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YA A to Z: Let’s Talk About . . . Aromantic and Asexual, a guest post by Bridgette Johnson

It’s the second week of January, which means we’re discussing the Letter A in YA A to Z. Today we are talking about aromantic and asexual with librarian Bridgette Johnson.

You can find out more about YA A to Z here.

yaatoz

Before we delve too deep into our topic, let’s have some super basic broad definitions:

Asexual: a person who experiences no sexual attraction

Aromantic: a person who experiences no romantic attraction

Asexualflag

It’s important to remember these two terms are only a starting point, an umbrella term, especially in regards to asexuality. For example, two more super basic broad definitions are:

Demisexual: a person who experience sexual attraction only after a strong, personal, emotional bond has been established

Demiromantic: a person who experiences romantic attraction only after a strong, personal, emotional bond has been established

The terms above are arguably the four most broad identities. What some people still don’t realize is that you can experience any range of romantic attraction (hetero, homo, bi, pan, etc.) and be asexual. The terms are not one or the other. They are all that feel applicable to you. You may be a romantic asexual. You can be a demihomoromantic asexual. You can be aromantic asexual (often referred to as aro-ace). These identifiers are for romantic and sexual orientation only, not gender identity, which is an entirely separate topic. For the sake of explicitness and clarity, asexuality is a sexual orientation, just as gay, lesbian, bi, and pan are. For romantic asexuals, it’s not either/or. Sometimes it’s multiple things or all of the above.

People experience varying degrees of romantic and sexual attraction. There is no one way to be and there is no right or wrong way to be. There are many, many terms for attraction and chances are there is a term for whatever way you might feel. For example, you might be lithromantic or lithsexual, which is where romantic or sexual feelings are experienced, but there is no desire to have those feeling reciprocated. It’s all a matter of finding the term that fits you, or ignoring all the terms and labels if that’s what makes you most comfortable. You’re also likely to hear/read the word ace used in regards to asexuality. For example, if someone says “I’m ace,” they mean asexual. For those people who are not asexual or aromantic, a couple of terms you’ll often see used are allosexual and alloromantic, which respectively mean someone who isn’t asexual and someone who isn’t aromantic.

You may identify as gray ace, which usually means someone who is asexual, but doesn’t mind reading/watching things about sex, many know a lot of information about sex, and may have sex in their lifetime. It’s also important to note that having sex does not negate a person’s identity as asexual. If you’re asexual, you’re asexual whether or not you have sex. On the other end of the spectrum, some ace people are sex-repulsed, meaning they want nothing to do with sex in almost any form. Everyone’s comfort level is different.

Like all romantic and sexual orientations, aromantic and asexuality are not new. People have always felt this way. We just didn’t always have the right words for it. And it’s super important to remember that romantic and asexual attraction is a spectrum, and like all communities, is not a monolith. What is true for one person may not be true for another.

All of these varied identities within one part of the LGBTQIAP+ community is one of the many reasons we need more inclusive books in YA. For some kids, reading about a character who is aromantic or asexual or aro-ace may be their first exposure, and if that reader sees themself in that character? It could be life-changing and affirming to know they are not alone in the world and their feelings. To discover there is a community for them and what they’re feeling has a name can mean more than could ever be put into words.

Now that you’ve a brief primer on some ace terms, let’s talk about one of the librarians’ favorite things: books!

The availability of aromantic and asexual characters in YA is, to put it nicely, not the best. As with pretty much every other marginalized identity we’re looking for in books, there isn’t enough asexual rep. There isn’t enough intersectionality within the rep, and there isn’t enough #ownvoies rep. But progress is being made.

lets talk about love

Claire Kann’s Let’s Talk About Love has a biromantic asexual main character, Alice, who is a WOC. The cover is wonderfully designed in the colors of the Asexual Flag. I don’t believe it is #ownvoices in regard to Alice’s sexuality, but the author is a WOC and seems to really care about getting all of her rep accurate. You can read more about her editing process and worries here.

dreadnation

Another book that features POC characters is the upcoming Dread Nation by Justina Ireland. Now, Dread Nation is fantastic for about 80,000 reasons, but it’s even better for one specific thing. It has a character, Katherine, who is (minor spoiler) aromantic asexual. Those words aren’t used (this an alternate history where the Civil War was interrupted by the dead rising again as zombies) and no one really referred to people as asexual then. Through a conversation with the main character, Jane, it is clear that Kate is aro-ace. This is the first time I’ve ever read a character in YA that reads as, without any doubt, aro-ace. And it’s totally fine that she is. She’s reassured by her friend that it’s fine and the girls move one to talking about more important things. It is an impeccable scene.

tash hearts

Of course, there are other YA books with characters who are somewhere on the asexual spectrum. Just from 2017 there was Kathryn Ormsbee’s #ownvoices Tash Hearts Tolstoy (MC is romantic asexual), Alice Oseman’s Radio Silence (secondary character is homoromantic demisexual), Mackenzi Lee’s A Gentleman’s Guide To Vice and Virtue (Younger sister of the MC reads as asexual, maybe aromantic, and Lee has confirmed off-page she would be somewhere on the asexual spectrum if she has access to Tumblr. Plus, she’s getting her own spin-off book!), and Julie Murphy’s Ramona Blue (a character is homoromantic demisexual).

