Wellington City Libraries

Te Matapihi Ki Te Ao Nui

Teen Blog

Reading, Wellington, and whatever else – teenblog@wcl.govt.nz

Month: November 2020

Last Chance to Submit to Tūhono!

Today is November 30th, which means it is officially the last day to submit your poetry to Tūhono, our new poetry journal for kids and teens in Wellington! If you’re still looking for inspiration, check out our poetry starter kit here. We also put together a list of excellent poetry collections for young people here. What better way to unwind (or distract yourself) from your exams than to write us a wee poem? We don’t normally encourage procrastination, but in this case we are in full support of any writerly actions you might take.

To find out more about Tūhono, check that your work meets our criteria, and submit your poem for inclusion in the journal, check out this post.

UPDATE: The submission link is now closed. Thank you to all the wonderful poets out there who submitted their work! The publication will be available soon.

 This could be you! We believe in you!

Information Literacy and You: Part 3

Using trusted sites and books

The trick for information literacy skills from Gandalf is to keep reading, reading and reading.

And the follow-up skill for reading, is searching, searching and searching. Knowing how to do an information search is critical for accessing and disseminating the appropriate information. Having information needs, i.e. finding out who is in that music video you’re covering for a Music studies report or finding that one massive reference to use in your History essay can make the difference in your exams and assessments. It also helps you discover awesome things when you’re surfing the net or getting books out of the library. There are various reference collections for important areas of knowledge such as the Māori reference and loan collection, or the standard hard-copy dictionary or thesaurus, maps and atlases collection. Not all library’s have extensive access. but they are spread out over the branch’s for you to use.

the follow-up skill for reading, is searching, searching and searching

Doing Google searches for instance in a reference-style, is a great starting way of looking for sources and information. Using the Library catalogue is another search engine function where you can group together keywords, such as relevant subjects or authors you want to explore about. These searches will bring up a list of results, and then with the short blurbs displayed will give you an idea as to the relevancy of the material being resulted. The same principle is used to sort out Google search results and other search engines, such as those within the history archive Recollect from the library website.

The library has several services that you can use to gain reliable information, all with your library card! Just log into the eLibrary section of the Wellington City Library website and scroll down to More Resources, where you will find the section entitled Rauemi ā-ipurangi (the My Gateway online resources https://wcl.govt.nz/mygateway/).

Image of the database frontpage, showcasing the various subjects that databases are to be found within.

The library’s many databases collection. Find the subjects you are interested in today!

There is also available the WCL Recollect platform (https://wellington.recollect.co.nz/), which helps you history buffs access a treasure trove of information, curated by the Library’s resident historian Gábor Tóth. Remember to apply your Info Literacy skills to the search results to further expand your knowledge, also remember if it doesn’t feel right then it probably isn’t. If it’s not relevant, then there’s no need to read it.

Image of the library's historical research database, Recollect.

Screenshot of the Recollect service offered by the library. Use this for historical research.

if it doesn’t feel right then it probably isn’t

Government-listed websites are also important sources of information, and can contain really useful information, such as on te taiao – the environment. Using places like DOC to find your information, it can make a difference to your understanding and the reports that you write. It also helps you to be a better Aotearoan.

Image of the Department of Conservation website, front page

Screenshot of the official Department of Conservation website.

So, now you have the skills to analyse greater amounts of knowledge specifically, and to withstand misinformation in its many guises. Don’t be fooled by the media and unlimited access to ‘information’, always read beyond the page and think critically about what is being said.

Books with Bodies Like Mine

When I was a kid and then a teenager, I never read about anyone in books that looked like me.  I have always loved to read, and have always found solace in stories, but never truly identified with any of the protagonists, because none of them ever looked like me.

The heroes and heroines of the books that were around when I was growing up were all thin.  Rarely were they ever described as being thin, occasionally the word skinny was used for a particularly thin character,  but  they were generally called average, or normal.  Which is something I, a kid in a fat* body, had been led to believe I was definitely not.

* Note: I use the word fat as a weight neutral term and simple descriptor, like tall or blonde.  Personally I prefer it to other euphemisms, but I acknowledge not everyone is comfortable with referring to themselves in that way.

Most of the books I grew up reading were about pretty, thin, blonde, American girls named Stacey or Jessica.  They had bouncy ponytails and couldn’t decide which boy they liked the most.  I was a fat, pimply Australian teenager with an old lady name and a mop of fluffy, mousy brown hair who was used to boys ignoring me.  Stacey and Jessica’s lives weren’t very relevant to me.

