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Tag: brooke hauser

Teens Coming to America

Asian girlThanksgiving offers the perfect opportunity to appreciate the experiences of young people who have immigrated to the United States. Like the Pilgrims, who came to America in search of freedoms they did not have at home, families from every part of the world have sought safety on American soil. Some of these families were welcomed, like the Pilgrims. Others have faced language barriers,  poverty,  and prejudice to make their homes in America.

All of the books below have appeared on select YALSA lists as noted. They are true accounts; memoirs, biographies, and third person accounts.  There are also many great YA novels that explore the difficulty teens face when first encountering American culture. For some great suggestions, check out YALSA’s 2013 Popular Paperback list, I’m New Here Myself.


The Other Side of the Sky by Farah Ahmedi

The Other Side of the Sky: A Memoir by Farah Ahmedi
(Popular Paperbacks, 2007)

Born in Afghanistan during the war against the Soviets, Farah Ahmedi had a child’s knowledge of danger. Rockets were a familiar sight in the night sky; bombs a familiar noise in the countryside. Nevertheless, she was excited to be going to school and loved her teacher. One day, however, Farah took a shortcut to school that cut across a field…and stepped on a mine, losing her leg. Assimilating to a new culture is always difficult, but when Farah finally gets to the United States she has more than her share of obstacles.

ALA 2013: Adult Books for Teens: Making the Call

INFINITY-Fotolia.comAt the ALA Annual Conference in Chicago, the Alex Award program featured three of the ten authors who won Alex Awards in 2013: Derk Backderf (My Friend Dahmer), Julianna Baggott (Pure), and Robin Sloane (Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore). When the panel was asked whether they were writing with a teen audience in mind, only Baggott had a sense of teens as potential readers. But then, Baggott has published seventeen books, targeted at all age levels. Neither Backderf nor Sloane thought about the age of their readers at all.

What is it about these books, then, that place them in the category of Adult Books for Teens?

“Writing For Myself”: A morning with four Alex Award recipients

This past Sunday, I gathered with a number of librarians and other ALA attendees to meet with and hear from four of the ten authors whose books were honored with the Alex Award, which is given to books that are written for adults but have special appeal for young adults. The four authors that were able to come were Ernest Cline, author of Ready Player One; Rachel Woskin, author of Big Girl Small; Brook Hauser, author of The New Kids: Big Dreams and Brave Journeys at a High School for Immigrant Teens; and Erin Morgenstern, author of The Night Circus. Each author was given time to speak about their goals and roads to writing their books, and all four authors, in their own way, shared one idea: they wrote for themselves first.

Ernest Cline started writing Ready Player One to please himself. He was once given the advice to write the book you’ve always wanted to read, and the book he wanted to read was full of 1980s pop culture. He was very much influenced by the writing of Roald Dahl, particularly James and the Giant Peach, and wanted to include a lot of the underlying darkness in his own novel. His greatest discovery about Ready Player One, he said, is that he never expected it to go beyond a small cult sci-fi novel, let alone appeal to anyone who didn’t live through the Eighties, but he gets emails from teens all the time who love the adventure stories. To them, Eighties pop culture is more like an adventure — and since some of them read it with Wikipedia open, it really is like a create your own adventure story. Not to mention teens and their parents can make a great bonding experience out of it.

Youth Media Awards wrap-up

Monday was a big, big day for young adult literature. After months of speculation, Mock Printz committees, posts about the finalists for the William C. Morris and Excellence in Nonfiction Awards, and tons and tons and tons of reading by dedicated committee members, the ALA’s Youth Media Awards were announced at the Midwinter Conference in Dallas.

One of my favorite things about being a young adult librarian is the incredible sense of community that’s grown up about libraries and young adult literature, and the YMAs were a perfect example. I wasn’t able to be in Dallas this year, but luckily for me and other librarians, publishers, and YA and children’s lit fans around the world, the announcements were streamed live (in fact, you can watch the archived announcements and videos by some of the honored authors and illustrators on the YMA’s YouTube Channel).

I watched the announcements in one window and had Twitter up in another. There was plenty of buzz on Twitter–so much so that #alayma was trending for more than an hour! Lots of author names and book titles also trended following the announcement of each award. If you haven’t had the chance before, I highly recommend watching the announcements live if you can. It’s so great to hear the audience erupt in cheers when the winners are announced, and if you’re anything like me, you might find yourself cheering along. Being a reader of and writer for the Hub made this year’s awards especially fun for me. I’d read four of the five Morris finalists (two of which won other awards–including the Printz!), something which I might not have done were it not for The Hub.

Here’s the complete list of all the awards given in young adult literature. The name of each award will link to the award’s page on the ALA website, where you can learn about the history and see a complete list of winners. If The Hub did any coverage of a book before its big win, I’ve linked to that too. Enjoy!