Tag Archives: religion

Book Review: Calling My Name

2 Aug

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Calling My Name by Liara Tamani is the story of Taja a young teen growing up in Houston, Texas with her family and friends. Taja knows what her parents expect of her – spend quality time with the family, get good grades, go to church every Sunday and abstinence is the only option. Taja is trying to keep up with her classmates as the talk ranges from first kisses to first relationships and beyond, while also being the daughter she is expected to be. She also has high hopes of going to college in California to follow her dream and to find her own relationship with God, separately from what her parents expect that relationship to look like.

I really liked this story, much closer to my own in many ways than much of the young adult literature being published today. I took my grades seriously, wasn’t too interested it boys, but struggled in some ways to figure out where my relationship with God fit into my world as a teenager living in today’s society. This is not the type of story you see written very often and I felt that Taja’s voice rang true to a young teen searching for herself in the midst of family and friends.

The writing was a bit confusing and it’s easier to think of the chapters as short stories spanning Taja’s teen years rather than a specific day-to-day account. But I felt that this was a voice that many teens will be able to relate with and understand. Taja struggles with her family’s conservative view on abstinence while also realizing that her brother always has more freedom than she does and dealing with peers who bully/body shame her at times. It’s a very real story that needed to be told and I truly enjoyed it. I’ll say this – it is a young adult story in that although Taja begins as a middle school student in the beginning, there are intimate scenes as she grows up that will firmly plant this book in the young adult department. Give this to teens searching for themselves – especially those who are spiritual/religious as they navigate high school.

Twitter Booktalk (140 characters or less): High schooler, Taja Brown is searching for her own relationship with God as she navigates family, friends, romance and dreams.

Title: Calling My Name
Author: Liara Tamani
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Publication Date: October 24, 2017
Page Number: 384 pgs.

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Community Connections – Interfaith Education

14 Jun

I spent a few hours last night at a Sharing Ramadan event hosted by our local Islamic Society. It was a wonderful event with a speaker who took the time to talk about the beliefs of the Islam faith as well as how Muslims are being viewed by the media. He even took time to answer questions from the audience – and there probably would have been even more questions, but it was time to break the fast before prayers. We also got to go into the prayer area of the mosque for prayers and then shared dinner together as a large group. It was so nice for a group of people to open up their house of worship for questions and understanding and when it comes down to it many of today’s religions (specifically in this case Islam, Judaism and Christianity) are far more similar than they are different.

I’m now thinking about ways to provide an interfaith program at the library from an educational standpoint to share how people are people and that a person’s beliefs are just one part of their identity. We’re also looking at partnering with the school district on a bullying prevention program and with the police department on the opioid epidemic. I believe that these topics all require community connection and dialogue because no one agency or organization can make a difference, but by working together we can start to make our communities stronger and safer for generations to come.

If your library is currently working on anything like this, I’d love to hear more!

Happy Hanukkah! 10 Read Aloud Titles for Hanukkah

24 Dec

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I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know a lot about Hanukkah, I grew up in a small town in (fairly) rural, western PA. We had only a few kids in our school that weren’t white, and we knew no one who celebrated Jewish holidays. So, take this holiday list with a grain of salt, there may be better options out there (which I’d love to know about!). I took a look at a number of Hanukkah booklists available online and chose the titles that I thought looked not only interesting, but also were an accurate representation of the holiday and the religion.  Happy Hanukkah!

  1. Daddy Christmas & Hanukkah Mama by Selina Alko
  2. The Hanukkah Hop! by Erica Silverman
  3. The Eighth Menorah by Lauren L. Wohl
  4. Hanukkah Bear by Eric A. Kimmel
  5. Honeykey Hanukah by Woody Guthrie
  6. Hanukkah Haiku by Harriet Ziefert
  7. The Dreidel That Wouldn’t Spin: A Toyshop Tale of Hanukkah by Martha Seif Simpson
  8. Hanukkah Lights by David Martin
  9. How Do Dinosaurs Say Happy Chanukah? by Jane Yolen
  10. Moishe’s Miracle: A Hanukkah Story by Laura Krouse Melmed

Diversity Resources

3 Mar

There’s a lot of talk about diversity in children’s literature, but it may be difficult to actually find information.  I’ve found a few valuable resources (I’m sure there are a bunch more!) that make finding information a whole lot easier!

1.) We Need Diverse Books

An official campaign that began on social media to begin a discussion about the importance of diverse books for children.

2.) CBC Diversity (Children’s Book Council)

The Children’s Book Council works closely with libraries and publishers and has provided a number of resources on their diversity website.

3.) Day of Diversity (ALA & ALSC)

Although this was a one-day event during ALA Midwinter, this webpage has some great resources about the importance of diversity.

4.) Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC)

Looking for statistics about diversity?  Look no further than the CCBC!

5.) SLJ Diversity Resources

School Library Journal has compiled a number of resources about collection development , interviews with experts in the field, and other recommended website to visit!

Let me know if you have any great resources that must be shared!  I’m always looking for new/more information!

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