Tag Archives: high school

Just in Time for Banned Books Week

Earlier this month, a mother from Tennessee called The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot “pornographic”–because of the description of Henrietta discovering a cervical tumor–and demanded it be removed from the school’s reading list.


Rebecca Skloot responded in the best way.

First, she called the mother out for “confusing gynecology with pornography,” and second, and even better, she’s raising funds to donate copies of her book to kids who can’t afford it.*

The book traces the life of Henrietta Lacks, a poor black tobacco farmer who was diagnosed with cervical cancer in the 1950s. When Henrietta died, she left behind six children–and cells from a sample her doctor had taken from one of her tumors.

No one in Henrietta’s family knew the doctors had taken the sample. The cells, now known as HeLa cells, became the first cells that survived in a laboratory setting and led to many scientific advances, including the polio vaccine.

Now scientific and pharmaceutical companies sell HeLa cells to labs across the country, but Henrietta’s family has never seen any of the profit. Skloot has attempted to offset this injustice by using proceeds from her book to create The Henrietta Lacks Foundation, which you can read more about here.

In her compassionate and beautiful telling of Henrietta’s story, Skloot raises issues of medical ethics, race, poverty, and more as she investigates Henrietta’s life, death, and the legacy she left behind. Getting young adults to read this book is an incredible way to promote scientific literacy and engage broader issues of medical ethics and our country’s long history of viewing people of color as “less than.”

If you haven’t read this book, now is the perfect time. Banned Books Week is happening right now, and Henrietta Lacks is available to you in print, large print, e-book, e-audio, and CD.




Filed under Uncategorized

1995 was a minute ago.

mixtape-300x190 My high school reunion is this month: 20 years! I didn’t mind high school (except for the actual showing up part) and I am looking forward to seeing everyone. Thanks to social media, I can’t show up and pretend I invented Post-It Notes or own a private jet. And I don’t have time to get a facelift, lose 20 pounds or become a doctor. Otherwise it’s made me nostalgic: for things like mix tapes and flowery slip dresses with Doc Martens, flannel shirts and passing notes and a time when you could act like a total maniac and not have it recorded and posted. (Alas, I’d be unemployable.)

1995 was interesting. The OJ Simpson trial. The Oklahoma City Bombing. The MLB strike ended. The last episode of Full House aired. The Grateful Dead broke up. Amazon and Yahoo started. Remember Microsoft Bob? How about AltaVista? Raise your hand if you remember dial-up? Did it disconnect if your mother picked up the phone? Pagers? If you liked to dance, you could go to Club Nitro, Club 51 or W.P. Nix (all gone now.) And does anyone recall that weird dance phenomenon, “freaking“? What were we thinking?Microsoft_Bob_logo Let’s take a trip down memory lane…

1995 Books
The 1990s were a great decade for books. Fight Club, The Virgin Suicides, Girl Interrupted, Harry Potter, The Giver 

2748Microserfs, Douglas Coupland This is one of my top 5 favorite books. It’s sad and sweet and captures the weird loneliness technology brings. It also contains one of the best quotes of all time:

I don’t want to lose you. I can’t imagine ever feeling this strongly about anything or anybody ever again. This was unexpected, my soul’s connection to you. You stole my loneliness No one knows that I was wishing for you, a thief, to enter my house of autonomy, that I had locked my doors but my Windows were open, hoping, but not believing, you would enter.

bookcoverHigh Fidelity, Nick Hornby You probably saw the excellent movie starring John Cusack (*swoon*). If you’re a music snob, you’ll love the Top 5 lists:

Rob Fleming’s Best Pop Songs
“Let’s Get it On”, Marvin Gaye
“The House that Jack Built”, Aretha Franklin
“Back in the U.S.A.”, Chuck Berry
“White Man in the Hammersmith Palais”, the Clash
“Tired of Being Alone”, Al Green

wallaceInfinite Jest, David Foster Wallace
Gah! Read it if you must.



bookcover (1)
Wonder Boys, Michael Chabon
I think when you move to Pittsburgh at the airport they give you a Terrible Towel, pierogies, Turner’s Tea and the Michael Chabon library. It’s also a fantastic movie filmed in Pittsburgh!




Wicked, Gregory Maguire
Most people only know this story from the Broadway show, but this is the book that rewrote the Wizard of Oz and made you feel bad for the Wicked Witch!



