Deadly Ever After

The Writing Adventures of The Undead Duo–Julie Hutchings and Kristen Strassel

Room of Horrors: A High School Library

Today’s Brew:  Angry Orchard Apple Ginger Cider. Because two whole days off in a row.

by Kristen

Everyone bitches that kids don’t read enough.  I’m going to include anyone who has yet to graduate from high school in my “kid” grouping for the purpose of my argument.  It’s not so much that we want young people to read fantastic stories. Reading building vocabulary and spelling ability.  It helps foster imagination and curiosity.  It’s the easiest way to learn there’s a big wide world out there beyond your hometown.

All you need to read is the ability to understand the words on the page.  Financial barriers shouldn’t apply. All you need is a library card, right?  Access shouldn’t be a problem.  We should be providing kids with abundant reading material. Isn’t this a no brainer? We aren’t the problem, it’s those lazy kids.  Apparently, I live in a fantasy world and you do too if you think this is the case.

Last week, I worked on a production that filmed in a high school library.  This was an urban catholic school.  Parents pay to send their kids to this place.  If I was writing a check for thousands of dollars in tuition each year, I would want my child to be getting the best education available.  I can’t help to think if these parents bothered to set foot in this library they would be shocked.

Aesthetically, the place did nothing for me.  The books looked old. Now, I since I could have a kid in high school, I can only imagine how uninviting this place looks for the students.  All hard covers, all leaned willy nilly on shelves.  Nothing faced out. No featured reads.  Nothing literary on the walls.  The artwork was candids of the students.  Wouldn’t that be better placed in the cafeteria?  How about some library appropriate posters, like book covers, authors, instructions on how to use the freakin’ room properly?  The shelves were half empty.  The place looked sad. Kids are far more visually savvy than we are, and we have far less time to capture their attention.  This room simply doesn’t work.

The Soviet Union lives on at Arlington Catholic High!

The Soviet Union lives on at Arlington Catholic High!

I love looking at bookshelves, so of course I couldn’t resist checking out a whole room dedicated to books!  What I found made me furious. There were books about Russia from 1958.  A History of the 20th century published in 1980.  And this gem, which isn’t even politically correct.  Isn’t the only current acceptable use of the word “Oriental” in regards to rugs?

Aren't we saying "Asian" now?

Aren’t we saying “Asian” now?

The world moves fast, and no one will remind you of that faster than a teenager.  A teenager has no use for an outdated encyclopedia set.  That’s exactly the type of thing to turn someone off from learning.  If we expect these kids to compete in a changing world and economy, we need to be 2 steps ahead of what’s coming next, not 15 steps behind.

The library featured a large fiction section, but the books were again so outdated that they didn’t even appeal to me.  You know how hot YA fiction has been for, oh, say the last decade or so?  Here’s the YA section.

The entire YA section in a High School library.

The entire YA section in a High School library.

Yeah.  That’s it.  I looked around but found nothing else.

I get it. Everyone is on a budget, including schools.  But this is important.  If you don’t hook a person young on learning, chances are  you will lose them.  We can’t afford any more dumb.

If you have an extensive collection of YA books that you’ve already read that are taking up room on your bookshelves, please consider donating them to your local high school library.  If you are a YA author, please reach out to your local HS librarians.  See if you can donate your books and maybe even talk to some of the students.

Books are badass and everyone deserves a chance to experience them.

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3 thoughts on “Room of Horrors: A High School Library

  1. Loved this post. You speak the truth! Even tho I have an avid 15yo reader and my 12&8 year olds not avid but do read I would be disgusted to see their libraries look like this! I know they need reference books (my kids still have to have 1 written source for most reports) but make them up to date! My YA bookshelves at home are better off than that school! Thanks for bringing this out to so many people. I will more strongly consider donating at book fairs. We can all do a little bit more!

  2. Good post. GREAT POST.

    At my local high school the district has no money for the libraries. Zero. So the librarian has made it her job to get donations and help from parents. She has had the library completely redone. She has 40 Kindles and Nooks loaded with books. She has managed to get new reference books and new novels that teens like to read. I have never met the woman but I love her.

    The English teachers also make the students read 15 minutes at the start of each class. It can be a fiction or nonfiction book or a magazine – anything with words on paper. Some kids complained the first week but they’ll look back and thank their teachers 10 years from not.

    Libraries NEED to be stocked with new books so by chance that kid who is in there for homework assignment, a kid who doesn’t read for fun, might see a book on the shelf, just by chance, pull it out and decide to read it. Sounds like fantasy but it happens all the time.

    Every election we vote in more money for schools. My state has a big lottery for schools. With all of that you’d think that there actually would be money for classrooms and libraries to buy BOOKS. Yes, books ARE BADASS and all kids deserve to have access!

    Keep spreading the word!

  3. If all of us donated one book, think of what we could do. I have a bookshelf that’s overflowing. School opens this week here and I’m going to contact them.

    I feel like a lot of people concentrate reading efforts on the little kids and forget about the older ones. That’s a shame. We need to change that.

    K

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