Friday, December 10, 2010

I Need a Hero!

Comic books have a long history of opposition, but they have managed to survive through the years because they allow readers to feel a sense of escapism. They allow readers to feel powerful and in control. They root for the little guy and the pursuit of justice.

Comic book history has shown that stories about superheroes rise in popularity during war, during strife, during times of need...

When times are tough, people need something to believe in. They need to know that there is hope. That there is something out there watching over them. They want to believe in heroes.

While we can't all don a cape and mask to track down the evils in society, we can be super in little ways.

  • Donate non-perishables to a food drive. 
  • Drop your spare change in the red kettle.
  • Pay that extra dollar at the pharmacy/supermarket counter for the add-on donation. 
  • Go through your closets and donate your gently used items to a shelter. 
  • Visit an elderly neighbor or a nursing home. 
  • Bring pet food or blankets to an animal shelter. 
  • Pay for the car behind you in the Toll Lane.
  • Hold the door open for the mother loaded down with bags and children. 
  • Have your children go through their old toys to donate to the children's floor at a hospital.
  • Give the hassled restaurant server a little extra in the tip.
What are some more ways that you can be super? As the holidays approach even closer, I challenge everyone to be someone's hero.

Digital Booktalks via YouTube

YouTube Booktrailer for Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book

Welcome to the new age of booktalks where Web 2.0 technologies are being utilized to make the booktalk experience a new and exciting one for librarians, teachers, and students. Lights! Cameras! Read! It’s time for booktalks to go digital.

Clark (2009) states that “Unlike many other reading incentive programs in public and school libraries, booktalking does not cost a penny” (p. 504). Digital Booktalks are another great free programming concept that can be utilized by many libraries. Some possibilities on how to extend the use of Digital Booktalks beyond the Librarian using them as promotion would be to allow young patrons to create their own videos. This can be done either as a library workshop or faced with a library with limited hours, it can also be incorporated as a contest-type program where patrons produce the videos on their own and hand them in to the librarian for posting.

Libraries can also use the idea of the Digital Booktalk as an additional source of a volunteer credit opportunity. Teen Advisory Groups can create these videos for volunteer credit and have the videos place on either the library website or the TAG Facebook Fan Page.

Belben (2007) gives a link to what looks to be a now extinct website that used to review book trailers using a “trailer park” theme. This hilarious take on website reviews can be incorporated in the library setting as well. Have teens create their own themed reviews. See how many trailers or booktalks can be found on the same book and then rate the best ones. Use some form of rating system like Sherlock Holmes’s pipe for mysteries or vampire fangs for supernatural genres.

There are many different websites out there that can explain how to make a Digital Booktalk. Valenza (2007) sums it up perfectly by saying “These videos are not all that hard to produce. Simply show some of the following examples to student readers who also know how to use such free or inexpensive production tools as: iMovie, Windows Movie Maker, GarageBand, VoiceThread, or Final Cut. Remind those students to use copyright-friendly images, sound, and video” (par. 5). Many digital cameras and cell phones now have features that allow them to take short video clips that can be uploaded to the computer. Also, while maybe not a preferred method of creating a Digital Booktalk, still photos may be used to introduce the concept to a beginner.

Digital Booktalks can be a great resource for inspiring reluctant readers to branch out and try new books. It bridges the gap for student’s understanding of the differences between a book and its movie counterpart. Production of a Digital Booktalk is simple enough that it can serve as a standalone program done outside of the library. It is also an enjoyable enterprise that gets students motivated to read as well as building upon their comprehension of the story by helping them make inferences and interpretations of what they read.  It can also be a valuable programming tool in the face of declining budgets and the trend towards incorporating Web 2.0 technologies to best serve new learning styles.

Belben, C. (2007 October). There are no booktalking police: alternatives to stand-and-deliver presentations. ''Library Media Connection, 26(2)'', 28-9.
Clark, R.C. (2009 February).  Listening to teens talk back. ''Voice of Youth Advocates, 31(6)'', 501-04.
Valenza, J. (2007 August). Booktalking 2.0 (2.0). ''School Library Journal''. Retrieved from