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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.

sign that says, "my pronouns are ____/ _____"
Youth who identify as LGBTQ+* benefit from a supportive network of family, friends, and peers, especially during times of stress and isolation.  Here are some organizations and resources that can help provide that support.

Local Resources for LGBTQ+ youth

  • Sexual & Gender Minority Youth Resource Center (SMYRC) has served local youth since 1998.  They provide empowerment, community building, education and direct services. 
  • Oregon Youthline is a local 24-hour youth crisis and support service.  Help is available via phone, text, email, or chat.  Youthline is staffed by trained teen volunteers from 4-10 pm daily.
  • GSA Network supports Gender & Sexualities Alliance (GSA)  groups that unite LGBTQ+ youth and their peers.  They also provide tips on how to run virtual GSAs.

 

neon rainbow with "Love is Love" signs in the background
Virtual Resources for LGBTQ+ youth and those who support them

 

LGBTQ+ Booklists

Support can also come in the form of reading books and watching media with LGBTQ+ representation.   Your library is full of books for kids and teens that feature LGBTQ+ characters.  Explore the reading lists below, or ask us for a recommendation

*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.

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.

Every year, we create a beautiful page of the best books of the year -- the ones our staff and volunteers have loved. Whether you're a fan of picture books that celebrate bravery, suspense stories that keep you guessing, or guides to making the most delicious food, we have you covered.  There are many great picks for Spanish readers, too. 

Check out all of our favorite books for 2020. 

Want to see what we've recommended in past years? Explore the links below:

Best Books 2019

Best Books 2018

Best books 2017

Best Books 2016

 

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.

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.

 

Image of wordless books
“Wordless book” sounds like a contradiction. But wordless books use illustrations to tell a story, with very few or even no words included with the pictures. Believe it or not, they can actually be a great way to help anyone trying to grow their reading skills, no matter their age or what languages they speak at home.

One important part of reading is decoding the shapes of letters and seeing them as words, but there are other skills that are just as important. Learning to read in any language involves:

  • knowing what words mean (vocabulary),
  • figuring out how they make sense together in a sentence (context), and 
  • understanding what sentences mean all together (comprehension).

Wordless books can be great tools for growing and strengthening all three of those skills for new and more experienced readers, including for a wide variety of reader ages. You can see some examples of this in these videos in English, Spanish, Chinese, Russian, and Vietnamese, showing ways to read the book Draw! by Raúl Colón.

When there aren’t written words to rely on for a story, readers can become active characters in the story and talk more about what’s happening in the illustrations. Adults and teens use a lot of unusual words that don’t come up in regular, daily conversations to describe the setting and characters and to ask questions about what is going on. Children flex their creativity and observation muscles as they look at and think about the illustrations. They practice asking questions and coming up with answers as they figure out what is happening and what might happen next. Together you can decide what characters are saying and thinking or even make up your own stories based on what the readers see and interpret. All of that literacy development happens with no written words at all.

Whether you regularly use wordless books in your family reading or are just getting started, here are some ideas:

  • Remember there are no right or wrong ways to read a wordless book! It’s all about the conversations between kids and caregivers, and those will be different from reading to reading and kid to kid.
  • Think about first taking a “story walk” through the book. Look through the pages to get children used to the book and the illustrations. We all know kids love reading books over and over again!
  • Try taking a look at the book from cover to cover. Sometimes artists hide fun details on the front/back cover, the title page, and even under the removable paper cover that comes with some books (usually called a dust jacket or dust cover).
  • Maybe ask questions like “what do you see?” and “what is going on in this picture?” and “what do you see that makes you say that?” (borrowed from Visual Thinking Strategies)
  • Encourage children to tell the story in their own words and help them learn new words  when they ask for more information about  an emotion or concept. Example: “yes, that duck looks angry and sad. Do you know what that feeling is called? Some people call it frustration, like when you’re sad you don’t get to do something and you’re mad about it, too.”
  • Have fun with it!

For some great, inclusive wordless book suggestions, take a look at the booklist Wordless (or mostly wordless) books for all ages, including some for teens and even adults. 

Rene Denfeld is an internationally bestselling author, journalist, and death penalty investigator. 

Local libraries were my sanctuaries growing up, and in each one I left a child version of myself, roaming the aisles, pulling out titles or checking out the books where librarians had left little tags that said read this. The best ones were those little-known gems, the books that may not have hit the bestseller list but still ended up lodged in my heart.

