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With Her Nose Stuck in a Book, a guest post by Jessica Burkhart

Reading has always been my thing. When I was six, my parents were barely able to get me out of my “Belle” costume. I didn’t want to wear the fancy yellow ballgown, no. I was all about the casual blue and white dress that Belle wore as she walked through town and carried a book or two in her basket. I didn’t dream about turning the Beast into a handsome prince, but I did daydream about living in a castle with an expansive library. What more did a girl need?

My love of books propelled me through my elementary school days and I devoured every horse book I could get my hands on, since I’d started riding horses in second grade. My favorite series were Thoroughbred by Joanna Campbell and Bonnie Bryant’s The Saddle Club. If it was a horse book, I’d read it or had it on my list to read.   

In middle school, I relied on books to help me hide from my peers. And I really did want to hide. I’d developed a case of severe scoliosis and even spending 22 hours a day in a back brace didn’t slow the growing hump on my back. I had to stop riding because I couldn’t move without pain and had trouble taking a deep breath. After a spinal fusion in eighth grade and during the long, painful recovery, I devoured Harry Potter.

In high school, I obsessed over YA and romance novels. I adored works by Megan McCafferty and Meg Cabot. Works by these authors helped me feel less alone as a homeschooler who was already a bit isolated from my peers.

By college, I’d written my first book, TAKE THE REINS, and soon landed an agent. My middle grade novel, about equestrians at an elite boarding school, drew inspiration from books that I’d loved as a kid and young teen. While writing the bulk of my series, the books I’d drop anything to read were Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard and Kate Brian’s Private.

My own writing career had taken off and I was living and breathing books. If I wasn’t talking about them with friends, I was blogging or Tweeting about them. I spent one day a week walking down to my Brooklyn neighborhood’s Barnes & Noble and combing the shelves for new reads or discovering old favorites that I’d forgotten. I bought as many bookshelves as my apartment could handle and even then, they weren’t enough to hold all my books.  

But one night, reading stopped being fun. I’d open a book and be flooded with anxiety. It kept happening no matter what kind of book I tried to read. I thought I’d take a break, catch up on some Netflix and the feeling would surely go away.

It didn’t.

I didn’t want to open a book or keep track of new releases or chat with my friends about the huge plot twist in the latest installment in our favorite series. I stopped visiting Simon & Schuster’s office and loading up my backpack with new reads. Everything I’d loved about books was gone and all I could feel was shame. In my eyes, I was broken. I was an author and books were not only my hobby, but also part of my job. I couldn’t tell anyone about being filled with dread if I so much as even thought about reading. So, I quietly muted all my bookish friends on social media. I deleted the Goodreads app. I stopped going to the bookstore.

It took over a year for me to realize that this wasn’t my fault. My severe anxiety and depression that had robbed me of any desire to read were to blame. I considered myself fairly well-versed in mental health topics, but I hadn’t recognized it in myself.

This pushed me to organize an anthology, LIFE INSIDE MY MIND: 31 AUTHORS SHARE THEIR PERSONAL STRUGGLES. I wanted to gather stories from other authors who had struggled with mental health because I didn’t want another person to experience the shame and feelings of worthlessness that I’d struggled with.

The book sold and hit shelves and I was still just coming around to reading. Books still felt daunting and since I couldn’t stop comparing myself to other writers, I fell into fanfiction. I spent almost a year reading nothing but fics written around my then favorite shows—ONCE UPON A TIME and THE VAMPIRE DIARIES.

Last fall, I picked up a book and started reading. Maybe four or five hours later, I looked at the clock and did a quick check in with myself. Sweaty palms? Nope. Fast heartbeat? No. Nausea? Also, nope. Bookish Jess was back and she has been for almost a year.

I’m reading a book every couple days now. If a book doesn’t grab me, I put it aside and start a new one. I’m thoroughly enjoying the feeling of wanting to stay up all night reading, so I don’t try and slog through any books I don’t like. The Goodreads app is back on my phone and my current “want to read” list sits at 1,045 and it grows each week.

