‘Graphic Arts and the Reading Experience’ with Nate Powell

The Indiana Center for the Book at the Indiana State Library and the Arkansas Center for the Book at the Arkansas State Library are partnering to present a program featuring Nate Powell on the theme “The Graphic Arts and the Reading Experience.”

  • Date: Feb. 17, 7:30 p.m. Eastern Time/6:30 p.m. Central Time
  • Location: Zoom
  • Cost: Free of charge

Participants must register online. Registered participants will be sent a Zoom link upon registration. The program will also be livestreamed on ASL’s YouTube page.

About Nate Powell
Nate Powell is the first cartoonist ever to win the National Book Award. He is from Little Rock, Arkansas and lives in Bloomington, Indiana. Powell’s work has also received a Robert F. Kennedy Book Award, three Eisner Awards, two Ignatz Awards, four YALSA Great Graphic Novels for Teens selections and two Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist selections.

This program will focus on the use of comics/graphical arts to communicate as a mass medium as well as how a graphic writer envisions, creates and curates the reading experience. Teens as well as adults will enjoy hearing from Nate.

This blog post was submitted by Indiana Young Readers Center librarian Suzanne Walker.

‘Indiana’s Great Outdoors’ Statehood Day essay contest now accepting submissions

The Indiana Center for the Book is hosting an essay competition to commemorate Indiana’s 205th Statehood Day. This year’s theme is “Indiana’s Great Outdoors.” The Statehood Day Essay Contest takes place annually in the fall and is open to all Indiana fourth graders. The essays are judged by a panel of Indiana State Library staff and volunteer educators.

Essays should be well organized and reflective of the theme “Indiana’s Great Outdoors.” Judges are looking forward to seeing students’ interpretation of the theme. Some ideas to help them include: Why is nature important? How do you enjoy nature in Indiana? Why are water and other natural resources important? What outdoor recreational spots in Indiana are special to you? Why is nature important to a great state?

Winners of the essay contest will be honored on Friday, Dec. 10 in a ceremony that may be in-person or may be virtual. The winners will be expected to record their essays for a virtual ceremony. In-person ceremonies may take place at the Indiana Statehouse or other locations, pandemic permitting.

The first-place winner receives a CollegeChoice 529 deposit of $250, while the second, third and fourth-place winners receive CollegeChoice deposits of $150.

Essay Contest Rules

  • The competition is open to any Indiana fourth grade public, private or homeschooled student in the 2021-22 school year.
  • A panel of judges will choose the first, second, third, and fourth place winners.
    Essays must range from 100 to 300 words; handwritten or typed.
  • Essays must be submitted with an entry form.
  • Individual entries should use the 2021 Individual Entry Form.
  • Class sets should use the 2021 Group Entry Form. The following information should be included on each essay for class sets: student name, teacher name and school name.
  • All entries may be mailed or emailed.
  • Mailed entry forms can be sent to: Indiana Center for the Book Indiana State Library 140 N. Senate Ave. Indianapolis, IN 46204.
  • Mailed essays must be postmarked by Friday, Oct. 22, 2021.
  • Emailed entry forms can be sent to this email address as an attachment.
  • Emailed entries must be received by Friday, Oct. 22, 2021.
  • Click here for additional information about the 2021 Statehood Day essay contest, including lesson plans for teachers, and to view the 2020 winning essays.

Please contact Suzanne Walker, Indiana Center for the Book director, with any questions.

This blog post was submitted by Indiana Young Readers Center librarian Suzanne Walker.

Invitation to participate in the National Book Festival

The Library of Congress is presenting the 21st National Book Festival from Sept. 17-26, and Indiana’s libraries and cultural institutions are invited to participate.

Indiana is home to a deep and rich literary heritage stemming from our long-ago classic writers like Gene Stratton-Porter and James Whitcomb Riley to the big names of the ’60s and ’70s – Kurt Vonnegut, Mari Evans, Etheridge Knight and many others – all the way up to today, where everyone knows names like John Green and Meg Cabot. Additionally, characters like Garfield, Raggedy Ann and Andy, Clifford and Little Orphan Annie are all Hoosier creations. It’s impossible to keep track of a list of Indiana writers because new ones emerge and succeed daily. Today, Maurice Broaddus is writing Afrofuturist science fiction. Ashley C. Ford writes about race and body image. Kaveh Akbar’s poetry has appeared in The New Yorker. Kelsey Timmerman’s investigations lead to books about responsible consumerism. What draws all these voices together? Being from Indiana. Being Hoosiers.

