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Tag: Kody Keplinger

Booklist: Asexuality and Aromanticism in Young Adult Fiction

In February 2016, the YALSA Hub published a booklist, Asexuality in Young Adult Fiction, as a response to teens wanting to see this kind of representation in books. It was a hard list to create as there were very few books at the time with any mention of asexuality or aromanticism, and most of the representation in the books listed is minimal at best. In that list, most representation was of side characters, or the word asexual was never explicitly mentioned. Over the past three years, some exciting books for teens have been published that center the Ace/Aro experience.

Asexuality in YA Fiction

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#QP2019 Nominees Round Up, November 6 Edition

Screenshot by Donna Cooner
Scholastic Press / Point
Publication Date: May 29,2018
ISBN: 9780545903998 

Skye, an ambitious and determined teen, is focused on winning a coveted summer internship with a senator. Her social media image has been perfect … until now. One embarrassing video of Skye, posted and quickly deleted, has still been seen. Skye receives a screenshot and a series of anonymous messages threatening to release the photo if she does not follow the increasingly humiliating directions she’s given.

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Social Justice and Disability – Evaluating Materials and Media with Characters with Disabilities

When we talk about social justice, one of the most often overlooked populations are people with disabilities. The 2014 Disability Status Report for the United States from Cornell University reported that, “In 2014, the overall percentage (prevalence rate) of people with a disability of all ages in the US was 12.6 percent.” The National Health Institute of Mental Health reported in 2015, “Fully 20 percent—1 in 5—of children ages 13-18 currently have and/or previously had a seriously debilitating mental disorder.” These percentages are not reflected in publishing trends.

Social Justice and Disability - Evaluating Materials and Media with Characters with Disabilities

Representation of any marginalized groups accurately and sympathetically can remove some of the prejudice surrounding them, so including books and media with these characters in our collections is essential. Everyone deserves to see their experiences reflected, as well as studies have shown that reading literary fiction improves empathy. People with disabilities experience some of the highest rates of discrimination and microaggressions. Intersect being disabled with also being a person of color, First/Native Nations, LGBTQ, and/or female and the transgressions can increase. Activist and Vlogger Annie Elainey discusses here in a video Why is Disability Representation So White? #DisabilityTooWhite the many issues that people are experiencing because of lack of representation. (Also, be sure to check out her sources.)

Accurate representation can be a tricky thing, especially if it is not a story or experience that is being written by a person with a similar disability. In January, Lee & Low Books reported results of a 2015 Diversity Baseline Survey about the social makeup of the publishing and book reviewing in North America. In the industry overall, 92% identified as nondisabled, so we can assess that a good portion of the writing, editing, and reviewing books with disabled characters are being done by nondisabled folks. Alaina Leary wrote a great piece for The Establishment titled Why The Publishing Industry Can’t Get Disability Right that is also a must read.

Readers, writers, and advocates of young adult literature should be paying attention to the site Disability in Kidlit.

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YA Literary Tropes: I Have to Take Care of My Parent(s)

Welcome back readers! We are continuing our discussion of tropes (commonly used  themes) in YA literature.  So far, we have explored The Old Clunker I Drive and The I Already Know You Introduction.  This week let us jump right into one of my favorites!

The I Have to Take Care of my Parent(s) Trope

YA literary tropes i have to take care of my parents

We read it time and time again. These teens have a lot of responsibility and are oftentimes more capable than their parents.  Why is this plot line so often used?  Well, parents are not perfect so this is a realistic human experience for many readers.  I also think that some wise words J.K. Rowling once said about the unhelpful librarian Madam Pince are relevant here.  Sometimes, when you get the assistance you need the story is over.  So, let us keep the story going by taking a look at some of the most inept parents (and their very capable children) in YA lit.


The DUFF: Book to Movie

imageI rarely see the movie version of a book before I’ve read the book. That’s because the book is usually better than the movie it’s based on. But, I ended up seeing the movie version of Kody Keplinger’s The DUFF (2011 Top Ten Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers) at a sneak-preview last week in NYC. I hadn’t yet read the book. I’d had a copy of the galley for years but just hadn’t had the opportunity to read it and I’d just given that galley away recently, too. I was probably one of the few people at the preview who hadn’t read the book. So, I bought the paperback copy & quickly read it in preparation for writing this blog. But, as I know you’ve all heard too often, as of a few days ago, I could honestly say, “No, I haven’t read the book, but I have seen the movie.”

Here’s the official trailer for the film.

