Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

#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.

“Librarians are how libraries speak.” ~ The Bloggess

sundayreflectionsI’ve had a deep, abiding love for the writing of Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess, ever since she introduced the world to Beyonce, the giant metal chicken, and now it turns out she loves me too. And you. And you.  (It’s a few weeks old, but read it now if you haven’t yet.)

Makes your heart swell up, doesn’t it? See how my heart is so swollen up that it’s leaking out of my eyes? Yep.

We cheer the articles lauding the importance of libraries, and we scoff at those marveling at the discovery that librarians don’t all wear buns, and some prefer coding to card catalogs. But to read one like Jenny’s, where it becomes clear that it wasn’t just the library, but the librarians inside it, that made a difference, and to know that we’re still doing the work that makes that quietly dramatic change for our young patrons? Well, I take a different kind of joy in sharing that with my Facebook friends. It’s a sigh of relief that all of this that we do day after day? This matters.

As writing is the craft of the author, reader’s advisory is the craft of the librarian. Authors send their books out into the void, we catch them in and bring them back, and point them home.  The Bloggess is right:

 Librarians are how libraries speak.

We are not just the collectors and caretakers of our materials. We are the voice of the books we have on our shelves, speaking to potential readers when the books themselves can’t. When the books are quiet, or by first time authors, or just different enough that they’re not fitting tidily into the easily marketable genres, we are the voice of those books.

But librarians are the voice of more than what is on our shelves. As R. David Lankes says in this emotional call to action, (which I highly recommend everyone spend 20 minutes on this morning) The Community is Your Collection,

We have the amazing vocation of improving the societies that we are a part of. We are the stewards of our community’s aspirations and goals.”

The people we serve are the most important piece of our collection. How can we be their voice? We are the ears, the heart, the muscle, and the voice of our services, our space and our resources. We are these things not for the sake of what’s inside the building itself, but for the transformative power that they hold when connected correctly with the right people at the right time in the right way with the right support. We are the conduits and the catalysts. A library changed Jenny Lawson’s life when a librarian put those books in her hand, but not because the books were there. It was because the librarian was there, was listening, was able to make that connection, and do it in such a way that made a difference.

Where else in our community can we be?

What other magical connections can we make?

Whose voice will you be?

A book for every heart, a heart for every book

Conversation hearts: they’re the Magic 8 Ball of Valentine’s Day, and today we’re using them to predict your perfect Valentine’s Day book match for the 3rd year in a row. Candy heart images are all created on Cryptogram if you need to print some out for your own book displays.

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
Once inseparable, twins Jude and Noah are trying to find their way towards forgiveness and self acceptance after a series of devastating losses.(KJ)
I'll Give You The Sun
Bleed Like Me by C. Desir
Gannon and Brooks see each other in a world that doesn’t seem to see them, but this is no love story for the ages. Chaos, pain, and self destruction drive them both towards each other on a collision course that leaves a trail of blood. (KJ)

 

Guy In Real Life by Steve Brezenoff
A metalhead and a dungeon master smash into each other in the street late one night. No, that’s not the beginning to some (surely awesome) joke, but the start of a sweet, awkward, and unpredictable relationship that explores gender, reality, identity, and the roles we all play.(AM)
5thWAVE

 

Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero
In the middle of dealing with her father’s addiction, her friend’s pregnancy, and the pressures of senior year, Gabi turns to her diary and poetry to help sort out her own thoughts about identity and sexuality. Her relationship with a smart, respectful, and literary classmate is one of my favorite pairings of 2014.(AM)
pic name

Firebug by Lish McBride
Ava is a paranormal who uses her mind to start fires. She and her two best friends are trapped under contract to the local paranormal crime syndicate. When they are assigned to take out a close family friend, things really heat up. (RW)
pic name

 

Finishing School Series by Gail Carriger
At Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality, students learn the latest in current fashion, dance, and manners. They also learn the fine art of poisoning your husband, wielding a blade-edged fan, and disarming a werewolf. (RW)
pic name

 

Love & Other Unknown Variablesby Shannon Lee AlexanderWhen he meets Charlotte, Charlie struggles with the idea that infinity can be more than a mathematical concept. With a cast of clever friends, sneaky pranks, high emotions, and memorable relationships, this is a John Green readalike if I ever met one. (HB) Chopsticks

 

Starbird Murphy and the World Outside by Karen Finneyfrock
Starbird grows up without ever watching tv, wearing makeup, or touching money in what feels like an idealistic commune. But when she receives her “calling” to leave the commune… at the same time she catches her crush with another girl… she sees that nothing, not even love, is ideal. (HB)
Now it’s your turn fellow #yalit lovers, what #candyheartRA would you share? Share you book title & candy heart phrase on Twitter or in the comments.

Want to make your own hearts? I used this brilliantly simple site and you can too!
Happy Valentine’s Day, from everyone here at the Teen Librarian Toolbox!

 

Dear Well Meaning Adult, Here’s how to buy books for teens on your list.

Dear Well Meaning Adult,

Maybe you’re a relative, maybe you’re a friend, but no matter what, it is so awesome that you want to buy books for teens this holiday season. If you don’t mind, can I give you a few tips about how to buy books that these teens that you so clearly care about will actually read and enjoy? It won’t take long, I promise. I know you’re busy.

gift booksHere are a teen service librarian’s tips on buying books for the different kinds of teens who might be on your list this year.

The teen you don’t know very well, but know they like to read

If you know this teen likes to read, that’s a good first step. Chances are, he or she has read the big blockbusters (you know, the ones with movies out?) or has some favorite authors or genres. Ask for some broad details – realistic or fantasy? historical or contemporary? generally light or generally serious? A good place to start with this kind of teen is the stuff that’s a click or two away from the really popular stuff.  Get the name of a favorite author and look to find his or her first novel. Or check the jacket copy on the books that are front and center and see which authors have provided endorsements or quotes, then look for them. For a voracious reader, you could go one of two ways: try to find the newest, hottest author before they’ve hit it big, or go five to ten years back and find something that was well received back then. Remember – something hot seven years ago was hot when today’s thirteen year olds were still learning to read. For the newest and hottest, well that’s a tricky proposition, especially for a teen you don’t know very well. But look to your local librarian or indie book store owner for personal recommendations. Or check out some amazing teen book review blogs for their picks!

The teen you know who doesn’t read but you know you want to give them a book anyway because they spend too much time doing something other than reading

It happens – I’m not judging, that’s cool. But before you head out to pick up a piece of Quality Literature though, take a minute and think about this gift. Who’s it really for and why?

If you have a beloved favorite title that was so meaningful to you as a young person that you just have to share it, please do. And as you’re doing so, please explain to the teen just why it is so important to you. Open a dialogue and share a piece of yourself with this teen as you do so. Finding caring adults who treat them with respect is a tricky thing for a lot of teens, and if they know that you are one of those people who really cares to hear what they think about something that was meaningful to you, you’ve done them a much greater service than just giving them some snow day entertainment.

If you just want them to get their face out of their phones, think for a minute about why their faces are always in their phones. Do they love celebrity gossip? Gaming? The social interaction? Messing with photography or stop motion animation apps? These are their interests, and chances are you’ll be able to find a novel, nonfiction title, or magazine that dovetails nicely with the stuff they’re already interested in. The goal here is to not shame them about their preferred pastime, but to augment it.

The teen you know and love, whether or not they are avid readers

This is the easy one, because you’ve got access to this person. Sit down and fess up: you want to know them better by learning about what they want to read, what they don’t want to read, whether or not they have a favorite book, and what they think you should read. Take them out for a hot cocoa or go for a jog together and strike up a conversation. This is the gift. This time with you, with you spending more time listening than talking, even if they may roll their eyes sometimes, is part one of your gift to them.

Part two is when you’ve paid close attention and can take this conversation back to your local library where (hopefully) a skilled teen service librarian will be thrilled to suggest some great books that your (hopefully) local indie book store can order for you. And who knows. They may even gift wrap it for free.

In closing, Well Meaning Adult, we librarians want to thank you. Teens need and want people like you in their lives – people who care enough about them to believe that they need more books in their lives. Let us help you find them a book that will make their eyes light up and get a genuine “thank you” before they rush out of the room to dig into it. We know what it’s like when a suggestion falls flat. It kind of sucks. But we get another chance to get it right every day! Let us help you get it right the first time — it’s so much more rewarding. We’ll call that our gift to you.

