In light of recent events, it seems more important than ever to remember that empathy and kindness are Creek values, Maryland values, and American values. Studies have shown that reading stories about people who are different than you can help you develop empathy for those people and their unique situations. The next time you visit the library for a book to read, try out one of these books about immigrants and refugees!
Yesterday was World AIDS Day, a day to learn more about HIV/AIDS, support people living with the virus, remember those who succumbed to it, and fight for further research for a vaccination and cure. Although people living with HIV/AIDS no longer face the kind of systematic ostracization that they did in the 1980s, when HIV/AIDS outbreaks were at their highest, there is still a stigma associated with the virus and the people who live with it.
One way to fight ignorance and intolerance is through reading! Reading books that depict characters living with HIV/AIDS, their struggles, and their bravery, can help readers better understand the virus, how it affects those who are living with it, and how it affects their families and friends. Unfortunately, a preliminary search for young adult novels that feature characters with HIV/AIDS shows a few things:
- Young adult novels that feature characters living with HIV/AIDS are pretty rare.
- Young adult novels that feature characters living with HIV/AIDS are mostly in the “precautionary tale” vein, meaning the HIV-positive character is depicted as a pitiable subject who teaches the main character (and reader) about the dangers of sex and/or intravenous drug use.
- Young adult novels rarely feature characters living with HIV/AIDS in which the illness is normalized, meaning it is not the character’s defining characteristic.
That said, there are some YA novels that feature HIV-positive characters that are worth your time. Give these a try:
Blue Pills: a positive love story by Frederick Peeters
This beautiful graphic novel follows the love story of Fred and Cati, who is HIV-positive. In addition to learning how to navigate an emotional and sexual relationship while living with HIV, this novel also deals with every-day topics like raising a child, falling in love, and talking to mammoths. This graphic novel is just that – graphic; there are depictions of sex and adult language, so keep that in mind before you pick it up.
Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan
In this novel by popular YA novelist David Levithan, former boyfriends Harry and Craig attempt to break a Guinness World record by kissing for 32 hours straight. This novel is narrated by “the shadow uncles,” a Greek-chorus-style amalgam of men who died of HIV/AIDS during the 1980s epidemic.
I wish I could recommend more than two books, but I can’t! I’ll keep looking for more YA novels in which HIV/AIDS is handled with empathy and respect. In the meantime, check out Two Boys Kissing and Blue Pills. If you want to learn more about HIV/AIDS, check out the World AIDS Day website or visit the library for more information.
Summer is TWO! DAYS! AWAY! Are you ready for sun, surf, and summer reading? In between your assigned summer reading from your teachers (find your assignments HERE), remember to read something for fun. If you don’t know what to read, check out the book reviews on the Creek Reads blog!
Do your arms get tired when you hold a book over your head while you lay on the beach? Check out Welcome to Night Vale, an awesomely weird, sometimes dark, sometimes silly, always entertaining podcast. This program is a fictional community radio show from the desert town, Night Vale, presented by the radio host, Cecil Palmer. In this on-going series, strange events happen in Night Vale every day, and Cecil is there to narrate both the mysterious and the mundane in his mellifluous voice. In between angel sightings, mayoral elections, and subterranean dwarf-wars, Cecil reads weird advertisements, crushes on Carlos, the new scientist in town, and plays great music by independent artists for “The Weather.” Fans of Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, China Mieville, Stephen King, and The Twilight Zone will enjoy Welcome to Night Vale, Download the first episode from iTunes or get in on Podbay! (Personally, my favorite episode is Summer Reading Program!)
If you’re like me, you’re constantly looking for the next great book to check out. When I get burned out on fiction novels, I turn to my favorite nonfiction authors to shake things up a little! Here are just a few suggestions for all you fiction lovers out there. Try something new today!
