Tag Archives: Young Adult

Day 8_EveryDay_C2C_May15

Day 8: Every Day

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DAY 8
Every Day
by David Levithan

Day8_EveryDay_Censored2Celebrated_May15_YouTube


This book has not yet been gifted for the Celebration Tour!

Donate it using our handy Wishlist here.


My Recent “Aha” Moment about DSG
One of my favorite questions to ask guests on the Censored2Celebrated monthly webcast is about an “aha” moment they have had recently in their work or personal life about Diverse Sexuality & Gender (DSG). My most recent “aha” moment this week came about when I read David Leviathan’s book for young adults entitled Every Day

Censored2Celebrated_AhaMoment_MNCantuThis book not only entranced me as a story, but it also explored difference and sameness in an unusually compelling way. (I also celebrate that this book features a delightful, very much in love transgender and cisgender teen couple. I am not sure I have ever seen this!)

Here’s a synopsis in a review by Noah Towne – a High School Sophomore in Buffalo, NY:

The fascinating concept that Levithan has based his story around is a peculiar choice, even for the genre of fantasy. The plot revolves around a teenager named “A,” who is forced to travel between bodies every day. Whenever “A” wakes up, he/she needs to quickly adjust, as he/she will have to live the life of that person. One day, our protagonist finds himself controlling the body of a rude boy named Justin.

Despite a vow to never interfere with the person’s life he/she inhabits, “A” ends up falling in love with Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon, who Justin emotionally abuses. After “A” gives her the perfect day, he/she comes to the realization that Rhiannon’s heart will be broken after Justin returns to his bullying ways. “A” continuously returns to her in different bodies, and eventually reveals the truth about his/herself and how it wasn’t Justin that was so kind to her that day. The rest of the book involves the blossoming romance between “A” and Rhiannon, and how it is a struggle for both of them to see each other, due to the freakish circumstances.


While I am a big fan of Young Adult fiction, and science fiction and fantasy in particular, I appreciated how unusual it is that this book’s premise allows the reader to explore difference in so many ways. The differences explored by “A” include: gender identity, ethnicity, class, immigration status, sexual orientation, and mental health.

This exploration of difference and sameness is explained beautifully by “A” here:

It’s only in the finer points that it gets complicated and contentious, the inability to realize that no matter what our religion or gender or race or geographic background, we all have about 98 percent in common with each other.

Yes, the differences between male and female are biological, but if you look at the biology as a matter of percentage, there aren’t a whole lot of things that are different. Race is different purely as a social construction, not as an inherent difference. And religion— whether you believe in God or Yahweh or Allah or something else, odds are that at heart you want the same things.

For whatever reason, we like to focus on the 2 percent that’s different, and most of the conflict in the world comes from that. The only way I can navigate through my life is because of the 98 percent that every life has in common.

Censored2Celebrated_98vs2_MNCantuMy “aha” moment came about as I reflected on the 98% in common and 2% that’s different that “A” experiences in the different lives he/she/they inhabits for a day at a time. When put in such stark numerical terms, it struck me how powerful that 2% “difference” is. Some fear these differences, some tolerate, some accept, and some celebrate them.

The aha moment for me came when I connected some disturbing dots about how the fear – often communicated through censorship – effects those of us who identify with marginalized gender identity and/or sexual orientation.


 

About Books, Censorship, and Suicide Rates
Not surprisingly, with the Celebration Tour road trip taking off from Austin on June 13th, I’ve been thinking a lot about celebration, censorship, and books. Although Every Day isn’t on the banned book list, the quote about difference and commonality made me thinking more about the fear of difference that often seems to behind censoring books about DSG.

In the #aBookaDay blog, I have been surprised at how many books that we’ve been celebrating for kids and young adults have been challenged, or banned outright. (I wrote about this quite a bit on Day 3 with And Tango Makes Three.)

Cultural & Self Censorship
How does this cultural censorship of books effect those whose difference is rarely – if ever – celebrated by the culture around them (i.e. those of us who identify as LGBTQ+ or DSG)?Censored2Celebrated_CulturalCensorship_MNCantu Is there a connection with intensive cultural censorship, and self-censorship? Is this cultural and self-censorship related in any way to the high suicide rates we see in youth – especially those who identify as LGBTQ+ or DSG?

Using data from the CDCThe Trevor Project reports that:

  • Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among young people ages 10 to 24.
  • LGB youth are 4 times more likely, and questioning youth are 3 times more likely, to attempt suicide as their straight peers.
  • Nearly half of young transgender people have seriously thought about taking their lives, and one quarter report having made a suicide attempt.
  • LGB youth who come from highly rejecting families are 8.4 times as likely to have attempted suicide as LGB peers who reported no or low levels of family rejection.

