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The Trouble with Telling, author Kristin Halbrook discusses her new release EVERY LAST PROMISE for #SVYALit

In my new release, EVERY LAST PROMISE, Kayla, the main character, witnesses an assault, but doesn’t speak up about it. It wasn’t an easy point-of-view to write but, in my mind, it was an important one to explore. As small-town rape cases continue to be publicized in the media, I find myself thinking about the people who don’t speak up. Who have internalized rape culture or are immobilized by fear. What is it that keeps the silence?

There isn’t just one reason. There are many, and they are insidious.

If you tell your university you were gang-raped by players on the basketball team and seek on-campus help, your medical records might be publicly released in what looks an awful lot like retaliation. And that would happen after the basketball players were allowed to continue playing NCAA-level sports and, eventually, have charges against them dismissed.

If you are a sex worker who is raped, you might be asked if you liked being raped, if you were paid well for being raped, if you really thought you didn’t deserve being raped, considering your line of work, and all. That is assuming, of course, that you aren’t outright jailed for your admitting your line of work.

If you are a Woman of Color who is raped, you might avoid reporting because your community has a long-standing distrust of law enforcement—for good reason—and you might rather face your trauma than face the blatant racism and violence ingrained in so many law enforcement agencies.

If you are an immigrant person still learning English, American law, and local culture who is raped, you might not report your assault because of the language and culture barrier, because of (again) ingrained racism and xenophobia in law enforcement agencies.

If you are a child who is raped, your fear may engulf you. You might have no one to turn to. Threats from your rapist, most often a family member, force your silence.

If you are a girl in a small town and your rapist is a well-loved town hero, you might keep your secret out of fear, out of loyalty, out of worry that you’ll be run out of your home. In the meantime, your rapist goes free, you’re blamed for ruining his life, “you” create a fissure in your community and things will never be the same. You know these things might happen because you’ve seen then happen in towns small and large, again and again. You know it’s wrong not to report…but you know even more deeply that rape victims are rarely treated fairly.

All these situations presume that even in the most clear-cut cases—even when the victim is a middle-class white woman of impeccable community standing—most victims will be taken seriously, not shamed, ostracized, or treated violently. And that most perpetrators will go to jail for their assaults. But, according to RAINN, taking into account unreported rapes, only about two percent of rapists will ever serve time.

So, there’s another reason not to bother telling. With all the emotional energy and physical time it takes to report and build a rape case, why bother, when it’s unlikely the rapist will see justice or rehabilitation, anyway?

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) only 36 percent of rapes, 34 percent of attempted rapes, and 26 percent of sexual assaults that happened in the United States between 1992 and 2000 were reported to the police. (1) Rape is the most underreported crime in the United States. Rape culture leads to “Rape myths” which excuse the perpetrator, place blame on the victim of rape and sexual assault crimes, discourage victims from seeking medical and therapeutical treatment and reinforce stereotypes about who rapists are and who victims are.

Rape culture means that a victim is asked what she was wearing when she was raped, with the assumption that dressing a certain way invites rape. Rape culture means that being drunk means the victim shouldn’t have put themselves in “that situation.” Rape culture means media uses rape storylines to add drama to a show, normalizing sexual violence against women. Rape culture means serial killers often target prostitutes because sex workers “deserve it.” Rape culture is people accusing a victim of ruining a rapist’s future chances at a successful sports career rather than holding the perpetrator responsible for his actions. Rape culture is thinking victims “cry rape” as a way to get attention. Rape culture maintains that women who choose to be sexually active with more than one man cannot be raped. Rape culture shames women for “turning a man on” and “not following through.” Rape culture scoffs at the idea that boys and men can be raped and discourages their attempts to report as “unmanly.” Rape culture targets the most vulnerable members of society, including children and the elderly. Rape culture laughs at prison soap jokes. Rape culture means that skepticism is a common first reaction to a victim’s claims.

Rape culture means survivors keep their secrets all too often.

It’s easy to watch from the sidelines and wonder why people aren’t doing anything. It’s easy to point a finger and say she should have told someone. And it’s easy to call those who do report heroes. And they are. But we need to be empathetic to the reasons survivors don’t tell their stories. We need to make the focus of our energies the breakdown of rape culture, itself, not of its survivors.

1.         Rennison, C.M. Rape and Sexual Assault: Reporting to Police and Medical Attention, 1992–2000. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, August 2002, NCJ 194530.

Meet The Author: Kristin Hallbrook

When I was little, I wanted to be a writer, the President of the USA or the first female NFL quarterback. Despite being able to throw a wicked spiral, I didn’t really grow to the size needed for the NFL. Then, as I got older and studied more, I came to realize there were better ways to effect positive change than becoming president. The first one, however, stuck. Even when I was pursuing other dreams, I always took time to write here and there. My first attempt at a novel was adult upmarket fiction, but it felt a little forced. Then I wrote a Young Adult. Put it aside as part of my writing apprenticeship. Wrote a Middle Grade, also put it aside. Then another Young Adult, then another. Then NOBODY BUT US, published by HarperTeen.

When I’m not writing or reading (which is what I do all day, in all of my work), I’m spending time with three pixies, my Mad Scot soulmate, and one grumpy cocker spaniel; traveling across oceans and time; cooking and baking up a storm; and watching waves crash and suns set on the beach. I currently live, love and explore in The Emerald City, though I occasionally make wispy, dream-like plans to move to Paris or a Scottish castle one day (if just temporarily).

Publisher’s Book Description

Every Last Promise

Perfect for fans of Laurie Halse Anderson and Gayle Forman, Every Last Promise is a provocative and emotional novel about a girl who must decide between keeping quiet and speaking up after witnessing a classmate’s sexual assault.

Kayla saw something at the party that she wasn’t supposed to. But she hasn’t told anyone. No one knows the real story about what happened that night—about why Kayla was driving the car that ran into a ditch after the party, about what she saw in the hours leading up to the accident, and about the promise she made to her friend Bean before she left for the summer.

Now Kayla’s coming home for her senior year. If Kayla keeps quiet, she might be able to get her old life back. If she tells the truth, she risks losing everything—and everyone—she ever cared about.

Karen’s Thoughts:

Every Last Promise is good, very good. It may be the only book that looks at sexual violence from a bystander or witness point of view, which makes it important. Kristin Halbrook does a really good job of illuminating life in a small, close knit community and visibly showing the barriers to reporting. There are reasons Kayla doesn’t initially come forward, the same reasons that the victim herself doesn’t, and most of us will recognize them immediately. But as Kayla sees this girl, a friend and classmate, slowly disintegrate in front of her eyes, the reasons why she must come forward become clear. There is so much that Halbrook does really well here, but it is in the increasing guilt and despair of everyone involved that really sell the story. Every Last Promise combined with All the Rage by Courtney Summers make a pitch perfect book reading and discussion combination about rape culture and the internalized messages we have all received that make it so hard for victims of sexual violence to report their crimes and get the compassionate treatment they deserve.

