I’m so happy- my article about the versatility and power of comics has been published by Perspectives on Reading.
Check it out here!
Comics are a format for everyone: from the young girl toting around her worn copy of DogMan to the grandfather who is outraged at the latest political comic shared on his Facebook newsfeed. Generally speaking, the perceptions of the masses haven’t caught up with how far comics have come since the Golden Age of superheroes. Today, a diverse wealth of comics is being published, crowdfunded and shared online, and there’s something out there for readers of all interests and literacy levels…
I’m so happy- my article about the versatility and power of comics has been published by Perspectives on Reading.
Check it out here!
When I was freshly reeling from a painful and embarrassing failure, a respected mentor asked to meet up with me in a coffee shop. We chatted for a while and he asked me what I had learned from my struggle. I was so deep in shock and self-pity that I couldn’t think of anything positive to say. He told me I’ve learned that you’re resilient. I didn’t feel resilient at the time, but his words helped me to shift my perspective and inner story, and to work toward new goals.
These books compiled here are a variety of books on resilience, picking yourself up after failure, learning from mistakes, and owning your life as it is now. Some of these are titles I certainly could have used when I was going through that tough time- hopefully they will help someone somewhere who needs them.
(Descriptions provided from publishers, book-jackets, covers, etc. Kid-friendly books at the end.)
Stop Doing that Sh*t: End Self-Sabotage and Demand Your Life Back– Gary John Bishop
How to Fail: Everything I’ve Ever Learned From Things Going Wrong-Elizabeth Day
You’re Going to Survive: True Stories From People Who’ve Endured Soul-Crushing Moments In Their Careers- Failure, Rejection, Disappointment, Public Humiliation- and How They Got Through It- and How You Will Too- Alexandra Franzen
Resilient: How to Grow an Unshakable Core of Calm, Strength, and Happiness– Rick Hanson
Resilient Grieving: Finding Strength and Embracing Life after a Loss that Changes Everything– Lucy Hone
Supernormal: Childhood Adversity and the Amazing Untold Story of Resilience– Meg Jay
The Art of Failing: Notes From the Underdog– Anthony McGowan
It’s Great to Suck at Something: The Unexpected Joy of Wiping Out and What it Can Teach Us About Patience, Resilience, and the Stuff that Really Matters- Karen Rinaldi
Better: How I Let Go of Control, Held on to Hope, and Found Joy in my Darkest Hour– Amy Robach
The Resilience Dividend: Being Strong in a World Where Things Go Wrong- Judith Rodin
The Bounce Back Book: How to Thrive in the Face of Adversity, Setbacks, and Losses– Karen Salmansohn
Shame is an Ocean I Swim Across– Poems by Mary Lambert
Sometimes You Fly- Katherine Applegate & Jennifer Black Reinhardt
Even Superheroes Make Mistakes– Shelly Becker & Eda Kaban
Famous fails! Mighty Mistakes, Mega Mishaps, & How a Mess Can Lead to Success!– Crispin Boyer
Bounce Back: How to Be a Resilient Kid– Wendy L. Moss
A Facebook post went viral recently because a woman came across a book at Costco and was offended by the poems in it- specifically one poem, Brotherly Love:
The post was clearly written to provoke outrage, which it did achieve. The thousands of comments are filled with calls to pull the book, questioning the store for selling it, the authors for writing it, and the publishers for supporting it.
I understand if this poem isn’t appealing to everyone – it’s definitely dark in its humour, and filled with imagined instances of hyperbolic violence. Some kids might find it frightening, but others will surely find it hilarious. In the comments of the post parents are also asserting that kids couldn’t possibly understand the dark humour for what it is and will take the poem literally; to this I say no two kids are the same, and kids in general are smarter than we give them credit for. This book isn’t going to incite mass fratricide, and this outcry is just yet another attempt by adults to remove a unique book that would be enjoyed by certain kids.
Parents are understandably protective of their kids, but what one kid can’t handle might be what another kid clicks with. For some kids, the love of reading can suddenly be sparked with something a little edgy
— something shocking, scandalous, gross, ghoulish, or morbid. When a book steps out of the safe and into the daring, that very act alone might garner a kid’s respect and begin a lifelong reading habit. Thinking back to my younger years, the books that were widely popular and always checked out at the school library were rarely “nice” books- they were the kind of books that you pass around at the back of the class and get in trouble for giggling about.
Despite its dark content, there’s no reason to fear this book- if someone doesn’t like it, they don’t have to read it, and can also ensure their kid doesn’t read it. If a parent wants to control what their kid has access to, that’s their choice. However, when people try to prevent others from exercising that choice, that’s where we have a problem.
Fearing that they might decide to pull the book from their stores in a reactionary act of censorship, I wrote this to Costco executives:
I am an educator, library worker, and MLIS student, and as such I wanted to share my thoughts and perspective on the children’s book carried by Costco “No More Poems”.
As I’m sure you are aware by now, a parent shared a poem in this book which they found offensive and are warning others not to buy it as well as questioning your company for carrying it, the publishers for approving it, etc. The post has since gone viral on Facebook.
I understand that in situations like this the impulse may be to pull the title from your stores, but on the contrary I hope that you keep it available. No book will appeal to the sensitivities of all kids (or all parents) but censorship isn’t the answer.
I think the poem is funny and could totally be appreciated by some kids who get the dark humour. Kids are smarter than we give them credit for- this book isn’t advocating actual violence, it’s playing on exaggerated fantasies of a kid annoyed by their brother. I hope you keep the title in your stores- I would buy it, and I’m sure others would too. Those who don’t want it can close it and walk away.
Thanks for your time,
If, like me, you’ve been feeling more than your share of political exhaustion, existential dread, climate-change anxiety, and general fear about the way the world seems to be headed, you may want to consider perusing the following book suggestions.
