#BIT15Reads: The Innovators by Walter Isaacson

The Innovators: How a Group of  Hackers, Geniuses and Geeks Created the Digital RevolutionThe Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution by Walter Isaacson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is a must-read for anyone who wants or needs to understand the evolution of the digital revolution. At times the computer science went over my head but for the most part Walter Isaacson‘s style was very accessible. It is jam-packed with information about each collaboration and often sidesteps culture and historical continuity in order to show you how innovations were happening in multiple locations at the same time in history. I really appreciated the timeline at the beginning of the book which I referred to often. What can I say? I learned a lot.

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#BIT15Reads: Spin by Clive Veroni

Spin: How Politics Has the Power to Turn Marketing on Its HeadSpin: How Politics Has the Power to Turn Marketing on Its Head by Clive Veroni
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Clive Veroni is a masterful writer and this is a timely book. Not until most of the way through this book does he reveal that his degree in English literature has served him well in the world of marketing…and it has also served him well as a writer. This 295 page book is tightly edited to emphasize the organization of Veroni’s argument and and the marvelous flow of his ideas. Although it is largely a retrospective on politics and marketing in order to show cause and effect relationships, Veroni’s introspective analysis rings true about current events as well. My favourite chapters are #4, The Age of the Open Brand, and #7 The Impropable Team. Veroni argues that real-time social media has “turned the old brand autocracy into a new brand democracy” and I think we’ve just seen that happen in the Canadian election with the sweeping majority won by now Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. In line with this concept, Veroni also argues that the best think tanks happening today are a heterogeneous group of people from different backgrounds and that their varied perspectives create a tension that they have to work through in order to harmonize. In education, we call that creating dissonance. There is a lot to learn from Spin and I hope to see more from Veroni.

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#BIT15Reads: Dataclysm by Christian Rudder

Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One's Looking)Dataclysm: Who We Are by Christian Rudder
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I can already think of 12 people in my school who should read this book. That hasn’t happened to me since Danah Boyd‘s It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens.  I will pass this on to the math teachers, the social science teachers and the teachers in charge of character education in our building. If you read no other popular non-fiction this year, choose Dataclysm. It’s not just filled with brave and insightful explanations of data, both in a physical sense and in the sense of what’s absent, it is a visual feast of well-formed graphs that are very accessible to the reader.

I will also recommend it to the students in my building who have questions about love, sex, race, identity and data. This is a very important book right here and right now.

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This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein

This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The ClimateThis Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate by Naomi Klein

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Reading this book has changed my life. This book is the first book I’ve read from the Ontario Library Association’s Evergreen selections for 2015. Naomi Klein is such an important voice for Canada that this book was on my to-read list well before it was nominated though. I enjoyed reading this book through Audible.com‘s selection so I listened to about 7 hours a week which was wonderful because it has a lot of important information about climate change that are combined with unfamiliar issues such as economics, world trade, environmental law, industrialization, and indentured slavery that I needed to digest in smaller pieces. Klein manages to put all of these issues together into one book and concludes that if we can’t manage to adjust our culture of consumption that we don’t have a chance of stopping global warming. More importantly though, that we need to start making right the crimes that we have committed through industrialization and globalization and make reparations to developing nations that are still disadvantaged by centuries of colonial actions. At home in Canada, Klein argues that we need to demand a higher minimum wage so that people can stop taking McJobs for shitty companies who continue to put capitalism first and human needs and the environment as distant seconds.  In a deeply personal chapter, Klein reveals that her concerns for climate change exploded during her struggles with infertility and points to our dramatic increases in infertility and disease as the red flag symptoms that we continue to ignore by believing in the capitalism-driven pharmaceuticals instead. In summary: I learned a lot.

As a secondary school teacher-librarian, I will carry this book in my library but it isn’t going to be an easy sell. However, as a research tool it will be phenomenal and I will bring bits and pieces of it out to stimulate inquiry research and for discussion for years to come.

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It’s Complicated: the social lives of networked teens by danah boyd

It's Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked TeensIt’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens by Danah Boyd

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Throughout danah boyd’s “It’s Complicated: the social lives of networked teens”, I’m very satisfied with the level of sophistication of boyd’s research and unbiased point of view in her writing.  Her tone is academic, professional and at the same time, approachable.  The three areas that most concerned me during my reading are boyd’s research on the digital divide, online teen behaviour of sexual exploration and her plea for the redefinition of crimes associated with online bullying.