If there were fat characters, they were subjects of derision, sassy friends (who never got the guy) or had to have lost weight by the end of the book.  Not exactly relevant to most fat teenager’s lives to be honest.

It wasn’t until I was an adult, and stumbled across Kerry Greenwood’s Earthly Delight series, where the heroine was described as voluptuous, or at most, curvy, that I finally had a character that bore any relevance to me.  And while they’re great stories and Corinna Chapman is a badass heroine, they really skirted around her body size and shape, like actually saying she wasn’t thin was something shameful or wrong.

Thankfully, times have changed.  We now actually have books that are about more than just pretty, thin, blonde, American girls named Stacey or Jessica.  We are hearing stories about people in bodies that have long been ignored.  I can tell you, I’ve spent a lot of the past few years catching up!

Here are few of my favourite so far…

Dumplin’ / Murphy, Julie

Dumplin’ is a gorgeous story about Willowdean Dickson, aka Dumplin’ to her beauty queen Mom Rosie, who meets a hot boy named Bo, joins the local beauty pageant as a protest and has a fight with her best friend.  All to a soundtrack of Dolly Parton and supported by some fabulous drag queens.  My favourite quote from Dumplin’ is the way to get a bikini body is to put a bikini on your body.  Bonus Netflix TV series for this one, starring Jennifer Aniston as Rosie (perfectly cast).

Puddin’ / Murphy, Julie
If you like Dumplin’, you’ll love Puddin’.  Technically a sequel, Puddin’ is the story of Millie Michalchuck, one of Willowdean’s classmates and fellow beauty pageant constestant.  I loved Willowdean as a character, but I **ADORE** Millie.  She’s just so genuinely kind and open.  Millie is forced to spend time with the prettiest girl in school and over time, they realise they have a lot more in common than is obvious.

Heads up, a third book in the series is due out in 2021, called Pumpkin and all I know is that the tagline is “This year, prom’s a drag.”  Looks like we’re getting a queer character in the series.

Eleanor & Park / Rowell, Rainbow

This is the book I always wanted when I was a teenager.  Set in 1986 (confession, I was a teenager in 1986) it’s a first love story about two misfits from very different families.  Touching on themes of race, domestic violence, poverty and bullying, Eleanor & Park is the perfect story about two young people with very imperfect lives.  You may have read some other books by Rainbow Rowell, but this is her debut novel and she landed a #1 New York Times Best Seller on her first book!

Shrill : notes from a loud woman / West, Lindy

Another debut book that became a New York Times bestseller (fat gals got talent), Shrill is a memoir by brilliant writer Lindy West.  Yep, this one got made into a series too.  I followed Lindy right from her first big article about living in a fat body in The Stranger and it has been a delight to see her career just keep moving onwards and upwards.

Huge : a novel / Paley, Sasha

This is one I found through watching the TV series first.  Wilhelmina and April meet at Wellness Springs, a posh fat camp in California.  They have very different attitudes to being there and hate each other from the start.  It features a whole cast of fat characters and there is lots of nuance and depth to the story, which is unfortunately a rare thing.

Faith / Houser, Jody

An actual fat superhero in an actual comic.  I mean, it’s something I never thought would happen in my lifetime and I’m thrilled that I was wrong.  The artwork by Francis Portela and Marguerite Sauvage is gorgeous.

 

Happy fat : taking up space in a world that wants to shrink you / Hagen, Sofie

This one is a non-fiction book by the hilarious Danish comedian Sofie Hagen.  It has a little bit of memoir, but a lot more social commentary, Sofie writes about the reality and politics of living in a fat body, and how to liberate yourself in a world that is so often unwelcoming to those of us who live in fat bodies.

These are just a few of my favourites, I’m still working my way through a lot of other titles that have come along in recent years.  Have you read any that you can recommend?  Please share in the comments below.

 

 

Information Literacy and You: Part 2

Information overload is what we are trying to avoid, and by growing up with digital experiences, you are well on your way to interpreting the right information from the wrong or misleading.

Information literacy can be paired with Visual literacy skills. It is part of a process called Paratextual reading. Paratextual means accompanying the text with other forms of literacy, or texts. For instance, a mixed media approach to books could be aligning renditions of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies graphic novel with the original novel format.

