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Major Character Deaths In YA Lit

Tue, 06/21/2016 - 07:00

I know we’ve all been shocked and upset when a favorite character unexpectedly dies in books and TV shows. I haven’t seen the TV show based on Cass Morgan’s The 100 series but I heard about one of the main character’s recent deaths’ and how enraged fans were (even though this character isn’t even in the books).

I know that killing off beloved characters isn’t new in books or TV series – but in the past it seems like it happened more infrequently – and characters weren’t always really dead. The “it was all a dream scenario” trope (like Bobby’s death in Dallas, yeah, I know, many of you weren’t even born then!) was used in many books and shows. Soap operas repeatedly reinforce the idea too.

Because of that, we’ve been primed to think that major characters won’t die but when it really happens in books and shows, we refuse to believe it and rail against the writers for killing off our favorite characters (Sean Bean as Ned Stark in Game of Thrones, or Will from The Good Wife) – even if that’s how it was originally written in the books that these shows were adapted from!

Even YA literature, where a majority of the books end happily or on a more hopeful note, is trending toward killing off more major characters than ever before.

I think it’s a reflection of the reality of the world we’re living in. More readers are also aware of it because of the prevalence of social media with its instant access to the news and the plot points from books and shows.

Is this a healthy trend? I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, when times are tough you want to escape reality by reading about positive things where good triumphs over evil. I know that’s why I love fantasy and science fiction. Superhero movies and graphic novels fulfill that need to believe that evil will be defeated and that the good guys may seem to die but aren’t really dead because they then come back to life.

Since we’re so used to superheroes that don’t or can’t die or books that have happy endings, when beloved characters do die, it’s even more of a shock and a betrayal. I don’t blame fans for going ballistic when a character dies, especially those who did not deserve it (Rue from The Hunger Games or Chuck from The Maze Runner).

Yet we know that death is a very real possibility in our daily lives. Characters have physical and mental illnesses and they die or take their own lives. It’s a tough reality but it’s still heartbreaking when it happens, especially when it happens more quickly or to a different character than you expected (like Augustus in The Fault in Our Stars). That’s why I think a lot of teens like realistic fiction because it doesn’t lie or mislead, the truth is there in all of its starkness and finality – like it or not. There’s a catharsis that the reader experiences in going through what the character does. You’ve survived at the end, even though the character hasn’t, even if you do have a headache from crying your eyes out over their death.

Maybe we as readers have we gone soft in always expecting characters to survive? Supernatural fantasies may use reanimation to being characters back to life that really should be dead but what about other dystopian books that realistically portray the reality of a cruel, hard world where few will survive? Is it really fair to expect authors to keep characters alive because they don’t want to anger or disappoint their fans? I don’t think it is.

If you want to read a great teen guest Hub blog post about getting over a fictional character’s death from 2014, check this out. Up to this point, I’ve tried hard not to blatantly include spoilers of some readers’ favorite characters who have been killed off, including my own favorites, but now I’m going to be specific.

Stop reading if you don’t want to know!


I know I’m not alone in having too many books to read and therefore not ever getting around to reading all the books in some popular trilogies. I had not read Allegiant by Veronica Roth until recently, and, somehow, had no idea what fate awaited the major characters. I was just as shocked and upset as the fans who read the book when it originally came out that Roth killed Tris (and of course, wasn’t happy about Will’s death either, but that’s easier to understand).

I think that’s one of the few instances I know of where an author was forced to defend her reasons for doing so in print. Roth spoke out on her personal webpage and to about the overwhelmingly negative reaction to her third Divergent book – and it marked the first time Roth ever talked to the media about major plot points in any of her novels. When she was asked, “Why did she have to die?” Roth said to MTV:

“It’s actually been set up that way. At the end of the first book she almost experiences death … and she sort of plays around with the idea of self-sacrifice…. In the second book the same thing happens …. In the third book, she learns what it actually means to sacrifice yourself. It has to be necessary; it has to be out of love. And to me it was her finally understanding what her parents were trying to teach her in Abnegation,” she added.”  Go to her blog for a longer explanation.

It might also explain why Roth’s Divergent and Insurgent were “Teens Top Ten Picks” but not Allegiant.

Although I was heartbroken by Tris’s death, I understand the reasoning behind it, and am resigned to it, but like so many others, wonder if they’ll change it in the movie. (I’m not ashamed to admit I really liked the films made so far based on Roth’s books).

Another death that hit me hard was Daniel from Susan Dennard’s Strange and Ever After (Something Strange and Deadly Trilogy Series #3). If you like Dennard’s most recent novel Truthwitch, you might want to read her earlier series. Eleanor is a Spirit-Hunter in 1850s England who has lost just about everything – her family, her friends and her ancestral home. And now, her friend Jie is missing. To get her back, Eleanor travels to nineteenth-century Egypt. While there, she has to learn to control her growing magical power, face her feelings for fellow-spirit hunter Daniel, and confront the evil necromancer Marcus–all before it’s too late. The price she pays is unimaginably high – Daniel’s death.

Tommy Wallach’s We All looked Up is about the lives of four high school seniors that intersect in the weeks before a meteor is set to pass through Earth’s orbit, with a 66.6% chance of striking and destroying all life on the planet. One of the four teens, Peter, a smart, overachieving athlete, is beaten to death by his younger sister’s violent drug dealing boyfriend Bobo. Even though we know there’s a very real possibility that no one will survive the meteor crash, Peter’s death is still very shocking.

