Podcast Personality

Thursday, May 11, 2023 – I’ll be honest- I podcast, alot. But I had never heard of Travis McElroy, and that made this keynote speaker EVEN BETTER.

Mr. McElroy started talking about a show they (his brothers) had at The Warfield in San Francisco (NOT to be misnamed as The Garfield as he pointed out). The whole idea behind all their events is just dumb fun, and I loved every minute of the craziness he found himself into. I thought, Middle Schoolers would latch onto this forever and high school students would never let go.

He elaborated on how they as a group of performing brothers have had to adapt a podcast to tv shows, to graphic novels, to an animated series– all certainly out of the realm of where they thought there would be going when starting comedic podcasts. In just this far into the key note, I saw how amazing adaptable and flexible opened doors, I felt the same could occur with librarians leading new paths where did not know they could be taken.

When asked about his memories of librarians and librarians, Mr. McElroy had some good ones.

He recalled summer reading and awards for doing this, also growing sunflowers from seeds as a library project, Finding a movie called The Twelve Chairs by Mel Brooks (when he thought he had seen all Mel Brooks movies and most people only knew of Young Frankenstein).

I do vaguely remember Mr. McElroy mentioning Star Wars, the father and Luke scene, and something to do with his father, but the exact details are a little fuzzy… 🙂

Travis went on talking about how amazed he was at the poetic way his daughter explained how the beast began to transform in Beauty and the Beast – and how it was a moment we all recognize what used to be children are astonishing in moments of their own.

It was interesting to hear his favorite book was a sci fi series – so much he ended up getting a second and third set because so many knew how much he liked this series! I cannot get the title correct of what that series was, so I am on a mission to find out what this series was – if you know, PLEASE share!

Also, the a first edition of a favorite Agatha Christie novel ranked in his favorites and he had been sucked in to reading geaphic novels and comics following the deaths of Ms. Marvel!

He made a hysterical point, that etiquette is really a guidebook for awkward people, and that etiquette should be brought back to be able to get out of things, lol. I can see this….

‘Til Death Do Us Blart – was discussed in the long series of things that often do not make a point, and something they ALWAYS had made, EVERY Thanksgiving, and something they vowed to do EVERY THANKSGIVING.

In talking about audiobooks, Mr. McElroy discussed that literacy did not just fall on books alone, audiobooks are reading too!

Skyline Chili- vs Cincinnati Chili! LOL let the feud begin- as Travis McElroy explained the difference between Skyline and Cincinnati Chili. “I try not to take it personally, but I do. An ugly baby is still someone’s kid.” that comment helps describe the hilarity of the topic that Travis McElroy brought up.

I loved the fact that Travis McElroy mentioned in their podcasts, they didn’t think they were right about topics, but that they just want people to feel that they want to do what they want!

One of the best parting pieces of advice he gave was this -Never stop learning, never be satisfied with thinking or saying, “This is the best person I’ll ever be”, and remember it is NEVER an excuse for trying to learn more or bettering yourself.

I truly loved the hysterical, young kid-like approach that Mr. McElroy exhibited, his energy was all over the place but solidified the idea of showing how so many types of media and expression can be united and turned into OTHER connections to even more types of literacy.

LOVED the raw energy Travis McElroy brought to this keynote!

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Budgeting Off a Ledge

I was asked to do some research and write an article showing one of many obstacles school librarians face in trying to provide literacy to their students.

I do hear from schools in our state that receive zero budget or have funds allotted to them taken away from the library and put into the rest of the school, showing the value placed on libraries and the value attached to school librarians in a given school. I followed a post asked to school librarians all over the U.S., and this is what I heard:

This goes Elementary librarians – what’s your budget like for next year?


7500 books, 2000 supplies (including makerspace supplies) 750 periodicals

Ariana jealous

Amanda wow!!!! That’s huge!

Jill Our district is funding all of the school libraries this year to get us all at exemplary status. Our average age will be 2013 or better and around 15 books per student

Andrea We get $25 per student for books and supplies which is down from the past.

Trina For years we got only $2 per student, but now we get $10 per student.

Wow. How do you run a library with $0?

No idea! I won’t find out until the fall.

Rebekah Whatever I can make at 2 book fairs

Stephanie In the school I just left – probably less than $2000 and not book fair fundraiser. Looking for that new school so not sure yet for me. But any amount would be better than what I was given last year. Not to mention they tell you until you ask a jillion times.

