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The Last Thank You of 2016 — Library Project

….and it is two days late!

Much has been made of the disaster of 2016, with its notable take down of artists and musicians and cultural points of light and hope.

I kept thinking of Madeleine L’Engle’s Wrinkle in Time when the kids are with the Happy Medium and she is forced by one of the Mrs. Who, Mrs. Which etc to show the kids a happy planet, and a dark planet and then–she shows them Earth. Darkness of course, has  a strong hold on Earth. There is death and suffering and fascism reigning –but there are also those who fight the darkness.

It’s not that part that threw me as a child. I was well aware of darkness. But when the Mrs. W ensemble explain to the children that one can fight the darkness through love and through creation and through art is when my mind was opened up as a kid. There’s that paragraph were L’Engle mentions a sampling of darkness fighters: Jesus. Buddha. Shakespeare. That was it. Writers fight darkness. Teachers fight darkness. I was hooked.

Fighting Evil Through Art and Creation.  I think of that a lot these days. That’s why David Bowie’s death or even Carrie Fisher’s hits people so strongly. Because their art fought the darkness. And there is so much darkness. That’s why Leonard Cohen was the patron saint of my family. Because he offered a path of light through the dark forest.

If I have any resolution for 2017 it is to step up the fight against the darkness. I am needed now more than ever. You are needed now more than ever.

In between the mass shootings and the mass “post-truth” lies and the mass denial of the humanity of refugees, and the declaration of a party in our country to declare war on an already decimated environment there is hope.

There is Standing Rock.

There are all the kid drawings and paintings my kids leave on the dining room table.

There are mayors and cities declaring themselves sanctuary.

There are women getting ready to help women in dark states protect their basic rights.

There is defiance. There is resisting.

I look at 2016 though–the middle of the year, the summer, and there is you. Thousands of you. Who heard a plea for books and donated books to a strange woman in a forgotten town so that she could build a library for kids–to get books into the hands of kids.

That is what I’m looking to as encouragement. As my bright and shiny example of lightness in the world in need of defiance. You who read this and who donated a book. You participated in an act of defiance in a culture hell-bent on being proud of its own illiteracy, its own ignorance. You. Gave. Books. You. Made. Readers. I can’t stress enough how important and profound that is. Fighting the darkness.

Life has moved on beyond the summer. We opened. We checked out so far roughly  500 some books to students and an additional 400 to teachers and about 100 to community members and parents. There are waiting lists for some popular titles (Hamilton Soundtrack/Harry Potter Cursed Child, for example).

We gave bags of books away to foster kids who may not come back to our school district. We gave books to 7 schools other than our own. I officially have a box in the back of my car of duplicate titles to give away to kids who look like they could use them.  Lightness.

The school district is leaving us alone finally. Religious parents are going on to fight other battles. Slowly things are shaping up.  I am in the library five hours a week as a volunteer. I meet with students then, make recommendations, shelve a bit–put out new titles that are still coming in . I make displays.  And I always leave there feeling like I am fighting the darkness. This world is often not a place where writer/artist mothers of limited means feel successful. But because of our thousands of donors, I feel successful every time I walk in the library. Together we have brought light into a world.

It’s January 2nd.

I am at my father-in-law’s in Santa Monica with my kids. We are going museum hopping today and tomorrow and later on we’ll go to my aunt’s and visit my grandmother. I love bringing my kids back to the homeland of Los Angeles so we can soak in the best of southern California for a week. I love the Deep North in spite of itself. It really is beautiful (and currently filled with much needed snow). The environment is, if not pristine, as close to it on the planet as you can find. Lightness. Strength. Beauty.

But I also love  Los Angeles, the city of my birth. Yesterday on New Year’s Day my kids’ godfather and I saw Rogue One at the Chinese Theater in Hollywood (IMAX 3D because, of course) and then topped it off with a nostalgic trip to Canter’s on Fairfax for a Brooklyner and a black and white cookie. Lightness. Strength.

