Blogs: Biography/Memoir

rainbow pride flag
The beautiful thing about young people is that they react to the world around them through wonder, imagination, and questions...lots and lots of questions. In June, some of these questions may have something to do with Pride Month and what it means to be LGBTQ+.**

  • “What’s with all the rainbows?”
  • “Why is it called ‘Pride Month?’”  
  • “What do all those letters stand for?” **

Some of us are more familiar with Pride - and more comfortable talking about it - than others, so we put together some helpful tips for having those conversations during June and beyond.  

Read Up 

Dive into the historical significance of the Pride Movement and Stonewall Rebellion in June 1969, and learn about the significance of the Pride flag. For a kid-friendly history to read and talk about together, check out Stonewall: a Building, a History by Rob Sanders, with illustrations by Jamey Christoph. Check out recommended fiction featuring LGBTQ+ characters, or memoirs written by LGBTQ+ writers. Curious about how to use they/them pronouns? There’s a graphic novel guide for you! Browse the reading lists below for more titles that may interest your family.    

Listen to (and Learn from) Queer Voices

There are also excellent resources online to help parents and caregivers explore Pride and LGBTQ+ identity openly and honestly with kids. Our favorite is the Queer Kids Stuff Youtube series from LGBTQ+ activist Lindsay Amer, the self-described “Queer Mr. Rogers.” We love how this series (with four seasons of episodes!) explores topics like gender identity and how to be a good ally.  

Celebrate! 

Portland Pride Parade is happening virtually this year on Sunday, June 20 at 11 am. 

Drag Queen Storytime with Poison Waters on Thursday, June 24 at 12 pm. Join us for this special storytime featuring the fabulous Poison Waters reading stories about inclusion and diversity. Register via the link above to join via Zoom.  

Support LGBTQ+ Youth

Youth who identify as LGBTQ+ benefit from a supportive network of family, friends, and peers. Check out our recent article We <3 LGBTQ+ Kids and Teens! for some organizations and resources that can help provide that support.

This article is part of our “Talking with kids” series, as featured in our monthly newsletter. Reach out to us at learning@multcolib.org if you need more support or have questions. We’re here for you!



**LGBTQ+ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning. The + is meant to include all gender identities and sexual orientations not covered by the other letters. Read What Does LGBTQ+ Mean? for more information.

We’ve been reading a lot of memoirs around here lately.  There’s something magical about them, in how intimate and revealing they can be.  Writers of memoirs don’t always include the whole story, but there is an underlying assumption of honesty.  When we read memoirs, we can trust we're getting to know someone, and maybe even ourselves, a little bit better.    

The word “memoir” comes from the French word mémoire, which means “memory.”  It’s just you and the author’s voice, sharing impressions of their memories.  Suddenly, you’re in their world, going deeper with every page you turn.  Reading a memoir offers a unique opportunity to really connect with someone without having to talk to them.  Or, in the case of public figures, it offers an opportunity to learn more about someone you admire, but may never meet.  

Some of our favorite memoirs lately have been graphic memoirs, or autobiographical comics, combining words and visuals to reveal memories.  We enjoy finding diversity in experiences and perspectives in our favorite graphic memoirs.  Whether we’re reading about someone battling an eating disorder, or someone growing up in South Korea in the 1980s, we love getting to know fascinating people through these beautifully drawn and written graphic memoirs!

This article was written for our Family Newsletter, brought to you by Home Learning Support and available in English and Spanish. Please sign up here and you can email us at learning@multcolib.org with any questions.

Looking for more tips on what to read next?  Check out our My Librarian readers advisory service and contact us for more ideas!

The comedian Steven Wright said, "everywhere is walking distance if you have the time."  

Walking memoirs abound, with a resurrgence tied to Cheryl Strayed's Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. But don't miss the earlier A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson. The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot details the author's effort to become more intimately acquainted with his country by starting at his home in Cambridge, England and following the old roads and ancient tracks that crisscross his country. For a take on women and walking, try Lauren Elkin’s Flâneuse: Women Walk the City in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Venice, and London.

If you're hankering for a long walk but have no time, walk vicariously with this list. Happy reading, and happy trails.

 

Maya Lin:  Thinking with Her Hands book jacket
Every year I make a bunch of New Year's resolutions and this year is no different.  I've decided to ditch the annual "floss daily" one and add something more captivating (and hopefully more achievable). The most fun resolutions I make are all about reading and in 2018, I plan to read more non-fiction for kids and teens.  My nerdy librarian side has decided that I will take one "Dewey century" per month (which leaves me two months to read something else!) and explore books that provide inspiration for careers and vocations within each range.  I'm not talking about books like the super useful, but not super stimulating, Occupational Outlook Handbook, but books about interesting people doing interesting things.  I randomly came across a book about Maya Lin recently, so decided to start with architects and artists,
The Shape of the World book jacket
thus books from the 700-799 Dewey range were on my nightstand in January.  I loved  Maya Lin: Thinking With Her Hands, a small, perfectly packaged book about Lin and some of her most famous projects like the Vietnam Veterans' Memorial in Washington, D.C.  I knew exactly nothing about another architect, I.M. Pei, until I read I.M. Pei: Architect of Time, Place and Purpose.  What a fascinating guy!  Beyond these two books, I read a number of picture book biographies for younger budding architects and artists.  You can find the list here.  So if you know some kids who love their L-squares, mechanical pencils and paint brushes, hand them a few of these books and see where they go! 

