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Van Schaik Bookstore Library Division makes a socially relevant book available to South African teen readers

| December 3, 2018 | 0 Comments

Title: The Hate U Give
Author: Angie Thomas
ISBN: 978-0062498533
Distributed in South Africa by Van Schaik Bookstores

Starr Carter is a 16-year-old black girl who lives in the fictional, mostly poor black neighbourhood of Garden Heights, but attends an affluent, predominantly white private school.

After the police break up a party Starr is attending one weekend, she is driven home by her childhood best friend, Khalil. On the way home, they are stopped by a white police officer. The officer has Khalil, who is black, exit the car; while outside the car, Khalil re-opens the driver-side door to check in on Starr. The officer fires three shots into Khalil, killing him. Khalil’s death becomes a major national news story. The media portrays Khalil as a ‘gang banger’ and drug dealer, while more favorably portraying the white officer who killed him. Starr’s identity as the witness is initially kept secret from just about everyone outside Starr’s family, even her younger brother Sekani – leaving Starr’s two best friends, Hailey Grant and Maya Yang, and Starr’s white boyfriend, Chris, who all attend Williamson Preparatory School together, unaware of Starr’s connection to the news story. Having to keep this secret weigh on Starr, as does her need to keep her Williamson and Garden Heights personas separate. Starr’s struggles with her identity are further complicated after her mother Lisa leaves her job as a nurse in a Garden Heights clinic for a high-paying hospital job and the family moves out of the neighborhood. Starr agrees to be interviewed by two detectives about the shooting, after being encouraged by her Uncle Carlos, who is also a detective. Carlos was a father figure to Starr when her father, Maverick, spent three years in prison for gang activity. Following his release, Maverick leaves the gang and becomes owner of the Garden Heights grocery store where Starr and her half-brother Seven work. Maverick was only allowed to leave his gang, the King Lords, because he admitted to a crime even though he was innocent; this kept gang leader King from being locked up. King, widely feared in the neighborhood, now lives with Seven’s mother and Seven’s half-sister Kenya, who is friends with Starr. After a grand jury fails to indict the white officer, Garden Heights erupts into both peaceful protests and riots. The failure of the criminal justice system to hold the officer accountable pushes Starr to take an increasingly public role. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed.

What libraries of the future do you know about? What makes them special?

I recently visited Singapore American School (SAS) middle school and I met with Ron Starker who has contributed significantly to transforming the way libraries are used. His book Transforming Libraries: A toolkit for Innovators, Makers, and Seekers2 details the design of SAS Middle School library using Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences.3 During my visit, I caught a glimpse of what a library of the future could look like. SAS middle school library was filled with happy bodies and minds who were drawn to the different spaces of the library, including a music studio, a messy makerspace, a virtual reality studio and more. With all these different spaces, the library takes on the personality of the users and that is something that makes this library special. The Cawse Library at St Andrew’s College is a growing model of the library of the future. It has captivated its audience and it has smartly broken free from the barriers that prevented its users from finding help. Since its refurbishment, it is hard to close the doors at night as the users are constantly asking for extension of opening hours. It is beautiful to experience such a demand in a school library: ours is a beautiful story to tell, a love affair.

Who is invited to attend the conference?

The South African Librarians’ Conference is open to librarians and media centre specialists nationwide. A conference of this nature also attracts delegates from across the borders of South Africa.

Who is speaking at the conference? What topics are they addressing?

Ron Starker is the keynote speaker. He currently works as a librarian at Singapore American School and is the developer of “The Connections Project”, which incorporates an innovation centre within a school library. He has developed workshops for the National Library Board of Singapore and has served as a library consultant. He has also worked as a counselor, school psychologist and librarian in public schools in America as well as international schools in Brussels, Vienna and Singapore. The conference will also host other local, national and international speakers addressing critical issues and providing interactive workshops with open discussions on the critical role of librarians in facilitating the success of the type of user we are faced with today in our libraries.

What about schools who cannot afford to come to the conference but desperately want to attend?

If delegates are unable to afford the full cost, they are encouraged to please contact the conference manager, in writing, with a motivation and indication of what they are able to afford. Sponsorships are being sought for delegates who indicate that they have financial constraints to attend the conference. If there are schools that are able to sponsor delegates, they can contact the conference manager, by email, with a sponsorship offer.

What else do you want to say?

Libraries are relevant, but they need to evolve alongside the changing needs of their users. It is my hope that school librarians can all come together and start this critical conversation in South Africa on how to take our libraries forward.

For more information and updates on conference fees, transport, accommodation and contact details, please visit:

1. Gontshi ( Jamieson), V. (2013) “Towards an exceptional Undergraduate Personal Learning Experience: the Personal Librarian Programme, a pilot project at Rhodes University Library. In: Libraries in Dialogue for Transformation and Innovation. Cape Town: LIASA.
2. Starker, R. (2017) Transforming libraries. California: EdTechTeam Press.
3. See:

Category: Summer 2018

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