In Jillian Cantor’s Searching for Sky, a sort-of reverse dystopian book, Sky and River have grown up together on a deserted island where they live with Sky’s mother and River’s father. Now both of the parents are dead, and while Sky is quite content with their life, River wants to be rescued and returned to civilization. A ship does come, and the two are taken to California to be reunited with their families. Sky does not adjust well to her new environment – with such strange things as cars and cell phones. She longs to reunite with River to return to the island but tragically, River is shot and dies.

Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood by Benjamin Alire Saenz takes place in the Vietnam era and features Sammy, who lives in a poor, Chicano, small-town New Mexico barrio. His mother’s dead but he has a caring father. Sammy falls in love with Juliana, a girl living in a nightmare of domestic abuse. We, the readers, and Sammy, are heartbroken when her alcoholic father murders her entire family. Sammy grieves, and in his grief, the memory of Juliana becomes his guide through this difficult year. This is one of first books I read where a major character dies and I still remember how upset it made me.

In Andrea Cremer’s Bloodrose: A Nightshade Novel, Calla has never shied away from battle or her role as Alpha among her pack, a group of wolf-human hybrids called the Guardians. She has brought her old lover Ren home to keep him safe only to face the wrath of her current lover Shay. Only once everyone is together—Ren, Shay, Adene, the pack and the Searchers (humans who have fought the Guardians until recently)—can they truly begin to fight the Keepers—the evil masters of this world. Ren dies in this last book in the series. Many readers were really upset about this because he seemed to be sacrificed for the sake of making Calla end up with Shay, and not to further the plot.

Joseph Brook looks like an average eighth-grader at Eastham Middle School, but he’s not, in Gary Schmidt’s Orbiting Jupiter. He became a father at age 13, spent time in juvie, and has an abusive father. Living with Jack’s family on their Maine farm could mean a normal life for him, but he is obsessed with finding Jupiter, the daughter he’s not allowed to see. Tragically, Joseph dies before he ever gets that chance. His is one of the most heartbreaking fates of any character I’ve read in a long time.

These deaths are all the more meaningful because of the sacrifice they’ve made for others. You may not like it, and you might want to throw the book again a wall, but in the end, it’s fitting, as long as it makes sense to the plot. There are books where deaths occur that don’t advance the plot, but are just there to make the story tie up nicely and in a more convenient way (usually in the case of love triangles). You don’t usually see this in well-written books because the authors’ have really have thought long and hard about their character’s story arcs.

What are some of your favorite characters who you hated to see die in YA books?

Sharon Rawlins, currently reading Sarah J. Maas’s A Court of Mist and Fury and listening to 100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith

The post Major Character Deaths In YA Lit appeared first on The Hub.

This Is Where YALSA Gets Really Interesting!

Tue, 06/21/2016 - 07:00

Did you know that YALSA has Interest Groups?

Well, technically, YALSA has just two interest groups : Teen Mental Health, convened by Meaghan Hunt-Wilson, and the Washington DC Metro Area, convened by Carrie Kausch. But next week at the ALA Annual Conference, the YALSA Board will be discussing the revitalization of interest groups. The possibilities for interest groups topics are as vast and varied as the teens we work with. As evidenced by the interest groups listed above, the focus can be a specific issue, or it can be the virtual meeting space for a geographical area, or something completely different that falls under the banner of young adult library services.

Personally, I think forming interest groups is ideal for members with an affection for specific collection development topics. These could be the hot topics of the day, such as an interest group that promotes diversity in library materials, or an ageless topic, such as interest groups that suggest good books for class discussions. Although YALSA creates wonderful lists and chooses literary awards each year, there’s still so much left to explore.

Take graphic novels, for example. YALSA compiles an annual list of noteworthy graphic novels published over the previous 15 months, called Great Graphic Novels for Teens. Perhaps an interest group focusing on graphic novels may be more interested in creating topical lists, or grade level recommendations. Interest groups are member-driven and flexible, very different from YALSA committees that must be aligned with the objectives of the strategic plan.

Some ideas for collection-related interest groups:

  • Picture books for teens
  • LBGT memoirs
  • Paranormal romances with diverse characters
  • Civil War materials
  • Adult horror with crossover appeal
  • Poetry
  • Career readiness resources
  • YA book blogs
  • Classic audiobooks
  • Westerns
  • digital resources
  • special circulating collections, like maker kits

For information about starting an interest group, read these FAQ.

Want to learn more about the revitalization of YALSA Interest Groups? The YALSA Board will be discussing this topic, among others, at the ALA Annual Conference in Orlando on Sunday, June 26, from 4:30 – 5:30pm, Convention Center Room W234. All YALSA Board meetings are open to all conference attendees.

— Diane Colson, currently reading an advance reader’s copy of Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven.

The post This Is Where YALSA Gets Really Interesting! appeared first on The Hub.

What Problems Do You Want to Solve? Using Literature to Discuss Child Exploitation

Mon, 06/20/2016 - 07:00

Ask About What?

We have all met students who we know are destined to go on and do great things because of deep empathy for others or their leadership skills. And as graduation season wraps up for colleges and high schools across the country, I have been inspired to change my conversation with students in my high school after a slide shared at a conference went viral a while back.

“Don’t ask kids what they want to be when they grow up but what problems do they want to solve. This changes the conversation from who do I want to work for, to what do I need to learn to be able to do that.” (Casap)  

I spend more time now talking with students about things they want to change or issues that they see and how they are feeling and thought it would be good to visit the topic of child exploitation. It’s more than just an awareness, but how choices they’re making are a part of a global community. How is that coffee farmed in your Dunkin Donuts cup? Where are those Nikes made on your feet and how much do they pay their employees?

It can start with a discussion over one of these titles that features children being exploited: sexually, physically, or psychologically.

