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Tale as Old as Time: Fairy Tales, Mythology and Folktales Retold – a booklist for the 2020 SRP reading theme

In preparation for the upcoming summer reading program theme Imagine Your Story, I recently spent some time working on a comprehensive booklist of fairy tale, folktale and mythology retellings. I used as my starting point this great post from Epic Reads, the source of the graphic below. I had help from my friends and fellow librarians Rachel Strolle, who blogs at Rec it Rachel ,and Mary Hinson, who blogs at Mary Had a Little Book Blog. The original Epic Reads post appeared in 2014, so together the three of us worked to add new MG and YA titles posted since that date.

For the purposes of this post I looked at MG (Middle Grade) and YA (Young Adult) titles. This is probably not a complete list so if you have titles to add, please leave a comment and let us know what age group and category the title you are mentioning would fall under. Thank you!

Various Popular Series that Cover Multiple Fairy Tales

Disney’s Twisted Fairy Tales by Liz Braswell

  • Part of Your World (The Little Mermaid)
  • As Old as Time (Beauty and the Beast)
  • Once Upon a Dream (Sleeping Beauty)
  • A Whole New World (Aladdin)
  • Straight on ‘Til Morning (Peter Pan)

Disney Villain series by Serena Valentino

  • Fairest of All (Snow White)
  • The Beast Within (Beauty and the Beast)
  • Poor Unfortunate Soul (The Little Mermaid)
  • Mistress of Evil (Sleeping Beauty)
  • Mother Knows Best (Rapunzel)
  • The Odd Sisters

Whatever After series by Sarah Mlynowski (Middle Grade)

  • Fairest of All (Snow White)
  • If the Shoe Fits (Cinderella)
  • Sink or Swim
  • Dream On
  • Bad Hair Day
  • Cold as Ice
  • Beauty Queen
  • Once Upon a Frog
  • Genie in a Bottle
  • Sugar and Spice
  • Two Peas in a Pod
  • Seeing Red
  • Spill the Beans

The Grimm Series by Adam Gidwitz (Middle Grade)

  • A Tale Dark and Grimm
  • In a Glass Grimmly
  • The Grimm Conclusion

Descendants by Melissa De La Cruz* (Middle Grade)

  • The Islde of the Lost
  • Return to the Isle of the Lost
  • Rise of the Isle of the Lost
  • Escape from the Isle of the Lost

The Kingdom Keepers by Ridley Pearson (Middle Grade)

  • Disney After Dark
  • Disney at Dawn
  • Disney in Shadow
  • Power Play
  • Shell Game
  • Dark Passage
  • The Insider

Various Fairytale Retellings and Series by Fairy Tale

Aladdin

  • The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury – Aladdin

Beauty & the Beast

  • East by Edith Pattou
  • Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George
  • Rose Daughter by Robin McKinley
  • Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
  • Spirited by Nancy Holder
  • Heart’s Blood by Juliet Marillier
  • The Princess and the Hound by Mette Ivie Harrison
  • Stung by Bethany Wiggins
  • The Hollow Kingdom by Clare B. Dunkle
  • Beastly by Alex Flinn
  • Beauty by Robin McKinley
  • Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay
  • A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
  • Beast by Brie Spangler
  • A Cruse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer
  • Of Curses and Kisses by Sandhya Menon (this book comes out in 2020)
  • Everlost (The Skinjacker series) by Neal Shusterman
  • Beastkeeper by Cat Hellison
  • Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin) by Robin LaFevers
  • Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones
  • Bookish and the Beast by Ashley Poston
  • Among the Beasts and Briars by Ashley Poston
  • The Queen’s Council by Emma Theriault

Cinderella

The Frog Prince (The Princess and the Frog)

Goose Girl

  • Bloodleaf by Crystal Smith
  • Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
  • Thorn by Intisar Khanani

Hansel and Gretel

The Little Mermaid

Little Red Riding Hood

Rapunzel

Rumpelstiltskin

  • A Curse As Dark As Gold by Elizabeth C. Bunce
  • Spinners by Donna Jo Napoli
  • Rump by Leisl Shurtliff (MG)
  • The Crimson Thread by Suzanne Weyn
  • The Wishgranter (Ravenspire #2) by C. J. Redwine

Sleeping Beauty

The Snow Queen

  • Cold Spell by Jackson Pearce
  • Winter’s Child by Cameron Dokey
  • Stork by Wendy Delsol
  • The Shadow Queen by CJ Redwine
  • Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu (MG)
  • The Ice Queen by Alice Hoffman
  • The Snow Queen series by K. M. Shea
  • Stealing Snow by Daniella Page

Snow White

Snow White and Rose Red

  • Blanca y Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore
  • Circuse Rose by Betsy Cornwell

 Twelve Dancing Princesses

Other Series related to Fairy Tales or Fairy Tale Like

  • Once Upon a Marigold by Jean Ferris (MG)
  • Princess Academy by Shannon Hale (MG)
  • Hamster Princess by Ursula Vernon (MG)
  • Septimus Heap by Angie Sage (MG)
  • Twice Upon a Time by Wendy Mass (MG)
  • Mighty Jack by Ben Hatke (MG)
  • The Land of Stories by Chris Colfer (MG)
  • The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani (MG, not recommended by several people for the way it discusses body image and racism)
  • The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdeah – 1,001 Nights
  • Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh – Shahrazad story
  • The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale – Grimm’s Fairy Tale (MG)
  • The Princess and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang (graphic novel)
  • The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert – General fairy tale themes
  • The Girl who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill (MG)
  • The Ever Afters series by Shelby Bach (MG)
  • Ever Cursed by Corey Ann Haydu (this book comes out in 2020)

Books about Fairies in General

  • The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black
  • The Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa
  • Wicked Lovely series by Melissa Marr
  • Need series by Carrie Jones
  • Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer
  • The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare
  • Hex Hall series by Rachel Hawkins
  • The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff
  • The Folk of the Air series by Holly Black
  • Mirrorworld series by Cornelia Funke
  • The Spiderwick Chronicles by Ton DiTerlizzi (MG)
  • Fablehaven series by Brandon Mull
  • Betwixt by Tara Bray Smith
  • The Faerie Path series by Allan Frewin Jones
  • Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paoini
  • The Falconer series by Elizabeth May

