Tag Archives: literature

The Power of Stories like Star Wars

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Let the Wookie Read! It is so exciting to me that communities across the world get to connect the power of reading with the awe of Star Wars for the entire month of October. How will you celebrate? Let’s start by commenting below and sharing with us some of your favorite Star Wars stories told in print.

I think a lot of us here at Grey Havens understand the power of a good story. Some of our young and older adults, including yours truly, didn’t really like reading until we came across Harry Potter or The Lord of the Rings. One good story was all it took to enlighten our minds and spark a passion for more. Star Wars can do that too. Because of Star Wars, countless families will go to libraries during the month of October and probably find new and exciting books to read, maybe for the first time.

Grey Havens celebrated on October 15th at Carbon Valley Regional Library in Firestone, Colorado. It was a delightful day of droid racing, light-saber making, dramatic readings from William Shakespeare’s Star Wars, Jedi-training, and more — including an Interactive Viewing of The Force Awakens after hours. It was wonderful to put our nerdy love of Star Wars to good use by engaging people in reading and community.

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Here at Grey Havens YA, a part of the Grey Havens Group, Inc, we do not separate “low” and “high” art, all art can be meaningful and inspire discussion. We take films, television shows, and YA novels as seriously as we’d take the work of Shakespeare. That’s why it was so fun to combine Shakespeare and Star Wars, to talk about the fictional Jedi and their unique way of life, and to have engage the imagination by interacting with a movie we all know and love.

If you want to learn more about Grey Havens, check out our parent website at GreyHavensGroup.org, and come visit us on Halloween. We love to host fun discussions and events for adults too, and we’re kicking off our adult programming with a Hobbit Halloween and Harry Potter DeathDay Party at our new adult venue: Local Editions in Longmont. Stop by  anytime between 6pm – 8pm for a flyer, some candy, and a chance to learn more about getting involved in this amazing and nerdy organization.
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The Right to Free Imagination

Círdan’s Note: Grey Havens YA just finished discussing our fourth book, Epic by Conor Kostick. Robyn, our co-director, also recently finished an old book she acquired at Readcon: Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi. She wanted to share these thoughts with you.

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Here at Grey Havens YA, we place tremendous value on the imagination. We often say, “Nothing was ever made by human hands or realized in the intellect that was not first conceived of in the imagination,” and you can read more about that on our about page.

Dr. Azar Nafisi writes of the importance of imagination and literature in her memoir:
“I have this recurring fantasy that one more article has been added to the Bill of Rights: the right to free access to imagination. I have come to believe that genuine democracy cannot exist without the freedom to imagine and the right to use imaginative works without any restrictions. To have a whole life, one must have the possibility of publicly shaping and expressing private worlds, dreams, thoughts and desires, of constantly having access to a dialogue between the public and private worlds. How else do we know that we existed, felt, desired, hated, feared?

“We speak of facts, yet facts exist only partially to us if they are not repeated and re-created through emotions, thoughts and feelings. To me it seemed as if we had not really existed, or only have existed, because we could not imaginatively realize ourselves and communicate to the world, because we had used works of imagination to serve as handmaidens to some political ploy.”

This passage made me think both of the world in Epic and the world of Grey Haven YA. The characters of Epic play a game, a game that is not played or explored for pleasure, but rather studied and completed for the sake of government. The game is the government, it’s how those in power control the people. At the end of the novel, we glimpse a possibility for a new way of government, and we talked about this in depth at our last meeting.

We talked about how the powerful in Epic seek to control the universities, and Kelly and I mentioned the idea that if you control the universities, you control the knowledge, the culture of the people. Nafisi faced this in real life in Tehran where she tried to teach literature for its own sake and not the government’s.

Even when learning about literature in the United States, one still has to fight for the beauty of it over the end result of a test score. A few of our members have told us that they don’t mind if we read books in the group that they’ve already studied in school because at Grey Havens YA, “We get to talk about the book a lot more and go deeper than we ever did in class.” It is a joy to see our YA members express their love for stories and to get to see them embrace imagination.

I don’t at all mean to downplay the horrors of the real government that Nafisi and her students faced in Tehran. What I mean to say is that I am so grateful for the insights in her book, and I am grateful that a group like Grey Havens YA exists where imagination can be encouraged and nurtured.