Thankfully, there are ample opportunities to celebrate our Indiana writers. The Indiana Authors Awards elevate Hoosier literary voices through prizes, programs and initiatives designed to connect readers to authors. Our Indiana media outlets frequently release stories and articles about top Hoosier writers, past and present. The Indiana Center for the Book even has a YouTube series where a “Hoosier Toucan” interviews contemporary Indiana authors, along with a light-hearted show and tell segment. That being said, it’s especially exciting when Indiana authors get the chance to be showcased on a national, and indeed international, stage.

The National Book Festival is a premiere event on the literary calendar. During the course of its 20-year history, the festival has become one of the most prominent literary events in the nation. In 2020 and in 2021, the festival has gone virtual and organizers hope that Indiana libraries and cultural institutions will participate in the festival in a myriad of ways. Watch parties of author talks, book discussions about one of the featured speakers and podcast parties are all possibilities.

The Indiana State Library and Indiana Humanities have partnered together to create a toolkit that encourages meaningful participation in the festival at a local level. Who better to present this national event to our local communities than the librarians, teachers and cultural leaders who connect to Hoosiers every day?

We invite you to use this toolkit to connect to the National Book Festival. Explore the writings of an author you’ve never heard of before. Learn more about the Library of Congress, your national library. Listen to a podcast interview in a group and discuss it afterwards. Share the ways you use the toolkit so that others can benefit from your creative ideas in the future. Above all, enjoy connecting with Hoosier literary heritage. The Golden Age of Indiana literature isn’t in the past. It’s here right now!

This blog post was submitted by Indiana Young Readers Center Librarian Suzanne Walker.

Celebrate Pride Month with books with Indiana connections for young people

Pride Month has been celebrated in the United States every June since the 1970s. This special month commemorates the Stonewall riots of 1969 and demonstrates how lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Americans have strengthened the country. Celebrations oftentimes include parades, workshops, picnics, parties, concerts and memorials for members of the community who have been lost to hate crimes or HIV/AIDS. Celebrate by learning more about this commemoration through this guide put together by the Library of Congress.

The Indiana Young Readers Center has assembled this list of books with Indiana connections so that people of all ages can engage with stories about people from the LGBTQ community.

“All Out: The No-Longer-Secret Stories of Queer Teens throughout the Ages” edited by Saundra Mitchell
Edited by Indiana native Saundra Mitchell, this is a collection of historical fiction for teens. Seventeen young adult authors across the queer spectrum have come together to create a collection of beautifully written diverse tales. From a retelling of “Little Red Riding Hood” set in war-torn 1870s Mexico featuring a transgender soldier to two girls falling in love while mourning the death of Kurt Cobain to forbidden love in a 16th century Spanish convent to an asexual girl discovering her identity amid the 1970s roller-disco scene, “All Out” tells a diverse range of stories across cultures, time periods and identities, shedding light on an area of history often ignored or forgotten.

“Out Now: Queer We Go Again!” edited by Saundra Mitchell
A follow-up to the critically acclaimed “All Out” anthology, “Out Now” features 17 short stories from amazing queer YA authors: Vampires crash a prom; aliens run from the government; a president’s daughter comes into her own; a true romantic tries to soften the heart of a cynical social media influencer; and a selkie and the sea call out to a lost soul. From teapots and barbershops to skateboards and VW vans to “Street Fighter” and Ares’s sword, “Out Now” has a story for every reader and surprises with each turn of the page! This collection is also edited by Indiana author, Saundra Mitchell.