Books about Dragons

  • Eragon (The Inheritance Cycle) by Christopher Paolini
  • Seraphina by Rachel Harman
  • Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling
  • Firelight by Sophie Jordan
  • Talon by Julie Kagawa
  • The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede
  • Scorched by Mari Mancusi
  • The Last Dragon Chronicles by Chris d’Lacey
  • Fallen Isle series by Jodi Meadows
  • Fire & Heist by Sarah Beth Durst
  • The Aurelian Cycle (Fireborne is book #1) by Rosaria Munda
  • Spark by Sarah Beth Durst (MG)
  • The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill (MG, GN)
  • Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin (MG)
  • Shatter the Sky by Rebecca Kim Wells
  • Inkmistress by Audrey Coulthurst

Books about Mermaids in General

  • The Syrena Legacy (Of Poisedon is book #1) by Anna Banks
  • Forgive My Fins by Tera Lynn Childs
  • Tempest by Tracy Deebs
  • Waterson by Amanda Hocking
  • The Siren by Kiera Cass
  • Sirena by Donna Jo Napoli
  • Waterfire Saga (Deep Blue is book #1) by Jennifer Donnelly
  • The Tail of Emily Windsnap by Liz Kessler (MG)
  • Aquamarine by Alice Hoffman
  • The Vicious Deep by Zoraida Cordova
  • Undertow series by Michael Buckley
  • A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow
  • Songs from the Deep by Kelly Powell

Books about Unicorns in General

  • The Unicorn Rescue Society by Adam Gidwitz
  • Beasts of Olympus: The Unicorn Emergency by Lucy Coats
  • The Unicorn Quest by Kamilla Benko
  • Here There Be Unicorns by Jane Yolen
  • Drink, Slay, Love by Sarah Beth Durst
  • Rampant (Killer Unicorns) by Diana Peterfreund
  • Unicorn Chronicles by Bruce Coville (MG)
  • Mirrorworld series by Cornelia Funke
  • The Dark Lord Clementine by Sarah Jean Horowitz (MG)
  • Zombies vs. Unicorns

Classic Literature and Folktale Retellings

Alice in Wonderland

East of the Sun, West of the Moon

  • East by Edith Pattou
  • Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer

Mulan

  • Reflection by Elizabeth Lim – Mulan
  • Spin the Dawn (The Blood of Stars #1)  by Elizabeth Lim (Mulan)
  • The Magnolia Sword by Sherry Thomas

Peter Pan

The Prince and the Pauper

  • Princess and the Fangirl by Ashley Poston

Robin Hood

  • Hood by Jenny Elder Moke
  • Sherwood by Meagan Spooner

Other Classic Lit Retellings

  • Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige –– Retelling of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum
  • The Great Hunt by Wendy Higgins –– Retelling of The Singing Bone by the Brothers Grimm

Folktale Retellings

  • Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste – Haitian folktale “the Magic Orange Tree” (MG)
  • Paola Santiago and the River of Tears by Tehlor Kay Mejia (Mexican folklore, 2020 publication date)

MG and YA Retellings: MYTHOLOGY

African Mythology Retellings

  • Zorah the Windseeker by Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu
  • Children of Blood and Boneod and Bone (Legacy of Orisha) by Tomi Adeyemi
  • Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia (African gods) (MG)

Asian Mythology Retellings

  • Eon by Alison Goodman
  • Prophecy by Ellen Oh
  • Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon
  • The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F. C. Yee (The Monkey King)
  • The Magnolia Sword: A Ballad of Mulan by Sherry Thomas
  • A Thousand Beginning and Endings short story collection edited by Ellen Oh
  • The Dragon Warrior by Katie Zhao
  • Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee
  • Wicked Fox by Kat Cho

Egyptian Mythology Retellings

Norse Mythology Retellings

Greek / Roman Mythology Retellings

Hades and Persephone Retellings

Cupid / Psyche Myth Retellings

  • Psyche in a Dress by Francesca Lia Block
  • Destined by Jessie Harrell
  • Lovestruck by Kate Watson
  • Only Everything (True Love #1) by Kerian Scott
  • Cupidity by Caroline Goode
  • Thwonk by Joan Bauer

Helen of Troy Retellings

Rick Riordan Books

Percy Jackson & the Olympians

  1. The Lightning Thief (2005)
  2. The Sea of Monsters (2006)
  3. The Titan’s Curse (2007)
  4. The Battle of the Labyrinth (2008)
  5. The Last Olympian (2009)

The Heroes of Olympus

  1. The Lost Hero (2010)
  2. The Son of Neptune (2011)
  3. The Mark of Athena (2012)
  4. The House of Hades (2013)
  5. The Blood of Olympus (2014)

Rick Riordan Presents

  • Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi
  • The Storm Runner by J. C. Cervantes (Mayan gods)
  • Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee (Fox spirit)
  • Sal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez (Cuban science fiction)
  • Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia (African gods)
  • Race to the Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse (Navajo gods, not recommended by Debbie Reese)

As I mentioned above, although we put a lot of time and effort into researching this list, I’m sure we are missing titles and if you would like to add to the list please feel free to do so in the comments. Also, if you find any books that may be in the wrong category or that should not be on this list for one reason or the other, please let me know in the comments. You’ll note that there are a few titles on the list that have a note that they are not recommended, I chose to include this note rather then just leave the titles off of the list so that those who may not be aware of the concerns may investigate those concerns.

Sunday Reflections: The Curious Case of the Death of Nancy Drew

Trigger Warning: Sexual abuse and the abuse and killing of women are mentioned in this post

Nancy Drew has been on my mind a lot lately. Recently, Thing 2 found and started watching the new Nancy Drew series on the CW. So when we went to an amazing used book store on Monday, she was excited to find row upon row of Nancy Drew books. “Can I buy one?”, she asked. She walked out with two.

Anytime my child with dyslexia who hates to read asks for a book, I feel like saying no is the wrong answer. So we bought them. They sit on the top of her TBR pile, waiting to be devoured by this kid who was excited to find a female sleuth to inspire her. Ninety years later and Nancy Drew is still inspiring little girls everywhere. This matters.

Which brings us to Friday, where I stumbled across the news that for the 90th anniversary of Nancy Drew comic book writers decided to . . . kill her? And have the Hardy Boys investigate her death? So for the 90th year celebration of Nancy Drew, we are going to learn more about Nancy Drew by killing her off and letting two male characters investigate her death? I’m going to give this a no. And yes, I understand how comic books work.

