Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Have Some K-Pop, By Teen Contributor Riley Jensen

K-Pop has been making a comeback for while now, and it’s proving to be very popular with teens. Many teens are very invested in certain groups and some even learn numerous dance routines that go with songs. So, here are a few songs that I enjoy by popular K-pop groups.

Back Door by Stray Kids

Love Shot by EXO

Lovesick Girls by BLACKPINK

Psycho by Red Velvet

Fancy by TWICE

All of these songs are fairly new, the oldest one going back only a year. These groups are usually some of the most well known, except for BTS which was left off the list because most people know of that group. There are obviously more groups and each group has numerous good songs, so if you find that you enjoy K-pop then there is plenty of songs out there.

And here are a few YA books for KPop fans

Riley, Teen Reviewer

I am a senior in high school and an avid reader. I have been reviewing books on this blog since 2012. I love musical theatre and listen to show tunes a lot. I also love murder books (both fiction and nonfiction), and want to go to college to be a forensic scientist after high school. Reading is one of my favorite things to do, so I just put that hobby to good use for my mom.

RevolTeens: Teens and Art Changing the World, by Christine Lively

Everything is just too serious. I realize that this is not news to anyone. There are so many overwhelming terrible things happening that it’s hard to find hope or joy in the news. There are so many news articles about how teens have been hit hard by the pandemic and quarantine.

But, I have learned in the last year, one of the most amazing things about teens is that they will remind us that they can find hope and joy as an act of revolution. The spirit of teens never fails to amaze me, and this month I’m amazed at their commitment to art and justice.

In Teen Arts Councils around the country high school students work to learn about arts and exhibitions in museums and advise the curators during their time of service. Many Teen Councils also design programs where they give tours to other teens and facilitate discussions with artists. They also host their own exhibitions and sometimes social events just for teens to come and enjoy the Arts.

Many art museums have teen art councils. The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston describes their Teen Art Council this way:

“The Teen Arts Council (TAC) is the MFA’s leadership development program for Boston-area teens. The TAC offers participants the opportunity to engage with art, culture, and history; develop workplace and team building skills; and learn about a range of professional options and career paths.

  • Advise the MFA on engagement strategies for local teens
  • Implement programs and events for peers and the general public
  • Learn about the arts and cultural sector in the City of Boston by engaging with the city’s other teen programs and cultural institutions”

As with all RevolTeens, though, many of the Teen Arts Council members at these museums have not been content to continue the status quo, they have begun revolting.

This year, the Teen Creative Agency, a Teen Council at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, revolted against the injustices they saw at the museum and launched a campaign to challenge the museum’s directors to do better.

According to Teen Vogue, when a photo was published that suggested that the museum had donated money to the Chicago Police Department, the Teen Council wrote an Open Letter to the museum’s director powerfully challenging her to acknowledge the ways that the Chicago Police had abused their power and demanded that the museum clarify their relationship with the CPD. They launched a petition to gain attention and support for their efforts through their Instagram account @TCAAMCA

“We realized this is bigger than we thought,” says Vivian Zamora, an 18-year-old recent alumnus of TCA. “It’s not just cops. There’s mistreatment of part-time staff, not enough transparency. A lot of our work now is pointing out how this institution works.”

These RevolTeens are not afraid to question not only adults, but revered institutions and demand that they answer for problems, and injustices that they have been able to ignore.

Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts recognized the powerful perspective of teens. They decided to launch  the museum’s first exhibition curated entirely by high school students titled “Black Histories, Black Futures,” The exhibit contains works by 20th century artists of color, and brings a fresh new perspective to the collection, as well as bringing young people into the museum. According to the Museum’s website: 

‘The teen curators—fellows from youth empowerment organizations Becoming a Man (BAM), The BASE, and the Bloomberg Arts Internship Boston program managed by EdVestors—used skills they developed as paid interns in a pilot internship program at the MFA to research, interpret, and design the exhibition. Their work highlights areas of excellence within the Museum’s collection and lays foundations for the future.”

