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Book Review: Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World edited by Kelly Jensen

Publisher’s description

here-we-areLet’s get the feminist party started!

Here We Are is a scrapbook-style teen guide to understanding what it means to be a twenty-first-century feminist. It’s packed with contributions from a diverse range of voices, including TV, film, and pop-culture celebrities and public figures such as ballet dancer Michaela DePrince and her sister Mia and politician Wendy Davis, as well as popular authors like Nova Ren Suma, Malinda Lo, Brandy Colbert, Courtney Summers, and many more. All together, the book features more than forty-four pieces and illustrations.

Here We Are is a response to lively discussions about the true meaning of feminism on social media and across popular culture and is an invitation to one of the most important, life-changing, and exciting parties around.



Amanda’s thoughts

Just go ahead and buy like twenty of these, okay? Give them out for birthdays, for holidays, for graduation gifts. This book is for everyone and makes it clear that feminism is, too.


Set up scrapbook-style, like Rookie, this book packs in a bunch of pieces in a bunch of formats. I read the whole book in one sitting. There are personal essays, poems, song lyrics, comics, letters, lists, illustrations, and more. Readers are given a brief history of feminism and information on its various waves. Chapters are divided up by themes like Body and Mind, Relationships, Culture and Pop Culture, etc. The contributions range from less than a page long to much longer. Some pieces are original and some were previously published elsewhere. A sampling of some of my favorites: Kody Keplinger’s “Feminist Songs To Sing Along To” playlist; Malinda Lo’s essay on her paternal grandmother who introduced her to feminist heroes in literature and created young Malinda’s ideal of a feminist; Anne Theriault’s “The Monster Book of Questions,” which examines feminism and mental health; Angie Manfredi’s piece about the word “fat” and how feminism helped her take the word back and embrace it; the always brilliant Liz Prince’s comic “I Guess This Is Growing Up,” about moving from misogyny to feminism; Mikki Kendall’s essay on inclusive feminism, the many ways to be a feminist and approaches to feminism, and how feminism doesn’t mean you’re still not biased, harmful, ignorant, and exclusive; Ashley Hope Perez’s piece on being a nice girl feminist (and the nice girl commandments we all have to learn to break); and Kaye Mirza’s essay on being a feminist and a Muslim. FAQs are interspersed, asking things like, “What does intersectional feminism mean?” and “Is there a difference between ‘sex’ and ‘gender’?” Fun lists include women scientists, black girl friendships, and great girl friendships in fiction.

This diverse, inclusive, intersectional, and immensely readable anthology needs to be in every school, public, and personal library. A fantastic read.



Review copy courtesy of the publisher

ISBN-13: 9781616205867

Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill

Publication date: 01/24/2017


Here We Are: Feminism & Social Justice In Action by Kelly Jensen (#SJYALit: Social Justice in YA Lit)

Tomorrow, Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World edited by Kelly Jensen is released out into the world. This week, as part of our Social Justice in YA Lit Project, we will have a new piece about this book each day. We’re also doing a t-shirt giveaway (see below!). It’s exciting to see this book launch just days after somewhere around 3 million people marched in protests organized and promoted by women around the world. Today, we are honored to have Kelly Jensen here to talk with us about how and why this book came about.


I believe feminism and, by extension, social justice are more than words we share. They’re about actions, too.


Here We Are: Feminism For The Real World began with a tweet. There’s been rich conversation online about feminism for a long time, and because of how social media allows those whose voices have been marginalized to have a space to share, the importance of intersectionality became more and more a conscious part of my personal feminism. It wasn’t new to me. I’d worked with people — teenagers, especially — of all shapes and colors and backgrounds since I started my career in librarianship. But reading and listening to the words coming from voices unlike mine made something inside me click.

I tweeted about my dream to make an anthology of feminist essays for teens and the responses to that tweet were incredible. That tweet stream is a riot to read now; I didn’t know the hows or the ways to make it happen. One person who tweeted in response ended up being part of the anthology; another who tweeted sarcastically in response made me laugh because of course, girls are angry and “what about the boys?” A couple of responses were from women who, just a few months later, would become trustworthy allies standing with me, speaking out against blatant sexism in the YA world.

But the response you don’t see is the one that made my dream a reality.


Shortly after tweeting, I was asked to be in touch with Elise Howard at Algonquin Young Readers and she, along with Krestyna Lypen, became my editors for this anthology. We began talking about what it could look like and feel like, what sorts of stories could be told, the kind of art that could be included in a project like this. We were all in agreement that making this happen needed to happen.

Putting this collection together meant thinking long and hard about the stories that not only should be told, but also the ones that many might not necessarily connect with “feminism.” It was imperative to include not just young adult authors — many of whom YA readers would be familiar with — but to also broaden the circle and bring in varied voices outside of the YA and writing community. Because as much as social media has allowed many to raise their voices and be heard, it’s also an echo chamber. Yelling into the void to see the same trends play out again and again becomes repetitive and boring and ineffective.

My last library job, the one where I’d been the most professionally prepared, was the one that opened my eyes and my mind the most. I worked in a poor, semi-urban community, and it wasn’t unusual for me to be the only white person in a program with teens. It wasn’t unusual for me to see some of the kids coming and asking for more and more food at events not because they were greedy, but because it might be the only thing they ate until free meals at school the next day. I’ll never forget an event where a young girl shared, with a room full of teens and adults, a poem she wrote about her friend who’d committed suicide the day before.

The weight of these things sat in my mind as I thought about the reader for Here We Are. It would be for these teens. I thought about the teens I worked with in the library every time I reached out to a potential contributor. I thought about the teens I worked with in the library each time I edited an essay. I thought about the teens I worked with in the library each time I considered how I wanted the anthology to come together.

It’s easy to take for granted that in an “everything’s online” world, there are huge swaths of the population that don’t regularly, if ever, access the internet beyond what’s necessary for their survival. I saw those teens in libraries. I watched as they figured out stealth ways to get extra time each day to do something or begged to let me break the policy on having their time extended “just this once” so they could finish a homework project (or play a game — it wasn’t my job to judge).

These same teens deserve to see themselves and know that they, too, are seen.

Here We Are: Feminism For The Real World is my attempt at offering something for young readers who haven’t seen their stories told or who don’t know what feminism is or how it might benefit them. It’s my attempt to take the rich conversations so many of us see and engage with day-to-day out of the digital world and into a format that teens can pick up at the library or in a bookstore. It’s my attempt to show them that they are seen, that their stories matter, and that others are listening. That they have allies and advocates in the world around them who, like them, come in all shapes and sizes and colors and genders and sexualities and from all backgrounds and experiences.

The 44 pieces in this book are actions. They are actions of love. They are actions of seeing. They are acts of social justice. And every action is an invitation to one of the most life-changing parties around: feminism.

Meet Kelly Jensen


Kelly Jensen is a former librarian-turned-editor for Book Riot and Stacked. She’s author of It Happens: A Guide to Contemporary Realistic Fiction for the YA Reader. She loves black licorice and debating genre. Follow her on Twitter @veronikellymars.



U.S. residents can do the Rafflecopter thingy below by Saturday, January 28th at Midnight and we will select a winner. Shirts will be mailed out by Algonquin. Special thank you to Algonquin for the shirt giveaway.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

January 24th 2017 by Algonquin BFYR

Sunday Reflections: This is Why I Marched

The Teen and Thing 2 Marching in Fort Worth, Texas

The Teen and Thing 2 Marching in Fort Worth, Texas

Betsy DeVos as head of the Department of Education

Rick Perry as head of the Department of Energy

An unqualified cabinet full of billionaires that donated to his campaign

Conflicts of Interest, including putting his family in positions of authority and influence


Freedom of the press


Climate change

Women’s rights

Human rights

There were a lot of reasons to attend the Women’s March yesterday. And a part of my heart marched for each one. But I also marched because we just swore into an office a man who is ON THE RECORD stating that he regularly sexually assaults women and has no qualms about doing so. That’s right, we put a man who has no regard for 51% of the human race in a position to make policy and legislation that effects them. Actually, he has no regard or compassion for way more than 51% of the human race when you consider his position on those with disabilities, immigrants, people of color, poor people, anyone who is not cisgender and heterosexual, and people of faiths that are not Christian. We put a fox in charge of the hen house and now we’re trying to keep him from eating his prey.