Don’t get me wrong, although both of my kids love mysteries and thrillers, I live in the world of science fiction and fantasy where no one stays dead. So I get that this is just a device to sell books and tell a story. It’s just not an approach that I personally like and I would like to explain why.

Several weekends ago the girls and I sat down and tried to find a new mystery thriller to binge watch. We started three and only watched about the first 15 minutes because they all started the same. Scene: a woman is running nude and barefoot (through a forest, on a beach, down a dark street, the setting doesn’t matter) and she is bleeding and in peril. The police – more often than not a man – begin investigating her death. As a woman raising daughters, I can’t help but notice that most crimes in our media revolve around the sexual assault and murder of women. Women see a lot of female peril in the media and we live our real lives in a lot of fear of being stalked, assaulted, raped and attacked. We are most likely to be killed by a man we know, love and trust. We get it, we know that we are in peril. We don’t need the constant reminders from the media. It’s exhausting.

It feels like no one knows how to write a mystery or a story about women without involving their abuse and murder. We kill women so much in fiction – and yes, I know this is a sad reflection of real life – that I doubt anyone thought twice about killing Nancy Drew. But they should have.

Nancy Drew debuted as a fictional character in 1930. Women had only had the right to vote for 10 years at this point. And here when I say women I mean white women, women of color still wouldn’t have the right to vote until decades later. Submission and traditional feminine roles were still considered the law of the land. The core cannon of literature was (and one can argue still is) dominated by old, white men. And yet here was a teenage girl going around and investigating mysteries. It was, is and will always be revolutionary. The character of Nancy Drew matters.

Nancy Drew is an important part of the feminist movement. The fact that her stories exist is profoundly important to generations of women. And she continues to be important to all the little girls who are still finding her.

It’s also interesting to note that this newest book in which Nancy Drew dies so that the Hardy Boys can investigate her death is written by . . . men. I learned this the same week that I learned that for the past several decades the V C Andrews books were written by a man as is the completion of the most recent Jane Austen novel. There are a lot of men writing these properties that were started by and revolutionary for women.

When I talked about how upset I was about this recent development on Twitter, I got some DMS and replies that said things like, “Now you know how the Star Wars fans feel.” They were pointing out the fact that Rey dominates the recent Star Wars films and takes over the role of savior originally given to Luke Skywalker. Except if you look closely at the new Star Wars films, Rey is one character in a main cast that also involves Kylo Ren, Poe and Finn. So out of the 4 main characters of this franchise, there is one woman. Rose Tico, a woman of color, was completely sidelined in the later films. There is no lack of men in the new Star Wars universe.

What about Doctor Who being rebooted as a woman? Well, I’m a Doctor Who fan and I’m not going to lie, my girls and I love the new Doctor. We also loved all the other Doctors. There are 50 years of episodes of Doctor Who starring a male lead as a supposedly male character. Though for the record, the Doctor is in fact an alien so traditional gender conventions probably don’t apply. However, the current main cast consists of the Doctor and her 3 companions, 2 of whom are male. So when you’re looking at the male to female ratio, you have a pretty even split. But the new Doctor was introduced by killing off a black woman and the first series of Whittaker’s arc focuses more on the two men grieving their loss then it does on any of the two female leads. So in many ways, last season of Doctor Who was still prominently male focused and it started by killing off a woman to give the two male leads a story.

A lot of women have to die to give male leads backstory or motivation in our media. This is called fridging. ” A male hero’s grief in the aftermath of shocking violence against a woman is a tried-and-true element of storytelling.” (Source: https://www.vox.com/2018/5/24/17384064/deadpool-vanessa-fridging-women-refrigerators-comics-trope ) Killing Nancy Drew in her 90th anniversary issue so that the Hardy Boys can investigate her death has the potential to become an issue of fridging. And I’m tired of being in the refrigerator. And I certainly want something different for one of the most important and iconic female teens from literature.

Twenty 18th and 19th Century Female Writers to Know

But those comparisons talk about movies. So what about books? In comparison, Agatha Christie wrote her first novel in 1920. She is arguably one of the best and most prolific writers of mystery novels. But even if you look at her oeuvre, you’ll note that she often wrote about a male lead. You will recall one Hercule Poirot. She also wrote the iconic Miss Marple, though Poirot appears in more novels because it was the early 1900s and sexism was (and still is) a thing. So when you start looking at Nancy Drew contemporaries in the early 1900s, you get a better perspective on just how important Nancy Drew is.

A quick look at Wikipedia tells us that there are more than 500 Nancy Drew books. Mildred A. Wirt wrote 23 of the first 30 Nancy Drew novels under the pen name Carolyn Keene. The mere act that this girl would go out, investigate and solve mysteries, and often save the men in her life, was revolutionary. She was the female answer to and counterpoint to the Hardy Boys. So handing her anniversary story over to the Hardy Boys feels like a giant step backwards and a weird way to celebrate the Nancy Drew brand. I don’t celebrate my children and their significance to me or the culture by killing them and the idea of it would horrify you. It’s an extreme comparison, I know.

So my girls and I are going to celebrate the 90th anniversary of Nancy Drew the best way we know how. We’re going to read these inspiring books where a female teen fiercely goes out and solves mysteries. We’re going to binge watch the show on the CW. We’re going to watch the movies that have already been made. We’re going to be inspired by and celebrate a living, breathing Nancy Drew that centers her in her own narrative. And we’re going to reject more media that insists the only way to tell a good story is to kill a woman.

Friday Finds: January 24, 2020

This Week at TLT

New Books Alert: A Mars mission, art school, a portal fantasy, and more!

Book Review: Bent Heavens by Daniel Kraus

Book Review: Layoverland by Gabby Noone

The Billie Eilish Readalike Playlist

Around the Web

Jacqueline Woodson: ‘It’s important to know that whatever moment we’re in, it’s not the first time’

52 Middle-Grade and Chapter Books to Read in 2020

New Books Alert: A Mars mission, art school, a portal fantasy, and more!