So, progress, bit by bit, in fiction and in real life.

Again, the information here in barely the tip of the iceberg. It would next to impossible to cover aspect of asexual and aromantic in one post. Perhaps the most important thing to remember about someone who is aromantic or asexual is that they are not broken. They do not need to be fixed. They are not a late bloomer. They are not a robot or someone who can’t connect with another human being. They will not change when they meet the right person. They are not repressed. They don’t need to try “it” to know for sure. They are not celibate. They are not faking it. They are not broken. I’ll say it again for the people in the back

They are not broken.

For more information about asexuaity and aromantic, visit any of the websites below:

http://www.asexuality.org/?q=overview.html (This is part of the Asexuality Visibility Network (AVEN) and has ton of resources along with forums for those who wish to join the site)

http://www.gayya.org/masterlist-aromantic/ (A list of books with aromantic characters)

http://www.gayya.org/masterlist-asexual/ (A list of books with asexual characters)

https://medalonmymind.wordpress.com/2017/10/29/asexuality-in-ya/ (A mock Stonewall book winner blog; this post specifically is about asexuality in YA. Check out their posts for great YA books with LGBTQIAP+ rep)

http://www.asexualityarchive.com/the-asexuality-flag/ (The Asexual Flag)

http://wiki.asexuality.org/Lexicon (AVEN, mentioned above, has its own Wiki with some commonly used terms on the website and the forums)

http://www.asexualityarchive.com/ (An Introduction sections and many, many posts)

http://asexualawarenessweek.com/ (Features downloadable resources, FAQ, and will announce the 2018 dates for Asexual Awareness Week)

Meet Bridgette Johnson:

Bridgette Johnson has worked in Youth Services in public libraries for four years and bookstores for over nine. She received her MLIS from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville in 2016. She writes fantasy for kids and teens and is thrilled to be a Author Mentor Match Round Three mentee with her middle grade fantasy novel. In her spare time, she loves to travel and attend geek and comic book convention. All opinions and thoughts are her own.

YA A to Z: Telling a Different Amputee Story, a guest post by Mindy Rhiger

It’s the second week of January, which means we’re discussing the Letter A in YA A to Z. Today we are talking about amputees with the librarian and blogger Mindy Rhiger

You can find out more about YA A to Z here.

yaatoz

Perhaps I shouldn’t have chosen to read Phantom Limbs so quickly after reading Shark Girl. But in my defense, who expects another shark attack story?  What are the odds?

shark girl

If you’re reading fiction, the odds are pretty good that there will be a dramatic backstory for each character. That’s what we want, right? Lots of drama? That’s how we end up with so many shark attacks in fiction. When there aren’t sharks, there are tragic accidents that loom over our amputee characters’ pasts. There’s always something, and that something has probably taken away the thing our character loved the most.

I get it. This is a good story.

phantomlimbs

But, if I’m honest, I almost stopped reading Phantom Limbs when it was revealed to be a shark attack that took Dara’s arm. While it’s true that trauma is the cause of the majority of amputations (77%) and less than 10% are congenital like mine, I am tired of reading the same story over and over again. Not all amputees are survivors of trauma, and I expect that shark attacks are the cause of very few of those traumas. Perhaps less than 10%.

That is not to say that Phantom Limbs is a bad story. Nor are the many other stories published for young readers that follow the tragic accident/recovery formula. I’ve really appreciated a lot of what some of these books had to offer. The search for identity outside what people see in Shark Girl, the difference a prosthetic device can make in A Time to Dance, and the mixed feelings that come from getting attention from your physical difference in The Running Dream.

Amputee Awareness: 10 Facts You Should Know

But I admit that what I really want are stories with amputee characters that move away from the tragic accident/recovery formula. I want the few titles I do know of that do this to be more widely read.

I want these things because I get the question “How did you lose your arm?” from kids on a daily basis.

Because I recently had a child reply to my explanation of having been born without an arm with “Um, actually, I’m pretty sure you broke your arm.”

Because most adults never ask about my arm at all. They just assume that disability equals some kind of tragedy, either past (tragic accident) or present (loss of a treasured ability or talent).