The museum recognizes the energy and the change that teens bring into the work that they do. Collaborating with teens should be a priority for more institutions going forward as they look for ways to increase their social relevance, appeal, and community involvement.

Finally, the Studio Museum Harlem has held a teen art photography education program for eight months every year during which teens learn the art of photography. This year, of course, the whole process has been drastically changed. From the Museum’s web page:

“The online photography exhibition Hearts in Isolation: Expanding the Walls 2020 features work by the fifteen teenage artists in the 2020 cohort of the Museum’s annual program, Expanding the Walls: Making Connections Between Photography, History, and Community. Launching July 30th, the first online edition of the annual Expanding the Walls exhibition marks the program’s twentieth anniversary.

During their eight months in the program, Expanding the Walls participants from New York City–area high schools explore digital photography, artistic practice, and community—a term that took on new meaning this year, when students could no longer gather with one another and their mentors but had to complete the program remotely. As a result, their photographs reflect on themes of home and safety.”

The exhibit can be viewed fully online here: Hearts In Isolation: Expanding the Walls

If you are feeling bleak and alone, go visit the work of these remarkable and brilliant RevolTeens and remind yourself that the future is in their hands, and they have the heart, brilliance, hope, courage, and joy to make this world so much better.

About Christine Lively

Christine Lively a school librarian in Virginia. I read voraciously, exchange ideas with students, and am a perpetual student. I raise monarch butterflies, cook, clean infrequently and enjoy an extensive hippo collection. I am a Certified Life Coach for Kids 14-24 and my website is christinelively.com. Christine blogs at https://hippodillycircus.com/ and you can follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/XineLively.

More Books To Come, By Teen Contributor Riley Jensen

The Castle School (For Troubled Girls) by Alyssa Sheinmel

When Moira Dreyfuss’s parents announce that they’re sending her to boarding school, Moira isn’t fooled. She knows her parents are punishing her; she’s been too much trouble since her best friend Nathan died―and for a while before that. At the Castle School, isolated from the rest of the world, Moira will be expected to pour her heart out to the strange headmaster, Dr. Prince. But she isn’t interested in getting over Nathan’s death, or befriending her fellow students.

On her first night there, Moira hears distant music. On her second, she discovers the lock on her window is broken. On her third, she and her roommate venture outside…and learn that they’re not so isolated after all. There’s another, very different, Castle School nearby―this one filled with boys whose parents sent them away, too.

Moira knows something isn’t right about the Castle School―about either of them. But uncovering the truth behind the schools’ secrets may force Moira to confront why she was sent away in the first place.

Watch Over Me by Nina Lacour

Mila is used to being alone. Maybe that’s why she said yes to the opportunity: living in this remote place, among the flowers and the fog and the crash of waves far below.

But she hadn’t known about the ghosts.

Newly graduated from high school, Mila has aged out of the foster care system. So when she’s offered a job and a place to stay at a farm on an isolated part of the Northern California Coast, she immediately accepts. Maybe she will finally find a new home, a real home. The farm is a refuge, but also haunted by the past traumas its young residents have come to escape. And Mila’s own terrible memories are starting to rise to the surface.

In the Study With the Wrench by Diana Peterfreund

In the aftermath of Headmaster Boddy’s murder, Blackbrook Academy has been thrown into complete disarray. Half the student body hasn’t bothered to return to campus—but those who have include Orchid, Vaughn, Scarlett, Peacock, Plum, and Mustard, now warily referred to by the other students as the Murder Crew. When another staff member is found dead and an anonymous threat begins to target the group, each of the teens’ opportunistic reasons for sticking around come to light. Orchid’s identity comes under question while Vaughn’s family life takes a turn; Finn and Mustard grow closer; and Scarlett and Beth struggle to turn over new leaves. All of this comes to a dramatic head at Tudor House with a cliff-hanger.

