Blogs: Adults

Raza from both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border wrote these works of fiction. Some of them wrote their narratives in English and others in Spanish, with sprinkles of pachuquismo and pochismo to spice up the reading and elevate conversations. Gente, who never left the barrios, the world where they grew up and that they knew so well as Mexicanos, Tejanos, Hispanos, Chicanos, and Latinx, crafted these literary works. And some, those who left home and reached the highest levels of their profession, have added to our understanding of what it means to be raza outside the barrios.

Together, the novels and short story collections in the reading lists below are not only tales of successes and failures, but also of who we are. 

 

 

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. Register here and watch from your home!   

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.

Starting January 1, new digital magazines will be available through OverDrive & the Libby app. Here's what you need to know about this change:

Should I keep the RBdigital app installed on my phone?
No. There will be no new issues added after December 31, 2020.

Can I still read the magazine issues I borrowed from RBdigital?
Yes. To read your borrowed magazine loans, visit zinio.com, or download the free ZINIO app. From the ZINIO app or website, register for a new ZINIO account. You will need to use the same email address you used to access RBdigital. Once you've registered, your RBdigital magazine loans will be available in your account.

Will OverDrive have a magazine reader like the one available on RBdigital?
The Libby app will offer an article and thumbnail view for magazine titles starting in January. The article view will not be available on the OverDrive app and website.

Will there be a checkout period for magazines?
Yes. Magazines will now checkout for 21 days.

Can I renew magazines?
Yes. You will have the option to renew a magazine within 3 days of the end of the lending period. Or you could borrow it again with no waiting. 

Will magazines count against my OverDrive checkout limit?
No. Magazines will not count toward checkout limits.

Will there be an option to automatically borrow new issues of a magazine?
No. OverDrive does not currently have plans to support auto-checkout of magazine titles, but their developers are considering a notification system for when new issues are added.

Cthulhu figurine
Maybe you’re reading Lovecraft Country or The City We Became. Or maybe you just like your fiction eerie, weird, or chock full of tentacles. Perhaps you find squidlike elder gods, or squids themselves, cute. In any event, despite H.P. Lovecraft’s despicable views - or as a reaction to them - current authors are gleefully reinterpreting his tales, giving them all kinds of twists he never would have imagined, and that he might have found downright... horrifying. Maybe even namelessly terrifying, indescribably eldritch, and worse yet (for him),  better written than the stories of old H.P. himself!

The fabulous irony of all this is that Lovecraft was an early proponent of fanfiction, shared universes, and remixing, so in a sense these authors are working in a tradition he encouraged, but use it in subversive and creative ways. And often that sense of otherworldly eerieness and creeping dread that is central to cosmic horror is even more vivid and terrifying than ever. Delve into this strange new world with the books below.

The Collected Works of Langston Hughes book jacket
I had never read the literary works of Langston Hughes before coming across The Collected Works of Langston Hughes at the North Portland Library.  I knew of him as a great poet and poetry was not my favorite genre.  Nonetheless, I leafed through the seventeen volume set on the shelf and I immediately was hooked on the works of one of the literary lions of the Harlem Renaissance.

Not sure where to begin, I skimmed through the volumes on poetry.  I read quickly a few poems, tried to digest others, but it was his prose that truly beckoned me.  I paused skimming midway through his oeuvre and read the first two short tales in depth.  I knew then, as I do now, that I had found a literary gold mine because weeks later, I’m still digging through the Simple stories in volumes 7 and 8.

Originally published in the Chicago Defender from 1943 to 1965, the Simple stories read more like weekly columns on race relations in the U.S. The tales are narrated in a conversational form to engage readers on multiple levels.  On one level, the stories are comical and reader-friendly, designed to show the human soul of Jesse B. Semple, or Simple as he is known, and draw the reader in.  Readers get to see and feel Simple’s failures and successes as well as his frustrations and dreams.  On another level, the stories portray the complex world that evolved in the Jim Crow era in a non-antagonizing way.  Simple’s conversations with his bar buddy not only lured readers into the national dialogue over race, but they also engaged readers in a constructive conversation over racism—the ideological foundation that defined the racial boundaries of Simple’s life and, by extension, African Americans.