If you lose interest in what you love, you’re not broken. You may be depressed. Do what I should have done: talk to someone. Confide in a trusted friend and seek help. You don’t have to be ashamed of your feelings because it’s very likely that you’re not alone in them. A couple of years ago, I thought I’d never read another book and now, I can’t stop. It took a long, long time, but a combination of medication and therapy helped me find my groove again. If you’re missing yours, there is hope. I promise.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to get back to my book.

Meet Jessica Burkhart

Jessica Burkhart is the author of the Canterwood Crest series, the Unicorn Magic series, WILD HEARTS and LIFE INSIDE MY MIND: 31 AUTHORS SHARE THEIR PERSONAL STRUGGLES. She’s sold over 1.5 million books worldwide. Jess is passionate about mental health. She’s teaching classes online next year with The Writing Barn and hopes you’ll sign up. Visit Jess online at www.JessicaBurkhart.com, Tweet her @JessicaBurkhart and follow her on Goodreads.

Cindy Crushes Programming: DIY Alcohol Sharpie Tiles

This was a request by my teens. There are a lot of pictures of this craft on Pinterest so it was pretty easy to figure out what the teens I work with want. There’s a pretty good walk through here.

Supplies:

  • White Tiles
  • Sharpies
  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Droppers
  • Crystal Clear Acrylic Coating Spray

Step One: Prep Your Tile

Get a tile and make sure it is clean.

Step Two: Add Sharpie to the Tiles

I learned that using a lot of Sharpie works best for me. Some teens used a little Sharpie, which worked for them. Metallic Sharpie works, but the regular colorful Sharpies are easier to get a lot of brightness.

Step Three: Add the Alcohol

Add drops of alcohol on the tile and then let dry. This step could take up 45 minutes. You do not want the tile to be completely covered with the rubbing alcohol.

Step Four: Spray the Crystal Clear Acrylic Coating Spray

Be prepared because the whole tile is going to change once you do this step.  I do not recommend having names or special designs that you want to be permanent on the tiles because once you have used the spray it really shifts the Sharpie to give it a nice marbled effect. Let the tile dry. I have the teens do the spraying outside on our children’s patio because the smell is very strong. You could spray it inside, but it would be better to do it outside if at all possible.

Final Thoughts: This was a super cheap craft. I already had extra tiles and Sharpies. A coworker let me borrow her Crystal Clear Acrylic Coating Spray so it allowed me to save money on this craft. This is a good craft for teens that want to hang out with their friends. There is a lot of wait time, but that just makes it a more social craft event.

Graphic Novels for Middle Grade Readers, a contemporary reading list

Graphic Novels are having a moment, and rightfully so. Every tween and teen I know is reading graphic novels. I’ve talked a lot about them recently in terms of the benefits for readers with dyslexia, but the truth is that every middle grade reader I know is reading graphic novels. Particularly, every middle grade reader I know is reading Raina Telgemeier and the Real Friends series by Shannon Hale. So last week I went on Twitter and asked for Reader’s Advisory help. I specifically asked for recommendations of middle grade graphic novels that feature a contemporary setting that focuses on friendship or family for fans of Telgemeier and Hale. This is what was recommended to me.

You can read all the replies in the Twitter thread here:

Raina Telgemeier has a thread on Twitter of recommended reads as well.

Dyslexia Awareness Month: Providing a Variety of Formats is an Access Issue

Yesterday I shared with you an Infographic I made about how we as librarians can better serve youth with dyslexia. One of the most important things we can do is to provide a wide variety of formats for our patrons to help them become independent readers. Dyslexia is often referred to as a spectrum, which basically means that not all people with dyslexia have the same issues. It’s also not just a matter of reversing letters. When looking at the page a person with dyslexia may reverse letters, they may reverse words, words and lines may blend together, etc. This is why it is important that libraries provide access to a wide variety of formats.

