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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Middle Grade and Young Adult Books to Celebrate Black History Month

We continue celebrating Black History Month with this list of books for middle graders and young adults. We hope to encourage young readers to read diverse books and to support identity and culture through books.

Elijah of Buxton
by Christopher Paul Curtis:

Elijah is a young boy living in a settlement for runaway slaves in Buxton, Canada. He is the first in his family to be born into freedom. However, when Elijah travels to America to help a friend he witnesses firsthand the struggles that his parents endured as slaves.

The Hero Two Doors Down 
by Sharon Robinson

Young Steven is a native New Yorker and loves the Dodgers. He is thrilled to hear that the one and only Jackie Robinson is moving two doors down from him. However, some of the neighbors are not so excited to hear that an African American family is moving to this all-Jewish neighborhood.

One Crazy Summer
by Rita Williams-Garcia

This story follows a young girl as she spends the summer attending a Black Panther summer camp in the late 1960's.

The Watsons Go To Birmingham-1963
by Christopher Paul Curtis

The Watson family decides to take a road trip to visit grandma in Birmingham, Alabama, when older brother Byron gets into some trouble. The trip turns out to be a vital learning experience for the whole family as they witness segregation in the deep South.

The Logan Family Series 
By Mildred D. Taylor

This series by Mississippi author Mildred D. Taylor tells the struggles of African Americans living in the South. 

Midnight Without a Moon
by Linda Williams Jackson

This is Mississippi author Linda Williams Jackson's debut novel that follows a young girl living in Mississippi during the time of Emmett Till's murder.

Loving vs. Virginia: A Documentary Novel of the Landmark Civil Rights Case
by Patricia Hruby Powell and Shadra Strickland

This book tells the story of Richard and Mildred Loving as they fight to legalize their interracial marriage in the Supreme Court case, Loving v. Virginia.

Brown Girl Dreaming
by Jacqueline Woodson

With beautiful poetry Woodson shares what it was like growing up during the Civil Rights Movement.

Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom
by Lynda Blackmon Lowery, Elspeth Leacock, Susan Buckley and P.J. Loughran

Lynda Blackmon Lowery at the age of 15 was the youngest to march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, during the 1965 voting rights march. This memoir shares her experiences during the march and the many times that Lowery fought for change in America.

Rhythm Ride
by Andrea Davis Pinkney

This memoir shares how Berry Gordy used his music scene to inspire the Civil Rights Movement.

The Hate U Give
By Angie Thomas

Starr Carter's world comes crashing down when she witnesses the fatal shooting of her best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Mississippi author Angie Thomas was inspired to write this book by the Black Lives Matter community. Be sure to look for this book on its release date, February 28th. We also hear that a movie adaptation is in the works.

Dear Martin 
by Nic Stone

Justyce McAllister is wrongfully arrested and now must cope with the aftermath. To do this he starts a journal to Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr. Dear Martin is set to be published October 17th. Be sure to check it out then.

Dreamland Burning
by Jennifer Latham

Based on the Tulsa race riot of 1924 this novel interweaves alternate perspectives of a painful century-old murder. Look for this book on February 21st.

Into White
by Randi Pink

LaToya Williams, a black teenager, prays to be white so that she will fit in at her mostly white school. Her wish comes true when she wakes up one morning with blonde hair, blue eyes, and pale skin.

by Tiffany D. Jackson

Mary B. Addison was accused of killing a white baby when she was nine-years-old. She has spent the past six years in jail; however, now she has something to live for and must revisit the past to clear her name.

March Book One, Two and Three 
by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell

These graphic memoirs follow John Lewis' life and involvement in the Civil Rights Movement.

How It Went Down 
by Kekla Magoon

Tariq Johnson is fatally shot by a white man named Jack Franklin. Now Tariq's friends and family are left to make sense of the tragedy by giving their version of what happened that day. 

by Ilyasah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon

Follow Malcolm X from childhood to his imprisonment for theft in this young adult novel co-written by Malcolm X's daughter.  

