Nonfiction books for New Year’s resolutions is a great way to pull individuals back into the library every January. Adults aren’t the only ones wanting to better themselves for the new year. Teens can join in on the action as well. Take a look at these YA nonfiction selections for teens to start the year by putting their best foot forward.Continue reading YA Nonfiction for New Year’s Resolutions!
As mental health struggles get more time in the spotlight, mental health nonfiction books have been cropping up aimed a variety of demographics. In fact, many options are now available just for teens. This list looks at great resources for those who are struggling with mental health issues or want to help someone that is.
Now, I want to be clear in saying that I was very conscious of readability when pulling these titles. A good book in this area is useless if the writing is akin to banging your head against a wall. It is more important for these books to be engaging than even a standard Y.A. fiction offering that you recommend.
Also, while these selections mostly cater to teens, the high readability makes them good for anyone interested in improving mental health without being insanely bored. Without further ado, let’s get ready to be mentally healthy!
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.
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. Continue reading Social Justice and Disability – Evaluating Materials and Media with Characters with Disabilities
The benefits of reading go beyond entertainment and into therapeutic tools when focusing on loss and grief in young adult literature. This year, the practice of bibliotherapy celebrates 100 years* in assisting mental health professionals and readers cope with many issues through informed choices about reading material. It is especially relevant to young adult readers in understanding loss and the grief process.
Teenagers today are said to have higher levels of anxiety and depression and informed readers’ advisory creates an opportunity to help teens by using the comfort and familiarity of reading. However, it is not to be misunderstood or considered as true therapy unless a therapist is involved. Through readers’ advisory, especially in a school setting, adults can both assist in book recommendations and also listen to teenagers (and possibly notice when teens need to speak to a school counselor). Just as librarians do not parent or restrict readers, we also do not assume any professional opinion about therapy or mental illness. See this article on the difference between bibliotherapy and readers’ advisory. The actual practice of bibliotherapy includes a skilled therapist, but adults who are familiar with stories of loss can assist with recommendations. After all, we already know the interest of our readers (and reading levels) and can offer novels that address grief and coping. Continue reading Readers’ Advisory, Bibliotherapy, and Grief in YA Literature
There are no shortages of books for young adults that tackle mental illness; The Hub has focused on books for Mental Health Awareness Month and also written about the trend of suicide and depression in Young Adult literature in just the last year. But today for Reality Scoop, we’re focusing on characters in YA novels who develop coping mechanisms for dealing with depression and anxiety throughout the course of the story.
Fiction According to National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP), about 20% of teens suffer from mental health issues and nearly 30% have depression before adulthood. The impact on teens is more than just statistics, it’s the feelings and the emotions that they deal with that hurt the most. Mental health problems just make things so much harder for teens. It makes their home life, school and socializing much more difficult than it should be. Continue reading Reality Scoop: Promoting Mental Wellness with YA Literature
From relationship struggles to depression and suicide, characters in these stories challenged by internal and external conflicts, similar to real life experiences you may be familiar with. You may have felt sympathy for Cadence and her struggling memory in We Were Liars, begged Leonard to put down the gun in Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock, connected with Charlie in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, agonized with Melinda to Speak, set out Looking for Alaska, or unraveled the mystery of the 13 Reasons Why Hannah committed suicide. Teens may experience tough and complex issues, and it shows in the contemporary stories we read.
What’s next on your reading list? 2015 brings an array of new titles related to mental illness – stories to place on your summer booklist (while remembering to pack a box of tissues).
Elena Vanishing by Elena Dunkle, Clare B. Dunkle
The Pause by John Larkin