Our culture right now is obsessed with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields, and our young adults are caught in the tension between wanting to create but also wanting to code. Many of them want to be both artists and scientists. Isn’t it true that there could be no STEM without first imagination? And to nurture the imagination, one must first nurture the value of story. I’m so honored that we get to do that here in Grey Havens YA.

As Albert Einstein said: “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

If you live in the Boulder County area and would like the chance to nurture your own imagination a little more while also helping out Grey Havens YA, stop by Lucky’s Market in Longmont on Saturday, November 21st from 11am-4pm to Gobble Up a Good Book. You can donate any amount and take home a mysterious wrapped book. We hope to see you there!

Send us an owl: What are you thoughts on the value of imagination? 

End-of-Summer Awesome!

New Doctor Who is materializing on TV screens this fall and, before that, the educational adventure will resume for those of you going back to school. Do you need some AWESOME to ease the transition? Here are books recommended for young adult readers by patrons of the Longmont Public Library, courtesy of the Awesome Box!

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The Amulet series is an exceptionally popular series of graphic novels that is recommended for readers as young as 8, but engaging enough for readers of all ages.

A very astute patron recommended the Doctor Who television series, entertaining imaginative teens since 1963! You might also want to get on board with Twelve Doctors, Twelve Stories, an anthology of stories by some very well-known Whovians. There is one story for each Doctor, except for the War Doctor, that is. Quick! Someone write some fan fiction!

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A very enthusiastic patron recommended The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter for “teens looking for a good read about the Greek gods.” She added that the book “involved love, mystery, murder, and tests!” School exams are nothing next to the seven tests our main character has to endure!

For another action-packed take on the supernatural, try The Last Apprentice series by Joseph Delaney, recommended for readers age 11 and up.

Watch this space for the final Awesome Box post–a round-up of all the best recommendations from the 2014-2015 school year from Saint Vrain Valley school district readers. When that first day of school arrives, strap on your best geek-themed backpack and allons-y!

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East McDonald Islands

Círdan’s note: The NerdyBalrog brings us a rare treat. He writes, “This story is my Middle-Earth McDonalds story translated into French, then Polish, then Vietnamese, then Greek, then Korean, then Latin, then Turkish, then Arabic, then Urdu, and then back into English. It was all translated in Google Translate.”

What an fascinating experiment! It reminds me of our discussion about constructed languages and universal translators. Feel free to pull up the original story and view these two side by side– and then leave us your comments below about the similarities and differences you noticed. What did this make you think about the nature of language and translation?

This was the beginning of the fourth century. Once again they may not fit your territory. King Elessar Gondor and the king chose the Arno. Boone was a massive fortress. But the question remains: It’s a good middle ground for dinner

Boone heard a bomb in the Supreme. It’s the most productive, our life can be for food. Gates is just fantastic food! Gates expertise that can be spread visited a lot of places. McDonald’s is created. Uncle and brother operated a restaurant Hui son’s name. Some new challenges, but the foolish.

First, a McDonald’s Rivendell (certainly not the last, but) come. In fact, the first McDonald’s Rivendell. McDonald’s opened a lot. Chicken Fingers, and quarter-inch guns hit the Big Mac hamburger is very flat. Very close to the first creatures to cook with the effort made by McDonald’s to be affected. A few months after the beginning of love, the McDonald began to spread more quickly! McDonald was a great success!

After you make a gift of McDonald’s has been effective for thousands of years. Gates actually achieve the dream. I enjoyed the food (and I mean the whole world). McDonald lines always remember:

The taste of salt
All are open.
This peaceful
Vegetables severe hunger.
In the past, the meat must be met,
Places to Balaheul.

Send us an owl: What do you think Professor Tolkien would think about this translation experiment?

Thar be Sherlock

Círdan’s note: Grey Havens YA has finished our discussions of Sherlock Holmes for the present time. We are currently in the process of finding a new book! Today, as tribute to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s creation, we take a special look at the famous detective through the eyes of ThistlePiper. See his notes below!

Who is Sherlock Holmes? All over the world and throughout history many have wondered about the many mysteries that make up the world’s most iconic consultant detective. Let’s start by accessing the book character and Sherlock’s  personal character.