Censored2Celebrated_SelfCensorship_MNCantuWith such high rates of self-harm and suicidality among LGBTQ+ identified people, it is not a surprise that cultural censorship – such as banning books about DSG or throwing youth out of the house who come out – may turn inward and manifest as self-censorship. With this culture of censorship, how do we experience internal love worthiness when we are so often found unlovable by those around us?


Love Worthiness
I recently attended the Conference of Contemporary Relationships here in Austin, Texas. I was struck by a phrase shared in a workshop on Love Worthiness, presented by Amelia Coffman, MA.

My memory of the phrase is: “A person has to earn the right to hear your story.”

Earning the Right to Hear Your Story
In this day and age of the examined – and some might say over-shared – life on social media, this phrase struck me forcefully. In this world where so much is shared, the boundary between public and private often becomes even more sacred.

What does it mean for someone to earn the right to hear my story, or your story? What does that look like when the boundaries are often so blurred by social media, and the instant clickability that can so easily make our communications – like emails, texts and videos – go viral? What do we keep to ourselves, or choose only to share with our intimate circle of friends, family members, lovers and other significant others?

In the book Every Day, Rhiannon earns the right to hear “A’s” story through trust built on communication, connection, and a leap of faith. There is a sense of the sacred in their connection – something that – literally – transcends the body. Something that transcends the fear of the 2% difference. This allows them to move beyond self-censorship – particularly “A” who had never told anyone his/her/their story before – to celebration, as well as continued challenges by their unusual situation.


Books, Books and More Books
There is a funny paradox about how books create such an intimate internal world, but are words that are (usually) publicly available. It is amazing to me how an author’s words can connect with my inner world and become something unique to me – but also connect me with the author and the community of readers who have read this book. As a reader, I find such joy when an author chooses to share their story with me (and the rest of the world). As a result of their choice to publish their work, I have earned the right to hear their story. Stories are sacred.

When I have felt alone in some challenge – especially in my youth – I often turned to books in order to “see” myself. It is a form of celebration to see yourself in the books you read. You realize you are not alone when you can see a glimmer of that 2% that makes each of us different connecting with another person’s experience in a book.

Given all this, I am saddened – but not surprised – that books are challenged and banned. I am so grateful for all the librarians, authors, educators, and readers who celebrate censored books. These are the powerful stories that so often can help us move from cultural and self censorship to celebration.

I cannot wait to get on the road to hear more about what librarians are hearing from their communities about diverse sexuality and gender!


Have you ever asked your local librarian about banned or challenged books in your community?  Let us know what they said!

A Book Can Change A Life

It is my joy and pleasure to be doing this work. I know how much books have changed my life for the better. I see how they have impacted my 6 year old daughter as well. She has pored over It’s Not the Stork (featured on Day 4) for many years now, and always comes up with new and interesting questions for me based on her reading. Books can – and do – change lives.


An Outpouring of Support
We’ve had the great fortune to receive 13 children’s lit and Young Adult books gifted for the Celebration Tour in the past few weeks. I love receiving the private messages with suggested titles to add to our Wishlist, and with the promise of more colorful books, wrapped in lovely brown paper packages, winging their way to our door.

Our goal is to be able to gift at least one book in every state or province that we will visit, for a total of 24 books gifted to public libraries from Austin to Montreal and back again by way of Chicago and St. Louis. With the help of our supporters, we are well on our way to meeting that goal by June 8th.

If we will see you along our route, please check out the Wishlist online, but purchase the book from your local bookstore. We will be happy to pick the book up from you in person during the Celebration Tour!


How Do You Celebrate Diversity?

Share in the comments how this, or another book, has changed – or even saved – a life. I will be highlighting your celebratory quotes about books I feature in my #aBookaDay blog.

Click to find out how you can support the Celebration Tour.

Thank you for your generosity!

In celebration~
Melita

PS: Click here to gift this book, or another book, to a library along the Celebration Tour!

Tulip Lavender on Libraries

Support Libraries & Librarians by Supporting our Celebration Tour!

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Vincent, Josh & Adam with Two Boys Kissing

Day 2: Two Boys Kissing

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DAY 2
Two Boys Kissing
by David Levithan

Day2_TwoBoysKissing_Censored2Celebrated_aBookaDay (2)


With gratitude to Amy Pittel & Josh McAdams
for each donating this life-changing book!


Where We’ve Been & Where We’re going
Two Boys Kissing
is my new favorite YA book celebrating DSG – and I haven’t even finished it yet!

