http://www.urbanreviewsonline.com/

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Coretta Scott King Review Books Donation Grant

If your organization needs books for a collection that brings books to under-served youth, the Coretta Scott King Review Books Donation Grant offers the opportunity to to do just that! Read on...

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Urban Fiction on Kindle

ok, I know we are NOT trying to buy everything our little hearts desire in this season of unbridled consumerism (...um, I mean, the holidays). But, I'd be remiss if I didn't point out the number of urban fiction and street lit ebooks available on Kindle. Check in with your public library as many of these titles are available for checkout via OverDrive media downloads. So, go ahead, indulge and get your Street Lit on!

Turf Dancing

...Since early 2005 (...even earlier, 'cause we remember the 80's Break Dancing phenomenon!) urban youth have been blazin' their creativity and claiming their piece of the world. Turf Dancing is the just the latest wave of self-proclamation rising out of the ghettos of the west coast (notably, Okland and LA) So, like Street Lit, these videos proclaim the exuberance of self expression that won't be contained

Friday, November 19, 2010

What's on my nightstand...





What am I reading? I'm in the midst of a few titles right now. The Evanston Public Library's African American Literature Book Discussion Group thatI facilitate on the second Tuesday of each month is reading, "Conception" by Kalisha Buckhanon as its December title. Buckhanon delivers this wonderfully written, urban fiction with a compelling plot and language that draws you to the characters like a magnet.
I'm also reading three riveting street fiction titles, "Alibi" and "Dutch III" by Teri Woods, and "Damaged" by Kia DuPree. I loved finishing Earl Sewell's latest Kimani Tru series title, "Myself and I", and was delighted to attend a book club reading at the Illinois Youth Center with the author, who wove stories for the young book-clubbers about the writing process that were as fascinating as any of his books. I'm enjoying these stories so much I'm falling asleep listening to Ntozake Shange's "Sassafras, Cypress & Indigo : a novel " via OverDrive Media e-audio books that I've downloaded to my Blackberry. So, until I purchase that eReader, I'll continue to stack favorites on my nightstand. Now, what are YOU reading...?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

YA author, Earl Sewell to visit IYC book club on November 4, 2010

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Is it Street Lit or Urban Fiction?

ok-seems the confusion over just what constitutes Street Lit and Urban Fiction continues. I received this recommendation from a librarian colleague suggesting an adddtion to the "Adult Urban Fiction" bibliography that I created at Evanston Public Library. The following is her title suggestion and my response.

"If you update this bibliography you might add: Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann"
-C. Heneghan

My response was as follows:
Thanks, C.!
A great title, but unfortunately, I don't think Colum McCann's, "Let the Great World Spin" falls within the definition of Street lit or Urban Fiction as refelcted in the 'PHAT Fiction' bibliography I've compiled for EPL.

For a clearer definition and history of this compelling genre or examples of contemporary Street Lit and Urban Fiction titles, see my PHAT Fiction blog and wiki as well as the other web sites below:
missdomino (by K.C. Boyd)

-Susan
However, Vanessa Irvin Morris, Professor of Library Science, at The iSchool at Drexel University, has commented and made me re-evaluate my decision about the Colum McCann title. Ms. Morris has a different take on this urban fiction vs street lit debate and has made the following observations:

Technically though? Ms. Heneghan's suggestion is a thoughtful, accurate suggestion, based on what I've read (just now) in book reviews and a synopsis of what Let the Great World Spin is about.

It's urban fiction for sure.

It's not Street Lit.

I do make a distinction between the two. Urban fiction is city novels - novels about lives of people living in urban settings.
Street Lit is a sub-genre of urban fiction - novels about the lives of people living in inner-city enclaves.

Let the Great World Spin has some street elements to it - there's a character that is a prostitute who is trying not to pass this
sorrowful legacy to her daughters, and the car accident that seems to connect many of the characters in the story is reminiscent of the movie Crash (2005), and there's an Irish priest who lives in the projects in the Bronx. I think this makes for a compelling story ... definitely urban fiction. And I say urban fiction because the overall framework for the novel is that it is a New York City story - that it is a capture of living life in the city of New York - it's not (at least it seems to me on outset) a zoomed lens into the daily living of people in the hood.
Dang, now I wanna read it!
Can't wait to see others' take on it,
Vanessa.

I say:
Wow, an interesting observation and distinction to be sure. And Vanessa is right, Street Lit is driven by characters and settings depicting inner-city life and so is at the core of my YA and adult urban fiction bibliographies for Evanston Public Library. I definitely see the need to be as inclusive (expansive?) as possible in the approach to this literature, so "Let the Great World Spin" has a place alongside other urban fiction (Richard Wright, James Baldwin, Charles Dickens). So, I wonder if I need to change my bibliography label to 'Street Lit'. Street lit seems to more acurately describe the particular sub-genre that draws many teen and adult readers to this writing. On the other hand, I'm compelled to continually help readers make connections to and see relationships with all kinds of literature. Thanks, this makes me think about this s'more!