Relatable Content

Paratextual reading is about utilising any known facet of literature, or media and comparing and analysing the information together. It is about relatable themes, pulling out the best bits of each work (whether a music video, podcast or book) and integrating that relatable content with the thing you’re writing about now.

It’s about relatable themes, pulling out the best bits of each work

An example is a book review about Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice. Most of you know the story before, and in your book review or report you can relate the content of the book with the movie adaption featuring Kiera Knightley (2005) for instance. Or using the beloved BBC TV series adaptation featuring the extremely likeable Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy. Or in fact, you can cross-reference the adaptation Pride and Prejudice and Zombies book (all of these items are in the library FYI).

But what about visual literacy?

Yes, this too can be intertwined in information literacy skills. Mixed media approaches to understanding information are key to any scholarly report, or school subject. Being critical of graphic and illustrative examples of works is a great way to show breadth and depth of understanding. It also highlights the critical nature of understanding texts. Film critics rely heavily on these skills to understand the emotion of a film, its historical accuracy and the music which ties in the ultimate rendition of the text being portrayed. It can really make or break a film as to the message it is trying to convey through story-telling.

Visual literacy is about reading, with your senses – mostly your eyes, it is the visual clues within a text (be it video, book or game) that allows you to pick up on the right information and to interpret the results appropriately. It conveys the message of the text, and can be instrumental in ordering how you understand a text and how you use a text.

It is the visual clues within a text that allows you to pick up on the right information

This includes the colour of the book, its font, the illustrations used or not used, and the layout of the text – even across movies, these factors determine your understanding and comprehension. It allows us to be lulled into a false impression of the information it contains, by being advertised as wholesome or eye-catching. Some colours represent shock and awe, such as most military books, or lighter tones for cooking books. This breathes an intimacy of trust to a text and it helps you determine what is trustworthy information and where it is to be avoided.

Read (and watch) more

Test out your newfound visual and paratextual literacy skills today with the complete Pride and Prejudice Info Lit Bundle™ below:

Pride and prejudice / Austen, Jane

The OG classic in all its glory.


Pride & prejudice (2005)

Let your visual exploration of this text begin here. Keira Knightley and Matthew MacFadyen await!


Pride and prejudice (1995)

The famous BBC adaptation. Look Colin Firth in the eyes and tell him you aren’t going to watch it. Can’t do it? Yeah. We thought so.


Pride and prejudice and zombies : the classic Regency romance — now with ultraviolent zombie mayhem / Grahame-Smith, Seth

I mean it pretty much does what it says on the tin.


Tūhono: Ideas to Kick-Start Your Poetical Musings

We’re now half-way through the month of November, which means we’re also half-way through the submission period for Tūhono, our new poetry journal for kids and teens! We’ve received so many radical entries already, but we’d love to have more. If you’re experiencing some writer’s block, or just aren’t sure where to start with your next poetical masterpiece, we thought we’d give you some starters here.

Your challenge is to take one of the following single lines of poetry and include it in your work, either at the beginning or the end. All of these lines come from real poems, but it’s totally fine to use them as inspiration or as a poetic springboard. If any of them speak to you, we really encourage you to read the full poem — most of them can be found in our collection:

  • Till human voices wake us, and we drown. (T.S. Eliot, ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock)
  • He came home. Said nothing. (Wisława Szymborska, ‘Going Home’)
  • Petals on a wet, black bough (Ezra Pound, ‘In a Station of the Metro’)
  • I gazed–and gazed–but little thought (William Wordworth, ‘I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud’)
  • Here is no water but only rock (T.S. Eliot, ‘The Waste Land’)
  • Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold (W.B. Yeats, ‘The Second Coming’)
  • here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud (e.e. cummings, ‘[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]’)
  • This city, in plague time / knew our brief eternity (William Gibson, ‘Beloved: Voices for Three Heads’)
  • I eat men like air (Sylvia Plath, ‘Lady Lazarus’)
  • I am not the heterosexual neat freak my mother raised me to be. (Chen Chen, ‘Self-Portrait as So Much Potential’)
  • This city will always pursue you. (C.P. Cavafy, ‘The City’)
  • laughter for no cause, simply because the world is beautiful (Louise Glück, ‘Vita Nova’)
  • Maybe it’s time to stop swimming. (Porcupine Tree, ‘Stop Swimming’)
  • until the smallening world became absurd (e.e. cummings, ‘a clown’s smirk in the skull of a baboon’)
  • As light welled / that could devour water (Louise Glück, ‘The Egg’)

If you choose to put the line at the beginning, see how you can take the image and with each successive line, either expand on it, or confound it in some way. If you choose to put your quotation at the end, try to imagine what combination of images might lead up to that climactic point.

