Saturday, April 14, 2012

Still hungry for the Hunger Games

The success of films based on books written for children or teens is one of the trends of the last couple of years. The film "Hugo" was honored with Academy Award nominations as well as good reviews and popularity last year. This year "The Hunger Games" was one of the most eagerly awaited movies of the year and is a popular favorite with adults, teens and tweens (and even younger children who worm their way in to see it). Why this trend toward adults' welcoming children's materials? No one knows for sure, but the N.Y. Times has come up with a discussion of possible causes and effects.

Is it the strong plots and vivid dialog that seizes people's interest? Certainly YA books tend to move faster and have quicker resolutions than most literary novels. Popular books have always tended to be the ones that grab your interest on the first page and propel the reader forward. Are YA books the best books being written these days? Some people have suggested that the literary novel is a dying form and that may be true. The long, meandering ruminations on the meaning of life that used to appeal to people in books now appear mostly in blogs. One of the most appealing aspects of blogs is the chance for readers to comment. Are blogs the future of reading?

No one is closer to the secrets of the appeal of YA books than librarians. We should hear more from people out in the libraries. Why do adults read YA books? Does the shared interest bring adults and youth together? Let's hear from the people who know.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Librarians with hungry hearts

A lot of the questions that come up when students and parents are deciding about college choices are about the cost\benefits. Is a college degree worth the price is you are going to spend your life selling real estate or fixing laptops? It’s the same question families asked generations ago about the value of sending a girl to college. “But you don’t need a diploma to raise a family!” Are those the questions we should ask?

Mark Edmundson, writing on the NY Times opinion page describes the people who should go to college—those with hungry hearts.

Some children and adults have a driving curiosity about the world. They enjoy hearing about new people, distant places, historic events-- almost anything can spark their curiosity and interest. Those are the people who should go to college and on whom an education is never wasted. They are also the people who love libraries and always find something to interest them there. Many librarians have hungry hearts; that’s why they aren’t bored by books and never tire of hearing new reference questions. We are the ones with hungry hearts and our favorite patrons share the trait. Let’s celebrate all the people who never lose their love of education, libraries, and the world. We’re very lucky to be able to spend our lives with them.