Today we head out to the Museum of Tolerance and later to LACMA for the Diego & Picasso exhibit. Tomorrow the California Academy of Science Pixar Exhibit and then my sister in law will whisk them away for fun while I catch up on work and a double feature of films that will never reach the north in a theater.  I will interview a couple of people as I wrap up my book proposal I’ve been working on.

Meanwhile my husband and mother are in the north keeping the house warm from winter and managing their own fights against the darkness.

It feels like we are all gathering strength for 2017.

I haven’t said it in awhile but –Thank you, again.  Know that you are appreciated daily and have provided one small town with a shining example of hope and humanity that we see and feel every time we walk through the door of the library. You decided to fight the fight (along with me) against boredom and ignorance and despair. I will always be grateful for that.

Happy New Year.–Margaret

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Library Project Ghazal

(forgive me in advance for butchering this form)

Library Project Ghazal

We need to tell you we’ve had a complaint about the library.

An anonymous caller says you’ve got feminism in your books.

 

Kids read books with feminism in them will ruin the morals of the valley.

Girls thinking too much of themselves because of what’s in the books.

 

The girl says, my mom won’t let me read anything in here. None of this is

appropriate reading material for our children. There are ideas in these books.

 

The boy says I don’t really read. Just not into it. Nobody’s story is ever

like mine. I haven’t read one of these things since the second grade. Books.

 

You can’t please hardly any of the people any of the time. It seems strange that

with the other media and short attention spans that we still think banning books.

 

Rural America needs words. Lots of words. Words that fight small despairs,

The late Friday night lights of doom. Diagnosis a life without books.

 

We built a library out of the kindness of strangers. Packages coming from around the world. As if the singular grand solution to all that is wrong could be books.

 

Care to add more lines for me?

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Just. One. Book. GRAND OPENING/OPEN HOUSE

Remember how the library used to look? I thought I’d make the feature image the original photo I took. It so does not look like this now. The sports trophies from 30 years ago are going some place else. There are new shelves salvaged from a closed school in the county. In one month, students have checked out over 300 books (keep in mind there are only 175 students).  Parents are checking out books. On Friday nights families are checking out DVDs (which given our cold weather is a GREAT thing). I introduced a kid to Tom Waits because of one of you and the opera AIDA because of someone else. YOU GUYS ROCK.

In a world where facts seem not to matter, it’s refreshing to hear kids talking smack that they don’t know a thing about and just going over and putting a book in front of them.  Yesterday , for example a junior high student was coming up with generalizations about African Americans in Los Angeles.  I was able to pull books out to show him some reading suggestions that might make him think differently. That’s what I was after and I thank you.

Here’s some photos from open house.

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Whew! It finally happened. Though we’ve been open to the kids since Sept. 6th we finally got around to having a celebration with our community volunteers. Thanks again to all of you who made it happened. We just finished another giant batch of thank yous so hopefully those will go out this week.

It’s not easy writing a book, doing that mom thing, working half-time at a newspaper , and freelancing AND oh yeah volunteering for the Library Project but it is so worth it.

We still have a bureaucratic dark lord threatening to not let kids have access to books (thankfully she lives 30 minutes away and makes Dolores Umbridge sound warm and fuzzy), but she doesn’t have any jurisdiction for one of the two schools so we are okay –yay!

It’s funny to watch bureaucracy try to keep ownership but because of you and national coverage they haven’t been able to do so.

But the fun stuff.

We had a party! We set up our first adult book clubs for the community, and we celebrated our volunteers.

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My volunteers! (That’s me in the red boots).

On top of that the sweet superintendent from the school district showed up with sandwiches and I steamed up a plate of tamales. It was fun.

 

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We are by no means done. But we have come so far! And that’s all because of you and what you did by sending us books, carpets, bean bag chairs, and kindles. THANK YOU! We also thank Plumas Charter School and Indian Valley Academy for being so supportive through out and all our volunteers from IVA and our community members.

