4 Holiday Titles to Get You in the Spirit

With Thanksgiving past, marking the official start of the holiday season, we have put on display some of our favorite holiday titles that will make visions of sugar-plums dance in your head!

1453802630.01._SX140_SY224_SCLZZZZZZZ_Christmas in Graymoor Mansion
by Mark A. Roeder
Written by Bloomington resident, Christmas in Graymoor Mansion tells the story of friends and family who gather in stately Graymoor Mansion to celebrate the holiday season, but a blizzard traps them in the massive Victorian home Christmas Eve and all of Christmas Day. To entertain themselves, the guests take turns sharing their Christmas memories and special holiday stories. Join Sean, his family, and friends in their Christmas celebration. There’s plenty of food, including wonderful desserts, Christmas cookies, and steaming hot cocoa to go with this set of Christmas tales. This is a collection of previously unpublished Christmas tales to be read year after year.

51j2QPiSLhL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_A Little Fruitcake: A Childhood in Holidays
by David Valdes Greenwood
Ah, the sweet memories of Christmas. Gifts under the tree. Cookies for Santa. And, of course, the annual fruitcake. For young David Valdes Greenwood, the indomitable “little fruitcake” at the center of these tales, nothing is sweeter than the promise of the holidays. A modern-day Tiny Tim, he holds fast to his ideal of what Christmas should be, despite the huge odds against him: Sub-zero Maine winters. A host of eccentric relatives. And his constant foil: a frugal, God-fearing Grammy who seems determined to bring an end to all his fun. A book that’s “fa-la-la-licious” (Louisville Courier Journal) and filled with funny, charming Yuletide memories (from building a Lego® manger to hunting for the perfect Christmas tree), A Little Fruitcake will inspire even the biggest Grinches around.

51yQgQ8RDUL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_The Christmas Truck
by J. B. Blankenship, illustrated by Cassandre Bolan
Authored by a former GLBT office intern, if you are in need of Christmas cheer or have some cheer to spare, here is a book to warm your heart, a gift for friends to share. So settle in and know, my friend, before you turn the page, that this is a story for everyone: for friends of every age.
When celebrating a special Christmas tradition things go awry. Papa, Dad, their amazing kid, and one fabulous grandmother work together and implement a plan to save Christmas for a child they have never met. It’s a story where joy is found in giving and selfless acts unite families.

MV5BNzc5MTM5Mjc0Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNzI0MTcxMw@@._V1_SY317_CR6,0,214,317_AL_Make the Yuletide Gay (2009)
Olaf “Gunn” Gunnunderson, an out-and-proud gay college student, crawls back into the closet to survive the holidays with his family. He keeps his cool as his quirky Midwestern-hearted parents try to set him up with his high school sweetheart, Abby. But when his boyfriend, Nathan, shows up at their doorstep unannounced, Gunn must put on a charade to keep the relationship a secret. With pressure mounting from all sides, will Gunn come out before the truth does?

Children’s Books

We often get donations to add to our collection as people try to downsize their current home library, after evaluating the materials, books that we cannot add to our own collection, we take to Boxcar Books.  Yesterday, we received two big boxes of donations; I wish I had thought to take a picture, so I could share with you all the sheer number of books we received.  When sorting through all of the donated materials, I came across this classic, which we already had in our collection:

heather-has-two-mommies

 

“Each family is special.  The most important thing about a family is that all the people in it love each other.”

 

Heather Has Two Mommies written by Lesléa Newman and illustrated by Diana Souza was first published in 1989.  Google Books described the book as the “first lesbian-themed children’s book ever published.”  The story is about a child, Heather, who is raised by lesbian women: her biological mom, Jane, who gave birth after artificial insemination, and her mother’s partner, Kate.  At Heather’s playgroup, her family situation is discussed simply and positively, as are those of other children in non-traditional family units.  In the 2000 reprint, the artificial insemination facts have been removed.

Newman later related:

“The idea for Heather came about one day when I was walking down Main Street in Northampton, Mass., a town know for its liberalism, tolerance of difference, and large lesbian population.  On this particular day I ran into a woman who, along with her female partner, had recently welcomed a child into their home. ‘We have no books to read to our daughter that show our type of family,’ the woman said. ‘Someone should write one.’
Well, I thought, I’m somebody.

Fun facts:

Other children’s books we have with LGBT Themes:

 

Dangerous Reading

Banned Books Week is here again! 2012 marks the 30th anniversary of the Freedom to Read movement.