For more on the #SVYALit Project (Sexual Violence in YA Lit) please see the index.

What’s New in LGBTQIA+ This Spring

Every other month I’ll be doing a roundup of new and forthcoming YA books (and sometimes some non-YA books) featuring LGBTQIA+ characters. I’ll try to include as many titles as possible. Know of a title I missed in this list? Or know of a forthcoming title that should be on my radar for an upcoming list? Leave a comment or tweet me @CiteSomething. This list covers April 2015 and May 2015 titles. All annotations here are via WorldCat or the publishers. My previous post, from February, can be found here.


APRIL 2015

Weathering the Storm by Caitlin Ricci (Harmony Ink, April 2, ISBN 978-1-63476-000-3, ebook):

Robbie’s dad has always been hard on Robbie and his brothers, but when their mom dies on Robbie’s sixteenth birthday, he becomes downright abusive. Robbie doesn’t understand why his dad is so mean to him or why his brothers resent him for their mom’s accident, but he desperately tries to hide the bruises. On top of that, after his dad’s horse training jobs run out, he moves them to Colorado to their uncle’s ranch in the mountains.

At Uncle Caleb’s cabin, Robbie meets Sam, a boy whose family also lives on the property. Finally he has a real friend who shares his love of horses, but Sam is black and openly gay. Both traits incur Robbie’s father’s rage. When his dad attacks Robbie in front of Uncle Caleb for standing up for Sam and himself, all of their secrets are thrown out into the open, and Robbie’s life is changed forever


Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (HarperCollins Publishers, April 7, ISBN 9780062348678):


Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.


Changers Book Two: Oryon by T Cooper and Allison Glock-Cooper (Akashic Books, April 7, ISBN 9781617753077):

Changers Book Two: Oryon in the four-part Changers Series for young adults finds our hero Ethan/Drew on the eve of her second metamorphosis–into Oryon, a skinny African American skater boy with more swagger than he knows what to do with. Enter a mess of trouble from the Changers Council, the closed-minded Abiders, the Radical Changers (RaChas), and his best friend Audrey–at least she was his best friend when Oryon was Drew–and now, it’s complicated.

But that’s life (and life, and life, and life) for Changers, an ancient race of humans who must live out each year of high school as a completely different person. Before next summer, Oryon will learn what it means to be truly loved, scared spitless, and at the center of a burgeoning national culture war. Most of all, he will learn again how much the eyes of the world try to shape you into what they see–and how only when you resist do you clearly begin to see yourself.


None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio (HarperCollins Publishers, April 7, ISBN 9780062335319):


A groundbreaking story about a teenage girl who discovers she’s intersex . . . and what happens when her secret is revealed to the entire school. Incredibly compelling and sensitively told, None of the Above is a thought-provoking novel that explores what it means to be a boy, a girl, or something in between.

What if everything you knew about yourself changed in an instant?

When Kristin Lattimer is voted homecoming queen, it seems like another piece of her ideal life has fallen into place. She’s a champion hurdler with a full scholarship to college and she’s madly in love with her boyfriend. In fact, she’s decided that she’s ready to take things to the next level with him.

But Kristin’s first time isn’t the perfect moment she’s planned—something is very wrong. A visit to the doctor reveals the truth: Kristin is intersex, which means that though she outwardly looks like a girl, she has male chromosomes, not to mention boy “parts.”

Dealing with her body is difficult enough, but when her diagnosis is leaked to the whole school, Kristin’s entire identity is thrown into question. As her world unravels, can she come to terms with her new self?



Slaying Isidore’s Dragons by C. Kennedy (Harmony Ink, April 9, ISBN 978-1-63476-003-4, ebook):

Follow the burgeoning love of two teens during the worst year of their lives. Irish-born Declan David de Quirke II is the son of two ambassadors, one Irish and one American. He is ‘out’ to his parents but to no one else. French-born Jean Isidore de Sauveterre is also the son of two ambassadors, one Catalan and one Parisian. His four half brothers have been told to cure him of his homosexuality. Both teens have lost a parent in a London car bombing.

Declan and Isidore meet at the beginning of their senior year at a private academy in the United States. Declan is immediately smitten with Isidore and becomes his knight in shining armor. Isidore wants to keep what is left of his sanity and needs Declan’s love to do it. One is beaten, one is drugged, one is nearly raped, one has been raped. They are harassed by professors and police, and have fights at school, but none of it compares to running for their lives. When the headmaster’s popular son attempts suicide and someone tries to assassinate Declan’s mother, they are thrown headlong into chaos, betrayal, conspiracy, allegations of sexual coercion, even murder. And one of them carries a secret that may get them killed.


When Everything Feels Like the Movies by Raziel Reid (Arsenal Pulp Press, Limited, April 14, ISBN 9781551525747): 

School is just like a film set: there’s The Crew, who make things happen, The Extras who fill the empty desks, and The Movie Stars, whom everyone wants tagged in their Facebook photos. But Jude doesn’t fit in. He’s not part of The Crew because he isn’t about to do anything unless it’s court-appointed; he’s not an Extra because nothing about him is anonymous; and he’s not a Movie Star because even though everyone know his name like an A-lister, he isn’t invited to the cool parties. As the director calls action, Jude is the flamer that lights the set on fire.

Before everything turns to ashes from the resulting inferno, Jude drags his best friend Angela off the casting couch and into enough melodrama to incite the paparazzi, all while trying to fend off the haters and win the heart of his favourite co-star Luke Morris. It’s a total train wreck!

But train wrecks always make the front page.


Rad American Women A-Z: Rebels, Trailblazers, and Visionaries Who Shaped Our History… And Our Future! by  Kate Schatz and Miriam Klein Stahl (Illustrator) (City Lights Books, April 14, ISBN 9780872866836):


Like all A-Z books, this one illustrates the alphabet—but instead of “A is for Apple”, A is for Angela—as in Angela Davis, the iconic political activist. B is for Billie Jean King, who shattered the glass ceiling of sports; C is for Carol Burnett, who defied assumptions about women in comedy; D is for Dolores Huerta, who organized farmworkers; and E is for Ella Baker, who mentored Dr. Martin Luther King and helped shape the Civil Rights Movement.

And the list of great women continues, spanning several centuries, multiple professions, and 26 diverse individuals. There are artists and abolitionists, scientists and suffragettes, rock stars and rabble-rousers, and agents of change of all kinds.

The book includes an introduction that discusses what it means to be “rad” and “radical,” an afterword with 26 suggestions for how you can be “rad,” and a Resource Guide with ideas for further learning and reading.

American history was made by countless rad—and often radical—women. By offering a fresh and diverse array of female role models, we can remind readers that there are many places to find inspiration, and that being smart and strong and brave is rad.

Rad American Women will be appreciated by various age groups. It is Common Core aligned for students grades 3 – 8. Pre-school and young children will be captured by the bright visuals and easily modified texts, while the subject matter will stimulate and inspire high-schoolers and beyond.


