Teen Librarian Toolbox
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What to Read if You Like Hadestown the Musical, by Cindy Shutts

We have one more great Broadway inspired read-alike list. Hadestown is hands down one of The Teen’s favorite musicals (the other is American Psycho, the London version). Today teen librarian Cindy Shutts shares with us her reading suggestions based on Hadestown.

“It’s a sad song, It’s a sad tale, It’s a tragedy, It’s a sad song, But we sing it anyway” Hermes

Hadestown is a Tony award winning musical retelling of the classic myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. It is based on the album by Anaïs Mitchell. There are three different albums, The Broadway Cast, The Live Original Cast Recording of the New York Off Broadway Cast, and The Concept Album.

The musical takes place during the Depression. Hermes is the narrator who is a friend of Orpheus. Orpheus woos and marries Eurydice, but songs cannot keep Eurydice’s stomach full and she begins to look for more. Hades has built a large factory in the underworld which has caused much suffering. Persephone is Hades long suffering wife who is forced to go back to the underworld every winter. She hates Hades’ factory even though Hades claims he built it for her. Hades and Persephone fight until Hades says he will find someone who will appreciate the factory. Hades tricks Eurydice into the underworld by telling her that she will never be hungry again.

The rest of the musical is the traditional tale. Orpheus goes to the underworld to try to return Eurydice to the world of the living and must perform for Hades and Persephone. Hades lets them go but Orpheus must led Eurydice out of the underworld without turning around, but at the last second he turns around.

I have been listening to the Off Broadway Album for a while. I just love the passion in the voices of the casts. This is one of my favorite current musicals because I love mythical retellings. Here are some YA books I choose as read alikes.

If You Like Hadestown

Mythology

Orpheus Girl by Brynne Rebelle-Henry

Raya is in love with her best friend Sarah, but when they are caught together they are sent to a re-education camp. Raya decides to change the world and become Orpheus and save her Eurydice.

The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter

Hades is seeking a new bride and he believes Kate fits the job description. Kate agrees to spend six months being tested to be his new goddess and helps save her mother from death. Kate learns that Hades has secrets and that not everything is what it seems.

Antigoddess by Kendare Blake

Cassandra is caught in a war between the gods who are dying out. Athena and Hermes  found her after searching for her for a year, but they do not know that someone else has been watching and guarding her for year.

Outrun the Wind by Elizabeth Tammi

Kahina is one of the Huntresses of Artemis and she is assigned to protect Atalanta from being trapped into marriage. The two form a connection, but men from their pasts appear and threaten everything.

All Our Pretty Songs by Sarah McCarry

Aurora and the Narrator grow up together and have a deep connection,  but it is strained when a musician called Jack comes between them. Jack has awakened an ancient evil with his music that they will all have to face.

A Song for Ella Grey by David Almond

Claire is Ella’s best friend and suddenly feels left out when Ella falls in love with Orpheus. Claire soon finds out that Ella has died and Orpheus is broken hearted and something must be done to bring Ella back.

Summer of the Mariposas by Guadalupe Garcia McCall

Odilia and her sister find a man’s dead body in the swimming hole and they realize it is their destiny to reunite him with his family.

Vengeance Bound by Justina Ireland

Cory is born with the mythical furies in her head. By day, she is a normal teen but by night she hunts down those who have earned the furies’ wraith.

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

Roza, who is young and beautiful is missing and people hardly notice. Roza was with Finn when she was kidnapped and he cannot remember the kidnaper’s face. Finn does not understand why people are not concerned about where Roza went, even his brother, Sean.

Solstice by P.J. Hoover

Piper’s mother is very overprotective and the heating crisis is making it even worse.  The world keeps getting hotter and hotter as Piper realizes those myths she learned in school might be real and she has a part to play.

The Hollow Kingdom by Clare B. Dunkle

Sisters, Kate and Emily, have just moved to Hallow Hill where they meet Marak, a powerful magician and the King of the Goblins, who wants to claim Kate as his bride, but first Marak and Kate must work together to save the goblins of Hallow Hill.

The Great Depression

Dust Girl (The American Fairy, #1) by Sarah Zettel

Callie is living in the dustbowl state of Kansas and her mother has been keeping a secret from her, not only is she mixed race, she is also part fairy. She must avoid the dangers of the fairies that want to steal her from the world.

Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Pérez

Naomi and Wash live in New London, Texas during the time of deep segregation. Life is hard and people are trying to get by during the Great Depression, but a horrible event looms on the horizon.

Wonder Show by Hannah Barnaby

Mosco’s Traveling Wonder Show, a menagerie of human curiosities has one unusual person. Portia appears to be completely normal, but she has a secret. She is on the run trying to find out more about where her father disappeared.

The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough

Love and Death are always playing a game seeing which of them is more powerful and now there are new players. Flora, an African American girl, who dreams of being a pilot finds herself  falling for Henry, a wealthy adopted socialite, and they turn each other lives upside-down.

Midnight at the Electric by Jodi Lynn Anderson

One story from the future and two from the past come together to show a family going through post WWI era, the Great Depression and then the future.

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor

Cassie’s family are scared that the Klan will come for them and also ruin their land after Cassie and a white girl in town have issues.

All the Stars Denied by Guadalupe Garcia McCall

Estrella and her father speak up at a town meeting, but soon her family is deported to Mexico and they are separated from her father and must try to find him.

