As we gear up for ALA Midwinter and the 2021 Youth Media Awards (YMA), we thought it could be fun to highlight a few YMA-related stories. In the coming weeks, we’ll focus on those titles from the past and present award cycles that might inspire you and your readers!
But first, a reminder: you can follow along with the Youth Media Awards announcements starting at 8 am CT on Monday, January 25. You can watch with ALA’s streaming platform or through the various social media platforms using the hashtag #alayma.
To begin our dive into these special awards, let’s look at the Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature. Established in 2000, this award is granted each year to the “best book written for teens, based entirely on literary merit.” Mike Printz was a high school librarian for years, and he believed wholeheartedly in finding the right book for the right reader at the right time. In honor of 20 years of service to young adult readers, here are a few then and now connections:
November 20th marks Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day to remember those who have been killed because of their gender identity or expression. While there are not yet many children’s and young adult books featuring transgender characters, here are a few books that can be used in a display or program.
Picture books are a great way for a person to engage briefly with an idea, and most are written for children, so the language is accessible to a wide variety of people.
Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall. This story of a blue crayon who is mistakenly labeled “red” is a great way to introduce young children to a character who doesn’t fit the label s/he’s been given.
I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings. This is the picture-book biography of Jazz Jennings, a transgender teen who publicly came out when she was still in kindergarten.
My Princess Boy by Cheryl Kilodavis. This story of a boy who enjoys sparkly, pink things is another way to introduce the idea of being gender-nonconforming in an accessible format.
Be Who You Areby Jennifer Carr. This picture book is the story of Hope, a fictional character who was born Nick and comes to the realization that she is, in fact, a girl.
Rough, Tough Charleyby Verla Kay. This is an account of Charley Parkhurst, a California stagecoach driver who was discovered, upon death, to be a woman who had been living life as a man.
Nonfiction books can provide information, especially when readers are reluctant to search online in fear that someone may see what they’ve been searching for.
Transparentby Cris Beam. Beam profiles four transgender teens at a school for transgender students in Los Angeles. This narrative nonfiction has been described as carefully written and sensitive to a sensitive topic.
Some Assembly Required: The Not-So-Secret Life of a Transgender Teen by Arin Andrews. Arin tells the story of his transition and life as a trans teen in this autobiography.
Rethinking Normal: A Memoir in Transition by Katie Rain Hill. Katie, who at one time was dating Arin, tells her side of the story in her transition as a transfeminine teen.
Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin (2015 Stonewall Honor Book). This collection of photographs and interviews with transgender and gender-noncomforming teens is another easily accessible way for those who are not familiar with the concept of being transgender to take a brief walk in another person’s shoes.
My Gender Workbook by Kate Bornstein. Hands-down this was the most recommended book when I asked those in the trans* community to identify books that would be helpful to teens and those who work with teens.
Hello Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teens, Freaks, and Other Outlaws by Kate Bornstein. While this book doesn’t focus singly on issues affecting the transgender community, it is true that transgender people have a higher rate of suicide than their cisgender counterparts. This book is a list of suicide alternatives, some silly and some serious.
Did you know that today is unofficially Cousins Day? Neither did I until I discovered that several different websites devoted to strange and unique holidays both designate today as the day to celebrate the bond between cousins.
I didn’t see my cousins much growing up but I do have fond memories of the few times we did get together on vacation. I thought it might be fun to see how many YA books I could find involving cousins.
The obvious book that immediately comes to mind is We Were Liarsby E. Lockhart. Not only have I read it recently, but it’s also been featured here by Carly Pansulla in her July 15th post, “Summer Reading: Vacation Destination Books.” Carly’s description of the book is great so if you want to know more about it, check out her post. I will only say that the main narrator, Cady Sinclair, has great memories of spending summers with her parents and aunts and her first cousins, Mirren and Johnny, at their family’s private island off the coast of Cape Codâ€¦ until one fateful summer when everything changes.
Another notable book featuring first cousins is meg rosoff’s 2005 Michael L. Printz Award winning how i live now. This riveting novel is narrated from 15-year-old Daisy’s point of view. She leaves Manhattan to stay with her cousins Osbert, Edmond and Isaac (twins), and Piper, the youngest, on a remote farm in England. Soon after Daisy settles into their farmhouse, her Aunt Penn becomes stranded in Oslo and terrorists invade and occupy England. Daisy and her cousin Edmond fall in love, but when soldiers take over the farm, the boys and girls are separated and sent away to different places. Daisy and Piper struggle to stay alive in the midst of this devastating invasion. The book was made into a film that was released in November 2013.
Springtime is when love is in the air. New relationships are blooming, the warmer weather drives people outdoors and puts everyone in a better mood, and it just seems like the perfect time to fall in love…
But what happens when you don’t want to fall in love? When you just want to snarkily smirk at those silly people holding hands and picking flowers? How do you avoid, nay how do you embrace the idea that falling in love is just not for you..?
Well, one good way is to read books about love gone wrong. Luckily, teen lit is filled with excellent examples of books about all the ways love can be so harmful to your well-being. From bad breakups to unrequited crushes, check out the list below if you want to fall in love with a bad romance!
The Tear Collector by Patrick Jones
Cassandra comes from a long line of vampire-like creatures who need human tears to survive rather than blood. Cassandra is very good at collecting tears by being the shoulder for her friends to cry on, and even volunteering as a grief counselor. However, Cassandra is growing tired of her life and wants to be human, especially when she begins to fall in love with Scott.