We can’t wait to see what you come up with. Don’t forget to submit your poems for Tūhono before the 30th of November to have them included in the inaugural publication!

Hooked on NZ Books; Or, How to Get Free Books and Write About Them, Too!

Dear readers, we are guessing that since we have encountered one another amongst the digital pages of this most redoubtable publication, you are probably fairly keen book-readers as well. But how much do you choose to read books by New Zealand authors? Well, whether your answer was “Um, I LOVE to read books by New Zealand authors!” or “Not much, but I’d like to read more!” we have quite the opportunity for you.

Our friends at Read NZ / Te Pou Muramura (formerly the New Zealand Book Council) have put together an amazing programme called Hooked On NZ Books / He Ao Anofor young New Zealand readers to engage with new Kiwi literature and have their writing professionally edited and published, all while getting to keep swathes of ~free~ books for themselves. Curious to know more? Read on to hear what Read NZ have to say about the initiative.

 If you choose to take up this challenge, you'd better prepare yourself for a serious case of new-book-smell-induced bliss.

We Want to Know What You Think About New Zealand Books!

The American art critic Barbara McAdam writes that the ‘true calling’ of criticism is to start a discussion. Building a community of readers who discuss books, and growing the next generation of critics is what Hooked On NZ BOoks / He Ao Ano is all about.

Here are Read NZ / Te Pou Muramura (formerly the NZ Book Council), we’ve adopted the programme and are looking for passionate readers to review the latest NZ books for us.

First of all, we match readers aged 13-19 with new books. Most of the books we have to choose from are novels, but we also have some non-fiction, poetry and essays. We ask for the reviews to be emailed back within a month, and the reader gets to keep the book.

Our editor works with the reviewer to edit the piece so it’s the best it can be. Then we publish the review on the website, and share it with our wider community. The best review from each month is published on the official Read NZ website.

Our reviewers have the opportunity to respond personally and critically to the latest reads while together building an online resource about NZ books and a genuine platform for their voice.

Established four years ago by the NZ Review of Books journal, Hooked On NZ Books is already a useful archive of reviews, author interviews and other writing resources for younger readers. When the journal ceased publication in late 2019, its editors invited Read NZ to adopt the work.

Read NZ CEO Juliet Blyth says the purpose of Hooked On NZ Books is to grow the audience for home-grown literature, to provide another space for young writers to be published, and to nurture the next generation of critical readers in Aotearoa.

“Anyone can say that they loved or loathed a book, but it’s much harder to say why. Reviewing is important because well-argued reviews can influence what gets published and what gets read,” she says.

Tawa College student Hannah Marshall has submitted reviews to Hooked On NZ Books in past years. In a recent article about reviewing for Tearaway magazine, she describes the programme as a “springboard for a critical conversation.”

A chance visit to my school from the organisation opened my eyes to a world of opportunities. I had barely read a Kiwi-written YA [novel] in my life; today, most of my favourite books are by New Zealand authors. […] I gained valuable skills from the reviewing process and improved myself as a writer. I even found my name in print

— Hannah Marshall, Hooked On NZ Books reviewer

Read NZ is now looking for young readers and writers aged around 13-19 to participate. Interested reviewers can sign up on the Hooked On NZ Books website, or contact Read NZ to get involved. Read NZ also hopes to offer review-writing workshops around the country next year.


So what are you waiting for? Now is the time to get involved! While you’re at it, why not follow Read NZ and Hooked On NZ Books on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, for more delicious literary content, delivered right to your screen?

From Shelves to Screen

If you’re anything like me, there’s nothing like an announcement that a beloved graphic novel is going to be made into a movie or TV series to fill you with a combination of hope and dread.  Are they going to do it justice?  Will they find actors that fit the characters?  Is it going to have an ending that doesn’t match the book?  Please tell me that Tom Cruise has nothing to do with the project!

Of course, sometimes it just works and we get the hero we always dreamed of…

Ok maybe maybe that’s just the hero I’ve always dreamed of.