These books won’t let us turn back time and prevent the election of ignorant egomaniacs. They probably also won’t help us when our coastlines become submerged, and they won’t protect us from artificially intelligent dictators or wildfires or aliens, but hey — at least they’ll make us feel better in the meantime.
Okay, maybe i’m feeling cynical, leaning nihilistic, but I really don’t think that I’m alone in my exasperation. These books aim to inspire hope, which I imagine most of us could use a bit more of these days.
And so, I present:
(Quotes used are taken from product descriptions/book jackets of each title)
It’s Better Than It Looks: Reasons For Optimism In an Age of Fear by Gregg Easterbrook (2018)
Easterbrook offers specific policy reforms to address climate change, inequality, and other problems, and reminds us that there is real hope in conquering such challenges. In an age of discord and fear-mongering, It’s Better Than It Looks will profoundly change your perspective on who we are, where we’re headed, and what we’re capable of.
Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig (2019)
The societies we are part of are increasingly making our minds ill. It very often feels that the way we live is almost engineered to make us unhappy. Whether it is our attitudes toward sleep, the marketing messages that inundate us daily, the constant and hysterical news cycle, social media or even the way we educate our children, we are programming ourselves to put our bodies and minds at odds and setting ourselves up with expectations for our lives that prevent our happiness.
When Matt became ill with panic disorder, anxiety and depression, it took him a long time to work out the ways the external world could impact his mental health in positive and negative ways. Notes on a Nervous Planet shares his journey back to happiness and all of the lessons that Matt learned along the way
21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari (2018)
21 Lessons For the 21st Century provides a kind of instruction manual for the present day to help readers find their way around the 21st century, to understand it, and to focus on the really important questions of life. Once again, Harari presents this in the distinctive, informal, and entertaining style that already characterized his previous books. The topics Harari examines in this way include major challenges such as international terrorism, fake news, and migration, as well as turning to more personal, individual concerns, such as our time for leisure or how much pressure and stress we can take. 21 Lessons for the 21st Century answers the overarching question: What is happening in the world today, what is the deeper meaning of these events, and how can we individually steer our way through them?
Gmorning, Gnight! Little Pep Talks for Me & You by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jonny Sun (2018)
Before he inspired the world with Hamilton and was catapulted to international fame, Lin-Manuel Miranda was inspiring his Twitter followers with words of encouragement at the beginning and end of each day. He wrote these original sayings, aphorisms, and poetry for himself as much as for others. But as Miranda’s audience grew, these messages took on a life on their own. Now Miranda has gathered the best of his daily greetings into a beautiful collection illustrated by acclaimed artist (and fellow Twitter favorite) Jonny Sun. Full of comfort and motivation, Gmorning, Gnight! is a touchstone for anyone who needs a quick lift.
Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress by Steven Pinker (2018)
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? In this elegant assessment of the human condition in the third millennium, cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, which play to our psychological biases. Instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise, not just in the West, but worldwide. This progress is not the result of some cosmic force. It is a gift of the Enlightenment: the conviction that reason and science can enhance human flourishing.
Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World- And Why Things Are Better Than You Think – by Hans Rosling, Ola Rosling, and Anna Rosling Ronnlund (2018)
It turns out that the world, for all its imperfections, is in a much better state than we might think.That doesn’t mean there aren’t real concerns. But when we worry about everything all the time instead of embracing a worldview based on facts, we can lose our ability to focus on the things that threaten us most.
Inspiring and revelatory, filled with lively anecdotes and moving stories, Factfulness is an urgent and essential book that will change the way you see the world and empower you to respond to the crises and opportunities of the future.
Poems for a World Gone To Sh*t: The Amazing Power of Poetry To Make Even The Most F**ked Up Times Feel Better featuring poems by various poets (2019)
Funny, reflective, romantic and life-affirming – here is an anthology of poems to remind you to keep on looking at the stars: from that first ‘what the f*ck’ moment to empowering you to do something about this sh*t and ultimately realising that life is still beautiful after all.
BOOK-LIST TIME! This time for International Women’s Day!
I’ve kept track of 101 books that have been released recently (approximately within this past year) featuring intersectional feminist writings, women’s stories and histories, and empowering reads from diverse voices.
The quoted descriptions I’ve used are from the book jackets and/or their promo materials.
Scroll down for biographies, non-fiction, graphic novels, YA titles, and books for younger readers, too!
Happy, inspired reading!
A personal and empowering blueprint—from one of America’s rising Democratic stars—for outsiders who seek to become the ones in charge
So what if it’s true that Black women are mad as hell? They have the right to be. In the Black feminist tradition of Audre Lorde, Brittney Cooper reminds us that anger is a powerful source of energy that can give us the strength to keep on fighting.
Every Day I’m Hustling is a personal book with a message Fox passionately believes in: that you make your own luck, that you never ever wake up in the morning thinking somebody’s going to call you and offer you that part or ask you out on that date that’s going to change your life, that you have to wake up and put on your longest eyelashes and fiercest heels and go out and make your life happen yourself.
To strip the wallpaper off the fairy tale of The Family House in which the comfort and happiness of men and children has been the priority is to find behind it an unthanked, unloved, neglected, exhausted woman.
Informative, heartbreaking, and profoundly empowering, Tomorrow Will Be Different is McBride’s story of love and loss and a powerful entry point into the LGBTQ community’s battle for equal rights and what it means to be openly transgender.
An intimate, powerful, and inspiring memoir by the former First Lady of the United States
From Cecile Richards—president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund for more than a decade, daughter of the late Governor Ann Richards, featured speaker at the Women’s March on Washington, and a “heroine of the resistance” (Vogue)—comes a story about learning to lead and make change, based on a lifetime of fighting for women’s rights and social justice.