Sherlock Holmes is not the average book character. Many books will have a normal character with abnormal lives and abilities. Sherlock, however, is different. Sherlock is an abnormal character leading a semi-normal life. As for his abilities, he is just really smart. He will however utilize logic and deductive reasoning  in an astounding manner. Now, I mean no offense to Sherlock himself but he is undeniably the ultimate know-it-all in existence. Not only that but one gets the impression that Mr. Holmes revels in it. However, in Sherlock’s defense I can imagine how being the only one on his level can be maddening. Now by “his level” I mean someone who functions at the same intellectual capacity and moral capacity (for what little there is) as Sherlock . Moriarty, Sherlock’s arch-enemy doesn’t count.

Now for some examples of the basic Sherlock-isms–

If Rachel, a lead forensics detective for Scotland Yard, leaves for work at 4:00 AM and the standard transition time is 1 hour 30 minutes, the deductive reasoning allows for one to surmise that if Rachel leaves at 4, then she is taking into account the transition time and is doing her best to accommodate for any diversity in the commute. She arrives at 5:30 AM, so therefore she has to be on duty at 6:00 AM.

There is also the theory of non-identity for example: A = not B or C, but A.

Then you have inductive reasoning: All Scotsmen wear kilts so therefore that kilted guy is Scottish.

Precise /Deductive reasoning: A=B B=C then A=C.

Ad hominem: The art of attacking the individual instead of the argument.

Red herring: Introducing a topic that is not relevant to the argument.

Straw man: Introducing a weaker representation of truth so that you can knock it down like a straw man.

Appeal to pity: Appealing to the emotions of the subject.

Appeal to popularity: Asking someone to accept an argument because the majority holds it to be true.

Appeal to tradition: Asking someone to accept an argument because it has been accepted as true in the past.

Category mistake: Attributing to one category that which can only be attributed to another. (ex. Blue is nicer than red.)

Halo effect: Assuming that, because some thing is good in one way (ex. Physically attractive), it must also be good in other ways. (ex. kind)

Send us an owl: What do you think of Sherlock? Which Sherlock-ism do you find most fascinating? Which short story did you enjoy reading the most?

Making the Magic of Grey Havens Available to the Next Generation: Meet Robyn Bosica at the Real Myth Symposium

Círdan’s note: Did you know that Grey Havens YA is going to have a major presence at this year’s Real Myth and Mithril Symposium? Check it out!

The Grey Havens Group

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About Robyn Bosica:

Robyn Bosica is the volunteer Co-Director of Grey Havens YA and currently resides in Frederick, Colorado. Robyn has been working with young adults in community events, theater programs, and service trips since 2008, and she is thrilled to be a part of a group as awesome as Grey Havens YA. For her work, she received the City of Longmont’s 2014 “Make Time for Kids Award” last November. Robyn holds a Bachelor’s degree in English and Writing from Towson University in Baltimore, Maryland. Her particular interests include creative nonfiction, science fiction, and the intermingling of literature and identity. An avid Tolkien-fan from the age of eleven, Robyn seeks to encourage the next generation of young adults to follow their nerdy passions and engage in the kind of world-building imagination that shines light into life’s darker moments. Robyn blogs about those moments, along with faith, grief, and beauty at her personal…

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You Can’t Stop the Awesome!

The Grey Havens YA Awesome Box is currently visiting Frederick High School and Mead High School. (How can it be in two places at one time? Well, timey-wimey.) We will share the results from these two schools with you soon but we still have a lot of recommendations from the students at schools the blue box visited in 2014. Here are some of the results from Westview Middle School. It’s almost like the box can travel in time or something.

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Wonder by R.J. Palacio is recommended for “middle schoolers.” The book is certainly  a good read for grades 6 and up but Palacio’s story of prejudice and perseverance has proven to be one of the publishing sensations of 2014. It is a story that speaks to hearts of all ages.

Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm is recommended for 5th-8th grade. Turtle is the perfect heroine for this work of adventurous historical fiction. She is just the kind of spirited, tough character the Doctor might like to meet some day.

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Continuing the theme of historical adventure, Jason’s Gold by Will Hobbs is recommended for “teens and up.” Author, Jack London, is featured as a character in this thrilling book. Did you know that a fictionalized Jack London also made an appearance in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Time’s Arrow?”