I’m always keeping an eye out for upcoming adaptations and there are a few in the pipelines (or at least rumoured to be happening) that are well worth reading before they hit our screens if you haven’t got to them already.

Paper Girls. 1 / Vaughan, Brian K

One of my favourite graphic novel series, Paper Girls, written by Brian K Vaughan and illustrated by Cliff Chiang (amazing colour work) has a bit of a Stranger Things vibe, mixed with some time travel.  This one has been greenlit for production by Amazon for a TV series.  No word on release date yet.

Lumberjanes. [1], Beware the kitten holy / Stevenson, Noelle

Word is that Lumberjanes has been picked up by HBO Max for an animated TV series with author Noelle Stevenson as project showrunner and I’m thrilled.  The action packed storylines are perfect for an animated series, and Noelle has proved her skill at animated series with the She-Ra and the Princesses of Power reboot as well as the Big Hero Six series.  I just want to see Ripley animated really.

Sweet Tooth [1] : out of the deep woods / Lemire, Jeff

This is the one I’m really nervous about.  I adored this series and I had all of the cast mapped out in my head for it while I was reading it.  I was sure that Jepperd absolutely HAD to be played by Daniel Craig, even though he’s not as big a guy as the character is.  But the IMDB listing has relative unknown Nonso Anozie down as playing Jepperd… and from what little I’ve seen of him, it could work.  I cannot wait to see what Netflix will do with the hybrid children characters and the post-apocalyptic setting.

Y : the last man [1] : unmanned / Vaughan, Brian K

This one is another Brian K Vaughan series (he really is a writer of quality – worth reading any of his work) and is currently in production.  Another series perfect for adaptation for the screen, the unlikely Yorick is the literal last man on earth (and his pet monkey Ampersand the last male animal) they are in hiding trying to find answers as to what happened to all of their fellow males on the planet.  It’s a good mix of mystery and humour with some fantastic characters.  With the right cast it could be one to keep an eye out for.

The Sandman. Volume 1, Preludes & nocturnes / Gaiman, Neil

Look, it’s Neil Gaiman, you usually can’t go wrong with adaptations of his work.  He’s apparently involved with the project as executive producer.  He’s really good at what he does, he’s super committed to quality in any of the projects that come from his work, and The Sandman is iconic.  The original comic series came out in the early ’90’s and was part of a massive shift in comic book culture at the time.  Gaiman’s work ages well, and Netflix are behind this new series. The real question is who are they going to get to play The Sandman (aka Morpheus/Dream)?

Special mention…

Grasshopper jungle : a history / Smith, Andrew

Ok I know this is not a graphic novel/comic book.  And there has been no recent news of a movie project for a few years.  But this is my favourite YA book of all time and I am desperate to see it made into a movie.  When I read it, back in 2014 when it was newly published, I finished the last page, put down the book and sat down at my laptop to email the author to tell him how much I loved it.  He emailed me back within 24 hours, which I still think is amazing.  Director Edgar Wright (Baby Driver, Shaun of the Dead) was slated to be taking on this one but there has been nothing happening for a couple of years.  Even if it’s not going to happen as a movie, you should read it, I’m sure you’ll thank me for it later!

So… what would you like to see adapted from shelf to screen?  Is there an upcoming project that you’re keen to watch when it comes out?  I want to know what’s on your radar.

Books to Help You Set Your Inner Poet Free!

If you’re as excited about Tūhono, our new poetry journal for young Wellington writers, as we are, you’ll have been working away furiously on your submission piece for weeks already. But we all need a bit of inspiration from time to time, so I asked the arcane sorcerers (and sorceresses) who stare into the metaphorical crystal ball of publisher summary releases and buy our books to choose some of their favourite poetry books from the YA collection for you to sink your claws into and extract whatever poetical life-force you need.

 Amen.

 

Some of these books come from the deepest, darkest depths of our collection warehouse — feel free to place a reserve, and our shelf-hopping minions will locate the book you crave and send it forth to whichever library location you choose. Some call it magic; we call it the Dewey Decimal System.


Poems to live your life by
In this gorgeous anthology, award-winning illustrator (and friend to libraries — yeah, we love this guy!) Chris Riddell has selected 46 poems to live your life by. Poems by both classic and modern poets sit alongside each other, including works from Shakespeare, Carol Anne Duffy, Neil Gaiman, Nick Cave, and W.B. Yeats. The poems are dividing into sections covering musings, youth, family, love, imagining, nature, war, and endings. A great place to start your poetic journey.