Discussing It Through Literature 

The Bitter Side of Sweet by Tara Sullivan

Amadou and Seydou are brought to work on a cacao farm while being starved, beaten, and punished, unable to escape the devastation with little hope of escape until Khadija, abducted from her mother’s home provides the strength to try after a traumatic injury threatens the youngest boy’s life.

Breaking Free: True Stories of Girls Who Escaped Modern Slavery by Abby Sher

The nonfiction titles showcases diverse stories related to trafficking for labor or sex. Inspiring stories that graphically detail their struggles in 2014.

Counting on Grace by Elizabeth Winthrop

Set in 1910 in Vermont, it features the Child Labor Board investing the crime of child labor in a factory where Grace meets the famous advocate Lewis Hine.

Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan

This well-read title features Esperanza who during the Great Depression has left their house in Mexico to find day-labor jobs in California in which her family faces discrimination and financial trouble.

Factory Girl by Barbara Greenwood

This nonfiction title features the Acme Garment Factory and the interwoven fictional tale of a girl named Emily who works eleven hours a day in the warehouse clipping threads featuring the plight of all types of child labor and the social conditions related to this labor.

The Queen of Water by Laura Resau

Based on a true story, this novel is about Virginia, who is taken to a mestizo family’s home to be their indentured servant in Ecuador where she suffers unspeakable horrors.

Sold by Patricia McCormick

This contemporary classic showcases sex trafficking in India when Lakshmi from Nepal is brought to a brothel where she must endure to survive in the hopes of being rescued or escaping.

Traffick by Ellen Hopkins

With five narrators in the story, Traffick features male and female teenagers and their sexual exploitation at the hands of adults.

A Walk Across the Sun by Corban Addison

Set in Mumbai, two sisters who are orphaned and homeless are abducted and taken to the brothels and hope that Thomas Clarke, a foreigner can save them in time to save them from this fate.

Now What?

During these book discussions, facts can be gathered from the United States Department of Justice’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and UNICEF. And sometimes it’s best to start with current articles and new stories like the Ohio mother who is accused of offering her eleven year old daughter to drug dealers in exchange for heroin to feed her addiction. In the article it specifically mentions a problem with child trafficking in their area and visits by Homeland Security.

Evident in this story is an addiction to drugs. In our area alone, there have been multiple overdose deaths in the last two years leading communities and schools to host presenters, survivors, and family of these loved ones discussing both the drug but also the consequences that usually coincide.

So it might be a start to put up a display or highlight books that feature storylines of child exploitation, but it would be another to discuss the books and what the average student can do to change this, while they’re still in high school, but also in what problems that they see that they’d like to solve. Think about this the next time you’re having a conversation with any teenager. Don’t ask what they’re going to study or what they want to be, ask them what problems they see and how they’d like to solve them.


Alicia Abdul, currently reading A Fierce and Subtle Poison by Samantha Mabry

The post What Problems Do You Want to Solve? Using Literature to Discuss Child Exploitation appeared first on The Hub.

We Love a Good Summer Read

Mon, 06/20/2016 - 07:00

Summer is a fantastic time for reading. Even if you do not take a vacation out of town or have time off work, there is something about the season that lends itself to setting aside time for a few special books. I’ve mentioned before that planning my summer reading is an important process for me and I reached out to others who are equally enthusiastic. Today, four bloggers are sharing our plans for summer reading. Get your TBR lists ready because you’re bound to find something to look into here!

Dawn Abron
Dawn decided to go with a theme for her summer reading this year.

The Summer of Sequels

  • Ghostly Echos by William Ritter
  • The King Slayer by Virginia Boecker
  • The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater
  • The Inquisition by Taran Matharu
  • Aerie by Maria Dahvana Headley
  • Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
  • A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir
  • Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard
  • A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

Alicia Abdul
Alicia has arranged a collection of summer reads that range from newly-released short stories to centuries-old plays.

  • Broken Crowns by Lauren DeStefano
  • Summer Days and Summer Nights edited by Stephanie Perkins
  • The Crown by Kiera Cass
  • Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng (2015 Alex Award winner)
  • Mirror in the Sky by Aditi Khorana
  • Never Ever by Sara Saedi
  • The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
  • Traitor Angels by Anne Blankman
  • Something in Between by Melissa de la Cruz
  • The Thousand and One Nights
  • A few Shakespeare plays, including A Winter’s Tale
  • A Fierce and Subtle Poison by Samantha Mabry
  • Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk

Sharon Rawlins
Sharon called in a canine companion to keep her company while she tackles these two recent releases.

  • A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
  • The Sleeping Prince by Melinda Salisbury

Jessica Lind
I’ve organized my reading around my vacation in Florida, time at home in Russia, and the hours of flights in between.

Share your reading plans for this summer in the comments – we’re always looking for recommendations!

If you need a few more ideas, be sure the check out this list of summer-themed reads featuring women in comics and the Hub Challenge (even though it ends in a few days, it is a great resource for lists of and feedback on recent award winners).

— Jessica Lind, currently reading one of my SPb summer picks, SuperMutant Magic Academy by Jillian Tamaki

The post We Love a Good Summer Read appeared first on The Hub.

The History of YA: World History Through YA Fiction

Fri, 06/17/2016 - 07:00

We’ve all been there. A teen visits your desk with a WWII request and when you hand them The Book Thief, you are met wide eyes and the question, “Do you have anything smaller?”  You think you’ve found the perfect book and hand them Number the Stars and this time you are met with a face of disgust and “I don’t like that cover; that looks old.” Where are all the historical fiction books that teens will want to read?  Your wishes have been granted because YA historical fiction has come a long way in recent years.  Authors are blending historical fiction with the paranormal, science fiction, Shakespeare, and assassin nuns.