 Taking the Stand (Crossfire #3) by Juliann Rich (Bold Strokes Books, April 21, ISBN 9781626394087): 

There’s a time for justice. Then there’s a time for action. And Jonathan Cooper knows exactly what time it is.

It is time to lie. To his parents, who think he’s on a ski trip with Pete Mitchell when he’s really gone to Madison to search for one person willing to testify for his boyfriend, Ian McGuire, who is facing the charge of assault and battery. To Ian’s parents, who have erased him from their lives. Even to himself. Because admitting his feelings for Mason Kellerman isn’t an option.

It is also time to face the truth. That Jonathan may have lied for nothing. That he may be powerless to save Ian from a guilty verdict. That whether he likes it or not, it is time for taking the stand.


The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey (Random House Children’s Books, April 28, ISBN 9780385744652):

Beneath the streets of New York City live the Avicen, an ancient race of people with feathers for hair and magic running through their veins. Age-old enchantments keep them hidden from humans. All but one. Echo is a runaway pickpocket who survives by selling stolen treasures on the black market, and the Avicen are the only family she’s ever known.

Echo is clever and daring, and at times she can be brash, but above all else she’s fiercely loyal. So when a centuries-old war crests on the borders of her home, she decides it’s time to act.

Legend has it that there is a way to end the conflict once and for all: find the Firebird, a mythical entity believed to possess power the likes of which the world has never seen. It will be no easy task, but if life as a thief has taught Echo anything, it’s how to hunt down what she wants . . . and how to take it.

But some jobs aren’t as straightforward as they seem. And this one might just set the world on fire.


MAY 2015


Flesh and Bone by William Alton (Luminis Books, May 1, ISBN 9781941311455):

Told in a series of images and fragments, Flesh and Bone is a raw and real portrayal of a teen struggling to find love in his life. When Bill’s father leaves and he and his mother move far away to live with her parents, his whole world implodes. His grandparents are cold and distant, his mom is distant both physically and emotionally as she deals with her own struggles, and his dad is just gone. Bill explores his sexuality with multiple partners as he searches for love and compassion and turns to drugs and alcohol to dull the pain of loneliness. Flesh and Bone is a powerful tale that sheds light on the dark places of the soul.


Stonewall: Breaking Out in the Fight for Gay Rights by Ann Bausum (Penguin Young Readers Group, May 5, ISBN 9780670016792): 

That’s the Stonewall.

The Stonewall Inn.
Pay attention.
History walks through that door.

In 1969 being gay in the United States was a criminal offense. It meant living a closeted life or surviving on the fringes of society. People went to jail, lost jobs, and were disowned by their families for being gay. Most doctors considered homosexuality a mental illness. There were few safe havens. The Stonewall Inn, a Mafia-run, filthy, overpriced bar in New York City’s Greenwich Village, was one of them.

Police raids on gay bars happened regularly in this era. But one hot June night, when cops pounded on the door of the Stonewall, almost nothing went as planned. Tensions were high. The crowd refused to go away. Anger and frustration boiled over.

The raid became a riot.

The riot became a catalyst.

The catalyst triggered an explosive demand for gay rights.

Ann Bausum’s riveting exploration of the Stonewall Riots and the national Gay Rights movement that followed is eye-opening, unflinching, and inspiring.


This is Not a Love Story by Keren David (Atom, May 7, ISBN 9780349001401):

Kitty dreams of a beautiful life, but that’s impossible in suburban London where her family is haunted by her father’s unexpected death. So when her mum suggests moving to Amsterdam to try a new life, Kitty doesn’t take much persuading. Will this be her opportunity to make her life picture perfect?

In Amsterdam she meets moody, unpredictable Ethan, and clever, troubled Theo. Two enigmatic boys, who each harbour their own secrets. In a beautiful city and far from home, Kitty finds herself falling in love for the first time.

But will love be everything she expected? And will anyone’s heart survive?


We Are All Made of Molecules by Susin Nielsen (Random House Children’s Books, May 12, ISBN 9780553496864): 

Thirteen-year-old Stewart is academically brilliant but socially clueless.
Fourteen-year-old Ashley is the undisputed “It” girl in her class, but her grades stink.

Their worlds are about to collide when Stewart and his dad move in with Ashley and her mom. Stewart is trying to be 89.9 percent happy about it, but Ashley is 110 percent horrified. She already has to hide the real reason her dad moved out; “Spewart” could further threaten her position at the top of the social ladder.

They are complete opposites. And yet, they have one thing in common: they—like everyone else—are made of molecules.


Vanished by E.E. Cooper (HarperCollins Publishers, May 12, ISBN 9780062293909):

Friendship. Obsession. Deception. Love.

Kalah knows better than to fall for Beth Taylor . . . but that doesn’t stop her from falling hard and falling fast, heart first into a sea of complications.

Then Beth vanishes. She skips town on her eighteenth birthday, leaving behind a flurry of rumors and a string of broken hearts. Not even Beth’s best friend, Britney, knows where she went. Beth didn’t even tell Kalah good-bye.

One of the rumors links Beth to Britney’s boyfriend, and Kalah doesn’t want to believe the betrayal. But Brit clearly believes it—and before Kalah can sort out the truth, Britney is dead.

When Beth finally reaches out to Kalah in the wake of Brit’s suicide, Kalah wants to trust what Beth tells her. But she’s swiftly realizing that nothing here is as it seems. Kalah’s caught in the middle of a deadly psychological game, and only she can untangle the deceptions and lies to reveal the unthinkable truth.


Read Me Like a Book by Liz Kessler (Indigo, May 14, ISBN ISBN13: 9781780622095): 

Ashleigh Walker is in love. You know the feeling – that intense, heart-racing, all-consuming emotion that can only come with first love. It’s enough to stop her worrying about bad grades at college. Enough to distract her from her parents’ marriage troubles. There’s just one thing bothering her . . .

Shouldn’t it be her boyfriend, Dylan, who makes her feel this way – not Miss Murray, her English teacher?





The First Twenty by Jennifer Lavoie (Bold Strokes Press, May 19, ISBN 9781626394148):

Humanity was nearly wiped out when a series of global disasters struck, but pockets of survivors have managed to thrive and are starting to rebuild society. Peyton lives with others in what used to be a factory. When her adopted father is murdered by Scavengers, she is determined to bring justice to those who took him away from her. She didn’t count on meeting Nixie.

Nixie is one of the few people born with the ability to dowse for water with her body. In a world where safe water is hard to come by, she’s a valuable tool to her people. When she’s taken by Peyton, they’ll do anything to get her back. As the tension between the groups reaches critical max, Peyton is forced to make a decision: give up the girl she’s learned to love, or risk the lives of those she’s responsible for.


Anything Could Happen by Will Walton (Scholastic, Inc, May 26, ISBN 9780545709545): 
When you’re in love with the wrong person for the right reasons, anything could happen.