We made buttons to hand out at the march

We made buttons to hand out at the march

So yesterday I marched. I marched with my two daughters in Fort Worth, Texas. We talked about why we were marching, what would happen, and more.

On the way down to the march my dad asked me on the phone, “what do you expect to accomplish by marching?”

It is estimated that between 5,000 (low) and 9,000 people marched in Fort Worth

It is estimated that between 5,000 (low) and 9,000 people marched in Fort Worth

What I expected to accomplish was this: I wanted to make a strong, powerful, visual statement to our elected representatives at all levels of government that we are here, we are watching, and we do not support these policies. I believe we accomplished this goal and I thank everyone who marched everywhere to help make this happen.

Here’s what I didn’t expect to happen, but greatly needed: My heart, which has been full of despair since the night of the election, was encouraged. I looked around me and saw people fighting with me, and a light shone on this day that I had forgotten existed. I stood amongst people holding signs demanding accountability, proclaiming love, and promising to fight and I knew that although we were in for a long haul, we were not in it alone. I was inspired, invigorated, and encouraged.


A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum

At each intersection as we marched by the police who had stopped traffic so that we could march, people cheered for the police. Many people walked up and shook the officers hands and thanked them for their service. I followed their examples and made a point to thank many of the officers along the parade route.

At one intersection, a counter-protestor, not part of the March, walked up to a police officer who had just shook the hand of a marcher and asked him why he, the police officer, was being nice to us, the protestors, because we hated the police. The police officer just shook his head and said nah, I don’t think they do man. This man started to get angry and was trying to tell him that we were against the police. He was legitimately an outside agitator trying to stir this police officer up against the marchers. Thankfully, the officer did not take the bait. He just kept telling the man that no, he didn’t think we were against him and we weren’t causing any problems.


I appreciated that this officer did not take this man’s bait and that he served and stood up for us. All the officers were pretty amazing to see.

But it was also interesting to see because maybe when protests get out of hand maybe it isn’t always what it seems. This man wanted to cause us problems and thankfully, that did not happen.

What Comes Next?

Though the march inspired me, the girls and I talked about how the fight is not over. They have heard me in these last few weeks call and talk to my representatives. They have heard me stutter and stammer as I nervously told my representatives that we need to investigate Russia, that we need to see Trump’s tax returns, that we do not support Betsy DeVos as head of the Department of Education.

I have written e-mails, signed petitions and spoke to truth. Truth is apparently in danger these days in this terrifying new reality.

We’ve made other little daily changes to spark change. Whenever we buy groceries now we make sure and buy some items to donate to the local food pantry. We have talked to community members about organizing some different types of things to bring members, particularly teens, in our community closer together and keep them engaged and learning and building relationships.

The Teen is investigating going and participating in the Girls in Politics Initiative. She wants to learn more and maybe be involved in politics when she grows up. We’re looking at costs and dates.

I’ve programmed all of my reps into my phone, bookmarked several sites that keep me informed and provide daily actions.

And last night, Thing 2 came to me with a DVD in her hand and said maybe we should cuddle and watch this again tonight. The DVD in question was Star Wars: The Force Awakens. This is why I marched.


Friday Finds: January 20, 2017

fridayfindsThis Week at TLT

Sunday Reflections: Greater words than ours

Middle School Monday: Ghetto Cowboy by G. Neri

Book Review: History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

#SJYALit: How does real life and research fit with LGBT young adult lit? A guest post by Alex B

Video Games Weekly: Why You Should Buy a WiiU for Teen Game Nights Soon!

Talking ALL AMERICAN BOYS with Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely for the Social Justice in YA Lit (#SJYALit) Project

Recently in book mail

Around the Web

A Diverse Reading List for Betsy DeVos

President Obama on What Books Mean to Him

Take a peek at the Children’s Book Week poster

The Cooperative Children’s Book Center’s CCBC Choices 2017

Can schools make the American Dream real for poor kids?


Exclusive Deleted Scene from UNDEFEATED by Steve Sheinkin

For 10 years, I worked at the Marion Public Library in Marion, Ohio. This is significant to this story because one of our branches was in LaRue, the home of Jim Thorpe and the pro-football team which featured the Oorang Indians. We had entire programs built around Jim Thorpe. But it still always tickles me when other people talk about Jim Thorpe, in part because I’m not super involved in the world of sportsball of any kind and I forget that other people are and they know things about it. Today we are honored to share with you a deleted scene from the new book, UNDEFEATED by Steve Sheinkin.


I always wind up with a lot of deleted material, and often whole scenes, but this was the once instance in Undefeated where I cut an entire chapter. I love the story, but I knew the same themes would be covered later in the story, once Jim Thorpe arrived on the scene.

On an October night in 1902, Pop Warner sat in his home on the Carlisle campus, wondering what he could possibly do to turn his football program around. The team had gone 6-4-1 in 1900, with losses to Penn and Harvard, and a 35-0 thrashing at the hands of Yale. 1901 was worse. A beating by old school, Cornell, set off a seven game winless streak, and the team finished with a losing record. Warner could not possibly justify his salary with these kinds of results.

      There was a big game with a strong Cornell team in four days. And Warner, an optimist at heart, was wrestling gloomy thoughts. 

      “It looked,” he later said, “as if victory was going to be impossible.”

      Halfway into the 1902 season, Carlisle was 3-1. Not bad, but they hadn’t played any top teams yet, which is what made this Cornell game so important. That and the fact it was Pop’s old school. And the fact they’d crushed Carlisle 17–0 the year before. And the fact that Pop’s younger brother Bill, one of the country’s top linemen, was the Cornell team captain. Was he really going to let his kid brother humiliate him again?

      Yeah, probably.

      Bill was six-foot-one, 220, and Cornell’s other linemen were nearly as big. They’d use mass plays to batter Carlisle’s smaller line. But the bigger problem was the state of the Carlisle team. Nikifer Schouchuck, the sturdy center from Alaska, had been hurt so badly the week before, he was still in the hospital. Albert Exendine, a promising eighteen-year-old left end, could hardly walk on his badly sprained ankle. Martin Wheelock, who Pop called “my best offensive weapon,” was down with a case of pleurisy, an excruciating inflammation of the membrane lining the lungs and inner side of the ribcage. “His pain was so great that he couldn’t bear even to have the bedclothes touch him,” Warner remembered.

      Warner was pondering limited options when there was a knock on the door. It was another of Pop’s best players, Antonio Lubo. His arm was in a sling.

      “Coach, I’d give anything if I could play against Cornell,” Lubo said. “I know how Schouchuk and Wheelock can’t play. I’d like to go up there for you and for Carlisle.”

      In a game with Navy the year before, Lubo had suffered a compound fracture of his left wrist. The wound got infected, and still hadn’t healed properly. But here he was, begging to play.

      “Not with that arm,” Warner told him.

      “But that wouldn’t make any difference,” Lubo insisted. “I’ve been exercising and have kept in good shape in every other way.”

      Warner asked Lubo where he thought he could play.

      “Tackle, in Wheelock’s place.”

      “No. That’s out of the question. A tackle must have both arms.”

      “Well, then, center.”

      “No, a center must use both hands to pass the ball.”

      “Well,” Lubo said, “I know I could play somewhere.”

      Pop had always been a tinkerer, the type of guy who liked to take things apart and put them back together. He had an idea. The next morning he found two strips of leather and sewed them into a finger-to-elbow cast. He slipped it over Lubo’s wrist, stuffed it with cotton, and wrapped the whole thing in a thick layer of tape.

      “Thank you, coach,” Lubo said with a huge smile.   

      That inspired a movement. “All the cripples around the place asked for harness that would enable them to play,” Warner recalled. Albert Exendine’s ankle injury was fairly straightforward. “We bound his crippled limb with tape so tightly that he couldn’t move his foot.” The real challenge was Martin Wheelock, who sneaked out of the infirmary and showed up at Pop’s door.

      Warner ordered him back to bed.

      “If you can fix Lubo, you can fix me,” Wheelock said. “There’s nothing wrong with my arms or legs; all I’ve got is pleurisy.”   

      “But you can’t run, Martin.”

      “Change me from guard to center. Then I won’t have to run.”

      Against his better judgment, Warner shaped two sheets of aluminum into a sort of lightweight suit of armor. Wheelock wriggled his tender chest into the contraption, and taped it in place.

      On the field at Cornell, Pop chatted with his brother before the game. Bill asked how the Carlisle team was feeling.