Books for fans of Hamilton: an American Musical, a guest post by Maisie

Today as part of our week dedicated to Broadway musicals, because why not, teen librarian Maisie shares with us a list of read-alikes for the hit musical Hamilton.

Hamilton: An American Musical, for those who don’t know, is a hip-hop musical that follows the life of Alexander Hamilton–you know, the founding father? It follows Hamilton from his arrival in the US to the end of his life, spanning the Revolutionary War, his marriage, and the founding of the United States.  It has become a cultural touchstone and broke the record for the most Tony nominations in 2016! While I love the music, the humor, and the fact there are several songs that make me weep uncontrollably; my favorite part of this musical is I can talk to theater kids and non-theater kids about it at my library. Everyone loves Hamilton, and that’s pretty amazing!

Their performance from the 70th Annual Tony Awards features the original cast and has a fun cameo from Barack and Michelle Obama!

But people love Hamilton for different reasons, so the read-a-likes below are broken into three categories: books for teens who loved Alexander Hamilton the person, books for teens who loved the hip-hop, and books for teens who loved this take on history. Find those suggestions below:
             

If you loved Alexander Hamilton the person:

Alex & Eliza : a Love Story by Melissa De la Cruz

When Alex and Eliza meet one fateful night, an epic love story begins that would forever change the course of American history. The first book of a recently finished trilogy!

Hamilton and Peggy! A Revolutionary Friendship by Laura Elliot

In the throes of the Revolutionary War, Peggy Schuyler finds herself a central figure amid Loyalists and Patriots, spies and traitors, friends and family. Among those friends, she develops a relationship with Alexander Hamilton, who becomes romantically involved with her sister, Eliza.

Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin Manuel Miranda 

This book offers a behind-the-scenes view of Hamilton the musical, detailing the many dramatic episodes in Alexander Hamilton’s life.

Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow 

Though a longer adult biography, this is also the biography of Hamilton that inspired the musical and totally approachable for older teens!

Alexander Hamilton : the graphic history of an American founding father by Jonathan Henessey

This complete graphic novel-style biography presents the life and legacy of one of the most influential figures in United States history.

Alexander Hamilton, Revolutionary by Martha Brockenbrough 

Complex, passionate, brilliant, flawed? Alexander Hamilton comes alive in Martha Brockenbrough’s exciting biography Alexander Hamilton: Revolutionary, which is an essential read fans of Hamilton.

If you loved the hip-hop:

On The Come Up by Angie Thomas

Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least win her first battle. As the daughter of an underground hip hop legend who died right before he hit big, Bri’s got massive shoes to fill. So Bri pours her anger and frustration into her first song, which goes viral…for all the wrong reasons.

Let Me Hear a Rhyme by Tiffany D. Jackson

When a young black teen is murdered, his two best friends decide to keep his memory alive by promoting his music — rhymes that could turn any hangout into a party — with the help of his younger sister, Jasmine, who is out for justice. As the buzz builds, it forces Quadir, Jarrell, and Jasmine, to each confront the death in their own ways.

Rani Patel in Full Effect by Sonia Patel

Rani Patel, almost seventeen and living on remote Moloka’i island, is oppressed by the cultural norms of her Gujarati immigrant parents but when Mark, an older man, draws her into new experiences red flags abound.

Spin by Lamar Giles

When DJ ParSec (Paris Secord), rising star of the local music scene, is found dead over her turntables, the two girls who found her are torn between grief for Paris and hatred for each other–but when the lack of obvious suspects stalls the investigation, and the police seem to lose interest, the two girls unite, determined to find out who murdered their friend.

After Tupac and D Foster by Jacqueline Woodson

In the New York City borough of Queens in 1996, three girls bond over their shared love of Tupac Shakur’s music, as together they try to make sense of the unpredictable world in which they live.

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo 

Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking. But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, she discovers slam poetry, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself like prayers, especially after she catches feelings for a boy in her bio class named Aman, who her family can never know about.

If you loved the history…

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the nation. 1, The pox party by M.T. Anderson

Various diaries, letters, and other manuscripts chronicle the experiences of Octavian, a young African American, from birth to age sixteen, as he is brought up as part of a science experiment in the years leading up to and during the Revolutionary War.

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

Henry “Monty” Montague was bred to be a gentleman. His passions for gambling halls and late nights spent with a bottle of spirits have earned the disapproval of his father. His quest for pleasures and vices have led to one last hurrah as Monty, his best friend and crush Percy, and Monty’s sister Felicity begin a Grand Tour of Europe. When a reckless decision turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt, it calls into question everything Monty knows.

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson

After being sold to a cruel couple in New York City, a slave named Isabel spies for the rebels during the Revolutionary War.

Wicked Girls by Stephanie Hemphill

A fictionalized account, told in verse, of the Salem witch trials, told from the perspective of three young women living in Salem in 1692–Mercy Lewis, Margaret Walcott, and Ann Putnam, Jr.

My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand

You may think you know the story. Penniless orphan Jane Eyre begins a new life as a governess at Thornfield Hall, where she meets one dark, brooding Mr. Rochester–and, Reader, she marries him. Or does she? Prepare for an adventure of Gothic proportions, in which all is not as it seems…

Fever, 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson

In 1793 Philadelphia, sixteen-year-old Matilda Cook, separated from her sick mother, learns about perseverance and self-reliance when she is forced to cope with the horrors of a yellow fever epidemic.