Tretch lives in a very small town where everybody’s in everybody else’s business. Which makes it hard for him to be in love with his straight best friend.  For his part, Matt is completely oblivious to the way Tretch feels – and Tretch can’t tell whether that makes it better or worse.

The problem with living a lie is that the lie can slowly become your life. For Tretch, the problem isn’t just with Matt. His family has no idea who he really is and what he’s really thinking. The girl at the local bookstore has no clue how off-base her crush on him is. And the guy at school who’s a thorn in Tretch’s side doesn’t realize how close to the truth he’s hitting.


The Porcupine of Truth by Bill Konigsburg (Scholastic, Inc, May 26, ISBN 9780545648936):

The author of OPENLY STRAIGHT returns with an epic road trip involving family history, gay history, the girlfriend our hero can’t have, the grandfather he never knew, and the Porcupine of Truth.

Carson Smith is resigned to spending his summer in Billings, Montana, helping his mom take care of his father, a dying alcoholic he doesn’t really know. Then he meets Aisha Stinson, a beautiful girl who has run away from her difficult family, and Pastor John Logan, who’s long held a secret regarding Carson’s grandfather, who disappeared without warning or explanation thirty years before. Together, Carson and Aisha embark on an epic road trip to find the answers that might save Carson’s dad, restore his fragmented family, and discover the “Porcupine of Truth” in all of their lives.



Middle Grade Monday – The Power of Doorstops

The last conference I attended had a wonderful session entitled ‘Radical Hospitality in the School Library Media Center.’ And I’m not just saying that because it was a friend and colleague who was presenting. It was really wonderful. I’ve strived since my first library to find ways to make the students feel welcome and wanted in the library. Some students will always feel welcome – the library is their home! There is no place in the school these students would rather be than amongst their best friends, the books. Other students are seemingly comfortable everywhere, it would take several uncomfortable or confrontational experiences in the same place for these students not to feel welcome. These are the lucky few. Many others are either apprehensive or plainly uncomfortable in the library, and you will probably never know why. These are the students whom I am targeting.

Over the years I’ve developed several techniques beyond the obvious (friendly demeanor, seeking to meet the students’ needs, extended conversations about whatever the student cares about most that day.) The first thing I realized when was that some of my students are lacking in the basic necessities of personal care and comfort. A readily accessible supply of tissues, hand sanitizer, bandaids, and hand lotion can be a powerful draw to these students. The very fact that I keep these supplies stocked and in a ‘student supply’ area for free use has contributed greatly to the impact I’ve been able to have in their lives. They gradually begin to see the library as a place where they can get their physical needs met.

In this same ‘student supply’ area I provide (without judgement) pencils and paper, glue sticks and scissors, colored pencils and a number of handheld sharpeners, an electric pencil sharpener, a hole punch, and a stapler. Because even more of the students need these. It’s not necessarily because they do not have them, but middle schoolers are notorious for losing things for a good reason. If they’ve come to the library to work on a project and forgotten their supplies, the last thing I want them to do is waste time going back to their classroom or locker to get them.

I’ve arranged the library facility for easy use, made sure we are meeting any needs of our students with different abilities, but there was one thing I’d never thought about doing that was mentioned in the presentation. Most school libraries have very heavy, weighted, self closing doors. Some of them are even solid metal or wood with no windows – ours luckily are the kind with windows. I could get some doorstops and prop these doors open. It was like the clouds parted, a rainbow appeared, and birds began to sing. I could prop open the doors.

I can already hear some of you wondering, “Isn’t it loud in the hallway?” Sometimes. But realistically, having the doors closed doesn’t do a lot to block that noise. It muffles it slightly, but not enough to make a real difference. And also realistically, how much more likely are the students to realize that they are being supervised if the doors are open? Are they more or less likely to make inappropriate noise in the hallway? “But won’t you get students sneaking into the library when they aren’t supposed to be there?” Maybe. Is that necessarily a bad thing? It’s not like they’re unsupervised and I can quickly send them on their way (or recommend a book they might enjoy, or give them that pencil/bandaid/friendly smile they need.)

So I did it – I propped open the library doors. The students didn’t seem to notice, or maybe it’s just that they didn’t say anything. But last week, my assistant principal came in the library and said, “I just dropped in to say hello, because I felt so welcome with the doors open.”

#FSYALit: Orthodox Representation in YA Lit

Over the past year, I have seen an increase of representation of Protestant Christians in YA lit that isn’t published by a Christian publisher. Maybe it’s just because I have been looking for it more for this discussion, but it does in fact seem like there has been a genuine increase in authors recognizing and mentioning that teens can have a spiritual life even in a book that isn’t published to promote said spiritual life. But in the discussion of diversity, we want to be looking for and discussing other religious viewpoints as well. So I went out and asked people I knew and respected to help me because when it comes to faiths different then my own, I want to know from practitioners of that faith whether or not the representation of their faith in YA is in fact a good one. Today Maureen Eichner is sharing her thoughts about the representation of the Orthodox Christian in YA lit.

When I was a kid, I loved Patricia Polacco’s books. For a lot of reasons: they’re funny, they’re sweet, they have beautiful art. But partly because the people in them were like me. They ate kulichi and decorated pysanky eggs; they had icons on the walls and in the corners of their rooms. And yet, they were also American, with thunderstorms and fried chicken. It wasn’t until quite recently, re-reading Chicken Sunday, that I realized just how rare and how powerful that representation was.

According to the Pew Forum, there are 260 million Orthodox Christians worldwide. Although most Orthodox churches recognize each other and there are common core beliefs, Orthodoxy is not centralized in the way that the Catholic church is and each country or region has its own autonomous church headed by a patriarch. Many Americans think of Greece or Russia when they think of Orthodoxy, but there are historical Orthodox churches in many countries throughout the Balkans, Middle East, and Africa.

Here in the US, most Orthodox believers are immigrants or descendants of immigrants who come from historically Orthodox countries. However, there is a growing number of people who are converts from other Christian denominations or other religions.

I am one of the latter. My parents began their journey to Orthodoxy when I was a baby and I grew up in the church. The parish that I attended when I was young and attend now is primarily American, but also has significant numbers of Ukrainians and Russians, as well as Eritreans and Chinese and Filipino converts. I’ve also attended Serbian and Russian parishes which have been predominantly culturally Orthodox and Americans have been in the minority.

And, let me just be quite blunt here: there is no one like me in any story I’ve ever read. There are very, very few books with Orthodox characters at all, especially in YA.* And in the few instances where Orthodoxy features, it tends to be portrayed as an exotic, mysterious religion, stuck in the past. Priests are often described as ravens or crows, or as being scary and creepy.