 

“You Should See Me in a Crown” by Leah Johnson
Liz Lighty has always believed that she’s too Black, too poor and too awkward to shine in her small, rich, prom-obsessed Midwestern town. But it’s okay – she has a plan that will get her out of Campbell, Indiana, forever – one that revolves around financial aid that unexpectedly falls through. Liz is devastated until she remembers that her school offers a scholarship for the prom king and queen. Though author Leah Johnson currently lives in Brooklyn, New York she was born and raised in Indianapolis and is a tried and true lifelong Hoosier.

 

“Keesha’s House” by Helen Frost
Keesha has found a safe place to live, and other kids gravitate to her house when they just can’t make it on their own. They are Stephie – pregnant and trying to make the right decisions for herself and those she cares about; Jason – Stephie’s boyfriend, torn between his responsibility to Stephie and the promise of a college basketball career; Dontay – in foster care while his parents are in prison; Carmen – arrested on a DUI charge, waiting in a juvenile detention center for a judge to hear her case; Harris – disowned by his father after disclosing that he’s gay; and Katie – angry at her mother’s loyalty to an abusive stepfather. Helen Frost lives in Fort Wayne, Indiana and has published dozens of books for young people. In this novel, Frost weaves together the stories of seven teenagers as they courageously struggle to hold their lives together.

“Will Grayson, Will Grayson” by John Green and David Levithan
One cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago, Will Grayson crosses paths with… Will Grayson. Two teens with the same name, running in two very different circles, suddenly find their lives going in new and unexpected directions, culminating in epic turns-of-heart and the most fabulous musical ever to grace the high school stage. Told in alternating voices from two YA superstars, this collaborative novel features a double helping of the heart and humor that have won them both legions of fans. John Green lives in Indianapolis.

 

“Tessa Masterson Will Go to Prom” by Emily Franklin and Brendan Halpin
Lucas and Tessa’s friendship is the stuff of legend in their small Indiana town. So, it’s no surprise when Lucas finally realizes his feelings for Tessa are more than friendship and he asks her to prom. What no one expected, especially Lucas, was for Tessa to come out as a lesbian instead of accepting his heartfelt invitation. Humiliated and confused, Lucas also feels betrayed that his best friend kept such an important secret from him. What’s worse is Tessa’s decision to wear a tastefully tailored tuxedo to escort her female crush, sparking a firestorm of controversy. Lucas must decide if he should stand on the sidelines or if he should stand by his friend to make sure that Tessa Masterson will go to prom.

This blog post was submitted by Indiana Young Readers Center Librarian Suzanne Walker.

Visit us virtually! Virtual field trip now available

This spring and summer, the Indiana Young Readers Center at the Indiana State Library is hoping to help fourth-grade teachers in Indiana with last-minute plans. Field trips to the library have been cancelled due to the current health crisis, so bringing the library to life in classrooms is a way to say “thank you” to teachers. The Virtual Field Trip is now available. 

The Indiana State Library Virtual Field Trip provides an introduction to the agency and offers video tours of public and behind-the-scenes spaces. These videos were made with fourth-graders in mind, but many grades may be interested. A recorded lesson on using a digital map highlights several fourth-grade Indiana social studies standards. There are pages to learn about lots of different areas in the Indiana State Library and links to digital resources.

Also included as part of the field trip are the library’s Sammy the Interviewing Toucan interviews, along with virtual Indiana trivia. Sammy, the Indiana State Library’s Hoosier Toucan, has been busy interviewing Indiana authors throughout the pandemic. Listening to an author’s story is a great way to inspire young writers. Extend the trivia activity by exploring the links to digital resources that the Indiana State Library offers.

We’d love to hear your feedback after using the Virtual Field Trip in the classroom. Please take a couple minutes to click through this online survey.

The post was written by Indiana Young Readers Center librarian Suzanne Walker and Indiana Young Readers Center program coordinator Tara Stewart.

Once upon a time: Tips for writers from a librarian

Libraries are magnets for writers and would-be authors. One of the questions libraries often hear from writers is, “How can I get my book into your library?” The answer can vary from library to library based on the library’s collection development policy and the type of book in question. For example, a law library is probably not going to be interested in a science fiction novel. A public library will probably not be interested in an extensive multi-volume textbook about string theory. However, public libraries oftentimes are interested in collecting well-written books by their own local authors. A big plus is if the book has been reviewed in a reputable book review publication like Publisher’s Weekly or Library Journal. There are lots of other things that authors can to do make their work more attractive to a librarian.