Kind of a slow past few weeks for book mail here at the Minnesota branch of TLT. That’s actually a good thing. I will never complain about getting so many books to consider for review, but having things slow down a bit has given me a chance to weed through what I have, do a bunch of giveaways, flip through things to consider, and start to plan spring reviews.

As always, reminder that 100% of what I get in book mail goes back out the door to find new homes with teachers, librarians, and young readers. Keep at eye on my Twitter (@CiteSomething) and maybe you’ll see some of these books ready for new homes soon!


All descriptions from the publishers.

The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper (ISBN-13: 9781547600144 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 02/04/2020 Ages 13-17)

In this smart, heart-warming YA debut perfect for fans of Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera, two teens find love when their lives are uprooted for their parents’ involvement in a NASA mission to Mars.

Cal wants to be a journalist, and he’s already well underway with almost half a million followers on his FlashFame app and an upcoming internship at Buzzfeed. But his plans are derailed when his pilot father is selected for a highly-publicized NASA mission to Mars. Within days, Cal and his parents leave Brooklyn for hot and humid Houston.

With the entire nation desperate for any new information about the astronauts, Cal finds himself thrust in the middle of a media circus. Suddenly his life is more like a reality TV show, with his constantly bickering parents struggling with their roles as the “perfect American family.”

And then Cal meets Leon, whose mother is another astronaut on the mission, and he finds himself falling head over heels—and fast. They become an oasis for each other amid the craziness of this whole experience. As their relationship grows, so does the frenzy surrounding the Mars mission, and when secrets are revealed about ulterior motives of the program, Cal must find a way to get to the truth without hurting the people who have become most important to him.

Malice by Pintip Dunn (ISBN-13: 9781640634121 Publisher: Entangled Publishing, LLC Publication date: 02/04/2020)

What I know: a boy in my school will one day wipe out two-thirds of the population with a virus.

What I don’t know: who he is.

In a race against the clock, I not only have to figure out his identity, but I’ll have to outwit a voice from the future telling me to kill him. Because I’m starting to realize no one is telling the truth. But how can I play chess with someone who already knows the outcome of my every move? Someone so filled with malice they’ve lost all hope in humanity? Well, I’ll just have to find a way—because now they’ve drawn a target on the only boy I’ve ever loved…

What I Want You to See by Catherine Linka (ISBN-13: 9781368027557 Publisher: Freeform Publication date: 02/04/2020 Ages 14-17)

Winning a scholarship to California’s most prestigious art school seems like a fairy tale ending to Sabine Reye’s awful senior year. After losing both her mother and her home, Sabine longs for a place where she belongs.

But the cutthroat world of visual arts is nothing like what Sabine had imagined. Colin Krell, the renowned faculty member whom she had hoped would mentor her, seems to take merciless delight in tearing down her best work-and warns her that she’ll lose the merit-based award if she doesn’t improve.

Desperate and humiliated, Sabine doesn’t know where to turn. Then she meets Adam, a grad student who understands better than anyone the pressures of art school. He even helps Sabine get insight on Krell by showing her the modern master’s work in progress, a portrait that’s sold for a million dollars sight unseen.

Sabine is enthralled by the portrait; within those swirling, colorful layers of paint is the key to winning her inscrutable teacher’s approval. Krell did advise her to improve her craft by copying a painting she connects with . . . but what would he think of Sabine secretly painting her own version of his masterpiece? And what should she do when she accidentally becomes party to a crime so well -plotted that no one knows about it but her?

Complex and utterly original, What I Want You to See is a gripping tale of deception, attraction, and moral ambiguity.

Parked by Danielle Svetcov (ISBN-13: 9780399539039 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 02/04/2020 Ages 10-14)

For fans of Rebecca Stead and Joan Bauer comes a scrappy, poignant, uplifting debut about family, friendship, and the importance of learning both how to offer help and how to accept it.

“A big-hearted novel with characters I wish were my friends in real life.” —Gennifer Choldenko, author of the Al Capone at Alcatraz series

Jeanne Ann is smart, stubborn, living in an orange van, and determined to find a permanent address before the start of seventh grade.

Cal is tall, sensitive, living in a humongous house across the street, and determined to save her.

Jeanne Ann is roughly as enthusiastic about his help as she is about living in a van.

As the two form a tentative friendship that grows deeper over alternating chapters, they’re buoyed by a cast of complex, oddball characters, who let them down, lift them up, and leave you cheering. Debut novelist Danielle Svetcov shines a light on a big problem without a ready answer, nailing heartbreak and hope, and pulling it off with a humor and warmth that make the funny parts of Jeanne Ann and Cal’s story cathartic and the difficult parts all the more moving.

The Sound of Stars by Alechia Dow (ISBN-13: 9781335911551 Publisher: Inkyard Press Publication date: 02/25/2020 Ages 13+)

Don’t miss this spectacular debut novel… Can a girl who risks her life for books and an alien who loves forbidden pop music work together to save humanity? This road trip is truly out of this world! A beautiful and thrilling read for fans of Marie Lu and Veronica Roth.

Two years ago, a misunderstanding between the leaders of Earth and the invading Ilori resulted in the deaths of one-third of the world’s population.

Seventeen-year-old Janelle “Ellie” Baker survives in an Ilori-controlled center in New York City. With humans deemed dangerously volatile because of their initial reaction to the invasion, emotional expression can be grounds for execution. Music, art and books are illegal, but Ellie breaks the rules by keeping a secret library. When a book goes missing, Ellie is terrified that the Ilori will track it back to her and kill her.

Born in a lab, M0Rr1S was raised to be emotionless. When he finds Ellie’s illegal library, he’s duty-bound to deliver her for execution. The trouble is, he finds himself drawn to human music and in desperate need of more. They’re both breaking the rules for the love of art—and Ellie inspires the same feelings in him that music does.

Ellie’s—and humanity’s—fate rests in the hands of an alien she should fear. M0Rr1S has a lot of secrets, but also a potential solution—thousands of miles away. The two embark on a wild and dangerous road trip with a bag of books and their favorite albums, all the while creating a story and a song of their own that just might save them both.

The Midnight Hour by Benjamin Read, Laura Trinder (ISBN-13: 9781338569094 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 03/03/2020 Ages 8-12)

For fans of portal fantasies like Jessica Townsend’s Nevermoor, Colin Meloy’s Wildwood, and The Spiderwick Chronicles by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black, and unlike so many other fantasies that introduce readers to a world of enchantment and wonder, The Midnight Hour is one filled with beasts and monsters for readers looking to shine their flashlights under the covers.

