2015 In The Margins Book List Announced

Today, In The Margins (ITM) released their Top Ten Book List. In The margins is a committee of Library Services for Youth in Custody that is committed to the promoting and highlighting diverse books and voices that have been in the margins. ITM strives to find the best books for teens living in poverty, on the streets, in custody – or a cycle of all three.

Check out the winning titles here:


or here:


In The Margins also announced their top picks for fiction and non-fiction title.

In the Margins Top Fiction Award, 2015: How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon

In the Margins Top Non-Fiction Award, 2015:   Left for Dead by Ebony Canion



Support A Community Library This Holiday Season

Interested in supporting a community library this holiday season? Donate a book through Mix IT Up!’s Amazon.com wish list.  Each book purchased goes directly to a Champaign-Urbana community library that supports the reading interests of local youth.

Donated books will support libraries at:

 Directions for purchasing a book:
1. Visit Mix IT Up! wish list here: http://amzn.com/w/1NMHQJM12HR85
2. Select books on wish list by clicking “add to cart”
3. Click “proceed to checkout”
4. Login to your amazon.com account or create one
5. Ship items to Mix IT Up by clicking the “ship to this address” button under Mix IT Up!
*For further assistance e-mail Joe at joe.a.coyle@gmail.com

Working with Sankofa at Franklin Middle School

Working with Sankofa at Franklin Middle School has been a very unique experience. During my time working with Sankofa I truly believe that I have been able to make a real impact on many of the students’ lives. I believe that the children really enjoy being able to work with someone that they can easily relate to. Since starting, I have been able to lead two specific groups called First Lego League, and Chicago Debate league. Also, before working with the groups, I am able to help tutor many of the students with their math, science, english homework. While working with two groups the children are exposed to different aspects of life that many of student may not have otherwise been exposed to. First, looking at First Lego League (FLL) the children are exposed to STEM and the many different things that can be achieved in the field. Many of the children are surprised about what all can be done with science and engineering. As the children learn more about all of the opportunities available we hope that the students will carry their interests all the way through to colleges. Next, working with the Chicago Debate league program, we get a unique opportunity to have the children think about arguing in a different way. The student are also able to research, which is something that many students had not otherwise thought about doing. By doing research on the topics that that are relevant to the debate the students were able to place 18th as a team, with one student placing 7th overall as a student. Finally, I look forward to the continuing success of the program and the growth of the students.

-Jerrod Moore

With Hope of Justice

On Friday, October 24, 2014, Mix IT Up! scholar Jhani Miller attended the Equal Justice Works: Helping Lawyers Help Communities Conference and Career Fair in Washington DC.  The annual event brought together over 1,200 Law Students and Public Interest advocates to discuss matters related to nonprofit legal work and it featured sessions on engaging with communities and finding work in equal justice fields.

Bryan Stevenson, who is the Director of the Equal Justice Initiative and the author of Just Mercy: A Story of Justice And Redemption gave the Keynote Address. Equal Justice Initiative is a private nonprofit 501(c)3 based in Montgomery, Alabama that provides legal representation to defendants and prisoners who, for one reason or another, initially received unfair treatment within the judicial system. They take the position to: “Litigate on behalf of condemned prisoners, juvenile offenders, people wrongly convicted or charged with violent crimes, poor people denied effective representation, and others whose trials are marked by racial bias or prosecutorial misconduct. EJI works with communities that have been marginalized by poverty and discouraged by unequal treatment” and have been doing so with much success.

Stevenson’s speech told personal stories about past clients and additionally, he gave advice on how to combat common problems many people face while working in this field of work. The speech emphasized the need for resilience, especially when our work feels futile or scary. After the talk, Stevenson did a meet and greet and he donated a signed copy of Just Mercy: A Story of Justice And Redemption to the Champaign County Juvenile Detention Center, one of our community partner sites with the simple message inside: With Hope Of Justice.


G. Neri Visits Champaign County Juvenile Detention Center

Coretta Scott King honor-winning author G. Neri visited the Champaign County Juvenile Detention Center on October 16 to talk about his writing process and some of his most popular books. His visit was a part of the larger Youth Literature Festival. Leading up to his visit, youth at the detention center read and discussed G. Neri’s newest book Knockout Games in book clubs.  After his talk, Neri autographed copies of Knockout Games for each reader in attendance.

20141016_150743G. Neri discussing Yummy at the Champaign County Juvenile Detention Center

Teen Design Day workshop at Champaign Public Library

Mix IT Up! scholars recently attended the “Teen Design Day” workshop at the Champaign Public Library, on October 6, 2014. Led by Ann Bishop, professor emerita in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois and InfoMe researcher, this workshop focused on ways to solve the problems of everyday life, by using materials that are already available to you in a different way. We used typical art supplies to build “solution prototypes” that we created ourselves to solve problems such as: the need for a bigger work space; an application that can be used to help with the stresses of traveling; and building a library that has an attached fitness gym. Take a look at the pictures below of the resources we used and some of the solution prototypes that were created.

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G. Neri to speak at the Champaign County Juvenile Detention Center

Youth at the Champaign County Juvenile Detention Center are gearing up for G. Neri’s visit to the center on October 16th as part of the Youth Literature Festival. For the past three weeks, youth at the center have been reading his newest book Knockout Games in book clubs and discussing themes of race, violence, and social media. Neri’s other works have been popular at the center, especially Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty and Ghetto Cowboy. Neri’s newest work is set in St. Louis and has prompted much discussion about representations of race and violence especially as it relates to events surrounding the killing of Michael Brown.

KG cover2