This Halloween, get your monster on!

Do you adore scary stories? Are you addicted to Horror novels or alien-monster films? Do your friends look at you sideways when they catch you reading yet another paperback that features a serial killer or a case of demonic possession?
Actually, your spooky predilection is mostly normal. Mostly. The magazine Psychology Today once asked Horror film director Clive Barker why people love to get scared. His answer: “It empowers them… One of the ways you take hold of the things that frighten you is to grasp the nettle very tightly, so it doesn’t sting.” That explains a lot.
So; now you have Clive Barker’s blessing to read scary things to your cob-webby heart’s content. And while you’re at it, find out more about why you love dark tales so much. Spend this Halloween reading some of the following titles.


Happy Birthday, Charlotte’s Web!!

I was listening to NPR recently and heard that a favorite childhood classic, Charlotte’s Web, is celebrating its 60th birthday this month. In “The New York Times” from October 19th, 1952, Charlotte’s Web was reviewed by Eudora Welty, who said, “The book has liveliness and felicity, tenderness and unexpectedness, grace and humor and praise of life, and the good backbone of succinctness that only the most highly imaginative stories seem to grow.” She continued to describe some of the main characters in the book and closed the book review by saying, “What the book is about is friendship on earth, affection and protection, adventure and miracle, life and death, trust and treachery, pleasure and pain, and the passing of time. As a piece of work it is just about perfect, and just about magical in the way it is done.”

I have warm, fuzzy feelings about this book. My second grade teacher read it to our class. I loved the magic of the fair, riding the ferris wheel and round, fat Templeton crawling home after a night of good eating. I liked the idea of rooting for the underdog Wilbur, the runt that no one wanted except Fern. And of course, Charlotte, with her descriptive words for Wilbur’s personality. I remember having to do a word description project for myself and a friend in my second grade classroom. “Some Pig” and “Crunchy” would not work for a person. I was an avid library visitor, but this was a book I NEEDED to own.  On Christmas, I remember unwrapping a copy of this book from my grandparents and in my Gram’s neat cursive on the inside cover it says, “Merry Christmas! Love, Gram and Pop (1988)”. My grandparents have since passed away, but this book is in a special place on my bookshelf in my living room.

According to “Publishers Weekly”, Charlotte’s Web is the best-selling paperback for children of all time. As this book celebrates its 60th birthday, I think it is time for me–and maybe you, too–to re-read this classic book.


WHITE, E.B.                                       Original Date: 1952

A little girl who can talk with animals is devoted to Wilbur, the foolishly smug pig, and Charlotte, the beautiful gray spider who works to save Wilbur’s life. A sensitive story for children of all ages as well as adults.  Newbery Honor book 1953.

Charlotte’s Web is available in Braille, audio cassette, digital download (BARD), digital cartridge and large print.

BR 01318, BR 09405, BR 17770, BT 03247

DX 46839, DB 46839

RC 07107, RC 46839

LB 05976

For a link to the story on NPR “Some Pig! Charlotte’s Web Turns 60” go to:

Cited, NY Times article “Along Came a Spider” (book review of Charlotte’s Web):

Cited, My Library of Congress, Exhibition, “Books that Shaped America, 1950 – 2000:

Happy Banned Books Week, September 30th – October 6th

Banned Book Week celebrates the freedom to read and challenges us to read books that have caused controversy. Since 1990, the Office of Intellectual Freedom at the American Library Association has been keeping track of books that are challenged at public and school libraries around the country. The American Library Association describes a book challenge as, “a formal, written complaint, filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness”. In 2011, 326 books were challenged around the country. Books are challenged for a variety of reasons and what some people consider classics others consider challenge worthy.

For more information about Banned Book Week and more challenge worthy reads go to:

Read what all the fuss is about with this selection of 2011’s challenged books from around the United States. You may be surprised to find some of these titles on the list.


COLLINS, SUZANNE                                  Original Date: 2008

In a future North America, Panem’s rulers maintain control through a televised survival competition pitting teens from twelve districts in a fight to the death. Sixteen-year-olds Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark are this year’s girl and boy contestants from District Twelve. Some violence. For junior and senior high readers.

BR   18488         BT   03374         DB   68384       DX   68384

LB   06861      RC   68384


ALEXIE, SHERMAN                                   Original Date: 2007

Spokane Indian Reservation. Fourteen-year-old Junior–beset with physical problems caused by brain damage–transfers to an all-white town school. Called a traitor by his best friend and Tonto by his new classmates, Junior uses humor and wit to bridge the cultural divide. Some strong language. For junior and senior high readers.