When strange late-night letters start arriving at home, Emily’s parents set off to investigate. But when her parents disappear completely and Emily is left home alone to face the weird strangers that begin to appear at her door, she takes all of the clues at her disposal and makes for the place where the letters came from — the mysterious Night Post. What she’ll discover is the secret world of the Midnight Hour — a Victorian London frozen in time, full of magic and monsters.

Kept safe by an age-old agreement, the Night Folk have been exiled to a parallel world that can only be accessed by a selected few, including the mail carriers of the infamous Night Post that operate between the two worlds. Emily’s parents are key players in keeping the Night Folk safe, but when the division of the two worlds is threatened, Emily must search for her parents while navigating this dark and unknown version of London.

Armed only with a packed lunch, her very sleepy pocket hedgehog, and her infamously big argumentative mouth, she must escape bloodthirsty creatures of the night, figure out her own family secrets, and maybe just save the world. This is a frightening and enchanting story, a world built out of creatures from our worst fears who become relatable, fully formed characters unlike any we’ve seen as these strangers of parallel worlds band together to save the day.

The Vanishing Girl (Daphne and Velma YA Novel #1) by Josephine Ruby (ISBN-13: 9781338592726 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 03/03/2020 Ages 12+)

It’s the classic girl detectives like you’ve never seen them before! Daphne Blake and Velma Dinkley have a terrifying new mystery to solve — and this time, the culprit is far more frightening than any man in a mask…

Popular Daphne Blake and über-nerd Velma Dinkley are not friends. They aren’t enemies either, but they don’t have any reason to speak to each other, and that’s how they prefer it. The two girls grew up together – they’d been best friends since pre-K – but when they hit middle school, Daphne dropped Velma and never looked back.

These days, Daphne’s deep in the popular crowd, daughter of the richest family in town, while Velma’s an outsider, hiding from the world behind her thick glasses. When they run into each other in the halls of Crystal Cove High, they look the other way.


But then Daphne’s best friend, Marcy — who happens to be Velma’s cousin – goes missing. A century ago, there was a wave of disappearances in Crystal Cove, and many local people believe that supernatural forces were behind it. Now the whole town believes those same forces are back . . . and up to no good.

Daphne and Velma may be the only ones who can solve the mystery and save Marcy-if they can trust each other enough to try. Especially since the truth might be stranger-and scarier-than either girl can imagine . . .

The First 7 (Last 8 Series #2) by Laura Pohl (ISBN-13: 9781492673460 Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 03/03/2020 Ages 14-17)

The thrilling conclusion to The Last 8 duology that follows the Last Teenagers on Earth as they head home to a now-hostile planet.

Clover Martinez and The Last Teenagers on Earth are busy exploring the galaxy after leaving earth behind…even if they can’t help but be a little homesick.

So when their ship receives a distress signal from their former planet, they hope against hope that it means other survivors. But as soon as they arrive, they realize something’s deeply wrong: strange crystal formations have popped up everywhere and there’s some sort of barrier keeping them from leaving.

Seeking the origin of the formations and the reason for the barrier, the group discovers a colony of survivors hidden in the mountains. But the survivors aren’t who they seem…

The Burning by Laura Bates (ISBN-13: 9781728206738 Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 04/07/2020 Ages 14-18)

A rumor is like fire. You might think you’ve extinguished it, but one creeping, red tendril, one single wisp of smoke is enough to let it leap back to life again. Especially if someone is watching, waiting to fan the flames.

New school. Check.
New town. Check.
New last name. Check.
Social media profiles? Deleted.

Anna and her mother have moved hundreds of miles to put the past behind them. Anna hopes to make a fresh start and escape the harassment she’s been subjected to. But then rumors and whispers start, and Anna tries to ignore what is happening by immersing herself in a history project about Maggie, a local woman accused of witchcraft in the seventeenth century.

In her newfound friendships with Alisha, Cat, and Robin, as well as her connection with Maggie, Anna finds a voice to face her tormentors.


“We are the granddaughters of the witches you could not burn. And we’re not putting up with it anymore.”

From Laura Bates, internationally renowned feminist and founder of the Everyday Sexism Project, comes a debut novel that is a harrowing look at misogyny through the centuries. It’s a powerful call to action, reminding all readers of the implications of sexism and the role we can each play in ending it.

The Bone Thief by Breeana Shields (ISBN-13: 9781624149306 Publisher: Page Street Publishing Publication date: 05/26/2020 Series: Bone Charmer #2 Ages 14+)

A deft exploration of the weight of grief and cost of revenge, Breeana Shields’s Bone Charmer duology reaches its spine-tingling conclusion in this high-octane fantasy-thriller.

Saskia returns to Ivory Hall to train in bone magic, determined to stop Latham from gaining the power of all three Sights—past, present, and future. But danger lurks within the fortress’s marrow. Trials are underway for the apprentices, and the tasks feel specifically engineered to torment Saskia, which is exactly what Latham wants.

As she grows increasingly more suspicious, her thirst for revenge becomes all-consuming. Together with the friends she can trust and the boy she loved in another lifetime, Saskia traces clues from Latham’s past to determine what he’ll do next. Their search leads them across Kastelia and brings them to a workshop housing a vast collection of horrors, including the bones Latham stole from Gran, and the knowledge that the future isn’t all that’s in jeopardy—but the past as well.

Beyond the Gender Binary by Alok Vaid-Menon, Ashley Lukashevsky (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9780593094655 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 06/02/2020)

Pocket Change Collective was born out of a need for space. Space to think. Space to connect. Space to be yourself. And this is your invitation to join us.

In Beyond the Gender Binary, poet, artist, and LGBTQIA+ rights advocate Alok Vaid-Menon deconstructs, demystifies, and reimagines the gender binary.

Pocket Change Collective is a series of small books with big ideas from today’s leading activists and artists. In this installment, Beyond the Gender Binary, Alok Vaid-Menon challenges the world to see gender not in black and white, but in full color. Taking from their own experiences as a gender-nonconforming artist, they show us that gender is a malleable and creative form of expression. The only limit is your imagination.