Sincerely,

Heather & the rest of us YA librarians out there

Five by Five: 5 Speculative Fiction and 5 Contemporary Fiction Books that Buffy the Vampire Slayer Fans Should Read

As a Buffy fan, I will often finish a book and think to myself, that would be a great book for Buffy fans. Sometimes the connections are obvious – vampires, zombies and demons, oh my! Sometimes it has more to do with the tone or the characters. The cast of Buffy had a certain snark about them that not every author can do, so when I find it done well in a book I’m always a little bit tickled. Sometimes, however, the book may not have a touch of paranormal in it at all, but it just reminds me of situations that Buffy and her friends had to deal with – like relationships or grief. So to add more great YA reads to Alexandra Duncan’s list from earlier today, I present you with Five by Five (Buffy fans will know what this means) – 5 more paranormal/speculative fiction titles and 5 contemporary titles that Buffy fans just may want to read.

5 Speculative/Paranormal YA Books for Buffy Fans

Unspoken by Sara Rees Brennan

Unspoken gets that balance of snark and pathos exactly right. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll curse Brennan for breaking your heart and then you’ll beg her for more. And then you’ll get ti because this is only the first book in a series. Kami Glass is in love with the voice in her head, and then one day he shows up. It turns out, he is real. And he is a part of the mysterious family whose secrets helped form the history of the town she lives in. When a body appears in the woods, Kami and her friends set out to discover the truth of the Lynburn Legacy. That’s the title of the series, by the way, The Lynburn Legacy.

Demon Derby by Carrie Harris

What if Buffy joined a roller derby team? That’s how this book reads. Casey joins a roller derby team for reasons, then it turns out not everyone on the team may be exactly what you might call human. Oh – and Harris does a great job creating a snarky, strong female lead that you’ll want to hang with.

Nobody by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Remember that episode of Buffy where the girl starts to literally become a ghost because she thinks nobody notices her – Out of Mind, Out of Sight? If you liked that episode, this is the book for you. Here two teens who are literally noticed by no one are on the run from people who want to use their ability and train them to be assassins. Jennifer Lynn Barnes wrote another great read-alike called Every Other Day that you’ll also want to check out. Every Other Day involves a lead character who fights demons like Buffy, but only every other day because on the other days, her powers seem to disappear.

Mortal Danger by Ann Aguirre

Technically, this is more an Angel read-alike. And when you get into the book and find out more, you’ll understand exactly why. In an effort to exact revenge against all those who almost drove her to commit suicide, Edie finds herself part of a game where she doesn’t know the players, has no idea what the rules are, and it turns out the stakes are really high.

Servants of the Storm by Delilah S. Dawson

This is hands down one of the freakiest and most atmospheric takes on demons I have ever read. A hurricane blows through town, killing Dovey’s best friend Carly. Except Dovey swears she just saw Carly. Soon Dovey is learning things about her town that she never would have imagined and trying to find a way to free her friend Carly from a life time of servitude to those who control the storms.

5 Contemporary YA Reads for Buffy Fans

Bleed Like Me by Christa Desir

Buffy may have been an awesome friend and slayer, but she had horrible luck with the men in her life. First Angel lost his soul and then, you know, stalked her and tried to kill her, but not until he tortured and killed some of her friends. And then there was Spike and their deeply disturbing sexual exploits after Buffy came back not quite right. Bleed Like Me is about an obsessive, unhealthy relationship. It also involves cutting. It’s a bold look at what happens when girls are willing to sacrifice themselves in the name of love that I think everyone should read.

Falling for You by Lisa Schroeder

This is another great read in the Buffy made the worst choices in relationships canon. Rae falls for Nathan. Nathan it turns out is very Angel without a soul/Spike like. She turns to a friend for support, Nathan is not willing to give up so easily.

Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour

Perhaps one of the most celebrated relationships on Buffy the Vampire Slayer was that of Willow and Tara. It took them a while to come together and their relationship was strained – as all relationships are – by a variety of life experiences. Tara had her own past that she had to wrestle with. Willow was just coming off of a broken relationship. Everything Leads to You by LaCour is a beautiful story about two people eventually coming together, even as they must try and figure out who they are on their own.

