Though we champion Black voices all year long, February is Black History Month, and YALSA member Annierra Matthews has pulled together a list to commemorate and elevate this celebration. Annierra is a Research Services Library at Mercer University in Douglasville, Georgia, and has a passion for YA!
For those who prefer to cuddle up with a book, here’s a list of compelling fiction written by Black authors and featuring Black characters.
A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown
Malik must save his sister from a sinister spirit, and in order to do so, he must kill Crown Princess Karina. Karina, on the other hand, must offer a king’s heart to revive her mother. When Malik and Karina face-off in the Solstasia competition, they contend with falling in love and completing their goal.
Click here to see all of the current Amazing Audiobooks nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.
The Year We Fell From Space by Amy Sarig King; Narrated by Stephanie Willing Scholastic Audio / Scholastic Publication Date: October 1, 2019 ISBN: 978-1987162448 Liberty Johansen loves making her own constellations. After her parents announce that they will be separating and getting a divorce, Liberty asks the stars to fix her family, which is when a meteorite falls from the sky, almost into her lap. Following her parents announcement Liberty learns about her father’s depression, and starts having feelings of her own of depression and anxiety. While trying to reconcile her mother’s sense of calm after the breakup, her little sister’s refusal to leave the house, and the sudden absence of her father in her life, the meteorite begins to communicate with her.
Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds
Blackstone Audio Publication Date: March 3, 2019
Jack King is happy planning for college, hanging out with his two best friends and meeting the girl of his dreams, Kate. And then Kate suddenly dies and Jack sent back to the night they met. The time loop means Jack might have a chance to save Kate. Each time he comes back he has to face consequences of his actions hoping that one of the times he will get it right and save Kate and keep his friends.
Ship of Smoke and Steel by Django Wexler Tor Teen / Macmillan Publication Date: January 22, 2019 ISBN:978-0765397249
Isoka is used to fighting to survive. As a ward boss, it is her job to use her combat magic to be the street enforcer for her masters. However, as much as she is used to being a criminal, she is rattled when her little sister is threatened unless Isoka attempts an impossible task – stealing the ghost ship Soliton, a legendary vessel from which no person has ever returned. The ship is a world unto itself and the deeper Isoka gets into the bowels of the ship, the more frightful the creatures and more savage the tests she and her team must survive.
Books with lots of action are often a home run with readers, especially those who like a plot-driven story. They can cross a wide-range of genres, from spy fiction to murder mysteries.
Action books are often very heavy on the plot with danger pulling the story forward, leaving readers on the edge of their seat desperate to know what happens next. Elements of risk and surprise are key factors in action stories. The events that trigger the action or danger are typically outside the protagonist’s day to day life. Often, at the end of the story, the hero or heroine is never the same.
With action novels, readers quickly turn the pages – often reading these novels in a single setting. In a series, there is often an overall arc that ties all the books together, even though the primary plot of the book is resolved.
Actions books are perfect escapism reads; this type of story rarely happens in real life.
Readers like rooting for the underdogs. Often times these teen characters go against supposedly smarter more savvy adults and yet, they are victorious in their quest. It’s hard not to root for the underdog.
On Saturday, January 31, I had the privilege to not only attend the “Best Fiction for Young Adults (BFYA)” feedback session, I also was able to bring four of my local library teens to participate in the session. Here is a picture of the five of us after the session posing with all of our swag bags. My four teens joined up with other teen readers to comprise a group of 60, all ready to do what teens do best: share their opinions.
Just a little background, if you are unfamiliar with the BFYA list: throughout the year, librarians add books published that year to a nomination list. From this nomination list, a committee reads the titles and ultimately whittles the list down to a BFYA Top Ten list. In order to ensure that the best books make the Top Ten list, the committee holds a feedback session in which teens can share why they think a book should or should not be on the list. The teens lined up at microphones that faced the committee members rather than the large crowd of librarians and teachers who stopped in to get the firsthand knowledge presented by the teens. Each teen had no more than 90 seconds to prove their point and were allowed to write up their reviews ahead of time. Unfortunately, due to the length of the nomination list, not every title was reviewed by the teens during the session.
Before I begin to share the details of the session, here is the BFYA Top Ten list:
As is usual with all new year tasks, I’m a bit behind on reading resolutions for 2015. Crazy as it seems, it’s almost halfway through January! I’ve been thinking about this due to some great reading resolution posts from around the internet. Book Riot has some especially great posts about how trying to read as many books as possible isn’t always the greatest and some suggestions for “reading harder.”Pop Sugar also has an interesting list of ideas to spur your reading habits.
Of course there are also the excellent and fun reading challenges that we do here on the Hub like the Morris/Nonfiction challenge and the Hub challenge. There’s still time to get in on the Morris/Nonfiction challenge and then get ready for the Hub challenge after the Youth Media Awards are announced! Full disclosure: I didn’t quite finish the Hub challenge last year but may give it another go this year!
In addition to these reading challenges and resolutions, I loved following all of the updates and news about the We Need Diverse Books campaign and thought that I was doing well reading diversely. But then I took a look at all of the books that I read last year and so many of the authors were white, straight, and featured characters who were the same, and a lot like me. In the library where I work, most of the teens that I see all day are minority students. And most of them are boys. My reading – about a lot of white girls in science fiction or fantasy settings – may not be necessarily speaking to their experiences. It’s actually pretty embarrassing; I should be doing better! I try my best to be an advocate for LGBTQ students and our populations of color. I buy a lot of diverse books for my library’s teen collection. I guess I just don’t read as many as I should. Continue reading Resolve to Read Better in 2015