This Is What I Know About Art by Kimberly Drew, Ashley Lukashevsky (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9780593095188 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 06/02/2020)

Pocket Change Collective was born out of a need for space. Space to think. Space to connect. Space to be yourself. And this is your invitation to join us.

In this powerful and hopeful account, arts writer, curator, and activist Kimberly Drew reminds us that the art world has space not just for the elite, but for everyone.

Pocket Change Collective is a series of small books with big ideas from today’s leading activists and artists. In this installment, arts writer and co-editor of Black Futures Kimberly Drew shows us that art and protest are inextricably linked. Drawing on her personal experience through art toward activism, Drew challenges us to create space for the change that we want to see in the world. Because there really is so much more space than we think.

The New Queer Conscience by Adam Eli, Ashley Lukashevsky (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9780593093689 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 06/02/2020)

Pocket Change Collective was born out of a need for space. Space to think. Space to connect. Space to be yourself. And this is your invitation to join us.

In The New Queer Conscience, LGBTQIA+ activist Adam Eli argues the urgent need for queer responsibility — that queers anywhere are responsible for queers everywhere.

Pocket Change Collective is a series of small books with big ideas from today’s leading activists and artists. In this installment, The New Queer Conscience, Voices4 Founder and LGBTQIA+ activist Adam Eli offers a candid and compassionate introduction to queer responsibility. Eli calls on his Jewish faith to underline how kindness and support within the queer community can lead to a stronger global consciousness. More importantly, he reassures us that we’re not alone. In fact, we never were. Because if you mess with one queer, you mess with us all.

Imaginary Borders by Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, Ashley Lukashevsky (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9780593094136 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 06/02/2020)

Pocket Change Collective was born out of a need for space. Space to think. Space to connect. Space to be yourself. And this is your invitation to join us.

In this personal, moving essay, environmental activist and hip-hop artist Xiuhtezcatl Martinez uses his art and his activism to show that climate change is a human issue that can’t be ignored.

“It won’t take you long to read this book, but it will linger in your heart and head for quite a while, and perhaps inspire you to join in the creative, blossoming movement to make this world work.” — Bill McKibben

Pocket Change Collective is a series of small books with big ideas from today’s leading activists and artists. In this installment, Earth Guardians Youth Director and hip-hop artist Xiuhtezcatl Martinez shows us how his music feeds his environmental activism and vice versa. Martinez visualizes a future that allows us to direct our anger, fear, and passion toward creating change. Because, at the end of the day, we all have a part to play.

You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson (ISBN-13: 9781338503265 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 06/02/2020)

Becky Albertalli meets Jenny Han in a smart, hilarious, black girl magic, own voices rom-com by a staggeringly talented new writer.

Liz Lighty has always believed she’s too black, too poor, too awkward to shine in her small, rich, prom-obsessed midwestern town. But it’s okay — Liz has a plan that will get her out of Campbell, Indiana, forever: attend the uber-elite Pennington College, play in their world-famous orchestra, and become a doctor.

But when the financial aid she was counting on unexpectedly falls through, Liz’s plans come crashing down . . . until she’s reminded of her school’s scholarship for prom king and queen. There’s nothing Liz wants to do less than endure a gauntlet of social media trolls, catty competitors, and humiliating public events, but despite her devastating fear of the spotlight she’s willing to do whatever it takes to get to Pennington.

The only thing that makes it halfway bearable is the new girl in school, Mack. She’s smart, funny, and just as much of an outsider as Liz. But Mack is also in the running for queen. Will falling for the competition keep Liz from her dreams . . . or make them come true?

Book Review: Bent Heavens by Daniel Kraus

forest with reflection in lake and man silhouette; Shutterstock ID 418079275; Title: –

Publisher’s Book Description:

Liv Fleming’s father went missing more than two years ago, not long after he claimed to have been abducted by aliens. Liv has long accepted that he’s dead, though that doesn’t mean she has given up their traditions. Every Sunday, she and her lifelong friend Doug Monk trudge through the woods to check the traps Lee left behind, traps he set to catch the aliens he so desperately believed were after him.

But Liv is done with childhood fantasies. Done pretending she believes her father’s absurd theories. Done going through the motions for Doug’s sake. However, on the very day she chooses to destroy the traps, she discovers in one of them a creature so inhuman it can only be one thing. In that moment, she’s faced with a painful realization: her dad was telling the truth. And no one believed him.

Now, she and Doug have a choice to make. They can turn the alien over to the authorities…or they can take matters into their own hands.

Karen’s Thoughts:

Every once in a while, you read a book that leaves you stunned. This was one of those books for me. It is not an exaggeration when I tell you that there were a couple of moments while I was reading this book that I sat the book down and ran out to the garage where The Mr. was working and said, “Holy crud, you won’t believe what just happened.” It was mind-blowing, jaw dropping and stunningly fascinating, in truly dark and twisted ways. I’m still thinking about this book days later.

If you’re not familiar with Daniel Kraus, he writes super dark YA that is like Stephen King on steroids. Rotters is about a young boy who goes to live with his dad who is a grave robber. Scowler is about the very true terror of domestic violence. Kraus is also the man behind the middle grade Trollhunters series, which you can see on Netflix (Thing 2 has watched the entire series). So he’s not all dark all the time, but his YA is very dark. And glorious.

Liv is dealing with the loss of a father who has the distinguished honor of being the town laughingstock, having claimed to have been abducted by aliens. He’s now missing, but no one believes he has been abducted by aliens and Liv is learning to live with the truth that he is probably dead. Then she discovers a creature that may just prove her dad wasn’t crazy after all. Now in possession of this creature, Liv and her childhood friend Doug takes matters into their own hands to try and clear her father’s name and what happens next is truly stunning. And disturbing.

In Bent Heavens, Kraus explores the nature of violence and asks one of the age old questions that come up frequently in horror and science fiction: just who, exactly, are the monsters? The answer to that question involves some very truly unsettling scenes. And although the answer to that question will surprise no one, the path Kraus weaves to get us there is unlike anything I’ve read in YA for quite some time.

Like truly great literature, Kraus challenges his readers to step into the darkness and confront the bitter truths of human nature. Along the way, he weaves a visceral tale that pulls back the current on small town politics, mental health stigmas, violence, grief, and anger. It’s a wild, uncomfortable and challenging ride through the darkest parts of human nature, and it will punch you in the gut. It touches on some other important and timely topics that I can’t mention here because I don’t want to give too much away. But everything that happens does so for a reason and readers will not be disappointed. It’s some great craftsmanship and storytelling.