Up next we’re hoping to start taking authors up on their suggestion to have them come speak.  Also I will be the poet doing Poetry Out Loud with the schools –so shout out to you all for giving us a top notch poetry section.

We will be starting our film series soon once a week with films for the kids to watch after school while awaiting rides from parents.

Words really cannot express. Thank you.

 

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Just. One. Book. Live with Students!

So SCHOOL STARTED.

And of course we aren’t quite done with what we set out to do–bureaucracy and the craziness of school starting impeded some progress. Not to mention having to butt heads with less than enthusiastic maintenance dudes and non-visionaries. BUT THIS IS NOT A GRIPE! This is a celebration.

I quietly shelve and organize. We have two students doing a library elective who are doing the same.  I hear amazing things in the library when I go there now. And sad things when you stop to think.

Like a student who said, “Are we allowed to touch them this year?”

and the one who said, “but, I don’t have any money. What’s the cheapest one you have?”

and the one who said, “Wow. It’s the same old room but now it looks amazing.”

That’s what I’m talking about.

img_8779So here’s our front desk at the moment…no designated computer yet but we’re being old school until we can afford what we need.

img_8780Here’s something that’s not happened very often in our school district. A display coinciding with Hispanic Heritage month…..

img_8782We’re waiting on a thorough cleaning here before we put down the nice rug we were given and the bean bag chairs back. This is the junior high lounge.You folks who sent manga and comics—it’s been THE BIGGEST HIT.

I promise photos of students. Each time I go to snap a pic I get a don’t take my photo! Ah…teens.

IMG_7448Take a moment to look at what it looked like before you all decided to help us. Yeah. You guys did an amazing thing. I for one will never forget the generosity of this summer. Nor will these students. I’ve started doing a thing where if I hear students talking in the library I place a book with an interesting premise in front of them and see how long it takes before the book gets picked up. Seconds. It takes seconds.

Since Sept 6 when we opened we’ve checked out about 65 books, dvds, and cds  to students and faculty.  Considering the two schools have only 200 students combined that’s some great reach.

THANK YOU!’

Oh and on a side note. Whoever sent the soundtrack to Hamilton? I LOVE YOU. That’s the first thing that I checked out.

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Just. One. Book. Class Set Needed

So it’s probably a good time for an update. I’m in Southern California visiting my 95 year old grandmother, going to appointments with her etc., but my mind is never far from our project.

Our Amazon Wish List is now empty. Wow. You all just completely blew my mind this summer. I have volunteers sorting on site and trying to get things ready for school to start next week.

Did I tell you because of you I was able to make class sets for the two schools plus others in the area?

I made two class sets of Book Thief.

I made three class sets of I am Malala.

I made two class sets of Persepolis and one of Maus 1 & 2.

I made two class sets of Diary of a Part-Time Indian

And about 10 different sets of classics as well.

We have a teacher who wants to do March by John Lewis. We only received a couple of copies of that.

I told him I would throw it out here and see if anyone would be able to help build 30 class sets of the wonderful series.

Here’s our list if you are still interested in helping us.

Also your comments helped, btw. I think bureaucracies have no idea how inhuman they sound until faced with criticism from outside their sphere of power. Keep up the good work.

Also. I had a great conversation with my cousin who lives in La Habra, CA. Her daughter said she was a little jealous because last year her school put books from the library in dumpsters in favor of the One-to-One program ipads with ebooks. That’s fine she said, but when 1/2 of the kids don’t have the Internet at home , it’s hardly fair for the schools to be assigning internet based homework and readings. Our school district Plumas Unified, also is aiming to do that on each campus despite the fact that the Internet goes down without warning even for the households that have it several times a day –at least once a day. And despite the fact that not everyone has it here either.

Sometimes I wonder if school administrators ever met a poor child? Or a family? And why create an uneven playing field and why take books out of the hands of children?

Okay. Grandma and I are on to appointment number 2 today. Then tonight I get to interview someone really fascinating for my book. Tomorrow I will be back on a train headed north. Talk to you soon.