I’ve been increasingly uncomfortable with Marc Prensky’s phrase “digital natives” (2005/06) and I am reassured by boyd’s acknowledgement of her own awareness and skepticism of this blanket term.  boyd (2014) talks of social networking as a type of literacy and warns that “It is dangerous to assume that youth are automatically informed.  It is also naive to assume that so-called digital immigrants have nothing to offer.” (p. 177).  boyd also goes on to say that since teens are in many cases left to fend for themselves in networked environments, that their exposure to becoming fully literate depends on many factors.  She references Henry Jenkins and his thoughts on the subject:

Yet, talk of “digital natives” may also mask the different degrees access to and comfort with emerging technologies experienced by different youth. Talk of digital natives may make it harder for us to pay attention to the digital divide in terms of who has access to different technical platforms and the participation gap in terms of who has access to certain skills and competencies or for that matter, certain cultural experiences and social identities” (2007).

This paragraph amplifies my own worries that this simple term has excused the education system’s lack of action in lessening the digital divide.  I’m certain that we still promote the use of technology in the classroom as a tool of engagement, rather than seeing becoming proficient with technology as a fundamental requirement for graduation.

In the Ontario curriculum, at least, there is no single mandatory place where students are given a number of digital strategies for studying success, although we know there are consistent issues in any student’s level of preparedness.  Again, in Ontario, technology is not a mandatory part of the elementary curriculum and so students come to secondary with an almost insurmountable range of disparities in their digital backgrounds based on the interest and abilities of their elementary teachers and their home environments with varying degrees of hardware support and exposure.  Along the same lines of boyd’s concerns, Jenkins (2007) goes on to say:

Talking about digital natives also tends to make these changes all about digital media rather than encouraging us to think about the full range of media platforms which shape the world around us or for that matter, the complex set of relationships between old and new media that characterize convergence culture.

This sentence has been the basis of my learning in the TLDL program at the U of A, where I now understand that the crux of my position is to raise the bar for transliteracy for both staff and students. (King, 2014)

A large part of the digital divide that I know teachers are having trouble improving is the use of networked communities to help students.  In many ways administration fears of privacy and legalities have closed the networks for their possible misuses, meanwhile eliminating all possible positive ones.  Although I have concerns for all of our students, I have a particular worry about the LGBTQ population that are getting their information from unreliable sources when they desperately need support as they renegotiate social spaces.  The anecdotes from boyd’s research reassured me that LGBTQ teens are finding each other online and developing supportive communities.  However, boyd warns that “They are grappling with battles that adults face, but they are doing so while under constant surveillance and without a firm grasp of who they are.  In short, they’re navigating one heck of a cultural labyrinth” (p. 53).  I wish that the education system could find or create places, possibly in tandem with social support structures, where teens could create networks to reliable information.  I wish there was a way we could better support this.  I’m not sure what the answer is.

One of boyd’s research topics that particularly affected me is cyberbullying and the complexities in these cases.  Within boyd’s Chapter 5 on Bullying, she references the journalistic research work of Emily Bazelon who covered the case of Phoebe Prince, a teen victim of suicide and reportedly, cyber-bullying.  After linking to Bazelon’s extensive reporting on this case, I found that the law is responding with a variety of consequences to cyber-bullying and that because of the after-school, non-geographic locale of this bullying, that school boards have very little to offer to victims and bullies.  One of her final reports on the case revealed that in the case of Phoebe Prince, none of her aggressors were met with serious consequences.  Bazelon (2011) says:

After more than a year of covering this case, it’s hard for me to square that duty with the way these cases unfolded. “If you bully someone to death, that’s murder,” explained Joseph Kennedy, a criminal law professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, when I called him earlier this week. “But if you bully someone, and then they kill themselves, and that’s not something you anticipated, that’s not a crime.”

The digital divide is not just between economic classes and about developing transliteracy skills.  Boyd has revealed that the digital divide also includes how living and working as educators in this era of social networking we are not prepared for the consequences of these networks; and we are currently unable to model how to use social networks effectively.

References

Bazelon, E. (2011, May 25). It’s Over: None of the six teens charged in connection with the suicide of Phoebe Prince will go to jail. Slate. Retrieved from http://www.slate.com/articles/life/bulle/2011/05/its_over.html

boyd, D. (2014). It’s Complicated: The social lives of networked teens. New Haven, MA: Yale University Press.