Limb Loss Statistics – Amputee Coalition

People think they know my story without ever having to listen to it. Even if they don’t ask they fill in the tragedy from imaginations fueled by pop culture, including books. The truth is that my story is not tragic, and I had no recovery or adjustment period to work through, no loss to speak of. I was born with blond hair, blue eyes, five fingers, and ten toes. It’s an interesting fact about me, but that’s it. It is—has always been—my normal. I have no phantom pain, literally or metaphorically. In my experience, that’s the hardest thing for people to understand.

Disability in Kidlit

I like to think that one day I’ll write a novel for teens that captures my experience in a way that helps people understand, but until I get around to it, I’ll continue to direct readers who are open to a different kind of amputee story to these books:

For Middle Schoolers:

Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling

Red Butterfly by A.L Sonnichsen,

For High Schoolers:

girl-out-of-water

Dangerous by Shannon Hale

Tripping by Heather Waldorf

Girl Out of Water by Laura Silverman.

Meet Mindy Rhiger

Mindy Rhiger is a librarian and a writer in Minneapolis. She likes to read books and spend time with her family. Also, she is a congenital amputee and uses a prosthetic arm in her daily life. You can read more about it on her FAQ: Fake Arm 101. Proper Noun Blog – Twitter

YA A to Z: Adoption Books – Being Discussed, Being Seen, a guest post by Eric Smith

It’s the second week of January, which means we’re discussing the Letter A in YA A to Z. Today we are talking about adoption with the amazing literary agent and writer Eric Smith.

You can find out more about YA A to Z here.

yaatoz

There’s this look.

It’s hard to explain. I’ve never seen myself do it. Sometimes I feel it though. The way my brow furrows, my mouth tightens. I imagine my lips look like they are forming a straight line, like an emoji. It’ll happen, and my wife or my friends who are nearby will sharing a knowing smile.

Someone got adoption wrong again, and everyone is looking at me to see how I’ll react.

I see it all the time. Sometimes its in a book, or something on television, or in one of the many, many Lifetime movies I watch with my wife. You can tell, in that moment, when the writers have no idea what it feels like. What the real questions are. What the real struggle is.

welcome home

But there’s this other look. It’s an expression I keep inside. One that hits me and leaves me quiet and awestruck. My heart swells and I feel that warmth in my chest, as my eyes tear up.

When someone gets it so right.

When they see me.

Six Common Issues Faced by Adopted Adolescents – Adoptive Families

There’s a difference, you know. Between being used as a plot device, and having someone understand your story. Between being discussed and being seen.

Last year, for me, was a year of feeling seen.

Adoption – KidsHealth

I was lucky enough to publish Welcome Home, a Young Adult anthology full of adoption-themed stories from a wide array of contributors, with Flux. When my amazing agent was pitching the project around, a lot of the feedback we got from editors was along the lines of it being “too niche” or “a narrow hook.”

When over a hundred thousand kids are adopted each year in the United States alone, and four times that in the foster care system… that’s a pretty devastating piece of feedback to hear. Because the feedback suddenly isn’t about the book anymore. It’s about you.

You’re being discussed. You’re not being seen.

Adoption in YA Lit – The Hub – American Library Association

Every agent and editor and person in the publishing world will tell you not to take things personally like that, as a writer. It’s all subjective. This didn’t feel that way.

But, the book was picked up. And my goodness, am I endlessly thankful. Last year brought with it many of those quiet moments of awe. Of being seen. Not just because of my little book, but because of what I kept seeing in the world of books and art.

3 On A YA Theme: Adoption – Book Riot

My wife and I started watching This Is Us, a television series that prominently features a trans-racial adoptee who wrestles with his identity and his past. Someone like me. Novels like You Don’t Know Me But I Know You by Rebecca Barrow and The Leavers by Lisa Ko were published, stunning stories of adoption in the world of YA and adult literary fiction. I re-read Autofocus by Lauren Gibaldi and the powerful See No Color by Shannon Gibney.

farfromthetree

And my goodness, Far from the Tree by Robin Benway won the National Book Award. A YA novel about adoption won the National Book Award. I felt my heart wrench in my chest when I saw the celebrations on social media for that beautiful book. A novel that made me feel seen.

A book I wish I had as a teenager growing up.

All this art, all these words and images and stories… they all came at a time when my wife and I were getting ready, as best we could, for the birth of our first child. It’s an odd thing, promoting your book about adoption, with a number of people touched by adoption, right after your first blood relative in welcomed into the world.

10 Things Adoptees Want You to Know | HuffPost

This summer, my first in-print YA novel will be out in the world. The Girl and the Grove. It’s the story of an adopted teenager who finds her biological mother in a hidden patch of woods in Philadelphia’s largest city park… only to discover she might be a magical creature of myth. It’s a story about those “what ifs” that adopted kids think about it, and hold secret in their hearts. It took years to write.