Below is a list of historical fiction titles that will not only make teens do their own research, they will make you a reader’s advisory superstar!


336 BC

A reimagining of Alexander the Great where seven people have secrets and missions.


Hope’s mother has died and her father ships her off to an aunt she’s never met in Scotland.  After only a couple of hours in Scotland, Hope learns that she comes from a family of time travelers and she must help stop their nemesis.

Botille and her sisters are trying to live a quiet life in 13th century France when she helps a heretic fugitive with mythical powers.  With the church investigating the mythical stranger, Botille and her family have a difficult choice-believe or not believe in Dolssa.

Abandoned by her home, Wallachia and father, Lada and Radu fight for survival as they are raised by the Ottoman courts.  While set on revenge, Lada and Radu find love and friendship in Mehmen the future ruler of the empire they are trained to fight.

  • Grave Mercy by Robin Lefavers

Isme bears the mark of death and no man will have her except a disgusting man her father forces her to marry.  After escaping her abusive husband, Isme finds safety at a convent of assassin nuns where she learns about her mark and how to serve her true father, the God of Death.


Samantha Mather is a descendant of the Salem Witch hunters and when she moves to Salem Massachusetts, she becomes the classmate of the descendants of those who were accused and hanged for being witches.  In addition to her new classmates, Sam’s house is haunted by a ghost from the witch trials and she finds out she is cursed.  She must work with her classmates to break the curse.

What was Blackbeard, the pirate, like as a teenager?  Blackhearts imagines Blackbeard as a teen as he falls in love with Anne, his father’s bi-racial servant.

The day before Lady Helen is to be presented to the queen, her housemaid mysteriously disappears.  While trying to find her maid, Helen finds herself in the bowls of the London underground and it’s many supernatural beings.

Lee has a gift; she can sense gold.   When a family tragedy arises, Lee heads to California during the height of the gold rush.

During the midst of the American Civil War, Catrina finds an amnesic man in her fields.  After falling in love, Catrina and Stonefield want to escape the war torn south and her over protective brother but when Stonefield regains his memory, decisions must be made and sides must be taken.

Audrey is a respectable Victorian lady by day and a forensic scientist at night and when mutilated corpses begin to show up in her uncle’s lab, Audrey finds herself in the middle of England’s most notorious serial killer.


Thrown out of her private school and shunned by her father for painting nude boys, Vicky finds a new cause, help women attain the right to vote.

Hanalee, the daughter of a white mother, is mourning the death of her black father when his accused murderer is released from jail.  After claiming his innocence, Joe informs Hanalee that her father was murdered.  During her quest to find her father’s murderer, Hanalee must deal with her strange step father, the rise of the Klu Klux Klan, and her forbidden feelings for a white boy.

It’s near the end of WWII and four refugees travel on foot during January to board the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship bound for safety. This is the story of the lesser known tragedy of the Wilhelm Gustloff.

On the middle of the integrated south two girls, one white and one black, find themselves classmates and close friends.

Against her parent’s wishes, JJ interns as a songwriter instead of attending law school.  During the summer of ’63, midst civil unrest and the Kennedy Administration, she suddenly finds herself in a middle of a murder mystery.

1971-The Future

During the heatwave of the summer of ’77, Nora has major decisions to make-what to do with the rest of her life.  Her father has moved on to a better family, her brother is mentally declining, and she’s falling in love during the women’s rights movement, black power, and the summer of a serial killer-Sam Berkowitz.

Greta and her mother live on the communist side of the Berlin wall while her father and brother live on the west side and cannot return home.  When Greta’s father sends her a message to escape to the west side through a tunnel beneath the wall, Greta and her family must risk their lives to be reunited.

Maggie’s mother has remarried and moved  her family to Ireland.  A sudden death in her family encourages Maggie to drop everything and to go see Nirvana play one of their last performances in Rome.

The lives of three teens are forever affected by the September 11 terrorist attacks.

In a futuristic London, the printing press was never invented and therefore reproductions cannot be made.  Because the library has the only copy of every book ever made, a librarian is the most important job in the world.  Jess is gifted and goes to Alexandra to train to be a librarian.  Soon Jess finds himself in a war between knowledge an life.

Printable PDF of Booklist (11×17)

Dawn Abron is Currently Reading-A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

The post The History of YA: World History Through YA Fiction appeared first on The Hub.

#HubChallenge Twitter Chat June 15th at 7 pm CST

Tue, 06/14/2016 - 12:39

We’ve had such a great time discussing all the titles from the awards and selected lists during this year’s Hub Challenge, Hub bloggers wanted to invite all the participants (and anyone who has read the eligible titles) to chat about them on twitter tomorrow, June 15th, at 7 pm CST.

I’ll be moderating the discussion (@molly_wetta) and you can join in by following the hashtag #hubchallenge. We recommend participating through an application like Tweetdeck or Tweetchat to follow the hashtag. Check out these tips on participating if you’re new to twitter chats

Q1: Introduce yourself (name, location, job function, or whatever you feel like sharing).

Q2: What was your favorite book you read for the 2016 #hubchallenge?

Q3: What was the book most out of your comfort zone?

Q4: What book are you most excited to recommend to teens?

Q5: Did you try any new formats as part of the challenge? (audiobooks, manga, graphic novels)

Questions? Let me know! Hope to see you on Twitter tomorrow night.