Death, Dickinson and the Demented Life of Frenchie Garcia by Jenny Torress Sanchez

For me, the most profound episode of Buffy ever was The Body. Suddenly, our little gang was shattered to the very core of their being by this very tragic loss. Anya trying to make sense of this sudden change and the very Anya way in which she expresses her emotions just guts you to the core. Like our Scooby gang, Frenchie Garcia is struggling to understand a recent death. You see, a boy she has always crushed on killed himself – after spending his last night with Frenchie. With the help of a new found friend, Frenchie retraces their steps on that last night of his life to see if she can try to understand what happened, what she might have missed. Because she should have seen something, right? Some clue that this was going to happen so that maybe she could help him.

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Although Buffy had a variety of ghosts, goblins and demons, at the heart of the story it was always about real life. Trying to fit in, finding yourself, working through relationships – these are all the underlying themes of Buffy. I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson is a beautifully told story about grief and forgiveness, two themes that came up frequently on Buffy. A sister and a brother, twins, are left reeling after the loss of their mother. The mother’s ghost may or may not be appearing to help the sister work through that grief so that these siblings can forgive each other and find a way to move forward. This is hands down one of the most amazing books of 2014 and a meaningful exploration of grief and loss.

How about you – what’s on your list of YA lit that Buffy fans might want to read? Please share in the comments.

Take 5: Karen’s TBR Pile (I’ll Show You Mine if You’ll Show Me Yours)

We have come to the point in my year when I have fallen behind in reading the books in my TBR pile. This seems to be a yearly event, maybe I should celebrate with balloons and cake. Please tell me I’m not the only one behind on my reading . . . Anyhow, I thought I would share with you 5 of the titles that I’m reading now or very, very soon. I’ll show you my TBR pile if you’ll show me yours. Ready? Go.

Who R U Really? by Margo Kelly

Publisher’s Description:

Thea’s overprotective parents are driving her insane. They invade her privacy, ask too many questions, and restrict her online time so severely that Thea feels she has no life at all. When she discovers a new role-playing game online, Thea breaks the rules by staying up late to play. She’s living a double life: on one hand, the obedient daughter; on the other, a girl slipping deeper into darkness. In the world of the game, Thea falls under the spell of Kit, an older boy whose smarts and savvy can’t defeat his loneliness and near-suicidal despair. As Kit draws soft-hearted Thea into his drama, she creates a full plate of cover stories for her parents and then even her friends.

Soon, Thea is all alone in the dark world with Kit, who worries her more and more, but also seems to be the only person who really “gets” her. Is he frightening, the way he seems sometimes, or only terribly sad? Should Thea fear Kit, or pity him? And now, Kit wants to come out of the screen and bring Thea into his real-life world. As much as she suspects that this is wrong, Thea is powerless to resist Kit’s allure, and hurtles toward the same dark fate her parents feared most. Ripped from a true-life story of Internet stalking, Who R U Really? will excite you and scare you, as Thea’s life spins out of control.

Karen’s Thoughts: The idea of online safety and Internet stalking is certainly a timely issue. Stalking as a whole seems to be having a moment of cultural relevance, whether it be the new TV show Stalker or Shia LaBeouf’s recent admission that he engaged in some “light stalking” of Alec Baldwin. Maroon 5 was recently called out by RAINN for its video of the new single Animal, which RAINN suggests romanticizes stalking. And of course this week the news of Kathleen Hale’s admission she stalked a reviewer that she had some online interactions with has been all over the place. At the same time, there is no escaping the news of GamerGate and the incredible ramifications it has for the online community. So it seems Who R U Really? is a very timely read. For the record, stalking is always wrong and Internet safety is an important issue we need to keep engaging our teens in conversation about.

Made for You by Melissa Marr

Publisher’s Description:

Bestselling author of the Wicked Lovely books Melissa Marr’s first contemporary YA novel is a twisted southern gothic tale of obsession, romance, and murder. A killer is obsessed with Eva Tilling. Can she stop him, or will he claim her?