First off, authors can do the work to make their book the best book they can possibly write. There are many organizations that hold online writing classes that help writers hone their skills, learn about the publishing industry and get connected with other writers. Midwest Writers Workshop has virtual conferences for writers and the Indiana Writers Center has over a dozen classes offered at any given time covering topics from plays to poetry.

Authors can learn tips and tricks from other writers by joining a writing community. There are organizations for writers in almost every genre imaginable from Romance Writers of America to the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Benefits to joining one of these groups are manifold. Writers can find critique groups, learn about upcoming opportunities or be listed in a speaker’s bureau. One of the best things that a burgeoning writer can do is to get hooked into a network of other writers.

Library programs are another outlet that might be available to new writers. Some libraries have local author fairs where many authors can showcase their work at one time. The Indiana Historical Society has done this in the past as well as the Indianapolis Public Library’s Meet an Author / Be an Author event. Author events that showcase just one local author are a bit more rare and harder for a library to justify, due to the fact that one lesser-known author is not as likely to bring in a crowd versus a group of authors. Nowadays, a virtual author event might also be possible.

When in doubt, read a book. “Before and After the Book Deal: A Writer’s Guide to Finishing, Publishing, Promoting, and Surviving Your First Book” by Courtney Maum can serve as a how-to guide for authors just starting out. In down-to-earth chapters, Maum offers all kinds of advice about writing and the publishing industry.

The Indiana State Library is one library that actively collects fiction and poetry by Indiana authors who write for all audiences. For more information on donating your work to our collections, reach out to Suzanne Walker, the coordinator for the Indiana Center for the book.

This blog post was submitted by Indiana Young Readers Center Librarian Suzanne Walker.

Indiana Early Literacy Firefly Award nominees announced; voting begins

The Indiana Early Literacy Firefly Committee has released its list of nominees for the 2021 Indiana Early Literacy Firefly Award. The nominees are “The Box Turtle” by Vanessa Roeder, “Brown Baby Lullaby” by Tameka Fryer Brown, “How Do You Dance?” by Thyra Heder, “Red House, Tree House, Little Bitty Brown Mouse” by Jane Godwin and “Who Has Wiggle Waggle Toes?” by Vicky Shiefman.

In its seventh year, the literacy award recognizes picture books that serve an important role in the first years of a child’s life and encourages parents, caregivers and very young children to interact together with exceptional picture books.

Voting is limited to children who live in Indiana and who are under age 6 as of July 31. It is expected that most Indiana children will require help from a parent, caregiver or librarian. Children should circle their favorite Firefly nominee on their ballot and turn it in to their local voting location. This year, every public library system in Indiana will receive 15 print copies of the ballot and six sheets of Firefly stickers for marking nominees and winning titles. Packets of printed materials should arrive by late February or early March. Tallies will be accepted through July 31 and the award winner will be announced on Aug. 9. Voting locations should tally the votes and send them in an email to the Indiana Center for the Book.

The Indiana Center for the Book will be releasing a program guide by March 1. The calendar year for the Firefly Award changed last year as a result of the COVID-19 health crisis. The award nomination period now runs through the summer, allowing librarians to do Firefly programs throughout the run of their summer reading programs.

Click here for a PDF version of the ballot. Click here to learn more about the award.

The committee would like to thank TeachingBooks who supported printing and who put together additional Indiana Early Literacy Firefly Award book information.

Please contact Suzanne Walker, director of the Indiana Center for the Book, with any questions.

This blog post was written by John Wekluk, communications director, Indiana State Library.

Toucan interview with Keiko Kasza

You might have seen Sammy the Interviewing Toucan talk to some Indiana authors recently. Sammy is releasing a new video every Tuesday at 2 p.m Eastern Time via the Indiana State Library’s Facebook account. You can see past interviews on YouTube.

Indiana author Keiko Kasza preferred to do her interview via email and Sammy was more than happy to accommodate her. What follows is their interview.