With raw honesty, Shraya delivers an important record of the cumulative damage caused by misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia, releasing trauma from a body that has always refused to assimilate.
With unbridled insight that offers a rare front seat to the inner workings of the #metoo movement and its aftermath, Jill captures the zeitgeist of a generation with thoughtful and revolutionary ideas about gender, inclusion, desire, and consent.
Elle columnist Rhyannon Styles tells her unforgettable life story in THE NEW GIRL, reflecting on her past and charting her incredible journey from male to female. A raw, frank and utterly moving celebration of life.
From much-loved, international bestseller Cecelia Ahern come stories for all of us: the women who befriend us, the women who encourage us, the women who make us brave
Join the ranks of the pioneers who defied social convention to become database poets, information-wranglers, hypertext dreamers, and glass ceiling-shattering dot com-era entrepreneurs.
From Gemma Hartley, the journalist who ignited a national conversation on emotional labor, comes Fed Up, a bold dive into the unpaid, invisible work women have shouldered for too long—and an impassioned vision for creating a better future for us all.
Bestselling author, professional speaker, and former editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan, Kate White shares the nine core principles gutsy women need to go bigger, bolder, and achieve the full level of success they desire.
Redefine the expectations for women in leadership roles with this #1 New York Times bestselling volume of inspiring advice by the former communications director for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
Keep Marching calls on all badass women for justice to come together and rise.
The instant bestseller from the author of Reviving Ophelia–a guide to wisdom, authenticity, and bliss for women as they age.
Drawing upon Renzetti’s decades of reporting on feminist issues, Shrewed is a book about feminism’s crossroads.
Meet the bold women history has tried to forget until now!
With a keen eye for historical detail, Andrea Barnet traces the arc of each woman’s career and explores how their work collectively changed the course of history.
Ambition, diversity, strength: few groups better represent the potential of Canada than women. Canada 150 Women profiles 150 of the country’s most inspiring, groundbreaking and powerful female role models, providing insight into their achievements—and a challenge for all to better support women.
Part critique of China’s paternalistic ideals, part playful portrait of the romantic travails of China’s trailblazing women and their well-meaning parents who are anxious to see their daughters snuggled into traditional wedlock, Roseann Lake’s Leftover in China focuses on the lives of four individual women against a backdrop of colorful anecdotes, hundreds of interviews, and rigorous historical and demographic research to show how these “leftovers” are the linchpin to China’s future.
Bolin constructs a sharp, perceptive, and revelatory dialogue on the portrayal of women in media and their roles in our culture.
Often funny, sometimes surprising, and always inspiring, this book aims to bridge the gap between the feminist hashtag and the scholarly text by giving women the space to explain how they actually feel about feminism.
It started with an article and grew into a movement… This collection of articles tracks the movement from its start. It looks at the international response and inevitable criticism, as well as the future of the movement.
In this luminous volume, New York Times bestselling writer Julia Pierpont and artist Manjit Thapp match short, vibrant, and surprising biographies with stunning full-color portraits of secular female “saints”: champions of strength and progress.
Highlighting a double standard perpetuated against women by all sexes, and its disastrous, stultifying effect, Traister’s latest is timely and crucial. It offers a glimpse into the galvanizing force of women’s collective anger, which, when harnessed, can change history.
A groundbreaking book that elevates underrepresented voices, Can We All Be Feminists? offers the tools and perspective we need to create a 21st century feminism that is truly for all.
A funny, fact-driven, and illustrated field guide to how to live a feminist life in today’s world, from the hosts of the hit Unladylike podcast.
Through a mixture of memoir, opinion and investigative journalism, Clementine Ford exposes just how unequal the world continues to be for women
This collection of twenty-one essays from major YA authors—including award-winning and bestselling writers—touches on a powerful range of topics related to growing up female in today’s America, and the intersection with race, religion, and ethnicity.
Can Your Conversations Change the World? provides insight into the origins and history of feminism, how it plays out on the global stage and what it means to be a young feminist and activist today.
Featuring beautiful full-color illustrations of each woman and a bold graphic design, this standout nonfiction title is the perfect read for teens (or adults!) who want the true stories of phenomenal women from around the world and insight into how their lives and accomplishments impacted both their societies and our own.
Weaving together sociological data, personal experiences, and insights gleaned from decades of work with governments and NGOs around the globe, Kaufman explores topics ranging from domestic violence to parental leave, grappling with the ways in which a culture of toxic masculinity hurts women and men (and their children). Informative and provocative, The Time Has Come demonstrates how real gender equality creates advancements in both the workplace and the global economy, and urges men to become dedicated allies in dismantling the patriarchy.
A revelatory work in the tradition of Claudia Rankine’s Citizen, DaMaris Hill’s searing and powerful narrative-in-verse bears witness to American women of color burdened by incarceration.
Welcome to essayist Kimberly Harrington’s poetic and funny world of motherhood, womanhood, and humanhood, not necessarily in that order.
An inspiring and radical celebration of 70 women, girls, and gender nonbinary people who have changed–and are still changing–the world, from the Civil Rights Movement and Stonewall riots through Black Lives Matter and beyond.
From artist, activist, and Pussy Riot founder Nadya Tolokonnikova, a guerilla guide to radical protest and joyful political resistance
A groundbreaking collection based on oral histories that brilliantly plumb the leadership of African American women in the 20th-century fight for civil rights – many nearly lost to history
A groundbreaking book about the direct relationship between a woman’s rights and freedoms and the economic prosperity of her country.
These are the remarkable stories of the girls who saw themselves as responsible for the difficult work of crossing color lines.