When Eva Tilling wakes up in the hospital, she’s confused—who in her sleepy little North Carolina town could have hit her with their car? And why? But before she can consider the question, she finds that she’s awoken with a strange new skill: the ability to foresee people’s deaths when they touch her. While she is recovering from the hit-and-run, Nate, an old flame, reappears, and the two must traverse their rocky past as they figure out how to use Eva’s power to keep her friends—and themselves—alive. But while Eva and Nate grow closer, the killer grows increasingly frantic in his attempt to get to Eva.

For the first time, New York Times bestselling author Melissa Marr has applied her extraordinary talent to contemporary realism. Chilling twists, unrequited obsession, and high-stakes romance drive this Gothic, racy thriller—a story of small-town oppression and salvation. Melissa’s fans, and every YA reader, will find its wild ride enthralling.

Karen’s Thoughts: I read Wicked Lovely years ago and thought it was a really intriguing concept. I am a sucker for stories where people have some type of unique power, all the better if it’s a new power they have to try and figure out, and Marr has proven herself a good author.

Taken by David Massey

Publisher’s Description:

A young crew of five are toughing it out together, sailing around the world on a gruelling charity challenge. They are used to being pushed to the limit, but nothing could have prepared them for being kidnapped.

When they are taken hostage by a notorious warlord and his band of child soldiers, the trip of a lifetime turns into a one-way journey into the heart of the African jungle.

When hope is all you have, survival is all you can fight for.

Karen’s Thoughts: Maybe I should make a Take 5 list of island survival stories! It could include NIL by Lynne Matson, the Phantom Island series by Krissi Dallas, Lost Girls by Ann Kelley, and of course Beauty Queens by Libba Bray. There is also a boat crash and island in The Living by Matt de la Pena. As a longtime fan of The Lord of the Flies, I am always game for a survival story of any type. And child soldiers are a concept that breaks my heart. And the African jungle is always such an intriguing setting. So as you can see, there are a lot of appeal factors here for me.

The Fire Artist by Daisy Whitney

Publisher’s Description:

A forbidden romance literally heats up in this new fantasy from acclaimed author Daisy Whitney.

Aria is an elemental artist—she creates fire from her hands. But her power is not natural. She steals it from lightning. It’s dangerous and illegal in her world. When she’s recruited to perform, she seizes the chance to get away from her family. But her power is fading too fast to keep stealing from the sky. She has no choice but to turn to a Granter—a modern day genie. She gets one wish at an extremely high price. Aria’s willing to take a chance, but then she falls in love with the Granter . . . and he wants his freedom. Aria must decide what she’s willing to bargain and how much her own heart, body, and soul are worth.

In a world where the sport of elemental powers is the most popular form of entertainment, readers will be swept away by a romance with stakes higher than life and death.

Karen’s Thoughts:  Daisy Whitney makes it on to my TBR list because she wrote the very important The Mockingbirds and the very emotionally well done When You Were Here, both of which I recommend. I haven’t read any of her fantasy before, but I’m a huge fan of fantasy so I’m looking forward to this.

Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott

Publisher’s Description:

Life. Death. And…Love?

Emma would give anything to talk to her mother one last time. Tell her about her slipping grades, her anger with her stepfather, and the boy with the bad reputation who might be the only one Emma can be herself with.

But Emma can’t tell her mother anything. Because her mother is brain-dead and being kept alive by machines for the baby growing inside her.

Meeting bad-boy Caleb Harrison wouldn’t have interested Old Emma. But New Emma-the one who exists in a fog of grief, who no longer cares about school, whose only social outlet is her best friend Olivia-New Emma is startled by the connection she and Caleb forge.

Feeling her own heart beat again wakes Emma from the grief that has grayed her existence. Is there hope for life after death-and maybe, for love?

Karen’s Thoughts: In February of this year, this story became real life right here in Texas. Women’s issues like access to birth control, access to abortion, and even things like whether or not we can (or should) charge a pregnant woman for using drugs (which may one day become eating the wrong foods or exercising too much) during their pregnancy are very much in the public conversation at the moment – and they are very controversial, hot button issues steeped in things like people’s personal religious beliefs and personal life experience. Scott is bold to take on such a controversial issue and I look forward to reading this and seeing how she handles it.

These books are all actually in the wild as we speak. This post doesn’t even cover the ARCs on my TBR pile. So I guess I better go get reading. What’s on your TBR pile? Old or new please share in the comments.