I hope it can live up to some of the great adoption stories that have been coming out, and the ones we’re going to see this year. Like Nicole Chung’s All You Can Ever Know, a memoir I am thirsting for, by one of my favorite essayists writing today.

I hope the story resonates with you, the way the short stories in Welcome Home hit me. How last year’s stories by Rebecca Darrow and Robin Benway broke my heart and gave me hope. I want those novels that came out last year, those books that won awards, to leave you feeling like a main character in your life story, and not just a device. Not a human MacGuffin meant to drive a plot.

Because you’re more than what bad stories have told you. You’re what the good stories have shown you.

That you deserve to be seen.

And I see you.

Meet Eric Smith

ericsmith

Bio: Eric Smith is a literary agent and Young Adult author from New Jersey. His books include the Inked series (Bloomsbury) and the forthcoming novel The Girl & The Grove (Flux). He edited the adoption-themed YA anthology Welcome Home (Flux), and can be found talking about YA on Book Riot’s HEY YA podcast with Kelly Jensen. He lives in Ann Arbor with his wife, son, and corgi.

About Welcome Home

Welcome Home collects a number of adoption-themed fictional short stories, and brings them together in one anthology from a diverse range of celebrated Young Adult authors. The all-star roster includes Edgar-award winner Mindy McGinnis, New York Times bestselling authors C.J. Redwine (The Shadow Queen) and William Ritter (Jackaby), and acclaimed YA authors across all genres, like Adi Alsaid, Lauren Gibaldi, Sangu Mandanna, Karen Akins, and many more. (Flux, 2017)

YA A to Z: Alzheimer’s As a Means to an End, a guest post by L. B. Schulman

It’s the second week of January, which means we’re discussing the Letter A in YA A to Z. Today we are talking about alzheimer’s with author L. B. Schulman. You can find out more about YA A to Z here.

yaatoz

My stepfather, Tom, achieved permanent sobriety the year I turned 13. Unfortunately, decades of alcohol abuse would affect him in ways that my family couldn’t predict. Only ten years after he took his last drink, he was diagnosed with what doctors assumed was Alzheimer’s but turned out to be Lewy Body Dementia, a disease that shares many of the same symptoms. His doctor concluded that alcoholism had a role in triggering this specific form of dementia. Sadly, Tom passed away in 1999.

Latest Facts & Figures Report | Alzheimer’s Association

While writing Stolen Secrets, I struggled to create the character of my protagonist’s grandmother, Oma. One thing I knew about Oma: She had a secret that negatively impacted her family, and yet I didn’t want her to blatantly lie to her granddaughter, Livvy. It was important to me that readers liked Oma, and hey, no one cares for a liar.

stolen secrets

From a literary standpoint, Alzheimer’s was an excellent tool to do all of this and more. Oma could neither fabricate nor tell the truth because the disease had robbed her of knowing the difference. This made it less likely that readers would blame her for what Livvy goes through in order to uncover the truth. I also hoped that readers would feel empathy for Oma’s suffering. Case in point: Her violent reactions to dogs because she can no longer differentiate house pets from vicious attack animals owned by the Nazi’s in Bergen-Belsen.

Resources for Children and Teens About Alzheimer’s Disease

As I discovered with Tom, not all personality changes brought on by the progression of dementia are categorically “bad.” What came out of his mouth could be surprisingly humorous at times. Also, without a fully-functioning memory, he couldn’t hold on to unhelpful emotions like resentment. Although Livvy’s mother recalls her own mom as being cold and unloving, this turns out to not be Livvy’s experience with her grandmother. Much of the time, Oma is affectionate, amusing and sweet, having forgotten the defenses she created to protect her secret in the first place.

I remember how my stepfather’s illness made him appear childlike at times. In surprising ways, he became more endearing as he deteriorated, rather than less so. I believe that this quality was partly what kept my own mother taking care of Tom at home instead of putting him in a nursing facility. Livvy also finds Oma’s new youthful exuberance to be charming, such as when Oma dances around the house in her underwear, free of the social constraints that restrict adults.

WHO | 10 facts on dementia

As I mentioned before, the disease served as a vehicle to maintain a fictional mystery. Without the boundaries provided by a healthy brain, Oma’s immense guilt over a past unsaid could trickle out like a leaky faucet. Some facts slipped though while others became stuck. Much of what she said seemed to warp in ways that felt impossible for Livvy to untangle. I remember once asking my stepfather what he’d had for dinner, and his answer was a lyric from an old Petula Clark song. Dementia turns “memory lane” into a minefield; however, these limitations worked as an effective plot tool because they forced Livvy to unravel the past in proactive, rather than reactive, ways.