Jodi Whatever my PTA gives me. $2000 at one school, $0 at the other

Lisa $0 for books or anything specific to the library. I did ask for 6 rolls of packing tape & index cards for next year and got those!

Kim I get absolutely nothing except for what I make through fundraising.😞

Erin Same as always $2,452.

April We typically get $20 per student but we were told it’s been cut. Not sure how deep the cuts are yet though!

Amanda The last few years has been $1000 cut from $5000. No idea about this coming year.

Christine I’m moving to a new campus and I believe the overall budget is $5,000.

Stephanie What I make a two book fairs and a budget based on enrollment to buy books.

Amanda Not sure about this coming year because it’s Principal decision and we have a new principal but last year was $3000 for books & $1000 for supplies.

Leslie We used to get $10 per student, then for 10 years we got $0. This is our 3rd year of getting $5 per student with minimum of $3000. I only have 500 students.

Becky We typically get a book budget, a tech budget, and a small general/supplies budget. It’s based on school enrollment and all comes from bond $$.

Siobhán I never get told my budget, nor am I involved in making it

Carianne Campus of 340-ish 1st and 2nd graders.

In the past, I had $2,250 for books, $900 for supplies, and $1,000 for conference/travel. This year, I think it was $2,000 for books, $700 for supplies, and I have no idea what my travel was, but I loved the conference I attended in April!! 😂

I didn’t get word of my budget amounts until I went and asked in late April — the day before I was to have it all spent. 👎 I got it done, but the amounts surprised me a bit.

Ann $16 per student. So $8000.

Kevin 1440 for library/books. 1000 periodicals that can also transfer for books if needed

Kendra $0.00

Kate $0

Laurie 0

Jennifer 0

Sarah About $3,000. We have 485 students. $400 for supplies

Here is your opportunity – as a parent, teacher, faculty, community member, business owner, PLEASE ask this question of your local school director – What part of the school budget is set aside for our librarian, library, and new resources found in the library.

This will be the best possible gift to help support literacy in stemming from your library to the rest of any institution.

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Impressionable impressions…from empowerment to podcasting, a student’s initiative.

So here’s impressive. Awhile back, I asked students (because I feel often, so many opinions are not asked to the correct audience) their thoughts on libraries, censorship, etc..) .

Their opinions came in many different waves and forms- and one particular student took these questions around to his classes, he was THAT interested and vested in this topic.

On top of that, this same student wrote an actual essay – ON HIS OWN, not for an assignment, which is featured below.

And finally, when asked, he conducted a podcast, on his own, and editing on his own, with a visiting poet/author, Shelly Puhak, that visited Woodbridge High School students during Poetry Month. With the collaboration of The Delaware Humanities and the Lewes bookstore Biblion, we were able to breathe life into instruction. (Check out that awesome experience in the lower half of this blog post).

Being able to find and locate community members, public and school librarians, poets, authors, teachers, students, and community members and combine and empower them, to add creativity and innovation, as well as variety in how and what is taught to tie into basic skills literacy, it works, and it works well. Only if all are given a path to indeed work together.

I suspect Logan learned much from diving in to these opportunities, but I learned much more about what students can do if given the reins of opportunity, well done Logan!

Logan’s podcast with poet/author Shelly Puhak:

Logan’s essay and call for others to advocate below!

It’s been an ever present issue that’s become more apparent in the more recent years. A controversy that’s begun to plague libraries across the country: the banned books controversy. For those that don’t know, it’s a controversy that regards the issues of people, such as the government and parents, deciding that certain books should no longer be allowed to be read by the public. All over the world, including in America, there are books that are being banned due to their ‘offensive’ topics. These offensive topics can range from things such as LGBTQ+ representation, portrayal of dark historical events, violent depictions, portrayal of different groups, and various other ‘problems’.

Let’s be clear about something for a moment. Almost every single problem that’s been presented as an excuse to ban books is just something that goes against the ideologies of other people, not actual problems. Why should books with LGBTQ+ representation – such as Melissa, Lawn Boy, and All Boys Aren’t Blue – be banned from schools and other places aside from the obvious reason of blatant homophobia? There are books about the Holocaust, such as The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, which are being banned partly due to Holocaust deniers. Almost every banned book has little to do with real problems, and nearly everything to do with people’s own ideologies that they want to try and force onto the rest of the world.

