Awful Library Books

Hoarding is not collection development

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“Yo homes, smell ya later”

TV’s Hottest Teens: Fresh Prince
Wallner
1992

Submitter: “A young patron wrote inside the cover “this book sucks”. Will Smith was going by Fresh Prince then ( I forgot that).”

Holly: You all know the theme song to Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air, don’t you?   I used to sing along, word for word.

Will Smith was born in 1968.  That means he was 24 when this book was written.  True – he played a teen on TV in 1992 – but he’s 41 now!  Teens who find this on library shelves now do not know him as The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.  They know him as Hancock, Hitch, or the super cool guy in I Am Legend.  In fact, pretty much everything Will Smith has done – other than Fresh Prince and an afterschool special – happened after 1992.  There are lots of more current choices about Will Smith for a library collection.

Young patron was right – this book does suck.

Party’s Over

party book cover betty betz

The Betty Betz Party Book: The Teen-Age Guide to Social Success
Betz
1947

Submitter: After thumbing through this book, I understood why our library has held on to it all these years. It’s absolutely essential for all teenagers who are preparing to throw a swell shindig like the ones Betty Betz describes. She instructs teenagers on such topics as:

– What to wear. (“Always be sure that your dresses are at least an inch or so below the knee, because it’s always embarrassing to have a few cards wisecracking about your peekaboo knees.”)

– Who to invite. (“If you have singles, be sure that they can be paired off suitably. And don’t forget to consider such things as height, looks and IQ.”)

– What food to serve. (“Exotic foods are fine if your friends are making a point of going to an East Indian tea room or a Pizzeria, but if you’re dishing it up, it’s best to be strictly homespun.”)

– What songs to sing. (“Nothing lets the hair down faster in a mixed group than a few peppy songs.” Such as “Shoo Fly,” “Buffalo Gals,” “Johnny Get Your Hoe-Cake Done,” and “Good-Night Ladies.”)

– What games to play. (“Each girl…takes off her right shoe, and puts it in a bag. All the bags are collected and put in a laundry basket. Each boy selects one of the packages. The girls are all seated in a line against the wall, and it’s up to the men to find the owners of the shoes. When this is done, they are all off in a swirl of swoony music, and woe unto the ‘dolly with the hole in her stockin’!'” )

Miss Betz also has some suggestions for theme parties, such as a butterfly chase party. Each couple gets a butterfly net and small bottle of gasoline to “to chloroform the insects” and then sets off into the woods to “bag booty.” When it’s over, you have plenty of beautiful dead butterflies to mount for your rumpus room!

If only I had had this book in high school, maybe then I would have been popular outside of marching band.”

Holly: Any teenager who follows advice from this book is certain to be shunned by his peers.   There are a few public and school libraries out there that still have this book on their shelves.  School libraries, especially, seem like a particularly awful place for this book.

Loving your teenager

How to Really Love Your Teenager
Campbell
1982

Thanks to anonymous submitter for this title.  This title creeped me out when I first read it.  Emphasis on “really” made me do a double take.  Maybe I watch too much television and assume the worst.

Okay, so the cover is dated, but the message isn’t too bad.  Be honest, if they had stuck a goth-looking kid sneering at his parents instead of  a “Leave it to Beaver” kid on the front, I might think that this book had something to say.  This kid looks like the only rebelling he has done is to say he wanted to go to the Saturday Mass instead of get up early on Sunday morning.

Geared to parents, this book talks about trouble in the home and the effects on teens.  Decent message but dated in the examples.  Not truly “awful,” but so much better stuff is available.  Again, parenting teens is a topic that I consider “unattainable knowledge.” You can read all the books you want , but at the end of the day, if your kid is still alive, you did a good job.

Reader Advisory BONUS:

One of my particular favorites in our parenting collection is the following title:

Get Out of My Life, but First Could You Drive Me & Cheryl to the Mall:  A Parent’s Guide to the New Teenager
by Anthony Wolf.

Every parent I have ever handed this book has always laughed and immediately felt better.

Looking forward to empty-nest syndrome,

Mary