YALSA (Young Adult Literary Services Association) & The Hub

I had a great time exploring the YALSA sight along with The Hub and finding even more books that I want to read (I think I now seriously need a job where all I do is read all day long!) What a great sight to explore and find reading material of every make and model! (I couldn’t believe there were lists for audiobooks, graphic novels, and college bound students!)

technology-music-sound-things.jpgThe first list that I explored was the “Amazing Audiobooks for Young Readers”. I started with this list because I have been trying to find some great audiobooks for my auditory learners and those that need a little extra help. What a surprise to find one of my all-time favorite-books from this semester listed on there Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys! I loved reading this book, but now to know that it is also an audiobook, I can’t wait to let my students know!

I then jetted over to “Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers”. There I found a great list of books that sound very interesting. One that I’ve been wanting to read is Scythe by Neal Schusterman. This is not the only interesting book that I found on that list, there are plethora of books listed that I think would be extremely interesting to a lot of my students and could certainly pique their interests. pexels-photo-256520.jpeg

I next went on to explore “Graphic Novels for Teens”, the “Alex Awards”, “Odyssey Awards”, and “Nonfiction”. These places again have lists upon lists of interesting books, too many to name. A couple more that I found and added to my TBR list were: Kill the Boy Band by Goldy Moldavsky and #Notyourprincess:Voices of Native American Women by Lisa Charleyboy. Kill the Boy Band sound absolutely hilarious! Also on The Hub, I found a new series that I really want to read, the first book being The Cruel Prince by Holly Black. (Sorry dear, the house won’t be cleaned for another 10 years…too busy!)

I definitely see the benefit in using the YALSA sight and The Hub for my personal reading and for the classroom. I’m excited to show the students these sights and let them explore in order to find more books that might be to their liking. It’s nice to be able to personally suggest books to students, but we are only one person and obviously not capable of reading all the great books that are out their for students. This will give us another avenue in which to steer students to help them in their reading quests. And as we all know…any extra help we are able to get…is priceless!


Reading Response ~ It’s Monday!!


if i was your girl


If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo is a compelling coming of age novel about a transgender girl trying to find her way in the world. Amanda Hardy (born Andrew) goes to live with her father, whom she has been estranged from since transitioning, after she is severely beaten in the bathroom at the mall in Lambertville, where her mom lived. After moving in with her dad and starting a new school, Amanda integrates herself into the “popular” girls’ group with all the boys fawning over her. At the new school, she meets another girl named Bee, whom she also becomes friends with and begins dating a boy named Grant (who she tries to tell the truth to, but he says he doesn’t need to know all her secrets).

The novel proceeds with Amanda’s new life, where she finally feels like she belongs, while flashing back to her earlier years before the beating in the mall. From the flashbacks, we learn that Amanda had attempted suicide the year before the beating, and we also learn about the mental struggles she dealt with in the earlier years.

During one of Bee and Amanda’s conversations, Amanda learns that Bee is bi-sexual, and feeling that she can trust Bee, confides in her that she is transsexual. Everything seems to finally be going well for Amanda when a drunk Bee reveals the truth about Amanda during the homecoming dance. Because of this revelation, Amanda is attacked again. At the end, Amanda finally is able to find her true self-worth and love who she has become. (I left out quite a lot as to not spoil it for others)

This book was a great read, and I really enjoyed it. It showed what transgender people can go through and how they have a hard time dealing with the way society treats them. It also showed that everyone, no matter your race, gender, or sexual orientation are all looking for the same thing: to be accepted and loved. I think this book would be great for older students to read (as there are a few sexual parts, though nothing graphic). It would be good for students to understand what transgender youths go through, and it would also be good for transgender students to read, to show that they are not alone and they too deserve to have a great life and healthy love. I think this book sends a positive message and has great educational value.


Forever…. by Judy Blume

The second book I finished reading this past week was Forever… by Judy Blume. Forever… is a coming of age book dealing with adolescent sexuality. The story revolves around Katherine (Kat) and Michael, two teens who fall in love during their senior year in high school after meeting at a New Year’s Eve party. Their relationship is followed throughout the story, starting with the innocence of dating and then to the issue of a sexual relationship. Kat’s confidant and best friend, Erica views sex as more of a physical thing and feels Kat should just “get it out of the way”. Kat on the other hand, views sex more emotionally, and takes a slower approach with Michael. The book follows the two as they discover the depths of their relationship and whether or not they will be together Forever….

This was my “re-read” book from when I was a teen. I remember reading this book as a junior in high school, and after re-reading the book, I think I probably should have been older than that to read it! I knew that the book contained sexual scenes, but re-reading it now, there where more of these parts then I had remembered. Overall, I didn’t think the story was that intriguing. I’m sure that the reason I remembered it as a teen was because that would have been a time when relationship issues were coming to the forefront of teenage minds. This book has been continually targeted on censorship lists, and I can understand why. It is definitely not a book I would recommend for any student under the age of 17, and honestly, it probably should be for teens 18 and up. It does deal with an issue that all (or almost all) teens face in their lives, but with the graphic descriptions in this book, it would not be one that should be read by just any teen.


