Monday, March 1, 2010

Nonfiction Monday: Watch This Space: Designing, Defending, and Sharing Public Spaces by Hadley Dyer, illustrated by Marc Ngui

Public space. Who controls it? Where should it be located? Who should be allowed to use it? Do we need public space? These and more questions are answered in this thought-provoking book which includes history, architecture and design, politics, and sociology in a broad look at public space past, present, and future.

The authors are very definite in their own opinions and presentation, but include questions and discussion of controversial aspects of public space as well as anecdotes and examples from around the world. There's also an opportunity to design your own public space and suggestions on ways to become involved and active in conserving and creating public spaces.

The book is only 80 pages long, but packs plenty of information and discussion into those pages as well as punchy graphics and a layout that keeps the text from becoming too heavy. The language and approach indicate it's aimed at middle grade and younger teens, although older teens who are interested in activism may want to pick this up as well. It's primarily focused on urban spaces and a little on suburbs. Small, rural towns and libraries (such as my own) may find this interesting but not particularly relevant. However, if you have an active teen advisory group and are thinking of renovating or designing a teen space - or a new library space - I'd recommend using this in discussion to involve teens in designing their own public space.

[Update: I find it somewhat depressing to go back and look at this in 2011 as I'm revamping posts - our teens have NOT taken ownership of their space in a good way and we are going to be asking all of the middle schoolers who are not "using" the library to leave - meaning they will be hanging gas stations? Other than one after school hangout run by a church a couple days a week, there is nowhere in town for these kids to go. Sadly, our space is not working for them though - or for us. It's a hopeless problem for which I see no happy solution]

ISBN: 978-1554532933; Published March 2010 by Kids Can Press; Review copy provided by publisher through Raab Associates

1 comment:

Anna M. said...

I'm always looking for middle school books and this is one that would definitely peak our students interests. Thank you!