Friday, November 28, 2014

Dig deep guys—it's time for the Book Fair for Ballou High School!

UPDATED 11/28/2014: Powells Books is running a 20% + free shipping sale through December 1st. We have opened up the Ballou Wish List again so folks might take advantage of this amazing deal and send a book (or 2!) to DC. Just type in "SWEETDEAL" when checking out (the last step, when you type in your credit card info - you will see a place to enter a coupon or gift card code). Your final total will then reflect 20% off all of your purchases (including sale prices) and free shipping.

You can use the code as many times as you want this weekend, so buy some books for Ballou & everyone else on your list (and even you!)

Please see all details for ordering below or jump right to the list!



As our regular readers know, Guys Lit Wire annually teams up with Ballou Senior High School librarian Melissa Jackson to host a book fair for this Washington DC high school. Ballou has some big changes on the horizon—a brand new school will be opening in January. This is long overdue (the original school was built in the 1950s) and we are very excited for the Ballou students, teachers and staff. But...even though we were hoping that with the new school and new library/media center there would be an increased budget for books, (and that's what we thought was happening a few months ago), it turns out that is simply not the case.

So, just like in years past, we all need to work together to help these students get the books they want to read. It's important that we buy from the wish list because we want these teens to be excited about the titles. Here's some hard truths about Ballou from the Washington Post:  

Students tend to arrive at Ballou years behind grade level; by 10th grade, about one in five are proficient in reading and math, according to city tests. Fewer than half of students graduate on time and more than 60 percent are considered chronically truant.

Like far too many kids in America, the students at Ballou have some very real struggles. For them a library full of books is not just a treat and a pleasure but a necessity. It's a refuge in the best sense of the word, and we feel that everything we can do to make it a more empowering place is time & money well spent.

We've got all kinds of great books for Ballou on the Powells Books wish list and we do hope you will send a title or two in their direction or, if you can't, please help us spread the word via twitter, facebook and more about the book fair. All the details are behind the cut and if you have any questions, let us know!

By now, you guys know the drill - a wish list has been created at Powells Books that has been vetted by both Melissa and her student literary leaders. We continue to partner with Powells because they do a killer job of getting the books out fast, they offer lots of sale titles (be sure and watch for those) and their "Standard" used copies are pretty much like new. Plus, we are supporting an actual independent bookstore in downtown Portland, Oregon which is nice way connecting both sides of the country in one outstanding literary effort.

Yeah, we love Powells and all the other great bookstores just like it.

Our 2014 Wish List for Ballou, (here's the link if you want to embed it in a post:, has a lot of manga, urban fiction, poetry, paranormal titles and a boatload of big sellers. (Micol Ostow, Roxanne Gay, Kekla Magoon, Gregory Maguire, Paolo Bacigalupi and Matt De La Pena are all front and center.) There is also a lot of urban fiction and, since Melissa is working with a reading population that varies in literacy levels from 5th grade to college prep, we have again liberally mined the resources of the ALA Quick Picks list to discover books with older teen appeal but manageable reading levels.

You can check out the list, make your selections for the school and please know while we prefer new it is perfectly fine to purchase used copies of a book (more bang for your buck). But check and make sure the book is in "standard" used condition and not "student owned" (you will have to click on the title and leave the wish list to check this). The "student owned" copies are very cheap for a reason - they are written in and thus not a good choice for this effort.

Once you have made your selections head to "checkout" and you will be prompted to inform Powells if the books were indeed bought from the wishlist. This lets the store know to mark them as "purchased" on the list. After that you need to provide your credit card info and also fill in the shipping address. (If you have already done this in the past the info will be saved to your Powells account.) Here is where the books are going to:

Melissa Jackson, LIBRARIAN
Ballou Senior High School
3401 Fourth Street SE
Washington DC 20032
(202) 645-3400

It's very important that you get Melissa's name and title in there - she is not the only Jackson (or Melissa) at the school and we want to make sure the books get to the library.

After that you pay for the books and you're done! Please head back over here when you get a chance and leave a comment letting us know who you are, where you're from and what you bought. Also be sure to follow @BallouLibrary on twitter where Melissa will be updating on books as they arrive and student reactions. You can also let her know what you have ordered via twitter - I'm sure she will be delighted to let the kids know what's coming their way.

The list will be open for two weeks - until October 27th.
We thank you so much for taking the time to help some of our nation's youth and a most dedicated caring librarian. It's so easy to help Ballou's library and we really and truly hope that you will join us in doing so. [Post pics all from the Ballou Library facebook page.]


Katy Manck, MLS said...

So many great choices! I ordered 4 of my favorites which I recommended on Killer of Enemies, The Harlem Hellfighters, Breakfast Served Anytime, and Dirt Bikes, Drones, and Other Ways to Fly.

Go, Ballou HS! Enjoy your new library space and continue to make it your space.

Anonymous said...

What a list! I'm sending one my own, BEETLE BUSTERS, as well as two of my favorite recent nonfiction titles, Steve Sheinkin's THE PORT CHICAGO 50 and Sally Walker's BLIZZARD OF GLASS. Happy Reading Ballou!

Colleen said...

Thanks Katy!

Colleen said...

Thanks Loree!!!

Sarah Stevenson said...

YES, Awesome choices! Katy snagged a few of the ones I would have picked. :D

I sent THE LIVING by Matt de la Pena and The Who, the What, and the When: 65 Artists Illustrate the Secret Sidekicks of History (which I totally want for myself!!).

AlisonG said...

I sent BAD FEMINIST, MAPLECROFT, and FIRE SHUT UP IN MY BONES. These wishlists are truly inspiring choices. Good luck with the new school, Ballou!

Melissa said...

I love this book fair. I sent Jackaby, Pointe, and The Girl of His Dreams. So excited they're getting a new school!

Colleen said...

Thanks so much Alison & Melissa - we appreciate your generosity!!!

grrlpup said...

Happy to see this book fair again (and thanks to the Chasing Ray blog for alerting me)! I sent Looks Like Daylight: Voices of Indigenous Kids, which I just checked out of our library and read myself.

Colleen said...

Oh thank you so much - that book is excellent!!

Whitney said...

Is it possible to send in books not from Powell's? I have new copies of some of the books on the list from a committee and could send them along.

Colleen said...

Whitney - yes, that would be great! Please send me an email so I can then remove the titles from the Powells list: