This was my first ever visit to BookExpo America and I really enjoyed my time there. First of all, it was nice to go to a big library/literary event that was only a subway ride away. I got to listen to authors and librarians talk about books and writing and Tumblr, wander around the booths, and see library buddies without having to hop on a plane or empty my bank account. Second, I knew that I was going to get to hear Rainbow Rowell and Sara Farizan talk and my pathetic little librarian heart was beating like a little over-caffeinated hummingbird in my chest. It was an awesome day, but yo, my dogs are killing me. I wore sensible shoes and everything, but the floor of the Jacob Javitz Center was unkind to my old, brittle librarian joints.
First, I headed off to the panel I was most excited about: Young Adult Buzz Authors. There, I listened to five extremely talented young YA authors talk about their latest books.
As you know, I was super excited to listen to Sara Farizan read from If You Could Be Mine and Rainbow Rowell read from Fangirl (which I waited on line for almost an hour to get an ARC of, but it was TOTALLY worth it and I can’t wait to read it as Eleanor and Park rocked my literary universe). Before Sara read from If You Could Be Mine, she said, “It’s not meant to offend. It may offend, but that’s OK.” I got absolute chills. It was so meaningful to hear the author herself read aloud from this book that I adore so much. In case you wondered, Sara has great hair:
Rainbow Rowell is far too charming in real life, just like you knew she would be. Fangirl deals with the world of fan fiction. She said that if she knew of fan fic when she was a teen, she would have written Wham/X-men fic. I die. She’s like the best friend you always wish you had.
Kind of on a whim, I attended a panel called Libraries+Tumblr=Connecting Readers+Writers. I’m super glad I went. It gave me a new plan of attack for Libraries Changed My Life. U GUISE, I think I have been Tumblr-ing wrong. Also, I need to think about how having a Tumblr for my library would work. We’ve all read that teens and tweens are leaving Facebook in droves, or not joining at all. In fact, my notes from this panel said: “Fuck Facebook, Facebook is for olds.” So, you know. Keep that in mind when thinking about social networking and tweens/teens.
Next, I went to a Writing Genre for Boys panel that I felt kind of iffy about, but I left the talk feeling like I really learned something. I was hesitant because I have very mixed feelings about stereotyping what people like to read based on their gender, but at the same time, I’ve been taught in library school that getting boys to read is very difficult (though I’ve never really known that to be the case). I even asked a question about whether the authors had conflicted feelings about gender stereotyping and if they thought it was important to break out of the gender binary (I asked the question in a really convoluted manner, insisting that “girls like fart jokes, too!”). I was glad to hear that panel speakers Jon Scieszka, Jack Gantos (who is really a dapper dresser. I had no idea), and Christopher Krovatin had similar thoughts. Scieszka mentioned that many boys aren’t reluctant readers, but are just typically really picky (and aren’t we all really picky readers? Who wants literature thrust upon you? We all want to be in control of our own reading choices). One of the speakers said that we need to consider more types of materials as valid reading choices, whether they are comic books or Mad magazine. In fact, Jack Gantos talked about having to hide his Classics Illustrated magazines from his mom “like they were child porn”, because she called them “moron books”. And he grew up to be freaking Jack Gantos. So let your kids read comics, alright?
When asked how to gets boys to read, Jon Scieszka offered great advice: Let them make a choice. Let them be a part of that choice. I think that’s just important for librarians, teachers, and parents to be reminded of in general. Children and teens need to be present when choosing the literature they read. It’s nice and all to pick books for them, but I think more kids need to wander the stacks and find things they are personally invested in reading. We need to be supportive of whatever that choice is. Scieszka also talked about how we need more positive role models for boy readers, that is, more men reading publicly.
I made a point of not bringing home too many books from BEA, considering that I should be concentrating on Rainbow List-ing and not acquiring more titles to plague my tiny apartment. I went from booth to booth seeking LGBTQ titles, and it was very depressing to hear that most publishers didn’t have any (or maybe they didn’t know what LGBTQ was? I’m not sure). My little gay book search was pretty discouraging.
Ooh, but I met a librarian with a similar affliction to mine! Remember when I talked about how patrons always think I look like that blonde chick from Criminal Minds? Mamaroneck librarian Emma Caywood has the SAME PROBLEM! What are the odds?
Do you go to BEA? See something totally incredible that I missed out on? Let me know!
~Love and Libraries, Ingrid