Sammy: We always start our interviews by talking about Indiana. Can you share with us, what is your connection to Indiana? It’s very exciting to me that you were born in Japan, but you are now a Hoosier!
Keiko: We moved to Bloomington in 1985, when my husband got a teaching job at Indiana University. I’m happy to announce that we have witnessed the IU men’s basketball team winning the national championship. We screamed for joy in our little apartment in Bloomington.

Sammy: Do you consider yourself to be a Hoosier?
Keiko: After living here for more than 30 years, I think I have won Hoosier citizenship.

Sammy: Let’s talk about your work. All of your books feature animals. What made you choose animals to star in your books?

Keiko: I think there are four reasons why I use animals. For starters, animals are perfect characters when you write universal stories. Not specifying a race or a nationality of the human book characters really helps me create universal stories and focus on the theme itself. Therefore, I believe that my books have been translated into 15 languages, not because of the quality – though I’d like to believe that’s true, too – but mostly because it’s easier to translate universal stories into different languages.

Secondly, I have more freedom if I use animals. I can make a bad wolf look really bad, or make a hippo really fat, which might offend some people if I used humans.Thirdly, if I have to write a human story, I would need to do tons of research. What era is it? What is the social code like, and what kind of clothes or hairstyles are people wearing, etc. Although I read scientific information on the habitats of animals, their food and their enemies, the background information is minimal compared to writing human stories.

And lastly, I can’t draw humans too well.

Sammy: What is your favorite animal to draw?
Keiko: I don’t have a favorite animal to draw but I do have animals that I don’t want to draw. Horses, camels, zebras, etc.; those who have long legs. I often make animals stand up and walk on two legs like humans, so animals with long limbs look awkward.

Sammy: One of my favorite books of yours is “A Mother for Choco.” This is probably because I myself am a bird. This seems like a great book to share with children who are adopted. Did you have that in mind when you wrote the book?

Keiko: Not at all. The story came from my experience when I first landed in the U.S. I landed in LAX. I have never forgotten my shock at seeing so many different races of people walking around in the airport. Japan – especially back then – was a more homogeneous country; all you saw in Japan were Japanese people. I wanted to write multicultural stories. But since it was published, the “Choco” book has been well-received by adoption and foster families. And I’m glad!

Sammy: Several themes emerge in your books. Animals try to escape being eaten and I also notice stories about friendship and fairness. Why are you drawn to stories like these?
Keiko: When I write, I often think about what it was like when I was 5 years old. What kind of things would you remember from that long ago? Those incidents that gave you strong emotional reactions, such as happy, sad, frustrated and angry. My book, “The Rat and the Tiger,” is based on the frustration I felt dealing with a bossy friend from the time I was 5 until 7 years old. So, if there is a pattern in the themes I write, I would say it has to be my own childhood memories that have never left me.

Sammy: Do you have any advice to people who want to be authors someday?
Keiko: Just like real estate people say, “Location, location, location”, I want to say, “Read, read, read.”

Sammy: How are you doing in regards to the pandemic? I’m assuming this has made travel to Japan nearly impossible.
Keiko: Yes, I cancelled a trip to Japan this spring. Not only to see my family, but I was going to give two talks there. Other talks in the U.S. also have been cancelled.

Sammy: I’m so sorry to hear that. So much has changed due to the pandemic. Are you working on any new books at the moment? Can you tell us about them?
Keiko: I have been working on new stories. So far, I have four stories all dummied out. One is about the relationship between a grandmother and grandchild in Japan. Hopefully it will take my work into a new direction.

Sammy: Thank you so much, Keiko! This is your favorite Hoosier Toucan encouraging you to read local. So long!

This blog post was submitted by Sammy the Interviewing Toucan. 

A virtual National Book Festival featuring the Road Map to Reading and Indiana’s ‘Wake Up, Woods’

Like most things in 2020, the National Book Festival looks nothing like it has in the past. Last year, tens of thousands of attendees crammed themselves into long lines to meet their favorite authors. They joined hundreds of other literary buffs in giant halls at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. to watch interviews with Pulitzer Prize-winning writers and famous politicians. They snaked their way through the crowded vendor hall, picking up free bookmarks, posters, and other swag from the hundreds of booths and stages, all catering to the book-loving public who swarmed the festival in droves.