Winter White and Wicked by Shannon Dittemore

Twice-orphaned Sylvi has chipped out a niche for herself on Layce, an island cursed by eternal winter. Alone in her truck, she takes comfort in two things: the solitude of the roads and the favor of Winter, an icy spirit who has protected her since she was a child.
            Sylvi likes the road, where no one asks who her parents were or what she thinks of the rebels in the north. But when her best friend, Lenore, runs off with the rebels, Sylvi must make a haul too late in the season for a smuggler she wouldn’t normally work with, the infamous Mars Dresden. Alongside his team—Hyla, a giant warrior woman and Kyn, a boy with skin like stone—Sylvi will do whatever it takes to save her friend.
            But when the time comes, she’ll have to choose: safety, anonymity, and the favor of Winter—or the future of the island that she calls home.

Pretty Funny For a Girl by Rebecca Elliott

Haylah Swinton is an ace best friend, a loving daughter, and an incredibly patient sister to a four-year-old nutcase of a brother. Best of all, she’s pretty confident she’s mastered making light of every situation–from her mom’s new boyfriend to unsolicited remarks on her plus-sized figure. Haylah’s learning to embrace all of her curvy parts and, besides, she has a secret: one day, she’ll be a stand-up comedian star.

So when impossibly cool and thirstalicious Leo reveals he’s also into comedy, Haylah jumps at the chance to ghost-write his sets. But is Leo as interested in returning the favor? Even though her friends warn her of Leo’s intentions, Haylah’s not ready to listen–and she might just be digging herself deeper toward heartbreak. If Haylah’s ever going to step into the spotlight, first she’ll need to find the confidence to put herself out there and strut like the boss she really is.

Riley, Teen Reviewer

I am a senior in high school and an avid reader. I have been reviewing books on this blog since 2012. I love musical theatre and listen to show tunes a lot. I also love murder books (both fiction and nonfiction), and want to go to college to be a forensic scientist after high school. Reading is one of my favorite things to do, so I just put that hobby to good use for my mom.

What Do Teens Mean When They Talk About an Aesthetic

The Teen wants you to know that she is not into Cottagecore, but she did take this recent senior photo and I needed a photo for this post and she said it “kinda works”

Like many people, I spent a great portion of the mid-pandemic listening to the new Taylor Swift album, Folklore, on repeat. It was haunting and melancholy and fit my mood. Last week I saw a post about how the album was “Cottagecore” and about the “Cottagecore Aesthetic” and I fell down a rabbit hole trying to figure out what that meant. I have always believed in trying to understand that current things my tweens and teens are talking about.

Don’t get me wrong, I was vaguely aware of the idea of a social media aesthetic for a long time, I just hadn’t given it a lot of thought. And when I looked at Cottagecore I figured it was mostly an adult thing, turns out I am wrong. It is not the first time I have been wrong, and it won’t be the last.

Having been married to an art major for some 25 years now, I am familiar with the term aesthetic. But I wanted to know more about what it means to teens specifically and to social media. Here’s what I’ve learned.

In the most basic definition, aesthetic means: concerned with beauty or the appreciation of beauty (that’s the dictionary definition). When applied to teens and social media, it means:

Image result for social media aesthetic definition

“In reference to social media, the term “aesthetic” is usually used to refer to the overall visual theme and mood of an account. Most often associated with Instagram.” (source: https://stayhipp.com/glossary/social-media-aesthetic/) This definition mentions Instagram, but it also applies to Tik Tok, Snapchat, etc.

As I mentioned above, Cottagecore is one of the currently popular aesthetics which is highlighted by the newest Taylor Swift album. Cottagecore is an aesthetic that is pastoral leaning. You’ll see lots of pictures of nature and picnic baskets and girls in long, flowing prairie dresses. Cottagecore is vintage and antiques in outdoor spaces with pastel flowers and sheets hanging on outdoors drying lines. The Teen says it’s has bright, soft lighting. You can find out more about Cottagecore here: https://foryouaesthetics.com/blogs/news/cottagecore-aesthetic. I also want to make sure we really look at and examine the various aesthetics and stumbled across this article about Cottagecore and the Far Right: https://honisoit.com/2020/09/cottagecore-colonialism-and-the-far-right/.