Audio Books

There is, unfortunately, still a lot of bias against audio books, which many people also refer to as ear reading. Recent research is helping to break down this bias as it reveals that listening to an audio book lights up the same parts of the brain as reading the words on a page does. But it’s really important that librarians understand that audio books are a game changer for many readers with dyslexia. Audio books gives readers a personal freedom while also helping them develop both fluency and accuracy while reading. For many people with dyslexia, audio books are a real game changer. Learning Ally is a producer of audio books specifically with learning disabilities in mind and they discuss the benefits of audio books here.

It is vitally important that libraries purchase audio books for readers of all ages. If possible, consider shelving your audio books right there with the books so that the two are together and easy for patrons to find. Playaway, for example, allows you to buy Bookpacks with the book and audio book packaged together, though they tend to be for younger readers. Audi books aren’t just for long commutes, they are an access issue for people with a wide variety of learning disabilities and reading challenges.

Digital Media

Digital media, both ebooks and eaudio books, are helpful for a lot of reasons. A lot of libraries provide this through Overdrive and it’s important that librarians know that Overdrive has accessibility features that can help readers with dyslexia. For example, when reading an ebook through Overdrive you can change the font to make reading easier and the Dyslexie font is one of the font options. There are a variety of fonts – typically san serif fonts – that many readers with dyslexia find easier to read.

Overdrive and other digital content readers often allow you to increase the font size or change the background color. Digital audio books often allow you to decrease or increase the reading speed. These are just a few of the ways that digital media allows users to personalize the reading experience and this is important because it increases the likelihood that the reader will be successful and have a positive reading experience. Again, access to digital media is an access issue when it comes to people with disabilities and other learning challenges and we owe it to our patrons to provide access.

Large Print

I have worked at many libraries that have large print collections, but only adult large print. I am at the age now where I use readers and I understand the appeal of large print for older adult readers. But large print is beneficial to other populations as well, including youth with dyslexia. Large print utilizes a larger font size and typically has more white space on the page, which means there are less words to run together. Large print, more space between words and lines, and more white space all help the reader differentiate what they see on the page. Large print can help increase reading speed for people with dyslexia. It’s time that libraries consider having large print versions of books for readers of all ages.

Hi/Lo Readers

Hi/Lo readers, also sometimes called High/Low readers, are books that are specifically designed for what are often referred to as “reluctant readers”. These are shorter books that have shorter sentences, shorter chapters, and are generally written to be quick paced and engaging. They aren’t as intimidating to readers because they are thin books and they look like quick reads. These are also of interest to readers with dyslexia because the shorter sentences and shorter paragraphs once again make it easier for readers to differentiate what they are seeing on the page. Plus, because they aren’t large tomes, a reader is more likely to finish and have a successful reading experience. That’s what we want, readers having successful reading experiences so they will keep reading and not give up. Practice really is important but each failure results in shame and discouragement and makes it that much harder for our kids to want to keep trying.

Orca is a publishing house that specializes in writing Hi/Lo readers for teens. They have several lines of interest and I’ve read a few and they’re pretty good. There are other publishers out there as well. I wouldn’t label them in any way as Hi/Lo readers because you don’t want to shame our readers. But if you want to put any type of label or category on them, I just refer to them as “Quick Reads”. Hi/Lo readers can help our kids have positive reading experiences, and I can’t begin to tell you how much that matters.

Graphic Novels

Graphic novels are one format that I have completely changed my mind about. I am here today to admit that I used to be a graphic novel snob. And while they still don’t personally work for me as a reader, I am here to tell you that they can be the difference between reading life or death for so many of our youth. I have watched my daughter read graphic novel after graphic novel and just truly come alive as someone who loves reading.

The other day we were driving in the car and she just told me out of the blue that, “the reason I like reading graphic novels is because the text isn’t in straight lines so it doesn’t blend together and I don’t skip lines.” And a lightbulb went off for me. The thing that doesn’t work for me as a reader is exactly what she needs because the straight lines of text start to blend together for her if there are too many.