Count Girls In encourages parents and other adults to raise authentic young women who have the confidence to put STEM to work in a way that best serves them and their passions. The authors, both STEM professionals, present compelling research in a conversational, accessible style and provide specific advice and takeaways for each stage of schooling, from elementary school through college, followed by comprehensive STEM resources. This isn’t a book about raising competitive, test-acing girls in lab coats; this is about raising happy, confident girls who realize the world of opportunities before them.
Mara Altman’s volatile and apprehensive relationship with her body has led her to wonder about a lot of stuff over the years. Like, who decided that women shouldn’t have body hair? And how sweaty is too sweaty? Also, why is breast cleavage sexy but camel toe revolting? Isn’t it all just cleavage? These questions and others like them have led to the comforting and sometimes smelly revelations that constitute Gross Anatomy, an essay collection about what it’s like to operate the bags of meat we call our bodies.
Period Power aims to explain what menstruation is, shed light on the stigmas and resulting biases, and create a strategy to end the silence and prompt conversation about periods.
In concise and candid language, [Tovar] delves into unlearning fatphobia, dismantling sexist notions of fashion, and how to reject diet culture’s greatest lie: that fat people need to wait before beginning their best lives.
Filled with beautiful full-color illustrations, a groundbreaking compendium honoring the amazing true stories of fifty inspirational women who helped fuel some of the greatest achievements in space exploration from the nineteenth century to today
Sixty of the world’s coolest and most influential women are the inspiration for this refreshing and fun collection of drink recipes that are sure to bring extra zest to your cocktail shaker.
The bestselling motivational guide that TheAtlantic.comcalls “a rallying cry for women to get the money they deserve.”
THE MYTH OF THE NICE GIRL is a refreshing dose of forward-looking feminism that will resonate with smart, professional women who know what they want and are looking for real advice to take their career to the next level without losing themselves in the process.
Set amid the most turbulent social and political period of modern times, Ninth Street Women is the impassioned, wild, sometimes tragic, always exhilarating chronicle of five women who dared to enter the male-dominated world of twentieth-century abstract painting–not as muses but as artists.
Celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the acclaimed and influential debut album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill with this eye-opening and moving exploration of Lauryn Hill and her remarkable artistic legacy.
Making headlines when it was launched in 2015, Omise’eke Tinsley’s undergraduate course “Beyoncé Feminism, Rihanna Womanism” has inspired students from all walks of life. In Beyoncé in Formation, Tinsley now takes her rich observations beyond the classroom, using the blockbuster album and video Lemonade as a soundtrack for vital new-millennium narratives.
A stellar and unprecedented celebration of 104 musical artists, WOMEN WHO ROCK is the most complete, up-to-date history of the evolution, influence, and importance of women in music. A gorgeous gift book, it includes a stunning, specially commissioned, full-color illustrated portrait of every musician and group.
Joy Press tells the story of the maverick women who broke through the barricades and the iconic shows that redefined the television landscape.
Outfitted with on-point pop culture references, these essays tackle a wide range of topics: giving feminism a tough-love talk on intersectionality, telling society’s beauty standards to kick rocks, and calling foul on our culture’s obsession with work… With the intimate voice of a new best friend, Everything’s Trash, But It’s Okay is a candid perspective for a generation that has had the rug pulled out from under it too many times to count.
The author of Rejected Princesses returns with an inspiring, fully illustrated guide that brings together the fiercest mothers in history—real life matriarchs who gave everything to protect all they loved.
This riveting narrative explores the lives of six remarkable female pharaohs, from Hatshepsut to Cleopatra–women who ruled with real power–and shines a piercing light on our own perceptions of women in power today.
A riveting account of three women who fought shoulder-to-shoulder with men and worked with local women to restore their lives and push back the Taliban
In Bringing Down the Colonel, the journalist Patricia Miller tells the story of Madeline Pollard, an unlikely nineteenth-century women’s rights crusader. After an affair with a prominent politician left her “ruined,” Pollard brought the man—and the hypocrisy of America’s control of women’s sexuality—to trial. And, surprisingly, she won.
Who says women don’t go to war? From Vikings and African queens to cross-dressing military doctors and WWII Russian fighter pilots, these are the stories of women for whom battle was not a metaphor.
Throughout history and across the globe, one characteristic connects the daring women of Brazen: their indomitable spirit.
The Mean Girls are out for blood in this timely revenge fantasy that speaks to our deepest desires for awful, corrupt men to get what’s coming to ‘em! Filled with mayhem, misandry, and more danger than you can shake a stiletto at, get ready for a chaotic, bloody ride.
Girl Town collects the Ignatz Award-winning stories “Radishes” and “Diana’s Electric Tongue” together with several other tales of young adulthood and the search for connection.
In an anthology of revolution and resistance, a sisterhood of YA writers shines a light on a century and a half of heroines on the margins and in the intersections.
Join Lucy, the gang, Hubble the snarky kitty, and their TV reporter buddy, Suzy Pundergast, to find out if they can prove the meanies wrong because when girls stick together, anything is possible!
A fun and feisty tour of famous girl BFFs from history who stuck together and changed the world.
An activism handbook for teen girls ready to fight for change, social justice, and equality.
Inspirational stories of ten Black women and women’s collectives from Canadian and American history. Included are leaders and groundbreakers who were anti-slavery activists, business women, health-care activists, civic organizers and educators
In her powerful new book, Nobel Peace Prize winner and New York Times-bestselling author Malala Yousafzai introduces some of the people behind the statistics and news stories about the millions of people displaced worldwide.
A timely, beautiful and bold compendium of women around the world who said “time’s up” on inequality. Rule Breakers. Risk Takers. Rebel Women. Law Makers. This book is a celebration of women standing up, speaking out, and sticking together to battle inequality and win the vote.
More than 50 incredible female Super Heroes from the Marvel Comics universe inspire girls and women of all ages to be powerful, passionate, and persistent.