Why does it matter?

The US Constitution not only supports the right to free speech, it also promotes freedom of access to information. Organizations (especially libraries, whose primary mission it is to support lifelong learning and provide access to information) that seek to censor certain materials from their surrounding communities are not just withholding information, but are actively damaging the quality of information being provided. An informed population is a critically thinking population. Without the ability to read and think about all aspects of themes addressed in literature (themes which stem from real life), there is necessarily a decline in the critical analysis skills of a population.

In 2010, a school district in California withdrew Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary from their schools after a parent complained that their child had come across the term “oral sex.” Yes, the dictionary contains vulgar terms; it is meant to reflect the vocabulary used by the surrounding culture, a valuable reference resource. Removing an upper-reading-level dictionary from schools inhibits the expansion of the vocabulary of the students (not to mention working towards the utterly ridiculous goal of suppression of personal intellectual exploration).

Some of the most frequently banned books are children’s books, often banned for gay-positive content or ideas deemed too complex to be suitable for children. But as Margaret Mead said, “Children must be taught how to think, not what to think.”  Limiting a child’s ability to explore their world and engage with new ideas is socially destructive. If someone does not learn to reason and in youth, they will not be a reasonable person in adulthood. A large population of adults that do not have critical thinking skills is a society that will not be successful or easy to live in–especially for minority groups.

The ALA keeps track of the most frequently banned books each decade, and also posts an annual list of banned and challenged books.

The stories behind banned and challenged books are not always negative, however. In 2005, St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in Austin, Texas–a prestigious private school–retained their right to keep Annie Proulx’s novel Brokeback Mountain on their suggested optional reading list for senior-level English and in their library. Despite facing rage from the surrounding majority conservative community, and the withdrawal of approximately $3 million dollars in funding for a new building, the school board voted to keep the book on the reading list. This victory for intellectual freedom shows that even in the face of extreme pressure, school boards and other committees need not submit to censorship.

With most public libraries holding to some variation of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions’ (IFLA’s) guidelines on collection development, US libraries are privileged to provide access to banned and challenged books throughout the country.

What will you do with this privilege? Take the plunge into some of the best literature ever written: visit your local library and find a banned book to read.

If you’re in the Bloomington area, visit the GLBT Library to find new favorite! Just look for the  , or browse our banned books display.

GLBT Children’s Literature

rainbow with broad strokes
Photo credit: Flickr user oceandesetoiles

Many of us grew up reading children’s books by gay authors and didn’t even know it, like Tomie DePaola (author of Strega Nona and Bill & Pete), Maurice Sendak (Where the Wild Things Are), Hans Christian Anderson (The Little Mermaid and The Ugly Duckling), James Howe (Bunnicula series), and Louise Fitzhugh (Harriet the Spy).

Today, there are plenty of books that are “out of the closet,” provide positive role models, and are affirming for children who have GLBT family members, do not conform to gender roles, or simply have caretakers who wish to educate them in diversity.

Here are a few places you can go to find resources on GLBT literature for children:

And–you guessed it–here are some children’s books you can find right here in the GLBT Library!

 Heather has Two Mommies
by Leslea Newman
[5.806 NEWhe 2000]
 Saturday is Patty Day
by Leslea Newman
[5.806 NEWsa 1993]
 Uncle What-Is-It is Coming to Visit!
by Michael Willhoite
[5.806 WILun 1992]
 And Tango Makes Three
by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
[5.804 RICan 2005]
 Daddy’s Roommate
by Michael Willhoite
[5.804 WILda 1990]
 King & King
by Linda de Haan & Stern Nijland
[5.804 HAAki 2000]
 Gloria Goes to Gay Pride
by Leslea Newman
[5.800 NEWgl 1991]
 The Boy Who Cried Fabulous
by Lesléa Newman; illustrated by Peter Ferguson
[5.800 NEWbo 2004]
 My Princess Boy
by Cheryl Kilodavis; illustrated by Suzanne DeSimone
[5.800 KILmy 2011]
 The Sissy Duckling
by Harvey Fierstein, illustrated by Henry Cole
[5.800 FIEsi 2002]
 10,000 Dresses
by Marcus Ewert, illustrated by Rex Ray
[5.800 EWE10 2008]
 Be Who You Are!
by Jennifer Carr, illustrated by Ben Rumback
[5.800 CARbe 2010]