I relied on research to pinpoint the exact stage of Oma’s illness: mid-to- advanced. Why so specific? Because these exact symptoms worked best to present clues that could be misinterpreted. For example, Livvy asks Oma to read something. Oma can’t do it. Livvy believes that her grandmother’s inability to read is a function of the specific stage of dementia, which turns out to be a faulty assumption. (Don’t worry, that’s as close to a spoiler as I’ll get.)

Although Alzheimer’s suited my purpose as an author with a plot to tell, there was another reason I wanted to write about the disease Many teens (as well as adults) are facing dementia-related diseases at this very moment, and yet almost no young adult books mention them. The pain that Livvy feels when Oma calls her by the wrong name, for example, is a heart-breaking but common experience for family members who care for a loved one with dementia.

I wrote this book in part to highlight a disease that needs to be talked about. The statistics are scary as our Baby Boomer generation ages. In 2017, Alzheimer’s cost our nation $259 billion. By 2050, those costs are expected to top $1.1 trillion. This year, there are five million Americans living with the disease. In 2050, it’s expected to affect 16 million. The only way around this burden is to find a cure for dementia. Scientists are working diligently on this right now. They need our help. Charitable donations are an investment in our world’s well-being—perhaps one day, even our own or someone we love dearly.

I hope you will get to know Oma as Livvy does—to feel emotionally moved by her painful outbursts as well as her childlike simplicity and affection. Perhaps Livvy’s story will connect readers to human frailty in new ways. Until the time comes when the youngest readers of my book can afford to help the cause financially, my desire is that Stolen Secrets, like the books I inhaled as a teen myself, can heighten empathy in ways that make all of our lives better.

Meet Author L. B. Schulman

STOLEN SECRETS is L.B. Schulman’s second young adult novel. Her debut, LEAGUE OF STRAYS, was published in 2012. She grew up in Maryland and now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, two daughters, and a pair of loveable mutts. When she isn’t writing, she’s visiting genealogy sites, trying to find famous people she’s related to. You can visit her online at LBSchulman.com.

YA A to Z: Alcoholism, In Real Life and in Real Fiction, by by L.B. Schulman

It’s January, which means we’re discussing the Letter A in YA A to Z. Today we are talking about alcoholism with author L. B. Schulman. You can find out more about YA A to Z here.

yaatoz

When I was 13, my stepfather came home with a dim diagnosis from his doctor.  If he kept drinking, he would die within months. That wasn’t hard to believe, honestly. After all, my stepfather was drinking daily. He was bloated, and his face was a map of busted capillaries. When he passed out on the couch, his chest rose and fell in jerks and then went still until he gasped for air as if he’d just shot to the surface of the ocean.

The day after that diagnosis, he came home drunk. I was sure he would be dead by the next morning. Who gets told something like that and goes on to down another drink? But it turns out that this was a calculated move on my stepdad’s part. It involved buying several six packs of beer and drinking one less each day until he reached the last one. This was his final binging hurrah before he stopped cold turkey. From that day forward, he never touched another drop of alcohol.

stolen secrets

My stepfather didn’t die.  In fact, he lived another twenty years before Alzheimer’s took his life. The day after that last beer, he signed himself up for rehab. Not long after, he joined Alcoholics Anonymous and became the poster child for sobriety. After much reflection, and a systematic climb up AA’s Twelve Steps, he became a sponsor to help others who struggled with the destructive disease. For the next few years until I went to college, I remember him bringing a motley crew of “guests” home for dinner. One actually moved into our house temporarily. I remember seeing all the bottles of booze tucked in our trashcan during her stay.

Infographic: Teen Alcohol Abuse

When I created my protagonist’s mother, Gretchen, I knew that she would share this same disease. Because of the specific story I gave her, I figured she would have a harder time becoming sober. After all, her invented childhood was marred by a dysfunction of epic proportions. The only way out of the rabbit hole was to identify the true cause of her burdened childhood.

Teen Corner (Alateen) | Al-Anon Family Groups

Coping With an Alcoholic Parent – KidsHealth

In the meantime, any random stressor might cause Gretchen to drink again. I knew from firsthand experience that it would be hard for her daughter, Livvy, to trust that sobriety would last. She would always live with one eye open to the possibility that her mother might slip up.

Gretchen is an example of someone who achieves sobriety, then fails, and has the courage to try again. This is a tough addiction to beat, and not everyone is successful the first time. Livvy, like many teens dealing with this situation, grapple with an immense resentment at her own blemished childhood, as well as sympathy for her mother’s unexplained demons.

This is where my own experience stops and fiction takes over. Although alcoholism can begin for many reasons, it didn’t seem too far-fetched that it might be an aftereffect of family trauma. It was a common theme that concentration camp victims, for example, didn’t want to rehash what had happened to them, not even with family. Could repression result in dysfunction that’s handed down to subsequent generations? Seemed viable to me, and I wanted to explore it in this novel.