The inspirational real-life stories of superstar athletes Serena and Venus Williams, Simone Biles, Carli Lloyd, and more!
Perfect for tiny activists, mini feminists and little kids who are ready to take on the world.
Follow the adventures of these young female pioneers as they battle not only enemies in the skies but sexism and inequality in their own teams, and encounter legends like Jackie “Speed Queen” Cochran. Risking their lives countless times in feats of incredible bravery, the Women Airforce Service Pilots–WASPs–of the Second World War are honored in this beautiful story based on actual events, illustrated in Sally Deng’s raw, dynamic style.
From the fearless to the feared, discover 25 women who dared.
Discover 25 women who challenged the status quo and fought for what they believed in.
Discover 25 women who were trailblazers in science, technology, architecture, engineering and more.
Discover 25 women who shattered the glass ceiling, each in their own way. In politics, government, the business world and more, these women show us that ambition, perserverance and hard work go a long way.
The inspiring memoir for young readers about a Latina rocket scientist whose early life was transformed by joining the Girl Scouts and who currently serves as CEO of the Girl Scouts of the USA.
Painter and sculptor Rosa Bonheur (1822–1899) led a highly nontraditional life, especially for a woman in the nineteenth century. She kept lions as pets, was awarded the Legion of Honor by Empress Eugénie, and befriended “Buffalo Bill” Cody. She became a painter at a time when women were often only reluctantly educated as artists. Her unconventional artistic work habits, including visiting slaughterhouses to sketch an animal’s anatomy and wearing men’s clothing to gain access to places like a horse fair, where women were not allowed, helped her become one of the most beloved female painters of her time.
A gorgeously illustrated picture book biography about the fascinating life of surrealist artist Leonora Carrington, from Michelle Markel and Amanda Hall, the acclaimed team behind The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau.
Meet Viola Desmond, community leader and early civil rights trailblazer!
From award-winning author Kathleen Krull comes an empowering picture book biography—with dazzling illustrations from artist Nancy Zhang—about the second female justice of the Supreme Court, Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Bugs, of all kinds, were considered to be born of mud” and to be “beasts of the devil.” Why would anyone, let alone a girl, want to study and observe them?
One of the first naturalists to observe live insects directly, Maria Sibylla Merian was also one of the first to document the metamorphosis of the butterfly. In this visual nonfiction biography, richly illustrated throughout with full-color original paintings by Merian herself, the Newbery Honor-winning author Joyce Sidman paints her own picture of one of the first female entomologists and a woman who flouted convention in the pursuit of knowledge and her passion for insects.
The inspiring and critically acclaimed all-American story of faith, family, hard work, and perseverance by Olympic fencer, activist, and Time “100 Most Influential People” honoree Ibtihaj Muhammad
On the bicentennial of Frankenstein, join Mary Shelley on the night she created the most frightening monster the world has ever seen.
Gloria Steinem started a movement that changed our world. This picture-book biography of the pioneering feminist brings the message of equality to a new generation.
This lovingly crafted picture book biography centers on the incredible bond between Venus and Serena Williams…
Princess Nin is a firefighter, Princess Gilda is a supermarket cashier, Princess Agnes is retired, and Princess Liang is in a wheel chair. This gallery of princesses gives visibility to lot of women who do not fit with the traditional conception of a princess. Maybe it’s time to realize that each and every one of us could be a princess.
This is a gorgeous, lyrical ode to loving who you are, respecting others, and being kind to one another—from Empire actor and activist Grace Byers and talented newcomer artist Keturah A. Bobo.
…A story that’s equal parts fashion fairy-tale and guide to girl power…
A poignant, fierce reflection on the power and spirit of girls and girls-at-heart from celebrated actress Kathryn Hahn and New York Times bestselling illustrator Brigette Barrager.
One size definitely does not fit all in this book: charming depictions of girls being scruffy or fancy, neat or messy, and everything in between are explored and celebrated, because each girl is unique and unlike all others.
Some kids like frills and sparkles and bows and lots of pink. And some don’t. The girl who started “The Absolutely, Positively No Princess Book” is sure that she wants a story full of nature and adventure. But when a princess barges into the pages with her own opinions about what makes for a good story, the two learn that they each have something to offer. Together they make the best story of all.
Focused on issues including self-image, confidence, LGBTQ, friendship, advocacy, and disability, these stories are perfect for sharing between parents and children, or for older princesses or princes to read by themselves. They teach that a princess is a person who seeks to help others, is open to learning new things, and looks for ways to add purpose to their lives and the lives of those around them.
From the award-winning creator of My Dad Used to Be So Cool and Tough Guys Have Feelings Too comes a charming picture book inspired by the true story of Mary Edwards Walker, a trailblazing 19th-century doctor who was arrested many times for wearing pants.
Uplifting and resonant, and with a variety of interests ranging from sports to science to politics, this book is sure to inspire any young girl, instilling the idea that the best way to dress like a girl is the way that makes you feel most like YOU!
Feminist Baby is learning to talkShe says what she thinks and it totally rocks!Feminist Babies stand up tall“Equal rights and toys for all!”
In this board book, young girl braves a challenge-filled day just like her hero, Wonder Woman!
You loved the bestselling picture books starring Rosie Revere, Ada Twist, and Iggy Peck. Now you can follow The Questioneers’ further adventures in brand-new chapter books! The first installment, Rosie Revere and the Raucous Riveters, is a spirited story about the power of teamwork and the true meaning of home.
Illustrated with Ellie’s sketches and plans, and including backmatter with a fun how-to guide to tools, this is a STEM- and friendship-powered story full of fun!
This week in Canada we recognize our intellectual freedom in celebrating the 35th annual Freedom to Read Week (Feb 24-March 2).
