Click here to see all of the current Best Fiction for Young Adults nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.
Darius the Great Deserves Better by Adib Khorram Dial Books / Penguin Random House Publication Date: August 25, 2020 ISBN: 978-0593108239
Things have been better for Darius Kellner ever since his life-altering trip to Iran to meet his mother’s family for the first time. He video chats regularly with his first and best friend Sohrab in Iran. His relationship with his father is finally based on more than a mutual affection for “Star Trek” (though they do still love their “Star Trek”). Darius made the varsity soccer team, works at his favorite tea shop, and even has a boyfriend. But now Sohrab isn’t answering Darius’s calls. Trent the bully is still on Darius’s case. His visiting grandmothers are practically strangers to him. And Darius’s feelings for boyfriend Landon and teammate Chip are all confused. Darius might be doing better than okay–but does “better” mean having to settle for less than best?
This is my second year participating and completing The Hub Reading Challenge. I am an avid reader of all things YA- enjoying all genres in YA especially nonfiction, novels in verse, and series books. This year I discovered I had read many books on the list. So I decided to push myself and delve into audiobooks in the Challenge. Below are just a few of the award winning titles I listened to and RECOMMEND in the Amazing Audiobook section of the 2015 Hub Reading Challenge.
Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira was awesome. Laurel is still reeling from the death and loss of her older sister, May. Laurel has transferred to a new school. In English her first assignment is to write a letter to a dead person. This assignment begins a year- long letter writing campaign from Laurel to Kurt Cobain, Judy Garland, River Phoenix, Amelia Earhart, Amy Winehouse, poets and many more…What I liked about these letters is that Laurel researches each subject and the reader learns about the lives of these dead people and we see parallels to May, Laurel, and her family. As Laurel struggles with her guilt, her silence, her own self- image, and her idealization of May…who will she become? As a reader, I savored the New Mexico setting, the flawed (but real) characters, the letters, and Laurel’s journey. Teens will relate to Laurel, Sky, Natalie, and Hannah in their daily lives and interpersonal relationships in high school.
Acid by Emma Pass – I couldn’t stop listening as Jenna Strong is imprisoned by the police (the most barbaric force known as ACID) for murdering her parents when she was 15 years old. But all is not as it seems; if you love action, suspense, and thrillers; you will not soon forget Jenna’s world of lies, espionage, and sinister brutality—what will she do to remember her life as it was and as it is now? This audiobook has riveting plots, characters (nasty and nice) and a dystopian world you won’t forget! Continue reading Reader Response: Amazing Audiobooks
This past year I had the immense pleasure to serve as chair for the 2015 Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults committee. It was a really great year for audiobooks and my committee was fortunate to consider a total of 395 audiobooks for our selection list! After hours and hours of listening, we had to whittle down a list of no more than 30 selections that were the year’s best. If you have not yet had a chance to checkout our list you can see it here. It was released last week, after the Midwinter Conference.
We also had the even more difficult task of selecting our Top Ten Audiobooks of the year. Below are our Top Ten titles for 2015, along with a suggested listen-a-like, in case you are ahead of the game and have already listened to these Top Ten selections.
2015 Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults Top Ten
ACID by Emma Pass, read by Fiona Hardingham with Nicholas Guy Smith and Suzan Crowley. Listening Library, 2014. 10 hours, 48 minutes; 9 discs. 978-0-8041-6832-8.
The brutal police state ACID rules all, so when Jenna is broken out of prison by a rebel group she has to fight to survive as ACID’s most-wanted fugitive. Unique ACID reports and recordings read by Smith and Hardingham’s excellent pace combine with her authentic teen voice to highlight this exciting story.
Curtsies and Conspiracies by Gail Carriger, read by Moira Quick. Hachette Audio, 2013. 9 hours, 30 minutes, 8 discs, ISBN: 978-1-4789-2648-1.
In the second installment of the Finishing School series, Sophronia and her classmates use their training to search for a dangerous device that may have fallen into the wrong hands. Quick’s lively narration highlights the wit and humor in Carriger’s story.