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Write Now! Young Adults Penning Books for Teens

Sometimes it’s hard to imagine that adult authors can even begin to fathom what young adults’ lives are really like. After all, weren’t all those adults all young back when dinosaurs roamed the Earth? Having just watched the Summer Olympics in London, it seemed even the youngest competitors like 15-year-old British gymnast Rebecca Tunney brought their game faces. It’s no surprise that with children earning college degrees (like Micheal Kearney did at age 10), some inspired teens would turn their talents to the world of fiction. A lot of readers may be familiar with more famous teen authors like S.E. Hinton, who wrote The Outsiders at age 18, and Amelia Atwater-Rhodes, who published her first book In the Forests of the Night (2001 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults) in 1999 when she was just 14. Here some more current authors who were all still in high school or college when they got their start in publishing.


Like Peas and Carrots: Girls’ Friendships in YA Lit

The month of September celebrates women’s friendships, which lead me to think about friendships within books and some of my favorite books dealing with friendships. There are times when I feel so closely connected to a character that I wish they were real so we could be best friends. When I was in middle school, I adored Just as Long as We’re Together by Judy Blume. I read that book until it fell apart — and then kept reading it. I loved the new friendship between Stephanie and Alison. I really believe in the idea of having more than one BFF.

Teen literature is full of strong female friendships. Sure, there are books about frenemies, or fake friends, or even the BFF who betrays you. The ones that stand out the strongest in my mind are the books about true best friends: best friends who wouldn’t date the boy you might like, best friends who stand behind your decisions even if they don’t agree with them, and best friends you know you can count on even if you just had a massive fight.

Some of these books don’t start out with the main characters as best friends. Instead, something throws the girls together. Going through the situation creates and cements the bond of friendship.


From Classic to Contemporary: Lysistrata into Shut Out

Classics–whether they are novels, plays, or epics–offer us great characters, interesting plots, and lots of things for discussion … but sometimes they can be a little tough to tackle. Sometimes we adore them, but sometimes we can’t get past page 3, let alone the requisite 50. That doesn’t mean that we should give up what they have to offer, though, does it? Many of today’s authors try to use these classic works as a starting off point to write a more modern version. If done well, these contemporary versions can have a huge impact and impart the same wisdom that made the earlier story gain its classic status. Jessica Miller and I decided to find and examine some great pairs of classics and their contemporary rewrites to see if they are successful … or maybe not.

The Classic: Aristophanes’ Lysistrata

Lysistrata is a play that has been performed millions of times. It was written by the Greek playwright Aristophanes in the 4th Century BC (or BCE, if you prefer). In this play, Lysistrata, a “Grand Dame” as she is defined in a few translations, has hatched a plan to end the Peloponnesian War. Gathering all of the women of Athens and Sparta, Lysistrata proposes a genius plan to end the war: withhold sex from their soldier husbands until they declare peace. While the other women originally balk at this plan, they eventually concede. This, however, leads to a crazy battle of the sexes, and a few ideas about men, women, fairness, and a lot of other things.


Chase away those winter blahs with some romance!

Winter is here! I am one of those rare breeds who actually love winter, and it’s not because I love getting out in the cold. There’s just something wonderful about being able to snuggle in with a good book, some hot chocolate, and a blanket when it’s bitterly cold outside that invigorates me. And lucky for readers, there are so many excellent books that will take away those winter blues. For this reader in particular, I happen to adore a good love story in winter. Maybe it’s because Valentine’s Day is already being pushed onto us (have you seen the candy aisles at your local stores?) or maybe it’s because love is the perfect antidote to those cold winter days. Who knows! In any case, here are some of my favorite teen romances to push away those winter blues.

There is, of course, no shortage of YA writers who include romance in their books. It’s what I love about young adult lit so much, that it is about relationships, whether romances or not. Of course, I do happen to enjoy a book that makes my heart go pitter-patter a bit, and these authors and their books definitely do that!

Jenny Han’s fabulous Summer series (The Summer I Turned Pretty, It’s Not Summer Without You, and We’ll Always Have Summer) is one of my absolute favorite go-to series for romance. Belly is in love with two boys and while readers know how boring the love triangle can get, Jenny Han also knows this and shows just how complex being in love can be. Belly (you’ll have to read to understand the nickname) is a fabulous character.

Stephanie Perkins is becoming a name-brand for well written teen romances. Anna and the French Kiss recently became a finalist in the Young Adult Fiction category of the Cybils (Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards). This is a book that has gotten a lot of press and buzz and it lives up to the hype! France, a boarding school, a cute guy with an accent, and a strong female character? It’s a win/win! The second book, very loosely connected, Lola and the Boy Next Door, also has a great romance at its center. If you haven’t read Stephanie Perkins yet, what are you waiting for?