Thanks to Vincent, Josh & Adam for talking about this book with me, and posing for this pic, today at the Contemporary Relationships Conference in Austin, Texas. It was a joy to celebrate diverse sexuality & gender with all of you at this celebratory conference!

Two Boys Kissing was featured on the 2013 National Book Award Longlist, Young People’s Literature.

From the National Book Foundation Review:
New York Times bestselling author David Levithan tells the based-on-true-events story of Harry and Craig, two 17-year-olds who are about to take part in a 32-hour marathon of kissing to set a new Guinness World Record—all of which is narrated by a Greek Chorus of the generation of gay men lost to AIDS. While the two increasingly dehydrated and sleep-deprived boys are locking lips, they become a focal point in the lives of other teen boys dealing with languishing long-term relationships, coming out, navigating gender identity, and falling deeper into the digital rabbit hole of gay hookup sites—all while the kissing former couple tries to figure out their own feelings for each other.

My Favorite Quote

If you are a teenager now, it is unlikely that you knew us well. We are your shadow uncles, your angel godfathers, your mother’s or your grandmother’s best friend from college, the author of that book you found in the gay section of the library. We are characters in a Tony Kushner play, or names on a quilt that rarely gets taken out anymore. We are the ghosts of the remaining older generation. You know some of our songs…We taught you how to dance.

Celebration Tour_T dancing_July14

How Do You Celebrate Diversity?
Do you have a favorite book that celebrates diversity? Have you read Two Boys Kissing?

Share in the comments how this, or another book, has changed – or even saved – a life. I will be highlighting your celebratory quotes about books I feature in my book-a-day blog.

Click to find out how you can support the Celebration Tour

Thank you for your generosity!

In celebration~
Melita

CelebrationTour_WhatBook_4.25x4.25_Censored2Celebrated_FINAL

 

 

Click here to gift this book, or another book, to the Celebration Tour!

 

 

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Change a Life, Donate A Book

A Book Can Change Your Life

How can a book change – or even save – a life?
As my family and I prepare for our Celebration Tour in mid-June, we will be featuring  a book-a-day. Each donated book will be gifted to a library in one of the 25 states and 2 provinces we visit.

The books celebrate themes of Diverse Sexuality & Gender (DSG), and are all gifted from our incredibly supportive community. Many of these books are gifted in honor of a family member or friend. Books can – and do – change lives.

Laverne Cox says it so clearly when she writes about Jessica Herthel & Jazz Jennings’ book I Am Jazz:  “I wish I had had a book like this when I was a kid struggling with gender identity questions.”

Laverne Cox quote about "I Am Jazz"

Like inspiring people, like art, like music, books don’t just change lives – they even save lives.

HRC Research on 10,000 Youth
According to recent ground-breaking research by the Human RIghts Commission, 92% of LGBT youth “say they hear negative messages about being LGBT” mainly from “school, the Internet, and their peers.” 42% of the youth surveyed report that they live in communities that are not accepting of LGBT people. If you would like to hear more in-depth experiences from these youth, watch this video clip from my interview with Amy André, sexuality educator and advocate.

What happens when we counter these harmful, censoring messages by offering gifts of celebration? With words that are freely accessible in every community, but still private enough to access without fear of censorship? Libraries can offer such a safe haven, and books offer such a celebration.

Tulip Lavender on Libraries

Tulip Lavender on Libraries

Join us in celebrating Diverse Sexuality & Gender!


A Book A Day

Until we head out for our celebratory road trip adventure, I will:

  1. share a donated book-a-day
  2. give gratitude to its donor, and
  3. share a favorite quote

Read all the #aBookaDay posts here.

How Do You Celebrate Diversity?

Share in the comments how books have changed – or even saved – your life. I will be highlighting your celebratory quotes about books I feature in my #aBookaDay blog.

Click to find out how you can support the Celebration Tour.

Thank you for your generosity!

In celebration~
Melita

PS: Click here to gift this book, or another book, to a library along the Celebration Tour!

Tulip Lavender on Libraries

Support Libraries & Librarians by Supporting our Celebration Tour!

Celebration Tour of Books

Announcement: Celebration Tour 2015

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I have been planting lots of seeds over the past four years. It’s been quite a journey growing this personal and professional garden. These days, it is amazing to me how all those chilly winter months and April showers have made their impact, and my life has burst into bloom like a flower in May. Even more amazing to me is that the blooms are popping up from Austin to Montreal.

Blooming with Celebration 
Today, I am thrilled to announce that my family and I will embark on a Celebration Tour for two months this summer. Specifically, my family and I will seek out – and share – great books Celebrating Diverse Sexuality & Gender (DSG). We are big fans of our local libraries, and are excited to visit with librarians in public libraries in the US and in eastern Canada. Our goal is to gift a book celebrating themes of DSG to each library we visit.