      “So-so,” Pop said, shrugging. “I’ve got a sick lad at center and a one-armed chap at guard.”

      “Say! We don’t want to play a bunch of cripples.”

      Pop smiled. “Don’t worry old boy. You’ll find ‘em lively enough.”

      Cornell was the stronger team, moving the ball steadily with power runs. But Carlisle hung around, making just enough third down stops to keep it close. “Mostly it was Lubo and Wheelock,” Warner recalled. “How Lubo did it with his lame arm I don’t know. And time and time again, Wheelock winced in pain as he came in contact with his opponents.”

      Late in the second half, with Cornell leading 6–5, Carlisle recovered a fumble at the Cornell thirteen. Four plays later, third down and goal from the Cornell two, quarterback Jimmie Johnson handed it to Charles Williams, who dove over backs of his blockers, Lubo and Wheelock, landing across the goal line.

      Carlisle held on for the win, 10–6.

      Bill Warner hobbled over to shake his brother’s hand. He told Pop, “Thank the Lord these boys weren’t feeling well.” 


Jim Thorpe was an incredible Native American athlete and Olympic gold medalist, and Pop Warner was an indomitable coach and football mastermind with an Ivy League background. Before these men became legends, they met in 1907 at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Pennsylvania, where they forged one of the greatest teams in American football history. Called “the team that invented football,” they took on the best opponents of their day, defeating much more privileged schools such as Harvard and the Army in a series of breathtakingly close calls, genius plays, and bone-crushing hard work.

UNDEFEATED is an astonishing underdog sports story—and more. It’s an unflinching look at the U.S. government’s violent persecution of Native Americans and the school that was designed to erase Indian cultures. Expertly told by nonfiction powerhouse author Steve Sheinkin, it’s the story of a group of young men who came together at that school, the overwhelming obstacles they faced both on and off the field, and their absolute refusal to accept defeat.

Just in time for pre-Super Bowl football roundups and coverage, Steve Sheinkin brings Jim Thorpe’s inspiring story to life, highlighting his heritage and the previously little-known and astonishing history of Native American boarding schools.

Meet Steve Sheinkin

Steve Sheinkin

Steve Sheinkin is the award-winning author of fast-paced, cinematic nonfiction histories for young readers. The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights, was a National Book Award finalist and received the 2014 Boston Globe/Horn Book Award for Nonfiction. The Notorious Benedict Arnold: A True Story of Adventure, Heroism & Treachery, won both the Boston Globe/Horn Book Award and the YALSA award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults. Bomb: The Race to Build-and Stealthe World’s Most Dangerous Weapon was a Newbery Honor Book, a National Book Award Finalist, and winner of the Sibert Award and YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults. Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War was a National Book Award finalist and a YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Award finalist. Sheinkin lives in Saratoga Springs, New York, with his wife and two children.

Published by Roaring Brook Press | On sale January 17, 2017 Hardcover | $19.99 | 9781596439542

#MHYALit: How books and being a librarian help me cope with anxiety, a guest post by Erin

MHYALitlogoofficfialHi, I’m Erin. I’m a teen librarian, a wife, a daughter, a best friend, a mom, and an anxiety warrior. Notice how I put that at the very end. There was a reason for that.  The anxiety is the “least of my worries” for lack of a better phrase (insert uncomfortable laughter here). What I’m trying to say is that the anxiety is so much smaller than my other life roles. Yes, sometimes it can become all-encompassing, but, on a good day, one where my other human interactions, my meds, and my to-do list all live in perfect harmony, I might forget that I have anxiety. Crazy, right, but true!


Having anxiety has helped me in many facets of my life. Because of the constant drive to succeed, I have become incredibly efficient, and can adjust to the various paces that a day can take working in a library. I know that at 3:25 pm Monday – Friday the teens will come streaming in from school – they drop their backpack, pull up a seat to play a board game, plop down on the couch for a nap, drop into a beanbag chair for some screen time, or roll a chair over to my desk to share the gossip of the day. I can’t guarantee how many teens will show up each day, how much energy will emanate from the room or how much noise will filter out of the doors. Sometimes they come in and we all sit in complete silence, everyone with their heads down and their earbuds in. It’s days filled with uncertainty. Not unlike my anxiety.


In researching books for the collection, I commonly come across ones concerning mental health – specifically fiction novels. In doing my job every day I also encounter teens who may or may not share their stories with me. I find books that match teens and excitedly share the book with them in hopes that they will find a piece of them in the story, in the characters.


everylastwordAnd then I found a book for me. A book that spoke to me like no other in its genre.


That book was Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone.


As I read it, I wondered how the author was able to get into my head. The words, the surroundings, the main character and her situations were so real, so vivid, so ALIVE in my own mind. I want to share this book with the world. I want to thank Tamara Ireland Stone for writing it. I am humbled that I am able to select such wonderful works for a thriving Teen Department. To put books like these into the hands of those who need them the most, and of those who don’t know they need them.


Being a librarian includes so much more than reading and researching. It includes getting to know your patrons, the good and the bad in their lives if they choose to share. It means giving them the right book, using the right words in conversations, and even exposing your own vulnerability, because in being able to relate to you and all of your facets, a whisper of trust is established. They are not alone; you are not alone; I am not alone.


In this journey, we all encounter things that we wish we didn’t have to deal with but we do. Find your librarian; get him or her to give you that one book. Read it, talk about it, embody it, and show the world your strength even on your weakest days.


As librarians, we are warriors, fighting for our patrons, fighting simultaneously for our voices and our patrons’ voices to be heard above the roar of the world.


So speak up, share, be proud of who you are, and find that one book that speaks to your mind.


Meet Erin

In addition to being a teen librarian, Erin is a mother of two and  enjoys researching, reading, writing and social media.

Recently in book mail

Books, books, and more books! My neighbors probably wonder what exactly goes on over here at the house where UPS of FedEx stops nearly every day. The following are the books that have arrived here in the past few weeks. I will be reviewing many of them in the upcoming months on TLT. See something you’ve already read and need to make sure I don’t skip? Or something you’re super excited to read when it comes out? Let me know with a comment here or on Twitter, where I’m @CiteSomething.


All descriptions from the publishers.


march-againstThe March Against Fear: The Last Great Walk of the Civil Rights Movement and the Emergence of Black Power  by Ann Bausum (ISBN-13: 9781426326653 Publisher: National Geographic Society Publication date: 01/03/2017)

James Meredith’s 1966 march in Mississippi began as one man’s peaceful protest for voter registration and became one of the South’s most important demonstrations of the civil rights movement. It brought together leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. and Stokely Carmichael, who formed an unlikely alliance that resulted in the Black Power movement, which ushered in a new era in the fight for equality.

The retelling of Meredith’s story opens on the day of his assassination attempt and goes back in time to recount the moments leading up to that event and its aftermath. Readers learn about the powerful figures and emerging leaders who joined the over 200-mile walk that became known as the “March Against Fear.”

Thoughtfully presented by award-winning author Ann Bausum, this book helps readers understand the complex issues of fear, injustice, and the challenges of change. It is a history lesson that’s as important and relevant today as it was 50 years ago.



racial-profilingRacial Profiling: Everyday Inequality by Alison Behnke (ISBN-13: 9781512402681 Publisher: Twenty-First Century Books (CT) Publication date: 01/28/2017)

Racial profiling, the use of race or ethnicity as grounds for suspecting someone of an offense, affects thousands of Americans on a daily basis. It takes many forms, from routine traffic stops to police violence. High-profile cases, such as the deaths of unarmed black men and boys at the hands of white police officers, have brought national attention to this issue and fueled activism such as the Black Lives Matter movement. What exactly is racial profiling? How is it linked to racism and racial stereotyping? Can it be an effective crime-fighting strategy? What are its consequences, both for individuals and for American society? Rigorously researched text combines with powerful personal stories to explore this phenomenon of social injustice.




our-ownOur Own Private Universe by Robin Talley (ISBN-13: 9780373211982 Publisher: Harlequin Publication date: 01/31/2017)

Fifteen-year-old Aki Simon has a theory. And it’s mostly about sex.

No, it isn’t that kind of theory. Aki already knows she’s bisexual—even if, until now, it’s mostly been in the hypothetical sense. Aki has dated only guys so far, and her best friend, Lori, is the only person who knows she likes girls, too.