Jenkins, H. (2007, December 5). Reconsidering digital immigrants… [Blog post]. Retrieved from Confessions of an Aca-Fan website: http://henryjenkins.org/2007/12/reconsidering_digital_immigran.html

King, A. (2014, April 13). Transliteracy and the teacher-librarian [Blog post]. Retrieved from Threadbare Beauty website: https://threadbarebeauty.com/2014/04/13/transliteracy-and-the-teacher-librarian/

Prensky, M. (2005/2006). Listen to the natives. Educational Leadership, 63(4).

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Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World by Jane McGonigal

Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World

I don’t think of myself as a gamer.  I have been known to play lots of those Flash-based Facebook games with my Candy Crush Saga friends, and occasionally a great puzzle-based novella will come along like Gabriel Knight 2,  Syberia or Ripper that I devour, but generally I didn’t think they were a big part of my life.  After reading just part 1, Why Games Make Us Happy, of McGonigal’s book, I started feeling that I could admit that I play Plants vs. Zombies and Game of Thrones Ascent almost every day!  Now that I’ve read McGonigal’s book completely, I know that it’s cool to be a gamer and I really want to believe that a game designer will win a Nobel Prize someday.

 

In Part II Reinventing Reality, McGonigal really opens up on the topic of how games can change our education system for the better.  I’m really intrigued with the idea of the game-based education being offered by Quest to Learn (p. 128). A very real challenge of my current position is to develop my staff’s comfort and skills with 21st century learning which largely focuses on digital fluency.  However, there are constantly battles between our current system and the growing desire from staff to collaborate and teach creatively.  The idea of redesigning the system from the ground up, the way that Quest to Learn has, is very appealing.  In hindsight, I know that the mindset of the administration and the staff has often been what held back change for the better design of our school and I wonder what kind of experiential learning the staff needs to help them grow in this direction.  We have a local company called Eagles Flight which worked with our department heads for one morning last January during exams, and essentially we played a quest game where we needed to get from one side of a desert to the other maximizing our resources, within a time limit and never having all the information we needed to play.  It was really fun!  Was it transformational?  No but it helped us to bond and gave us lots of fuel for good discussion for the rest of the day.

 

Having spent 5 years as a teacher-librarian now, one of the aspects of my job that I like best is how it gives me space to see the school as a whole system, and I can see the problem of the department silos.  At the risk of overglorifying the situation, I’m omniscient in a way that even the administration isn’t.  I’ve always enjoyed this role in my gaming experience as well, and was a big fan of many of the games McGonigal mentions in Part III, Chapter 14: Saving the Real World Together.  Besides Will Wright’s Sim City and The Sims, I was fascinated with the idea of Peter Molyneux’s game Black & White in which you need to make decisions for villagers based on moral quandaries. After reading McGonigal’s praise of the game, I dug out our old copy of Will Wright’s Spore and played through 4 levels with new appreciation for its design and trying to imagine what it would be really like to drop into the Ukraine, for example, and try to sort things out a bit. Maybe that’s the reason why I still like reality tv shows.  There’s a new one coming out this week called The Audience where 50 people make a life-changing decision for someone.  This experimentation in McGonigal’s “Saving the Real World Together” of taking a long view, practicing ecosystems thinking, and pilot experimentation (p. 297-98) are exactly the tools that I think we need our graduates to have exposure to.  One of the first computer games I remember loving is Lemonade Stand, where I simulated making a lemonade stand profitable based on fluctuating weather predictions and costs of lemon and sugar.  If I could remake school today, I’d start by making every single assignment follow McGonigal’s Saving the Real World criteria.  I might not be able to reconstruct my school into a Quest to Learn environment, but I can advocate for these 3 aspects in teaching design and that gives me hope that my influence will help save the world.  I suppose I need to see this through for the epic win.

Overall, Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World is a game-changer (excuse the pun).  I’ve started a Twitter List called Epic Winners that includes all sorts of people who are using games for positive change and deeper meaning inside schools and beyond.  It even lead me to find a library game that I’d like to try out called (what else?) Librarygame.   This isn’t the first time I’ve thought “I wish I could give a little surprise to a student who signs out the same book twice, or has signed out 10 books this year, or returns everything on time”.  Even if it was just a virtual badge to add to their student e-portfolio, I think they would appreciate it.  I know I would.

References

McGonigal, J. (2011). Reality is broken: Why games make us better and how they can change the world. New York, NY: Penguin Books.