The Notorious Benedict Arnold : a True Story of Adventure, Heroism, and Treachery by Steve Sheinkin

Most people know that Benedict Arnold was America’s first, most notorious traitor. Few know that he was also one of its greatest war heroes. Packed with first-person accounts, astonishing battle scenes, and surprising twists, this is a gripping and true adventure tale.

Meet Our Guest Blogger

Maisie is a teen librarian for the White Oak Library District who loves musicals, bogs, and Diana Wynne Jones novels. They live with two fat cats and way too many plants. 

Read Wild: Shark Week!

Happy Shark Week!  Last week I spent some time out on a local whale watching trip, but sadly we didn’t see any whales (or sharks).  It was the only trip this summer that they didn’t see any whales.  Maybe I’m bad luck? 

Luckily, Shark Week in NJ is always fun, especially for those of us who live along the Jersey Shore.  The Jersey Shore shark attacks of 1916 get a lot of play during the summer months.

The Jersey Shore shark attacks of 1916 even get highlighted in the popular juvenile fiction series I Survived

Shark Week is a little crazy these days (so many celebrity shark shows!), but sharks are still some of the most fascinating creatures in the ocean.  Why not spend some time this summer reading about these amazing creatures?  

The Line Tender by Kate Allen is one of the best books I’ve read this year.  It straddles that mystical line between upper middle grade and the entry into young adult books.  Lucy’s mom, a marine biologist who studied sharks, died a few years ago. Since then, it’s been Lucy and her dad taking care of each other.  When tragedy once against strikes Lucy, she becomes fiercely devoted to a shark research project her mother was heading up before her death. Full of gorgeous illustrations and lots of cool shark info, this is a perfect read for Shark Week! Plus, it works great with some of the current shark sightings in and around Cape Cod.  

Close to Shore: The Terrifying Shark Attacks of 1916 by Michael Capuzzo is a heart-pounding narrative nonfiction RIDE.  In 1916 the Jersey Shore was a resort paradise that people from all over the country (and even world) visited.  Over 12 days in July, everything changed. A shark (likely a great white), attacked five people and killed four of them.  One of the attacks took place ten miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean! This obviously set off wave of panic that led to shark hunts aimed at eliminating the shark(s).  This isn’t a book I’d recommend reading on the beach….

Speaking of great whites……Neighborhood Sharks by Katherine Roy is a must-read this Shark Week.  Katherine Roy was lucky enough to visit California’s Farallon Islands in 2012 to observe  the great white sharks that migrate there to dine on seals. The islands can only be visited by scientists, so Roy’s book provides a rare glimpse of these sharks in their natural habitat.  This is a stunning book that will enthrall children and adults this Shark Week.


And last but not least, you could always read Ibsen’s “An Enemy of the People” and then watch Jaws! Ibsen’s play, about the effects of pollution on a small town,  influenced Peter Benchley’s Jaws and, of course, the movie of the same name.

Read the Rainbow: An LGBTQIA+ YA Lit Infographic

As I mentioned earlier, we’ve been doing a lot of youth staff training on diversity and inclusion at the Fort Worth Public Library. My supervisor, Kathryn King, and I recently talked with library staff about LGBTQIA+ literature for youth of all ages. Today, I’m going to share with you some of the YA/Teen Literature information we shared with staff.

To create the information you see below, I adapted a tool I had previously created. I spent months reading and working with a variety of trusted and respected experts in the field. I also shared this on Twitter to get feedback. What you see below is the culmination of months of research and vetting. That being said, it’s important that you know that the number one determination after quality to get on this infographic is that we had to have multiple copies in our system. It’s an RA tool to help staff connect patrons with books so we are looking specifically for books that our library system owns.

I want to give special thanks to Dahlia Adler from LGBTQ Reads who gave a lot of her personal time and energy to help me make sure that I got this right for our teens. Any mistakes made, however, are mine and just means that I got one of her feedback notes wrong.

Although we focused on fiction, there is one award winning nonfiction title that I highly recommend every one read:

Resources

LGBTQ Reads https://lgbtqreads.com/

YA Pride Masterlist http://www.yapride.org/masterlist/

10 Transgender/Nonbinary YA Titles (not all Own Voices) https://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/teen/10-great-ya-novels-transgendernonbinary-main-characters/

Queer Books for Teens http://queerbooksforteens.com

Our Most Anticipated LGBTQAP YAs of 2019: July – December

Middle Grade LGBTQ Reads

LGBTQ Reads for Middle Graders

Great LGBTQ Inclusive Picture & Middle Grade Books

LGBTQ Science Fiction and Fantasy YA by Own Voices Authors https://bookriot.com/2017/02/15/lgbtqa-science-fiction-and-fantasy-ya-by-ownvoices-authors/

#OwnVoices LGBTQ Reads https://bookishnessandtea.wordpress.com/2017/06/21/50-ownvoices-queer-books-to-read-this-pride-month/

Barnes and Noble: 25 YA #OwnVoices of 2019 https://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/teen/25-of-our-most-anticipated-ownvoices-must-reads-of-2019/

Best own voice LGBTQIAP+ books https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/105318.Best_own_voice_LGBTQIAP_books

Resources for Building a Collection and Supporting LGBTQIA+ Teens

Things to Consider Regarding Own Voices and LGBTQIA+ Lit

The Problem with #OwnVoices and LGBTQIA+ literature: There’s one more aspect to #ownvoices in LGBTQ lit: the pressure to be an out author. See: https://bookriot.com/2017/04/21/the-problem-with-ownvoices-lgbtq-lit/

And always be sure and check here at TLT as Amanda MacGregor works hard every month to share lists of new and forthcoming LGBTQIA+ books to share with teens.