Actually, Aki’s theory is that she’s got only one shot at living an interesting life—and that means she’s got to stop sitting around and thinking so much. It’s time for her to actually dosomething. Or at least try.

So when Aki and Lori set off on a church youth-group trip to a small Mexican town for the summer and Aki meets Christa—slightly older, far more experienced—it seems her theory is prime for the testing.

But it’s not going to be easy. For one thing, how exactly do two girls have sex, anyway? And more important, how can you tell if you’re in love? It’s going to be a summer of testing theories—and the result may just be love.



audacity-jonesAudacity Jones Steals the Show (Audacity Jones #2) by Kirby Larson (ISBN-13: 9780545840651 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 01/31/2017)

Audacity Jones and her best friend, Bimmy, are setting off from Miss Maisie’s School for Wayward Girls on an extraordinary adventure! In the glittering city of New York, the girls meet Harry Houdini, the world’s most famous magician, as he prepares a new spectacle: Houdini plans to make an elephant disappear from a crowded theater.

But Audacity and Bimmy discover a nefarious plot that puts Houdini’s illusion in jeopardy. Who could be trying to sabotage the master magician? Audie will need all her smarts, the help of friends new and old, and even her best juggling skills to solve this mystery. Will she manage to save the show in time?

Newbery Honor author Kirby Larson brings readers a magical romp of a mystery that will delight and thrill to the very last page.



lifersLifers by M.A. Griffin (ISBN-13: 9781338065534 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 01/31/2017)

Fear haunts the streets of Preston’s city: a girl has disappeared. Preston is drawn to investigate, exploring the city in the hunt for his missing friend. And deep in the bowels of a secret scientific institute, he discovers a sinister machine used to banish teenage criminals for their offenses.

Captured and condemned to a cavernous dimension, Preston is determined to escape. But this is no ordinary jail. Friendships will be forged and lives will be lost in a reckless battle for freedom, revenge–and revolution.

Set in a world all too similar to our own, Lifers is thrilling, pulse-pounding storytelling of the highest degree.



the-edge-of-everythingThe Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles (ISBN-13: 9781619637535 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 01/31/2017)

When their worlds collide, X and Zoe are pushed to the edge of everything in this tour de force from Entertainment Weekly veteran Jeff Giles.

For the perfect love, what would you be willing to lose?

It’s been a shattering year for seventeen-year-old Zoe, who’s still reeling from her father’s shocking death in a caving accident and her neighbors’ mysterious disappearance from their own home. Then on a terrifying subzero, blizzardy night in Montana, she and her brother are brutally attacked in the woods–only to be rescued by a mysterious bounty hunter they call X.

X is no ordinary bounty hunter. He is from a hell called the Lowlands, sent to claim the soul of Zoe’s evil attacker and others like him. X is forbidden from revealing himself to anyone other than his prey, but he casts aside the Lowlands’ rules for Zoe. As they learn more about their colliding worlds, they begin to question the past, their fate, and their future. But escaping the Lowlands and the ties that bind X might mean the ultimate sacrifice for them both.

Gripping and full of heart, this epic start to a new series will bring readers right to the edge of everything.



playing-cupidPlaying Cupid by Jenny Meyerhoff (ISBN-13: 9781338099225 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 01/31/2017)

Clara Martinez knows what it takes to make a good match. So when her school assigns a project to create a business from scratch, Clara decides to start a matchmaking service for her fellow classmates. But things get complicated when Clara starts receiving mysterious notes and sweet gifts in her locker. Clara has a secret admirer! But she has no clue who it could be…

Despite being a love expert for her friends, Clara’s a total novice when it comes to her own love life, and truth be told, it all sort of scares her. Can Cupid Clara gather the courage to fall in crush?




ahgotAhgottahandleonit by Donovan Mixon (ISBN-13: 9781941026472 Publisher: Cinco Puntos Press Publication date: 02/14/2017)

Tim is bad news navigating Newark’s mean streets. An undiagnosed dyslexic, his neighborhood creds rest on riffing strange rap-rhymes. He’s packed into a 3-flat with his mother, sister and wise Uncle Gentrale. His drunkard father, recently evicted from the household, kills himself. Then it gets worse—Tim accidentally kills Chucky, a gangbanger who wanted to kick his brains out.






playbookThe Playbook: 52 Rules to Aim, Shoot, and Score in This Game Called Life by Kwame Alexander, Thai Neave (Photographer) (ISBN-13: 9780544570979 Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publication date: 02/14/2017)

You gotta know the rules to play the game. Ball is life. Take it to the hoop. Soar. What can we imagine for our lives? What if we were the star players, moving and grooving through the game of life? What if we had our own rules of the game to help us get what we want, what we aspire to, what will enrich our lives?
Illustrated with photographs by Thai Neave, The Playbook is intended to provide inspiration on the court of life. Each rule contains wisdom from inspiring athletes
and role models such as Nelson Mandela, Serena Williams, LeBron James, Carli Lloyd, Steph Curry and Michelle Obama. Kwame Alexander also provides his own poetic and uplifting words, as he shares stories of overcoming obstacles and winning games in this motivational and inspirational book just right for graduates of any age and anyone needing a little encouragement.



time-museumThe Time Museum by Matthew Loux (ISBN-13: 9781596438491 Publisher: First Second Publication date: 02/21/2017)

The internship program at the Time Museum is a little unusual. For one thing, kids as young as twelve get to apply for these prestigious summer jobs. And as for the applicant pool . . . well, these kids come from all over history.

When Delia finds herself working at the Time Museum, the last thing she expects is to be sent on time-traveling adventures with an unlikely gang of kids from across the eons. From a cave-boy to a girl from the distant future, Delia’s team represents nearly all of human history! They’re going to need all their skills for the challenge they’ve got in store . . . defending the Time Museum itself!



amstrongArmstrong and Charlie by Steven B. Frank (ISBN-13: 9780544826083 Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publication date: 03/07/2017)

Charlie isn’t looking forward to sixth grade. If he starts sixth grade, chances are he’ll finish it. And when he does, he’ll grow older than the brother he recently lost. Armstrong isn’t looking forward to sixth grade, either. When his parents sign him up for Opportunity Busing to a white school in the Hollywood Hills, all he wants to know is “What time in the morning will my alarm clock have the opportunity to ring?”  When these two land at the same desk, it’s the Rules Boy next to the Rebel, a boy who lost a brother elbow-to-elbow with a boy who longs for one.
From September to June, arms will wrestle, fists will fly, and bottles will spin.  There’ll be Ho Hos spiked with hot sauce, sleepovers, boy talk about girls, and a little guidance from the stars.
Set in Los Angeles in the 1970s, Armstrong and Charlie is the hilarious, heartwarming tale of two boys from opposite worlds, Different, yet the same.



star-crossedStar-Crossed by Barbara Dee (ISBN-13: 9781481478489 Publisher: Aladdin Publication date: 03/14/2017)

Mattie is chosen to play Romeo opposite her crush in the eighth grade production of Shakespeare’s most beloved play in this Romeo and Juliet inspired novel from the author of Truth or Dare.

Mattie, a star student and passionate reader, is delighted when her English teacher announces the eighth grade will be staging Romeo and Juliet. And she is even more excited when, after a series of events, she finds herself playing Romeo, opposite Gemma Braithwaite’s Juliet. Gemma, the new girl at school, is brilliant, pretty, outgoing—and, if all that wasn’t enough: British.

As the cast prepares for opening night, Mattie finds herself growing increasingly attracted to Gemma and confused, since, just days before, she had found herself crushing on a boy named Elijah. Is it possible to have a crush on both boys AND girls? If that wasn’t enough to deal with, things backstage at the production are starting to rival any Shakespearean drama! In this sweet and funny look at the complicated nature of middle school romance, Mattie learns how to be the lead player in her own life.



worthyWorthy by Donna Conner (ISBN-13: 9780545903936 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 03/28/2017)

Download the app. Be the judge.

Everyone at Linden’s high school is obsessed with Worthy. It’s this new app that posts pictures of couples, and asks: Is the girl worthy of the guy?

Suddenly, relationships implode as the votes climb and the comments get real ugly real fast.

At first, Linden is focused on other things. Like cute Alex Rivera. Prom committee. Her writing. But soon she’s intrigued by Worthy. Who’s posting the pictures? Who’s voting? And what will happen when the spotlight turns… on Linden?



just-another-girlJust Another Girl by Elizabeth Eulberg (ISBN-13: 9780545956284 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 03/28/2017)

Hope knows there’s only one thing coming between her and her longtime crush: his girlfriend, Parker. She has to sit on the sidelines and watch as the perfect girl gets the perfect boy . . . because that’s how the universe works, even though it’s so completely wrong.

