12 Blogs of 2014: Fat Girl Reading
Angie Manfredi, @misskubelik on Twitter, is a very vocal advocate for feminism and diversity. She has a blog called Fat Girl Reading that you should definitely be checking out. In addition, she posts a lot all over the internet including at GuysLitWire and the ALSC blog. She is excellent when it comes to Middle Grade fiction and has written several posts on this topic as well, all of which you can find in her My Writing Elsewhere section of her blog. I think it would be great fun to take Angie, Robin (who does our Middle Grade Mondays) and The Tween out to lunch and just listen to them discuss MG fiction. They should do a podcast! – which are suddenly very popular again due in part to the popularity of the Serial podcast.
I met Angie this year in person at ALA in Las Vegas. As you may recall, I had The Tween with me and we got to meet this very vibrant person. Angie stood in line with us for a shuttle and right then and there she booktalked The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson to The Tween as we waited. It was an awesome sight to behold. And because no 12 year old wants to listen to their mother, Angie convinced The Tween to read this book that she didn’t dare read when her mom recommended it.
In the past few months Angie has been working tirelessly to drive book donations to the Ferguson library. She has also been a very vocal cheerleader for the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign.
Like many (perhaps most) of the women that I follow on Twitter, she is an advocate for feminism, better representation of female body types, diversity and more. She is one very strong voice in the chorus that has risen in the past few years to champion important causes and add their voice to important and complex discussions that challenge the status quo both in libraries and in the culture at large. I know that for me, it is encouraging to hear others being confident and bold in their assertions that we can and must do better.
Now you might be wondering about the title of her blog and the fact that she unabashedly refers to herself as fat. This is because she is a strong advocate against body shaming and for body diversity. As you may know, we have written about body image many times here at TLT and I have shared my own personal struggles in my teen and college years with the eating disorder anorexia. Because that’s one of the negative effects that our culture creates, teens – both boys and girls – who hate their bodies and find their sense of worth tied up in their outside appearance as opposed to their intellect or quality of character. Our cultural message is clear, if you are fat then you must be lazy, stupid, and of little value; fat shaming is one of the last acceptable forms of discrimination it often seems. But Angie fights against this message because who we are is so much more than the number on a scale or on the tag in your clothing. Earlier this week when Anne Ursu became upset about a young children’s book she found about being fat, she reached out to Angie to ask her what she thought. In response, Anne wrote this fabulous post about fat shaming. It harkens back to a previous TLT post that Christie Gibrich wrote about fat being the last acceptable form of discrimination, which she found to be a problematic element in Every Day by David Levithan. It is also on Angie’s blog where I found the origin of the ubiquitous John Green pizza meme and her discussion about how fat jokes are just another form of fat shaming that feed into a culture that disenfranchises people who don’t have the currently normative body image.
Another great highlight of Angie’s blog is the program outlines she shares. The programs tend to skew younger, but they include fun things like this Spy Night at the Library and a Frozen themed party which I think can easily be enjoyed by tweens or adapted to be a twisted fairy tales type of program for your Once Upon a Time fans. And man do I wish I had paid better attention to her blog and found this Minecraft IRL post when I was planning my recent Minecraft program, this is pretty cool. And I love that as a part of her program posts she includes a section called Mistakes Made and Lessons Learned, that can be an invaluable part of the discussion.
So even though a lot of Angie’s posts sometimes skew younger, I think they are easily adaptable, especially for middle grade programming. I think we should also learn to do more evaluation after the fact as Angie does in her posts analyzing what worked and what didn’t, making a note of what to differently in the future. And Angie has some good content on her blog about early literacy, which I would love to one day combine with information from things like Storytime Underground and do a special baby/toddler storytime program as an outreach to teen moms and dads. Teen parents need support, which means that we should do things like teach them how to read to their babies, how to incorporate things like songs and fingerplays into their daily activities, and even something as simple as how to choose appropriate books for their baby’s age. And if you and I don’t feel knowledgeable enough about early literacy to put this information together, we can reach out to our children’s librarians to build these cross sectional programs that meet the very important needs of both babies and teens. In fact, I think I’ll ask Angie if she wants to develop this program with me . . .
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About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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