I'd like to hear what others think. Comments?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Prison Book Club for Teens

Book club for incarcerated girls at Illinois Youth Center-Warrenville, IL

On Saturday, July 24, we had a conference call conversation between Kelly Woods, Outreach Services Librarian, Plainfield, Public library. Planfield, IL, and coordinator of a Book Club for incarcerated girls at Illinois Youth Center-Warrenville, IL; Susan K. McClelland, Adjunct Faculty Reference and Instruction Librarian, Oakton Community College, Skokie, IL. and, K.C. Boyd; Coordinator, City-Wide Book Club Coordinator, Chicago Public Schools. The resulting interview follows.

Sat., July 24, 3:00p.m. (CST)
Kelly Wood, Susan K. McClelland, K.C. Boyd
Susan: WHERE IS THE PRISON BOOK CLUB?

Kelly: Warrenville, IL, a maxim security facility for girls ages 13 years to 21 years.I have been volunteering at the prison since 2001, and facilitating the book club since 2004. The book club has no name (K.C. suggests, “Kelly’s Angels”!)
The volunteer application process is rigorous and can take 3-6 months; it includes background check, fingerprints and blood tests. One-time visits may be approved with about 2 weeks’ notice.

Book club has 8 -10 girls per discussion. Girls must attain levels of behavior to attend book club. Volunteer coordinator oversees book club privileges.
Some girls are familiar with books; some become avid readers as result of incarceration and book club involvement.

K.C.:WHERE DO BOOK CLUB BOOKS COME FROM?

Kelly: I purchase multiple copies of books with my own money and some come as publisher donations. I (Kelly) have a professional reviewer friend who often ships boxes of single-copy books for the book club. The volunteer coordinator is usually in charge of allowing the books into the book club and is not overly restrictive. I’m a longtime volunteer/book club coordinator, and this is rarely a problem.

K.C.:ARE THE VARIANCES IN READING LEVELS OF THE GIRLS CHALLENGING FOR THE BOOK CLUB?

Kelly: Not as much as you might expect. Most of the girls read at an acceptable level, but interest level is the key.

HOW MANY COPIES OF BOOK CLUB BOOKS DO YOU BRING WEEKLY?

Kelly: I usually purchase 8-10 copies, and freebies are often donated. The book club meets monthly and I try to tailor the questions to accommodate those who have read and perhaps not read the books.

CAN YOU GIVE AN EXAMPLE OF WHAT TITLES ARE HITS & WHAT ARE MISSES?

Kelly: I take recommendations from the girls and they DO prefer non-fiction or true stories to fiction. For instance, some favorites very much enjoyed include, “A Child Called It” (David J. Pelzer), “They Cage the Animals at Night” (Jennings Michael Burch), and “The Coldest Winter Ever” (Sistah Souljah). The girls have a good grasp of the author’s intent and can express themselves quite well.
Some other great hits were “Random Family” by LeBlanc and “33 Snowfish” by Rapp. We’ve also read“Tyrell” (Coe Booth), Sharon Flake, Sharon Draper, and the Romeo and Juliet tale with an urban twist, “Perfect Chemistry” by Simone Elkeles.

Susan: IS THERE A LIBRARY IN WARRENVILLE?

Kelly: The girls do have access to the library, but it’s not well-weeded and the librarian doesn’t hold classes or have access to the latest books, since most come by donations.

K.C.: Since I get lots of books for my schools, I’d be happy to make some donations of titles you might like to read, but can’t afford to buy. Of course, these are usually single copies.

Kelly: We’d welcome donations and would love to have them!

Susan: ARE THERE ANY BOOKS YOU DON’T WANT?

Kelly: The girls here don’t usually want to read fantasy--no Science Fiction or anything that doesn’t present a solution to a set of problems or life situation that they can envision or that doesn’t seem real.

K.C: I’ve worked in schools in Englewood (Chicago neighborhood) and it seems to me that what is lacking is that these children have often not been taught how to fantasize or had the luxury to do so.

Susan: DO YOU FEEL YOUR BOOK CLUB IS OPERATING UNDER THE RADAR WITH REGARDS TO THE BOOKS YOU RECEIVE?

Kelly: If I were to have the books sent ahead of me to the youth center, they may not be seen again. That is to say, if I carry the books in myself, I know I’ll have them available for my book clubs. I’m volunteering and operate the book club alone.

Warrenville has its own school district and most girls attend class full time, though I find these studies are remedial at best. So I feel the book club, while I try to make it fun and a release from the school routine, can be work that helps increase learning; critical thinking, writing skills, etc. The girls can choose to receive a GED or diploma from Warrenville.

SUSAN: ARE THERE OTHER BOOK CLUBS AT OTHER FACILITIES?

Kelly: There is another book club which is facilitated by another group of volunteers, but it is different from mine. Also, Storycatchers Theater, a Chicago-based nonprofit organization that helps at-risk and troubled teens write and produce theater based on their stories, comes to Warrenville to coach the girls through the process of telling their own stories, putting them down on paper, and turning them into songs and plays.

K.C. ARE YOU AWARE THAT OTHER URBAN FICTION WRITERS, SUCH AS WAHIDA CLARK, TRACI WOODS, AND VICKIE STRINGER TO NAME A FEW, ALL STARTED WRITING WHILE INCARCERATED?.

Kelly: The girls love to write and though they’re not always grammatically perfect, they are excited to express themselves through their writing. I think that’s why they enjoy the street lit books, because they are written about situations they are struggling with, by and about people with whom they can identify.

K.C. DO YOU ATTEND ALA CONFERENCES?

Kelly: Only when it’s here in Chicago! I regularly attend other local Illinois educators’ conferences like Illinois Computing Educators and Illinois School Library Media Association.

Susan: How did you find PHAT Fiction blog/wiki?

Kelly: through ISLMANET -Illinois School Library Media Association
www.islma.org/listserv.htm

Susan: HOW CAN THE PHAT FICTION WIKI/BLOG HELP BENEFIT YOUR BOOK CLUB?

Kelly: For these girls in particular, it can be hard to find appropriate titles in this genre, so I was happy to connect with the PHAT Fiction wiki/blog to suggest reading lists, titles and book reviews for titles the girls might enjoy. My dream is to have a publisher, company, or other group underwrite the book club and supply books!

K.C.: I think you should attend the ALA annual conference in New Orleans and be part of the next PHAT Fiction panel!

Susan: Yes, I agree, and in the meantime we’d both like to work with donating books to “Kelly’s Angels Book Club”. Thanks, Kelly, it was good to talk with you today.

Susan K. McClelland
http://phatfiction.blogspot.com
http://phatfiction.wikispaces.com
K.C. Boyd
http://missdomino.blogspot.com/

Friday, July 23, 2010

What's on my nightstand...


...ok, trying to get up to speed by reading some shorter street lit novels (...is that so wrong?) Now reading: " Flirt: three steamy novels" featuring, Tracy Brown, K'wan, and Angel Mitchell. Sooooo good.

Sidebar: Commuting by bus the other day, I was deep into "The Reason Why" by Vickie Stringer. You know the drill; head down, oblivious to sights and sounds, eyes racing across the page (...almost missed my bus stop!)Just before I reached for the cord to signal my stop, a Jehovah's Witness lady sitting opposite me slipped me a WatchTower newsletter, which I politely declined and returned to her. She said, "Well, I saw you reading, "Reasons", and if you need reasons, here they are..." I was stunned, but not really surprised. Needless to say, book covers and reader's book choices are still widely misinterpreted and stereotyped. Wow, do we librarians do that?? No way!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

PHAT Fiction panel audio

Vickie, the librarian, has kindly shared an audio podcast of the June 28 ALA panel discussion. If you missed this compelling session, take a listen here and join in the "Street Lit" conversation at the PHAT Fiction wiki
http://phatfiction.wikispaces.com

UrbanFicALA2010
brought to you by Livescribe

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Urban Fiction discussion podcasts

NPR recently rebroadcast this 2009 interview and discussion about urban fiction.
Also, check out this Rowan Radio broadcast interview with urban fiction author.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

ALA is gonna be Phat!

check out this "Crazy Quilts" interview with librarian and Chicago Public Schools book club coordinator, K.C. Boyd!

11 June 2010 Friday
by Edi
I emailed my friend Jackie that I would love to hop in a car and do an impulsive road trip to ALA this summer. C’mon, it’s in DC!! Add the wonderful museums and venues to the exhibitions and presenters and you’ve got hot summer plans! There are diversity events, poetry events with Kwame Alexander, Sarah Blake, Nickole Brown, Henri Cole, Benjamin Alire Sáenz and Gwendolyn Zepeda and numerous programs and sessions. Toni Morrison is the keynote speaker!

One session I wouldn’t miss would be Phat* Fiction: Engaging Hip-Hop Literature in the Public Library (*phat=popular, hip and tempting fiction) moderated by K.C. Boyd, aka Miss. Domino. KC began blogging in November, 2009 and has given a voice to urban teen fiction. This is from her first blog entry: (more...)


The PLA urban fiction panel presentation “PHAT Fiction: engaging hip hop literature in the public library”, will take place on Monday, June 28 at 10:30 a.m. in Washington Convention Center (WCC), Room 147B

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Urban fiction reviews

Some good places to check out urban fiction reviews include
urban reviews online, and streetfiction.com among other sites. Check back often for new reviews and author interviews!
Susan

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Welcome to PHAT Fiction!

As a Reader's Advisor in a public library, I am frequently suggesting, reviewing and purchasing books for teens. I'm very interested in what teens are reading and why. And, more and more, what they're asking for are books of urban fiction. So, this blog will be a place to discuss, review, suggest and talk about the allure of what I call, *PHAT Fiction and how librarians can engage this genre in the public library.

On June 28, 2010, I am coordinating a panel discussion on urban fiction at the American Library Association annual conference in Washington,DC. This panel of librarians, authors, and educators will present a 90 minute session open to all conference attendees. At the end of this presentation, all attendees will have a serviceable definition of just what urban fiction is, get ideas for teen and adult programming around urban genre fiction and learn ways to develop hip hop fiction collections within libraries.
*PHAT=popular, hip and tempting fiction.

Laughing Librarian II blog

Laughing Librarian II blog
http://www.laughinglibrarian-susan.blogspot.com/