Until next time, happy reading!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Meet MLC Monday: Lacy Ellinwood

Meet Lacy Ellinwood, Senior Library Consultant at the Mississippi Library Commission. Lacy aids in the planning, implementation, and evaluation of statewide programs that assist public libraries, as well as researching and analyzing trends for library services. She also assists local library personnel in project development, planning, and proposal development. In addition to all of this, Ellinwood also works with Friends of the Library groups, which serve to support libraries through community outreach, advocacy, and funding from outside sources. Lacy has been at MLC since October of 2012. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Art History and a Master of Library and Information Science, both from the University of Buffalo. She is also a graduate of the 2014 Mississippi Public Library Leadership Institute.

Ellinwood says that she loves helping Mississippi's small and rural libraries from every corner of the state have interesting things to offer and achieve the best service possible for their communities. Working at the state level with her job at MLC makes her feel like she's making a real difference for our public libraries. She also loves the Library Commission building, which she says is beautiful to walk into every day! When asked why she thinks public libraries are crucial to Mississippi and its citizens, Lacy replies, "Public libraries really embody the heart of the community and are meant to be enjoyed by everyone. This is why libraries are important, because I promise you, there is something there for everyone. Just walk in the door or check out your local library website!"

Many people think that all librarians have always loved to read, but that just isn't true. Lacy says she didn't find a love for reading until she was in her early 20s. "I wasn't a reader growing up, which is blasphemy to say as a library professional. I needed to find a love for reading without the rules of reading lists or school tests." She names Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree as one of the books that has stuck with her over the years. "It's one of my favorite life changing book moments. I remember having it read to me at summer camp as a kid and having an emotional reaction which has obviously stayed with me. #bookfeelings" Ellinwood recently revisited Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale and says it's a fabulous example of how great literature is timeless. "I love how anyone can relate its themes to today's current events and feelings."

When she isn't working to promote libraries, Lacy says she enjoys knitting, but rates her skills as "poor". "I can make a warm infinity scarf, though!" She also likes trying new recipes, which are always successful the first time, but never quite as good the second time around. She also has a secret addiction for purchasing discarded library cookbooks from the 1950s and 1960s.

Until next time, happy reading!

Friday, February 10, 2017

My Mississippiversary: C.A. Pierson

2017 is Mississippi's bicentennial! To celebrate, the Mississippi Library Commission has created the Bicentennial Bingo project. Throughout the year, fill in the squares in our bingo card to get the full Mississippi experience and learn more about our state. One of our favorite squares is "Tell us about your Mississippiversary," the responses from which we'll be sharing here and on our Facebook and Twitter feeds. We're so pleased to share our next Mississippiversary submission below.

"I was born in Gulfport in 1981, so I suppose that's when I officially became a Mississippian, but I moved to Savannah, Georgia, in 2001. I lived there for a couple years expecting to be there at least a decade before moving further north... but when Hurricane Katrina hit, I was out of contact with family for far too long.

It was frightening not knowing what was going on and looking for familiar faces in news footage, hearing that "due to inclement weather in the area you are trying to reach, your call cannot be completed as dialed" a hundred times, and eventually learning that family members had been injured and I wasn't here to help. It was too much, so, by November 2005, I'd moved back. So, that was the first time I chose to live in Mississippi." -C.A. Pierson

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

15 Picture Books that Celebrate Black History Month

February is Black History Month. It is an excellent time to reflect on United States history and the amazing contributions African-Americans have made to our collective culture, identity, and experience. I personally love picture books that inform as well as entertain. I think they're a great way for even the youngest readers to learn about history and those who came before us. The following fifteen books cover various time periods in African American history, from the pre-Civil War days of slavery, through Reconstruction, the Jim Crow Era, and the Civil Rights Movement, to the present day. Most of these books are available to check out at the Mississippi Library Commission or your local public library.

Smoky Night
Eve Bunting and David Díaz
Set during the 1992 riots in Los Angeles, California, a young boy and his mother flee their apartment for the sanctuary of a nearby shelter and unexpectedly make new bonds with their neighbors.

Granddaddy's Gift
Margaree King Mitchell and Larry Johnson
Set in the 1960s during the Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi, a grandfather shows his little granddaughter the importance of education and the power of standing up for what you believe in.