Poems to fall in love with / Riddell, Chris
Look, we admit it. We’re suckers for a good old love poem, okay? And we’re suckers for anything by Chris Riddell. This is, you guessed it, a whole anthology dedicated to LURRRVVVEEEE. Selected and edited by our boy Chris, this is another beautiful book that you won’t want to return to the library any time soon! Featuring classic love poems alongside more modern offerings, this book is an inspiring and heart-warming celebration of love in all its forms. <3


Overdrive cover SLAM! You’re Gonna Wanna Hear This, Nikita Gill (ebook)
If you’re not familiar with slam poetry, um, get enlightened, folks. It’s a form of performance poetry that combines elements of performance, writing, competition, and audience participation. In this eBook collection, Nikita Gill brings together a group of well-known and emerging poets from the spoken word scene who share their poetry and tips for creating awesome, inspiring, high energy slam poetry!


She is fierce : brave, bold and beautiful poems by women
This is a powerful collection of 150 poems written by women, that was published to celebrate the centenary of women’s suffrage. A range of different voices are represented — suffragettes, schoolgirls, slam poets, mothers, kitchen maids, and activists. We couldn’t recommend it more highly!


For everyone / Reynolds, Jason
This inspirational long-form poem was written and performed by Jason Reynolds as a tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. and Walter Dean Myers. Like the title says, though, it is for everyone — everyone who is a dreamer, who dreams of being more than they are, and wants to make their dreams come true. Sometimes your dreams take time to take shape. You just have to remember that sometimes, all it can take is a poem, a nod, a nothing to lose.


I thought I’d finish by sharing with you one of my favourite poems of all time, by the late, great Tom Leonard. Read it out loud — as all poetry should be read. Read it to someone you love. It just might change your life!

A Summer’s Day

yir eyes ur
eh
a mean yir

pirrit this wey
ah thingk yir
byewtifl like ehm

fact
fact a thingk yir
ach a luvyi thahts

thahts
jist thi wey it is like
thahts ehm
aw ther iz ti say

(© Tom Leonard, 1996)

Information Literacy and You: Part 1

Image shows the wizard Gandalf with the text: Gandalf reads and so can you! The right books = Knowledge (and a little bit of magic)

Inspirational memes for hard-studying teens

Information literacy is a skill you need for work, when studying, or even knowing about the news of today’s world! It is super important to avoid information overload, and that is where your information sleuthing skills are put to the test. Information literacy is your passport to navigating the seas and air of information overload – and it’s a lifelong process.

Having the right book, with the right information – even if that challenges conventional thinking, is the ultimate goal of information literacy.

Even when we select material for the library’s collections, seemingly innocent titles can mean ‘fake news’ and misinformation can slip past us in the process. For instance we once had a title called Ancient Aliens, a companion book to the TV series of the same name. It sounds harmless but upon some thorough investigation, it turned out that the theories behind the programme and thus represented in the book were actually racist bylines.

That is something we do not endorse in the library, and neither should you. Having the right book, with the right information – even if that challenges conventional thinking, is the ultimate goal of information literacy. The skill of sifting through misinformation amidst the ages of digital media and ‘fake news’, is something to learn by and to continually develop. It takes time and patience, and a lot of reading about all types of knowledge.

That is where you come in. Your interests and passions can really help you wade through the information and get at the heart of an argument, and of knowledge. It’s that secret code of books which needs investigating and understanding, in order to interpret. It’s a skill that even Gandalf, and Hermione, know all too well (as something which J.K. should learn more about). You hold the key, it’s your enthusiasm for reading about all sorts of things which hones your skill of telling the difference between real news and fake news, and knowing the difference of knowledge from assumptions.


But what IS Information Literacy?

The American Libraries Association calls it three things:

  • Reflective discovery of information
  • Understanding of how information is produced and valued
  • Participation of creating new knowledge, ethically

Basically, it is differentiating good information from ‘bad’ information, unreliable, or ‘fake news’.

Information literacy is involving yourself in the research process. You put your reading skills to the test to see how you can interpret and then disseminate, the information you are after. Metacognition, the reflexive thought process (Livingston, 1997), is how we adapt what we see on print and online, to fit or delete from our understanding. We can decide what is a ‘truthful’ fact, and what is not, as well as determine…

What is ‘fake news’?

