Much of diverse young adult literature is contemporary, realistic fiction, or historical fiction about the struggle of being a person of color. As a teen library worker, I get to know the personal lives of teens and some of their stories are heartbreaking. From poverty to bullying, I recognize that the struggle is real and I am happy to be a non-judgemental adult soundboard. I am also grateful for the plethora of young adult fiction available so that I can hand a book to a teen I feel will provide some insight and comfort.
But when life is tough, many teens also like to escape into fantasy and science fiction. Readers of fantasy, science fiction, and horror also like to see themselves in these books. If people of color can survive slavery and oppression and poverty, they can also survive zombies and maniacal kings and dragons. So, where are the black Hermiones?
I am a teen services specialist and a major part of my job is to connect teens with books. I have an avid reader, who is Middle Eastern, who asks me to recommend fantasy books about once a month. A year ago when the We Need Diverse Books movement started, I asked her to do a cue card about why we need diverse books and she stated that she would like to see more Middle Eastern characters in fantasy. A little over a year later, I gave her The Wrath and The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh and she came back and absolutely raved about the book. She said that she particularly loved the inside cover because there was a girl who looked and dressed like her. This is one reason why we need diverse books.
If you are a library worker looking to enhance your diverse young adult repertoire or a teen reader looking for yourself in a magical world or a speculative fiction reader seeking something new, here’s a list of speculative young adult fantasy/science fiction titles for you to try. Please note that some titles feature characters of color in a supporting role—but that’s okay because Hermione was a supporting character, too. Continue reading Diversity YA Life: Diverse Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror
With a new movie of Cinderella coming out, it’s a great time to round up some book adaptations.
Ash by Malinda Lo (2010 Morris finalist and 2014 Popular Paperbacks for YA Top Ten)
Ash lost both her mother and her father. Now she’s stuck in a world with an evil step mother and two wicked step-sisters. She finds solace in the fairy world and with her new friendship with the King’s Huntress. Can she find happiness on her own terms?
Before Midnight by Cameron Dokey
Cendrillon’s mother dies in childbirth. The death of her mother forces her father to abandon her, leaving her to the care of the housekeeper. Her father remarries and sends his wife and two daughters back to the cottage, without telling her about his daughter. Everything changes once the truth comes out.
This year on the Hub we are celebrating the Twelve Days of YA with a series of posts loosely based on the traditional Twelve Days of Christmas gifts. We have converted each gift into a related theme common to YA and paired it with a list of relevant titles. You may use the Twelve Days of YA tag to read all of the posts in the series.
Special thanks goes to Carli Spina, Faythe Arredondo, Sharon Rawlins, Geri Diorio, Becky O’Neil, Carla Land, Katie Yu, Laura Perenic, Jennifer Rummel, Libby Gorman, Carly Pansulla, Anna Dalin, and Allison Tran for their help creating the booklists and organizing this series.
On the eighth day of YA, my true love gave to me eight maids-a-milking.
Day eight seemed like a pretty simple one to translate over to a YA lit theme since maids tend to be servants or service workers for the wealthy and this can be found in many books. While this list could have been expanded a bit to cover all characters for whom work was a requirement, such as The Boy in the Black Suit (Jason Reynolds) and The Distant Between Us (Kasie West), we decided to keep it a bit more limited. We hope you enjoy the stories of characters-a-workin’ that we picked and encourage you to share your favorites in the comments!
After a slight break to feature various spooky monsters, I’m heading back to the ship “Serenity” to finish off a few more characters. I promised you all I would not leave you hanging. Back in September I told you all about the crew of “Serenity.” The comments section hit on an obvious title that I overlooked so I wanted to make sure that it was added. Blog reader Shari said that Kaylee would also love Cinder by Marissa Meyer. After I read that comment, I mentally kicked myself and I’m not ashamed to say it hurt a bit. Of course Kaylee would love the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer! Not only is it futuristic, it’s set in a world where Chinese influences run abundantly…just like Kaylee’s world. Also, with as much as she likes to take apart and fix “Serenity,” she would love a story where cyborgs run freely. Great suggestion! I just wish I thought of it first. :P
Ok, back to the ship.