P.S.  I'd love to hear about YOUR reading resolutions for 2018!

There are some images that stay in our minds forever and the picture of "the Afghan Girl" is one of them. Those sea-green eyes captivated the world when we saw her portrait for the first time on the cover of National Geographic magazine in 1985.
 
Steve McCurry, a National Geographic photographer, made famous the face of this girl when it appeared on the cover of the magazine, and later on the cover of his book, Portraits. The intention behind the picture was to document the Afghan refugee camps in Pakistan during the Soviet occupation. While walking through the camp, the photographer asked for the teacher's permission to take the photo. He never imagined those amazing eyes would become a global symbol of wartime. McCurry didn't ask her name; seventeen years later he decided to search for her as revealed in the documentary, Search for the Afghan Girl.
 
In 2002 he came back to Pakistan searching for the nameless girl. After many challenges and with the help of a team of experts including the FBI, he found her. Her name is Sharbat Gula and surprisingly her identity was revealed through her eyes, with the use of iris recognition technology. Her sea-green eyes matched the characteristics of that first and only picture. Learn more about McCurry's work by exploring this list.

Our guest reader is the irrepressible Dee Williams, a pioneer in the tiny house movement and author of The Big Tiny. Check out Dee's recommendations and if you'd like more good reading, try the My Librarian service and get a handcrafted list made just for you.

There are a dozen or so books that have taken up permanent residence in my little house… some are practical, reminding me how to frame up a wall or flash a window, while others simply remind me what it means to be human and alive, and dad-gum lucky to have this time on the planet.  Here are a few of my favorites:  

  1. My copy of Lloyd Kahn’s Home Work is dog-eared and stuffed with sticky notes that seem to have multiplied over the years.  It’s got thousands of photos of beach houses, rolling homes, adobe huts, stick-built houses and stone-built barns.  This book inspired me to rethink form, function and materials, and also made me want to be more like the quirky, cool people that Lloyd writes about.  Lloyd has also recently published Tiny Homes on the Move, and it is equally over-the-top awesome!

  1. Peter Menzel’s Material World (Sierra Club Books) has held me captivated for years.  It includes photos of families and all their worldly possessions

    sitting out in front of their house (if they have a house), so the reader gets this voyeuristic snap-shot of how a Mongolian family lives compared to that of a family in Guatemala, Serbia, the United States or dozens of other countries.  It’s a pretty humbling comparison to hold in your hands and heart.

  1. I’ve come close to peeing my pants, laughing, as I’ve read and then re-read Deek Diedricksen’s Humble Homes, Simple Shacks, Cozy Cottages, Ramshackle Retreats, Funky Forts: And Whatever the Heck Else We Could Squeeze in Here.  I’ve learned something new every time I’ve thumbed through this hilarious, well-informed encyclopedia of funky-smallness.

  1. I received Tammy Strobels’ new photography book, My Morning View, in the mail a few months ago, and man-o-man it blew me away.  It chronicles Tammy’s journey of living in a tiny house on a ranch outside Mt. Shasta (effing beautiful!!!), and also of working through her grief after losing her dad to a stroke.  Her iPhone photography project is absolutely inspiring, and full of helpful advice for would-be photographers like me.  

  1. Any thing by the poet Billy Collins, Diane Ackerman, or Mary Oliver.

  1. One of the first books I purchased when studying architecture and building was Francis D.K. Ching’s, Building Construction Illustrated. This book has it all, from an introduction to passive solar concepts to the basics of platform framing.  It even provides the common dimension of kitchen counters, tables and couches… super helpful information while designing a little house.

  1. While I was building, Joseph Truini’s book, Building a Shed provided some alternative ways of framing out the overhangs and basic framing for my house.  This book also offers some good advice for preparing a site for building a “ground-bound” house.  All in all, it’s well worth the read!

Whether you get on the waiting list for these books at the library or purchase them, I think it’ll be well worth the investment.  And of course, there are many other books that I’ve totally enjoyed. Cheers!  And happy reading!

My Librarian and our featured guest readers are made possible by a grant from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation to The Library Foundation, a local non-profit dedicated to our library's leadership, innovation, and reach through private support.

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