I need you to read it so we can talk about it. Highly recommended.

This book comes out February, 25, 2020. I read a digital arc for this review.

Book Review: Layoverland by Gabby Noone

Publisher’s description

Beatrice Fox deserves to go straight to hell.

At least, that’s what she believes. Her last day on Earth, she ruined the life of the person she loves most—her little sister, Emmy. So when Bea awakens from a fatal car accident to find herself on an airplane headed who knows where, she’s confused, to say the least.

Once on the ground, Bea receives some truly harrowing news: she’s in purgatory. If she ever wants to catch a flight to heaven, she’ll have to help five thousand souls figure out what’s keeping them from moving on.

But one of Bea’s first assignments is Caleb, the boy who caused her accident, and the last person Bea would ever want to send to the pearly gates. And as much as Bea would love to see Caleb suffer for dooming her to a seemingly endless future of eating bad airport food and listening to other people’s problems, she can’t help but notice that he’s kind of cute, and sort of sweet, and that maybe, despite her best efforts, she’s totally falling for him.

From debut author Gabby Noone comes a darkly hilarious and heartfelt twist on the afterlife about finding second chances, first loves, and new friendships in the most unlikely places.

Amanda’s thoughts

This is such an easy book to recommend to anyone who likes THE GOOD PLACE or just likes contemporary stories with redemption arcs. Bea is like a less dirtbag-y Eleanor Shellstrop—she’s a complicated and flawed character who is torn between acts of revenge and actually wanting to help and protect people. Now dead, she’s part of the Memory Experience Department, which is not in heaven or hell, but in an airport, which is a layover spot for mostly good people who need to process some stuff before they can move on. Bea will assist people and help them move on. Her passport tells her she needs to help 5,000 people, which she estimates will take her at least 15 years. And while that’s hardly an appealing notion, it becomes all the worse when Bea realizes she is not only in the airport with Caleb, who was driving the car that smashed into hers and killed her, but she has to help him process and move on. Caleb doesn’t know who Bea is or about their shared history, and Bea desperately wants to exact some revenge upon him. After all, he killed her.

But, as you may guess, nothing in Layoverland is simple. There’s the complication of having feelings, of understanding what really happened in their accident, of accepting their current reality.

This book was a great read. I was a little wary about it, because I tend to entirely skip books that center around car accidents or describe them in detail, but I’m glad I didn’t let that stop me here. Noone’s book is truly funny, with memorable and clever characters. Yes, it’s about death and the idea of an afterlife, but it’s a pretty quick, light read. No one is too bothered by any of their new revelations (they’re dead! and in a weird limbo! and then will be in heaven! and still dead!) or was too awful of a human while still alive. It’s the perfect teenage take on THE GOOD PLACE, but with less frozen yogurt and more Jello. This book will fly off shelves. Good fun.

ISBN-13: 9781984836120
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date: 01/21/2020

The Billie Eilish Readalike Playlist

Billie Eilish has been popular in my house for a while now, probably since first hearing the song Lovely back in 2018. My favorite Billie Eilish song is “You Should See Me in a Crown”, while Thing 2 seems particularly fond of “Bad Guy”. So the other day, as I watched a group of pre-teen and teen girls choreograph a dance to a Billie Eilish song, I had a moment of inspiration: I wonder if I could create a reading RA list based on Billie Eilish songs. So I sat down and started researching her various songs and what they meant. It turns out, there are websites that help you do this.

I then started getting serious about this project. I even turned it into an RA sheet for my work. So what follows is a list of a variety of YA books based on theme and song that teens may enjoy reading if they like the music of Billie Eilish. This was a fun list to create, and it is by no means complete. It only touches on a few of her songs and even on those songs there are a lot more books we could add. So if you have some titles you would like to add, please feel free to do so.

Books About Toxic Relationships

“Bad Guy”, “When the Party’s Over” and several other Billie Eilish songs are about toxic relationships, both romantic and friendships. So here are a few YA books about toxic relationships that your teens may be interested in reading.

You Should See Me in a Crown

“You Should See Me in a Crown” is inspired by the BBC series Sherlock starring Benedict Cumberbatch. In it Andrew Scott, also known as the Hot Priest from Fleabag, plays Moriarty, Sherlock’s arch-nemesis. At one point he proclaims, “you should see me in a crown.” The rest is history. The series is a lot of fun and was extremely popular, I even had a very successful Sherlock party at the time. So here are a bunch of Sherlock retellings or books that are Sherlock Holmes like that teen readers will find interesting.

Books About Mental Health and Depression

One of Billie Eilish’s early hits was a song called “lovely” that she sings with Khalid. It’s a very melancholy song about mental health and depression and it appears on the soundtrack for the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why. The title began kind of as a kind of sarcastic nod to how depressing the song is. While listening to it someone said, “oh how lovely” and the rest, as they say, is history. Here a few YA books about mental health and depression that your teens may like.

Dark Books about Dark People doing Dark Things

“Belly Ache” and “Bad Guy” are told from the point of view of monsters, whether that means psychopaths or literal monsters depends on the song. Billie Eilish has stated in many interviews that she likes to write songs that tell the story from the point of view from the monster under your bed. Here are several YA books that are about psychopaths and monsters.

Climate Change

Billie Eilish is an advocate for knowing and working to fix climate change. The topic of climate change appears in her most recent video “All the Good Girls Go to Hell”. Here are a few YA fiction titles on climate change that teens may be interested in reading. If you are Googling for additional titles, you may want to also search under the term “cli-fi”, which is a shortened version of climate change.

Basically Dark, Twisted and Kind of Awesome

If you had to describe Billie Eilish’s aesthetic, you might say she is basically dark, twisted and a lot of fun. So here are a bunch of YA books that are basically dark, twisted and a lot of fun. I like to think that Billie Eilish would like these books and recommend them to her fans.

