Tag Archives: ESL

Let’s Read a Banned Book!

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Artwork courtesy of the American Library Association.

 

One of the books that has appeared on the Top 10 list of banned books, compiled by the American Library Association, for each of the last 5 years is The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. This is a young adult novel (as so many of the books on these lists are) about a teenage Native American boy who chooses to attend school outside his home on the reservation. This decision leaves Junior, or Arnold as he’s called off the reservation, shunned by his people, as well as trying to fit in and on the outskirts of his new community. It is an honest portrayal of his life in high school – girls, bullies, fights, sports, and parents. Junior must learn to cope with a lot of loss in his family and embrace what’s good in his life.

Alexie’s book is most often challenged in libraries and schools due to its themes of sexuality, racism, use of drugs and alcohol, and offensive language. Many of these objectors feel that its content is unsuitable for the age group for which it is written. Considering that I have two teenagers at home who are dealing with and making personal decisions about all of the issues listed above, I find it hard to believe that some people don’t seem to understand what really happens in high school. But I shouldn’t judge, I’m sure they have their reasons. I’m more grateful that there are books like this available to my teenagers, so they know that what they’re going through is typical. They are not abnormal or weird. Being able to relate to a book’s characters and to recognize yourself in their struggles is one of the most important things a book can impart to an adolescent in the throes of indecision and hormones and peer pressure. But that’s just one person’s opinion. Happily for me and mine, those librarians and educators who fight against the banning of books must feel the same way.

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Our librarians who lead the Let’s READ English book discussion group at the Main Library have decided that The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is also a good vehicle for those who are learning to read and speak English as a second language. As well, it can serve as a catalyst for discussion about life in America amongst this group of foreign language speakers. The Let’s READ English discussion group will be talking about this book at their program on October 10th at 2pm. If you know someone who is looking to improve their English language skills, please have them stop by the library and check out a copy of the book prior to the discussion day.

Today is our last post for Banned Books Week 2014. However, through programming and book recommendations, libraries continue the fight against censorship every week of every year.

Now go out and continue to read banned books all year long!
-Melissa M.

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We Are the Champions!

Team SignIt was a lazy Sunday afternoon, one of the first nice days of spring so far this year. 39 teams met to battle it out on the trivia field. It promised to be a battle for the ages. It was a battle where only one team would emerge victorious. That team was… the CLP Dewey Decimators!

The battle was the 6th Annual Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council Trivia Bowl, which was held on April 7th at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral. The Decimators were at the top of the pack for most of the competition, never falling below 4th place. Going into the final question, they were in second – 5 points behind the leader and last year’s champion. With the bravado of someone who knows they have to “go big or go home,” the Decimators bet all of their points on the final question.  (The final question was “Although they have since been disputed, according to recent reports Columbia University students are consuming up to 100 lbs of what food per day?”  Scroll down for the answer.) They finished with 640 points, earning them the win!

Without further ado, let me introduce to you the winning team from the GPLC Trivia Bowl,GPLC Trivia Bowl Winning Team the CLP Dewey Decimators:  Lisa from the Finance & Administration Dept., Denise from our Homewood Library location, Mykal from Shelving & Stack Services at Main, and Megan from Children’s Dept. at East Liberty. (That’s our cardboard Andrew Carnegie standing with the team. He was there to inspire them.) Two of the winning team members were on Pittsburgh Today Live to talk about the Trivia Bowl and their victory.

It was a great victory, but it was ultimately a fundraiser for a worthy cause. The mission of the Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council dovetails nicely with the mission of Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. Many of our neighborhood library locations serve as sites for GPLC classes, workshops and tutoring sessions. The Library supports literacy and learning in all its forms and we always want the best for the individuals in our community. GPLC is one organization that helps our neighbors become the people they want to be, the people they can be.

The Library also has resources for ESL students, those looking to improve their literacy skills or get their GED. If you need us, the Library is here for you. We’ll get you the contacts and tools you need to succeed.

-Melissa M.

P.S. Here’s my favorite picture from the event…

Andy wears the Championship Belt!

Andy wears the Championship Belt!

P.P.S. The answer to the final question? Nutella.

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