Corragecore is not, however, the only popular aesthetic. Last year I was asked to buy Thing 2 hair scrunchies and Hydroflask water bottles because of the VSCO aesthetic. You can even find articles and ideas about VSCO girl starter packs on popular teen sites like Teen Vogue: https://www.teenvogue.com/story/vsco-girl-starter-pack. (I bought her scrunchies but made her save up her own money for the Hydroflask because those are super expensive.)

There are other aesthetics popular with teens: soft girls and dark academia and afrofuturism. The list over at aesthetics.fandom.com of aesthetic types is actually quite long: https://aesthetics.fandom.com/wiki/List_of_Aesthetics. And YPulse has a really good look at the influence of, well, social media influencers and aesthetics here: https://www.ypulse.com/article/2019/07/31/e-girls-instagram-baddies-and-vsco-girls-the-social-media-styles-influencing-gen-z/. Buro247 has a list of popular 2020 aesthetics here: https://www.buro247.my/culture/buro-loves/from-vsco-girl-to-e-boy-these-are-the-aesthetics-o.html.

Aesthetics is about branding. Branding oneself. But also, brands have latched onto the idea of aesthetics to market to Gen Z as well. I even used this concept recently, without really knowing I was doing so, when I created an RA list of readalikes for Billie Eilish fans and one for Taylor Swift fans. I was applying the concept of the aesthetic with book recommendations.

When reading about aesthetics you will quickly find that a lot of the aesthetics being talked about in the media are very white centered, as unfortunately a lot of the media always has. As teen librarians, a field dominated by white women, we need to be really careful when reading about and thinking about using the idea of aesthetics as promotional tools not to become too white focused and exclusionary. So engage in research and promotion with intention and an eye to inclusion, as you should all things.

This is a screenshot of a recent RA tool I made to discuss the various genres and subgenres with my coworkers as we walk through learning about YA lit

I wanted to check and see if this idea of an aesthetic was just something adults were putting on to teens or if it was a thing teens talked about, so I went and consulted with my sources. They immediately began to talk to me about various aesthetics and seemed pretty interested in the concept. Sometimes the media talks about teens in ways that don’t resonate with teens, but the teens I talked to were very much aware of the concept of aesthetics on social media.

For iPhone users, the newest update even allows them to personalize their homescreen to fit their personal aesthetic: https://www.cnet.com/news/from-tumblr-to-ios-14-how-aesthetic-home-screens-became-a-trend/. This is something that apparently Android users have been able to do for a while.

Here are some more articles on the topic of aesthetics for you, should you too want to jump down this rabbit hole.

Vox: Cottagecore and Dark Academia on Tik Tok

Girls Life: Popular Tik Tok Aesthetics explained. Which one is you?

What I’ve learned is that aesthetic is about branding, in some ways, but it’s about identity. And teens have always been about identity and wearing your heart on your sleeve to make your identity known. From punk kids to emo kids to jocks . . . teens have always had an aesthetic. Well, most teens do. It’s just now they have taken those identities and that aesthetic online and onto social media. So in many ways it’s the same thing as always, just expressed differently for a new generation. Which doesn’t mean it lacks value, because it does. Who you are and how you choose to share that with the world is and always will be very important to teens. It’s exciting to see the ways that teens are using new tools to express themselves.

I asked The Teen if Book Nerd or Doctor Who fan could be my aesthetic and she said, not really but sure.

Sunday Reflections: Of Course Parents are Sending their Kids to School with Covid-19, So Let’s Fix That

When The Teen was 4, she came down with a rare illness that we would soon learn was called Kawasaki Disease.

It began simple enough, I took her to the doctor on a Friday and they put her on an antibiotic. By Saturday, she had broken out into a weird rash and I called the office and they told me it was probably just a reaction to the antibiotic and put her on a different one.

I called again on Sunday, and they told me to bring her in on Monday.

I took her in on Monday, having to call off now for the second work day in a row.

I took her in again on Tuesday, having to call off again.

I took her in again on Wednesday, having to call off again.

On Thursday, I made yet another appointment and tried calling off. My boss said some things that let me know that I was in serious trouble. So I found someone to come sit with my child while I went to work for 4 hours at the library.