Freedom School, Yes!
Amy Littlesugar and Floyd Cooper
Set during the 1964 Mississippi Freedom School Summer Project, a young girl and her family host a visiting teacher.

Freedom Summer
Deborah Wiles and Jerome Lagarrigue
Set during 1964's Freedom Summer in the South, two little boys, one black and one white, have a special friendship that they hope will be allowed to grow even more when segregation is gone.

The Other Side
Jacqueline Woodson and E.B. Lewis
Set in the segregated South, two young girls, one black and one white, push at the boundaries of their divided town.

Show Way
Jacqueline Woodson and Hudson Talbott
This multi-generational story starts when slavery still exists in the South and runs through Civil Rights Movement to the present. Covers the topic of quilt making, especially in regards to using quilts as a way to pass secret messages.

Crossing Bok Chitto: A Choctaw Tale of Friendship and Freedom
Tim Tingle and Jeanne Rorex Bridges
Set in Mississippi before the Civil War, a young Choctaw girl and her village help an enslaved family escape to freedom.

Ruth and the Green Book
Calvin Alexander Ramsey and Floyd Cooper
Set in the South during the Jim Crow Era, Ruth and her family travel from Chicago to Alabama to visit her grandmother and rely on the Green Book to show them safe places to shop and stay.

These Hands
Margaret Mason and Floyd Cooper
Set in the present, a grandfather recalls the prejudice and discrimination he faced in the 1960s.

Underground: Finding the Light to Freedom
Shane W. Evans
Set before the Civil War, this nearly wordless picture book gives a good introduction of the Underground Railroad.

Ellen's Broom
Kelly Starling Lyons and Daniel Minter
Set during Reconstruction, a young girl's parents are officially married. Covers the topic of jumping the broom.

I, Too, Am America
Langston Hughes and Bryan Collier
From the poem first published by Langston Hughes in 1926, this book introduces the poem that details the oppression of African-Americans.

A Dance Like Starlight: One Ballerina's Dream
Kristy Dempsey and Floyd Cooper
Set in Harlem in the 1950s, a young girl dreams of being a dancer like the first African-American prima ballerina, Janet Collins.

Juneteenth for Mazie
Floyd Cooper
Set in the present, a young girl learns about Juneteenth.

The Quickest Kid in Clarksville
Pat Zietlow Miller and Frank Morrison

Set in Clarksville, Tennessee, several little girls idolize Wilma Rudolph, who is being honored in a hometown parade.

Join us later this month for more book lists that celebrate Black History Month. Until next time, happy reading!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Meet MLC Monday: Stephon Swilley

Meet Stephon Swilley, System Administrator I at the Mississippi Library Commission! Stephon troubleshoots problems with desktops, laptops, printers, servers, email, hardware, and software for both MLC and public libraries across the state. He also assists with keeping these up to date. If you've ever called the NSB Help Desk, you may recognize Swilley's friendly voice, as he spends a lot of his time there fielding calls. Although he just started at MLC last September, he has quickly become an integral member of our staff. Swilley holds an Associate of Science in Computer Network Technology from Hinds Community College and a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Mississippi State University. He attended the Mississippi Library Commission's Tech Academy in January.

When asked what he enjoys about his job at MLC, Swilley says, "I like making sure people are happy. I like being able to solve their problems and make their day better. It's great that I can take my passion for working with computers and turn a frustrating day for someone into a day where they can be productive and get things done." Stephon says that, "Libraries are a learning place. People go there to read books and relax in the peaceful atmosphere. Plus, they're the best place to get accurate information. You can learn so much!" It's a definite win for libraries in Mississippi having him on our team.

Swilley likes reading and spends a lot of time beefing up his knowledge about computers by reading technology related books and articles. "I like keeping up with what's going on so that I can apply it to my job. It's very important to me to stay current so that I can help keep us up to date." Stephon is a huge sports fan, and loves to root on his favorite teams: the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Minnesota Vikings, and, of course, the Mississippi State Bulldogs. He also spends a lot of his free time fixing--you guessed it--computers!