— Molly Wetta, currently reading The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson

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Podcasts: Resources for Listening and Recording

Mon, 06/13/2016 - 07:00

It started with an addiction tothe Serial podcast hosted by Sarah Koenig created by those of This American Life. It was a true-crime story of the murder of a high school girl in 1999 in Baltimore. The presumed killer is her ex-boyfriend. Over the course of each episode, Koenig’s voice pulls listeners into the story, only to have to wait for the next installment. But it’s better than waiting a year or more for your favorite series book to come out. That’s the best part of podcasting, there can be a quicker turnaround than the process of publishing a book. And with the right tools, any teen can create a podcast and any youth services librarian can help with it. 

The addiction to Serial then led to the second season about Bowe Bergdahl and wanting to hear more. Sometimes there isn’t time to watch and listen, you just want to listen: while running, while doing a mundane task, while riding public transportation. So I wanted a place that was able to pull these podcasts together on my device, so I downloaded Stitcher, an app that provides “radio on demand”, allowing you to add podcasts to your playlist, listening now or later, with my new favorite being The Moth Radio Hour, which has helped scientists map out the brain in this article by the LA Times. Others include Radiolab or iTunes or directly on sites where you can listen from your PC or  that provide the RSS like NPR.  

The suggestion like getting your feet wet with Twitter is that you lurk for a while. So queue up podcasts that interest you, whether it’s fitness tips from personal trainers to new TED talk topics, see what’s out there. Really listen to them. What do you like about the broadcast? Does it have some great theme music or does the person have a fantastic voice that is slow enough to understand? Does the podcast interview others or is it one person talking? Does it seem like it has a focus or is it unscripted? When I was listening, I would think about whether I could create a podcast and would anyone listen? What would I talk about? If you already know the answers to these questions, get started with your teens. It might be that you’re creating a new avenue for delivering school news and information and the podcast is created weekly by teen journalists. Or maybe your teen book group just finished reading dystopian novels and want to review their favorites.

There are plenty of articles and blog posts about podcasting with teens as a makerspace activity or providing an avenue to listen using School Library Journal’s curated list of teen-friendly podcasts. When you and your teens are ready, YALSA created a Tune In tip sheet in 2008 during Teen Tech Week. And easy access to places like Garageband and Audacity to do the recording and within many of the applications for creating audio content, the ability to host and then share them makes it a tool that gives teens a voice. And they’re in charge of the process, whether they’re recording individually by hosting their own spots of favorite music or musings or whether they’re working collaboratively on a review of new dystopian releases by interviewing each other, adults can provide guidance and recommendations without having to control the entire process.  

In our high school library, we’re not quite ready to be creating original content for a podcast, but we’re certainly adding podcasts to our recommended summer learning resources. In the future, I imagine a group of teens providing book recommendations and programming advertisements for our mountain of activities throughout the year, but who knows? At least I know how we’ll be able to get started, in the meantime, I’m enjoying listening to others creating rich content that suits my interests that I can also share with teens in the library.

Have you been successful with teens in creating podcasts? Hosting a podcast listening program? Do you curate podcast recommendations for teens? Share your experiences and ideas! 

— Alicia Abdul, currently reading The Bitter Side of Sweet by Tara Sullivan

The post Podcasts: Resources for Listening and Recording appeared first on The Hub.

2016 Hub Challenge Check-in #20

Sun, 06/12/2016 - 07:00

Not signed up yet – there’s still time! –  for YALSA’s 2016 Hub Reading Challenge? Read the official rules and sign up on the original post. Anything you’ve read since the awards were announced counts, and the challenge runs until 11:59pm EST on June 23, so sign up now!

Hey Hub Challengers, we’re getting down to the last days of the challenge. There’s only 11 days left to read all the books on the awesome list so if you’re just starting you only need to read about 2 books a day and you’ll make it. Totally doable, right?

I’m currently away from the internet in the woods – this post has been magically posted through the power of planning and blog scheduling – so I’ve got a big stack of comics here to keep me company. I’ve bought Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans, as well as some favorite that made the list to read: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Lumberjanes, and Ms. Marvel. I’m so happy that that three comics have gotten so much attention and love from critics and readers a like. They all feature strong, endearing, hilarious, and honestly inspiring women and girls. These are the heroes – or SHEroes – that I want to read about. They all have their own struggles, triumphs, and really care about their friends.

Honestly, I kind of wish Kamala, Doreen, and all the Lumbjane campers were my friends in real life!

What are your last minute Hub Challenge reads or the books you’re reading again because you love them so much?

-Anna Tschetter, currently reading The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood


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Notes from a Teens Top Ten Book Group Member: Heir to the Sky Fantasy Casting

Sat, 06/11/2016 - 07:00

Teens across the nation vote each year for the Teens’ Top Ten book list and the results are eagerly anticipated during Teen Read Week in October– but did you know how the books are nominated for this list in the first place?

Books are nominated by members of Teens’ Top Ten book groups in school and public libraries around the country. To give you a glimpse of some of the teens behind this process, we’re featuring posts from Teens’ Top Ten book groups here on The Hub. Today we have a fantasy cast list for Amanda Sun’s Heir to the Sky (May 2016) created by Carmen Baker.

Publisher’s description:

As heir to a kingdom of floating continents, Kali has spent her life bound by limits—by her duties as a member of the royal family, by a forced betrothal to the son of a nobleman, and by the edge of the only world she’s ever known—a small island hovering above a monster-ridden earth, long since uninhabited by humans. She is the Eternal Flame of Hope for what’s left of mankind, the wick and the wax burning in service for her people, and for their revered Phoenix, whose magic keeps them aloft.