Parker doesn’t feel perfect. She knows if everyone knew the truth about her, they’d never be able to get past it. So she keeps quiet. She focuses on making it through the day with her secret safe . . . even as this becomes harder and harder to do. And Hope isn’t making it any easier. . . .

In Just Another Girl, Elizabeth Eulberg astutely and affectingly shows us how battle lines get drawn between girls — and how difficult it then becomes to see or understand the girl standing on the other side of the divide.

You think you have an enemy.
But she’s just another girl.


strange-the-dreamerStrange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor (ISBN-13: 9780316341684 Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers Publication date: 03/28/2017)

A new epic fantasy by National Book Award finalist and New York Times bestselling author Laini Taylor of the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy.

The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way aroundand Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance to lose his dream forever.
What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries–including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? and if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

In this sweeping and breathtaking new novel by National Book Award finalist Laini Taylor, author of the New York Times bestselling Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy, the shadow of the past is as real as the ghosts who haunt the citadel of murdered gods. Fall into a mythical world of dread and wonder, moths and nightmares, love and carnage.

Welcome to Weep.



honestly-benHonestly Ben by Bill Konigsberg (ISBN-13: 9780545858267 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 03/28/2017)

Ben Carver is back to normal. He’s working steadily in his classes at the Natick School. He just got elected captain of the baseball team. He’s even won a full scholarship to college, if he can keep up his grades. All that foolishness with Rafe Goldberg the past semester is in the past.


There’s Hannah, the gorgeous girl from the neighboring school, who attracts him and distracts him. There’s his mother, whose quiet unhappiness Ben is noticing for the first time. School is harder, the pressure higher, the scholarship almost slipping away. And there’s Rafe, funny, kind, dating someone else . . . and maybe the real normal that Ben needs.

Perfect for fans of David Levithan, Andrew Smith, and John Green, Honestly Ben is a smart, laugh-out-loud novel that will speak to anyone who’s struggled to be “honestly ____________” in some part of their lives.



youre-baconYou’re Bacon Me Crazy by Suzanne Nelson (ISBN-13: 9781338099195 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 03/28/2017)

Tessa loves working at the trendy food truck her aunt runs in their native San Francisco. Serving yummy BLTs to her classmates after school, Tessa feels like she’s living the dream. Then the dream turns into a nightmare. Popular, arrogant Asher starts working at the truck! He can’t make a sandwich to save his life, and he’s frustratingly cute.

But when the city’s big food-truck festival is canceled, the future of the truck is suddenly at stake. Can Tessa and Asher set aside their differences and work together to save the truck? And will Tessa finally admit to herself how she really feels… about Asher?




night-witchesNight Witches by Kathryn Lasky (ISBN-13: 9780545682985 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 03/28/2017)

16-year-old Valya knows what it feels like to fly. She’s a pilot who’s always felt more at home soaring through the sky than down on earth. But since the Germans surrounded Stalingrad, Valya’s been forced to stay on the ground and watch her city crumble.

When her mother is killed during the siege, Valya is left with one burning desire: to join up with her older sister, a member of the famous and feared Night Witches-a brigade of young female pilots.

Using all her wits, Valya manages to get past the German blockage and find the Night Witches’ base . . . and that’s when the REAL danger starts. The women have been assigned a critical mission. If they succeed, they’ll inflict serious damage on the Nazis. If they fail, they’ll face death . . . or even worse horrors.

Historical fiction master Lasky sheds light on the war’s unsung heroes-daredevil girls who took to the skies to fight for their country-in an action-packed thrill ride that’ll leave you electrified and breathless.



pointe-clawPointe, Claw by Amber Keyser (ISBN-13: 9781467775915 Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group Publication date: 04/01/2017)

Jessie is killing her body to become a ballerina. Dawn is blacking out and waking in strange places. At every turn, the friends encounter the many ways girls are judged and discarded. Should they play it safe or go feral?







what-girls-are-madeWhat Girls Are Made Of by Elana Arnold (ISBN-13: 9781512410242 Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group Publication date: 04/01/2017)

This is not a story of sugar and spice and everything nice.

When Nina Faye was fourteen, her mother told her there was no such thing as unconditional love. Nina believed her. Now Nina is sixteen. And she’ll do anything for the boy she loves, just to prove she’s worthy of him. But when he breaks up with her, Nina is lost. What is she if not a girlfriend? What is she made of?

Broken-hearted, Nina tries to figure out what the conditions of love are. She’s been volunteering at a high-kill animal shelter where she realizes that for dogs waiting to be adopted, love comes only to those with youth, symmetry, and quietness. She also ruminates on the strange, dark time her mother took her to Italy to see statues of saints who endured unspeakable torture because of their unquestioning devotion to the divine. Is this what love is?



love-and-vandalismLove and Vandalism by Laurie Boyle Crompton (ISBN-13: 9781492636052 Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 05/02/2017)

He calls it fate. She calls it blackmail.

Rory has a secret: she’s the vandal who paints graffiti lions all over her small town. If her policeman dad knew, he’d probably disown her. So when Hayes, a former screw-up on the path to recovery, catches her in the act, Rory’s sure she’s busted. Instead, he makes her a deal. If Rory shows him around town, he won’t turn her in. It might be coercion, but at least the boy is hot.

As they spend more time together, Rory worries she made the wrong choice. Hayes has a way of making her want things she shouldn’t want and feel emotions she’s tried to bury. Rory’s going to have to distance herself from Hayes or confront a secret she can’t bring herself to face…



girl-out-of-waterGirl out of Water by Laura Silverman (ISBN-13: 9781492646860 Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 05/02/2017)

Fans of Jenny Han and Sarah Dessen will fall in love this contemporary debut about finding yourself-and finding love-in unexpected places.

Ocean breeze in her hair and sand between her toes, Anise can’t wait to spend the summer before her senior year surfing and hanging out on the beach with friends. Santa Cruz is more than her home-it’s her heart. But when her aunt, a single mother, is in a serious car accident, Anise must say goodbye to California to help care for her three young cousins.

Landlocked Nebraska is the last place Anise wants to be. Sure, she loves her family, but it’s hard to put her past behind her when she’s living in the childhood house of the mother who abandoned her. And with every Instagram post, her friends back home feel further away.

Then she meets Lincoln, a charismatic, one-armed skater who challenges her to swap her surfboard for a skateboard. Because sometimes the only way to find your footing is to let go.



birdyBirdy Flynn by Helen Donohoe (ISBN-13: 9781780749396 Publisher: Oneworld Publications Publication date: 05/09/2017)

Birdy Flynn carries secrets.
There is the secret of Birdy’s dead grandmother’s cat. How the boys tortured it and Birdy had to drown it in the river to stop it from suffer-ing. There’s the secret of Mrs. Cope, the teacher who touched Birdy. The secret of the gypsy girl at school who Birdy likes. But she can’t tell anyone about any of these secrets. Because Birdy’s other secret is that while she fights as good as the boys, she is a girl, and she doesn’t always feel like a girl is supposed to.
So Birdy holds on to her secrets and tries to become what others want, even it if means losing herself.
BIRDY FLYNN is a beautifully nuanced and deeply felt portrayal of a girl growing up amid an imperfect family, and an imperfect world, to become the person she was meant to be.



that-funny-thingThat Thing We Call a Heart by Sheba Karim (ISBN-13: 9780062445704 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 05/09/2017)

This young adult novel by Sheba Karim, author of Skunk Girl, is a funny and affecting coming-of-age story for fans of Jenny Han, Megan McCafferty, and Sara Farizan.

Shabnam Qureshi is facing a summer of loneliness and boredom until she meets Jamie, who scores her a job at his aunt’s pie shack. Shabnam quickly finds herself in love, while her former best friend, Farah, who Shabnam has begun to reconnect with, finds Jamie worrying.

In her quest to figure out who she really is and what she really wants, Shabnam looks for help in an unexpected place—her family, and her father’s beloved Urdu poetry.

That Thing We Call a Heart is a funny and fresh story about the importance of love—in all its forms.



gentlemansThe Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee (ISBN-13: 9780062382801 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 06/20/2017)

An unforgettable tale of two friends on their Grand Tour of 18th-century Europe who stumble upon a magical artifact that leads them from Paris to Venice in a dangerous manhunt, fighting pirates, highwaymen, and their feelings for each other along the way.