An attempt to mislead people, usually for financial or political gain, through the misrepresentation of media and information. An example of this would be tabloid/magazine stories that are completely made up to shock readers into reading them with flashy headlines (Colby-Sawyer College, 2020). There are also many reports of dubious ‘scientific researches’, often purporting to have the answers for some of life’s biggest questions. Much like the Ancient Aliens book already discussed, fake news can have malicious intent, bringing together popular prejudices under the guise of seemingly innocent titles.


Conspiracy Theories: News or just Fake News?

By reading lots you can imagine what is relevant information, what is conspiracy and somewhat questionable content, and what is information or ‘fake news’. What is important to note is the validfity of a source. For instance, getting your information from a government website is usually reliable, or from an independently established author. Always check their credentials though, someone from a university i.e. a lecturer, is probably more reliable than someone independent not from a university. Most historians have a PhD and a current posting at an institution, making it easier to rely on their fact-checking than someone who has neither of those qualities. This is because scholars have to back-up their evidence with citations, and this means trusting newspapers can be difficult.

Journalists do not need reference their work. Instead, they draw heavily from independent sources and witnesses, who often do not come with citations haha. Often journalists will fact-check by their editors before a story is published, but there is often an understanding that the journalists have secured reliable sources – which leads to misinformation because of public knowledge usage.

When writing for school or university, you can use print articles and newspapers as they are often reviewed before publication, but again, be wary of newspaper articles as there is less stringency on fact-checking than a peer-reviewed journal written by academic scholars.


Stuff to Read

Want to find out more about fake news, information literacy, and the post-truth era? Here are some nifty books from our collection that can get you on the path to critical thought without a hitch:

Fake news and alternative facts : information literacy in a post-truth era / Cooke, Nicole A
Information literacy is a key skill for all news consumers, and this Special Report shows how you can make a difference by learning skills and techniques to help you identify misinformation. Listen to a podcast with the author now! Talk of so-called fake news, what it is and what it isn’t, is front and center across the media landscape, with new calls for the public to acquire appropriate research and evaluation skills and become more information savvy. (Adapted from Catalogue)

Fake news : separating truth from fiction / Miller, Michael
While popularized by President Donald Trump, the term fake news actually originated toward the end of the 19th century, in an era of rampant yellow journalism. Since then, it has come to encompass a broad universe of news stories and marketing strategies ranging from outright lies, propaganda, and conspiracy theories to hoaxes, opinion pieces, and satire — all facilitated and manipulated by social media platforms. This title explores journalistic and fact-checking standards, Constitutional protections, and real-world case studies, helping readers identify the mechanics, perpetrators, motives, and psychology of fake news. (Adapted from Catalogue)

The broken estate : journalism and democracy in a post-truth world / Bunce, Melanie
It is easy to look at the extremity of post truth politics in the US and conclude that we must be doing something ok in New Zealand. But in many ways, the foundations of our media system are in worse shape. In the age of Trump, fake news and celebrity headlines, it is easy to despair about the future of journalism. The New Zealand and global media are in a state of crisis, the old economic models for print journalism are no longer viable, public funding has been neglected for decades, and the numbers of journalists employed by major news organisations are in freefall. In what she describes as both a critique and a love letter, [the author] discusses the state of journalism in New Zealand and the solutions needed to ensure its future. Her fresh analysis draws on the latest international research and interviews with leading journalists. (Adapted from Catalogue)

This book will (help you) change the World / Turton, Sue
Protest injustice. Campaign for change. Stand up for your future. Political turmoil, shocks and upsets have rocked the world in the past few years, and it has never been more important to find your voice and stand up for what you believe in. From award-winning journalist Sue Turton, with hilarious illustrations from activist illustrator Alice Skinner, this is a powerhouse guide to politics and activism for teens everywhere. […] Be it disrupting the system from within by joining political parties or inspiring change through protest, Turton shows young activists how their actions and words really can make a difference. With a toolkit demonstrating how to avoid fake news, triumph in debates and grab the spotlight for your campaign, this is the ultimate teen guide to changing the world. (Adapted from Catalogue)


References

Andretta, Susie (2005) “Information Literacy: A Practitioner’s Guide”. Chandos Publishing. UK

Colby-Sawyer College (2020) ‘What is Fake News?’. Cleveland Library. USA

Livingston, Jennifer (1997) Metacognition: An Overview. State University of New York at Buffalo. Graduate School of Education. USA