I had demanded to see a new doctor at this appointment and he sat me down and said, “I think I know what this is and you have to take her to Children’s right now, don’t even go home to pack a bag. But first, we have to do a test on her heart to make sure she will survive the time it takes for you to get her there or if we need to take her by ambulance.”

So I called my boss and said we were going to children’s and I didn’t know when I would be back and if she had to fire me so be it, but I wasn’t going to let my child die for a job. And I just hoped I didn’t get fired because not only did I love my job, but I needed it to survive and was really going to need it to pay for our medical bills.

We soon learned that she had a rare illness called Kawasaki Disease and her recovery was long and hard. If it’s not diagnosed within the first 10 days – and we were diagnosed on day 7 – it can cause permanent heart problems. We would spend the next 5 years taking her to yearly check ups to make sure her heart had no permanent damage. And the first few months right after treatment, we had to care her because the inflammation throughout her body was so severe it hurt her to walk.

I tell you this story because I’ve been thinking a lot about Covid. A recent headline indicated that policy makers – those who have chosen to open schools – were surprised to realize that parents were sending their children to school even though they had signs of or had tested positive for Covid. But I don’t understand why they were. This has always been happening.

Parents send their kids to school with lice, with fevers doused with fever reducers, and knowing that they spent the night throwing up their guts. Although some parents do this because they hate parenting or want a break or don’t believe their kids, a vast majority of parents do this OUT OF NECESSITY.

Most American workers have little if any paid sick leave. Most Americans are working multiple part-time jobs with no benefits and they are desperately trying to hold on to those jobs to keep their families alive and safe.

And even if you do have paid sick leave, many workers are still punished by their bosses for taking it. I had paid sick leave and my boss made it clear that she was most displeased with me. Though she did change her tune when she learned that my child had been close to possibly dying without prompt medical treatment.

Capitalism, greed, and the selfish bent of American culture makes it very hard for working parents to take care of sick kids. And kids get sick. Especially in a global pandemic.

So no, I’m not surprised that parents have sent their kids to school sick with Covid. I can’t even be mad at them for it, not really. But I am mad at our culture which makes it a necessity for parents in America to have to make hard decisions like this. I’m mad at our government that hasn’t helped our families during a deadly global pandemic. And I’m mad at the selfish individualists who decry wearing a mask when a simple act could help to protect our children from a deadly virus.

The year 2020 has exposed a lot of our faults and fault lines. So moving forward, I hope one thing that we will do is work to institute paid sick leave for everyone because you know what, sometimes people get sick. And they deserve a chance to care for themselves or their loved ones while knowing that they can come back to their jobs and continue to care for their families by providing financial support.

Also, look at what other countries have done to address that pandemic compared to the United States. They locked down. They provided more significant and long term financial support. They had more testing and contact tracing. They have affordable (or basically free) health care. In comparison, we had no national lockdown, no mask mandate, testing was hard to come by, and adults got a one time check of $600.00 for each adult. It’s been 6+ months now and we have the highest number of cases and the highest number of deaths in the United States. We’ve crossed the 200,000 death mark. And parents are sending their kids to schools with Covid because in most cases, THEY HAVE NO CHOICE.

We need to create a world where these parents can choose to keep their kids at home and attend to their health. We always have, but especially now.

Voting and Elections in YA Lit

Here’s a brief collection of YA fiction and nonfiction titles that deal with the topic of elections and voting.

It’s not enough to tell teens to register to vote, you have to help them with next steps. Teach them how to research the candidates and issues. Talk to them about what happens at the voting booth & how to fill out & submit a ballot. Help them be informed, confident voters. Being an engaged citizen is about more then just registering to vote, so let’s help teens follow the process, not just begin it.



Rock the Vote

Pew Political Party Quiz

How to Register to Vote

Morgan’s Mumbles: The Struggles of Virtual University, by teen contributor Morgan Randall

All my current classes are online, for college, which I would prefer due to the current situation of the world and I would like to limit my exposure (along with others) as we move forward. However, that does not negate the struggles that come with online courses.