Friday Finds, January 17, 2020

This Week at TLT

Book Review: Tweet Cute by Emma Lord

Cindy Crushes Programming: March Madness Bracketology

Book Review: Saving Savannah by Tonya Bolden

The Soundtrack of Our Lives: The Teen and I Discuss what Musical Theater Means to Theater Teens and Why Librarians Should, and Can, Care

Around the Web

Next National Ambassador For Young People’s Literature Is Named

Proposed Book Banning Bill in Missouri Could Imprison Librarians

How Making A Podcast Enriched Students’ Lives

Children/YA Sales Rose, Adult Sales Fell in October

I Read 4,800 Pages of American History Textbooks

Book Review: Tweet Cute by Emma Lord

Publisher’s description

A fresh, irresistible rom-com from debut author Emma Lord about the chances we take, the paths life can lead us on, and how love can be found in the opposite place you expected.

Meet Pepper, swim team captain, chronic overachiever, and all-around perfectionist. Her family may be falling apart, but their massive fast-food chain is booming — mainly thanks to Pepper, who is barely managing to juggle real life while secretly running Big League Burger’s massive Twitter account.

Enter Jack, class clown and constant thorn in Pepper’s side. When he isn’t trying to duck out of his obscenely popular twin’s shadow, he’s busy working in his family’s deli. His relationship with the business that holds his future might be love/hate, but when Big League Burger steals his grandma’s iconic grilled cheese recipe, he’ll do whatever it takes to take them down, one tweet at a time.

All’s fair in love and cheese — that is, until Pepper and Jack’s spat turns into a viral Twitter war. Little do they know, while they’re publicly duking it out with snarky memes and retweet battles, they’re also falling for each other in real life — on an anonymous chat app Jack built.

As their relationship deepens and their online shenanigans escalate — people on the internet are shipping them?? — their battle gets more and more personal, until even these two rivals can’t ignore they were destined for the most unexpected, awkward, all-the-feels romance that neither of them expected.

Amanda’s thoughts

Sometimes the thing that I just really want to say about a book is “this was really enjoyable and cute.” Guess what? This book was really enjoyable and cute. The summary up there covers all the highlights and plot twists, but does nothing to capture just how much FUN this story was. The layers of their relationship really made the story—their Twitter battle, their chatting on the Weazel app, their real-life interactions, and the many little twists and turns that happen in all of those ways of communicating. Pretty much my favorite form of people falling for one another is via sarcastic banter. Pepper and Jack nail this—and they also do honesty and vulnerability pretty well, too.

That’s it. That’s the review. This was a really fun, cute, sweet story that was exactly what I was looking to read in one afternoon while curled up on the couch with the dogs. I tend to gravitate toward more serious YA, or YA featuring underrepresented identities and voices. But sometimes, I just want something light, and this rom-com totally hit the mark. It’s not often I keep my reviews this short, but honestly, the plot is totally summarized in the publisher’s description and I just wanted to share that this book was enjoyable and just what I needed. Good fun.

ISBN-13: 9781250237323
Publisher: St. Martin”s Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/21/2020

Cindy Crushes Programming: March Madness Bracketology

Background: Basketball is my favorite sport. I was lucky enough to live in Joliet, IL which is just an hour away from Chicago. I grew up watching the Chicago Bulls during their prime. It was a magical time.

I also am a Kansas Jayhawk. I went to the University of Kansas for a short while and both my parents and sister went there. The University of Kansas is one of the premier basketball schools in the country. The first Kansas coach was Dr James Naismith who actually invented the game of basketball and KU houses the Original Rules of Basketball.

What is March Madness?

March Madness is the NCAA basketball tournament (Men’s and Women’s) of which the winner is the national champion. Currently the tournament includes the top 68 teams in the country. 32 of the teams are the winners of the conference tournaments held in March which get automatic bids. The rest are picked by rankings and their strength of schedule. It is always hard to figure who is in and who is out. The champion is crowned in April.

Here is the link to the NCAA page about the bracket. It has a nice video that gives more information about how the tournament runs. I also have last year’s bracket so you can get a better idea of how the bracket will look.

https://www.ncaa.com/news/basketball-men/ncaa-bracket-march-madness

How to create a program:

This is hard to program time wise. You have to wait until selection Sunday to do the Men’s Bracket. The Women’s Bracket is released the following Monday. Games for the Men’s Tournament actually start that Tuesday night. I like to have the program start on that Tuesday so I can have the participants both brackets that night.  The Women’s Bracket is not as challenging. The University of Connecticut women have won six times in the last decade. It takes away a lot of upsets. This year should be more interesting as UCONN already is projected to be a second seed instead of a number one seed. Baylor beat UCONN at home which snapped their home winning streak of 98 games. Brackets come out for the men on March 15 and Women March 16.

Steps

  1. Print out brackets.  I like to use CBS Sports Brackets because I think they usually have the best bracket or Yahoo Sports Brackets.
  2. Bring a lot of pencils. You need to make sure the teens will be able to erase.
  3. I like to talk about the history of college basketball and explain what the brackets mean. Each of the four brackets has a number one seed. These are the best teams in the country. The 16th seeds are the worst. The Number 16 team plays the Number 1 team in the first game up. Until 2018 a Number One Seed had never lost to a Number 16. In the Men’s Bracket in 2018 University of Maryland Baltimore County (16) beat Virginia(1).
  4. Explain how to fill out their brackets. Please look over the bracket before you hand them out so you know how to fill them out. For the play in the games I have them circle who they believe will win. For the rest of the games I have them write in t their winners. This part takes the most time. A lot of the teens have no idea how to fill it out. I tell them they can pick different ways. I always like the cutest mascot. It really can work well. I make sure to tell them to not always pick the higher team in the bracket because they are always upsets. I check handwriting on this part because it is really important that you can read them.
  5. I always like to end the program playing a One Shining Moment video which is the song they play at the end of the tournament.

After the program: I like to have a prize for the teen who had the best bracket. This means waiting until after the Championship Game. I do a simple scoring which I give each right answer one point but you can do it a lot of ways such as one point for round 1 and 2 and then up the points for the later rounds. This is subjective. I make them write a score for the final game to be a tie breaker but have never had to use it.  I call the winner and give them a random prize.

Final Thoughts: This was an easy program for me since I know a lot about basketball. If you are doing it for the first time, I do recommend learning more about the tournament to be prepared to help the teens. There are often questions. The teens who like sports love to do this program and try to out basketball trivia on me which is fun.

Editor’s Note: You can also use the March Madness bracket format to do a book themed program. Here’s an older post about this.