Freedom to read can never be taken for granted. Even in Canada, a free country by world standards, books and magazines are banned at the border. Schools and libraries are regularly asked to remove books and magazines from their shelves. Free expression on the Internet is under attack. Few of these stories make headlines, but they affect the right of Canadians to decide for themselves what they choose to read. – freedomtoread.ca
The Freedom to Read Website keeps track of submitted challenges here (I’ll be quoting some passages below). A challenge indicates that someone sought to limit public access to the title, whether in a school, a library, or elsewhere. Sometimes a challenge results in removal of the title – banning a book is a clear form of censorship. Yet, even when a challenge is dismissed, the resulting controversy may mean that it is quietly dropped from school projects, curriculum lists, and displays, which is an unseen form of censorship that is harder to track.
On the other hand, often efforts to censor a book “backfire” because people naturally can’t wait to get their hands on the title that someone doesn’t want them to read!
I’ve been keeping tabs on the challenged titles in Canada the past few years, and I thought it would be fun to highlight a few of my favorite or noted titles that have been challenged and why (if the record contains a reason, which it often does not).
So here, in no particular order, are some notable works which, for some reason or another, someone tried to restrict access to in Canada:
This title was challenged in Edmonton in 2016 and Ontario in 2015. Complaints included that the illustrations were graphic and violent, and a mother said that they made her son cry.
Spooky ABC was challenged in British Columbia. Objections: “The letters D and I poems not very appropriate for kids to read, and quite honestly the whole book was not OK to read to a child of any age. I don’t know if it would be useful to another child. Many other alphabet books [are] available. This one just seemed bad all across the board.”
I don’t know, it looks pretty intriguing to me!
“Offensive language, age inappropriate”- I’m guessing this person didn’t get that this a humour book which is probably more intended for parents than children. There IS an alternate SFW version called Seriously, Just Go to Sleep, but I think it’s missing the magic of the original…
Fun fact! Samuel L. Jackson narrates this book spectacularly in the audio edition.
The Waiting Dog was challenged both in 2006 and 2010. Complaints included “revolting, vile”. It’s true! This is a picture book with a warning label on the cover art: “WARNING- do you have the guts to read this book?”
The story *spoiler alert* involves a dog who daydreams about pulling the mailman in through the slot and feasting on his body from top to toes. Its graphic imagery and playful verse are both gratuitously, gruesomely, disturbingly macabre, and while it surely isn’t to every readers taste, I’m certain that some kids as well as adults would gobble it up happily.
The dark humour is played in an exaggerated way- the evil thoughts of the dog contrast so completely with the gentle, wiggly, goofy dogs that I know, so as the violence ramps up it only adds to the hilarity.
I probably never would have stumbled across this book if it hadn’t been challenged, but I am quite fond of it. I actually ordered my own copy on Amazon and the author signed it!
It’s alarming to notice a certain trend in the books that have been challenged in Canada in recent years- many of them are LGBTQ+ titles.
In one particular instance in 2016, a mother in Alberta initiated a challenge on all of the LGBTQ book titles that were suggested in the Teen Summer Reading Program pamphlets at St. Albert Library. She found the entire category objectionable, claiming “there is a difference between showing respect for all peoples and using the summer reading program as a place to further LGBTQ propaganda”– she also called LGBTQ+ an unhealthy “lifestyle” contrary to god’s plan and unfit for promotion to youth.
The Teen Librarian did not remove the Queer Lit category from the Summer Reading program, and noted in their response to the patron that it was not a requirement to read from that category to participate in the SRP game. Furthermore, they explained:
“Library patrons have a choice in what they read… The St. Albert Public Library serves all members of the community, regardless of age, race, faith, education level, income, sexual orientation, gender identity, ethnic background, or language spoken. We serve LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning) youth, and the library is a safe space for them to visit. Many of these young people, as part of an invisible minority, have learned to be secretive about their sexual identity or gender identity for fear of rejection from their peers or their own families. They experience isolation and are often victims of bullying. For these youth, a realization that there are library materials available to them which address LGBTQ identities and issues can help them choose to become more resilient and to feel that they have a place in society… having LGBTQ material available in the Young Adult collections and on book displays alongside other materials, not hidden away, helps to create an atmosphere of acceptance”.
This bestselling and award-winning dystopian novel was challenged in 2008 by a parent who was concerned about its use in a grade 12 classroom in Toronto. Concerns included “profane language, anti-Christian overtones, violence, and sexual degradation“.
Hmm, I wonder how an author is supposed to portray a dystopia without depicting the plentiful ways in which humanity can go wrong?
The school board reviewed the title and decided to keep it in the grade 11 & 12 curriculum.
Back around the 2000’s the Harry Potter series was widely challenged in the US and Canada, mainly by christian fundamentalists, on the grounds that the series contained themes of witchcraft. The books were removed from classroom use in some instances, and some orders for removal were rescinded after public outcry.
“In 2002 the Niagra (ON) District School Board turned down a parent’s request for the removal of the books from area schools. The parent said the books contained violence and promoted a religion (Wicca) which is against the law in Ontario schools. She said that she had not read the books.”
These books still face challenges again and again- I see another challenge recorded in Canada in 2010, but I imagine there are probably so many more challenges happening without being submitted to Freedom to Read.
Rupert Grint, who plays Ron Weasley in the movie adaptations of the books, recalls a sobering moment in his childhood when he realized the truly enormous impact of the series:
I saw a picture in a newspaper of a book-burning in America’s Bible Belt. And there was a picture of my face smouldering on top of the pyre because they thought the Harry Potter films were endorsing witchcraft.
The first omnibus, containing volumes 1-3 of this manga series, was challenged in Canada in 2017. No details are listed as to why.