To start off, I am very thankful for the fact that there are resources to have online classes (ex. Zoom) however these spaces come with their own struggle. First off, the internet within dorms and apartments is very unreliable and sometimes cut out during classes. Thankfully, a majority of my classes are recorded and my teachers are understanding. But, when a part of your final grade is based on attendance and participation this becomes a problem if there is a large storm or too many people on the internet at the same time.

The struggle of internet access is probably the smallest issue, for me (thankfully). My bigger issues come along mentally. Staying within the same four walls for days at a time is mentally taxing, and even if you create a designated workspace you are still limited to the changes of scenery available. I go from one corner to another, and another trying to alternate scenery as I have three classes back to back on Zoom sitting in the same spot. If I am lucky between my first and second class, I can move from my desk to the floor. And then from second to third, I can move from the floor back to my desk. But even between these locations, I finish six hours of lectures, and then I have at least six hours of homework. This isn’t the problem, I know I signed up to take courses that will push me the problem is the fact that in a normal year half of this time would be spent outside my dorm. So the hours at my desk would not be as difficult to sit through, but by the time I get to homework, I can barely focus on the page to read, let alone write an essay or take a quiz. I thankfully have three roommates who are all really pleased to be around, and we find ways to keep busy, but excluding them I hangout with maybe five other people who went to high school with me.

This, is another struggle, the lack of spaces to create meaningful connections. Zoom lectures and breakout rooms are the worst places to have conversations, they exist within a weird space that is hard to classify. In breakout rooms, you speak to a few other people for five minutes, and then you leave that space and barely see them four pages over at your meeting. There are no real connections made, and I am not saying that class is a space to make lifelong friends. But it is a start, you have something in common right off the bat, in a classroom setting you are both in the same space and can feed off one another energy. In a Zoom breakout room, if you are lucky they have their camera on and will talk back, you just sit staring at someone and holding an awkward conversation as you try to answer the questions you were told to discuss without knowing the other persons’ real reaction. This doesn’t allow places to talk or even truly introduce yourself to other students. Outside of lectures and breakout rooms, the only other times I see people are in the line at the dining hall, walking, and in the elevator. None of which are the ideal space, especially within the current situation you don’t know people’s comfort levels or if they want to have an interaction.

Lastly, my main struggle is as a Theatre and Dance major a majority of my classes are discussion and performance-based. This in itself is a difficult thing in an online format, I have to attend shows virtually and perform my own pieces to a camera for analysis in front of my class. This is a nerve-racking experience as art is something meant to connect and cause difficult conversations, but it is very hard to have conversations through screens where you cannot see the other person’s reactions. This is something I struggle with a lot, this new space (that is becoming normal) which makes it difficult to have discussions because we aren’t face to face.

Morgan RandallTeen Contributor

Morgan recently graduated high school and is currently enrolled to attend college in the fall getting her BA in Theatre and Dance with an emphasis on Design and Technology. She loves theatre, writing, reading, and learning. But something that has always been important to her is being a voice for those who feel like they don’t have one, and being a catalyst for change in any way possible.

Abortion in Teen and Young Adult Literature

As the election approaches, the topic of abortion and reproductive rights has been getting a lot of attention in the news. And with the sad passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg this past weekend, a newly open Supreme Court seat is really pushing this conversation to the forefront of 2020 election issues. Below you will find a gallery of YA/Teen titles that discuss the topic of abortion.

I haven’t read all of these, but I have read a good number of them.

Girl on the Verge is a great title that focuses on three teen girls who take a road trip together as they support one of the girls who are trying to obtain an abortion. This title takes place in Texas and it highlights a lot of hurdles, including a judge that makes decisions based on their own religion and how a friend who is Christian and against abortion personally decides to support her friend making a decision she doesn’t necessarily agree with.

The Truth About Alice is by a Texas author and pulls back the current on the truth about abortion protestors: many of them get abortions of their own even while they are protesting the very medical service that they are using. It’s a profound novel about shut shaming and rumors.