The thing is, throughout my life, my faith and experiences in the Orthodox Church have been not only important but life-saving. I doubt I would have gotten through my teen years without the strength and support it gave me. For me, both American and Orthodox, navigating my way between those two identities, I’ve often felt the pressure to explain all the weird things I believe and live, to make sense of who I am in the fact of well-meaning but sometimes exhausting questions. So when in YA I see at best a depiction of my faith written from the outside, that gets everything wrong, it really hurts. This was my experience reading Shadow & Bone and The Family Romanov, both of which are highly acclaimed and both of which I found painful.

Now, I will say that Trish Doller’s Where the Stars Still Shine shows a Greek Orthodox family, several members of which are religious and attend church. The main character is not one of them because of plot-related reasons, but I appreciated this tiny mention. And in Gregory Maguire’s Egg & Spoon, I felt that the characters, especially Elena, demonstrated a reasonably authentic relationship to the church and faith.

However, considering the range and breadth of YA, and the harm that inaccurate and stereotyped portrayals cause, I don’t find two books to be adequate. I want to see immigrant kids who have to grapple with their identity, and I want to see convert kids who feel like they both are and aren’t American. I want kids who have left their faith and kids who cling to it. I want historical fiction that shows the actual nuances and struggles of people in the past, and I want recognition that readers may hope to find their own beliefs accurately and respectfully rendered. I want all of our stories, because they’re already here.

* There are some small Orthodox publishers and self-published authors who have put out Orthodox YA books, or at least books about teens. I will admit that the few I tried when I was younger seemed preachy and didactic, and not at all reflective of the actual issues that my friends and I were facing. I have heard good things about a few recent releases but haven’t tried them yet.

Meet Our Guest Blogger

Maureen Eichner is a public librarian and book blogger who lives in Indiana with her cat.

Books Mentioned

Egg and Spoon by Gregory Maguire

A fantasy set in Tsarist Russia.

Elena Rudina lives in the impoverished Russian countryside. Her father has been dead for years. One of her brothers has been conscripted into the Tsar’s army, the other taken as a servant in the house of the local landowner. Her mother is dying, slowly, in their tiny cabin. And there is no food. But then a train arrives in the village, a train carrying untold wealth, a cornucopia of food, and a noble family destined to visit the Tsar in Saint Petersburg — a family that includes Ekaterina, a girl of Elena’s age. When the two girls’ lives collide, an adventure is set in motion, an escapade that includes mistaken identity, a monk locked in a tower, a prince traveling incognito, and — in a starring role only Gregory Maguire could have conjured — Baba Yaga, witch of Russian folklore, in her ambulatory house perched on chicken legs

Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller

Stolen as a child from her large and loving family, and on the run with her mom for more than ten years, Callie has only the barest idea of what normal life might be like. She’s never had a home, never gone to school, and has gotten most of her meals from laundromat vending machines. Her dreams are haunted by memories she’d like to forget completely. But when Callie’s mom is finally arrested for kidnapping her, and Callie’s real dad whisks her back to what would have been her life, in a small town in Florida, Callie must find a way to leave the past behind. She must learn to be part of a family. And she must believe that love–even with someone who seems an improbable choice–is more than just a possibility.

Trish Doller writes incredibly real teens, and this searing story of love, betrayal, and how not to lose your mind will resonate with readers who want their stories gritty and utterly true.


Sunday Reflections: She is Safe? A Personal Reflection for Sexual Assualt Awareness Month

I woke up that Sunday afternoon, groggy from an after church nap, wiping sleepies out of my eyes and wondering why my friend was standing there next to me shaking and crying. As I blinked into a form of consciousness, I feared what this moment would reveal, how it would change our lives. The longer the silent wailing marked only by her visibly shaking body stretched between us the more serious I knew this news would be.

She tried to force words out, but they wouldn’t come, too horrific to be spoken aloud. Her body convulsed with the pain and agony of what she wanted to say but couldn’t, and my terror kept inching up the Richter scale. I knew that in this moment, everything would change. And I feared the how and why of it. And I was right to.

Then the words erupted with a gale force wind that swept through our lives and changed them forever, “I just pressed charges against Jim for touching my daughter.” (Jim is obviously not his real name).

Her daughter. The same age as my daughter. Our friend, a frequent part of our lives. Someone we knew and loved. Violated by this man, the father of another friend. A friend who had just spent the night before in my home. These three families woven together in time and space, now being rewoven in truly horrific ways. In this moment, I knew, everything would change. The truth is, it had already changed for us all some time ago, we just didn’t know it until that very moment.

One of my main goals in life is to keep my children safe. Emotionally. Physically. Sexually. I just love them fiercely and want them to get out of adolescence in one piece, a gift that way too many of our children don’t have the privilege of achieving. This world breaks them into tiny fragments and some of the pieces get so lost we can never put them back together whole again. That’s how it seems for far too many of our kids.

A victim of sexual abuse myself, at the age of 12, the idea that my daughter is now 12 haunts me. I am hyper vigilant. I am on alert. I am afraid.

And it turns out I was right to be.

My daughter is safe. She was not harmed by this man, in part because I had forbidden her to go into their home, my alarm bells always going off in their presence. And not without reason, there was a safety issue that happened the first – and only – time my daughter ever spent the night there and she has never been permitted inside that home again.

I watched for two years as my daughter struggled with loneliness and rejection as preteen girls went in and out of this house that she was never allowed to cross the threshold of.  Her aching heart caused me so much parental pain. I doubted. I worried I was making the wrong decisions. But my gut, my instinct, said that I must keep firm on this path. In the summers, I tried to help her find other ways to fill her moments, and these girls were always welcome in our home. But every time I thought about letting her inside this home alarm bells went off inside me in a way that they never have before. I had to listen, their insistence demanded it. What happened that time before, though in no way the same, just couldn’t be ignored or explained away.

But in this moment I was learning a simple truth: all that heartache and vigilance had done the thing it was intended to do. It had kept her safe.

For the briefest of moments I felt a moment of relief as my friend stood there, wracked with the painful knowledge that her child’s life had been forever changed. But then the realization of what it all meant hit me. These girls, our friends, their lives would never be the same. Someone had taken something from them, someone we knew, someone she had trusted.

That day I had to sit down with my daughter and make sure. I had to ask questions no mother ever wants to ask. I needed to know for a fact that nothing had happened to her. And we had to talk about how she could support her friends during this time. Even though nothing had been done directly to her, even though she was in fact safe, a bit of innocence was taken from all of us that day as the dark corners of the world became all too real. We could no longer close our front door and pretend these things didn’t really happen, because they do. They were. There were happening right now, right here, among people that we loved and cared about. They are happening. This is happening.

I have walked around for days now with this shaky feeling inside me; my body hums with a painful vibration of memory and fear. I have to keep looking at my daughter and remind myself, she is safe. In this moment, she is safe. Nothing happened to her. She is safe. She is safe. She is safe.

But I also remember, none of us are safe. There are predators who walk among us in human skin. They are the wolves that prey upon our innocence and feast upon our pain. And until the wolves go extinct, I will continue to talk about sexual violence. And you should to. Information is power and light, knowing about the darkness makes us just a little bit safer from it, at least I hope it does. Because information is the only weapon I have and I’m going to use it. No parent should ever have to utter those words, “he touched her.”