Cindy Crushes Programming: Find a Good Book with Miss Cindy

Today librarian Cindy Shutts is sharing with us how she turned reader’s advisory into a simple yet fun and effective program.

I love Reader’s Advisory! It is one of my favorite things to do. I try to read as many books as I can.  Every year I like to do a Reader’s Advisory based program called Find a Book with Miss Cindy. To make the program more fun and appealing, I provide snacks. Teens love food!

This is a pretty simple program. I give everyone a Reader’s Advisory survey and have them fill them out (see the end of this post). I let them enjoy the juice and snacks as they fill out the surveys. One question I receive is “Do I have to check out books to attend?” I let them know that they do not have to check out materials. I will have materials available to check out if they wish, but it is certainly not a requirement. I know not everyone is able to check out materials for a variety of reasons and I don’t want them to feel unwelcome. I want to be able to give them recommendations even if it does not help circulation. I often look at thrift stores for books for teens to make sure they have access to books. If they can’t check a book out, maybe they can still take one home.

I set up tables with some of my favorite books on them. Often books are checked out and I have to use older titles that are in and available at the time of this program.

An important note: Please include many own voices books. This is so important. My teens often look for own voices books and really need them. When putting together any time of display or RA you should always make sure that you have a diverse and inclusive variety of books available so that every teen who walks through your door is represented.

After teens fill out the survey, I then work with them individually to help them find a book that I think best matches their interests and past reading experience. I go to the table of books and start to pick them out for the teens based on the results of their survey. I often bring them to the table with me, particularly if I know they have read a lot of the books. This helps me know what they have already read. My goal is simple: to try and connect them with some new books that they might enjoy reading based on their survey.

Find a Good Book with Miss Cindy

Book Survey

  • Name your favorite authors?
  • Name your favorite books?
  • What genres do you like?
  • What movies and TV shows do you watch?
  • What video games do you enjoy?
  • Do you have any hobbies?

Notes

Final thoughts: This is one of my favorite programs to do. It is cheap and fun. Everyone usually leaves happy. One reader had read pretty much everything, but a copy of On The Come Up by Angie Thomas has just come and I could give that to them. It’s a pretty rewarding experience. This program is great for prolific readers or readers who are new to young adult books.

#ProtectTransKids: A Reading List

ifiwasyourgirlIf I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

A new kind of big-hearted novel about being seen for who you really are.

Amanda Hardy is the new girl in school. Like anyone else, all she wants is to make friends and fit in. But Amanda is keeping a secret, and she’s determined not to get too close to anyone.

But when she meets sweet, easygoing Grant, Amanda can’t help but start to let him into her life. As they spend more time together, she realizes just how much she is losing by guarding her heart. She finds herself yearning to share with Grant everything about herself, including her past. But Amanda’s terrified that once she tells him the truth, he won’t be able to see past it.

Because the secret that Amanda’s been keeping? It’s that at her old school, she used to be Andrew. Will the truth cost Amanda her new life, and her new love?

Meredith Russo’s If I Was Your Girl is a universal story about feeling different—and a love story that everyone will root for.

 

 

graysonGracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky

What if who you are on the outside doesn’t match who you are on the inside?

Grayson Sender has been holding onto a secret for what seems like forever: “he” is a girl on the inside, stuck in the wrong gender’s body. The weight of this secret is crushing, but sharing it would mean facing ridicule, scorn, rejection, or worse. Despite the risks, Grayson’s true self itches to break free. Will new strength from an unexpected friendship and a caring teacher’s wisdom be enough to help Grayson step into the spotlight she was born to inhabit?

Debut author Ami Polonsky’s moving, beautifully-written novel about identity, self-esteem, and friendship shines with the strength of a young person’s spirit and the enduring power of acceptance.

 

 

george1George by Alex Gino

BE WHO YOU ARE.

When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she’s not a boy. She knows she’s a girl.

George thinks she’ll have to keep this a secret forever. Then her teacher announces that their class play is going to be Charlotte’s Web. George really, really, REALLY wants to play Charlotte. But the teacher says she can’t even try out for the part . . . because she’s a boy.

With the help of her best friend, Kelly, George comes up with a plan. Not just so she can be Charlotte — but so everyone can know who she is, once and for all.

 

 

when the moonWhen the Moon was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

To everyone who knows them, best friends Miel and Sam are as strange as they are inseparable. Roses grow out of Miel’s wrist, and rumors say that she spilled out of a water tower when she was five. Sam is known for the moons he paints and hangs in the trees and for how little anyone knows about his life before he and his mother moved to town. But as odd as everyone considers Miel and Sam, even they stay away from the Bonner girls, four beautiful sisters rumored to be witches. Now they want the roses that grow from Miel’s skin, convinced that their scent can make anyone fall in love. And they’re willing to use every secret Miel has fought to protect to make sure she gives them up.

Atmospheric, dynamic, and packed with gorgeous prose, When the Moon was Ours is another winner from this talented author.

 

 

what we leftWhat We Left Behind by Robin Talley

From the critically acclaimed author of Lies We Tell Ourselves comes an emotional, empowering story of what happens when love may not be enough to conquer all

Toni and Gretchen are the couple everyone envied in high school. They’ve been together forever. They never fight. They’re deeply, hopelessly in love. When they separate for their first year at college—Toni to Harvard and Gretchen to NYU—they’re sure they’ll be fine. Where other long-distance relationships have fallen apart, theirs is bound to stay rock-solid.