Exit, Pursued by a Bear is one of my favorite feminist books for a wide variety of reasons. One, it highlights the truly competitive nature of high school cheerleading. Two, it highlights female friendship and how you can stand by a friend who was raped. And three, it highlights a teen girl being allowed to make decisions about her body after being raped.

The Whitsun Daughters was just released and Amanda MacGregor reviews it here. She says it is a “gorgeously layered look at love, loss, and the complex lives of girls. Not to be missed.”

I actually just listened to All Eyes on Her last week and was surprised by the role that abortion played in this story. It’s a psychological thriller in which a teen girl is accused of killing her boyfriend by pushing him off of a cliff. At one point during the trial a picture which is presumed to be of her entering an abortion clinic appears on social media, which is used to make her look even more guilty. She’s an unreliable narrator so you don’t know if she’s telling the truth about the events of the story or the abortion throughout a large portion of the story. Tucked away in this psychological thriller is a lot of feminist discussion about the difference in the ways that teen boys and girls are treated in social media, in the justice system, and more. It was a really good book. Recommended for fans of Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany Jackson, which tackles a lot of the same themes and is one of the best psychological thrillers with feminist discussions out there.

Whatever one’s personal opinion on this topic, it’s important that we provide books and resources on it for our patrons, yes even teen ones. These novels can help our teens read about and wrestle with this topic that they are hearing about in the news. And let’s not forget, many of our teens have or will have abortions.

If you have other titles to add to this list, please share a comment with us.

Some Books Coming Soon for Your TBR List, By Teen Contributor Riley Jensen

Here’s a look at some YA releases coming your way. One later this year and four early 2021. All book descriptions are provided by the publisher.

This is Not the Jess Show by Anna Carey

Like many teens, sometimes it feels as though everything in Jess Flynn’s life has been engineered for maximum drama–from her performance at the school talent show, to the reappearance of her childhood best friend and perennial crush Jeremy, to her friends trying to set her up with one of the hottest guys in school. It’s almost as if everything might finally be going her way…until one day a tiny black phone with an apple logo on its screen falls out of her best friend’s backpack and lands at Jess’s feet.

The problem is, it’s 1998, and the first iPhone isn’t due out for another nine years.

Jess’s friends refuse to acknowledge the strange device. Her sister Sara, on hospice care with a terminal blood disease, for once can’t tell Jess what she should do. It’s almost as if everyone is hiding something from her. Even her beloved dog Fuller seems different…like, literally different, because he definitely didn’t have that same pattern of spots on his stomach last week…

Nothing in Jess Flynn’s world is as it seems, and as the cracks begin to show, Jess will discover her entire life is nothing more than someone else’s entertainment. Except in this reality, the outside world is no place anyone would want to escape to. (November 2020, Quirk Books)

Sing Me Forgotten by Jessica S. Olson

Isda does not exist. At least not beyond the opulent walls of the opera house.

Cast into a well at birth for being one of the magical few who can manipulate memories when people sing, she was saved by Cyril, the opera house’s owner. Since that day, he has given her sanctuary from the murderous world outside. All he asks in return is that she use her power to keep ticket sales high—and that she stay out of sight. For if anyone discovers she survived, Isda and Cyril would pay with their lives.

But Isda breaks Cyril’s cardinal rule when she meets Emeric Rodin, a charming boy who throws her quiet, solitary life out of balance. His voice is unlike any she’s ever heard, but the real shock comes when she finds in his memories hints of a way to finally break free of her gilded prison.

Haunted by this possibility, Isda spends more and more time with Emeric, searching for answers in his music and his past. But the price of freedom is steeper than Isda could ever know. For even as she struggles with her growing feelings for Emeric, she learns that in order to take charge of her own destiny, she must become the monster the world tried to drown in the first place. (March 2021, Inkyard Press)

Riley’s Thoughts: A gender bent Phantom of the Opera? Yes!