Henry “Monty” Montague was born to be a gentleman, but even the finest boarding schools in England haven’t been able to tame his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his grand tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

So Monty vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.



art-ofThe Art of Starving by Sam J. Miller (ISBN-13: 9780062456717 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 07/11/2017)

More Happy Than Not meets Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future in this gritty, contemporary YA debut about a bullied gay teen boy with an eating disorder who believes he’s developed super powers via starvation.

Matt hasn’t eaten in days.

His stomach stabs and twists inside, pleading for a meal. But Matt won’t give in. The hunger clears his mind, keeps him sharp—and he needs to be as sharp as possible if he’s going to find out just how Tariq and his band of high school bullies drove his sister, Maya, away.

Matt’s hardworking mom keeps the kitchen crammed with food, but Matt can resist the siren call of casseroles and cookies because he has discovered something: the less he eats the more he seems to have . . . powers. The ability to see things he shouldn’t be able to see. The knack of tuning in to thoughts right out of people’s heads. Maybe even the authority to bend time and space.

So what is lunch, really, compared to the secrets of the universe?

Matt decides to infiltrate Tariq’s life, then use his powers to uncover what happened to Maya. All he needs to do is keep the hunger and longing at bay. No problem. But Matt doesn’t realize there are many kinds of hunger… and he isn’t in control of all of them.

A darkly funny, moving story of body image, addiction, friendship, and love, Sam J. Miller’s debut novel will resonate with any reader who’s ever craved the power that comes with self-acceptance.



fragile-like-usFragile Like Us by Sara Barnard (ISBN-13: 9781481486101 Publisher: Simon Pulse Publication date: 07/18/2017)

In the tradition of Sarah Dessen and Morgan Matson comes a pitch perfect novel about friendship and what it takes to break the bonds between friends.

Caddy and Rosie have always been inseparable. But that was before Suzanne. Now the twosome has become a triangle with constantly shifting alliances.

Caddy’s ready to be more than just the quiet one. She wants something to happen. Suzanne is trying to escape her past and be someone different, someone free. But sometimes downward spirals have a momentum of their own. And no one can break your heart like a best friend.



dress-codesDress Codes for Small Towns by Courtney Stevens (ISBN-13: 9780062398512 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 08/29/2017)

Faking Normal author Courtney Stevens delivers a contemporary realistic John Hughes-esque exploration of sexual fluidity in the small-town South.


As the tomboy daughter of the town’s preacher, Billie McCaffrey has always struggled with fitting the mold of what everyone says she should be. She’d rather wear sweats, build furniture, and get into trouble with her solid group of friends: Woods, Mash, Davey, Fifty, and Janie Lee.

But when Janie Lee confesses to Billie that she’s in love with Woods, Billie’s filled with a nagging sadness as she realizes that she is also in love with Woods…and maybe with Janie Lee, too. Always considered “one of the guys,” Billie doesn’t want anyone slapping a label on her sexuality before she can understand it herself. So she keeps her conflicting feelings to herself, for fear of ruining the group dynamic. Except it’s not just about keeping the peace, it’s about understanding love on her terms—this thing that has always been defined as a boy and a girl falling in love and living happily ever after. For Billie—a box—defying dynamo—it’s not that simple.

Readers will be drawn to Billie as she comes to terms with the gray areas of love, gender, and sexuality, while facing the opposition that follows. An honest, funny, endearing, and important book!

Talking ALL AMERICAN BOYS with Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely for the Social Justice in YA Lit (#SJYALit) Project

Yesterday we had an online Twitter chat with authors Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely, as well as many readers, as part of the #SJYALit Project. I storified that discussion so that you can read it here in case you missed it.


Talking ALL AMERICAN BOYS with Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely for Social Justice in YA Lit (#SJYALit)

  1. Let me take this moment to mention that THE HATE U GIVE is a really powerful companion to ALL AMERICAN BOYS #SJYALit

  2. It's not officially a companion, I should clarify, just a good read that goes along with the themes of AAB #SJYALit

  3. I'm curious to know about their discussions with teens/teachers & librarians on their tour for this book. #SJYALit

  4. Also, have you read ALL AMERICAN BOYS with teens? What has their reaction been? Tell us at #SJYALIt

  5. I just had a teen say they didn't understand why we even had yesterday off. Made me sad. #SJYALit @CiteSomething

  6. I kind of can't get over the RASHAD IS ABSENT AGAIN TODAY tag/movement. So powerful. And that roll call at the end. Whoa. #SJYALit

  7. I think once you are out of elementary school days like yesterdays are not explained anymore @TLT16 @CiteSomething. #SJYALit

  8. Inclusion of social media as a tool for social justice is brilliant. (look at us here) How do you feel that will evolve for teens? #SJYALIt

  9. I thought the hashtag was powerful. And such a good way to incorporate social media & make a statement. #SJYALit …

  10. HOW IT WENT DOWN by Kekla Magoon would also be a really great companion read, especially given HIWD's multiple community POVs. #SJYALit …

  11. I feel like if I were still in grad school, I could've written a 10 page paper on the decision to leave the hyphen out of the title #SJYALit

  12. Do you hear your teens talking about these types of shootings, Black Lives Matter? #SJYALIt

  13. I think authors will have to stay current on WHAT social media teens are using. But I think it connects. #SJYALIt …

  14. .@TLT16 At book club meetings, we would talk about race/profiling/police violence/BLM etc. V. diverse and politically aware group. #SJYALit

  15. You have astoundingly amazing book club groups and great discussions. They always impress me. #SJYALit …

  16. I think it is interesting that Rashad was in the in the JROTC. An effort to show how All American/Patriotic he was maybe? #SJYALIt …

  17. We are having more discussions of race/racism in my library of late. In ways we didn't used to. #SJYALit …

  18. I liked seeing the diversity of teacher/coach/admin responses at school and the diff ways they address (or don't) what's happening. #SJYALit

  19. The effects of neutrality are major here. How do you show teens that opinions and actions are important? #SJYALit

  20. The math teacher who wrote stats on the board, the history teacher helping organize, the Eng teacher etc. #SJYALit

  21. .@TLT16 Right--and making us think about uniforms in various ways, and perceptions, and profiling. #SJYALit

  22. This question comes up again in the forthcoming THE HATE U GIVE. It's another interesting look at that. #SJYALIt …

  23. @TLT16 I think it can be scary for many teens to take a stance. Especially if it is different from their family/peer group. #SJYALit

  24. @StorytimeCrabb Yes! I loved seeing Quinn's awakening and understanding of how he was complicit and what he could do. #SJYALit

  25. It was scary for me as an adult. I lost a lot of friends. Would be even more so for teens, who are often dependent on. #SJYALit …

  26. I finished the book feeling like it was such a powerful call to action without needing to list any ideas/resources at the end. #SJYALit

  27. @TLT16: Some pretty heavy stuff gets discussed in and around convos on books & anime; in a downtown branch, big city #sjyalit

  28. It seemed like Rashad should have been afforded a different perspective because he is JROTC, but then he wasn't & its eye opening #SJYALit …

  29. I also think the different ways that Rashad's family/community responded was interesting. Some wanted to protest, not all. #SJYALit …

  30. #SJYALit I want to hand every teen and many adults this novel. It made me realize again how lucky I am to have the privilege I do.