There are a lot of articles out there about the benefits of reading graphic novels. Scholastic has one. Here’s one that looks at research. And here’s another. The gist is this: graphic novels allow readers to engage with the text in a way that visually reinforces the storytelling. But here’s the more important part: while reading graphic novels our youth are having positive reading experiences while practicing the fine art of reading and each one of those positive reading experiences are important because they are more likely to continue reading because they find it enjoyable.

At the end of the day, that’s what we want: positive reading experiences. We want our kids to keep reading, not to give up because of shame, frustration, boredom, or other negative experiences associated with reading. Anything we can do to help our youth have those positive reading experiences, we should be doing them. That’s why having a wide variety of formats matters. No two people are dyslexic in the same way, we need to have a variety of formats so that each of our kids can find what works best for them and then keep doing that and banking those positive reading experiences.

How Libraries Can Better Serve Youth with Dyslexia, an Infographic

Today is October 1st, which means we’re officially kicking off Dyslexia Awareness Month. I created this infographic that I made using Canva to give those of us who work in school and public libraries a basic over view of what we need to know about dyslexia and a few bullet points about better serving our youth with dyslexia. Tomorrow, I’m going to talk more about those various bullet points and what they mean. In the coming weeks I will be sharing some resources, book lists and more. If you missed it, yesterday I shared my personal journey as a parent learning about dyslexia and how to better help my own child.

Book Review: Maybe He Just Likes You by Barbara Dee

Publisher’s description

Barbara Dee explores the subject of #MeToo for the middle grade audience in this heart-wrenching—and ultimately uplifting—novel about experiencing harassment and unwanted attention from classmates. 

For seventh-grader Mila, it starts with some boys giving her an unwanted hug on the school blacktop. A few days later, at recess, one of the boys (and fellow trumpet player) Callum tells Mila it’s his birthday, and asks her for a “birthday hug.” He’s just being friendly, isn’t he? And how can she say no? But Callum’s hug lasts a few seconds too long, and feels…weird. According to her friend, Zara, Mila is being immature and overreacting. Doesn’t she know what flirting looks like?

But the boys don’t leave Mila alone. On the bus. In the halls. During band practice—the one place Mila could always escape.

It doesn’t feel like flirting—so what is it? Thanks to a chance meeting, Mila begins to find solace in a new place: karate class. Slowly, with the help of a fellow classmate, Mila learns how to stand her ground and how to respect others—and herself.

From the author of Everything I Know About YouHalfway Normal, and Star-Crossed comes this timely story of a middle school girl standing up and finding her voice.”

Amanda’s thoughts

Let’s start with what I usually save for the end of reviews: Great, important, REAL book. Order this for your libraries, hand it to your middle schoolers, get it up on displays, use it for starting points for discussions. This is about consent and boundaries and respecting girls and not everyone is getting these messages at home.

My son Callum (yep, just like a main character here) is in 8th grade. We have been talking about consent forevvvver. You can hear us here, from some years back, talking about sex on The Longest Shortest Time podcast. My son is absolutely sick of me using every opportunity I can to talk about consent or respect or misogyny. Witness:

He has me listed in his phone not as “Amanda MacGregor, mom” but “Amanda MacGregor, feminist,” because he says I act like that’s my job. And you know what? It is. Because I am trying to offset all of the messages he receives elsewhere about what it means to be a white, cis boy and what he is allowed to do or should feel entitled to.

Which brings us to the book (finally!). Dee does so many really brilliant yet ordinary things with her story. Mila has friends tell her she’s overreacting, that she’s being a baby, that she shouldn’t tattle. She has friends blame her for their actions, tell her they wouldn’t “allow” such things. She has friends offer to go with her to tell someone about the harassment. She has an adult basically tell her that boys will be boys and that it’s her job to ignore their behavior. She has an adult take her seriously and offer up her own stories of harassment. The reactions all feel so genuine. I was brought back to middle school as I read this, thinking of my own experiences with this sort of garbage from boys. The things the boys do may not look like what many people think of as harassment, as troubling. But no one will walk away from this book thinking that. Readers see Mila become scared and uncertain. She doesn’t want to be on the bus with them, she doesn’t want to be alone with them at school. She wants to hide. When she speaks up for herself, the boys say they will stop, but of course they don’t.