The reality of being apart, though, is very different than they expected. Toni, who identifies as genderqueer, meets a group of transgender upperclassmen and immediately finds a sense of belonging that has always been missing, but Gretchen struggles to remember who she is outside their relationship.

While Toni worries that Gretchen won’t understand Toni’s new world, Gretchen begins to wonder where she fits in this puzzle. As distance and Toni’s shifting gender identity begin to wear on their relationship, the couple must decide—have they grown apart for good, or is love enough to keep them together?

 

 

lizardLizard Radio by Pat Schmatz

In a futuristic society run by an all-powerful Gov, a bender teen on the cusp of adulthood has choices to make that will change her life—and maybe the world.

Fifteen-year-old bender Kivali has had a rough time in a gender-rigid culture. Abandoned as a baby and raised by Sheila, an ardent nonconformist, Kivali has always been surrounded by uncertainty. Where did she come from? Is it true what Sheila says, that she was deposited on Earth by the mysterious saurians? What are you? people ask, and Kivali isn’t sure. Boy/girl? Human/lizard? Both/neither? Now she’s in CropCamp, with all of its schedules and regs, and the first real friends she’s ever had. Strange occurrences and complicated relationships raise questions Kivali has never before had to consider. But she has a gift—the power to enter a trancelike state to harness the “knowings” inside her. She has Lizard Radio. Will it be enough to save her? A coming-of-age story rich in friendships and the shattering emotions of first love, this deeply felt novel will resonate with teens just emerging as adults in a sometimes hostile world.

 

 

some assemblySome Assembly Required: The Not-So-Secret Life of a Transgender Teen by Arin Andrews

Seventeen-year-old Arin Andrews shares all the hilarious, painful, and poignant details of undergoing gender reassignment as a high school student in this winning first-of-its-kind memoir. Now with a reading group guide and an all-new afterword from the author!

In this revolutionary first-of-its-kind memoir, Arin Andrews details the journey that led him to make the life-transforming decision to undergo gender reassignment as a high school junior. In his captivatingly witty, honest voice, Arin reveals the challenges he faced as a boy in a girl’s body, the humiliation and anger he felt after getting kicked out of his private school, and all the changes—both mental and physical—he experienced once his transition began.

Some Assembly Required is a true coming-of-age story about knocking down obstacles and embracing family, friendship, and first love. But more than that, it is a reminder that self-acceptance does not come ready-made with a manual and spare parts. Rather, some assembly is always required.Now with a reading group guide and an all-new afterword from the author!

In this revolutionary first-of-its-kind memoir, Arin Andrews details the journey that led him to make the life-transforming decision to undergo gender reassignment as a high school junior. In his captivatingly witty, honest voice, Arin reveals the challenges he faced as a boy in a girl’s body, the humiliation and anger he felt after getting kicked out of his private school, and all the changes—both mental and physical—he experienced once his transition began.

Some Assembly Required is a true coming-of-age story about knocking down obstacles and embracing family, friendship, and first love. But more than that, it is a reminder that self-acceptance does not come ready-made with a manual and spare parts. Rather, some assembly is always required.

 

 

rethinkingRethinking Normal: A Memoir in Transition by Katie Rain Hill

In her unique, generous, and affecting voice, nineteen-year-old Katie Rain Hill shares her personal journey of undergoing gender reassignment. Now with a reading group guide!

Katie Rain Hill realized very young that a serious mistake had been made; she was a girl who had been born in the body of a boy. Suffocating under her peers’ bullying and the mounting pressure to be “normal,” Katie tried to take her life at the age of eight years old. After several other failed attempts, she finally understood that “Katie”—the girl trapped within her—was determined to live.

In this first-person account, Katie reflects on her pain-filled childhood and the events leading up to the life-changing decision to undergo gender reassignment as a teenager. She reveals the unique challenges she faced while unlearning how to be a boy and shares what it was like to navigate the dating world—and experience heartbreak for the first time—in a body that matched her gender identity.

Told in an unwaveringly honest voice, Rethinking Normal is a coming-of-age story about transcending physical appearances and redefining the parameters of “normalcy” to embody one’s true self.

 

 

being jazzBeing Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen by Jazz Jennings

Teen activist and trailblazer Jazz Jennings—named one of “The 25 Most Influential Teens” of the year by Time—shares her very public transgender journey, as she inspires people to accept the differences in others while they embrace their own truths.

Jazz Jennings is one of the youngest and most prominent voices in the national discussion about gender identity. At the age of five, Jazz transitioned to life as a girl, with the support of her parents. A year later, her parents allowed her to share her incredible journey in her first Barbara Walters interview, aired at a time when the public was much less knowledgeable or accepting of the transgender community. This groundbreaking interview was followed over the years by other high-profile interviews, a documentary, the launch of her YouTube channel, a picture book, and her own reality TV series—I Am Jazz—making her one of the most recognizable activists for transgender teens, children, and adults.

In her remarkable memoir, Jazz reflects on these very public experiences and how they have helped shape the mainstream attitude toward the transgender community. But it hasn’t all been easy. Jazz has faced many challenges, bullying, discrimination, and rejection, yet she perseveres as she educates others about her life as a transgender teen. Through it all, her family has been beside her on this journey, standing together against those who don’t understand the true meaning of tolerance and unconditional love. Now Jazz must learn to navigate the physical, social, and emotional upheavals of adolescence—particularly high school—complicated by the unique challenges of being a transgender teen. Making the journey from girl to woman is never easy—especially when you began your life in a boy’s body.