Five Ways to Fall Out of Love by Emily Martin

Aubrey Cash learned the hard way not to rely on love. After all, Webster Casey, the new boy next door she’d been falling for all summer, stood her up at homecoming in front of everyone with no explanation. Proving her theory that love never lasts seems easy when she’s faced with parents whose marriage is falling apart and a best friend who thinks every boy she dates is “the one.” But when sparks fly with a boy who turns out to be Webster’s cousin, and then Webster himself becomes her lab partner for the rest of senior year, Aubrey finds her theory—and her commitment to stay single—put to the test.

As she navigates the breakdown of her family, the consequences her cynicism has on her relationship with her best friend, and her own confusing but undeniable feelings for Webster, Aubrey has to ask herself: What really happened the night Webster stood her up? And if there are five ways to fall out of love…could there perhaps be even more ways to fall back in? (March 2021, Inkyard Press)

The Flipside of Perfect by Liz Reinhardt

AJ is a buttoned-up, responsible student attending a high-achieving high school in Michigan. She lives with her mother, stepfather and two younger half sisters.

Della spends every summer with her father in Florida. A free-spirited wild child, she spends as much time as possible on the beach with her friends and older siblings.

But there’s a catch: AJ and Della are the same person. Adelaide Beloise Jepsen to be exact, and she does everything she can to keep her school and summer lives separate.

When her middle sister crashes her carefree summer getaway, Adelaide’s plans fall apart. In order to help her sister, save her unexpected friendship with a guy who might just be perfect for her, and discover the truth about her own past, Adelaide will have to reconcile the two sides of herself and face the fact that it’s perfectly okay not to be perfect all the time. (April 2021, Inkyard Press)

These Feathered Flames by Alexandra Overy

When twin heirs are born in Tourin, their fates are decided at a young age. While Izaveta remained at court to learn the skills she’d need as the future queen, Asya was taken away to train with her aunt, the mysterious Firebird, who ensured magic remained balanced in the realm.

But before Asya’s training is completed, the ancient power blooms inside her, which can mean only one thing: the queen is dead, and a new ruler must be crowned.

As the princesses come to understand everything their roles entail, they’ll discover who they can trust, who they can love—and who killed their mother. (April 2021, Inkyard Press)

Sunday Reflections: The Lament of Losing RBG

The Teen was playing tennis when I heard the news

My first instinct was to text her and tell her

but I didn’t want to upset her

but I also didn’t want her to find out on social media

because this was something that we shared

our feminism, our prayers for RBG

the next day we talked about what it means to us

as women who didn’t have rights

until women like RBG helped us to fight for them

tears ran down my face as I talked about what she means

to history

to us

to me

I am alive to parent my children because she fought

for my right

to make my own medical decisions

and I made sure that my daughters understood that

the fight is never over

and when warriors put down their sword

it means others have to step in and pick it up

because the oppressors love nothing more

than to oppress

and women

have had to fight hard for a seat at the table

It’s not just abortion they are coming for

Birth control too

Our rights to control our bodies

To make our own decisions

About life and death

And health

They’re coming for our bodies

And as the mother of daughters

I am afraid

I have sat in churches where they have told me

that my daughters should be submissive to a man

and I have sat in board rooms where the only man in the room

rose to power

much faster than all the women at the table

and I’ve listened to our country praise a man

and declare him ordained by God

even as he talks about assaulting women

and locks the very babies they claim to care about

in cages as they rip out

their mothers wombs

and I understand what it means that this woman

this fierce Jewish woman

was chosen to sit on a bench

that determines the fate of millions of women

every day

and I feel the loss

stunning and fierce

real and raw

deep in my bones

and the fear of losing her

rips through my veins

and I lament

this loss of life

spectacular and meaningful

and shining bright

in a world that constantly seems barely able to hold back

the darkness

for our daughters

for our sisters

for our mothers and grandmothers

for our friends

for our neighbors

those that don’t look like us or love like us

or identify like us

for RBG

we must continue to be

the light

Editor’s Note: I like to write bad poetry. I mean, I wish it wasn’t bad, but it’s the best that I can do. So today, I grieve. And write bad poetry in honor of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She earned her rest. She fought hard and valiantly. May she be at peace.