Teens, Literacy, and Social Media

Teens and social media, two words that are never far apart. It doesn’t come as surprise then that social media is another way for teens to learn, share, and tpexels-photo-267350.jpegalk about books. This week, we were asked to research how teens are using social media to connect to books and other readers.

In my search, I found a couple great articles that tackle this issue. The first article I read was written by Karen Jensen, whom works in the teen department of a library, titled “Using Snapchat to Engage Teens at the Library“. She said she had noticed that few teens were following the library’s Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter feeds and had asked them why. They had told her they didn’t think the content was relevant to them, therefore she decided to do something about it. In the article, she talks about using Snapchat as a way to be more engaged with teens. Since teens are on their Snapchat accounts anyway, she has found that it is a nice way to get the word out about upcoming events at the library as well as posting book talk videos once a week on the Library’s story channel.

A second article that I came across was “Book Tweets and Snappy Reads: Booktalking to Engage Millennial Teens” from the Journal of Research on Libraries & Young Adults 6 (2015). In this article it states, “Research shows that one outcome of all these digital ways of interaction is that young people have become short-attention-spanned multitaskers” (Irivin). With this in mind, being able to reach teens has now become an art, with many libraries opting to use social media sites like Snapchat, Instagram, and/or Twitter to get their message out, especially with booktalks. Not only are these media sites where the majority of teens are hanging out, it is also in a format (quick snippets) that are able to keep teens’ attentions. The article also went on to outline six different ways to organize the booktalks in order to get the most out of the short amount of text each of these formats provide.

A third article I found was “Snapchat in the Library” by

person-woman-apple-iphone.jpgAfter reading these articles, I decided to research the social media sites myself, to see what I could find. My first search was on Snapchat. Okay, I have Snapchat, but I will be the first to admit I barely use it. Anyway, I tried to search for anything I could find on teen readers and books….and I failed. I then tried to find the “channels” (not sure that’s what they’re called) that I saw in my articles above…..and failed. I guess that one is going to have to wait until I have time to ask my students to help me search on Snapchat! I have no idea how to do it! My next stop was Twitter. Okay, never used Twitter until this class, but I think I’m becoming fairly knowledgeable on it now. I was able to find many tweets about adolescent literature, some even from teens! Eureka! It does seem that Twitter is an easy way for authors, librarians, and even teens to share books that they love books that they want to read. Goodreads is at least an easy one to navigate. There are many groups that adolescents can and do belong to in Goodreads in order to share the love of books. I like that there are options for almost any teen when considering a group to join. It is also a great place for them to collect lists of books they’ve read and/or want to read. The last stop on my social media adventure took me to Facebook. There are many groups that you can find that cater to adolescents and their love of reading. It is just another format that teens can use in order to connect with others of the same interest.

Final thought…social media is here to stay, there is no denying it. We have to learn to embrace it and use it to reach as many adolescents as possible. And if it is used to catch a teen’s attention, and steers them to a new book, then that is what it is all about.

Works Cited:

Irvin, Vanessa. Book Tweets and Snappy Reads: Booktalking to Engage Millennial Teens. Journal of Research on Libraries & Young Adults 6 (2015): n. page. Web.

Reading Response ~ It’s Monday!!

Through the Woods by Emily Carroll

Well, I tried it again. This week I read a graphic novel titled Through the Woods by Emily Carroll. As many of you know, I really have a hard time reading graphic novels; I’m not sure if I get too distracted by the pictures or if it’s just a mental block. But for the sake of “never giving up”, I again read one more, just to see how it would go. Unfortunately, once again, it was almost pure torture for me to get through.

Through the Woods is a collection of short stories that have dark fairy tale attributes set in the middle of the woods. There are five separate stories ranging from “Our Neighbor’s House” where a father is dead and a strange visitor prowls around at night, to “The Nesting Place” a story about a girl who takes over other’s bodies.

I will be perfectly honest here, the only one of the five short stories that I was able to really follow was “The Nesting Place”. I really struggled to figure out what the other story plots were even about. The illustrations were well done and definitely give the book the Gothic feel of horror stories.

Although I didn’t enjoy this book, I can see where it would be appealing to those readers that enjoy scary stories and graphic novels. Since it is also a short story collection, each story is an extremely quick read. I probably am not the best person to try to give this book a fair review, as I have now completely, after trying three graphic novels, come to the conclusion that graphic novels just are not for me.

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely

Our second book that we have finished for our book club “Chimney Rock Readers” is the novel All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely.  This novel follows the lives of two teenage boys: Rashad and Quinn.

When Rashad (African American, a good student, part of the ROTC) goes to the corner bodega to get a bag of chips, his who life gets turned upside down. As he was bent down to retrieve something from his bag, a lady accidentally trips over him causing a chain of events. Paul Galluzzo, a cop mistakes Rashad for a shoplifter and drags Rashad outside, while Rashad tries to declare is innocence, Galluzzo mistakes (or ignores) Rashad’s pleas of innocence as resisting arrest. Therefore, Galluzzo proceeds to beat Rashad outside in a horrific manner.

