5 Challenged Graphic Novels You Should Read
Between the Lines / September 23, 2016

              Between the Lines is a series of posts focused on better understanding books, trends in writing, and the labels associated with these. To prepare you for Banned Books Week, let’s address some frequently challenged books that are worth your time. Specifically: graphic novels. The popularity of graphic novels has risen significantly in the last decade. They share more than just superhero stories now. In fact, none of the graphic novels listed below are superhero stories: 1 — Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples What is it? Saga certainly falls into the epic space opera genre. But, at the same time, it’s nothing like your typical space opera. It has been described as “Star Wars meets Game of Thrones” and compared to The Lord of the Rings and Romeo and Juliet. The story of Alana and Marko, a husband and wife from opposing races and sides of a generations-long war. They just want to live in peace and protect their daughter Hazel who is the first interspecies child between their races. After all, now that the world knows Hazel exists, they need to kill her to prevent the war from ending. Why…

Understanding Challenged Books
Between the Lines / September 20, 2016

      Between the Lines is a series of posts focused on better understanding books, trends in writing, and the labels associated with these.   September 25th through October 1st, 2016 is Banned Books Week in the United States. This event was launched in 1982 as a response to surges in book challenging across the United States in schools, bookstores, and libraries. According to the American Library Association (ALA), more than 11,300 books have been challenged since the start of this advocacy week.   Wait. Is there a difference between challenging and banning a book? Yes! A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict books based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those books.   Why does it matter if people challenge books? This is a violation of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. Removing access to literature, no matter what it contains, is a restriction of free thought and speech. Censorship can be subtle, or blatant and overt, but it is always harmful. Just because someone, or a group of someone’s, finds an idea offensive or disagreeable does not mean that it’s right. After all, as Noam…

What is the difference between Young Adult and Middle Grade literature?
Between the Lines / September 12, 2016

      is a series of posts focused on better understanding books, trends in writing, and the labels associated with these.   Lately, I’ve been having dialogues with my friends around the labels for books. Books are labeled by genre and they are also labeled by reading level. Often, when people identify genres for books, they say, “Oh, that’s YA.” But Young Adult and Middle Grade are not genres– they are reading levels. This is confusing when classifying literature because the lines between these reading levels are easily blurred. So, what really is the difference? Officially, middle grade novels are intended for ages 8-12 and young adult novels are intended for ages 12-18. And from a reading level perspective, that’s easy enough. But is that all it is? Of course not. It’s not remotely that clean up. Let’s start with the title “middle grade” This is not synonymous with middle schoolers. Between these two reading levels a lot of change is happening with our readership. Authors are concerned with their readership’s life experiences, their interests, and their mind-set. Our readers care about length, content, subjects, and themes. Let’s break this down:   Other things to consider: • MG/YA readers…

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