The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud, read by Miranda Raison: The Finishing School series, narrated by Quirk, is filled with sly humor but also packs a punch with Sophronia’s adventures. Likewise, The Screaming Staircase is not only is an action-packed steampunk mystery, but Raison brings variety to her narration by highlighting the nuances of the quirky cast of characters characters, including the darkly comedic Anthony Lockwood. (Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults 2014)
Yesterday, I wrote about the duty all librarians and educators share to instill empathy and compassion in our young readers by actively promoting books that engage and educate them in the experiences of others. You can read my first post on this topic here and see the books I recommend from Slavery through Jim Crow. I’m continuing that post today with books that address various aspects of the Civil Rights Movement as well as novels that look at contemporary teenage Black lives.
John Lewis is a civil rights legend and his graphic novel memoir March: Book One (2014 Outstanding Books for the College Bound, 2014 Top 10 Great Graphic Novels for Teens) should be required reading in classrooms across America. The book details his childhood in rural Alabama, his introduction to non-violence, the founding of the SNCC, and ends with the historic lunch counter sit-ins in the late 1950s. With the sequel coming out today, it’s the perfect time to showcase both works!
Robin Talley’s Lies We Tell Ourselves is a fictionalized account of the desegregation of schools in the late 1950s. Set in 1959, the story is told in two voices: Sarah, one of ten Black students attending the all-white high school in Davisburg, Virginia, and Linda, the white daughter of a prominent newspaperman intent on keeping segregation alive. The visceral accounts of Sarah’s first days at school alone make the book worth reading but it is the examination of how internal change can and does happen that truly makes the novel a compelling read.
Another book told in two voices is Revolution by Deborah Wiles which follows Sunny, a young white girl, as she grapples with the tumultuous changes happening around her during 1964’s Freedom Summer and Raymond, a young Black boy, who is coming to terms with the vast disparities between his community and the white community that surrounds him. Despite focusing more heavily on Sunny’s story, the book provides extraordinary insight into an era by incorporating numerous primary sources ranging from photographs, SNCC recruiting brochures, song lyrics, and even KKK pamphlets….fascinating stuff!
Kekla Magoon’s debut novel The Rock and the River won the 2010 Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent when it came out and with good reason. A complex and layered look at the struggle for civil rights, the book tells the story of 13-year-old Sam, son of a well-known Civil Rights activist. As the story begins, Sam follows his father’s belief in non-violence unquestioningly until tragedy strikes and he finds himself siding more and more with his older brother who is a follower of the Black Panthers. The books offers no easy answers and is eloquent in its portrayal of a time fraught with tension and change. Continue reading Black Lives Matter: Building Empathy Through Reading (Part II)
Twelve-year-old Sunny has a lot going on as summer rolls in on Greenwood, Mississippi, 1964. The Beatles are spinning out one new album after another – yeah, yeah, yeah. Her new stepmother has moved in, bringing along her children, Gillette and Audrey. Gillette’s not so bad for a brother. He and Sunny are bonding through forbidden adventures, such as swimming in the town pool at night. As it turns out, Ray, a black boy, is taking a secret swim when Gillette and Sunny break in. Sunny’s terrified screams attract the police. Ray escapes, but suddenly she and Gillette are in a whole lot of trouble.
Sunny does not realize that Greenwood would soon be the focus of the entire nation, as volunteers from up North mobilize to register black voters throughout the state of Mississippi. Although the Constitution allowed all citizens over the age of 21 to vote, many Southern states had enacted laws that required tests, fees, and other obstacles to black suffrage. The movement to infiltrate the South and support black communities came to be called Freedom Summer. Ironically, many would lose their freedom – and some their lives – before the summer ended.
As she did in the first book of The Sixties Trilogy, Countdown, Wiles pulls together first person accounts, photographs, and music to add authenticity and flavor to Sunny’s fictional story. The video clip below mimics that conjunction, with The Roots‘ performance of the Freedom Song, “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Me Turn Around,” included in Revolution, with images from the Civil Rights movement.