Because when my girls reach the end of this life, I want to be able to repeat my mantra – she is safe – and I want it to be true. She is safe. She is safe. She is safe.

If you or someone you know is a victim of sexual violence, please contact RAINN. For more information on The #SVYALit Project (Sexual Violence in Young Adult Literature), please visit our project index.

Friday Finds – April 17, 2015

This Week at TLT

Sunday Reflections: YouTube Killed the MTV Star (#YouTubeWeek)

From the Screen to the Page: How the YouTube Sensation Became a YA Book, a guest post by Paige McKenzie and Alyssa Sheinmel (#YouTubeWeek)

Middle Grade Monday – YouTube for the Tween Crowd

#SVYALit: ALL THE RAGE and rape culture, Trish Doller interviews author Courtney Summers

#YouTubeWeek: A BookTube Crash Course, a guest post by AbbyRoseReads

#YouTubeWeek: What’s Hot on YouTube, a guest post by Rose

YouTube, Virtual Communities, and Teen Sexual Health

Around the Web

Just what tweens and teens need – e-cigs.

Cultural appropriation called out by a Hunger Games actress.

Holly Black’s Darkest Part of the Forest wins the ABA for Young Adult Literature!

And then there was this. *Sobs* *Thinks about orphans her friends have adopted.*

This is just weird to think about…what would I do with that money?

If you haven’t yet, have a look at the #tothegirls Tweets.

Important moments in representation. May they be as numerous as the stars in the sky.



YouTube, Virtual Communities, and Teen Sexual Health

YouTube, like the Internet as a whole, has been invaluable in helping people find their virtual tribes. You may be the only Brony you know in the tri-state area, but other Bronies are always only a few clicks away (if you have good Internet access.) Similarly, teens have been building communities through YouTube since its beginning. Think of the things your teens are obsessed with – video gaming, anime, rock climbing, just being a teenager, etc. – whatever they are into, there is sure to be a YouTube community to address that interest.

When doing reader’s advisory these days, it’s not uncommon to hear that a teen doesn’t really watch television, but they watch a lot of YouTube. Certainly, there are many rabbit holes of entertaining content down which any viewer can fall, but I think it is more common that teens are watching YouTube videos that illuminate their own interests and help provide a virtual community of like-minded individuals. These videos can open new worlds to our teens and do the important work of letting them know they are not alone*. Every teen (or welcoming adult) who makes themselves vulnerable on YouTube does this important work. Similarly, every YouTuber with a significant audience who uses their audience reach to highlight important content by lesser known YouTubers helps to make this community a little more open and a little more welcoming. One of the best things about YouTube is the way it encourages these interactions and how its algorithms actually help viewers find relevant content (whatever else you think about them.)

YouTube can also provide a community or a resource for teens who have questions they don’t know how to get answered, especially teens who comprehend spoken language better than written language, or who feel more comfortable finding information in an interactive or interpersonal way. Additionally, videos can often contain demonstrations of important material that would be difficult or impossible to convey through writing and simple images. For many teens, this information can include how to apply makeup, cook for themselves, and live healthy lives. One of the most immediate needs many teens have is for information on sexual health. Many teens live in communities where these topics are not commonly discussed, or are not allowed as a part of their overall health education curriculum in their public schools. This does not negate their need for this information. In fact, I would argue that it only increases this need. I believe that information is power, and fully informed decisions are the best possible decisions. They can turn to their virtual communities for this information.

For several years (mostly 2011 to 2013) there were almost weekly thought pieces published on the damage caused by teens’ ready access to Internet pornographic content. Headlines like “What to do when you discover your teen has been viewing porn online” and “Sex therapist expresses concern over teen porn addiction” were quite common. But in fact, an article on the Slate website summed up the situation both accurately and succinctly – How Does Internet Porn Affect Teens? New Study Says: We Have No Idea!

Fortunately, regardless of which side of that argument you fall on, there are a number of YouTube channels that address teens’ (and others’) needs for information regarding sexual health, as well as sex and gender related information that may be either difficult to find, or meet needs a teen is unaware of.

One of the best YouTube channels covering this topic in general is Sexplanations, hosted by Dr. Lindsay Doe, who is a clinical sexologist. Sexplanations has been on YouTube for almost 2 years, has over 171,000 followers and has exceeded 14 million views. More information about Dr. Doe’s background and qualifications is available in the channel’s first video. The channel covers topics ranging from human anatomy, sexual terminology, and protection from sexually transmitted diseases to gender identity and expression, consent, abuse, and healthy sexual activity. It has a really broad target audience and approaches all topics with a sex-positive, educational mindset.

The best educational, sex-positive YouTube channel geared towards young adults and new adults I’ve found is lacigreen. Laci Green is a self described sex education activist. She describes the content of her videos as being about “sexuality, gender, body image, relationships, feminism, and sex ed for the internet.” Her recent video on Dress Code Sexism helps to clarify the issues surrounding this topic, and could be invaluable to young women in supporting their defense of their rights. She offers similarly valuable clarification on issues surrounding feminism, body autonomy, and gender identity, as well as practical sexual education information.

If you’ve been reluctant to explore the world of YouTube, you are really missing out on a wealth of resources you can provide for  your teen patrons. And all of them are freely available, given reliable internet access, and part of a platform with which they are generally very comfortable and eager to use. What is stopping you?

*Some of us had to rely upon books for this – isn’t it wonderful that our teens have both?

Take 5: 5 Things You Should Know About YouTube (#YouTubeWeek)

This week we’ve been talking about YouTube – sharing our favorite YouTubers and channels, discussing it’s popularity, etc. But today I wanted to talk about YouTube in general, some interesting tidbits I’ve learned along the way about the culture that is YouTube. And make no mistake, YouTube is a very developed and popular culture with our tweens and teens. And with that culture, as with all cultures, comes the good and the bad. So without further adieu, here are 5 Things You Should Know About YouTube.

1. Diversity is an ongoing discussion in the YouTube community

Like publishing, diversity is an issue in the YouTube community. Many have noticed that the big name YouTubers, and the ones getting a bulk of the promotion, are in fact white (and often male). A recent article pointed out that even during Black History Month, the bulk of the promotion did not fall to people of color but largely to white men. See, for example, this article in Fusion about how YouTube rarely promotes black YouTube stars.

On the other hand, some argue that YouTube is a great vehicle for diversity because it allows others to gain a platform that they might not have trying to go through the mainstream media. For example, YouTube sensation Franchesca Ramsey says in USA Today, “For people of color, it’s a portal to provide authentic stories online you’re not seeing anywhere else.”