I would really love to see this book used as a read aloud for 6th or 7th graders or used in reading circles. There is SO MUCH to talk about. Outside of the main issue, Mila is also dealing with her parents being split up, her mom working an unsatisfactory job and looking for a new job, and their family’s money struggles. She makes new friends throughout the course of the story and finds a new interest, karate, which helps empower her. Her tight friendships change as everyone makes new friends and finds new interests. And while Mila learns that she’s certainly not the only girl to go through this kind of bullying and harassment, the boys who perpetuate this behavior come to finally understand just what they are doing and how it’s making Mila (and other girls) feel.

This look at consent, guilt, blame, pressure, and obligation will inspire much needed conversations for middle grade readers and the adults in their lives. Mila learns to speak up and draw the line, but ultimately, it’s not up to girls to end this—it’s up to boys (and those of us raising them and teaching them) to learn how to not do these things in the first place. This important and well-written story will surely find many readers who will relate to both sides of this experience.

Review copy courtesy of the publisher

ISBN-13: 9781534432376
Publisher: Aladdin
Publication date: 10/01/2019

October is Dyslexia Awareness Month, so let’s get started

October is Dyslexia Awareness Month and I want to take a moment to talk to you about Dyslexia. I have been a librarian for 26 years and I have never heard us talk about dyslexia in libraries. We did not talk about dyslexia in any of my MLS classes, even the ones that focused on youth. We have never talked about it in youth services meetings or at conferences or at any of the places where people who talk about getting youth to read talk about, well, getting youth to read. I think that we – and here I’m using the greater we meaning the library community as a whole, your mileage may vary – have done our community a disservice by failing to talk about dyslexia, how it impacts our youth and how we as libraries are under-serving our communities by not paying enough attention to dyslexia and other learning disabilities. So let’s start working right now to change that.

About 1 in 5 children has dyslexia and mine is one of them. I talk about her here at TLT as Thing 2. There is a lot I wish I had known about trying to raise a reader who has dyslexia and the learning curve has been hard, for her and I both. I had no idea what it meant to be dyslexic, to raise a child with dyslexia, and what the long term impact on our lives would be. I did not know how hard I would have to fight for her. I did not know that everything I thought I knew about raising a reader would turn out to be entirely wrong. We are two years into our journey and this October I’m here to tell you that chances are if you work in a school or public library then you need to better understand dyslexia in order to properly serve the almost 20% of your patrons of all ages that have it, including kids just like mine.

It is only in the past year that my daughter has finally read a complete book and she will be 11 in November. She likes graphic novels (all things Raina Telgemeier), the Here’s Hank books by Henry Winkley and Lin Oliver (which are written specifically with dyslexic kids in mind), the Magic School bus chapter books, and the Black Lagoon series by Thaler. What these books have in common is that they have short sentences, short paragraphs, graphics to help her decipher the text and a lot of white space on the page. There are some specific things to look for in books that can help people with dyslexia read and that includes using a more legible font (sans serif fonts are recommended), providing more spacing between words and line height, having more white space on the page, and having shorter blocks of text. Visually what you want is to create a page that makes it harder for words and letters to run together. This article on 6 Surprising Bad Practices That Hurt Dyslexic Users is a really good resource.

Most people think of reversing letters when they think of dyslexia and this is definitely part of it. My child will do things like reverse her bs and ds, which is pretty common. However, dyslexia is about more than just reversing letters because it has more to do with how the brain receives and processes information. For example, when my child reads she has a tendency to skip sentences, which can be common for children with dyslexia. She usually has to use her finger or a ruler to help her read the entire text because everything just blends together. Dyslexia is about processing information and it effects more than just reading. There’s a really good article about that here: https://time.com/4608060/dyslexia-reading-disorder/.