 

 

Note: A previous version of this list included Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin. It’s come to our attention that it may not be the best book to recommend, for various reasons, so we chose to remove it. 

 

#SJYALit Reading Lists: Disability in YA Lit, a guest post by Natalie Korsavidis

sjyalitAs part of our 2017 Social Justice in Young Adult Literature project, we will be posting reading lists on various social justice-related subjects. Guest blogger Natalie Korsavidis pulled together this one on disabilities. We will mainly be focusing on books published after 2000. We encourage you to add any other titles you can think of in the comments. Interested in generating a list for us? Let us know! I’m @CiteSomething on Twitter. See more about the #SJYALit project here.

 

Disabilities Fiction

Annotations for titles from alisweb.org, publisher descriptions, and NoveList. Shout-out to Disability in Kidlit, where additional research was done. 

 

dark daysBerk Josh. The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin. Alfred A. Knopf, 2010.
When Will Halpin transfers from his all-deaf school into a mainstream Pennsylvania high school, he faces discrimination and bullying, but still manages to solve a mystery surrounding the death of a popular football player in his class.

 

 

shark girlBingham, Kelly. Shark Girl. Candlewick Press, 2007.
After a shark attack causes the amputation of her right arm, fifteen-year-old Jane, an aspiring artist, struggles to come to terms with her loss and the changes it imposes on her day-to-day life and her plans for the future.

 

 

 

iron trialBlack, Holly. The Iron Trial. Scholastic, 2014.
All his life Callum Hunt has been warned by his father that practicing magic is a guaranteed death sentence. When Call is summoned to attend the entrance exams for The Magisterium, he promises his father he will deliberately fail the test to avoid the dangerous lure of magic school. Unfortunately, magic is in Call’s blood, and though his permanent limp and sarcastic attitude do not appear to serve him well during testing, he is selected with two other “Iron Years” to be a pupil of the greatest mage of all, Master Rufus.

 

 

read my lipsBrown, Teri. Read My Lips. Simon Pulse, 2008.
Serena just wants to fly under the radar at her new school. But Serena is deaf, and she can read lips really well-even across the busy cafeteria. So when the popular girls discover her talent, there’s no turning back.

 

 

 

blindsidedCummings, Priscilla. Blindsided. Dutton Children’s Books, 2010.
After years of failing eyesight, fourteen-year-old Natalie reluctantly enters a school for the blind, where in spite of her initial resistance she learns the skills that will help her survive in the sighted world.

 

 

 

the one thingCurtis, Marci Lynn. The One Thing. Hyperion, 2015.
After losing her sight–and the future she dreamed of–seventeen-year-old Maggie meets the one person with the ability to help her see all the possibilities life still holds.

 

 

 

blindDeWoskin, Rachel. Blind. Viking, 2014.
After a horrific accident leaves her blind, fifteen-year-old Emma, one of seven children, eagerly starts high school as a sophomore, and finds that nearly everything has changed–sometimes for the better.

 

 

 

gameworldFarley, Christopher John. Game World. Akashic Books, 2013.
A virtual game world called Xamaica becomes real for three Jamaican sixth graders, who embark upon a quest through a fantastical landscape laden with Caribbean mythology.

 

 

 

pinnedFlake, Sharon. Pinned. Scholastic, 2012.
Adonis is smart, intellectually gifted and born without legs; Autumn is strong, a great wrestler, and barely able to read in ninth grade–but Autumn is attracted to Adonis and determined to make him a part of her life whatever he or her best friend thinks.

 

 

 

dangerousHale, Shannon. Dangerous. Bloomsbury, 2014.
When aspiring astronaut Maisie Danger Brown, who was born without a right hand, and the other space camp students get the opportunity to do something amazing in space, Maisie must prove how dangerous she can be and how far she is willing to go to protect everything she has ever loved.

 

 

push girlHill, Chelsie. Push Girl. St. Martin’s Griffin, 2014.
Kara, a high school junior, is popular with a great group of friends, an amazing boyfriend, and expectations of being Homecoming Queen until she leaves a party angry and wakes up in a hospital bed, paralized from the waist down, but as she is forced to adjust to her new physical reality, she also learns that her friends are not who they seemed to be.

 

 

five flavorsJohn, Antony. Five Flavors of Dumb. Dial Books, 2010.
Eighteen-year-old Piper becomes the manager for her classmates’ popular rock band, called Dumb, giving her the chance to prove her capabilities to her parents and others, if only she can get the band members to get along.

 

 

 

accidentsJohnson, Harriet. Accidents of Nature. Holt, 2006.
Having always prided herself on blending in with “normal” people despite her cerebral palsy, seventeen-year-old Jean begins to question her role in the world while attending a summer camp for children with disabilities.

 

 

 

wiredmanKaufman, Sashi. Wired Man and Other Freaks of Nature. Lerner Publishing Group, 2016.
Ben has to wear hearing aids, but being inseparable from the super-popular Tyler allows him to think of himself as normal. But Tyler blows him off senior year and Ben needs to rethink who he is–and who Tyler is.