Inara Serra – Inara is a very proper lady by those viewing her merely for her profession. A companion is basically a fancy prostitute and Inara holds her head up high at the prestige she gains. However, we witness every episode a subconscious, or sometimes very conscious, desire for real love. Her schoolyard relationship with Mal makes the audience cheer for their snarky exteriors to melt away and their true romantic feelings to take the lead. That is why I believe that Inara would love books that regard strong female characters in a positive light, but still has a bit of romance. I would recommend The Selection by Kiera Cass to Inara particularly because America stands tall with her convictions instead of following the crowd of wannabee princesses. The romance is there, but it’s America who decides to whom those romantic tendencies will flourish. In a similar vein, I would slip Inara Academy 7 by Anne Osterlund. This title is a bit more romance, but the secrets kept by the main characters definitely taking center stage over the romance from time to time. And I believe that Inara’s secrets are fairly unmatched. Continue reading What Would They Read?: Firefly Part 2
Making stuff isn’t something that is usually associated with libraries, but it should be. The maker movement is still going strong, and it’s showing everyone that teens use libraries for all sorts of learning- including how to make all sorts of things. YALSA’s 2014 Maker Contest is going on right now, and applicants have the chance to win some neat prizes as well as share their awesome ideas with others. The deadline to apply is September 1st and you can go here to learn more and to apply. (Get some ideas on how to create a maker/ DIY program here.)
Finding themes in YA fiction that go along with the maker movement wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be until I thought bigger and stopped limiting myself to duct tape. When I did that I found a bunch that I thought might spark some interest in doing with teens. I also found some nonfiction titles, too, to get us all started on the doing!
Pizza, Love, and Other Stuff That Made Me Famous by Kathryn Williams follows sixteen-year-old Sophie from the kitchen in her family’s restaurant in Washington, D.C., to the set of â€œTeen Test Kitchen,â€ a new reality show about teens cooking that her best friend has convinced her to audition for. Is Sophie ready to compete with her cooking, though? Hopefully growing up in the family restaurant will have been enough training!
Although Pizza, Love, and Other Stuff That Made Me Famous includes recipes, there are lots of teen oriented cookbooks out there. A Teen Guide toâ€¦ cookbook series by Dana Meachen Rau covers everything from Breakfast on the Go to Quick Healthy Snacks, and includes safety tips, conversion charts, and tons of tips throughout. Even I can cook using these, and I once tried to microwave a frozen noodle dinner for seventeen minutes instead of seven!
The two types of books I check out most from the library are young adult books and picture books. In my case, this is because I’m a thirty-something librarian who likes to read YA books, while I have three kids who like like to read picture books. It occurred to me that I might not be the only reader who’s currently interested in both YA and picture book audiences: lots of teens have younger siblings, many librarians at small libraries serve patrons who run the gamut of ages, and some people just like to read both picture books and YA books! I’ve also noticed that some themes and stories appear frequently in both types of literature, so I’ll be doing an occasional series on picture books and YA books that go together.
The first theme for this series basically chose itself… I love fairy tale retellings, and my middle child has been obsessed with Cinderella for the last year and a half, and going strong! There are tons of Cinderella retellings out there, so I tried to select a few of our family favorites for the picture book selections, and some YA options that have garnered attention in recent years.
Adelita: A Mexican Cinderella Story, retold and illustrated by Tomie dePaola. A version that doesn’t rely on magic, the story of Adelita shows how a sweet disposition, a childhood friendship, and the help of a beloved family servant win Adelita her happily-ever-after.
Cinderella, retold by Max Eilenberg, illustrated by Niamh Sharkey. There are many retellings of the “classic” French version, first attributed to Charles Perrault, and this is one such retelling. Eilenberg takes some liberty with the story though, by giving the narration more of an oral storytelling feel, adding a third ball (Perrault’s version has two), and letting Cinderella’s father redeem himself in the end (in Perrault’s version, he is the quintessential hen-pecked husband who does not stand up for his daughter. Continue reading Young Adult-Picture Book Pairings: Cinderella Stories
March 9 – 15 is YALSA’s annual Teen Tech Week, when libraries shine a spotlight on all of the great technological tools that they offer for their patrons. And though this event only lasts for one week, technology is a core element of most libraries’ mission year round. More and more are offering digital labs and makerspaces where patrons can learn to use technology to create fantastic projects and give free rein to their imagination.
One of my favorite examples of this is the prosthetic Robohand that was recently created for a young boy using the 3-D printer at the Johnson County Library Makerspace. As soon as I read the story, it got me thinking about all of the great stories I have read about technology being used to augment the human body or even change what it means to be a person. And, so, in honor of Teen Tech Week, I decided to create a list of some of my favorite books about technology being used to augment the human body or fundamentally alter humanity as we currently conceive of it. Continue reading Teen Tech Week: Building a Better Human