When I was a young child, the North Portland library was my refuge. I will forever associate that beautifully carved wooden ceiling with my favorite books of childhood: Trask by Don Berry, which I must have read a hundred times, or Crazy Weather by Charles McNichols. It was from the wide selection of African-American folktales. I discovered my own joy of fable in books like The Cow-Tail Switch by Harold Courlander, with its jubilant stories and unforgettable phrasing: “A man is not truly dead until he is forgotten.”

When I was in middle school my family moved to Sellwood, then a blue-collar neighborhood where fishermen still hung the catch outside the local tavern. I spent endless drowsy afternoons in the local library, and remember the books that tore the sides of the paper grocery bags I carried home: from the astonishing Hard Rain Falling by Don Carpenter to the gentle yet wise memoir, West With The Night by Beryl Markham.

By fifteen, I was on my own, and like a lot of hardscrabble kids, the downtown library was my safe place. I celebrated my birthday on the second floor of that library while rain howled outside. Just the sight of that brick and stone façade brings back memories of all the books I discovered there, including Yellowfish by John Keeble and The Curve of Time by M. Wylie Blanchet—I’m the one who dog-eared all those pages—and who could forget the warmly humorous science fiction by our late and lamented local author Robert Sheckley?

Libraries saved my life. They gave me comfort, solace, and a vision of life as limitless as the shelves. They made me the writer I am today. So when I recommend my secret treasures, what I am really recommending is my own memories, and want to caution: the best way to find your own is to wander the stacks. Feel your hand on the books—reach for them the way we reach for each other, with longing and an open heart. Then you will never be dissatisfied.

Download Me and White Supremacy today.

Layla F. Saad's book Me and White Supremacy: A 28-Day Challenge to Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor  leads readers through a journey of understanding their

Me and White Supremacy cover
white privilege and participation in white supremacy, so that they can stop (often unconsciously) inflicting damage on Black people, Indigenous people and people of color. Wherever you are in the challenge, here are some supporting resources to help.

Getting started:

Find copies of Me and White Supremacy in the catalog. If you are able, consider supporting the author by purchasing a copy. White Supremacy and Me is designed as a 28-day workbook, so you may need to renew or place another hold if you are using the hardcopy.

Learn more:

Website: The National Museum of African American History & Culture breaks out history, bias, whiteness, antiracism and more. Includes videos and questions for self-reflection and discussion.

For parents talking to children about racism 

Podcast: Talking Race with Young Children, from NPR and Sesame Street

This 20 minute podcast shares ideas for talking about race with children, starting when they are very young.  Additional resources are included at the end.

Website: EmbraceRace

​A great place to start for webinars and more, EmbraceRace was founded by two parents (one Black, one multiracial) seeking to nurture resilience in children of color; nurture inclusive, empathetic children of all stripes; and raise kids who think critically about racial inequity.

Start with the short action guide and then dive into their many book lists, highlighting diverse titles for a wide variety of ages.

Book: Not My Idea, by Anastasia Higginbotham (for elementary school-aged children)

Not My Idea follows a young white girl who is unsatisfied when her family won’t answer her questions about the shooting of an unarmed Black person by a police officer. Higginbotham has a track record of tackling challenging topics (from divorce to death) in a way that respects young readers and gives them the honesty they deserve. Includes activities on how to stand up against injustice and highlights how white people can disrupt white supremacy.

More on talking to kids and teens about race and racism.

Next steps: If you want to engage more deeply in the work of antiracism

Website: Take a look at the offerings from Layla F. Saad's Good Ancestor Academy. A series of classes are offered, including "Allyship in the Workplace" and "Parenting and White Supremacy."

Video: How to be a Good Ally--Identity, Privilege, Resistance, by Ahsante the Artist

Guide: Let's Talk: Discussing Race, Racism and Other Difficult Topics with Students, from Teaching Tolerance

Thinking about starting a discussion group around Me and White Supremacy? Here are some tips on facilitating conversations that challenge participants or cause discomfort.

Video: "What if white people led the charge to end racism?", Dr. Nita Mosby Tyler, TedXMileHigh, Jan. 30, 2020.

What if white people led the charge to end racism? | Nita Mosby Tyler | TEDxMileHigh

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