1995 Movies

Casino I learned you can beat someone very badly with a phone. This movie is also why I don’t gamble.

That’ll do.

The Usual Suspects
Who is Keyser Söze? Don’t worry, some jerk will give it away for you.

You know what 1990s kids knew a lot about? AIDS. Our parents were freaking out. And this movie didn’t help the cause. It still makes me cringe.

1995 Music
There is a lot of TLC on the Billboard chart in 1995. Hard to believe that “Creep” is 20 years old. Lots of Mariah Carey, too- someone I inexplicably hate with a passion. I listened to what was termed “Alternative Rock” in 1995. It’s seems so quaint now.

“When I Come Around”, Green Day
This song is holding up well.

“Buddy Holly”, Weezer
I was once at a place called Skatopia and someone told me I dressed like Weezer. I was flattered. Much like “When I Come Around”, this song has stood the test of time.

“Hurt”, Nine Inch Nails
I love me some Nine Inch Nails. Because as a middle-class kid in the suburbs, Trent Reznor really spoke to me. Johnny Cash also does a bang-up version.

“Nothing Man”, Pearl Jam
I still have a crush on Eddie Vedder. And seriously, saddest song ever.

“Glycerine”, Bush
My boyfriend told me that Gavin Rossdale was dared to write a song about glycerine. I believed him. For way too long.

Trying to repair twenty years of sun damage in 10 days,

*Obligatory Generation X dig at the Baby Boomers:

Do you think we enjoy hearing about your brand-new million-dollar home when we can barely afford to eat Kraft Dinner sandwiches in our own grimy little shoe boxes and we’re pushing thirty? A home you won in a genetic lottery, I might add, sheerly by dint of your having been born at the right time in history? You’d last about ten minutes if you were my age these days. – Douglas Coupland, Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture


Filed under Uncategorized

It’s Back to School Time!

schoolpicIf you have kids, by now they’ve probably started their school year. (Except, maybe, if your teachers are on strike, but that’s a whole other story!) I just want to take this moment to remind you that the Library is here for all of your school supplemental needs. If your child needs some extra help in a language, we have video, audio and print materials to help. If they need to do a report on a president, we have videos and books about everyone from Washington to Obama. If you want to know what you could be doing to encourage homework completion, we have books and online tutors for that. If you and your kids need a break, you need to know that the Library has movies and fiction and programs galore! Here is just a sample of what’s waiting for you and your school-age children at the library…

For You:

A Parents’ Guide to the Middle School Years by Joe Bruzzese

Making Friends: A Guide to Understanding and Nurturing Your Child’s Friendships by Elizabeth Hartley-Brewer

The Parent Backpack for Kindergarten through Grade 5: How to Support Your Child’s Education, End Homework Meltdowns, and Build Parent-Teacher Connections by ML Nichols

You and Your Adolescent: The Essential Guide for Ages 10-25 by Laurence Steinberg

For Your Preschooler:

3-2-1 School Is Fun!

200 Essential Preschool Activities by Julienne M. Olson

For Your Elementary School Student:

Making a Bully-Free World by Pamela Hall

My School Community by Bobbie Kalman

First Day of School by Anne Rockwell

Manners at School by Siân Smith

For Your Middle School Student:

Dealing with Bullies, Cliques, and Social Stress by Jennifer Landau

Spilling Ink: A Young Writer’s Handbook by Anne Mazer and Ellen Potter

Stuck in the Middle of Middle School: A Novel in Doodles by Karen Romano Young

How Not to Choke on Tests: Achieving Academic and Testing Success by Stephanie Watson

For Your High School Student:

The Dictionary of High School B.S.: From Acne to Varsity, All the Funny, Lame, and Annoying Aspects of High School Life by Lois Beckwith

How to Become a Superstar Student [DVD] by Professor Michael Geisen

Been There, Survived That: Getting through Freshman Year of High School edited by Karen Macklin

Teens’ Guide to College & Career Planning: Your High School Roadmap for College & Career Success

For You & Your High School Senior:

Getting In Without Freaking Out: The Official College Admissions Guide for Overwhelmed Parents by Arlene Matthews

Tackling College Admissions: Sanity + Strategy = Success: Just for Parents by Cheryl Paradis and Faren R. Siminoff

Happy School Days!

-Melissa M.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized