Meeting the challenge cover

Children with Diabetes

Meeting the Challenge: Children Living with Diabetes
Bergman
1992

Submitter: This book’s purpose is to show a normal kid living a normal life while managing diabetes, which is great, but managing diabetes looks a little different now than it did 30 years ago. This kid is still peeing on ketone strips to measure his blood sugar, which is pretty irrelevant in today’s world of nearly ubiquitous CGM (continual glucose monitoring—a sensor is attached to the body and provides real-time blood sugar readings via an app). Most kids today would also be using a pump rather than syringes, which are the only insulin delivery tool in the book, with the exception of one insulin pen.

The other odd thing about this book is the extended section devoted to a summer camp for kids with diabetes that the protagonist attends. The point is likely to show the kids doing all the kinds of things their friends can do, but it feels a little random and oddly specific to this one kid. Especially the counselor in face paint for some kind of activity, included in the pictures.

Holly: When a kid receives a diagnosis like diabetes and is learning to live with it, both they and their parents need current and helpful information. This offers neither of those things. Nice idea; past its prime.

Boy Scouts cover

Story of the Boy Scouts

Story of the Boy Scouts
Blassingame
1968

Submitter: Quaint Hardy Boys style illustrations and historical black and white photos accompany this book  about the history of the Boy Scouts. While there are a few pictures of African American children and a boy  with a turban on the cover, included also are some stories about the boys “howling like Indians” and “playing Indian” as they set up camp. One boy is described as a “cripple” who doesn’t look like “a man to lead” and grew up having to work with the girls in the sewing room rather than be outdoors with the boys. It’s a  snapshot of the times, but there’s a lot that has happened in the 50+ years that have passed since this book was published. The kids in our library need more up to date info on scouting, and more culturally sensitive language. Girls can now join the Boy Scouts in their activities, and are no longer confined to the sewing room.

Holly: WorldCat’s description of this book says: “Discusses the origin and continuing growth of the Boy Scouts, relates true stories of Scouting heroism and adventure, and describes the many activities of Scouting.” I’m all for a history of the Boy Scouts, but respectful language is a must. Kids interested in scouting activities can definitely do better than this!

Amos Fortune

Friday Fiction: Amos Fortune: Free Man

Amos Fortune: Free Man
Yates
1951

Submitter: Somehow this book from 1951 was still on the shelf, maybe because of that shiny Newbery sticker on the cover. Or maybe it just got overlooked. Either way, a story of a slave written in the 50s is likely going to be questionable today, and I would say this one is. Descriptions comparing Black characters to dogs and untamed animals are jarring. The idea that Africans needed to be civilized before they could handle freedom seems to be presented not as something that many people wrongly believed at the time but as actually being true. At one point it is spoken directly from the still-enslaved main character himself. With some guidance and discussion, this book could be instructive of assorted historical and current trends in racist thought and language, but the public library kids biography section isn’t the place for that.

Rhythmic Activities

Rhythmic Activities

Rhythmic Activities Series II
Stuart and Ludlam
1955, 1963

Submitter: This set of cards with songs and activities is not only ancient and falling apart, it’s also not even remotely useful to our users (academic library). We do have an Education program, but no self-respecting teacher or teacher-in-training wants something this old! Though it did circulate last in 1995.

Holly: I think you can weed this one on condition alone! Cute idea, just wayyyy outdated.

Games the Indians Played cover

Games the Indians Played

The Games the Indians Played
Lavine
1974

Submitter: This book uses outdated and culturally insensitive terms like “redskin.” It contains a decent amount of research from when the author was a teacher on a reservation. He interviewed many of the indigenous people there and I’m sure meant this to be a teaching tool about the culture, but it is a really old book that is now falling apart. Plus, it just gives off vibes of “oh, let’s look at the white man’s view of the savages’ primitive games.”

Holly: I’ve been learning a lot about collection diversity audits recently. While libraries may solely be looking for the percentage of materials about and by BIPOC, they need to use the opportunity to weed inappropriate materials like these. Please, please, don’t just count it as “diverse” and leave it in the collection! Look at the materials closely and audit the content while you’re at it.

Clowns Fun Makers cover

Clowns, the Fun Makers

Clowns: The Fun Makers
Boring
1980

Submitter: This book has not circulated since 1999, and I can see why. The photos are pretty boring. Plus being a history book on the topic of clowns that is now over 40 years old – it’s time to replace and update.

Holly: Or, as Mary says, “Clowns: The Nightmare Makers.” I guess if your last name is Boring and you’re a writer, you find something fun to write about. It’s basically just a history of clowns and circus entertainers (ending at 1980, obviously). Not the worst thing I’ve ever seen, but definitely old and…well, boring.

Nicotine and Caffeine cover

Nicotine and Caffeine

Focus on Nicotine and Caffeine
Perry
1990

Submitter: It’s a little jarring to see nicotine and caffeine lumped together. Maybe nicotine has decreased in “everyday drug” status since 1990 or maybe I just don’t take caffeine seriously enough, but it seems like an odd pairing. And the “current” stats (from 1989) on smoking are obviously a little of out date by now—down from 29% to about 14% in 2019, per the CDC. The sentence “Like little smokestacks, smokers send out poisonous gasses into the world around them and deep into the world inside them” is pretty great though.

Holly: I think you’re right – smoking is just not as commonplace as it was when this book was published. Caffeine use, however, is still very prevalent. And I agree – we don’t generally lump those two drugs together. Maybe also because there’s no age-related law on purchasing caffeinated foods and beverages. Kids can buy a chocolate candy bar and a Coke; they can’t buy cigarettes.

Hello Mr Chips cover

Why Did the Computer Cross the Road?

Hello, Mr. Chips! Computer Jokes and Riddles
By Ann Bishop
Published 1982

Submitter: Turns out computer joke books age about as well as any other kind of computer book. The content starts before the title page, with a picture of a computer carved from a literal apple, though I’d be hard pressed to identify it as a carving of a computer if it wasn’t captioned. There’s a nice Red Scare Era joke on page one, and later on a joke about computers driving cars that reads a little differently now that computers are driving cars. Also a joke about humans turning computers on—is that supposed to be literal, or did we put innuendo jokes in books for children 40 years ago? Shockingly, this book circulated as recently as 2016, which is also about when I became responsible for this collection. Honestly, I’m a little embarrassed it took that long for this book to come to my attention.