As library workers, especially those of us who work with teens, our role can shift to “social worker” in an instant. Our teen patrons visit the library everyday and they begin to trust and confide in us. Because most of us don’t have the training to work with at-risk youth, we can feel a little helpless but we don’t have to because we have the power of a good book.
About a year ago, a member of my book discussion group seemed to be questioning his sexuality and he never talked about it. I gave him Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith to read because I thought the ending was perfect for his situation. He loved the book and now he’s very open with his sexuality and he accepts who he is. Did my recommendation help him? I don’t really know but I like to think it gave him some perspective. When I see a teen who I think or know is struggling with a personal problem, I’ll strike up a book conversation on their next library visit asking them what they like to read. If they are a reader, I’ll find a book from their favorite genre that deals with the subject they are struggling with.
In my library, I see homeless teens, teens with alcoholic parents, teens living with a dying parent, and teens dealing with gender identity and body image. I used to feel powerless but after I recommended Grasshopper Jungle, I realized that I could be an effective adult in the lives of teens. Below are a list of good books that blend popular genres with social issues. Gone are the days of feeling helpless. Say goodbye to sifting through numerous Google results. You now possess the power of reader’s advisory in a flash. You are the newest member of the Social Justice League!
Continue reading Diversify YA Life: Social Justice League-Reader’s Advisory for Teens Dealing with Social Issues
One of the newer comedies this year is Fresh Off the Boat, a show that follows the Huang family as they move from Washington, D.C., to Florida. The oldest son, Eddie, is a typical middle school student. He likes hip-hop and basketball and is not that interested in school, much to the chagrin of his parents. This show is set in the 1990s, but if Eddie were a middle school student in 2015, these are the books he might enjoy:
The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
This book is written in free verse, so it might take some convincing to get Eddie to read it, but I believe he would enjoy both the basketball theme and the rhythm and beat of the words in this story. Eddie would also identify with Josh and his struggle to live up to his family’s expectations.
The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang
I haven’t seen many episodes where Eddie reads, but I’m convinced he’s a comic book fan, or would be if he tried them. The Shadow Hero is a great match for Eddie since the main character also struggles with his Asian identity. Even though Eddie sounds like an average American tween, people often make judgments about him based on his race, so an Asian superhero may get him interested in reading.
The Slam Dunk series by Takehiko Inoue
Manga series are very popular with tweens and teens, and I enjoy recommending a series that already has a great lineup of books so that readers don’t have to wait for the next book to be published. The basketball theme of this series would resonate with Eddie. Continue reading What Would They Read?: Eddie from Fresh Off the Boat
If anyone could appreciate creating lists of books for their favorite TV and movie characters, it’s Jessica Day. She would probably assign book suggestions to her stuffed animals and then present them in the form of a jaunty song. While we patiently wait for the next season to start up, I thought I would compile a list of books that the characters of New Girl would enjoy.
New Girl provides a large cast of characters that are so over-the-top that it feels authentic. I mean, who wouldn’t want to play a round of “True American” and climb atop furniture while spouting random historical facts? For those who are not familiar with the premise for the show, it’s fairly simple. Jess answers an ad in Craigslist and moves in with three guys, Nick, Schmidt, and Winston. The guys are not used to living with a girl, and Jess turns out to be much more than they expected. Jess has several quirks that set her apart from the other girls they know, but it soon comes out that they have their own bizarre traits as well.
If you haven’t seen the show, I suggest watching it immediately. After watching an episode or twelve, come on back and see what books each character would read.
Jess – While this title is a bit on the older side of YA lit, I would not be surprised if Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli was sitting on Jess’s shelf. Stargirl wears granny dresses and plays the ukelele, which are two things I would most definitely see Jess doing as well. Jess has a celebratory air about her and she would relate immensely to a girl who wants to do her own thing, despite how many people around her wish she would just conform to the rest of the crowd. In a similar vein, I would also give Jess Sorta Like a Rock Star by Matthew Quick. Amber Appleton would most assuredly be buds with Jess and Stargirl, but this book skews slightly into drama when Amber’s story is revealed. Continue reading What Would They Read?: New Girl
It’s time for another post from the Beta Books club at my library, which reads, reviews, and generally has a grand time discussing ARCs (Advanced Reading Copies) of upcoming teen books. Our review form includes a cover discussion, space to share thoughts on the book, and 1-5 star rating. Thanks to today’s reviewers for agreeing to share their thoughts on The Hub! SPOILER ALERT: Some reviews mention plot points.
Book: The Gospel of Winter, by Brendan Kiely
What did you think of the cover? I really liked the cover, I really think it fit the story quite well. Also I would change nothing about the cover.
What did you think of the book? I enjoyed the overall storyline but at times it could be slow and a bit dragged on. Yes, I would tell a friend to read this book.
How would you rate this book? 3 stars: Pretty good. I wanted to see how it ended.
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Book: Splintered, by A. G. Howard
What did you think of the cover? I liked the cover, I think it matched the story. No, I would not change anything about the cover.
What did you think of the book? I thought it was really good. I liked the romance. I wish it described more with better details. My favorite part was when her mom got better. Yes, I would recommend this to a friend!
How would you rate this book? 5 stars. Unbelievable! I’d rather read this book than sleep! Continue reading Beta Books: Teens Review Advance Reading Copies
The time has come to recommend more books to our friends in Pawnee. I feel like I might have left the more difficult characters for this entry. Last month, I chose books for Leslie, Ben, April, and Andy. So let’s get started and see what we have this time around.
Tom Haverford – It is not difficult to select books for Tom. Basically, all you have to do is tell him that a celebrity endorsed the book and he would be all over it. However, I do think that is a bit like cheating. There has to be a book that fits Tom’s personality and passion for the jet-setter life. There is a book– and it’s called So Yesterday by Scott Westerfeld (a 2005 Best Books for Young Adults selection). Before the name Westerfeld became synonymous with the Uglies series, he wrote So Yesterday. In this standalone novel, Hunter has the responsibility to find the Innovators, people who start trends, and present them to the retail market. Tom, with his big ideas like Entertainment 720 and Rent-a-Swag, will love the adventure Hunter embarks on in a city full of unknown pockets of cool. Unfortunately Pawnee is not a hub of trendsetting activity. Tom can live vicariously through Hunter’s story. Another title that Tom may enjoy is Feed by M.T. Anderson. In Feed, it is commonplace for everyone to have a feed similar to the Internet directly inputted into your brain. The program learns your likes and dislikes and sends you advertisements customized to you. Tom would love having all of that knowledge at his fingertips. Continue reading What Would They Read?: Parks and Recreation Part 2