Laverne Cox on "I Am Jazz"Here you can see my 6 year old daughter reading one of her favorite books: I Am Jazz. This book celebrates the life of an American trans teen, Jazz Jennings. Jazz is the founder of her own mermaid tail company Purple Rainbow Tails.  Her mermaid tail company raises money for the Transkids Purple Rainbow Foundation – of which she is an honorary co-founder. In addition to I Am Jazzthere are an increasing number of books being published by and for youth about DSG.

Growing Our Summer Garden

In June, I am excited to embark on the Celebration Tour to talk with librarians about DSG literature and the conversations they are having with their communities. In July,  I am excited for the opportunity to delve into the history and variety of children’s and YA literature celebrating DSG during an interview with Dr. Sally Ember on her globally-accessible webcast Changes. In August, we will make the journey back to Austin – with a different route and more visits to libraries. We will be sharing pictures and adventures along the way on social media and some special extras for the #Censored2Celebrated email list. Would you like us to take a photo just for you along the way?

Why seek out librarians?
Quite simply, librarians are some of the most interesting people to talk with not only about books and research, but also about their communities. Indeed, during a recent Censored2Celebrated interview with author and sexuality educator, Cory Silverberg, I spoke with Cory about his parents who are a librarian and a sex therapist. In response to my own surprise that I had zeroed in on his librarian parent, Cory noted how interesting librarians are.


Cory & Melita talking about librarians – all cued up right here.

Ever since my chat with Cory, I’ve been thinking a lot about librarians. Two of my mentors from middle school were librarians, and I still treasure a kid’s book by Alice Walker that they gifted to me at graduation. When I lived in San Francisco as a young adult, I did some work with the San Francisco Public Library, and remembered how much I enjoy librarians.

Now I have children of my own. We love going to our public libraries in Austin. We love talking with librarians. They know so much about books and their communities. My inquiring mind wants to know what communities in the US and Canada are talking and reading about diverse sexuality and gender. It’s clearly time to talk with some librarians in as many communities as possible. Lucky for me, my family is up for the adventure!

We would like to gift a book to every library we visit on our trip from Austin to Montreal, and back again. Can you help us celebrate DSG by spreading more seeds to bloom at libraries in the US and Canada this summer?

Visiting Lbraries from Austin to Montreal and Back

Click here to see some of the states & provinces we’ll be visiting!


How can I help support #Censored2Celebrated with this Celebration Tour?

Thank you for asking! There are a few ways you can help support us to celebrate diverse sexuality & gender on our Celebration Tour.

  1. I have a great book celebrating DSG to add to your Censored2Celebrated Wish List!
    Great! Contact Melita here.
  2. Will you purchase a book (or more!) before June 30, 2015 to donate to a public library?
    Here’s our Censored2Celebrated Wish List.
    (Books are automatically sent to Melita in Texas, and will be donated to a public library in the US or Canada.)
  3. Are you an author of a book celebrating DSG? Would you like to donate a signed copy of your book(s) to donate to a public library?
    Great, we’d love to support & celebrate your work! 
    Contact Melita here.
  4. Can you help us spread the word?
    Please click here to share about our Celebration Tour.
  5. Celebration Tour needs supporters and funding.  We are in the start-up phase, and gratefully accept monetary donations to support our celebration of diverse sexuality and gender. ($3, $7 or $19 can buy a great book or a meal to keep us fueled on the Celebration Tour.)

Celebration Tour Support Levels

  • DSG  (count the letters)    $3.00 USD
  • LGBTQIA  (count the letters)    $7.00 USD
  • Number of…Countries worldwide with legalized same-sex marriage    $19.00 USD
  • Number of…US states with marriage equality  – JUST UPDATED!   $50.00 USD
  • Number of Driving miles from…Burlington, VT to Montreal, QC    $94.00 USD
  • Number of Driving miles from…Vass, NC to Philadelphia, PA    $464.00 USD
  • Number of Driving miles from…Austin, TX to Boston, MA    $1,965.00 USD

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How can we celebrate you?

  • We would like to give you a shout out online about your support when you donate funds and/or book(s).
  • We would like to acknowledge your generosity with a dedication bookplate in the front of each donated book. Check out our Book Wish List Celebrating Diverse Sexuality & Gender here. All books will be read, celebrated & gifted to a library!

Communication is sexy!
Please connect with Melita by email or on Facebook with your preferred way for us to celebrate you.

We’re always open to your questions, comments, and celebrations for us, too!

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