When Kali falls off the edge of her kingdom and miraculously survives, she is shocked to discover there are still humans on the earth. Determined to get home, Kali entrusts a rugged monster-hunter named Griffin to guide her across a world overrun by chimera, storm dragons, basilisks, and other terrifying beasts. But the more time she spends on earth, the more dark truths she begins to uncover about her home in the sky, and the more resolute she is to start burning for herself.

Lily Collins as Kali

Lily Collins looks like the girl on the cover and she looks the most like how I imagined Kali would look.


Alexander Ludwig as Griffin

He looks a lot like the character in the book. He is strong and funny like the character in the book.



Neil Flynn as Kali´s Father, the Monarch

Neil Flynn has a very fatherly look to him and he is what I pictured when I read the book.


Dakota Fanning as Elisha, Kali’s Best friend

She is blonde like how Elisha is in the book and she is a really good actress.


Logan Lerman as Jonash, Kali’s fiance

He looks like he could be royalty and also that you could trust him very much even if you can’t.


Keke Palmer as Aliyah, Griffin’s sister

Keke Palmer is exactly what I envisioned when I pictured Griffin’s sister. They have the same strong independent attitude.


Cara Delevingne as Sayrah, Aliyah’s friend

She could play the timid but joyful role in this movie because she is a great actress.


The post Notes from a Teens Top Ten Book Group Member: Heir to the Sky Fantasy Casting appeared first on The Hub.

Fandom 101: Hamilton

Fri, 06/10/2016 - 07:00

On Sunday, June 12, theater lovers around the country will tune in to watch the Tony Awards. Leading the field with a record sixteen nominations is Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s groundbreaking hip-hop musical about the life of Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton. Combining historically accurate language with modern vernacular, staging critical decisions about the formation of the American nation as rap battles, and making history accessible in a whole new way, Hamilton has already garnered critical acclaim, racking up a Pulitzer Prize for Drama, a Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album, and two Drama League Awards for the 2015-2016 Broadway season.

Not only are critics raving about Hamilton; it’s attracted a broad audience both on- and off-Broadway. Since its 2015 off-Broadway opening, more than 400,000 people have seen it, and only about a quarter of those are from New York. Tickets are sold out through the end of this year. The cast album has gone platinum and, since its release in April, Hamilton: The Revolution, the book containing the show’s libretto with Miranda’s annotations and commentary by Jeremy McCarter, has sold out its first and second printings. Despite the lack of tickets, a devoted fandom has sprung up around the show.

What’s making the story of the ten-dollar founding father so popular?

For one thing, Hamilton has taken steps to be accessible even to those who can’t get to New York (or get tickets once they get there). For most performances, a limited number of seats are sold through a lottery system for $10 each. On matinee days, cast members appear outside the theater to entertain crowds with street performances, often bringing in celebrities to perform. Known as the Ham4Ham Show, it’s recorded and published on YouTube and features familiar faces such as Star Wars director J.J. Abrams, who appeared on May 4 to perform the cantina music Miranda composed for The Force Awakens. Often, Ham4Ham remixes pieces from the show with gender-swapped roles, as when three of the four men who have played King George III appeared as sisters Angelica, Eliza, and Peggy Schuyler, the show’s female leads.

Additionally, the cast and crew are very active on social media. Fans can follow Miranda through his day by watching his Twitter feed, where he regularly engages followers. On the day of the 2016 AP US History exam, he tweeted:

On May 25, Hamilton music director Alex Lacamoire tweeted a video of himself playing a mash-up of Hamilton’s “Burn” with the theme from Game of Thrones, and within an hour, #HamOfThrones was a Twitter trend, generating hundreds of memes, GIFs, and other fan creations.

Miranda refers to Tumblr as “the arts and crafts cabin of the internet,” and he and other cast members regularly take time to praise the numerous blogs and fanworks the show generates. As of this writing, and the Archive of Our Own contain a combined 3,500 works based on the fandom.

Hamilton’s take on history makes it ideal for teaching across disciplines. In a recent School Library Journal article, school librarian Addie Matteson detailed several Hamilton-based lessons she used for a fifth-grade class. Teachers may also find lesson fodder in the complex rhyme schemes of the lyrics and use of primary-source material within the show. An entire section of one song is quoted from George Washington’s Farewell Address, which Hamilton wrote. The entire show is sung-through and characterization established through songs; Daveed Diggs, (Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson), notes in Hamilton: The Revolution each character is given a distinct musical style.

Hamilton embraces its place in education. In 2015, thanks to a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, they partnered with the New York City public schools to present special performances to 20,000 students. Many of these students had never been in a theater. In March, the cast went to the White House to perform for the first family and present their educational program to students in Washington, DC.

In a world struggling to integrate diversity into popular culture, Hamilton stands out. Miranda is the son of Puerto Rican immigrants, and the cast is primarily minorities. Led by Miranda, the race-blind casting makes it easy to see history as pertinent to everyone, regardless of race or background.

The story pivots on Hamilton’s “non-stop” rise from penniless immigrant to statesman through his hard work and determination; then chronicles his fall from grace and (spoiler alert!) eventual death in a duel with Vice President Aaron Burr. This work ethic is also reflected in Miranda’s creative process; he first conceived the idea after reading Ron Chernow’s biography of Hamilton on vacation, and the show took over seven years to create. Miranda took great pains to make it as historically accurate as possible, bringing in Chernow to consult.

It also addresses current issues such as race, class, immigration, gun violence, and politics in a way that is fully accessible to contemporary audiences, especially teens.

This past week, Miranda announced he’ll leave the Hamilton cast next month to pursue other projects. His mark on the theater world has already been made, however, and no matter the outcome of the Tony Awards, it’s very clear: Hamilton is here to stay.