  31. I'm always a fan of intertexuality and hope the bits included about Ellison's INVISIBLE MAN lead some teens to reading it. #SJYALit

  32. My husband was recently pulled over & I was very aware of how differently he was treated vs. stories I read about poc. #SJYALit …

  33. @JasonReynolds83 said the Mike Brown case was the 'last straw'. How do we get teens to take action before a penultimate event? #sjyalit

  34. Is anyone aware if there have been any challenges to ALL AMERICAN BOYS? @JasonReynolds83 @KielyBrendan #SJYALit

  35. I liked that Q had Jill to talk to about his thoughts/actions,that there wasn't a POC "teaching" him to understand racism/whiteness #SJYALit

  36. His journey to understanding felt very real and powerful w/o making it feel parallel to what was happening w/ Rashad. #SJYALit

  37. I'll have to catch up on the rest of this later tonight. Gotta feed my kid and take him back to school. Sorry to disappear! #SJYALit

  38. @KielyBrendan @JasonReynolds83 I have a question: how did it come to be that Rashad would be in the JROTC? We talked about this. #SJYALIt

  39. @KielyBrendan @JasonReynolds83 People also wanted to know what kind of teen reactions you have gotten to the book? #SJYALit

  40. @KielyBrendan @JasonReynolds83 Have you guys read THE HATE U GIVE yet? (though I think I saw Jason blurbed it, I have e-arc) #SJYALit

  41. @TLT16 @JasonReynolds83 #SJYALit teens everywhere want to dive in. We've spoken to over 35K students and young folks everywhere want to talk

  42. I wonder if now, after so many events/discussions, there are things you'd change/add/emphasize etc @KielyBrendan @JasonReynolds83 #SJYAlit

  43. @TLT16 @JasonReynolds83 #SJYALit students asking us adults to help them navigate the problems we have created for them. (1/2)

  44. @TLT16 @KielyBrendan I chose the JROTC because I think when we think about “victims” we tend to see a “Certain kind of kid.” #SJYALit

  45. @TLT16 @KielyBrendan but truthfully, more times than not they’re “regular” kids. artists and rotc kids. playground kids. #SJYALit

  46. @TLT16 @JasonReynolds83 #SJYALit (2/2) Racism is what we perpetuate and impose on all young folks. We owe them the courage to talk about it

  47. @TLT16 @KielyBrendan As far as THE HATE U GIVE, yes I’ve read it, and blurbed, and I’m excited for it to come out! #SJYALit

  48. @TLT16 @KielyBrendan we need as many of these kinds of books as poss. to get a full picture. Shouts to Nic Stone’s DEAR MARTIN too. #SJYALit

  49. @TLT16 @JasonReynolds83 #SJYALit & I'd add that adults are often in the way-kids see injustice, but look for a language to understand it

  50. @EMKokie @KielyBrendan our talk has definitely changed over time, but the one thing that hasn’t is the sharing of PERSONAL stories. #SJYALit

  51. @TLT16 @JasonReynolds83 #SJYALit and we owe it to them to have the courage (especially white folks) to talk about it in ourselves

  52. I meant in the book itself. Now that you've discussed it so many times, are there things you'd change/add, etc @JasonReynolds83 #SJYAlit

  53. @EMKokie @JasonReynolds83 @TLT16 #SJYALit I'd add a lot more conversation about the intersectional discussion of race & gender.

  54. @EMKokie Ahhhh. Hmm. I think we would’ve given Tiffany, the black girl, a voice. That’s one of our biggest regrets. #SJYALit

  55. @TLT16 @JasonReynolds83 #SJYALit so sad. But the models are out there. Too many voices amplifying that hate. Too many in major media

  56. @JasonReynolds83 @EMKokie #SJYALit absolutely -- that's key. Accountability and experiential truth are the cornerstones of our project

  57. @TLT16 @JasonReynolds83 #SJYALit that's important-accountability. Then bold public outrage at those who perpetuate racism and hate

  58. @TLT16 @JasonReynolds83 @EMKokie #SJYALit, as Walt Whitman said: I contain multitudes. Let's look at how they are connected :)

  59. @TLT16 @JasonReynolds83 #SJYALit agreed, although which churches? I think some remain on the front lines, but too many hide behind privilege

  60. @KielyBrendan @TLT16 @JasonReynolds83 Teens also start to understand the small acts of prejudice that we are silent about. #SJYALit

  61. @TLT16 @EMKokie @JasonReynolds83 #SJYALit i learned the term at my Catholic high school twenty years ago--we need do so better

  62. @KielyBrendan @TLT16 @JasonReynolds83 #SJYALit It's really hard to explain or define small insidious acts of racism to some teens/kids (1/2)

  63. @TLT16 @EMKokie @JasonReynolds83 #SJYALit I think there has been a 20 year hostile takeover by social conservatives & this affects the 🌎

  64. @KielyBrendan @TLT16 @JasonReynolds83 #SJYALit Many don't see the harm in "just joking"/"teasing a friend" when "they're cool" w/ someone2/2

  65. @KielyBrendan @TLT16 @JasonReynolds83 #SJYALit Many don't see the harm in "just joking"/"teasing a friend" when "they're cool" w/ someone2/2

  66. @TLT16 @EMKokie @JasonReynolds83 #SJYALit also back to the book: kids read AAB and look for and see connections. Masculinity can be toxic

  67. @XineLively @KielyBrendan @TLT16 Brendan talks about this in our lecture. how those jokes metastasize as they get older #SJYALit

  68. @KielyBrendan @TLT16 @JasonReynolds83 #SJYALit We need books that show real interactions and real consequences to open those discussions.

  69. @lkeochgerien @KielyBrendan @TLT16 @EMKokie Agreed. I’ve tried to address them in every single one of my books. Both of us do. #SJYALit

  70. @lkeochgerien @JasonReynolds83 @TLT16 @EMKokie #SJYALit absolutely. That's part of Officer G's problem. Part of many men's problem in AAB

  71. @JasonReynolds83 @lkeochgerien @TLT16 @EMKokie #SJYALit Jason tackles "man-ness" in all his books. Powerfully. We share that mission.

  72. @JasonReynolds83 Also, about Rashad, most of his story arc post beating is internal. Did you consider having him take more action? #SJYAlit

  73. I think consent & masculinity go ✋️ in🤚 @TLT16 @JasonReynolds83 @KielyBrendan @EMKokie. You're a man when you respect not demand. #SJYAlit

  74. I love that you both do @JasonReynolds83 @KielyBrendan @TLT16 @EMKokie. It is something I try to understand as well everyday. #SJYAlit

  75. @TLT16 @JasonReynolds83 @lkeochgerien @EMKokie #SJYALit social justice requires those w/ power to deconstruct it. Men, white folks etc (1/2)

  76. @EMKokie protest stories aren’t new. but to get into the interior of trauma, humanizes people in a necessary way. #SJYALit

  77. @TLT16 @JasonReynolds83 @lkeochgerien @EMKokie #SJYALit (2/2) social justice requires those in power to relinquish in small and big ways

  78. @EMKokie His story, his truth of doubt and fear is far more common than the story of upheaval. #SJYALit

  79. Esp fear @JasonReynolds83 @EMKokie. That emotion is more & more common everyday. We have to learn how to analyze it. Deal w it. #SJYAlit

  80. Absolutely @JasonReynolds83 @EMKokie. Fear never does go away. It is part of the human condition. Motivates us for good/bad. #SJYAlit

  81. @lkeochgerien @TLT16 @JasonReynolds83 @EMKokie #SJYALit it's called Florence in Ecstasy--novel about eating disorder and saints in Italy :)


Video Games Weekly: Why You Should Buy a WiiU for Teen Game Nights Soon!

I’ve been reading posts on various Youth Services-related FB groups about the best console for Teen Game Night programs. I would first suggest you ask your teens for their input before you make any hasty decisions. If you are considering a Wii U, time is of the essence because the Nintendo Switch will be released on March 3rd. This means the Wii U will no longer be available for purchase! My library hosts Teen Game Night once a week after school for two hours. We have a PS4, Wii U, and and Xbox One hooked up on different TVs, along with a cart full of board games. While the PS4 and Xbox One are popular, our Wii U has received the most attention because of one game: Smash Bros.

Super Smash Pays for Itself

My teens love this game for many reasons. First, Smash Bros. can have up to 8 players at once. This is an excellent plus for my Teen Game Night program because we get about 20 teens per week, and I have the teens take turns playing games so everyone gets a chance. There aren’t many games that can handle 8 players at once (the majority of video games can only have 2-4), therefore the wait time for the Wii U is significantly shorter compared to the PS4 and Xbox One.

Another plus is my teens can bring in their own controllers from home or use their 3DS as a controller. Our library has 4 controllers with a charging station, and I highly recommend purchasing one! Otherwise, you will be going through batteries like crazy. We have been using this one for about a year now, and we haven’t had any issues yet.

Finally, teens (and quite frankly, adults) love Super Smash Bros because it is fiercely competitive. The competition is so high that my teens run their own tournaments. They run the tournament themselves and all I have to do is provide paper/pencils for a sign-up sheet and grid. I don’t give out prizes except for large events; bragging rights are enough of a reward for my group of teens. If you’re interested, I can write a more in-depth article in the future about hosting a Smash tournament.