Learn From Their Mistakes: Drugs and Alcohol in YA Literature

After I wrote Stolen Secrets, I discovered that my instinct was spot on. According to the book, “Familial Responses to Alcohol Problem,” the rate of alcoholism in Jewish families went from very low prior to World War I to average after World War II. Something about the experience of war, whether one if fighting or suffering through it, leads to an increase in escapist activities.

Livvy, my protagonist, finds out that her grandmother has a previously unknown connection to Bergen Belsen Concentration Camp. The key to her family’s healing appears to be in the revelation of a carefully-guarded truth. (Not trying to be vague here, but no one likes spoilers, right?)

Young Adult Alcoholic – Types of Alcoholics – Alcohol Rehab

In Stolen Secrets, acknowledging the effects of trauma is the non-existent “Thirteenth Step” that Gretchen must go through in order to be healed. The discovery of what truly happened in Bergen Belsen will offer Livvy, her mother, and grandmother a release from the confines of an inauthentic life.

Living with honesty, whether that be from the understanding of why someone drinks on a simpler level to the exploration of a deeper psychological motivation, is always the most healing path. This is one of the major themes of my book, and I truly believe it.

All Alcoholism books – YA Books Central

Writing about Gretchen has helped me to acknowledge the truth of how alcoholism affected my own childhood. Teens that are going through this with a parent may well identify with the emotions I shared with Livvy, ranging from anger to resentment to understanding to, hopefully, the ability to one day forgive.

I hope that teen readers in a similar circumstance will read Stolen Secrets and realize that determination and honesty can save anyone from anything. After all, hope exists as long as a person doesn’t quash it. Alcoholism may be a lifelong disease, but it doesn’t have to be a life sentence.

Meet Author L. B. Schulman

STOLEN SECRETS is L.B. Schulman’s second young adult novel. Her debut, LEAGUE OF STRAYS, was published in 2012. She grew up in Maryland and now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, two daughters, and a pair of loveable mutts. When she isn’t writing, she’s visiting genealogy sites, trying to find famous people she’s related to. You can visit her online at LBSchulman.com.

The #YAAtoZ Index: The 2018 Project at Teen Librarian Toolbox

It’s 2018 which means we’re kicking off #YA A to Z today!

yaatoz

There are 52 weeks in a year, that means every 2 weeks we will cover a new letter. For example, the first 2 weeks of January we will cover the letter A. The next 2 weeks we will cover the letter B. What will that look like? It can look however we want it to look. Let’s take the letter B for example. There’s author Sarah Rees Brennan, the book Bone Gap, or topics like bisexuality, book boyfriends, best friends (or best anything really), bugs (either literal bugs or the things that bug you about YA), etc. If it starts somehow in someway with the letter B, you can write about it.

  • January – Letters A & B
  • February – Letters C & D
  • March – Letters E & F
  • April – Letters G, H & I
  • May – Letters J & K
  • June – Letters L & M
  • July – Letters N & O
  • August – Letters P & Q
  • September – Letters R & S
  • October – Letters T & U
  • November – Letters V & W
  • December – Letters X, Y & Z

So we’re talking book titles, book authors and book topics. You can make a book list or you can have an in depth discussion. You can be funny or you can be serious. You can be creative. In fact, if you have ever thought I have always wanted to talk about x, y or z but couldn’t figure out a forum for that, THIS is your forum for that.

I think I have successfully created a Google Form that you can fill out to let us know what you would like to talk about here. You can fill it out at any time starting now and throughout all of 2018.

Look for new posts throughout the year!

Authors

YA A to Z: Laurie Halse Anderson

YA A to Z: Libba Bray

YA A to Z: Kristin Cashore

YA A to Z: Sarah Dessen

YA A to Z: E. Lockhart

YA A to Z: Sharon Flake

YA A to Z: Lamar Giles

YA A to Z: Rachel Hawkins

YA A to Z: Justina Ireland

YA A to Z: Maureen Johnson

YA A to Z: David Levithan

YA A to Z: Julie Kagawa

YA A to Z: Tahereh Mafi

YA A to Z: Patrick Ness

YA A to Z: Lauren Oliver

YA A to Z: Stephanie Perkins

YA A to Z: Matthew Quick

YA A to Z: Sarah Rees Brennan

YA A to Z: Jenny Torres Sanchez

YA A to Z: Terry Trueman

YA A to Z: Siobhan Vivian

YA A to Z – Jacqueline Woodson

YA A to Z: Francisco X. Stork (a guest post by Linda Jerome)

YA A to Z: Gene Luen Yang

YA A to Z: Sara Zarr

#YAAtoZ: More letter D author recommendations from Twitter

 