In library land we often talk about “reluctant readers”. Sometimes these kids are reluctant to read because they have dyslexia, and it is important for us to understand that. When children with dyslexia are diagnosed and given proper intervention, they are often taught a unique system of decoding information that involves using a multi-sensory approach. Unfortunately, most schools don’t even begin to diagnose dyslexia until the second or third grade and by the time these children have failed so many times and fallen so far behind that their self-esteem, their interest in school, and their foundations are already damaged. It is vitally important that parents and schools are aware of dyslexia and what it looks like so that intervention can happen early.

We’ve all heard the importance of reading levels and third grade. This information has told us time and time again that children who can’t read on or at level by third grade are less likely to graduate and are more likely to end up in prison. And yet, we don’t even test until 3rd grade in a lot of states. This needs to change if we want to help get kids reading by 3rd grade.

Because the brains of children with dyslexia work differently, the task of reading can make them physically tired. It’s literally draining their energy and it’s important for people who work with kids to understand this. They will often read in short bursts in part because they have problems concentrating, but also in part because the process is just exhausting. Read that again: for many of our youth with dyslexia, reading is quite literally physically exhausting and unenjoyable. But we can help them.

Dyslexia can have such a negative impact on a child’s self-esteem. I have heard my child call herself stupid so many times. What’s worse is I have had to hold her as she cried because the kids at school have called her stupid. Watching your child struggle with dyslexia means watching your child struggle to love herself in a world that is designed to cater to only one type of brain and trying to find ways to help her love herself. It is a great source of stress and heartache for families. Nothing has made my heart ache more then watching my child struggle to be a reader.

When we talk about reluctant readers or kids not liking to read, I’ve learned that it is important to remember that reading isn’t the same for everyone and some of our children have real struggles regarding reading. But with some care and knowledge, we can help them. I am here to tell you that on the whole, school and public libraries have not done enough to educate staff about issues surrounding dyslexia and other learning disabilities. And we have not done enough to be actively engaged in making sure that we provide accessible signage and services to our patrons with dyslexia. I did a quick search and I did not find a lot of libraries who were actively providing and marketing services to patrons with dyslexia. Upper Arlington in Ohio engaged in services to children with dyslexia. IFLA has some great discussion about services to patrons with dyslexia as well.

Today, I am here to ask us all to learn more about dyslexia and to implement specific services to our patrons with dyslexia. During the month of October, I will be posting every week about the topic of dyslexia. I will be sharing book lists. I will be sharing an infographic I have created about how libraries can better serve youth with dyslexia. And I will be talking about specific formats that help youth with dyslexia and discussing why they can help our youth become better readers. Please join me and let’s make our libraries more accessible for our youth with dyslexia. Let’s do our part to help ALL the children in our communities learn to love reading, even the ones with dyslexia. And make no mistake, with the proper support and tools, all people with dyslexia can and do learn to read and many of them even grow to love it.

Additional Information

Here are some infographics that help explain Dyslexia. You’ll note in this link that some of the infographics are about ADHD and that’s because it’s very common for dyslexic kids to also have ADHD. Mine does.

Here are a couple of lists curated by dyslexic organizations of books that help parents understand their child’s dyslexia.

21 Helpful Books About Dyslexia for Parents and Educators

If you would like to read about my journey as a parent to a dyslexic child, I have some blog posts about there here:

Being a Librarian Did Not Prepare Me for Parenting a Child with Dyslexia http://www.teenlibrariantoolbox.com/2018/11/sunday-reflections-being-a-librarian-did-not-prepare-me-for-parenting-a-child-with-dyslexia/

How Misuse of the 40 Book Challenge Made My Dyslexic Child Hate Reading and Why I Pushed Back http://www.teenlibrariantoolbox.com/2019/04/sunday-reflections-how-misuse-of-the-40-book-challenge-made-my-kid-hate-reading-and-why-how-i-pushed-back/

Middle Grade Graphic Novels That a Middle Grade Reader Really Loves http://www.teenlibrariantoolbox.com/2019/07/collecting-comics-middle-grade-novels-that-a-middle-grade-reader-really-loves/