— Elizabeth Norton, currently reading The Notorious Benedict Arnold by Steve Sheinkin and listening to Hamilton

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Reality Scoop: Depression in Young Adult Literature

Thu, 06/09/2016 - 07:00

Mental Health Month may be over, but it’s still worth shining a spotlight on teen depression, because it effects people year round. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, recent surveys demonstrate that as many as one in five teens suffers from clinical depression. At this rate, teen depression has become a critical issue that calls for immediate attention and action. There are many different forms of depression, which include major depression, dysthymia, psychosis, situational depression, and bipolar disorder, a condition that alternates between periods of high spirits and then drops to a low or melancholy state of mind.

Depression can sometimes be tough to diagnose in teens because it is frequently normal for teens to act moody or upset. Adolescence is often a time when teens don’t know how to explain how they are feeling or what they are going through. It can be difficult to determine if they experiencing normal feelings of adolescence or actually displaying symptoms of depression.

Mental Health America (MHA) states that it is not unusual for teens to experience “the blues” or feel “down in the dumps” occasionally. Adolescence is always an unsettling time, with the many physical, emotional, psychological and social changes that accompany this stage of life.

According to the Mayo Clinic there are some common emotional changes that could be possible symptoms of teen depression

  • Feelings of sadness, which can include crying spells for no apparent reason
  • Feeling hopeless or empty
  • Irritable or annoyed mood
  • Frustration or feelings of anger, even over small matters
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities
  • Loss of interest in, or conflict with, family and friends
  • Low self-esteem
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Fixation on past failures or exaggerated self-blame or self-criticism
  • Extreme sensitivity to rejection or failure, and the need for excessive reassurance
  • Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things
  • Ongoing sense that life and the future are grim and bleak
  • Frequent thoughts of death, dying or suicide

When depressed teens realize that they need help with depression, this can be a major step in the direction of recovery.  However, MHA notes that very few teens seek help on their own accord.  Teens will need support and encouragement from family and friends to seek out help and follow treatment recommendations.  Listed below are a number of resources to facilitate getting more information about teens and depression.

American Psychiatric Association – Healthy Minds

Erika’s Lighthouse

Mental Health America (MHA)

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

Here is a list of teen realistic fiction books that focus on teens suffering from depression or mental illness and how this affects their lives and the lives of others.

Challenger Deep by Neil Shusterman – 2016 Best Fiction for Young Adults, 2016 Teens’ Top Ten Best Fiction, 2015 National Book Winner – Challenger Deep is an incredible journey into the mind of a mentally ill young man.  Caden Bosch is hospitalized and as the story unfolds we are privy to his delusions.  This book is about a teen living in the throws of schizophrenia as the unique and fascinating alter universe he creates in his mind unfolds.  However, there is a certain element of depression that surrounds Caden when he is going up and down like a roller coaster dealing with medication and therapy, dropping to the depths of despair and trying to head toward the process of recovery and managing his mental illness.  Challenger Deep is a tribute to teens who suffer from mental illness and is a must read for all.


When We Collided by Emery Lord – 2016 YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults Nominee – Jonah and Vivi are falling for each other deeper and deeper each day.  As a couple they can take on the world together, separately they each have their own struggles to overcome.  Vivi struggles with bipolar disorder, she suffers from manic ups and downs and doesn’t want to take medication.  Jonah’s struggling with the loss of his father, suffering from grief and trying to be there for his mother through her depression.  It is very difficult because he can’t miraculously heal her sadness.  This is a beautiful love story of two teens going through the process of living with mental illness and how to keep going even when everything seems to be falling apart.  Lord’s style personifies real life because living with depression and bipolar disorder is real life for so many teens.

All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven – 2016 YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults – Theodore Finch and Violet Markey were destined to find each other. Each of them are dealing with darkness and despair and each are deeply depressed. Violet for the loss of her older sister in a freak driving accident and Finch due to his abusive father and bleak family life. When the two meet each other on the roof of the school bell tower, both of their lives are changed forever. This is a true love story and a beautiful look into the lives of teens and the reality of mental illness. One of the amazing aspects of this book is the unfolding of Finch and Violet’s relationship and the school project they work on together. I don’t think that I will ever forget haunting notes and clues in this story and the impression that All the Bright Places has left in my mind forever.


Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson – 2010 Best Books for Young AdultsWintergirls is a very emotional and powerful story about Lia a teenage girl suffering from anorexia.  The story written in a realistic journal style, details how depression has affected Lia’s life after dealing with her eating disorder and the death of her best friend Cassie.  Anderson’s amazingly haunting writing is compelling from the beginning to the end of this book.  She mentions in her forward that she wrote Wintergirls to address how many teens suffer from depression, eating disorders, cutting, and feeling lost.  This book hits all of those points and more.



—Kimberli Buckley, currently reading Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway

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The Global Literature in Libraries Initiative

Wed, 06/08/2016 - 07:00

This is a guest post from Lyn Miller-Lachmann of The Global Literature in Libraries Initiative.

Today’s teens live in a far more interconnected world than young people of earlier generations. They meet peers in other countries through video games, “sister schools” programs, and study abroad. Many immigrant families maintain ties to their countries of origin, and travel back and forth during school vacations. Air travel and the Internet have brought the world to our living room, and people in the United States to the rest of the world.

Literature plays a unique role in building global connections. Knowing the stories of a culture is key to understanding that culture. Writers who live within the country or culture offer a different perspective from that of writers who travel to the country as tourists or researchers. The We Need Diverse Books movement has highlighted the authenticity that comes from being a cultural insider. The insiders of books with international settings are authors from those countries.