However, aside from the broad claims against who it is that’s banning the books, a broader question should be asked: Why the books? In a society where movies are more prominent, more advertised, and more consumed, why is it that the books are being limited? Books can explain a topic for an audience to imagine, but movies show that topic. Movies are also rentable in libraries. They discuss the same topics as books (Love, Simon – Homosexuality, The Diary of Anne Frank – Holocaust) but are able to be shown to large groups in public theaters, in addition to being available on streaming services. A good argument for the difference between books and movies is one simple thing: control.

Teens can go to a library where they’re able to read books at the library. However, if they rent a movie, they’ll likely have to go back home if they want to be able to watch it. Books can be read anywhere, whereas movies can only be watched in certain places if you don’t have mobile streaming. If a teen is watching a DVD or something on a streaming service, they’re likely doing it at home, where the parents are able to easily monitor and control what’s on the TV. However, since books don’t have to be read at home, parents have little control over what’s being read. So, there’s only one clear option in their minds: control the libraries.

Parents are trying to gain control over what kinds of books their children are reading by controlling what’s in the libraries. In some areas, parents are trying to gain control. However, in other areas, parents already have control. Books that their generation grew up reading are suddenly being banned from libraries across the country. Classics like The Great Gatsby, Lord of the Flies, Charlotte’s Web, The Catcher in the Rye, Animal Farm, To Kill a Mockingbird, and many others are being challenged, or banned, across America and other countries. After all, if it was all about their own preferences rather than a need to control, then they simply wouldn’t read the books that they don’t like.

Now, in all fairness, if parents were doing this to protect their children from controversial topics because they want to preserve their innocence, then that’s one thing. However, that’s only if the children are children. Teenagers are minors, but they’re not necessarily children. Teenagers have the capability to form their own thoughts and opinions on complex and controversial topics, and there’s a very good chance that they’re not full of the innocence that children have. However, it isn’t just the elementary and middle schools that are being affected by this. High schools and public libraries are also being affected by parents banning books that they think are unfit to read for their own personal reasons.

Of course, it isn’t all parents that are trying to do this. Many adults and parents I’ve talked to are also furious about their favorite childhood books suddenly being banned from libraries. But that’s the catch here. There’s only so much that a bunch of high school students can do. If we’re going to be able to fight this controlling power that other parents and adults are trying to gain, then we’re going to need the support of other parents and adults ourselves. Not only do minors have little legal power, since we don’t have the right to vote, but we’re also not taken as seriously by higher powers. How is this obvious? We’re apparently not even trusted enough to be able to pick the books that we read.

On a more emotional level, the teenage years are the years when we feel more vulnerable, in a way. During these years, we’re prone to believe that no one understands us, that we’re alone in the world, or that we’re weird or unnatural. These thoughts can come from, not only self-doubt or bullying, but it can also come from a heavily critical family. How can a gay person be expected to accept himself and be confident when he constantly hears a homophobic family talk about how sinful and unnatural it is? Many teenagers that deal with these, or similar, situations can take comfort in the books that they read. Books that star other teenagers or regular people that are just like the reader. Books that show teenagers that they’re not unnatural or completely different just for being themselves. These types of books are what help give many teenagers confidence in a dark time while they’re developing and feeling alone. And it’s these very same books that are being threatened to be banned from high school libraries, completely out of reach for the teenagers that might’ve been able to use that book as a way to feel good about themselves in a world that tries to put them down.

There is no real literature that should ever be banned from the hands of those who could take an interest in it. Books are meant to be read, not banned by people who don’t like the messages that it portrays or the characters that it deals with. Characters in books are, more often than not, people who anybody can relate to. If there’s a person in a book, there’s a high chance that there’s someone in the world just like them. There could be a boy out in the world desperately wanting to know that he’s not alone, but he’ll never find the character that he can relate to because the character, as well as the books he’s in, was deemed unfit to be read, and consequently banned. Just because books handling sensitive topics get banned doesn’t mean that those sensitive topics are eliminated from the real world. It just means that someone who needed to learn about that sensitive topic has one less source to go to.