Also. If you’re in LA soon? Do take in the Guillermo del Toro exhibit at LACMA. Definitely worth it.

 

 

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Just. One. Book. The Night Before a Train

I worked for 10 hours today in the library and I can no longer feel my legs.

It feels like it will be worth it.  Kids were coming in to get their schedules today at Indian Valley Academy. I’ve never seen so many heads pop into the library before. Come in! Come in! This is for you guys.

WHOA!  Even the faces of the haggard 4-H kids who just sold their livestock at auction after a 45 day fair week —kids who looked damn exhausted. As soon as I clean the pens, I swear I’m coming to help. And I don’t feel alone. I have you all and Indian Valley Academy who have been stellar through all of this.

My dealings with the Plumas Unified School District had me going southern Gothic. Let me explain. Some of my all time favorite writers are indeed the southerners. I gravitate toward them when I’m feeling isolated and feel guilty about expecting the worst in people (because thank’s a lot Flannery O’Connor). But in order to not be completely frustrated and pissed off at the gaul of the school district to somehow try and take both ownership and credit for the library I had to go to Carson McCullers and Tennessee Williams. Ever read Reflections in a Golden Eye? The Tennessee preface/introduction? He nails it. He tells us you know what? We artists? We people who feel things? We live on this one plane of existence.  And these officious drones who try and run our lives? They live on this other one.

They have no real jurisdiction over us. We don’t have to answer to them. The only thing I’ll never understand is why so many people who clearly hate children work in the field of education. I just don’t fundamentally get that.

You all sent books to the library project in care of me. And I aim to get books into the hands of children. Whatever that looks like.  Today I set aside 5 books –books that we had in duplicate to give to one particular girl who comes from a family of non-readers. She reads anything she can get her hands on. I gave her my own copy of Michelle Serros’ Chicana Falsa once. Because that girl so needed it.

So it wasn’t a bad day. Tomorrow my son and I take off for a week to see my grandmother and friends and family in Los Angeles via Amtrak. I’ll be interviewing a couple people for my book down there as well. And get this. My short story collection has found a home! Yay! It will be in print finally. So good things. ALL GOOD THINGS.

To the writers who have been sending your books. Thank you in particular for being gutsy and putting yourself and your work out there. It takes a certain tenacity that I greatly admire that I don’t always have. To the agents and the publishers sending books–thank you for the array of work that I wouldn’t have thought of but am glad is here. Great job!

We will make this happen. It may not be the complete original vision but it will be amazing. I’ve already had a glimpse. This is going to be one helluva literate town. THANK YOU.

And here. Enjoy some cookies. I made them tonight when I was supposed to be packing.IMG_8638

 

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AudioBook coming soon…

First of all for the library project followers. Things are looking up! School starts in two weeks and while we aren’t where I’d like to be yet we will be open in some semblance while we let the district comes to terms with itself.  We are forging ahead.

MEANWHILE BACK ON PLANET CREATIVITY….

I’m kind of excited about other things. My little quiet horror short story collection Mary of the Chance Encounters was scheduled to be published in June 2016–but the tiny publisher started being a horror story instead of publishing one,  so we mutually dissolved our project which left me free to strike out on my own (still looking for print publisher for that one). In the mean time  I’d done some work with Heidi Moore at Wretched Productions –a small indie film based in Northern California. In fact one of the films I’ve worked on with Heidi is coming out any day now.: Dolly Deadly

She was in between projects and had some time and Im a wanna be actress sometimes performance artist so……

8 of the stories from Mary of the Chance Encounters (arguably the weirdest , quiet horror ones) will see the light of day as a cool little audiobook cd this September! Also I love the cover art—taken by Los Angeles artist Ross Amador in November of last year. Who wants a copy? Pre-sale begins soon.

What’s it about? Ghost stories and other stranger creatures of quiet horror take place in and around Whittier, CA (my homelandia).

ross dead photo

See? I’m not all doom and gloom. The Library will open. The audiobook WILL come out. Hopefully we find for the print or ebook collection soon.

