It’s Always Baseball Season at Massachusetts Libraries

Opening Day is getting so close you can start to feel it; the days are getting longer, the snow is melting, and the air is getting warmer. Pretty soon we’ll be back to the pennant race, but for now there is still more time to wait until the first pitch.

To fill this gap, you can find books, pictures, newspaper articles and more from your local library to satisfy your baseball needs until opening day rolls around.

Because baseball is the sport that best lends itself to literature, reading may be the best way to get excited for the new season. Baseball has been the muse for countless authors since its earliest days as a sport. Concord resident and Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin’s memoir “Wait Till Next Year” tells her story of growing up in New York when the Dodgers, Giants, and Yankees all competed for the city’s loyalty. “Ball Four” is former Yankees pitcher Jim Bouton’s diary of the 1969 season as he tried to restart his career with the expansion Seattle Pilots as a knuckleballer. Bernard Malamund’s classic “The Natural” is probably more famous for its film adaptation starring Robert Redford, but the book (Malamund’s first) is just as good.  All of these books and many more baseball classics can be found through the Commonwealth Catalog.

If the early history of the game is what piques your interest, you can find information and artifacts through Biblioboard’s baseball anthology. It has early rules, how to guides, pictures, and histories to educate and entertain you.

You can find more of Boston’s baseball history at the Digital Commonwealth. Search through old photos of the Red Sox, the Boston Braves, and the teams that have visited Boston to take on the hometown teams.

If all of this isn’t enough, and you just want to relive the recent Red Sox glory days, head over to www.mass.gov/libraries and search through the archives of the Boston Globe to take yourself back to 2004, 2007, and 2013, and feel like you’re winning the World Series with the Sox all over again.

We hope that you enjoy these fun resources all season long as you kick back with some peanuts, Cracker Jacks, and root, root, root for your home team.

 

Summer Reading with a Purpose

whats-your-four

To me, one of the joys of summer is finding a good book and reading it on the beach. There is nothing quite like the warm air and bright sunshine to make reading extra enjoyable. What made it even better this year was helping to inspire children to read and avoid the summer slide while they were out of school, through our first ever “What’s Your Four?” campaign.

Although I now enjoy reading during the summer as an adult, it was not always my favorite activity growing up, and I always needed a little encouraging. I was not alone. Many children and teens have a hard time reading over the summer, despite the academic benefits that it has been proven to give. In fact, teachers generally spend 4-6 weeks re-teaching what students forgot over the summer at the beginning of the school year[1]. It has also been shown that having reading role-model parents or a large book collection at home has a greater impact on kids’ reading frequency than does household income[2], and that 92% of children and teens say they are more likely to finish a book that they picked out themselves2. Knowing all of this, we decided to do something this summer to try and get kids reading more.

We challenged all residents to choose four books to read over the summer months in a campaign we called “What’s Your Four?” The idea was to encourage children, teens, and adults to read by having Massachusetts residents post four books that they chose to read to social media. It is four books because students who read four or more books over the summer achieve better on reading comprehension tests in the fall than their peers who read 1 or fewer books[3].

In total, we had over 450 posts that used the hashtag #WhatsYourFour, and from these posts, we’ve compiled a list of the over 550 books that have been recommended by participants. These books range from cookbooks, to children’s stories, graphic novels, and biographies. We had responses from the Berkshires to Provincetown, and many local libraries and their staffs got involved to share what was on their reading lists.

The top four books that were recommended by participants on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram were:

Modern Lovers by Emma Straub, about a group of college friends in New York City, who now have their own children going to college.

A Man Called Ove by Frederik Backman, about a grumpy old man who warms up after a young family moves in next door.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, a sequel to the famous Harry Potter series, the book is the script to the play of the same name.

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, about a dysfunctional wealthy family and its children’s inheritance.

Massachusetts Politicos also got involved and sent over their summer reads. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, Attorney General Maura Healey, Treasurer Deb Goldberg, Auditor Suzanne Bump, State Representative Jim Dwyer, Secretary of Education Jim Peyser, and New Bedford Mayor Jonathan Mitchell all shared four books to encourage children, teens and adults from around the Commonwealth to read.