So, if you want to be part of the solution to stop this banned books crisis, try your hardest to take action. You do something as big as protest to government officials about the issue, to something as small as spreading this article to other people, allowing them to get some information, and a whole point of view, on the topic. Any action you do for this cause can help. If you don’t feel you have the motivation or power to be able to make a change, perhaps the one person that you share this article with does have the motivation and power to make a difference. Books deserve to be read. Authors deserve to be recognized. Readers deserve to be happy. One simple action can lead to the difference between someone not finding the book they need in a desperate time, and someone picking a book off the shelf that becomes their new favorite. It’s all up to you.

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If it is just for YOU alone, it falls flat for the future.

I have had some crazy frustrating school days, and trust me, the things educators as well as librarians have to prove, they are doing, that are inspiring future generations, crazy.

Received this, this morning:

“Good morning,

We wanted to reach out to all of you this morning to say Thank you. Over the last 6 Years, you have made a significant difference in the lives of our children, xxxxxxx and xxxxxx. With yesterday being xxxxxx’s last day as a Woodbridge student, your time with them is over. However, your guidance and care over these years, especially the very rough waters of the last three, has not gone unnoticed. The care you have given to them and their peers has been amazing. Yours are the names that they have spoken with love and joy (and occasionally frustration when they just absolutely KNEW that they were right 🙂 ) Just know that your kindness, care, and persistence has been appreciated by us, and by them, and will be carried forward and passed on. You have helped make them who they are.

We know that the education field can be frustrating and feel thankless sometimes. Please never doubt that you have made a difference to our children and I am sure others. With your caring and commitment to all of the students, there is no doubt you will continue to make a difference in their lives.”

It is so nice to receive these words, but even more important to realize, it is vital we obtain as many individual accomplishments to open doors for others.

I need as many awards for OTHERS- NOT FOR ME – it does not go far just to keep accomplishments on a growing list of bragging UNLESS they open doors and provide platforms for others; together- better. Merely acquiring kudo after kudo alone for self- not so powerful in the long run and not as rewarding (this comes from maturity and experience over many years).

VERY proud of amazing future movers and shakers that will not rest and not be satisfied with mediocrity. VERY proud of the colleagues that are not satisfied with just getting trough a day, day after day but going through sometimes panful encounters to provide a path for others, for them to provide for more in future generations.

See my reply here:

“Wow – those were some of the nicest words ever – thanks so much!  Please know, despite some crazy, frustrating days, it is worth it on the long run and I appreciate your words 🙂   The best thing that can be the best for everyone is xxxxxxx and xxxxxx finding ways to pass this forward to others – and showing what kindness can do when there are so many vindictive and egotistical people that want to just be the best for their own sake – the more important trait and lesson learned is how to take what we receive and make things better and show people how that can be done, not four ourselves, but for all of us together 🙂 

I hope to continue to hear how xxxxxxx and xxxxxx find ways in their niche to improve aspects they see needing support, I know the can do some great things and it has been a pleasure thanks so much for your kind words!”

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Men Don’t Read? or should that be Men Don’t Read! Opening Doors That Have Been Closed

It’s TRUE. There IS a club titled Men Don’t Read created by Andy Wolverton

along with a publication, – and yet, having a chance to meet Mr. Wolverton at the MLA/DLA Conference seemed a great opportunity.

It was.

Thursday, May 11th at 3:00 PM – alot was presented that can lead to some great possibilities. Coming from the Anne Arundel Public Library, yet another example of how public librarians and seeping into high school libraries, impacting literacy begins to be revealed.

A great podcast developed – Mr. Wolverton follows the trend of finding creative ways to reach the topic of literacy and grow literacy.

Attending the workshop many facts and poignant aspects were brought to the surface:

-Boys in all countries lag behind girls – is this intentional?

-Recognizing that boys want to know how what they are experiencing and reading impacts them NOW, versus a slow progression.

-It is very evident that boys sees titles all around that appeal to girls, but again, when do boys, and all readers begin to see more titles that appeal and represent THEM?

The question was posed, what happens when you take a solitary activity like reading and make it a group activity? It is obvious, but not obvious to others unless tried, that book can build a community, reader serves as a construct between reader and author, and therein lies possiblity.

It is vital that kids have a CHOICE, not a prechosen path that removes the possibility of choice, and a book was referenced, Reading Don’t Fix No Chevy’s. One of the strategies in tackling a reading experience is to have boys do a back and forth style analysis of what they are seeing in the pages of a book, as well as creating a real life scenario, placing what a character in a book is reacting, and compare to what happens in real life- discussing the realistic nature of those events.