Past National Book Festivals included the crowded Pavilion of the States

None of that is possible in this year’s COVID-19 reality. Instead, the festival has gone virtual. One thing that has always been true of the festival is that it is a free event, open to the public. This year, the public does not only include the people who can make it to Washington, it includes anyone with access to a computer. Virtual attendees will be able to explore nine author “stages” where more than 120 authors will be featured, including many who will be participating in live events where participants can interact with the presenters in real time.

In addition, the 2020 festival will include the Roadmap to Reading feature, a virtual iteration of the beloved Pavilion of the States attraction from years past. In the old days, the Pavilion of the States was one of the most crowded areas of the festival. Each state and territory of the U.S. had a booth where they’d feature a special book, highlight local authors and give away more swag than you could fit in one literary themed tote-bag. This year, each state will be presenting virtual content, including videos and poetry at their virtual booths.

Visit the Roadmap to Reading to experience literary content from all the states

You can visit Indiana at the 2020 National Book Festival by navigating to the National Book Festival’s website. Register to attend the festival, and once you are on the landing page, click on Discover Great Reads to explore as many states as you like, including Indiana.

Indiana’s booth will have lots of content surrounding our chosen book for the festival, “Wake Up, Woods.” Sammy the Interviewing Toucan will do a very special interview with the two authors of the book and there will be plenty of information about Indiana native plants.

You can watch a preview of the Wake Up, Woods interview on Sept. 22 on the Indiana State Library’s Facebook page

The 20th annual Library of Congress National Book Festival will be held online Sept. 25-27. For news and updates, follow the festival blog and subscribe to latest updates.

This blog post was submitted by Indiana Young Readers Center Librarian Suzanne Walker.

‘Celebrating Diversity’ Statehood Day essay contest now accepting submissions

The Indiana Center for the Book is hosting an essay competition to commemorate Indiana’s 204th Statehood Day. This year’s theme is “Celebrating a Diverse Indiana.” The Statehood Day Essay Contest takes place annually in the fall and is open to all Indiana fourth graders. The essays are judged by a panel of Indiana State Library staff and volunteer educators.

Essays should be well organized and reflective of the theme “Celebrating a Diverse Indiana.” Judges are looking forward to seeing students’ interpretation of the theme. Some ideas to help them could be: What is diversity? What does it mean to live in a diverse state? In what different ways can a state be diverse? In its people? Its plants? Its economy?

Winners of the essay contest will be honored on Friday, Dec. 11 in a virtual ceremony. Winners are expected to record their essays for the virtual ceremony.

Additionally, any Indiana fourth grade class – or student – is welcome to attend the Statehood Day virtual ceremony, regardless of whether or not they participate in the contest. Registration is required. Visit this link to register for the online virtual ceremony.

The first-place winner receives a CollegeChoice 529 deposit of $250, while the second, third and fourth-place winners receive CollegeChoice deposits of $150.

Essay Contest Rules

  • The competition is open to any Indiana fourth grade public, private or homeschooled student in the 2020-21 school year.
  • A panel of judges will choose the first, second, third, and fourth place winners.
    Essays must range from 100 to 300 words; handwritten or typed.
  • Essays must be submitted with an entry form.
  • Individual entries should use the 2020 Individual Entry Form.
  • Class sets should use the 2020 Group Entry Form. The following information should be included on each essay for class sets: student name, teacher name and school name.
  • All entries may be mailed or emailed.
  • Mailed entry forms can be sent to: Indiana Center for the Book Indiana State Library 140 N. Senate Ave Indianapolis, IN 46204.
  • Mailed essays must be postmarked by Friday, Oct. 16, 2020.
  • Emailed entry forms can be sent to this email address as an attachment.
  • Emailed entries must be received by Friday, Oct. 16, 2020.

Click here for additional information about the 2020 Statehood Day essay contest, including lesson plans for teachers and the 2019 winning essays.

Please contact Suzanne Walker, Indiana Center for the Book director, with any questions.

This blog post was submitted by Indiana Young Readers Center Librarian Suzanne Walker.