or even point, and they’ll lead you to the new graphic novel crib. We know guys dig sci-fi, sports, and gothic horror, so check out
Vampire Outfielder from Mars or
Revenge of the ADHD Slime Boys. And don’t bother to stand in line. Just like borrow them. We trust you.

That lame Poetry Corner is gone. So somebody took the other road. Or didn’t. Who cares? And why did that guy in those snowy woods call his little horse a queer? What’s up with that? Trust us: nobody’s going to ask you what you think the new juice bar means. It’s just there with a little sugar rush from a Coleridge Cooler, the Faulkner Freeze, or Toni Morrison’s Tropical Teaser.

Then limber up your digits for
Moby Dork, where this crazy cyborg-dude with a rocket launcher leg is totally focused on this big albino doofus. Or score a scarlet letter of your own playing Hawthorne = Hell, where Hot Pants Hester needs help kicking some chauvinist butt in old Hypocrisy City.

Dude—come back! Don’t miss Saturday’s First Annual Hemingway Extreme BMX Big Air Holographic Library Card Give-Away.

We’ve got one with your name on it.

Ron Koertge is an award-winning and popular author for teens.

New View

Fighting Censorship in My Own Backyard

By Rosalie Olds

I’ve worked in public libraries for the past fifteen years, and for the last seven I’ve been a teen services librarian. Throughout my career I’ve really valued the library’s role in standing for the freedom to read. Ever year I pay my ALA and YALSA dues knowing that some portion of this goes toward the fight for intellectual freedom.

Then last fall, my teenage son’s education was affected by censors, and I joined the battle. My son was in a student group called a POD, in which the science, social studies, and literature teachers work together to create an integrated curriculum. Early in the school year, this team of teachers sent an e-mail to the parents informing us that the class would be studying the history of Chile, and part of this would involve reading
The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende.

Very soon after receiving this e-mail I received another from a parent warning everyone about the book. She said there was “animalism and very disturbing scenes” throughout the book. In fact, she said she’d blacked out many of them and would offer her copy to others to black out the objectionable parts.

As a teen services librarian and a concerned parent, I took it upon myself to respond to her. I mentioned that this author had received many awards, and that even though she found some parts objectionable, other people might not feel the same way. In addition, I cited the importance of exposing our young people to diverse beliefs and cultures.

This started quite a discussion among parents on the electronic discussion list, which the teachers finally halted. Apparently some of the students got copies of the discussion and passed it around the class to read. Most of the people on the list, however, supported pulling the book.

I had many parents approach me and say they appreciated what I had to say, but that they were just too intimidated to respond publicly. Unfortunately, the end result was that the teacher chose not to teach that book and picked something else.

I contacted the Washington Coalition against Censorship (WCAC), and they suggested I look into whether there was a review committee in place at the school to handle this. In addition, I contacted the principal and expressed my disappointment on how this was handled. He referred me to the district’s curriculum department.

What I discovered was that the district makes an approved reading list, and that the list wasn’t up to date. The teacher had told the parents they weren’t reading the book because it wasn’t on the “approved” list. They asked me if I’d like to be on the committee to make a new list, and I said I would, but I haven’t heard anything. The principal never would answer me directly about whether there was a review committee.

I called the teacher, she told me the principal was willing to support her in keeping the book in the curriculum, but that she had such a huge workload that she didn’t want to deal with the stress of it. She thanked me for my support, and I pointed out that the problem was that these few parents had decided for everyone else what the students would be reading. I never bothered contacting the school librarian, because I realized he hadn’t even been involved.

At the same time this was going on, another local school district pulled Brent Hartinger’s
Geography Club from its library shelves because just a few parents complained. Fortunately, that district received a lot of negative publicity for doing this, and the school board at least put it back on the shelves. This was the year it was nominated for our local state Evergreen Award.

I decided to send a letter to our local paper. Within a few days it was published as an op-ed. I emphasized that in both of these cases, a small group of parents instead of the educators were deciding the curriculum, and that parents should leave these decisions to the educational professionals.

During this process I gained insights into some of the forces battling it out on the censorship front. One was that people who oppose censorship are less likely to speak out than those who support it. Also I observed that school officials were easily intimidated by one small group of parents, and they didn’t necessarily feel safe in standing on the strength of their own policies.

I’m sure this kind of thing goes on all over the country, but I also know we must take a stand whenever we can. My conclusion was to give strong support to organizations that fight censorship, such as ALA, WCAC, and ACLU. I also was glad that the students were sharing the e-mails around the classroom. Hopefully they had an opportunity to learn about how these decisions are made and will be more cognizant of the various opinions about exposing students to difficult topics in literature.

Rosalie Olds is the Teen Services Librarian at the King County (Wash.) Library System.

Behind the Screen /
Meeting Place /
Getting Resourceful /

yalsa survey

Results compiled by Julie Scordato

In the summer 2006 issue, we asked readers which part of
YAttitudes they like best. Each person could choose three sections. We did have some technical difficulties, so the survey did not work for a couple days after publication.

Votes per Topic



Author Author!



Program Possibilities



Spreading the Word



Book It



Gaming Adventure






Sites Unseen



New View





Frequency of being first choice



Program Possibilities



Author Author



Spreading the Word



Book It



Gaming Adventure






Sites Unseen



New View





Celebrating 50 Years

What is your personal favorite book from the Printz winners: (Choose one)

Looking for Alaska by John Green

Postcards from No Man’s Land by Aidan Chambers

First Part Last by Angela Johnson

how i live now by Meg Rosoff

A Step From Heaven by An Na

Kit’s Wilderness by David Almond

Monster by Walter Dean Myers

How many years have you been a member of YALSA? (Choose one)






Julie Scordato is a YA Librarian for the Columbus (Ohio) Metropolitan Library, and a YALSA Serving the Underserved Trainer. She writes reviews for Kliatt, Audiofile Magazine,
and VOYA.