From history to a dystopian future, Among the Hidden Stars from the Shadow Children series by Margaret Peterson Haddix is recommended for “anyone who likes adventure/political books.”

If you just can’t get enough of imaginative stories of future political uprisings, you can check out Dark Inside by Jeyn Roberts, recommended for “anyone who enjoys dystopian fiction (Hunger GamesDivergent, etc.).” After that, you might want to turn your attention to the Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld. This dark tale of a society dominated by ideals of beauty is described as, not just awesome, but “super awesome.”

The Doctor definitely approves of books like these that make readers think! More awesome book recommendations will be coming your way from Westview Middle School and other libraries the Awesome Box has visited in its travels. Plus, you can park your TARDIS here for extra awesomeness from the Longmont Public Library. See you soon!

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Send Us an Owl: Have you read any of these books? Did you think they were awesome? Why or why not?

Heroes of Rune Chapter 3

Cirdan’s Note: I’m pleased to introduce to you another installment from our very own spock0528. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been itching to find out more about the World of Rune! Make sure you’ve read the prologue,  chapter one, and chapter two before continuing on the journey below!

Chapter 3

Darius

Darius ran quickly over the cobbled stones, past a row of shopkeepers and through a narrow alley. As he ran he adjusted the strap on his courier bag. He was going to be late. Darius quickly sidestepped a merchant carrying a basket of a fruit on his head. He could see his destination just ahead. With a flying leap he jumped over the stone steps and skidded to a stop just in front of the door to the couriers office. He flung open the door and darted inside. Madame Dreyfus looked up from a stack of papers. “Ah, Darius, did you bring the message from the minstrels guild?” she asked in her dry nasally voice. “Yes Mam,” Darius said as he pulled out the envelope marked with a red seal. “They have everything ready for Lord Seacrests arrival.” “Excellent, now I think you’re wanted back at the palace,” Madame Dreyfus said taking the envelope. “Yes Mam,” Darius said as he exited the office.

Darius strolled through the streets of Teroh. He was approaching the palace, a massive tower that rose so high into the sky it’s head was not visible from the street. Etched into the side of tower was a gold dragon that curled all the way up the tower like a coiled rope. Surrounding the single tower was a courtyard with several small official structures inside it. This was the mighty castle of Teroh, the home of the great King Alistair, the mighty stronghold of the Eastirim. At each of the corners of the square courtyard were the four gates into the palace. Above each gate was a statue of one of the four gods. Each statue towered above the gate so that while walking through a gate you would go under the statue’s legs. Right in front of him was the North Gate and a golden statue of Acosor holding in one hand a sword and in the other a scepter.  As Darius drew closer to the center of the kingdom, the people he encountered grew more official looking and the merchants and street vendors began to diminish. The people here were dressed in fine robes and some wore armor and carried swords. The buildings became taller and less ramshackled. The road sloped steeply upward now, and Darius began to tire.

The city of Teroh was built into the side of a mountain with the palace at the top. Buildings were built on all sides of the mountain and long walkways extended from its many towers. Most structures were made of sandstone and the towers near the top of the mountain were capped with gold and red. Flags fluttered in the gentle breeze of a mid-spring day and the waters of Lake Teroh sparkled below. Teroh was a mass of buildings all stacked on top of each other and all sticking out at odd angles. To the a person viewing the rest of Teroh from the street it was a crazy mess of people and buildings. But from afar it looked as if it were one giant structure instead of the thousands of individual ones. It was quite the view, and Darius saw it everyday.

Darius was part of a special program for orphans in the city of Teroh. Darius had entered the city at the age of ten claiming his parents were killed by bandits. Instead of being put up for adoption he was selected by Master Pibb, the head of the program, to become a royal aid. There were about 15 orphans working as aids at a time and each one was selected from the orphanage by their devotion and loyalty to the kingdom. The aids worked a variety of important jobs around the kingdom. Darius had been a personal assistant to several important lords and helped in the royal kitchens. He had even been the king’s food taster for a while. And now he was working as a courier. The aids did whatever was needed. The program also allowed the orphans to experience a variety of jobs. If they excelled at a job, one of the masters of that trade could select them as an apprentice. It gave the orphans a chance to learn trades that they would have learned if they had parents.