I haven’t read Flowers of Evil yet- it’s on my TBR list- but I am a big fan of Oshimi’s beautiful and haunting vampire series, Happiness.
Again, no reason given here as to why it was challenged, but in 2017 someone had an issue with Jumanji. Van Allsburg’s works are unique and whimsical. This strange and imaginative picture book was the inspiration for the film of the same name, which was released back in 1995!
Speaking of 1995, that’s the year that R.L. Stine’s books were challenged in Nova Scotia! Take a nostalgic look at those gorgeous covers, would you?
“A parent group in Halifax asked that both these series be withdrawn from schools in the Halifax School Board’s jurisdiction. The books were said to convey violence and a lack of respect for parental authority.”
Why do parents always seem to want to ban the books that their kids are desperate to read? What a great way to kill a potential love of reading! Also, wouldn’t you fight back if you were being attacked by relentless lawn gnomes or killer slime? And maybe learning to not blindly trust authority is also an important lesson in life, but hey, that’s just my opinion…
I am a 90’s kid myself, and recently wrote on my personal blog about my obsession with Goosebumps. It certainly gave me chills a few times, but sometimes a kid needs a good scare!
And Tango Makes Three was challenged in Canada 2006 and again in 2009. This book was inspired by two real-life male penguins at the Central Park Zoo. The Calgary Catholic School District banned the book from a school library after a parent complained, on religious grounds, about the theme of “homosexual parenting”.
This book has also been highly controversial in the United States, facing frequent challenges.
Again, these are just a handful of examples of titles that have been challenged in Canada, and many more titles are challenged every year that likely aren’t reported.
Other excellent resources from around the world include the National Coalition Against Censorship, the Index on Censorship , Banned Books Week and The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, – because you never know if YOUR favorite book will be the next one to receive a challenge!
Lovely fellow nerd blogger Kayla recently included me in her Professional Nerd Series on her blog https://goodlordthatsfunny.com/ for my work with graphic novels, comics, and manga! Thanks Kayla, and keep up this awesome project!
Check out the post about my work here 🙂
And her previous post about cosplayer Hillary Laine here!
You must have been living under a mountain of joyless t-shirts for the last month if you haven’t seen the memes, or at least heard about Marie Kondo’s new Netflix show Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, which was released on New Year’s Day.
I’m a fan of Marie Kondo- I’ve read all of her books and I just finished the Netflix series yesterday. Marie has three bestselling books about her KonMari method of tidying and decluttering, which involves sorting your possessions into categories and confronting every item individually with the question “does this spark joy”?
Her method is spreading fast since the show came out, with legions of new fans tidying up everywhere and thrift stores rejoicing. However, one category in the tidying advice given by KonMari is getting more consternation than others: books.
My Twitter and Facebook feeds have been inundated with memes like these, as well as the resulting rebuttals and defenses of KonMari.
The controversial book advice supposedly offered by KonMari has been debunked: she finds 30 books to be a reasonable number for herself personally, but throughout her works she acknowledges that everyone has their own unique formula for what brings them joy. The flexibility and customizability of the KonMari method is part of why I like it so much- it is practical and inspiring but can also be tailored to suit the lifestyles and interests of just about anyone. Read her books and you will see that “joy” comes in many forms- it’s true meaning, as meant by Kondo, is deeper and more complex than the word “joy” in the English language conveys.
Book lovers are proud of their collections, often as protective of their bookshelves as dragons guarding hoards of treasure. Having more books than one knows what to do with is a common non-problem in book communities, with people artificially bemoaning their massive TBR (to-be-read) piles while simultaneously feeling the special joy and contentment that comes with knowing you’ll never run out of books to read (and even if you did, re-reading is always an option!).
It’s not uncommon for book lovers to collect more books than they have shelves for, resulting in teetering towers of books stacking up ever-closer to the ceiling. The popular solution always seems to be obvious: more bookshelves needed! The contrasting choice, paring down a book collection to fit a deliberately chosen fixed-space, is a frightening prospect to many collectors of books. Yet, the large majority of people don’t have never-ending bookshelf space, and I’ve started to see the benefits of re-evaluating my own book collections and asking myself “does this book spark joy”?
Now, lest this post go viral for some reason and I find myself at the mercy of the booklr, bookstagram, and other passionate online book communities, let me state I am NOT prescribing what people should or should not do with their books, but offering my own perspective on what I’ve learned works for myself.
I drool over pictures of window reading nooks and built-in alcove shelving, too. I sniff my books. I collect novelty bookmarks. I’m one of you, I swear. Here’s my proof.
Let’s count the bookshelves:
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!
***Edit I forgot the cookbooks! What a recipe for disaster!
And this doesn’t even count the books in my parents’ attic, or the books I keep at work (I work at a library and I still keep some personal books at my desk…).
I am lucky to have access to so many books. I live a privileged life. My house has no shortage of books, and this is after my most recent book purge. I donated a ton of books to the library where I work, and gave away plenty to eager friends as well. A small few books even made their way (GASP) into the paper recycling. How did I do this? Am I a monster? What was my reasoning?
At first it was hard. Books feel untouchable for book lovers.
As KonMari explains, honing your sense of what sparks joy takes time. Yet, even something as precious as books can be examined and questioned. There came a time that I realized, if I continued my book-amassing ways unhindered, I’d someday be a candidate for Extreme Hoarding: Book Lover’s Edition: “Shauna has been living in the same house for 60 years, surrounded by piles of books. She realized she had a problem when the floor in the ‘spare room’ collapsed under the strain of 6400 cookbooks. Still, ‘the books make me happy’ she asserts, as she sits in the only remaining 4 square feet of space left open in the house, her nose in a slim hardcover.”
I want every single book on my shelves to be a book that I truly cherish.