Also I’m happy to say that all the bureaucracy is becoming great fodder for a new Sad Girl zine. Haven’t written one in a year. It’s time.

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Just. One. School. A Saga Continues…

Junior High Section w Kids Hello Library fans. I’m of two minds as I write this but only one school. You’ll get what I mean in a second. Back at the start of this in June I told you what I knew to be true: we are two schools in one building. Greenville High School and Indian Valley Academy. We’ve always had the full support of Indian Valley Academy and its leadership at Plumas Charter–the umbrella charter that IVA operates under. At GHS however, we had the principal’s consent, the superintendent’s consent, buy in of perhaps 3 teachers. What am I missing in this scenario? A school board and a ‘curriculum director.’

For those of you well versed in bureaucracy you can probably tell where this is going. But just play along for the story.

Last night I attended a monthly board meeting of Plumas Unified School District in Quincy, CA. I don’t normally attend such meetings as I thankfully as a reporter do not have the school board as my regular beat. I attended because I got last minute word that the Library Project was an agenda item. I’d received no phone call or email from the district, no inquiries whatsoever. As this was my idea and I’ve been heading up the volunteer effort (we’ll let my 17 years experience as a college instructor + knowledge of books, music, and film go at this point). So I show up there because um…my library, OUR library is on the agenda.

So I address the school board and give them a brief history of the project. As the board only has one member who regularly engages online, they were not all completely aware that we exist.  So I spend my five minutes of public comment time on facts of our project and I answer a few questions.

The curriculum director–who has never set foot in our library, nor called me or emailed me to ask questions–gets up and makes a brief presentation whereupon she states that she’ll “approve” students to check out books as soon as we produce a list of titles so that she can decide whether they belong in our library.

[THIS IS THE POINT IN THE STORY IS WHERE MY MIND TRAVELS BACK IN TIME AND STARTS REMEMBERING ALL THE BULLIES OF CHILDHOOD AND EARLY JOBS. IT’S WHERE I DAYDREAM AND WONDER WHAT BOOKS ARE ON EVERYONE IN THE ROOM’S SHELVES AT HOME–I’M IMAGINING BOOKCASES THAT HOUSE PRECIOUS MOMENTS STATUES AND INSPIRATIONAL PLAQUES.  I BET SHE LOVES EISNER ERA DISNEY. SEE? MY MIND IS JUST GOING THERE. IT’S THE MOMENT WHEN I THINK ABOUT MOVING BACK TO THE COAST TO PAY $5K FOR A STUDIO APARTMENT FOR THE FOUR OF US AND TWO CATS. IT’S THE MOMENT WHERE I REALIZE WHY HARRY POTTER’S ORDER OF THE PHOENIX RESONATES SO MUCH MORE THAN SOME OF THE OTHER HP BECAUSE THE DOLORES UMBRIDGES OF THE WORLD UBER ALLES. MY MIND DRIFTS TO THE ELECTION OF TRUMP. HANDMAIDS’ TALES.  TO MEAN GIRLS WITH BEADY EYES AND CLEAR SKIN SMILES. WAIT. I’M SORRY. DID YOU SAY SOMETHING?]

America. This is why we can’t have nice things. This is why Holden Caufield whines about how every time you see something beautiful someone else has scrawled an OBSCENITY upon it.

None of this comes out of my mouth however. I do remind however that we are two schools, not one. That all summer 98% of my volunteers have been from community members and Indian Valley Academy students and parents and that we have no such stipulations concerning censorship and approval. Our goal –which we had thought and hoped was shared–was to get kids reading–especially kids who don’t read. And we’ve already been achieving our goal.

In the photo you’ll note 5 kids. The two boys on the right? Are not typical readers. But the manga and comics attracted them. And so the two kids whom I’ve worked with that one would never see just sitting for 40 minutes and reading are now sitting for 40 minutes and reading. They just came in to do so. No summer reading gimmicks. Just interest and curiosity and cool colorful stuff. But the curriculum director would not, could not appreciate this. Whatever they are reading is not on her ‘approved’ list.