Darius had pale skin, quite unusual for an Eastirim, so unusual many believed he had a skin disease, and blue eyes. His short raven black hair fell loosely in front of his eyes and he was constantly brushing it out of the way. He was around 14 years old (he claimed he had lost track of his birthday) and was just two years away from being chosen as an apprentice by one of the masters. Darius did not know what he would be chosen for. He was decent in all of the areas he had tried but didn’t really excel at any one. Darius found it hard to fit in in Teroh. It was so different from his homeland. He had friends, other orphans in the program, but he spent most of his time by himself. It gave him more time to reflect, to plan, to figure out how to get out of here.

As Darius approached the palace, he ran into Master Pibb. “Ah Darius, I was looking for you,” he said. Master Pibb was a heavy man with a bald shiny head and a pinkish face. Darius guessed that Master Pibb was around 50 but it was hard to tell with his bald head. “I assume Madame Dreyfus got her messages on time?” he asked. “Yes Master Pibb,” he said quickly. Darius got nervous when he talked to Master Pibb. He got nervous when he talked to any official. “I have new orders from Sir Roddick,” Master Pibb replied. Sir Roddick was in in charge of the army in Teroh. “You know very well of Lord Seacrest’s arrival here next week.” Darius nodded. “There is a tournament in his honor. Lord Nicholas Snow v.s. William Gore. You are to clean and polish Sir Gore’s armor and weapons. Make sure there shining! They will be collected tonight so hurry on down to the barracks”. Darius gave a “yes sir” to Master Pibb and headed around to the East Gate where the barracks were.

Darius cursed under his breath. He would be up all night polishing William Gore’s armor. If that even was his real name. Sir William Gore was probably the biggest man in Eastirim. He had bright red hair and was seven feet tall and he looked about seven feet wide too! He had become famous for winning a duel without any weapon when his opponent carried a great broadsword. He had simply grabbed the sword, broke it in two with his own bare hands and smashed the mans head open like a watermelon. This had earned him the name of “Gore.” Or so the story went. Darius doubted it was true, but either way he felt sorry for Nicholas Snow, whoever that was. He seemed to remember hearing it somewhere but he couldn’t remember where. Since Sir Gore was so big, special armor three times the normal size had to be built for him. Three times the size meant three times the polishing, and that meant Darius was going to have a very late night.

On the way to the East Gate Darius heard a commotion. As he drew closer he saw a man standing on top of a crate with a group of people standing around him, listening to him shout. “The last of the Turks are dead! Methelga and Fayrx were caught a fortnight ago near Farbean.”

Darius knew of the Turks. For a while they were the most powerful family in Zarkaran, second only to the King himself. Baron Ramm Turk, the head of the family, was the King’s most trusted advisor. The Turks basically had their own private army that they lent out to the King in time of trouble. Around five years ago the Turks had gotten cocky. They had launched an attack on an Eastirim city called Pinebone. They had burnt the city to the ground, killed its men and taken its women and children away to work as slaves. This caused outrage from the Eastirim and it nearly started a full scale war. The war was prevented when the Zarkakran government claimed the Turks had acted without permission from the government but the Zarkarans still protected the Turks. Action needed to be taken. An Eastirim raiding party attacked the Turks mansion and killed almost everyone inside including the Baron himself. Only a few stragglers had escaped and for the last half a decade the hunt was on. Now the last of them had been caught and killed. This move had not caused war right away, but Darius and many others believed the Turks were the main reason the Zarkarans were rumored to be attacking the north of Eastirim.

“Second cousins of the great baron himself,” the man on the crate shouted. Darius noted that he spit as he said the word “baron.” “Tracked down and killed like the dogs they were,” he shouted as the public viewing his rant cheered.

Darius moved on. He was going to to have to get a start on that armor sometime. He moved through the riled up crowd and continued on to the barracks. So the last of the Turks were dead. Darius thought about it. He had been hearing about the manhunt for years now. Darius continued to think about it. Then he smiled under his breath.