 

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The Shallows by Nicholas Carr

The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains

When Nicholas Carr wrote the infamous article “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” (2008), he made waves in the education community who had bought into the Marc Prensky vision of today’s students as “digital natives” (2005).  While making impetuous decisions about technology integration in schools, Carr halted everyone into thinking maybe we should be a bit more skeptical about technology’s long term effects on the brain.  Essentially, Carr asks if our depth of thinking has been doomed to ‘the shallows’ with the advancement of digital technology.  He cautions that society has lots of breadth in the sources we have available to us to skim and scan, but that we are losing our ability to read deeply.  Using himself as a research subject, he argues that his behaviour in reading digital material appeals to his need for instant gratification, but has caused to become more easily distracted and more susceptible to the control of information corporations.

I really appreciate how Carr maps out in history how the very nature of reading has changed with advances in technology.  Carr (2011) says: “it is our intellectual technologies that have the greatest and most lasting power over what and how we think. They are our most intimate tools, the ones we use for self-expression, for shaping personal and public identity, and for cultivating relationship with others” (p. 45). The argument of the publication’s power has existed since the invention of the printing press … what are we going to publish and with whose voice?  Who is being left out of publishing and at what cost to society?  It’s possible to question this same problem of equity if we admit that “reading and writing are unnatural acts” (Carr, 2011, p. 51) and are shaped by parents, environments and school.  My concern is that in public education in a G8 country, that we need to try to level that playing field so that every student has an equal opportunity to learn.

I read a lot of news and magazine articles from my iPad which I control the flow of information using an app called Zite.  It allows me to turn on or turn off subjects of my interest and filters in my favourite writers, and filters out writers who I deem unworthy of my attention.  I love that every time I connect that there is a magazine filled with articles just for me.  Yet I’m turning into one of those people at parties who can’t talk about anything other than books, school libraries, chiweenies and the humble kitchen garden.  I read a lot but what I read doesn’t represent my renaissance upbringing.  It represents what Amazon has recommended for me based on my past choices, or what my filters have chosen for me in Zite.  However I don’t think that I’m reading any less deeply. I’m able to make big leaps in my intellectual logic, because I’m able to make room in my brain for bigger ideas than the quick facts that I can Google.

In contrast to Carr’s premise, Jim Collins (2013), Department Chair at the University of Iowa, argues that in order to get past “the debate between the defenders of traditional literary experience and the celebrants of digital culture…we need to distinguish between a delivery system and a medium.”  I’m still choosing to read a breadth of material on deep topics, but my reading has definitely changed in that I’m able to now metatag and share my reading with others in a way that I never have before. Collins (2013) also argues that “Reading literary fiction on an e-reader is not a gateway drug that leads to the hard stuff of digital culture — become psychologically dependent on that e-reader, and you’ll find yourself in an alley somewhere with a cell-phone novel written by promiscuous Japanese teenagers sticking out of your arm.”  Although I may be juggling a lot of new information (Carr, 2011, p. 139), I’m also making connections in new and interesting ways. Instead of tapping into a culture of fear about the internet’s potential for corruption, we should be using it to further our culture of reading into something more participatory.

Although Carr wrote The Shallows in 2011, his vision of libraries (p. 98) doesn’t represent my reality in 2014.  In 1994, the main floor of my library was converted to an open computer lab that could accommodate two classes at once and the books were relegated to a new lower level.  We’ve just made a major overhaul in moving the desktops out, the books back upstairs and doubling our computers by using cheaper, lighter mobile devices.  The emphasis isn’t on computers or books…it’s on learning.  Which makes me question once again Carr’s opinions on how schools should scaffold the use of technology?  I am more concerned that students in my community are missing out on technological advances, than if they’re indulging in technology for self-gratification.  Where is Carr’s research on the digital divide?  Does Carr believe as the United Nations does that access to the internet is now a fundamental human right? (Jackson, 2011).

While Carr has some valid arguments, especially those steeped in the rich history of language that he outlines in detail, I don’t want to believe him.  I want to believe that we are in a cultural infancy and that while we may be sacrificing some skills, that new ones will emerge.  Someday I believe that society will use the power of the global internet to solve the world’s problems rather than spending it playing Candy Crush Saga…unless each candy crushed will somehow eliminate poverty and hunger.

 

References

Carr, N. (2008, July 1). Is Google making us stupid?: What the internet is doing to our brains. The Atlantic. Retrieved from http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2008/07/is-google-making-us-stupid/306868/

Carr, N. (2013, April 20). The death of deep reading [Blog post]. Retrieved from big think website: http://bigthink.com/in-their-own-words/the-death-of-deep-reading

Carr, N. G. (2010). The shallows: What the internet is doing to our brains. New York, NY: W.W. Norton.