So You Want to Raise a Reader? I Have Some Tips for You http://www.teenlibrariantoolbox.com/2019/09/sunday-reflections-so-you-want-to-raise-a-reader-i-have-some-tips-for-you/

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If You Like Hadestown

Mythology

Orpheus Girl by Brynne Rebelle-Henry

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

The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter

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

Antigoddess by Kendare Blake

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

Outrun the Wind by Elizabeth Tammi

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

All Our Pretty Songs by Sarah McCarry

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

A Song for Ella Grey by David Almond

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

Summer of the Mariposas by Guadalupe Garcia McCall

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

Vengeance Bound by Justina Ireland

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

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

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

Solstice by P.J. Hoover

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

The Hollow Kingdom by Clare B. Dunkle

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

The Great Depression

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

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

Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Pérez

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

Wonder Show by Hannah Barnaby

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

The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough

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

Midnight at the Electric by Jodi Lynn Anderson

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

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

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

All the Stars Denied by Guadalupe Garcia McCall

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

Friday Finds: September 27, 2019

This Week at TLT

What to Read if You Like The Prom, The Musical, a guest post by Teen Librarian Maisie

What to Read if You Like the Musical Dear Evan Hansen, by Nicholas Mitchel

The Building Blocks to Change, a guest post by Nancy Richardson Fischer

What to Read if You Like Mean Girls the Musical, by Cindy Shutts

Revolteens: This is what happens when chicken has a moment and teens are given a voice, by Christine Lively

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

Maybe He Just Likes You: #MeToo Comes to Middle Grade, a guest post by Barbara Dee

Take 5: All the World’s a Stage and Music is Its Language, books that feature teens involved in musical theater

Why Teens Need the Arts for Self-Expression; OR, Creating a Successful a Social/Emotional Workshop for Teens a guest post by author Rayne Lacko

Sunday Reflections: Sometimes You Find Yourself at The Exact Right Place at the Exact Right Time, or what happened when we went to meet Dav Pilkey

Around the Web

Chicago Teachers Are Ready To Strike

Down With Dewey

‘NYT’ Shifts Its Lists Again

Hundreds of thousands of people read novels on Instagram. They may be the future

Moving On Up: ‘The 57 Bus’ Takes Local Route to the Top

What to Read if You Like The Prom, The Musical, a guest post by Teen Librarian Maisie

In case you haven’t heard, we’re talking about Broadway musicals this week at TLT and today we have a list of YA books you might like to read if you like The Prom, the musical.

The Prom is the latest Broadway show to get the YA novel treatment! The musical follows Emma, a lesbian teen growing up in a conservative town in Indiana. All Emma wants is to take a girl to the prom, but when the PTA catches wind of this, they cancel it. Help comes for Emma’s cause comes from the most unexpected of places—a group of slightly washed up Broadway actors who want to tie their brand to a cause to prove their relevance. Comedy, first heartbreak, and some big voiced classic Broadway style show tunes ensue!

This musical certainly didn’t get as big as others, but it has a solid cult following, especially of LGBTQ+ teens. Read-a-likes for this title focus on the prom as a setting, promposals and their inherent drama, and LGBTQ+ romances! Check the list out below:

The Prom: A Novel Based on the Hit Broadway Musical by Saundra Mitchell

Seventeen-year-old Emma Nolan wants only one thing before she graduates: to dance with her girlfriend at the senior prom. But in her small town of Edgewater, Indiana, that’s like asking for the moon. Alyssa Greene is her high school’s “it” girl: popular, head of the student council, and daughter of the PTA president. She also has a secret. She’s been dating Emma for the last year and a half. When word gets out that Emma plans to bring a girl as her date, it stirs a community-wide uproar that spirals out of control. Now, the PTA, led by Alyssa’s mother, is threatening to cancel the prom altogether.