It was interesting to receive a website about approaching reading as a different experience, and trying to fit this process better to individuals. A book and a Hug is a website that truly could be utilized to peak interest in a topic (reading) that many have misconceptions about. This site enables how to write reviews, explore topics ALL OVER THE WORLD, and just check out a range from elementary to high school.

Some recommendations were How to Hide an Empire and Booth by Karen Joy Fowler. I liked a few surprising points also that I walked way with – how positive Mr. Wolverton remains positive and happy amid oppression of titles and reading being swept under the rug and yet having possibilities to address these barriers to improving literacy.

I know this, opposed to popular thought, reading is a key to every single door of other disciplines, be it technical paths, mathematical, artistic, or business endeavors, it is still awesome to have a connection to any of these and other fields when you recognize a name, theme, or scenario tied to something you as an individual are interested in. This is why it is vital to create, encourage, and promote titles and themes tat appeal to ALL audiences. Recognition is key and recognition opening possibility is life changing.

Additionally, when asked whether other individual than boys/men were allowed to join, I appreciated Mr. Wolverton’s answer. He mentioned that he had been asked and of course women would not be turned away but told, you need to respect the fact that this is a men’s book club and discussion, so to please respect that.

Classy and respectful. Creative. Versatile. Technical. Associative. Creative. Vocational. These words and more all can have the power to change how reading is perceived and how reading can make a positive change.

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Don’t “Wing” it.

Advice from a librarian, someone who has been asked every type of assignment, project, and pointof view to finish something, – there are a few suggestions:

If you look closely, a certified librarian is quite capable of answering all of the above, and showing how to achieve all of the above – REMEMBER- I know this is a shocker to some, BUT- a librarian is NOT someone shushing, but someone guiding, making connections like bran synapses, and finding paths to lead everyone to safety and success.

It seems unfair that the rules and guidelines for what constitutes librarians in many a school are dictated by people that the remember what a librarians was when they were little – and often, that is not a realistic image in the 30 years since of how librarians have been trained to meet the changes needed to meet the needs of – well, students!

Many individuals not trained formally in Information Science are a godsend as well, without them,, kiss your school library away – and they do an amazing, daring, bold job of maintaining access to literacy. Think WHAT a team a certified librarian and that educated individual could do for the student body? They could cut the hard work of teachers in HALF and make the connections needs for students to make the connections THEY need to make.

Sure, you could be in a district that has NO librarian (many that I will not name) – or no certified librarian (certified meaning working through a rigorous degree of Information Science or the certification program Delaware offers for that path) – but wouldn’t you want to make sure your school would try to search ways to insure that would happen?

Many school have no choice as they do not have units for a certified librarian, only for certified nurses and counselors.

But someone to exercise thinking skills and coping skills through providing a place of solace, a place where someone can feel safe while learning in a “third space” safe setting – isn’t that just as important?

Often the answer is no – because many do not realize what a school librarian actually does (books is the #1 Family Feud answer that – is SUCH an outdated question) – it is pertinent for many to be aware of what a school librarian can and should do for every student.

A STUDENT pointed out to me today, many of the “leaders” proactively wanting to remove and censor items are the same individuals that do not want to address controversial issues with students.

Ignoring or trying to act as real world experiences don’t exist, well, I mean it just doesn’t work for long (you can try, I think we have all tried at some point).

Begin to take a peek in on a day in the life:

A day in the Life!

then think about how is the best way to navigate the many sources of information- you could have someone that is navigating how to navigate without prior training or someone that has been trained to do so – I mean, heck, if I had a choice to go with a licensed doctor or go with someone who has explored surgery through some observations, what the heck – let’s wing it! (NOT!)

Let’s not “wing it” when it comes to making sure an individual licensed and trained to navigate through research, technology, bias, and futuristic opportunities – do the parent thing and find out where your school stands on valuing a certified librarian.

How are these chosen? –

Five Minute Methodology Overview

Lastly, YOUR interest, YOUR voice, and YOUR concern on wanting and being able to state, “We need a certified librarian in our school/district!” helps move the whole level of education to a higher position for EVERY stakeholder in education.

Don’t wing it.

