Showing posts from June, 2021

Summer Reading Book #4 -- Pride by Ibi Zoboi

Okay, this may be my favorite book so far this summer. Pride is a retelling of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Instead of early 19th century England, this version is set in modern-day Brooklyn; the neighborhood of Bushwick , to be exact. The protagonist is 17-year-old Zuri Benitez. She has four sisters and lives in a cramped apartment with her parents, in a building owned by Madrina, a self-proclaimed Santería priestess from San Juan who often advises on issues of love, fortune and future from her smoky basement. Zuri is fiercely proud of her Dominican and Haitian roots. She is proud of her neighborhood. She has her eyes on going to Howard University. She is also a poet, and the narrative is punctuation with her poems about Bushwick, her sisters, and life in the “hood.” She is also feisty and quick to judge, often pushing others away before knowing them. Her tough exterior, though, hides a fear of change and the unknown. This makes her very suspicious of the “bougie” family that

Summer Reading Book #3 -- To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

When I saw To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before on my summer reading list, I thought to myself, “This should be interesting.”  Let’s be honest: I am a (almost) 53-year old man, what could I possibly get out of this book? After all, I am not the target demographic. Right? Wrong. That’s the thing about books.  Books transport us to different places and people. Books allow us to experience, if just for a little bit, what it is like being someone else. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is told through the eyes of Lara Jean Covey, a junior in high school and the middle sister between Margot, who is just leaving for college, and middle-schooler, Kitty. They lost their mother many years before, and live with their doctor father, Dan Covey. The plot is pretty simple: Lara Jean has written “letters” to crushes she had in the past. These letters are like a diary, never intended to be read or sent. She keeps them hidden in her closet in a hatbox that had been given to her by her mother. As you can


Bruce Janu, the new librarian at Hersey High School, has been teaching history for 30 years. Over the course of those years, he has given numerous presentations about race throughout the district and has written on the topic as well. This blog post is his reflection on Juneteenth and may not reflect the opinions of others in the Academic Resource Center. Juneteenth. It's been a long time coming. For the first time, Juneteenth is not only a state holiday, but a federal holiday as well. It is a recognition of the date on June 19, 1865 when the last enslaved people in Texas were informed that they were free.  Juneteenth has been a celebration in the African-American community for over 150 years, first throughout the South and then, with the Great Migration in the 20th century, throughout the rest of the United States. Although "Juneteenth" has been more colloquial, the various celebrations were known as "Emancipation Day" or "Jubilee Day," among others.

Listening to an Audiobook

I've started my 3rd summer reading book today! This time I am trying something new: an audiobook. I usually like to read an actual book. I like the the feel of the book in my hands. I like to turn the pages. But, I am not adverse to ebooks. I read them on my Nook. It has the look of paper, which I like.  But audiobooks have been hard for me to get into. I don't know: I think my mind wanders more and I have a harder time concentrating. Nonetheless, I have to walk. Sometimes I walk upwards of 3 hours a day. That's because I few months ago I came down with gastroparesis. In other words, my stomach doesn't quite work correctly anymore. It takes several hours for me to start digesting after I've eaten something. Walking, however, helps get my digestive system moving. So I decided to use this time to give audiobooks another try. And I started To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han today, using Hoopla. If you have a public library card, you can download audiobo

Summer Reading Book #2 -- The Perks of Being a Wallflower

“I Feel infinite.” I was recently discussing this book with a friend and she told me that a mutual colleague had once referred to The Perks of Being a Wallflower as if “MTV had vomited a book.”  I laughed. And part of that is true, of course. The edition I am reading was published by MTV.  And the book is like one very long music video. Perks is an interesting book. At times very poignant and real, and then at other times goes out of its way to make a pop cultural reference that would be lost on a lot of readers. In fact, author Stephen Chbosky often approaches the pop cultural references with a wink and a nod, as if proud to be making them. Sometimes, they seem to distract from the narrative.  The book is set in 1991-92 and, other than the few references made to the band Nirvana, who released Nevermind in 1991, most of the references are from the mid-1980s. The book, however, came out in 1999 -- so most of the people who would have read Perks of Being a Wallflower at that time wou

Pride Month 2021

This last weekend, my wife and I, plus our two boys attended the Woodstock Pride Parade. It was nice to be out after more than a year of quarantine.  Woodstock's Pride Parade has always been good, and this year was no different. And that's the thing about Pride -- it is joyous. It is celebratory. It is inclusive. And colorful. In honor of Pride Month, I have put together a short collection of books in the ARC by and about the LGBTQ+ community.  Click on the link below to go to the collection. We will be opening the ARC in early July so you can check out books for the summer. Check back for dates. Happy #Pride2021!

The A.R.C.Light Podcast is coming!

It is almost here: The new A.R.C.Light Podcast . This monthly podcast illuminates stories about the people and community of John Hersey High School. Why A.R.C.Light? Listen to this new preview episode below and subscribe using your favorite podcast app. The A.R.C.Light Podcast is available wherever you get your podcast. Subscribe today so you don't miss an episode! 

Summer Reading Book #1 -- Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block

There is something refreshing about going into a book without knowing anything about it and being plucked fully into a different world, punctuated by eccentric, loving characters. That was my experience with Weetzie Bat .  The story is about a young woman named Weetzie Bat and the people in her life. At the forefront is Dirk, her best friend. He confides to her early on that he is gay, and the two spend time trying to find the perfect partners, or “ducks” as Weetzie calls them. Dirk finds that partner in “Duck,” and Weetze finds it with “My Secret Agent Lover Man;” or is his name Max? It doesn’t matter. The four of them live together in Los Angeles in Fifi’s house --- Fifi was Dirk’s grandmother, who died and gave them the house and Weeztie was given her clothes. They make movies and eat sushi.  And eventually Weetzie has a baby. She is named Cherokee, and she is unique because she has three dads. Oh, and then there’s a witch baby, too. Her name is Lily.  Plus, I forgot to mention the

My Summer Reading List

I am Bruce Janu, the new librarian at Hersey High School. I am looking forward to the start of the school year in a new role. But for now, summer is here and my book list is long!  This is going to be a very different summer for me. Last summer, I didn't get a chance to do much reading because I was finishing up a documentary called This Sacred Place: The Story of Old Lynn Concerts . That ate up much of my reading time. This summer, I am taking a course at the University of Illinois called Teen Materials. There are 9 novels on this list. Some I have read; some will be new. For me, this will be the Summer of Reading! And it is a welcomed change of pace. Here are the books on my list: Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han Pride: a Pride and Prejudice Remix by Ibi Zoboi This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier Graceling by Kristin Cas

Happy Summer and Happy Reading!

We hope your summer is off to a great start! To help you get motivated for summer reading, we have a Spotify playlist devoted to songs about books and reading. There are probably some songs on this list you haven't heard! Lots of students signed up for summer reading. We will be opening the library several times this summer to help you get your books. Sign-up for the newsletter or follow us on social media so you don't miss the dates. They will be announced soon! We have lots of great stuff planned for the upcoming year, including a new book discussion group, a podcast and a film series. Keep checking back for updates. Have a great summer!

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