#YAAtoZ: More Letter C Author Love from Twitter

#YAAtoZ: More Letter B Authors from Twitter

#YAAtoZ: More letter A recommendations from Twitter

YA A to Z: An Alphabet Soup of Awesome YA Authors

 

A #YAAtoZ of Reader’s Advisory Booklists

Alice in Wonderland retellings

Aliens: They’re Here: Science Fiction with actual aliens

Apocalypse Survival Tips from YA Lit

Art: Portrait of an Artist, YA characters and art

Assassins: Teenage Assassins in YA Lit

Beyond the Grave: dead narrators

Bio engineering (Frankenstein 2012: YA lit with bio engineering)

Body Image

If You Like Buffy then try these list 1 and list 2

Bullying

Cancer

Comics: Non comic books about comic book culture

Contemporary with Edge (If you like Winger by Andrew Smith)

Dads: #bestYAdad: The best dads in YA lit

Dancing

Death and Dying: Sometimes it is among the dying that we remember to truly live 

Diversity: Middle Grade reads new in 2014 ; Graphic Novels 2015

If You Like Doctor Who then try these and these

Dragons

Dystopias

Eating Disorders

Egypt: Read About Your “Mummy” (and Egypt)

Epidemics list 1 and list 2

Environment: Earth Day Dystopias

Fairy Tales (twisted, of course) and Cinderella Retellings

Faith and Spirituality: Top 10 and Mysteries with a Message

Feminist Books 

Filmmaking

Food: Sweet Reads and Mouth Watering Reads

Freshmen 5: Great reads for HS Freshmen

Friendships, some of the best in YA Lit

GLBTQ: For Annie and Liza and Take 5: Top NEW GLBTQ Titles

Government: Fight the (Abuse of) Power – government in YA lit

Graphic Novels with Diversity

Graveyards: Someone Just Walked Over My Grave: YA lit with graveyards

Haunted Tales

Hearts: Listen to these candy hearts 

High School Survival Pack: Nonfiction to help teens through high school

Historical Fiction: The 80s as Historical Fiction; Going Back in Time Middle School Style and Historical Fiction for Dystopian Fans

Horror: The Stories that Haunt our Childhood: Local legends and superstitions in YA lit, Horrifying Reads for October (recommended by teens)

Israeli Female Soldiers: World War Z and Israeli Females in Teen Reads

M is for Manga

M is for Memoirs

Memorial Day Reads: Honoring those that serve in YA lit

Mental Illness

Music

Mysteries: MG Lit for Sherlock Fans

Myths and Mythology

Nonfiction: Zest Books

Paranormal Romance

Poe, inspired by

Politics: A look at the (abuse of) government in YA fiction

Poverty: Rich Teen, Poor Teen: Depictions of youth living in poverty in YA Lit

Prom Books

Reapers (and Necromancers) in YA Lit

Reproductive Rights in YA Lit

Science: STEM Girls, books with female main characters rocking science and math

Science Fiction (see also Weird Science below)

Seniors: Out with the Old – Great reads for HS Seniors

Serial Killers: I Eat Cereal, but I am NOT a Serial Killer – serial killers in YA lit

Sexual Violence: Because No ALWAYS Means No: YA titles dealing with issues of consent and sexual violence.  See also, this list of titles dealing with sexual violence.

Sexual Violence in the Life of Boys

Sherlock: It’s Elementary

Short Stories

Space, the final frontier (Science fiction that actually takes place in space)

Spies Like Us

Suicide

Supernatural and Psychological Creepers

Tech:  Teen Tech Week: More than just a game and More Teen Tech Week

Teen Pregnancy

Time Travel 

Unconventional Stories:  Books told in nontraditional formats

Under the Sea: Mermaids

V is for Villains

Vampires 

Weird Science 

Witches

Witness Protection: What’s My Name Again? Stories about teens in the witness protection program

Writing: Lists, Letters and More, YA with characters who write

If you like the X-Men then try these: You Could Have Been an X-Men

Zombies

Call for submissions: YA A to Z project

yaatozEvery year, TLT picks a project to work on in addition to our usual book reviews, professional discussions and makerspace and program recaps. Once we decide on our project, we ask you, are brilliant Teen Librarian Toolbox readers, to help us out. These projects began in 2014 with the Sexual Violence in Young Adult Literature Project. We have since then covered faith and spirituality, mental health, poverty, and social justice. You can find all the previous projects here at our projects index.

 

For 2018, we want to create an index of YA literature! YA A to Z will begin in January, which is coming up REALLY QUICKLY, so we need to get cracking on getting some guest posts lined up. 

 

There are 52 weeks in a year, that means every 2 weeks we will cover a new letter. For example, the first 2 weeks of January we will cover the letter A. The next 2 weeks we will cover the letter B. What will that look like? It can look however you want it to look.