 

 

 

RUNKeplinger, Kody. Run. Scholastic Press, 2016.
Bo Dickinson is a seventeen-year-old girl from a bad family, but she is also over-protected, legally blind, Agnes Atwood’s best friend–so when Bo calls in the middle of the night, desperate to get out of town, Agnes helps her to steal the Atwoods’ car and the two girls go on the run, even though Agnes is not sure exactly what they are running from.

 

 

stoner andKoertge, Ron. Stoner and Spaz. Candlewick Press, 2002.
A troubled youth with cerebral palsy struggles toward self-acceptance with the help of a drug-addicted young woman.

 

 

 

not if iLindstrom, Eric. Not if I See You First. Poppy, Little Brown, and Company, 2015.
Blind sixteen-year-old Parker Grant navigates friendships and romantic relationships, including a run-in with a boy who previously broke her heart, while coping with her father’s recent death.

 

 

 

silenceLytton, Deborah Lynn. Silence. Shadow Mountain, 20015.
After an accident robs Stella of her hearing and her dream of going to Broadway, she meets Hayden, a boy who stutters, and comes to learn what it truly means to connect and communicate in a world filled with silence.

 

 

the callO’Guilin, Peadar. The Call. Scholastic, 2016.
For the last twenty-five years every teenager in Ireland has been subject to “the call” which takes them away to the land of the Sídhe, where they are hunted for twenty four hours. Handicapped by her twisted legs, Nessa Doherty knows that very few return alive, but she is determined to be one of them.

 

 

andromedaPortman, Frank. Andromeda Klein. Delacorte Press, 2009,
High school sophomore Andromeda, an outcast because she studies the occult and has a hearing impairment and other disabilities, overcomes grief over terrible losses by enlisting others’ help in her plan to save library books–and finds a kindred spirit along the way.

 

 

tone deafRivers, Olivia. Tone Deaf. Perseus Distribution Services, 2016.
Ali Collins was a child piano prodigy until a brain tumor caused her to lose her hearing, and now, after meeting Jace, the lead singer of Tone Deaf, her musical and romantic possiblities increase.

 

 

 

hurt goRorby, Ginny. Hurt Go Happy. Tom Doherty Associates, 2006.
When thirteen-year-old Joey Willis, deaf since the age of six, meets Dr. Charles Mansell and his chimpanzee Sukari, who use sign language, her world blooms with possibilities but that of the chimp begins to narrow.

 

 

 

she is notSedgwick, Marcus. She is Not Invisible. Square Fish, 2014.
A London teenager who is blind and her younger brother travel to New York to find their missing father, using clues from his notebook.

 

 

 

 

love-and-firstSundquist, Josh. Love and First Sight. Little, Brown and Company, 2017.
Sixteen-year-old blind teen Will Porter undergoes an experimental surgery that enables him to see for the first time, all while navigating a new school, new friends, and a crush.

 

 

 

stuck inTrueman, Terry. Stuck in Neutral. Harper Tempest, 2001.
Fourteen-year-old Shawn McDaniel, who suffers from severe cerebral palsy and cannot function, relates his perceptions of his life, his family, and his condition, especially as he believes his father is planning to kill him.

 

 

 

running dreamVan Draanen, Wendelin. The Running Dream. Knopf, 2011.
When a school bus accident leaves sixteen-year-old Jessica an amputee, she returns to school with a prosthetic limb and her track team finds a wonderful way to help rekindle her dream of running again.

 

 

 

a time toVenkatraman, Padma. A Time to Dance. Nancy Paulsen Books, 2014.
In India, a girl who excels at Bharatanatyam dance refuses to give up after losing a leg in an accident.

 

 

 

 

reachingZimmer, Tracie Vaughn. Reaching for the Sun. Holtzbrinck Publishers, 2007.
Josie, who lives with her mother and grandmother and has cerebral palsy, befriends a boy who moves into one of the rich houses behind her old farmhouse.

 

 

 

Meet Natalie Korsavidis

Natalie Korsavidis is the Head of Local History/Reader’s Advisory Librarian at the Farmingdale Public Library. She is also in charge of Collection Development for Young adult fiction, non-fiction, graphic novels, and manga.

Take 5 Community Reads for YA

Thinking about doing a community-wide read for teens? You could create a list of companion books for teens inspired by an adult selection like the St. Joseph County Public Libraries did, you could select a book specifically for your teens, or you could encourage the whole community to dive into teen lit by selecting a YA market book for everyone to read. There are lots of options. Check out these five titles that have been used around the country to create conversations, build community, and involve books and programming around books in teens’ lives in a big way.

Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

A contemporary realistic title with broad age appeal can open conversation to a wide audience on a variety of current issues that impact the daily lives of teens.

Selected by Goodnow Library, Sudbury, MA

https://goodnowlibrary.org/news/one-book-one-school/

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

A book with a strong fan base will make promoting the event a lot easier – readers who love the book will be your best advertisement.

Selected by Lenape Regional High School District, Shamong, NJ

http://www.lrhsd.org/domain/35

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Pull in so-called “non readers” by thinking beyond novels. Graphic novels and nonfiction appeal on topic and delivery in a way that gives you a great jumping off point for conversations and programming.

Selected by Newton South High School, Newton, MA

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson

Look to nonfiction about current issues with an engaging delivery to involve high school aged teens and adults for conversations that impact all of us in modern society.

Selected by Fairfield, CT

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

A well loved classic that offers lots of programming potential and builds on the nostalgia factor. Reading it again as a teen might bring surprising realizations for those who skimmed over bits when they were younger.