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Not enough time to build even more? Make time…

“Mom, I need 30 minutes more, we are getting done…!” Here we are in the Walter P.J. Gilefski Media Center at Woodbridge, three members of the Girls Who Code Club, robotic parts we never even spied before all tumbling out of the box,

and mission – working robotic that we will employ on June 1st in its debut- and believe it or not, the ladies were itching after 2 hours for more time to continue – the mechanics of the process hooked them, it was AWESOME. Better than I would have predicted – and let me share the aspects that impressed me the most:

In 22 mechanical steps that should have taken two days, the ladies managed to get to step 20 in 2 and a half hours just because they were so intrigued with using tools and seeing something develop from THEIR own hands building it.

What impressed me more was not that they flew through the steps, in fact 5-6 of them they realized a bolt, fastener, gear, or part was not right and several times they backed up and redid a step or two- and they never became frustrated enough to give up – in fact, they learned EVEN MORE by figuring out their mistake ON THEIR OWN, AND seeing it click in their heads of what made it right. It was phenomenal seeing this play out in front of me.

Several, MANY times, the Girls Who Code members kept apologizing for making a mistake, not getting the process correct. and I kept emphasizing this point – NEVER apologize for doing it incorrect ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU figured out what was wrong – never EVER. Part of you becoming more intelligent in this mechanical sense is the mistake you made, and YOU realizing it and correcting it – you should not be apologizing for thinking you should have known the correct way first, because by not, you are becoming smarter through each lesson learned. BE PROUD of what YOU are doing and HOW you are figuring this all out, because I sure am!

It was amazing seeing how they began to work as an assembly line, one person predicting what the next step would be and beginning to put together the parts that would seamlessly work together after the current process being completed, their work and understanding each other as they worked together, was an amazing harmony. What they were learning without saying anything was outstanding.

It was super amazingly cool seeing them learn and apply the mechanical lesson of left loosey and righty tighty and other very mechanical concepts but honing them in on a central project they were all working on. Seeing the difference between flared and inset screws, the width and dimensions of some hardware and putting it into words why it would not work, what worked better and seeing these ladies handle the tools and math involved with so many different arts working together – it was nothing short of magic happening.

I am grateful I was seeing this all occur in the library media center and they understood what this area was, a place of learning, discovery, excitement, laughter, seriousness, solace, and experimentation. The fact that these ladies were becoming so excited about the hands on applications they were learning from Math, Science, reading detailed manual-driven directions instead of only reading from a test booklet and filling in bubbles – it all gelled together and they dove at it full speed.

Stay tuned in the next few days to what ends their abilities will take them and what they will use this first robotic project will be used for – we think you’ll love it!

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Walking Through the Past – Ellen Oh

In delving into a motivating and energetic appearance of Ellen Oh, her past and the power of stories were revealed.

Peeling back the pages of history that impacted her, and interwoven among her family history helped indeed show the power of storytelling to the wider public.

Representing parts of her past through the stories of Finding Junie Kim, she referred to the fact that at the time, it was emphasized that it was better to starve then to take rice from the communists. I am unclear if this was the Professor Hong that Ms. Oh referred to, but this is a question I will put in the “to ask” column. Seemingly this connects to the history of the Great Chinese Famine, which again, I am putting in my “to ask” column as I am curious if this is connected to the history of Korea.

As it is VERY easy to get lost in the MANY changes of rule between Korea/ Vietnam and China, many resources I have stumbled across help to clear some of these details up (The Best We Could Do). I think one of the most powerful aspects of storytelling is also showing how DIFFERENT countries can help tell the history of INDIVIDUAL countries, a wider perspective being opened.

Ms. Oh relating that her Dad was a storyteller, and she moved to relating historical events that are tied to the strength of youth and student uprisings:

1979- Park Chung Hee’s assassination preceded student protests occurred, under Chun Doo Hwan, 4000 special forces surprised protestors and used full force on youth and killing record numbers that protested.

In 1985 Ms. Oh related to us one of the most controversial books published about this event – Gwang Ju Diary Beyond Death: Beyond the Darkness of the Age “The author, Lee Jae-eui wrote the book in 1985 based upon many interviews and his concern was to tell the truth about what had happened in Gwangju in May of 1980. Lee was a junior at Gwangju’s Chonnam National University at that time. The detailed records rest on his experience and oral testimonies.” What a rabbit hole of information, from storytelling, I was never aware of! Especially for a book where all copies were being destroyed, those associated with contributing to the book were imprisoned, all over highlighting the atrocities against citizens. In 1987, President Chung stepped down, all this over a banned book.

