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Tag: chris lynch

Books to Read in Honor of Veteran’s Day


Today we honor America’s veterans for their service to our country. November 11 was chosen as the date for this special observation because the armistice that ended World War I went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918. That war was considered “the war to end all wars” and the armistice was vastly important to the people of Europe and the United States. Until the mid 1950s, November 11 was called “Armistice Day.” After World War II and the Korean war, the observation was legally changed to “Veteran’s Day.” If you wish to learn more about the history of Veteran’s Day, the US Department of Veterans Affairs has a great website. Between World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the Iraq wars, and with the war in Afghanistan entering its thirteenth year, many people have family and friends who are veterans. YA literature has many good novels about the experience of war; these seven titles are just a starting point.

  • Invasion by Walter Dean Myers Invasion-Myers

Invasion tells of the events of D-Day and the weeks immediately following, from the perspective of young infantry soldiers.The men are only vaguely aware of what will be happening when they land on Omaha Beach. The landing, as history knows, is horrendous; thousands died. Myers eloquently conveys how exhausting war is physically and emotionally. He employs a subtle bit of reader manipulation: while the book is written in the past tense, the D-Day landing chapter is in present tense, adding to its tension. With the constant forward momentum of the soldiers, and the continuous battles they fight, this novel can be hard to read, but it is also hard to put down.

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Teen Booktalk Buzzwords

by flickr user Sam Howzit
by flickr user Sam Howzit
Emotionally intense! Snarky! Action-packed! Fast-paced! Lush! Talking books with teens is fun, especially when using buzzwords that energize and colorize a book to make it downright enticing — at least enticing enough to spark a compelling curiosity for a teen to hold the book and read the inside flap. Progress, indeed! When enthusiasm for talking about books is backed up with a canon of teen buzzwords, your booktalk can become an effective powerhouse tool for getting teens to read.

So, what are buzzwords? The buzzwords I’m talking about are the appeal terms most often used to describe the key components of a teen book: the storyline, the pace, the tone, and the writing style. What are some of those booktalk buzzwords that will get teens interested in a book? Let’s take John Green’s wildly popular The Fault in Our Stars as an example. When I booktalk this book with teens I incorporate these buzzwords:

  • character-driven to describe a storyline dedicated to the development of characterization
  • leisurely paced to emphasize the gradual unveiling of the story through detail and language
  • snarky, dark humor, with emotional intensity, but thought provoking (John Green has an ability to bring out a variety of emotion and feeling in his books) to highlight the overall tone
  • sophisticated, witty, and compelling to describe the overall writing style of the author
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Memorial Day

May is National Photography Month, so as part of a Memorial Day tribute, we’ve paired fictional books about war with photographs of US soldiers. Without…

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All I Need to Know I Learned from YA Fiction: Summer Job Tips from Your Favorite Books

By now you’re probably tired of every adult in your life asking you what you’re doing this summer. You’ve gone around to your favorite stores two or three times and are finally coming to the stark realization that all the best mall jobs were snatched up some time in April by kids who have more job experience than you. And there’s no way you’re babysitting again. So it’s time to get serious and take some much-needed advice from the most trustworthy source around: young adult fiction.

If a job sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Say you’re looking for fast cash the year before college and someone offers you $10,000 to help sail a boat from the Virgin Islands to New York City. What should you do? Just say no. The boat is clearly filled with drugs, and chances are you’ll end up in jail and won’t be lucky enough to turn yourself into a Newbery-Award-winning author later in life. —Hole in My Life by Jack Gantos

Jobs that seem like the worst are sometimes the best. Not everyone has their pick of jobs, so sometimes you have to take what you can get, even if it sounds like pure misery—like working in a women’s clothing boutique run by your Barbie-esque new stepmother. But how do you know you don’t like designer jeans, the color pink, and the 9 o’clock dance party unless you at least try them? —Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen

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Contemporary Fiction of 2010: A Reader’s List

I present to you one reader’s best contemporary YA titles for 2010. These are books teens are actually reading by the way. I see these titles check out regularly at my library. I hate to say it, but Will Grayson, Will Grayson? It has barely circulated three times. These titles are a little girl heavy but several of them will work just as well for guy readers. And if anything this list will encourage me to seek out more guy-centric contemporary YA reads.

Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson. This is my favorite book of 2010 hands down. It is a road trip story with a little romance, a lot of heartache and a great trip throughout the country. Teens will easily relate to Roger’s girl troubles while they will be pulled into Amy’s story of sadness over her father’s death. Postcards, receipts, and definitely the most amazing road trip play lists ever created grace the pages of this story along with the main narrative. This one is for music fans, teens who love a romance with drama, and who need a grand adventure. I guarantee this is going to be a hit.

Not That Kind of Girl by Siobhan Vivian. This book actually made Kirkus’s 2010 Best Books for Teens and with great reason. This story is intelligent, sad, and above all, plays so well into the drama that encompasses high school life. Natalie has always felt a bit different from her classmates and it shows on the pages. Here is a teen dedicated to her education, to getting ahead. Most librarians know teens like this and they will immediately empathize with her. She may be book smart but has a lot to learn about human emotions. Natalie is an amazing protagonist for female teen readers. She is strong, vulnerable, smart as hell, but yet manages to be the every girl.   There is a lot to discuss and appreciate.

A Blue so Dark by Holly Schindler. Mental illness. More teens than I can name deal with this topic with their families, and even themselves, on a daily basis. Holly Schindler delicately balances the harsh realities of schizophrenia with everyday tasks. Aura must go to school. She loves art but yet fears it. She has a crush on a boy but that does not fit into a world of schizophrenia. Her isolation leaps off the pages, as does her care of her mother. Teens today are unfortunately put in that caretaker position too often and this book definitely showcases how difficult that role can be for teenagers. Heart wrenching certainly but this book will do well with teens who need to see themselves in someone else, know they aren’t alone. It is a powerful book, short enough to hold attention and pull you into Aura’s life.

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