Selected by Westmont Public Library, Westmont, IL

 

Take 5: Memoirs on writing to hand to aspiring teen authors

“How do you become an author?” We’ve heard teens ask that question every time they meet an author – published, famous, or neither. And we’ve all heard the answer too: read. Read everything. Read more. No, even more than that.

Reading is essential. But more than novels, teens who are firmly dedicated to the writing life will benefit from reading some writing on the craft. Here are five books to hand to teens for inspiration and instruction.

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott

Bird by Bird by Anne LamottLamott’s brief classic on writing (and life) is a must-read for teens seeking with a desire to live a life full of creativity. Her approach is gentle and frank, and full of examples and ideas that will spark action.

Hole in My Life by Jack Gantos

Hole in my life by Jack GantosHow much do you want to be a writer? Why? It took a series of crappy decisions resulting in incarceration on a drug offense for children’s author Gantos to really answer those questions. Hand this Printz Honor book to teens who don’t see a path from their current life to the writer’s life.

A Sense of Wonder: On Reading and Writing Books for Children by Katherine Paterson

A Sense of Wonder by Katherine PatersonAnother path to writing for youth by  Newberry Medal and National Book Award winner Katherine Paterson. This essay collection is culled from her many years of work. It gives insight into the books she has written, why she wrote them, and offers comfort and copious inspiration to those who aspire to write for youth.

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

On Writing by Stephen King

Teens with aspirations of publishing would be well served to learn from one of the biggest publishing successes of our time. King begins his memoir with his path to authorship through poverty and addiction, and into his craft. The second half of the book offers specific instructions and examples of the rules King lives and writes by. Essential reading.

Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them by Francine Prose

Reading Like a WriterReading for the pure joy of reading transports us to different places and times. It helps us connect with each other and with ourselves. What teens will learn over time is that reading for the pleasure of reading is only one way to do it. When I started selecting books for the library, I looked at them differently, just like when I started reviewing books. When I began editing books, yet another way of reading emerged. Here, Prose walks readers through the experience of reading as a writer, looking at successful writers and sussing out what it is about their work that allows for us to connect with it as readers.

Relearning reluctant readers

Einstein quote: the only thing that interferes with my learning is my education

As a librarian, I’ve always tried to champion the reluctant readers. I’ve worked to provide a wide variety of reading material in my collection development ranges – everything from high interest low level books, to compelling nonfiction, to fiction told by and about diverse voices, to comics, image heavy browsing books, and more. When parents would lament about how their teens just don’t read, I’d nod sagely and advise them, as I’d been advised, to give it time and provide ample options for free choice. [Why wouldn’t these parents just chill out and back off?!] I’d assure them that comic books are real books, and that engaging with books on nail art or internet memes is reading, as it’s engagement with the text. All of it, when self-selected, works to create good feelings about books, self confidence, and becomes a scaffold to reading more. I don’t think they believed me a lot of the time.

And then I met a reluctant reader whose resistance to novels just broke my heart: my own kid! Getting to know my daughter as a reluctant reader has completely reoriented me, and yes: it knocked me off my high horse right quick. What I know about her is that she loves stories. She creates them in her mind, in her play, in her notebooks, and on canvas. She listens to them whenever people will read to her, or in audiobook format, she watches them on screens, and she reads them visually in comics. It’s the physical and mental act of reading itself that challenges her and that she dislikes. She is so hungry for stories that her own skill level slows her down so much that it gets in the way of her consumption.

Now. She’s not a teen yet. She’s a developing reader. She needs to learn how to read fluently because it’s a basic life skill, without even addressing the joy of discovery to be found in sinking into your new favorite book. She has to learn it. She has to get better. And I know that in time she will. But it’s hard. It’s hard to know that the path that I know will lead her to happiness is rocky and her feet are bare. It’s hard to hold myself back from taking the book from her and reading for her, letting her get swept away on the magic carpet of words that she so desperately wants to be on.

The fact is though, that she has to read to become a better reader. She needs to do the work that she’s assigned at school, and practice those spelling words, and follow through where her teacher expects it. And though I’ll never stop reading to her and never deny her audiobooks, I may suggest she choose something with a few more words on the page. At least on occasion. Reading is a skill that expands the potential to consume stories, but it isn’t the key to enjoying them. It’s not even necessary for enjoying stories. I live in the intersection of the Venn diagram where a love of stories and a love of reading overlap. She’s not there yet. And that’s ok because she’s in her own circle.

My daughter’s experience doesn’t mean that all of these teens are in the same circle she’s in, but they have a lot going for them. They’re in the circle for “my teacher is encouraging/scary enough that I’m here at the library looking for a book.” They’re in the “my parents really care about me and brought me to the library” circle. They’re in the “I already know what I like, and I already know I don’t like what my [mom/dad/teacher] likes” circle. They’re in the “a librarian in my community cares about what I’m reading and is providing me options” circle.

So back to my interactions with “reluctant reader” teens and their parents. I’ve had a healthy taste of humble pie, and it’s making me more empathetic. These parents – most of them at least – don’t want their kids reading Proust. They just want them reading a full page of text because it’s an important skill to have. We want our kids to succeed, whether they’re actually our kids or not. We all do. And though my lines are still the same: provide options; books are books; all reading is good reading, I say them with a greater understanding of the difficulty of letting the process unfold at its pace, of navigating the wire between “free choice” and “graded assignment” and of the personal stake that these parents feel in both their children’s reading enjoyment, and the academic success that they think it will bring them.