Storytelling enlightens.

Ms. Oh emphasized how Censorship protects you from Reality.

Oh’s reference to LGBTQ Bills from 2022:


and simultaneously this Kurt Vonnegut quote:

“I hate it that Americans are taught to fear some books and some ideas as though they were diseases.”

Ms. Oh pointed out the bravery in 1951 when Barbara Johns fought segregation.

I loved that Ms. Oh asked, books saved lives and which books have saved our lives.

Powerful and nothing more needing said from Bruce Coville’s insight:

“The real heroes are the librarians and teachers who at no small risk to themselves refuse to lie down and play dead for censors.”

Ms. Oh referred to We Need Diverse Books Illustrator, Vanessa Brantley Newton, and the power of image to combat censorship issues as well.

Vanessa Brantley Newton

Ms. Ellen Oh emphasizes the fact that gathering allies together, indeed is the key to addressing the issue of saving storytelling, supporting the long history of the power of youth voices and empowerment, and denying any power censorship seems to “protect.”

Ms. Ellen Oh was the perfect voice for these messages.

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Become Vested, not At Odds.

There are moments where my heart aches at the losses of some amazing people we have lost in our lives; it sounds out of context, but graduation is a bittersweet timeof the year for me, I am so blessed for the amazing people that I have built relationships with and I miss so much the people that have been stolen from us.

It took me back to the message I thought about in being recognized for an amazing honor, but knowing the others around me help me be who I am every day.

Starting at 27:51 I was asked about receiving this honor in 2021. In rewatching this, I simply cannot get over the amazing talent I have seen in youth leaders since I arrived in Delaware in 2011.

Nominations and Awards matter when they shed the light on where else we can improve conditions for others.

It has been that long, and yet, seeing graduates from the classes of 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, and 2023, AND the classes of graduates from the American School Foundation in Mexico City,

a world away, from 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016-

it is necessary to write out to remove the take for granted-ness we have a tendency to do with numbers…

I hope communities realize what a difference it makes when guardians and parents work alongside faculty, schools, school libraries and programs that start in the schools, and extend into the community.

It is important to realize that writing out all of the years above helps bring the reality of how many students are affected when you make learning personal and are invested. In a time when school librarians are becoming obscure, when teacher positions are harder than ever due to lack of guardian and parent involvement from day one, it is now more important than ever that community members AND legislators, AND community leaders work together to continue to grow the numbers of students that will come back, and be leaders in their communities.

Do not take for granted that it is just another school year, just another graduating class, just another flock of students. Never take the years or the graduates of any particular school, year, or area for granted, and if you take a vested interest in the ways to increase school librarians, quality experiences for quality teachers, and support in creative ways for your schools, your community will improve.

You just need to keep asking questions, wanting more positions for the above professionals, and create community paths for youth, and things change before your eyes. It happens all over the world, and is not particular to any specific geographic area/ demographic area. It might take different approaches, but the tenets are still there 🙂

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Stumbling on Our Paths of Diversity

In obtaining some great collections of books from the Library of Congress Surplus Book Program, we stumbled upon some amazing discoveries that are new books to our collection:

In Looking at Come On In,

we found our invited authors from Authors Among US, from April 13, 2018 and April 25, 2015, Zoraida Cordova, Alaya Dawn Johnson, and Adi Alsaid in this amazing collection of stories about immigration. We meet again -LOVING IT!

We knew we were on to something when e invited Alaya Dawn Johnson, Adi Alsaid, and Zoraida Cordova to Authors Among US in Mexico City years ago, and here they are AGAIN together!

In examining Child of the Moon, we loved the diversity we discover of Jessica Semaan’s poetry:

We stumbled across a sequel, to what will be our high school summer read of Animal Farm, a political aftermath of a book that was dedicated to United States Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez:

and are excited to see a way to discern, analyze and be informed about periods of our history in the 60’s and 70’s studying the origins of feminist movements.

Coming off the cuff of the value of Books of Diversity, we were excited to see how closely related we are to connecting to Ellen Oh’s call for books of diversity.

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