2. They have their own awards and conventions

In 2007 the YouTube community began giving out awards for some of its most popular videos and content creators. And in 2013 YouTube held its first ever video music awards. There are many musical talents that are using YouTube as a platform for to share and sell their music. The a capella act Pentatonix and violinist Lindsey Stirling, for example, have both successfully used YouTube to launch music careers.

In addition to awards, there is a large yearly convention for online video content creators called VidCon. It was started by the Vlogbrothers, John and Hank Green. Vidcon is a celebration of content and content creators, which brings us to our next point.

3. They have their own scandals

Speaking of VidCon, it’s worth noting that YouTube and the YouTube community is not without its fair share of scandals. There have been numerous accounts of sexual harassment at VidCon, resulting in calls for a sexual harassment policy to be written and publicized. In addition, some of the content on YouTube can be quite controversial in and of itself. Sam Pepper is a famous YouTuber who made a name for himself making “prank” videos. However, it is worth noting that some of the pranks he has done on seemingly unknowing passerbyers would technically be considered sexual assault. Thankfully, many YouTubers themselves pointed this out and there was a lot of discussion in the press about it.

4. They have their own Memes

You are probably familiar with the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that went viral. This is an example of the YouTube Meme, a post that goes viral. Many of them take the form of challenges much like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. I know that when the Tween has friends spend the night they almost always do the Blindfold Makeup Challenge and the Blindfold Taste Challenge. The Blindfold Makeup Challenge is exactly what it sounds like, you blindfold someone and let them do your makeup – hilarity ensues. And in the Blindfold Taste Challenge you blindfold yourself and let others feed you food and you try to guess what it is.

5. It’s a great place to learn more about the teens you serve in your library

One thing that major social media platforms do and do well is compile information about their users. Libraries could learn a lot from them. But thankfully, YouTube is good at sharing. Every 3 months YouTube (well, really Google who owns YouTube) shares their YouTube Insights. The insights are in some ways just an ad for Google/YouTube, but they also share market research, popular YouTube channels and personalities and more. And every once in a while there is an interesting nugget of information in there. For example, in the Issues 5 Q2 2014 edition they mention that “ad recall improves 7x by mentioning brand name twice in a video”. The take away here is that we need to make sure and remember to say the names of our libraries – at least twice – in some way if we are creating videos to help promote our libraries. Don’t expect viewers to remember that the name of your library on a screen or remembered that they saw a video on the X public library YouTube channel, make sure to actually say the name of your library out loud somewhere in your video, multiple times if it works with the script.

Better yet, talk to the teens hanging out at your library and ask them what they are watching on YouTube. It’s always great to have conversations with your teens. Experience has shown me that they love sharing some of their favorite videos with me.

According to recent stats, YouTube is THE most popular social media platform for tweens and teens. Just Saturday night The Tween had a friend over and they spent 2 hours watching video after video on YouTube. They watched countdown videos (Top 10 music videos of the week, Top 10 Disney villains, etc) and they watched DIY tutorials. And during the week, I’m just as likely to catch The Tween watching a video of Stampy playing Minecraft as I am to find her playing Minecraft herself. In fact, my niece spent all of her Christmas money on computer programs so that she can make, edit, add effects and upload her own Minecraft videos. I am by no means a YouTube expert, but I try and learn what I can to better serve my teens. I’m not going to lie, it helps having a YouTube obsessed Tween in my home who shares all the latest trends with me because man, it’s hard to keep up.

How about you, what do you need to know about YouTube that I missed here? Share your insight in the comments please.


For More Information:

Mashable: A History of YouTube

#YouTubeWeek: What’s Hot on YouTube, a guest post by Rose

Today’s post is brought to you by another one of the smart teenagers I know, Rose. Rose is here to give us a rundown on some of her favorite things on YouTube.


Yay, YouTube!

On YouTube, you can learn about new music or artists, find new makeup to try, relax, or gain new skills. There’s so many different reasons to watch YouTube videos!

I find channels that I like through recommendations from YouTubers or from suggested similar videos. The first YouTuber I remember subscribing to was StilaBabe09, a makeup guru who has 3,295,470 subscribers right now. The first video I watched was her makeup collection and storage back in summer 2012.


Some of my favorite YouTubers are:

  • WatchUsLiveAndStuff- a great channel that had Anthony from smosh, a comedic gaming channel, and Kalel from kalelkitten when they were a couple. They broke off their engagement 3 months ago and broke hearts everywhere, including mine and my boyfriend’s.

  • PewDiePie- the biggest YouTuber ever with 35,665,010 subscribers at the moment, my boyfriend’s favorite YouTuber and one that never fails to make people laugh.

  • SDK- with 170,523 subscribers SDK is a collab channel that doesn’t have many fans, but their fans are extremely dedicated. They have the funniest videos ever. The collab includes twins Adam and Nick, Jonah Green, Joey Gatto, RyansAverageLife, and Josh Sobo. Joe Santagato sadly left the channel recently.

  • Colleen Ballinger aka PsychoSoprano and MirandaSings is a very interesting YouTuber. At first she just had the MirandaSings channel, which is a comedic character that is hugely famous. She has lots of viral videos and subscribers on that channel; even people who don’t watch YouTube a lot know the name Miranda. On PsychoSoprano she does more blog style videos as herself.

  • StrawBurry17 is a nerdy girl YouTuber who has tons of fans of all ages and genders and does gaming videos, popin cookin videos, and blogs on LifeBurry.

  • TheMostPopularGirls or MPGIS is another show on YouTube that is made from Barbie dolls. It started with two guys and dollar store fake Barbies. It’s now huge and it is kind of a comedy because they put funny and inappropriate things to the dolls moving. It’s appealing to lots of ages from teens to adults. There’s not many subscribers but lots of views; you’ve probably seen gifs from the show.

  • Shawn Mendes has posted lots of covers on YouTube and now has his own music and is going on tour! I’m actually going to his April 15th concert in Minneapolis!

  • yunging19 or Ashley is a YouTuber I love who does lots of unboxing, hair, makeup, hauls and advice videos.

  • Bethany Mota is very famous from her YouTube channel with 8 million subscribers. She was on Dancing With The Stars and has her own clothing line at Aeropstale.

  • communitychannel is a comedy channel that’s been around a while. Natalie does videos about things she experiences throughout the week basically. Always super relatable and funny.

  • eleventhgorgeous are two sisters who make videos every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday about makeup, hair, beauty subscription boxes, fashion, and basically anything girly. I love their channel and the sister dynamic they have, so cute.

  • HelloKaty is a YouTuber in college now who does fashion and makeup videos that I love. She’s very pretty, comes off very calm, and is really smart and mature.

  • Ingrid is a really big YouTuber who started the famous volumes trend, vlogging every day in December.

Meet Our Guest Blogger
I’m Rose. I love fashion and beauty along with books and music. I spend most of my free time on YouTube, Netflix or Hulu. I’ve recently been addicted to solitaire on my phone and watching old seasons of America’s Next Top Model. My favorite color is teal and favorite food is chocolate, preferably with caramel. I’m in The Youth Choral Of Central Minnesota, in choir at school, and I take private voice lessons because I love singing. I’m also a huge fangirl of basically everything.