I left after my brief presentation as I had a services district meeting to cover for the newspaper which IS on my beat. In the audience of that meeting were some of my library volunteers. We talked during the break. Shaking our heads.

So you know how this blog is called Throwing Chanclas? I’m throwing it right now. In Latina households, the mother takes off her house shoes and either threatens or throws the shoe at your head (you’re supposed to intentionally miss the head and just be firing a warning shot as I understand it). Why does mama throw the shoe in the first place? Because someone did something out of line and needs to be called out for it. Because someone is acting entitled to something they should be grateful for. Because someone needs to feed mama a hard liquor with a low glycemic index. [I’M TOTALLY UP FOR TAKING DONATIONS OF WINE OR VODKA. JUST KIDDING. MAYBE I’M NOT].

Right now? I’m super thankful for Indian Valley Academy and for all their teachers , staff, and administration do to put kids learning and kids experiences in education first–above egos, above titles. I love knowing that I can drop my kids off and know they will be challenged and thinking and having fun and learning how to reconcile their idiosyncratic quirks with the outside world and be embraced for it not chastised for it.

But I digress.

After I left the board meeting and after I got home after my second meeting, I learned that the school board is playing a familiar Californian real estate move: price gouging.  They want IVA to pay four times the amount of rent it currently pays to remain in the building with no authority to put up so much as an inspirational poster in the space.  What school could possibly do that when school starts in two weeks?

I write to you this morning a bit crestfallen and dumbfounded. My mind races again. Will there be two libraries? One vibrant in a nearby rented building, while another one languishes in a giant space with 200 hundred “approved” books? What child ever wanted to read something ‘approved’?

[SIGH. SILENCE. SWIG OF COFFEE WHICH WILL NOT ADD TO MY WEIGHT WATCHER POINTS. EXPLETIVE. EXPLETIVE. I CAN HEAR MY KIDS WAKING UP AND PLAYING PANIC! AT THE DISCO. DUDE. I BREASTFED YOU TOM WAITS. WTH? MORE COFFEE. FUCK. STOP THINKING ABOUT CHEESECAKE AND WHISKEY IT’S BARELY 8 AM. AND DAMN MY OPTIMISTIC AND TRUSTING NATURE].

So…I’m going to keep plugging along and my volunteers will keep checking in books. I keep shelving. Worst case scenario is me slipping real books to  1/2 the students in the dead of night like a superhero, while maintaining a smaller library for the other 1/2.  Best case scenario is  that the centaurs teach Umbridge a lesson that sinks in (although from books 6 and 7 we know that’s not the case).

The real best case scenario? Both schools and their supporters  compromise in a reasonable fashion to the benefit of students in both schools. IVA should have a sane rent increase instead of a San Francisco/DTLA-style one.  The curriculum director needs to remember the goal for us  is literacy and a curious, questioning mind –and that if she can’t embrace our goal she should at least respect it.

I’m headed for another cup of coffee and then a walk over to the library to meet up with today’s volunteers. It never ceases to amaze me how a few people can try and hold the rest of us hostage. But then again–witness the American election. The macro. The micro. I am craving silence and serenity so my mind can focus. Like the kind you can find in a library.

Here’s the link to Plumas Unified School District if you’re interested. Here’s the link to Indian Valley Academy.

Thanks for listening.

 

 

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Just. One. Book. One Month In.

Just. One. Book. is still here! Yes. We are still here! OMG are we still here. But I didn’t post anything this week because I kind of needed a bit of a break–to start shelving books in earnest. And then my knee gave out (long boring story of life-long knee issue) so then I’ve been sitting and directing and sending out thank yous–as many as I can muster. But I haven’t been blogging–I have been working on my book though so yay me!

Much has happened. The boxes keep coming but thankfully less than before. We can almost catch our breath. We have promises of shelving coming in. We de-commissioned much of what was left of the old library and are having a book sale of them.