 

You can guest post for us about book titles, authors and topics. You can make a book list or you can have an in depth discussion. You can talk programming. You can do an interview. You can be funny or you can be serious. You can be creative. In fact, if you have ever thought I have always wanted to talk about x, y or z but couldn’t figure out a forum for that, THIS is your forum for that.

 

Here is a Google Form that you can fill out to let us know what you would like to talk about here. We try to make guest posting as simple as possible here at TLT, but here is a simple guide if you have any questions.

At the end of 2018, we will have an A to Z guide of YA lit and it will be awesome! Please keep in mind that all previous projects will continue so if you want to write about sexual violence, faith and spirituality, mental health, social justice or poverty, those projects are ongoing.

Schedule: 

  • January – Letters A & B
  • February – Letters C & D
  • March – Letters E & F
  • April – Letters G, H & I
  • May – Letters J & K
  • June – Letters L & M
  • July – Letters N & O
  • August – Letters P & Q
  • September – Letters R & S
  • October – Letters T & U
  • November – Letters V & W
  • December – Letters X, Y & Z

 

Possible post ideas to jump-start your thoughts: 

A: Asexuality, abortion, abuse, anxiety

B: Barriers, bands, book clubs, biographies

C: Cover art, consent, class, courage

D: Disability, diversity, discovery, dance, displays, demisexuals

E: Erasure, exceptions, empowerment

F: Formats, favorites, fat, faith, families

G: Gender, grief, genderqueer, graphic novels

H: Hair, historical fiction, hate, horror

I: Identities, immigration, international YA, inclusion

J: Jobs, justice, jail, jealousy

K: Kindness, kissing books

L: LGBTQIA+, lesbians, lessons, labels

M: Mental health, music, Muslims, movies

N: New books, narration, neutral, normal, nonfiction, nonbinary

O: Orphans, optimism, opinion, organize, out

P: Programs, politics, parents, passages, pet peeves, periods, patriarchy

Q: Queer, questions, qualifications, quiet, quotes

R: Racism, rape, relationships

S: Sex, sexuality, social justice, suicide

T: Technology, teen issues, therapy, transgender, top ten lists

U: Unity, underground, unlikable characters

V: Value, victims, violence

W: Websites, weight, writing, writers

X: Xenophobia

Y: YA wishlist, YA of yore, You need to know about _____

Z: Zombies

The 2018 TLT Project: YA A to Z

Each year in addition to our regular book reviews, professional discussions and makerspace and program recaps, we have a special yearly theme here at TLT that we ask you – our readers – to help us with. It began in 2014 with the Sexual Violence in Young Adult Literature Project. We have since then covered faith and spirituality, mental health, poverty and social justice. You can find all the previous projects here at our projects index.

This year we want to create a kind of A to Z index of YA Literature!

yaatoz

There are 52 weeks in a year, that means every 2 weeks we will cover a new letter. For example, the first 2 weeks of January we will cover the letter A. The next 2 weeks we will cover the letter B. What will that look like? It can look however we want it to look. Let’s take the letter B for example. There’s author Sarah Rees Brennan, the book Bone Gape, or topics like bisexuality, book boyfriends, best friends (or best anything really), bugs (either literal bugs or the things that bug you about YA), etc. If it starts somehow in someway with the letter B, you can write about it.

So we’re talking book titles, book authors and book topics. You can make a book list or you can have an in depth discussion. You can be funny or you can be serious. You can be creative. In fact, if you have ever thought I have always wanted to talk about x, y or z but couldn’t figure out a forum for that, THIS is your forum for that.

Because we want to make sure we get started on the early months, we’re announcing today. I think I have successfully created a Google Form that you can fill out to let us know what you would like to talk about here. You can fill it out at any time starting now and throughout all of 2018. (OMG, how is it going to be 2018?!) And yes, you can write about multiple subjects in multiple posts. We try to make guest posting as simple as possible here at TLT, but here is a simple guide if you have any questions.

At the end of 2018, we will have an A to Z guide of YA lit and it will be awesome! Please keep in mind that all previous projects will continue so if you want to write about sexual violence, faith and spirituality, mental health, social justice or poverty, those projects are ongoing.

Email me, Karen, at kjensenmls at yahoo dot com if you have any questions.

  • January – Letters A & B
  • February – Letters C & D
  • March – Letters E & F
  • April – Letters G, H & I
  • May – Letters J & K
  • June – Letters L & M
  • July – Letters N & O
  • August – Letters P & Q
  • September – Letters R & S
  • October – Letters T & U
  • November – Letters V & W
  • December – Letters X, Y & Z

A note to authors and publishers: If you have a new book coming out in 2018, we wills till be covering your book and offering you a chance to guest post on or near your book release date. The normal day to day of TLT will continue and we frequently post throughout the week.