DB   65403  DLD       RC   65403


NAYLOR, PHYLLIS REYNOLDS                          Original Date: 1985

Throughout the summer, Alice McKinley has been remembering all of the dumb things she’s ever done.  She’s had no mother for years; no wonder she’s always getting into embarrassing situations.  Now that sixth grade is beginning and she’s almost a teenager, Alice figures she’d better find a good role model–fast. This is the first in a series of 25 books.

RC   25250


HUXLEY, ALDOUS                                    Original Date: 1946

A satire of a technocratic future society in which people are rigidly classified and kept happy by a government-administered drug. When two bureaucrats, Lenina and Bernard, travel to a “savage” reservation, they “rescue” a woman and her adult son, abandoned long ago, and return them to civilization. An argument with the “World Controller” demonstrates the incompatibility of individual freedom and a totally  planned society. For senior high and older readers.

BR   01601         BR   11922         DB   47108  DLD     DX   47108    LB   02990         RC   47108


SONES, SONYA                                      Original Date: 2001

Fourteen-year-old Sophie describes her life in prose poems. She discusses her search for Mr. Right, her unhappy parents, her school activities, and her friends, Grace and Rachel. Grade 1 braille. For senior high readers.

BR   14156


LEE, HARPER                                       Original Date: 1960

Scout Finch is an outspoken and literate six-year-old tomboy when she begins her tale of growing up in a small Alabama town with her brother Jem and her attorney father Atticus. The children’s intense curiosity about a reclusive neighbor is eclipsed by Atticus’s attempt to defend   a black man against charges of raping a white woman. Pulitzer Prize winner.

BR   12850        DB   36414  DLD     DX   36414   RC   36414

ADA Awareness Day

Hello, and welcome to the DIRC section of the Texas Talking Book Program blog! The Disability Information and Referral Center (DIRC) houses information and materials on types of disabilities and health conditions, as well as related organizations, agencies, publications, products, and technology. This is a free reference service provided for anyone with a disability or health related question. You do not have to be a member of the Talking Book Program in order to use the services provided by the DIRC.

Monday, July 16th, is known as Disability (ADA) Awareness Day. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law on July 26, 1990, by President George H. Bush, and later amended on January 1, 2009.

The ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on disability.
There are four sections, or titles, of the ADA:
Title I – Employment
Title II – Public Entities (and public transportation)
Title III – Public Accommodations (and Commercial Facilities)
Title IV – Telecommunications

The ADA does not cover every type of health condition or disability, or every aspect of life. Some people with disabilities have the belief that the ADA affords them the legal right to ask for and receive anything they need, and this is not the case. For example, apartment complexes must provide accessible units, but certain accessible elements such as grab bars in the bathroom are not mandated by the ADA. Residents with disabilities who need grab bars may have to pay for both the installation, and the eventual removal, of the grab bars when they vacate the apartment.

Another interesting aspect of the ADA is that while Titles II, III, and IV are enforced by the Department of Justice, Title I, which covers employment, is enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Persons with disabilities who feel they have been discriminated against in the workplace can contact the EEOC at, 800-669-4000.

On September 25, 2008, President George W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) into law. The main impetus for the ADAAA was to clarify and broaden the definition of disability in order to include individuals who were not protected under the first version of the law. To learn more about the ADAAA, visit

For more information on the Americans with Disabilities Act:

The U.S. Department of Justice
Information and Technical Assistance on the Americans with Disabilities Act:, 800-514-0301
ADA specialists are available by phone to answer questions concerning the ADA. Copies of the ADA regulations, as well as other publications, are available as well. Materials can be provided in alternative formats as well: large print, audio, Braille, and computer disk

Southwest ADA Center:, 800-949-4232
This is a regional office that provides similar services as technical assistance, training, and materials dissemination. The Center is funded by a grant from the Department of Education’s National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR).

Wikipedia page on the Americans with Disabilities Act:

2012 ADA Anniversary Toolkit:

The DIRC features a circulating collection of books in print and educational videos. Books are loaned for a period of five weeks, and videos for three weeks. The borrower is responsible for the return postage by fourth class mail.

Here are some DIRC titles concerning the Americans with Disabilities Act:

The ABCs of the ADA: your early childhood program’s guide to the Americans with Disabilities Act, 2009

Employment Issues and Multiple Sclerosis, 2008

Voices from the edge: narratives about the Americans with Disabilities Act, 2004

Equality of opportunity: the making of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 1997

Texas factoid about the ADA:
Justin Dart, although born in Illinois, is known as a Texas son who endeavored tirelessly for the rights of people with disabilities. A polio survivor, he worked with President George H. Bush on the drafting of the ADA, and he was present at the ceremony when the bill was signed into law. Mr. Dart passed away in 2002 at the age of 71. The University of Houston Students with Disabilities Office has been re-named the Justin Dart Center. To learn more about Justin Dart and his accomplishments, please visit:,_Jr.