Collins, J. (2013). Reading, in a digital archive of one’s own. Publications of the Modern Language Association, 128(1).

Jackson, N. (2011, June 3). United Nations declares internet access a basic human right. The Atlantic. Retrieved from http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2011/06/united-nations-declares-internet-access-a-basic-human-right/239911/

Prensky, M. (2005/2006). Listen to the natives. Educational Leadership, 63(4).

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Literacy is NOT Enough by Lee Crockett, Ian Jukes and Andrew Churches

Literacy Is NOT Enough: 21st Century Fluencies for the Digital Age (The 21st Century Fluency Series)Literacy Is NOT Enough: 21st Century Fluencies for the Digital Age by Lee Crockett

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Andrew Churches has been one of my professional development gurus ever since he developed the Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy https://edorigami.wikispaces.com/Bloo… . This is my first encounter with the other two authors and I think they’ve….watered down the richness of the content with professional development activities. I would have preferred more of the ‘how’ are we going to move up the taxonomy with technology implementation than more ‘why’. I’m already convinced. You were preaching to the choir.

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Research methods and methodologies in education by Larry V. Hedges

Research Methods and Methodologies in EducationResearch Methods and Methodologies in Education by Larry V. Hedges

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A qualitatively comprehensive guide to research methods in education. I guess education by nature is a social science so my only disappointment with this book is that it didn’t make me any better at math. I was hoping to really walk away with a better understanding of statistics…but that was one of my first big learnings about educational research….that it’s highly subjective.

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Karen Martin says “Research is a tool of colonialism”

Martin’s research is so refreshing!  I can’t seem to find the link to the actual chapter online but here are a couple of the places you can find her work:

http://www.isrn.qut.edu.au/pdf/members/researchers/Martin.member.pdf

http://www.e-contentmanagement.com/books/283/please-knock-before-you-enter-aboriginal

“Research can help understand problems, or it can perpetuate problems. This is particularly evident in research that involves Aboriginal people because the power dynamics exist in multiple ways and almost always benefit the researcher more than the researched…therefore, research is a tool of colonialism” (Martin, 2010, p. 86). She grabbed my attention right away at this statement and the flow of the rest of the chapter really lead  me to new understanding about the appropriation of voice.  The article reminded me of all sorts of things and I could go on forever but here is a smattering of the tangents I thought about:

  • Why are aboriginals in the Western parts of Canada treated with more respect and equity than the Eastern parts?  Is it because Colonialism started from the East?

  • Martin later says “Decolonisation is crucial to the achievement of Aboriginal sovereignty” (p. 95).  While I believe this is true, does it mean that Canadian aboriginals will have to leave the dominion of Canada in order to ever feel that they have sovereignty?

  • I’ve often thought that Australia and New Zealand are at least 10 years ahead of Canada in terms of how they have made reparations for past treatment and moving towards a collaborative relationship with aboriginal people.  Is Canada able to make the same headway?  Can research methods help pave the way?

References:
Martin, K. (2010).  Indigenous research.  In G. Naughton, S. Rolfe, & I. Siraj-Blatchford (Eds.), Doing early childhood research: International perspectives on theory & practice (pp. 85 – 100).  Bershire, UK: McGraw-Hill.

Grown Up Digital: How the net generation is changing your world

Grown Up Digital: How the Net Generation Is Changing Your WorldGrown Up Digital: How the Net Generation Is Changing Your World by Don Tapscott

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m so glad that Don Tapscott is Canadian. Knowing that he’s a local expert and is so prescient in his thinking made this book an even more enjoyable read. I actually listened to it on audiobook through Audible.com.

This is one of those books that caught my attention 4 years ago when it first came out (2009) but I was only ready to read it now. Tapscott calls the current generation of students in high school “The Net Generation” and describes them as valuing these eight norms: freedom, customization, scrutiny, integrity, collaboration, entertainment, speed and innovation (p. 74). As such education is experiencing a massive paradigm shift and is moving towards inquiry-based learning, where students direct their own studies. Tapscott describes school’s new dominant role as one to “encourage students to discover for themselves, and learn a process of discovery and critical thinking instead of just memorizing the teacher’s information” (p. 130). School libraries need to morph to extend this role as well, creating flexible spaces where student innovation can happen. This book has a lot to do with the transformation that I’m pushing for from school library to learning commons.

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Tuned out: Engaging the 21st century learner by Karen Hume

Karen Hume Tuned OutTuned Out: Engaging The 21st Century Learner by Karen Hume

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

If you want a quick snapshot of all that’s happening in educational theory, this is the book for you. At the risk of sounding over-confident, this is exactly why this book was not for me. It’s a basic primer on how to engage students. While there are a few gems along the way, these come not from Hume herself, but from those she is quoting. I was encouraged that there might be deeper material online, and a way to interact with Hume herself in her blog or social media, but the online portion is static, not dynamic, and hasn’t been active since the book’s release. As such, the whole thing smells of a marketing ploy and I’m deeply suspicious. Some of my favourite people are quoted on the cover as responding favourably to this book, but I will try to forgive them for this. I’m going to quickly move on to something more exciting in professional development, in hopes that the bad taste of Hume’s work will leave my mouth.

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Misconceptions by Naomi Wolf

Misconceptions: Truth, Lies, and the Unexpected on the Journey to MotherhoodMisconceptions: Truth, Lies, and the Unexpected on the Journey to Motherhood by Naomi Wolf

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After 10 years of struggling with fertility, 2 miscarriages, and a healthy boy born by emergency C-section, I still turn to Misconceptions. Whenever I feel abnormal for questioning the rights of women in our health system, this book cheers me up. This book is something I recommend to all women in their child-bearing years, or to anyone who is involved in the ongoing absurdities of motherhood. Very few books have been powerful enough to change my life, but Misconceptions is one of them.

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The Adventures of Medical Man by Dr. Michael Evans and David Wichman

Book title: The Adventures of Medical Man: Kids’ Illnesses and Injuries Explained

Author: Dr. Michael Evans and David Wichman

Bibliographic entry Evans, M., & Wichman, D. (2010). The adventures of medical man: Kids’ illnesses and injuries explained. Toronto, Canada: Annick Press.
Description In this non-fiction graphic novel style book, Dr. Evan takes on the role of a new hero in six medical adventures.  Each adventure describes a common kid illness or injury including nut allergy, concussion, broken bones, strep throat, ear infection and asthma.
Reaction Told in the genres of film, the entertaining narrative voice takes on the qualities of the genre.  Both informative and amusing, The Adventures of Medical Man has the potential to expand to a series of books on medical subjects for kids.  The illustrations are larger than life and often contain detailed scientific subject matter.
Recommended age level Junior/Intermediate
Subjects/themes Medicine, illness, injury
Curriculum connections Health and Physical Education: recognize the responsibilities and risks associated with caring for themselves and others (e.g., while babysitting, staying home alone, caring for pets, volunteering in the community, assisting someone with a disability, preparing meals, travelling to and from school and other locations), and demonstrate an understanding of related safety practices and appropriate procedures for responding to dangerous situations (e.g., safe practices for preparing food; responses to allergic reactions, fire, sports injuries, dental emergencies, hypothermia, bullying)
Awards Nominated for the Ontario Library Association’s Red Maple Award 2013
Miscellaneous

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Nice Recovery by Susan Juby

Book title: Nice Recovery

Author: Susan Juby

Nice RecoveryNice Recovery by Susan Juby

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Susan Juby’s own story of recovery is fascinating, raw and often hilarious. I thoroughly enjoyed the first 2/3 of this book. Although I read the rest of the book, I would describe it as opportunistic. This portion, where Juby talks about various strategies to recovery needs to be a reference guide, and not part of the actual novel. Recommended for the OLA White Pine award for non-fiction in 2012, it will be a fascinating read for its visceral and authentic voice.

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Bibliographic entry Juby, S. (2010). Nice recovery. Toronto, Canada: Penguin Canada.
Description Juby’s struggles with anxiety as a child and teenager lead her to abuse alcohol.  This autobiography is very revealing in how young adults are consumed by emotions that often leave to a self-medicating behaviour with alcohol and drugs.
Reaction Juby’s gripping tale of drug and alcohol abuse, addiction and rehabilitation are disturbing.  Her humourous and self-deprecating spin on each tale allows the reader to approach these difficult topics with ease.  The latter third of the book is informational and dry, but the first two-thirds of the book are insightful.
Recommended age level Intermediate/Senior
Subjects/themes Anxiety, mental health, alcohol abuse, addiction
Curriculum connections Health and Physical Education: describe the influence of mental health on overall well-being
Awards Nominated for the non-fiction category of the Ontario Library Association’s White Pine awards
Miscellaneous This is Susan Juby’s first non-fiction book

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