Enter Barry Glickman and Dee Dee Allen, two Broadway has-beens who see Emma’s story as the perfect opportunity to restore their place in the limelight. But when they arrive in Indiana to fight on Emma’s behalf, their good intentions go quickly south. Between Emma facing the fray head-on, Alyssa wavering about coming out, and Barry and Dee Dee basking in all the attention, it’s the perfect prom storm. Only when this unlikely group comes together do they realize that love is always worth fighting for. 

Tell Me Again How A Crush Should Feel by Sara Farizan

High school junior Leila’s Persian heritage already makes her different from her classmates at Armstead Academy, and if word got out that she liked girls life would be twice as hard, but when a new girl, Saskia, shows up, Leila starts to take risks she never thought she would, especially when it looks as if the attraction between them is mutual, so she struggles to sort out her growing feelings by confiding in her old friends.

How  (not) to Ask a Boy to Prom by S.J. Goslee

Nolan Grant is sixteen, gay, and very, very single. He’s never had a boyfriend, or even been kissed. It’s not like Penn Valley is exactly brimming with prospects. Unfortunately for him, his adoptive big sister has other ideas. Ideas that involve too-tight pants, a baggie full of purple glitter, and worst of all: a Junior-Senior prom ticket.

 Tessa Masterson Will Go To Prom by Emily Franklin 

Feeling humiliated and confused when his best friend Tessa rejects his love and reveals a long-held secret , high school senior Luke must decide if he should stand by Tessa when she invites a female date to the prom, sparking a firestorm of controversy in their small Indiana town.

Leah On the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

The sequel to Simon Versus the Homo Sapiens Agenda, this book follows his best friend Leah.  With prom and graduation around the corner, bisexual and plus-sized senior Leah Burke struggles when her group of friends start fighting.

Hot Dog Girl by Jennifer Dugan

Elouise (Lou) Parker is determined to have the absolute best, most impossibly epic summer of her life. There are just a few things standing in her way: She’s landed a job at Magic Castle Playland . . . as a giant dancing hot dog. Her crush already has a girlfriend, who is literally the Princess of the park. But Lou’s never liked anyone, guy or otherwise, this much before, and now she wants a chance at her own happily ever after. Her best friend, Seeley, the carousel operator, who’s always been up for anything, suddenly isn’t when it comes to Lou’s quest to set her up with the perfect girl or Lou’s scheme to get close to Nick. And it turns out that this will be their last summer at Magic Castle Playland-ever-unless she can find a way to stop it from closing. 

Kings, Queens, and In-betweens by Tanya Boteju

After a bewildering encounter at a local festival, Nima finds herself suddenly immersed in the drag scene on the other side of town. Macho drag kings, magical queens, new love interests, and surprising allies propel Nima both painfully and hilariously closer to a self she never knew she could be— one that can confidently express and accept love.

Social Intercourse by Greg Howard

Told from both viewpoints, Beckett Gaines, an out-and-proud choir member, and star quarterback Jaxon Parker team up to derail the budding romance between their parents.

A Really Nice Prom Mess by Brian Sloan

Gay high school senior Cameron Hayes endures a disastrous prom night when forced to take a girl as his date, and after fleeing the dance in disguise, he finds himself involved in a surprising on-stage performance, a high-speed police chase, and unexpected revelations.

Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan

Paul’s simple high-school life is confused by his desire for another boy who seems unattainable, until Paul’s friends help him find the courage to pursue the object of his affections.

It’s Our Prom (So Deal With It) by Julie Anne Peters

Told in separate voices, Azure, who is a lesbian, and Luke, who is bisexual, help plan an inclusive senior prom while Luke is writing and producing a musical about his life, both are working through the crush they have on their friend Radhika, and all three are dealing with problems at home.

Promposal by Rhonda Helms

Camilla hopes her secret crush, Benjamin, might ask her to prom but feels pressured into accepting the invitation of a casual acquaintance, and Joshua has worked up the courage to ask his best friend, Ethan, to be his date when Ethan asks his help in crafting the perfect “promposal” for another boy.

Meet Our Guest Blogger

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