Polishing the armor took his whole afternoon and most of his evening and when he was done a burly attendant collected it with a grunt. Darius headed back to his house that he shared with three other orphans in the program, his arms sore and calloused from the job he had just completed. The others were not back yet. Good, he had time for it. Darius lit four candles and placed them in each corner of the room. He pulled up a loose floorboard near his bed and removed a small item from it. He sat in the middle of the room and put the item in his lap. Darius murmured a few words under his breath. “Ncvx delagreen xuqrt merkxh,” he said as if he was in a trance. He looked back at the door, his eyes wide. If someone walked in and saw this… He put his hand over the item and whispered a few more words. “lmbn haxcv uiz,” he said quickly. He then put out the candles and placed the item back in its safe spot in the floorboard. The item was a small stone statue of Azolael, the Zarkaran god. It was the last thing given to him by his father. His father, Baron Ramm Turk.

Send us an owl: Whoa! Twist! What did you think? Stay tuned for Chapter 4 coming soon!

Member Monthly Rant: Books and Reading

Cirdan’s note: Greetings. Today, we bring you a well-worded rant from our very own geekygeenerd. Enjoy, and be sure to send us an owl!

I believe in books and the power of reading.

I have loved to read ever since I learned how.  I was reading chapter books in first grade, and tore through the Harry Potter series when I was nine.  In fact, I once got in trouble at school for reading during class.  When the teacher called me out on it, I wasn’t embarrassed as much as I was concerned that he didn’t use a bookmark.  I have learned over the years that people who read more tend to know more things.  For example, I was once accused of cheating because I knew the answers to many of the questions a teacher was asking from a trivia book.  But all that I was using was the knowledge I had accumulated from books.  The ability to read well is also important for school.  Remembering knowledge acquired from books is important, because students are expected to read textbooks and novels, and some refuse because they say that they “hate reading,” which is incredibly sad to me.  Reading increases knowledge.  Reading can make you laugh, cry, and fall in love with fictional characters.  When I read the Harry Potter series, I did all of those things.  I developed emotions and feelings from printed words on the pages of books.

Some will argue that there is no need to read with today’s technologies, however, they fail to see that not everything can be absorbed by a screen.  For example, encyclopedias are checked thoroughly before they are published.  But websites like Wikipedia can be edited by anyone, making them unreliable.  Also, studies show that people who read from books retain more information than those who read from a screen.  Others think they just don’t like reading in general, but maybe that is because they have never found something they have enjoyed reading.  I think this correlates with assigned books in school.  I have noticed other students will start a book thinking they will hate it, and sometimes they do.  One personal experience I have had with this was when my brother was assigned to read The Giver. He hated it, but I loved it, and we usually love and share the same books.  I think this is due to the fact that he was forced to read it, but I chose to read it for fun.

I truly believe that reading makes you smarter.  In fact, kids who were shown the television show Spongebob Squarepants had a lower IQ after doing so.  What do you think would happen to those kids if they had read instead?  I was never allowed to watch Spongebob as a child, so I read.  Because of this, I’ve been reading at a higher level than what was expected of me since I was in second grade.

Reading is one of the most important skills one can have in life.  A book can teach you and a book can make you cry.  You just have to chose to read it.  This I believe.

Send us an owl: What is the first book you remember reading? And/or What book or series sparked your love for reading?

Congratulations, Robyn!

Our YA members will visit the older Grey Havens members when we are really, really old, right? We can all sit around and watch the 27th incarnation of the Doctor and you can read to us from The Hobbit for the 200th time!

Stay tuned for more photos and more news about this exciting award!

The Grey Havens Group

19. the end!

I don’t know if there is anyone who hasn’t heard yet because I have been telling all of Arda but I would like to formally announce that our very own Robyn Bosica is receiving Longmont’s Make Time for Kids Award for her inspired and dedicated work with Grey Havens YA! I can’t put into words how priceless Robyn’s work has been to the members of Grey Havens YA, their families and me. She truly deserves this award but we should all be proud. Grey Havens YA exists because the Grey Havens Group exists, because GHGers have been meeting week after week for four years, finding ways to celebrate and share their love of imaginative literature. Now we know that, when we are all gathered in the Hall of Fire at the Grey Havens Home for aging Tolkien Fans, there will be a younger generation to visit us!

The awards ceremony is on Friday…

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