Today’s interview is with K. C. Boyd, a blogger, media specialist, and self-described Warrior Librarian who writes about street lit, school media library work, and her passion for the librarian profession at Miss Domino.
Tell us about your work with street lit.
While serving as a Kdg – 8th grade librarian, I first began using Street Literature books to encourage leisure reading. I began to read YA Street Literature books and shared them with my 7th and 8th grade students. This was successful practice because many of the books did not have reviews from major reviewing sources. This provided me with the opportunity to identify the best books that were appropriate for the age group and would meet the needs of my students.
Four years ago when I was promoted to an Administrative Library position, I selected a number of the books for a district wide book club. The books were received very well mainly because they met the emotional needs of the students served. Finally, through the many posts on my blog about Street Literature I can educate, share information and advocate for its presence in library programs.
How did you first hear about street lit as a genre?
I first heard about Street Literature while in high school. I read books by Donald Goines, Iceberg Slim and Claude McKay because many of the books in my school library just didn’t appeal to me. Years later during college, I read books by Omar Tyree, Teri Woods and Sister Souljah. You can say from that point on I was hooked.
According to your Miss Domino blog, you’re not just a street lit advocate but also a street lit fan. What do you enjoy about the genre? Can you talk about some favorite titles?
Street Literature books are fast paced, thrilling and adventurous – the books are hard to put down. The stories are ‘real’ and reflect the true stories of the streets in a raw, honest and unflinching manner. Authors of the genre take me on an emotional journey through their stories/characters that is relatable.
Favorite Street Literature Books – Adult
1. Bad Girlz by Shannon Holmes
2. Black Girl Lost by Donald Goines
3. Damaged by Kia DuPree
4. Dirty Red by Vickie Stringer
5. Flipside of the Game by TuShonda Whitaker
6. Gangsta by K’Wan
7. Manchild in the Promised Land by Claude McKay
8. Project Chick by Nikki Turner
9. PUSH by Sapphire
10. The Coldest Winter Ever/Midnight by Sister Souljah
11. Thug Lovin by Wahida Clark
12. True to the Game by Teri Woods
Favorite Street Literature Books – Tweens/Teens
1. Damaged by Kia DuPree
2. Hot Girl by Dream Jordan
3. Keysha’s Drama by Earl Sewell
4. Monster by Walter Dean Myers
5. Retaliation by Yasmin Shiraz
6. Rooftop by Paul Volponi
7. Shortie Like Mine by Ni-Ni Simone
8. The Bully/The Gun by Paul Langan
9. The Skin I’m In by Sharon Flake
10. Tyrell by Coe Booth
You work with schools. What do you think about having adult street lit titles in school libraries?
First of all, students should be exposed to all literary genres. With that said, I believe there is a place for Street Literature in high schools and middle schools. There are some great ‘read-alike’ Street Literature books that can be great additions to library collections for tweens. As far as high school collections, there are numerous titles that can also be integrated into library collections that have an adult classification.
I advocate for the use of Street Literature in schools for this main reason: the genre meets the emotional needs of the child. The genre addresses timeless themes such as peer pressure, violence, pregnancy, divorce, drugs and sex which tweens/teens can relate to. The stories are also cautionary tales that forces the reader to compare the story to their own lives and emphasize with the protagonists struggle.
Through the inclusion of the genre in my library collection and the Mayor Daley’s Book Club, I have observed first hand that these books can serve as a platform for discussion/dialogue between tweens/teens and adults. Street Literature is a genre that should not be dismissed or censored, it should be embraced by all. This is a genre that speaks to a group of young library patrons that has historically been ignored by publishing houses.