As the air starts to cool and school starts again, reading will shift for many from pleasure to academic. We hope that just how memories of the beach stave off the cold on a snowy January day, the memory of a good book will remind everyone of a great summertime, and will encourage them to continue reading throughout the whole year. You can see a full recap of the “What’s Your Four” campaign here.

[1]Lasting Consequences of the Summer Learning Gap, Karl Alexander, Doris Entwistle, Linda Steffel Olson, April 2007.

[2]The Kids and Family Reading Report™ 4th edition conducted by Harrison Group and Scholastic, 2012.

[3]Summer Reading and the Ethnic Achievement Gap, Jimmy Kim, Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk, 2004.

 

Banned Books Week 2016

It’s humpday of Banned Books Week 2016. This year’s focus is on diversity in literature; books that get banned or challenged are disproportionately written by diverse authors.

celebrate diversity for banned books week, september 25-october 1, 2016

For the uninitiated, Banned Books Week is “an annual event celebrating the freedom to read… it highlights the value of free and open access to information, [and] brings together the entire book community; librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types, in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.” More than 11,300 books have been challenged since 1982, according to the American Library Association (ALA).

Throughout the U.S. at libraries, schools, universities, and other institutions, “read-a-thons” and “read-outs” of books banned over the years will increase awareness of both censorship and the importance of the freedom to read. This year, virtual read-outs from around the country are featured on their own YouTube channel as well.

the top ten most challenged books of 2015 - titles & authors listed below image

2015 Book Challenges in Detail

(from the Banned Books Week website)

  1. Looking for Alaska, by John Green
    Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.
  2. Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James
    Reasons: Sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, and other (“poorly written,” “concerns that a group of teenagers will want to try it”).
  3. I Am Jazz, by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings
    Reasons: Inaccurate, homosexuality, sex education, religious viewpoint, and unsuited for age group.
  4. Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out, by Susan Kuklin
    Reasons: Anti-family, offensive language, homosexuality, sex education, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, and other (“wants to remove from collection to ward off complaints”).
  5. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon
    Reasons: Offensive language, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, and other (“profanity and atheism”).
  6. The Holy Bible
    Reasons: Religious viewpoint.
  7. Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel
    Reasons: Violence and other (“graphic images”).
  8. Habibi, by Craig Thompson
    Reasons: Nudity, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.
  9. Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan, by Jeanette Winter
    Reasons: Religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group, and violence.
  10. Two Boys Kissing, by David Levithan
    Reasons: Homosexuality and other (“condones public displays of affection”).

Happy Read an eBook Day!

Did you know today, September 16th, is Read an eBook Day? I didn’t either, but I just so happened to download the electronic version of Stacy Schiff’s The Witches: Salem, 1692 this morning, and OverDrive let me know what’s up.

I live in Somerville and The Witches is our city’s community reads title for 2016. Last night, I checked out the 400+ page hardcover tome and immediately dreaded lugging it around town. Luckily, Minuteman Library Network’s OverDrive collection came to the rescue – I now have the ultra-portable ebook version on my phone, too. Woohoo!

There’s even a hashtag, #eBookLove, for y’all to wax poetic and join in the celebration. What are you e-reading right now? Let us know!

Massachusetts Libraries (mass.gov/libraries) Relaunches

Massachusetts Libraries (mass.gov/libraries), the online portal for statewide library resources & services first launched in 2007, has been completely redesigned. We wanted to keep it simple and user-friendly while also offering personalized access to catalogs and collections.

screenshot of massachusetts libraries website homepage

Visitors are first prompted to find their local library by entering a zip code, town, or library name. The new site is then customized with access to their home network’s catalog and the Commonwealth Catalog, making it easy to search both locally and throughout the state. It also helps visitors find ebook collections and provides immediate access to online articles. And there’s a new A-Z title list of all research journals, magazines, and newspapers available through our statewide subscription.

In the Your Local Library section, visitors can find out about classes, events, and workshops – such as summer reading and early learning programs, high school equivalency exam prep, and English learning groups – at nearby libraries and literacy centers. The Digital Collections page highlights digital libraries and special online collections, great resources for teachers and students looking to explore history in Massachusetts and beyond.

We’ll be testing the site with users and consistently making adjustments throughout the coming months, so we welcome any and all feedback on the new site! Send your thoughts and comments to answers@mblc.state.ma.us.