Friday, February 3, 2017

My Mississippiversary: D.S. Payne

2017 is Mississippi's bicentennial! To celebrate, the Mississippi Library Commission has created the Bicentennial Bingo project. Throughout the year, fill in the squares in our bingo card to get the full Mississippi experience and learn more about our state. One of our favorite squares is "Tell us about your Mississippiversary," the responses from which we'll be sharing here and on our Facebook and Twitter feeds. We're so pleased to share our first Mississippiversary submission below.

"My Mississippiversary is the date of my birth. The blessed event happened in Vicksburg, in the hospital, in the full heat of summer, before central air. I was educated in the Catholic school system of the Diocese of Natchez-Jackson (now the Diocese of Jackson). That was also a blessing because education was separated by race/skin color (and the Catholic system followed the laws of the day), but the nuns who taught in Black schools educated students for college, not fields and factories. That sound foundation readied me to be able to leave Mississippi and enjoy a fullness of life not possible in the state because of legalized racial and social segregation and oppression. In the years I was away, some change occurred. The generations-old underlining systems did not support many of those changes however, and the state remains an oppressive place for many. If you only consider the beauty of the hills, forests, and waterways you ignore the social problems and reasons for poverty, crime, inadequate funding of public schools, and continued exodus of Mississippians who want to live free in a free society.

Mississippiversaries are good to have. It is good to acknowledge milestones and footprints of the people who have made the state what it is. It is good to recognize the heroes and heroines of both the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement that sought to undo the damage of slavery and Jim Crow. It is good to, yet again, acknowledge Welty, Faulkner, Morris, and Grisham. It would be great if the Mississippi writers who are/were Black were also acknowledged beyond an occasional send-up of Walker and Wright. Celebrating Mississippiversaries still looks like the history of the state: separate and unequal, well-funded and unfunded." -D.S. Payne

Monday, January 30, 2017

Meet MLC Monday: Katie Gill

Meet Katie Gill, Digital Documents Coordinator at the Mississippi Library Commission! She processes and files all incoming state document periodicals, which are titles like the University of Southern Mississippi's Southern Quarterly. She's also currently working on a massive digitization project of Mississippi educational reports. Gill completed another large digitization project recently, making the Mississippi Library Commission's old newsletter The Packet available online. Both of those can be viewed online here. In addition to her documents duties, she also tracks down old images of Mississippi libraries for use on MLC's social media platforms and is a backup for the Reference Desk. She began at the Mississippi Library Commission in September, 2016.

Katie holds a Bachelor of Arts in History from Middlebury College and a Master of Arts in Southern Studies from the University of Mississippi. She is a graduate of the Mississippi Library Commission's Librarianship 101 program. Gill previously interned at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michael's, Maryland, and the University of Mississippi Museum at Rowan Oak.

Katie says she enjoys her work at MLC because it meshes with her love for history. "I love seeing primary documents in context. The realization that one event can affect multiple other things, even years down the line--it's fascinating!" Gill points to devastation caused by Katrina as a prime example. Records that were destroyed during the hurricane are obviously missing, leaving large gaps in the documentation process.

When talking about her love for libraries, Katie said she could go on forever. "I love libraries. I love reading. I love the services libraries provide. When I've lived and worked in small, rural towns, things I took for granted in a larger, more metropolitan cities weren't necessarily available. There's always a library, though, and that library always fills the hole. Go to the library and they'll get you whatever you need!"

Like we said earlier, Gill is a huge fan of reading. Unlike many readaholics, she knows exactly what her favorite book of all time is. Not only that, she owns three copies of The Picture of Dorian Gray: one on Kindle, one that she bought many years ago for a high school class, and a beloved edition with annotations and extra content. She says the book has stood up well to multiple rereads and that she's got about a billion books that are her "second favorites." Us, too, Katie! She's currently reading Kim Newman's The Hound of the D'Urbervilles, a reimagining of Sherlock Holmes's world. When she's not reading, Gill enjoys watching game shows on the Food Network and Project Runway. She writes for several music blogs, including that at the Jackson Free Press. Katie is also a newbie knitter and says she has successfully created both scarves and hats. (She's still working up to socks and gloves.)

Until next time, happy reading!
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