Most Games on the Wii U are Teen Friendly

Besides Smash, the vast majority of Wii U games are rated E10+ and have teen appeal. This is beneficial because my library does not allow video games that are rated M, much to the dismay of my teens who want to play Halo. There are many other Wii U games that my teens like to play including Mario Kart, Mario Party, and Super Mario Maker. That is, if I can convince them to put Smash away!

Where to Buy

Production on the Wii U has stopped, meaning you will not be able to buy the Wii U from stores for much longer. As of January 13th, Amazon is selling Wii U’s for $289.00, and I bet that price will increase as stock becomes scarce. Other retailers such as Target, Walmart, are selling it as a bundle for $299.99 and I couldn’t find any on Best Buy’s online store.

Compared to the Switch

Now, the price for a new Wii U is the same as pre-ordering the Switch. You might be wondering why you should spend that money on an old console instead of a new one, and that’s a fair question. I’m hesitant to buy the Switch because my teens would much rather play Super Smash than any game available on the Switch. From what we know about the Switch, it does not appear to have a Smash game lined up, nor does it have many multiplayer games that can accommodate more than 4 people at a time. Not to mention, the Switch isn’t out yet, so the only information/reviews available are from a small group of gamers who are probably more focused on playing the console at home rather than at a large program.

Right now, my teens are content playing Smash on the Wii U, and I plan to keep it that way for the foreseeable future. If you have any more questions about the Wii U or about our Teen Game Night program, feel free to ask in the comments below!

Questions? Comments? Tweet them at me! By: Alanna Graves Twitter: @LannaLibrarian

#SJYALit: How does real life and research fit with LGBT young adult lit? A guest post by Alex B

As a young teen, I went to my local bookstore with my family and chose books like Alex Sánchez’s Rainbow Road, David Levithan’s Boy Meets Boy, and Julie Anne Peters’ Keeping You a Secret for my parents to buy with no thought to self-censor; in a weird twist that I won’t go into here, I actually became more closeted as I got older. I soaked up the stories, and the representation of LGBT characters was immensely satisfying. Despite my love and gratitude for these books, I still searched for books with LGBT characters that (1) had less drama, (2) had less romance, and (3) were not fictional. Leap forward and in a little over a decade…more books! There are new twists, new styles, and new angles galore. It is clear that many people are working to help teens find LGBT representation in what they read.


IMG_2554I am here to argue for more inclusivity and more diversity in style and content, however, which is not a new argument but one that fermented for me on a recent trip to San Francisco. Beyond being able to explore the Castro, I also spent time researching at the GLBT Historical Society archives and visiting their museum. It got me thinking. I see a need for diverse literature in the same way that they have a specific context and specific gaps in their collection development. In an email message titled “Fight LGBT Discrimination with Education,” they write, “The GLBT Historical Society focuses its collections on gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer life in the wider San Francisco Bay area and Northern California. Currently, we are seeking accessions to fill particular gaps in our holdings. We seek materials documenting LGBT life prior to the 1970s, as well as LGBT people of color, lesbian and bisexual women of all social/cultural backgrounds, LGBT working class communities, and bisexual and transgender people.” Can we give teens LGBTQ literature that mixes with geography in the same way? I read Nina LaCour and David Levithan’s You Know Me Well on the flight to and from San Fran – where the story is set – which made it even more special. But I wish I had more stories set in my corner of the world when I was growing up, and more stories with true settings that helped make the triumphs and tribulations feel real.


If there are any takers, I’ll gladly throw out some ideas or queries that aspiring or established authors could consider, and knowledgeable teen librarians can answer in their collection, clubs, or services.


So, in addition to geography, and in this post-election world with Donald Trump as president, teens may need more than fictional books with LGBT characters that deal with first love – they need books that provide a roadmap for strength, role models to emulate, and reading that fits educational goals such as a history curriculum that may legitimize it in broader circles. It is important to have books that deal with resiliency and empathy, and books that appeal to a wide range of people connected to the LGBT spectrum from a variety of paths, such as siblings of gay teens, children of gay parents, allies, and those who have no visible connections to the community and may have mixed or negative feelings about it.


Other people bring up diversity and inclusivity in LGBTQ lit for teens and provide ideas of what it could or should look like; Dahlia Adler (2016) states, “where it used to be like searching for a needle in a haystack to find queer characters outside of contemp, now you can find queer superheroes and royals and brujas. Where intersectionality used to be an impossible find, now it’s…a fairly difficult find.”


So what am I envisioning?


Image from

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Let me go back to telling you about my trip. After taking BART to my stop, I ran through a torrential rain shower to a building that also houses Buzzfeed offices, signed in at the front desk, and headed to the basement location. In the archives, I looked at primary documents on Tom Ammiano, Peninsula Gay and Lesbian Youth Group and the facilitator, Rhio Hiersch, Quatrefoil Library’s The Gay Bookworm newsletters, and Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network’s (GLSEN) BlackBoard newsletters.  Some of the material I looked at, such as that on education expert Mary Greer and the group OLOC (Old Lesbians Organizing for Change), may not interest teens as much as others, but hey, it would have interested me! From the staff at the GLBT Historical Society Archives, I learned that Tom Ammiano – who has worn many hats as an out public school teacher, politician, LGBT activist, and comedian – is friendly and approachable, so I think it could be possible for someone to write a teen-friendly bio.  I also think library events that allow teens to see primary documents related to LGBTQ life and history could be helpful, or representations of key primary documents could be included in non-fiction books. I am all about blending genres, crossing traditional boundaries of how events are run or what is included, and I think there are so many ways we can help teens connect with LGBTQ material in fun and meaningful ways. Can a library help teens understand research and experience LGBTQ artifacts by facilitating a Skype conference with the archives staff? Can teachers add a(nother) book with LGBTQ characters – fiction or nonfiction – to their curriculum? Can more schools incorporate positive LGBTQ experiences not only in their reading material but in their lessons and policies too? In my research, I found a 1993 NYT article that is actually available online now as well; it states, “at a time when other school districts are including material on homosexuality in their multicultural curriculum, so too is Mr. Ammiano seeing that homosexuality is addressed in the classroom here. Sixth-graders learn how hurtful it is to label people and call them names; seventh-graders learn about different kinds of families, and eighth-graders learn about myths and stereotypes surrounding homosexuality.” I would love to have this kind of curriculum widespread and uniform across the country and even internationally recognized, and teen librarians and educators can be instrumental in advocating for them.


While it poured in San Francisco, I dried off in the archives as I read, and I was interested in learning about the history of gay educators’ experiences with being closeted or out. I also hoped to find anecdotes and people involved in teen programming, services, and especially LGBT literature in schools or gay-straight alliances. In the Spring 1997 issue of The Newsletter of the Gay, Lesbian, & Straight Teachers’ Network ( “Teaching Respect for All”), I found the promotion of a good idea:

Make your Librarian’s Day. Does your school or community library have what it needs to provide adequate information and support to young people who need it on issues of sexual orientation? Drop by and check out their collection to see if they do. If they don’t, buy a suitable book, make a time to talk to the librarian, and present it to him or her, using your gift as a chance to educate them on the need to have more such books. (p. 10).


Let’s keep doing this, but also look toward how we can help shape the future of Social Justice in YA Lit, adding to what LGBTQ looks like in lit or programming for teens. My research trip helped me feel connected to history and to other LGBTQ people, empowering me to come out here, and teens deserve similar opportunities to experience archival material and powerful primary documents, diverse books, and supportive programming and policies in their schools and libraries.


Stay tuned for another guest post on LGBTQ YA lit in the 90s/00s versus now, from my own experience, in late February. I’m off to read Flying Lessons & Other Stories, edited by Ellen Oh! Thank you for reading.




Gay, Lesbian, & Straight Teachers’ Network. (1997). Get involved: Do your homework! The Newsletter of the Gay, Lesbian, & Straight Teachers’ Network. 6(3), 10.

GLBT Historical Society Archives & Museum. (2017).

GLBT Historical Society Archives & Museum. (2016). Fight LGBT discrimination with education

The New York Times. (1993). A gay comedian with a school shtick. 


Meet Alex

Alex B is an aspiring librarian in a Master’s of Library and Information Science + K-12 program. She’s gay and has a goofy sense of humor. She can read, is testing her ability to write, and is so-so at talking. She does love to listen, so you can connect with her via email (absjyalit at or comment here with your stories or thoughts!