Though it has been sixty-five years since Langston Hughes published the first Simple stories in book form, the ideas in these tales still resonate.  Racial progress has been made, but we still have a long way to go.  Both fictional characters would probably nod their heads.  Yes, over a cold beer.  Still, such ideas, now more than ever, need to be part of a national discourse.

 

y no se lo tragó la tierra book jacket
What makes a literary work an American classic? Clearly, there is no one answer to this question. It is a matter of opinion. It is no wonder book publishers have debated this issue in the past, and that they will continue to discuss it in the future. The question, also, hangs over my head every time I read Tomás Rivera’s …y no se lo tragó la tierra: Is this fictional tale of Mexican American migrant farm working families an American classic? After all, this novella is an iconic piece of literary art in Chicano/a literature, and is a must read in Chicano/a literature courses in U.S. colleges. It was also the first recipient of the Premio Quinto Sol award.

Is it an American classic? Yes! It is. In spite of being written in Spanish,* …y no se lo tragó la tierra is a story of perseverance in the American tradition of pulling oneself up by one’s bootstraps. Like their fictional counterparts in The Jungle and The Grapes of Wrath, the characters in …y no se lo tragó la tierra have dreams and grit. The Mexican American migrant families’ determination to make their dreams real no matter the odds given - it is the 1950s and people of color are segregated in the workplace and society—is what makes their tale of perseverance an American classic.

The story takes place in two locations: a small town in rural South Texas, where the migrant families live on a permanent basis and the Midwest, where they toil in the fields of commercial growers. The hardships they confront in their annual migrations to Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and other Midwestern states in search of seasonal farm labor say more about their determination to better their lives than about the work itself. That is not to say that the seasonal farm work they do doesn’t influence their willingness to live their American dreams. On the contrary, the very work itself, with its low wages, no rights, no dignity, and no hope, drive migrant families to continue struggling for a better life.

Like two other American classics of the twentieth century, Native Son and Invisible Man, …y no se lo tragó la tierra illuminates an experience once ignored by mainstream Americans. It sheds light on a harsh reality that can no longer be overlooked.

*The library's copy is bilingual.

book cover for maggie the machanic
book cover for ofelia book
Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez are the most prolific Chicano graphic novelists in the US. Their work wrestles with topics that are not “Chicano Movement” issues, per se, and it debunks stereotypes such as those of the Latino gangbanger and the omnibenevolent abuelita.

Their work instead captures the immigrant experience as well as the second-generation Mexican-American experience, which are full of contradictions, complexities, and some happy endings. The stories of their fictional characters are not only mundane and exciting and surreal and real, but if we consider when they were first published in the 1980s, they were ahead of their time. -Memo P.

Do you read Facebook or Twitter for news? Subscribe to a newspaper? Peruse websites, or watch videos? In an era of so many choices for information, how do you make a judgement about what's fact, what's slanted and what's just completely untrue? 

Here are some tips for evaluating what you are reading, listening to or viewing.  

  1. Consider the source. You can learn more about a website by clicking on the "About Us" link  that most provide, but don't stop there. Research the organization or author's credentials. If statistics are cited, see if you can find the source, and double-check that they are represented correctly.  
  2. Read beyond attention-getting headlines to check the whole article. If a statement is made, is a source given? Click through to check the sources, and do your own searching on those citations.
  3. Check the date. Sometimes old news stories resurface, and they might be out of date or inaccurate. If currency is important, limit your search to recent results
  4. Watch for bias, including your own. Check different sources to see how each treats a news item. Consider your own beliefs and perspectives and think about how that might change how you perceive what you are seeing. 
  5. Too weird to be true? If something seems implausible, see what fact-checking sites like Snopes, PolitiFact, and FactCheck have to say. 

