17 February 2011

Interview Series: KC Boyd, Warrioress Librarian, Part I of 3

K.C. Boyd, Warrioress Librarian
As promised, I am highlighting my librarian-colleague and friend, Ms. K.C. Boyd, of Chicago, Illinois, USA. She is a passionate advocate for Street Lit, and has done some amazing work with tweeners and Street Lit. I am offering her interview in three (3) installments, so that we can really enjoy K.C.'s insights to the fullest. Enjoy!
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StreetLiteratureBlog:
It is my understanding that you have been working with the Chicago school system in various capacities for a few years now.  Could you please share your journey with working with Chicago teens in various capacities as a librarian and how your work with them brought you to Street Lit?
My love with reading books in particular, Street Lit first began when I was in high school.  I was a voracious reader and made bi-weekly trips to the school and public library.  I also used to aggravate my teachers because instead of reading the selected classroom book with my peers, I would finish it early and would read another book in class.  Yes, I was a real pain. 
It was during my teenage years, I fell in love with Street Lit books.  Yes, these books spoke to me in a way that no other genre had previously.  I loved the fast paced stories that kept me on the edge of my seat.    Books written by Donald Goines, Iceberg Slim and Claude Brown were my favorites during that time.   The books were thrilling, adventurous and hard to put down.  The stories were ‘real’ and told the tales of the streets in a raw, honest and unflinching manner.  The characters were highly relatable and I felt the emotions that they were experiencing at the time.    Years later while attending college, I read books by Omar Tyree, Teri Woods and Sister Souljah; you can say from that point on I was solidly hooked on the genre.  
As a School Librarian, I can relate to my students’ reading interests and their love of Street Lit. When I served as a K – 8 Librarian, to my surprise, many of my students were reading the same Street Lit books I was reading during my leisure time.  When I saw one of my 7th grade students reading Noire’s “G-Spot,” I knew there had to be Street Lit books that would appeal specifically to my tweens.  In an effort to identify reading material that was more age appropriate, I began looking for professional reviews of Street Lit books for teens.  I was not very successful.  
Many of these books were not professionally reviewed by reviewing sources such as Booklist or School Library Journal but were instead reviewed by bloggers and fans of the genre. The few books that were reviewed were done so by reviewers I felt couldn’t relate to the tales of the hood and the review wasn’t 100% honest.   I began relying on the reviews of those bloggers and fans because they provided the best and most respectful synopsis review of the books.  Reading young adult (YA) Street Lit was the best decision I have made as a librarian because I could determine if the books would be a good fit in my collection.  Eventually, I began to recommend books to my friends that were also librarians and middle school teachers.   
When I was promoted to an Administrative Position within Chicago Public Schools, I began to blog, Facebook and Tweet about the many books tweens and teens could read within the genre.  Some of the books were true Street Lit books for tweens/teens while some were considered ‘read-alikes’ to the genre.  Eventually, I began to recommend many of the books for various booklists that were published by the department I worked in.  I also provided professional development on Street Lit which was well received.  While serving as the Program Coordinator for the Mayor Daley’s Book Club – Middle School program, I recommended and included a number of Street Lit titles for the High School and Middle programs.  The book club was and still is a reading motivation program that services over 4,500 students in Chicago Public Schools.  Now working back in a school setting, I promote Street Lit heavily; you can say this genre is the ‘heartbeat’ of my fiction collection. 
You can contact K.C. via Twitter or her blog.
-- Stay tuned for Part 2, coming Monday, February 20, 2011.

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