Quinn, who is best friends with Paul Galluzzo’s brother, is outside the bodega and witnesses the brutal beating Galluzzo gives Rashad. Galluzzo has also been there for Quinn since Quinn’s dad died in Afghanistan. Quinn has to come to terms with himself as to which side he is going to stand with. On the one hand, he has Galluzzo who has been almost a father-figure to him and on the other, he witnessed an innocent boy (and school mate) get beaten for no apparent reason.

The book is full of current issues that are happening in America today. You get to see the side of the African American boys who are always looked upon with suspicion just by the way they look/dress. You see the side of Quinn, who has to decide if “family” or fairness is the most logical road to take. You are also shown in a small part, how police have to deal with the every day knowledge that something could happen to them. And finally, it shows the tension that happens between races on a daily basis.

I think that this book has many important issues that are worth visiting about. These are current issues that we and students struggle with, and because of this, I think it’s a book that would appeal to many different students. I can see this book maybe more appealing to boys than to girls, but the issues affect all equally. I found this book fine to read, but I will admit, this was not my favorite book, and it did take me a while to finish. It wasn’t a book that I found ‘compelling’ me to finish reading it. And once I did get to the end…..Ugh! Disappointed at the cliff-hanger ending!

Penny Kittle Chapters 5 & 6 ~ Reading Aloud to Students

All during my elementary teaching years, reading aloud to students was the one thing that I held sacred. No matter the schedule, I always made sure to find time to read to the students. Unfortunately, since moving to the middle and high school, this is something I have not incorporated into my schedule, with the exception of whole novel studies; I truly miss it. I found it interesting, given my own experience, that Penny Kittle also mentioned that this happens in the later grades, as we start to try to get everything taught in the time allotted; we forget still-life-teddy-white-read-159080.jpegthat personal reading is just as important.

I know that even before reading this week’s articles, I had already been planning to bring read-aloud back into my classrooms. At times, this may be the only opportunity some students have to become familiar with certain literature. Even though I am not a person who enjoys others reading to me, I know that listening comprehension is important for many students. This needs to be balanced with independent reading to reach as many students as possible.

Book Love chapter 5 talks about the power of “Book Talks”.  This is one area that I have been working very hard on this year. With the help of this class, I have been able to recommend more books then ever before and have so far gotten quite a few students to want to read some of the books I have read. I really enjoyed a couple of quotes that were in this chapter. The first one was what she tells her students at the beginning of the year, “Not reading is not an option. I expect my students to read every day and to read a large volume of books” (Kittle 59). I think that is priceless! I agree with her that if you set the bar high, most students will rise to the challenge and engage in the reading. The second quote that was very thought-provoking was when she said, “I wonder sometimes if we treat reading and all things school-if we treat learning-like somered-love-heart-typography.jpgthing so unpleasant and unnatural as to require dog biscuits to get them to do what we want” (Kittle 64). This is so true. Instead of making reading/learning something they want to do, we just dangle the proverbial carrot in front of them to make them do it.

I have taken away a lot of ideas from the Book Love readings this week. From using the books as mentors in writing, to conferencing with a purpose in mind, I feel that I have gained a lot of knowledge that I didn’t have before. Sometimes I feel that I’m finding so many things that I want to incorporate into my teaching that my head is going to explode! I know that I now need to just start slowly putting these new ideas into place, but the main thing I want is for my students to become the types of readers that Kittle has grown in her own classroom. I can only hope to be half the mentor she is to her students.

Works Cited:

Kittle, Penny. Book love: developing depth, stamina, and passion in adolescent readers. Heinemann, 2013.


Reading Response ~ It’s Monday!!

the summer I wasnt me

The Summer I Wasn’t Me by Jessica Verdi

As one of my diverse books, I chose to read The Summer I Wasn’t Me by Jessica Verdi. This book follows the main character, Lexi, whose father has recently died and whose mother is now emotionally absent. When Lexi’s mom discovers that Lexi likes girls, she agrees to go for the summer to New Horizons, a facility that promises to end young people’s SSA (same sex addiction). Lexi hopes this choice will help her mom come out of the depression she has slipped into since her father has passed.

At New Horizons, Lexi finds a place that is over-the-top. The girls have to wear pink-frilly outfits and Lexi must attend group sessions in which she is forced to say that her condition was caused by her parents. Even with all this, Lexi is hopeful that the camp will work, not because she doesn’t like who she is, but because she just wants her mom to get better.

While at camp, she meets, Carolyn whom she thinks is the most beautiful girl she’s ever seen. This along with a secret revealed about the camp director, sabotages Lexi’s efforts to follow the program through. Will Lexi be able to make her mom well again, or will secrets revealed be the end to her? This is all revealed in the book, The Summer I Wasn’t Me.

I really enjoyed this book. It is a book dealing with homosexuality and the biases dealing with that, but it is also a book that is so much more. It’s a book about friendship, finding oneself, and love. It’s a book that you find yourself going through many emotions as you read. It’s a serious book, but it also had humor sprinkled in. I would recommend this book to students that are dealing with identifying whom they are but also to others that need to read more diversely.