For more about being a smart information consumer, check out the infographic, "How to Spot Fake News", provided by The International Federation of Library Associations. If you're more of a visual learner, take a look at the CRAAP test video from librarians at California State University. If you'd like to engage in some deeper learning, try this 3 hour online course, Check, Please!

And remember, if you're looking for reliable information, get in touch with us. We're always happy to help.

 

Gun rights and gun control are topics that come up often these days. It can be hard to find good resources that present multiple viewpoints on issues like this, and provide quotable sources.

An excellent electronic resource is Opposing Viewpoints in Context. It provides links to articles, videos and audio files from multiple viewpoints (you will need a library card # and password in order to access this electronic resource from outside of the library).

 LawBrain covers the legal history of gun control back to the U.S. Constitution. Another good listing is Infoplease’s Milestones in Federal Gun Control Legislation  which covers laws up until 2013.

L.A.R.G.O. Lawful and Responsible Gun Owners and the N.R.A. National Rifle Association both support gun ownership in America. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and The Violence Policy Center both work to reduce gun violence. The Violence Policy Center is also a good resource if you’re looking for statistics related to gun violence (including drive by shootings and suicide).

This Guardian article compares gun crime in individual states and FindLaw shares Oregon Gun Control Laws. FactCheck looks at statistics in the media after the Newtown shootings, and reports on Gun Rhetoric vs. Gun Facts.  Looking towards changes in the law, gun control is supported by more women than men, and that may have an effect on future legislation.  But right now,  despite repeated pleas for change after every mass shooting, nothing seems to change. 

Need some specific gun facts or laws we haven’t covered? Contact a librarian and we’ll be glad to help

Cindy and her dog, Maddie
Cindy Hiday is the author of Iditarod Nights, a Library Writers Project book that has recently been published in partnership with Ooligan Press. 

People love dogs! What inspired you to write about the Iditarod Sled Dog Race in particular?

I became hooked on the sport when I read Race Across Alaska: First woman to win the Iditarod tells her story, by Libby Riddles and Tim Jones. I'm drawn to stories about women who are courageous under pressure, as Libby Riddles certainly was when she found herself exhausted and caught in a blizzard during the race. When I read about a local woman who put her career on hold to train and compete in the Iditarod, I had the spark of an idea for my heroine in Iditarod Nights. For a time, the research consumed me. I discovered there is so much more behind the Iditarod – from its early beginnings to its present-day sport – than most people realize. I admire the veteran mushers, their dedication and how they put their dogs' wellbeing ahead of their own. And I fell in love with the dogs! They are amazing athletes; the sheer joy in their expressions when they're hooked up to a sled is thrilling!

Are there common themes you find yourself drawn to in your writing and the books you read?

My author brand is writing in the spirit of adventure and happy endings; that's my promise to my readers. The more challenging and seemingly impossible the adventure, the better. There has to be character growth beyond what the character believes themselves capable of. And even though I put my characters on an emotional rollercoaster, there is always a happy outcome. I want a story, whether one of my own or someone else's, to leave me with a good feeling. I'm not genre-specific in what I write or read. To date, I've published three contemporary romances and a humorous adventure novel. If it's a good story, I don't care if it's a romance or western or sci-fi/fantasy. I just finished reading Nora Roberts' dystopian series Chronicles of the OneI'm a huge Stephen King fan, especially his Dark Tower series and Christine, and Whiskey When We're Dry, by John Larison, knocked my socks off!

What can readers expect from Cindy Hiday next?

My current work-in-progress, Come Snowfall, takes place in 1880's eastern Oregon and is about a twelve-year-old girl who discovers how far she's willing to go to save her family. My husband and I went camping near Baker City last summer to research the area where my story begins, near the Elkhorns and Wallowas, and we visited the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center. It's beautiful country, and it has been fascinating to learn about the history of that era, the pioneering west. I hope to have the book finished by the end of the year.

Who inspires you in your life?

Resilient people. People who find the silver lining or a solution to a challenging situation. People who don't know the meaning of the word "can't"; And kind people. Something as simple as a smile from a stranger can brighten my entire day.

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