Tony Horwitz, author of Confederates in the Attic (973.7 HOR) and A Voyage Long and Strange (970.01 HOR)
I love Tony Horwitz’s hilarious books about his travels through time. In Confederates in the Attic, he takes his reader on a funny, touching, and maddening journey through the South, where the land and the people are still effected by the battles and outcome of the Civil War. Tony takes part in a reenactment, talks to Klan members, and journeys from battle site to battle site, learning about the Civil War from the people who live with the War, even in the present-day. In A Voyage Long and Strange, Tony delves into the little-known history of America’s life before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock. He unravels the myth of Christopher Columbus (who was a terrible guy, by the way), tries on a suit of armor, and uncovers new information about the myriad of explorers who traveled across the United States before there were ever states to unite. Tony’s particular style of narrative nonfiction is charming, hilarious, fun, and informative all at the same time. I would have never learned as much about the American Civil War or the history of America before the Pilgrims if I hadn’t stumbled upon his books. If you love historical fiction, try some REAL history with Tony’s books.
Mary Roach, author of Packing for Mars (571.09 ROA), Stiff (611 ROA), and Gulp (612.3 ROA)
Mary Roach is a fantastic nonfiction writer who explores weird, fascinating, and sometimes icky topics in her fantastic books. Gulp, for example, explores the twisty-turny path taken by our food as it travels through our bodies. Mary asks and answers all sorts of questions you’d never think to ask out loud about the human digestive process. Stiff follows the lives of human cadavers as they aid doctors and scientists in learning about health, medicine, and safety, even if the topic is a little weird for some. In Packing for Mars, Mary interviews astronauts, NASA engineers, and other interesting folks to learn what it takes to make it in space. This book was especially fun to read when I was learning about space exploration and the possibilities of creating permanent settlements on extra-terrestrial planets! Mary’s writing is easy and fun to read, and the topics that she covers are as interesting as they are uncomfortable, even taboo! Sci-fi lovers will get a kick out of any of her books, but I’d recommend starting with Packing for Mars for some hilarious using-the-bathroom-in-space science.
Lucy Knisley, author of An Age of License (GN 741.5 KNI), Relish, and French Milk
If you’re into food or travel, you’ll love Lucy Knisley’s beautiful graphic travelogues and memoirs. In An Age of License, Lucy paints and sketches her way across Europe in her very first solo travel expedition. She explores new cities, falls in love, misses her friends and family, and eats delicious new foods, all while capturing her trip in lovely sketches and watercolors. Lucy’s first travelogue, French Milk, is a similarly touching graphic diary of her month-long stay in Paris with her mother, while Relish focuses on Lucy’s life in food, with drawings of her favorite dishes and some really great recipes thrown in. If you’d like to check out Lucy’s comics, visit her website. Lucy’s focus is autobiographical and most of her comics and books center around a theme of youth and the journey from childhood into adulthood. Her illustrations are playful, colorful, and perfectly suit her stories. If you like fiction novels that feature love stories or coming-of-age tales, you’ll love Lucy Knisley’s books and comics.
If you’d like more suggestions for great nonfiction reads, check out my favorite YA book review blog, Reading Rants! Their nonfiction section is full of great reviews of interesting, fun-to-read works. If you see something you might like but we don’t have it in the library, just request it!
Do you ever find yourself wandering through your library, unable to pick a new book to read? Wouldn’t it be easier to choose a book if you knew what other people were checking out and what they liked?
The librarians at the Upper School library are making discovery easier and browsing more fun with tools and displays both in the library and online!
Check out Destiny Quest, our library search interface that compliments the traditional library catalog. Here, you will find an up-to-the-minute list of the top 10 books checked out at the Upper School library, a list of new arrivals, and easy browsing tools. Download the free Destiny Quest app on the iTunes or Android app store for mobile browsing from your device.
When you’re in the library, check out the book displays set up on the bookshelves. Brand new books, recently returned items, and Gold Star books are permanent displays in the library.
Originally posted on April 27, 2012 on http://www.indiancreekschool.org.