Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2024) Featured Review: Mascot by Charles Waters and Traci Sorell

  • Mascot
  • by Charles Waters and Traci Sorell
  • Publisher: Charlesbridge
  • Release date: Sept 5, 2023
  • ISBN: 9781623543808

As part of their 8th grade Honors English class, students are asked to consider whether their mascot, an “Indian Brave”, is appropriate and whether it should be changed.  Their assignment: write a research paper and be prepared to debate the topic as partners in class.

Told from the perspectives of the students in the class, their teacher, and community stakeholders, this provides a nuanced discussion of a timely and controversial topic written by #ownvoices authors. Engaging writing with ample white space allows the plot to flow well.  Student voices and perspectives are distinct and realistic, but the language used makes it accessible to teens on the younger end of the age range.
Students who are athletes or are passionate fans, as well as those readers who want to better understand diverse perspectives will connect with this books. Hand this title to young social justice advocates who liked Miles Morales: Suspended by Jason Reynolds or those who want to think deeply about identity and liked Rain Rising by Courtne Comrie.

-Melissa Palmer

Other Nominated Titles

Release Date: February 21, 2023
Release Date: May 23, 2023
Release Date: September 12, 2023

The Selected Lists teams read throughout the year in search of the best titles published in their respective categories. Once a book is suggested (either internally or through the title suggestion form), it must pass through a review process to be designated an official nomination.

Each week, the teams feature a review of one of the officially nominated titles. Additional titles to receive this designation are listed as well. At year’s end, the team will curate a final list from all nominated titles and select a Top Ten.

The Best Fiction for Young Adults Committee appreciates teen feedback as members evaluate the nominated titles. Teen librarians are encouraged to share the List of Potential Nominees under consideration with their patrons and solicit feedback using the link: https://bit.ly/BFYA24TeenFB

Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2024) Featured Review: Miles Morales: Suspended by Jason Reynolds

  • Miles Morales Suspended: A Spider-Man Novel
  • by Jason Reynolds
  • Narrated by Guy Lockard and Nile Bullock
  • Simon and Schuster Audio
  • Publication Date: May 2, 2023
  • ISBN: 9781797145600

Miles must serve a day of in-school suspension as a result of the events in the previous book, where he took down The Wardens and pushed back against his racist history teacher. It seems that his spidey sense is on the fritz again, but Miles is having trouble dodging his detention teacher and figuring out what is happening. Using his powers and sleuthing, Miles determines that super termites have begun attacking the school, specifically the history books with black and brown histories. While these evil termites must be stopped, Miles is going to need to find a way to do that without extending his suspension.

Yet again, Jason Reynolds’s mastery elevates this superhero storyline and plays with the setting by reducing the timeline of events to one day. Narrators Lockard and Bullock expertly match Reynolds’s prowess by providing a layered audio reading of this story. The audible “bzzzs” and “whams” add to the superhero world and Miles’s voice shows how this story matters even beyond the Spiderverse. Even if bugs make you squeamish, this audiobook has so much more to offer. Both fans of superhero comics and Jason Reynolds’s other works will find something awesome in this title.

-Sarah Carpenter

The Selected Lists teams read throughout the year in search of the best titles published in their respective categories. Once a book is suggested (either internally or through the title suggestion form), it must pass through a review process to be designated an official nomination.

Each week, the teams feature a review of one of the officially nominated titles. Additional titles to receive this designation are listed as well. At year’s end, the team will curate a final list from all nominated titles and select a Top Ten.

How to Help Teens Discover Poetry

Halfway through college, I still hated poetry.

I kept it hidden pretty well. You’re not supposed to hate poetry if you’re an English Education major. You’re supposed to love anything to do with writing and uphold all of these classic poets and authors who have been upheld since (what feels like) the beginning of time.

But mostly, I got bored reading poetry. Sure, it was something I was capable of doing, but it definitely wasn’t something I enjoyed. Like most students, I looked at poems as a short piece a writer double-dipped in things like “metaphors” and “conceits” before giving them to teachers to use as a way to make their students’ heads hurt as they tried to figure out the “deeper meaning” of each poem. Poetry just seemed like a lot of work.

Then Ted Kooser came to do a reading at my college.

 

I only went because my English professors were providing extra credit for those who attended. Then I promptly squeezed the arms of my chair as hard as possible for the next hour or so as Ted Kooser read a variety of his works.

I did not realize poetry could be like this, I thought to myself. See, Ted didn’t really seem to worry about rhyme or meter or that type of thing. His sole concern seemed to be finding ways to relate everyday moments in ways that made you stop and think. To recognize something and describe it in a way that you didn’t expect but made you blurt out “Exactly! That’s exactly right!” once you heard or read it.

And that’s when I realized that I didn’t hate poetry. I just hadn’t found the right poet until that moment. I proceeded to buy and eat up all of Ted’s books. I talked with professors and researched online and found other poets who wrote in a similar vein that I liked. Poets like Billy Collins, Donald Hall, Naomi Shihab Nye, Taylor Mali, and Tania Runyan.

Many young adults don’t enjoy poetry, but you can help them find find “their” poet and discover the joys of poetry.

how to help teens discover poetry

I started writing poems and sending them out in the hopes of getting published. I sang the praises of poetry wherever I went. Here are some ways I’ve tried to promote poetry in my classroom and library: Continue reading How to Help Teens Discover Poetry

Booklist: Fiction and Nonfiction for Teen Poets and Writers

In 1996, the Academy of American Poets established April as National Poetry Month to encourage the reading of poetry and increase awareness of American poetry.  It is a great time to support and inspire the teen writers and poets who frequent your library!  Below is a sampling of fiction and nonfiction books to help you do just that.

YA Fiction Featuring Teen Writers

Words and Their Meanings by Kate Bassett

Ever since her beloved Uncle Joe died, aspiring writer Anna has lost her muse.  This poignant debut novel follows Anna through her grief journey as she struggles to rediscover her passion for writing and cope with the knowledge that she may not have known her uncle as well as she thought.

Gabi: A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero (2015 Morris Award Winner, Best Fiction for Young Adults, Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers Top Ten)

In this novel in journal format, Gabi explores her feelings about her friend’s pregnancy, finds her voice in poetry, and works on her school’s zine.

Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

During November of her senior year, Darcy wrote a novel for National Novel Writing Month that was picked up by a major publisher.  In this unique book, chapters from Darcy’s novel alternate with her adventures in New York as she foregoes her first year of college to dedicate herself to the publication process. Continue reading Booklist: Fiction and Nonfiction for Teen Poets and Writers

Line by Line: Poetry in Teen Fiction

Poetry in YA

Poetry has been figuring in a lot of teen literature lately. Have you noticed? I don’t mean novels in verse, quality as some recent titles have been. Nor do I mean poetry collections for teens (a la Poisoned Apples or Paint Me Like I Am). The Guardian noticed this poetry trend, too, pointing out a few examples in a recent article, and asked its readers for more.

I liked how the article noted authors’ uses of poetry, such as Meg Cabot beginning the chapters of Avalon High with stanzas from The Lady of Shalott. These stanzas just happen to give a clue about the characters’ identities. The article also mentioned a similar use of poetry in Clockwork Angel, by Cassandra Clare: the lines that open the chapters are all from poets who lived in the time of the novel’s setting, late-19th century London. Continue reading Line by Line: Poetry in Teen Fiction