These are some of the criteria that contribute to the joy I get from my books and help me know that I truly want to keep them:
I’ve donated a lot of books to the library lately, and given some to friends- all good books, but not books that were bringing me joy any longer.
Reasons for Donating:
This is not something book lovers want to think about, but sometimes books are candidates for disposal- as in the trash or the recycling.
How can this be? Aren’t books sacred? Aren’t more books always better than less?
Working in my public library has enlightened me on the process of “weeding” where we pull books that are no longer needed to make room for new titles. A lot of criteria go into choosing which books to weed (popularity, condition, number in a series, age of book, number of copies, etc.). Studies have shown that when collections are well-weeded, the circulation of books actually increases in libraries because in a well-weeded collection people can better find what they’re looking for (or what they didn’t know they were looking for)- sometimes less IS more. Often weeded books will be used in other ways (i.e. the sale shelf, or craft projects) instead of tossed.
However, sometimes a book is truly not needed anymore and can be discarded in the recycling. This isn’t an act of censorship – these are books (mainly non-fiction) that are so outdated they have become irrelevant and have no use or interest to virtually anyone anymore. Some made up examples:
But wait! you say- can’t these items be donated instead? Maybe SOMEONE would use them for… something?
I’m sorry, but no Value Village, used bookstore, or library wants your old stained National Geographics, ancient textbooks, or outdated reference material. Same goes for water damaged, musty, mouldy or otherwise soiled books. Even when outdated books are in good condition, unless you know someone who is conducting a research project (?) regarding outdated books on a specific topic (highly unlikely) or wider society develops a sudden and neverending compulsion to create Pinterest-inspired recycled book and magazine craft projects, there’s a limit to how many old books would be useful to keep for such things.
As hard as it can be to accept, sometimes a book has reached the end of its life. You can try passing it on to someone else (nobody will blame you) but at some point somebody has to make the hard decisions (or store them indefinitely in the garage…).
Okay, to end this on a happy note closer to the point, the reason for tidying and assessing your book collection, if you so choose, isn’t to chase some minimalist ideal- it’s to surround yourself with books that you truly love and enjoy. May you and your books live out your lives with purpose, loved and appreciated!
Drama, a popular graphic novel by Raina Telgemeier, was recently ordered removed from Catholic elementary schools in Ottawa. The decision was swiftly reversed amidst much criticism.
The removal of Drama came after complaints from parents about LGBT content; Drama, which centers around a middle-school theatre production, features a panel where two boys kiss onstage.
The School Board had asserted that the choice was made to remove the book not necessarily because of LGBT content, but because of relationship content:
“It is not a book we really need younger kids reading without guidance.”– Robert Long, Ottawa Catholic School Board
I’ve read Drama, and I feel confident that if the LGBT characters were instead presented as a boy-girl coupling there would have been no perceived “issue” and no censorship of this title by the School Board.
Drama features young students, some of which have crushes on other students (shocking, I know), but the book isn’t heavily focused on romantic relationships- it’s also an intensely readable comic featuring diverse characters who are excited and passionate about theatre. The students are busy addressing all of the intricacies of designing a set, planning the lighting, creating the costumes, rehearsing and getting ready for their big performance.
Scholastic recommends Drama for ages 10-14, which covers about grade 4-9. Age recommendations aren’t set in stone though, and I take them with a grain of salt- readers often enjoy titles above and below their “reading level”, especially if the content is relatable to them. When I was in elementary school and middle school, I was involved in several school plays, and this is just the kind of comic I would probably have enjoyed.
While the decision to ban Drama was thankfully reversed due to the pushback, we can still learn a lot from this act of censorship.
What does it say when we remove a book like Drama? The School Board had claimed that the book’s relationship content was age inappropriate, but the book was originally contested because of LGBT content (a gay character, a kiss). If the school was truly concerned about relationship content and kisses they would have a lot more titles to ban, including heaps of classic fairy tales, bestselling kids’ novels, and tons of picture books.
Take a look at the cute picture books up there created for young readers- why does society readily accept the love and affection of entire menageries of animals and creatures in a children’s picture book, but as soon as a boy kisses another boy in a comic people become uneasy?
Sadly, comics and graphic novels are subject to hyper-vigilant scrutiny on a regular basis. There’s something about the visual nature of comics that gets people all riled up, and this controversy over Drama is one more story showing that censorship is alive in Canada.
By purposefully removing Drama from a school library collection, the school board was effectively removing representation of LGBTQ+ characters. This removal insinuated that board members had concluded gay crushes are problematic and can only be handled by more mature readers. It implied that it’s unnatural for boys to like boys, it’s unmentionable for a boy to kiss a boy, that kids shouldn’t see LGBT relationships as normal, and that school libraries shouldn’t contain these types of content.
Representation isn’t trivial- it’s vital. Statistics show that in Canada, as in many other parts of the world, LGBTQ+ people are targeted at disproportionately high levels when it comes to violence, sexual assault, and discrimination.
We need stories with LGBTQ+ content to normalize LGBTQ+ people and relationships if we are to stop the violence that is directed toward them.
This book wasn’t being used for a class- it was available in the library, where students had the choice to read it or not read it as they liked. Parents can control what their own kids read, but when a book is banned and removed from a school library it eliminates EVERYONE’S chance to read it.
Drama could be the book that sparks a love of reading for a child. It could be the book that makes them feel less alone in the world, the book that they see themselves reflected in. It could inspire them, comfort them, entertain them, educate them, and more. It could do all of these things or none of these things, because every person is different and every reader brings their own ways of knowing into what they are reading. When the book is available, at least they have the chance to read it- if they don’t want to read it, nobody is forcing them to.
I’m glad that Drama is back in the elementary school libraries. Telgemeier’s graphic novels are popular for a reason, and kids read them voraciously. Drama could be just the book that a student needs.