Find me on social media:
Instagram: rose_ez
Twitter: 1Drose_
Tumblr: rosezahn1
Pinterest: rosemaryez
Polyvore: rosezahn

#YouTubeWeek: A BookTube Crash Course, a guest post by AbbyRoseReads

Today’s post is brought to you by my fantastically smart teenage friend Abby. I know Abby through the YA book club I run at the public library. She has previously guest posted  on YALSA’s The Hub during Teen Read Week. Today Abby is giving us a crash course in BookTube. What is BookTube? It’s exactly what you might guess—a community on YouTube dedicated to books! 


The Beginning

For about two years I just lurked in the shadows of BookTube trying not to disturb anyone. Then I got up the courage to make an account and figured out that it is way more fun to actually engage with the other readers. After a while you start to build relationships with other booktubers and make some amazing friends. I now follow booktubers on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat and have even done a book exchange with a girl from another state. My first subscriber was a bigger booktuber that I had become friends with on Twitter. These relationships are what I love so much about BookTube. BookTube connects people that wouldn’t otherwise be connected. For me, this meant I was no longer limited by living in a small town with not a lot of book lovers.


Tips and More for Posting


My channel is AbbyRoseReads. I’m on a sort of pause because of being crazy busy with school and life, but I hope to revive the channel soon. I miss it! I love making videos. It’s like an outlet for all my book nerdiness. Before finding the library book club, I didn’t really have anywhere to share my love for books so finding a way to put my thoughts out there and getting a response was an amazing feeling.


I’m new to making videos, but I there are a few tips that I have been told by other content creators. Don’t worry about lighting or what camera you have. The quality of the video is really determined by what you do in it, not by the fancy set up or HD-ness of it. The best thing a person can do for their videos is to be themselves. Don’t try to copy someone else or worry about being too much this or not enough that. Add your own style to the BookTube community. Being unique will get you noticed. Also: be enthusiastic. It catches peoples’ attention and will keep people watching. Remember that you are allowed to read critically. Be honest about how you feel about a book even if it seems unpopular. Make what you want and what makes you happy. If everyone is making book hauls and you hate them, then make something different! Try a discussion video or a skit. Make it fun!



Some other good user tips are to be enthusiastic about reading. Voice your opinions and share your excitement. The best experiences will be from being involved. Don’t be afraid to comment. Watch a variety of videos until you find ones that fit what you like to read. Respect opinions of others. Readers interpret stories in a great number of ways.


Some Favorites

There are SOOOO many other incredible booktubers out there and these only scrape the surface of BookTube.

Ariel Bissett – Ariel and I don’t have a very similar taste in books, but I love her videos anyway. She is critical and really thoughtful. I love that she does discussion videos about book related topics and I also love that she goes outside of the book sphere in some videos too. For example, she is currently studying abroad and putting up videos of her adventures. Ariel is just a great example of why I love BookTube. Her channel and how it has grown shows how once people are able to connect over one thing (books), they can go on to create deeper connections and relationships over other things.



Bookhunter155 – Manuel has videos in Spanish AND English! Spanish BookTube is a really big community.



BookishandNerdy – Jillian is one of the queens of bookhauls. This girl knows how to buy books. She’s also great at reading and reviewing a large variety of books because of this. If you want to see some new books or get recommendations, this is a great place to look.



BrunetteBibliophile – Chloe is just on top of things. Her channel has it all. There are book hauls, tags, unhauls, reactions, and more. She is a consistent uploader with lots of fun things to say about the books she reads and is a good example of a booktuber in terms of what kinds of things they typically make.



CassJayTuck – She is like BookTube royalty. She was one of the first ones out there talking about books on YouTube before BookTube was a thing. This girl is so clever. She can be brutally honest about a book and show her love for it at the same time. Cassidy is the place to go for critical reviews and she also has hilarious book related skits and rant videos. She was the first booktuber I encountered so she has a special place in my heart.



Ciara Jav - Funny, Canadian, relatable. We have similar taste in books so I get a lot of recommendations from what she reads.



CozyTeaReads – Shannon is the sweetest thing out there. Her videos are so cute and positive. Her enthusiasm pours from the screen and I love her cheerful manner that accompanies her book reviews and such.



DylanBooks – One of the funniest people on BookTube. He’s Australian and has some of the prettiest graphics in his videos.



Elisabeth Paige - A younger booktuber.



Elizziebooks – This girl is amazing. She does so much for the BookTube community. Liz works hard on her channel and on running BookTube News on tumblr and youtube. Liz is all about community and bringing us together. She deserves an award for all her hard work she does for the community.


Jellafy – Jenny defies what is normal for BookTube and it is fabulous. German, but the videos are in English. She’ll drink a juice box and chat with the viewer about what she read last month and then have a video where there are two of her.



PeruseProject – This is the place to go if you like fantasy or science fiction. Regan is an expert.



PolandBananasBOOKS – BookTube elite. One of the firsts. Does a lot of book to movie adaptation coverage AND tons of book reviews. Look up her booktubeathon videos. She does hilarious skit videos.



thebookbasement – This girl is wise beyond her years. Beautiful channel with great videos.



twobookteens – A booktube duo. Best friends that share a channel.



Whittynovels – My first subscriber. Wonderful and very strange. I don’t even know how to describe Whitney.



A few more to check out:

thelibraryofbrittany, Readbyzoe, tashapolis, JessetheReader, Joel Books, Kassidy Voinche, katskywriter24, Little Book Owl, Maureenkeavy, padfootandprongs07



Some Cool Things Happening on BookTube

Book clubs are super popular. Different people form to make a book club and then have livestreams to discuss the book. Viewers can join and read and chat along. Check out Booksplosion on Twitter for their latest reads.

Readathons are also making their way from blogs to YouTube.

BookTubeAThon has become a huge hit. I love it and participate every time.



You can also participate in:

book haul – buying three of more books at once then showing what you bought in a video

unhaul – getting rid of the books you don’t want and getting that TBR under control and making a video of it

wrap up – video talking about all that you read in the past month (or whatever time period)

monthly TBR – video to say what you plan to read in the next month

#FridayReads – videos on Fridays to show what you’re currently reading and what your reading plans are for the weekend

tags – fun videos with some questions that you are tagged by someone else to do, you then answer and name someone else to do the same

challenges – usually something with finding or naming books, a crazy activity that is attempted to win or just to see if you can do it, these can be tags

review/discussion – talking about a book you read, a review will usually be spoiler free and discussion is kind of a free for all of anything and everything you thought about the book


Meet Our Guest Blogger

Abby is a Minnesotan teen who is a fan of reading, the internet, and strawberry Twizzlers. She is a dancer, a diver, and runs the teen book club at her local library. Abby can be found on Tumblr at yourstrulyabby and on YouTube at abbyrosereads.