We have sections now! The kids can actually visualize what’s in my head.IMG_8098Sio this happened last Friday. My friend and teacher over at Quincy Junior High School came and got a class set of books + some other materials we had duplicates of. Adrienne is fighting the good fight to get more diverse readings selections in over at QJHS.

Class sets. Because of you. Indian Valley Academy’s junior high are doing I am Malala in the fall as a class. They’re deciding a few others but they are so thankful that you helped with that! I think another class is doing The Book Thief.  My kids and their friends had fun searching for duplicates and making up sets of books for the teachers to come in and see.

We’ve also received a grant from the local rotary to order carousel computer desks for the computer area so that they feel more like individual work spaces.

Right now the library kind of looks like semi-ordered chaos. Thankfully our staff of volunteers has many an admitted organizational freak (self-included). I will post photos as soon as it looks like something other than chaos.

If you haven’t sent a book, please don’t! But alas where should you send them?

In honor of us? Please send them to rural America. Every state has their rural America. It’s fully of half empty towns whose kids are languishing.

I went to the neighboring town of Quincy last week and found out that 19 students in the 4 high schools run by Plumas Unified School district are pregnant as we speak. Given that our graduating classes combined of the four traditional public schools are only about 100 students that’s  A LOT.

I’m hoping too that the diverse books you sent will help our students grasp both their own place in the world and instill a sense of empathy in what they don’t know and what they don’t see.

You have helped with all this wonder. Thank you again, you’re amazing.

 

 

 

 

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Just. One. Book. Thoughts and thanks.

IMG_8095 This is the very sweet Natasha Griffin. She came out to Greenville from Portola to pick up some books for Portola High School. Many of our duplicates went home with her. Portola is the only incorporated city in our county and is home to a more diverse (in terms of Latinx) population of students. I hand picked some books that my daughter and I thought the kids would love over there from our overflow.

So I’ve been reading about banned books because you know there are always a few people in every community who start running around like Chicken Little and think the world is going to end because a student read……well anything really.

I’m trying to wrap my head around the violence from the news, and the TV, and the video games where the point is always to shoot something. I’m trying to wrap my head around teen and tween conversations which seem to always conclude with talk about farts and other bodily functions. What I’m trying to say I guess is do people who want things banned—have they ever even talked to their own kids? Been around kids? Listened to pop music? Geez.

So THANK YOU all again because you know what you guys did? You’ve sent me every book that was on the challenged or banned book lists of the last few years. We have every book that’s been challenged some place in the USA. I LOVE THAT.

I mean we all have our thresholds with out kids. My kids haven’t seen some films because I deemed the screenwriting shitty and as a writer I WANT GOOD SCRIPTS AND THE WRITERS PAID. My son sometimes tries to explain that when other kids ask, have you seen that? And my son groans, “No, can’t watch that with my mom around. It has a bad script…”

I remember being a kid and sneaking around “bad” books too. It’s what kids do. Do censors realize that some things just go over kids’ heads and that also it’s a thrill to see a ‘bad’ word on a page?

So, no banning on my part.  Parents get to sign a form at the beginning of the school year stating whether or not their kids can check out books and how far up the ladder of maturity they can go. But we only have 200 kids in about 120 families. It’s not that hard to keep track of stuff.

Meanwhile my 13 year old and my 11 year old are still reading whatever they can get their hands on.

I’m betting if I ban something though, I could probably ensure that every child reads it. Because that’s how bans work.

I used to work in a record store in college. Moms were always coming in FREAKED out that we’d just sold some rap or heavy metal tape to their precious angel.  The parents who went apeshit wound up with kids who listened to that stuff even MORE because it bothered the parents.  The parents who  were okay with it saw their kids move on to other stuff. It’s a time honored tradition really—kids only want what their parents don’t want them to have.

I’d like to take this opportunity to remind Senator Amanda Chase that her hatred of the Eleanor & Park book just helped clinch the deal that every kid in her district will now read it.

Have a good day. Go read something banned.