Language, however, remains a barrier. That’s where translators come in. Thanks to the process of translation, young readers are not restricted to English-speaking countries when “traveling” through books. If books can take you anywhere, translators are the pilots or the ships’ captains who make sure you arrive safely at your destination.

In recent months, a group of literary translators and activists have created the Global Literature in Libraries Initiative (GLLI). According to the mission statement, “the Global Literature in Libraries Initiative strives to raise the visibility of world literature for adults and children at the local, national and international levels. We intend to do so by facilitating close and direct collaboration between translators and librarians, because we believe translators are uniquely positioned to help librarians provide support and events to engage readers of all ages in a library framework that explores and celebrates literature from around the world.”

On the adult side, Elena Ferrante, Stieg Larsson, Roberto Bolaño, Haruki Murakami, and other international authors have garnered critical acclaim and spots on bestseller lists. If adult readers willingly embrace books in translation, why are our teens and their younger siblings still stuck at home?

Some of the reasons have little to do with the interests of young readers but with the way the children’s publishing industry is structured. For instance, small literary publishers and university presses have often been the ones to introduce adult readers in the U.S. to international authors in translation, and novels from these publishers have received favorable attention in industry publications and major newspapers. On the children’s side, far fewer of these small presses exist, and they struggle to gain recognition for their efforts.

In a future article, we plan to highlight some of those courageous publishers, based in Canada as well as in the U.S., that have taken the risk of translating the world’s literature for children and teens. At the same time, we also want to recognize those major houses that have chosen to publish relatively unknown authors from abroad in translation even though the potential for profit may be less apparent.

While YA and children’s authors in the U.S. have come to expect foreign rights deals—and young readers in other countries regularly read books in translation—somewhere around two percent of books published for young readers in the U.S. are translations. The lack of international literature gives the impression that U.S. teens do not need to learn about the rest of the world—or to listen to people who live in the rest of the world. For teens who live in an increasingly interdependent world faced with environmental crisis, economic change, and mass migration, the lack of access to other perspectives threatens to condemn them to second-class global citizenship, at the mercy of local and global economic and political forces and with opportunities closed off.

Librarians play a key role in counteracting this dangerous insularity. We translators involved with the Global Literature in Libraries Initiative plan to develop topical book lists to use with teen readers. For instance, we’re planning a list focused on literature from Brazil to coincide with the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in August, and our reading list for Hispanic/Latino Heritage Month in September will highlight authors from Latin America who write primarily in Spanish. We’re also putting together some fun suggestions for activities to use with the books, such as scavenger hunts, craft projects, film festivals, and more. We welcome your ideas as well! Traveling around the world—even if it’s virtual—is always fun. And, of course, in making books in translation available we’re creating the real-world travelers of the future. As translators, authors, editors, and librarians, we look forward to working together, as we encourage teen readers to explore beyond the boundaries of their own culture and language.

Lyn Miller-Lachmann is the author of the YA novels Gringolandia, Rogue, and Surviving Santiago and the translator, from Portuguese to English, of the picture books The World in a Second and the forthcoming Lines, Squiggles, Letters, Words. A longtime member of ALA and YALSA and the former editor of MultiCultural Review, she blogs on translation, diversity, writing, and travel at

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Women in Comics: Stories of Summer

Tue, 06/07/2016 - 07:00

As summer begins, it is a perfect time to celebrate comics about all aspects of summer vacation, whether this means camp, family vacations, or lazy days with friends. Hopefully these books will make the ideal companion during your summer travels, reading on a beach, or at your local park.

Slice of Paradise by Kevin Dooley. CC By 2.0.

Honor Girl by Maggie Thrash – Camp is a classic summer activity and this book tells the story of a frequent visitor to one such camp. Maggie has spent most of her summers at a traditional all-girls camp in Appalachia called Camp Bellflower for Girls. But, one summer is a bit different from the others. This book chronicles that summer when she was 15 years old and fell in love with one of the female counselors at the camp. Touching on the heartbreak of first loves and the triumph of developing traditional camp skills (in this case amazing abilities on the rifle range), this book will introduce readers to a new voice in graphic novel memoirs.

This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki – 2015 was a big year for This One Summer, with the book becoming both a Caldecott and a Michael L. Printz Honor Book. Once you read it, you are sure to understand both of these awards and all of the other accolades that the book earned. Set at a lake house at the beach that Rose visits each year with her parents and some friends of the family, this book explores the sometimes tumultuous parts of growing up. Rose finds her summer filled with family drama and the issues of the local teens. Though this isn’t necessarily a light read, it is one that will stay with readers.

Sunny Side Up by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm – Based on their childhood, this graphic novel by the brother/sister team, who write the Babymouse series, follows Sunny, a ten-year old growing up in the last half of the 1970’s. As the book opens, she is arriving alone in Florida to visit her grandfather who lives in a retirement community. Slowly as the book progresses the story jumps back and forth between her time in Florida and the months at home in Pennsylvania where she lives with her parents, older brother and baby brother. Through these flashbacks, readers learn that Sunny’s brother has substance abuse problems that are starting to impact the family. This book is a well-written graphic novel that combines humor with a skillful handling of the heavy topic of substance abuse. It will appeal to a wide range of YA book fans.

Emiko Superstar by Mariko Tamaki – Faced with a boring summer of babysitting and loneliness, Emiko isn’t exactly excited about her prospects. But when she discovers the local underground art scene, new avenues suddenly unfold before her. At first unsure of her place in this new social group, she slowly blossoms into a performance artist using the 1960’s looks of her grandmother and the life story of her employer. This story of growing up and finding yourself features an engaging, biracial protagonist who tackles relatable issues including the traumas of leading a double life.

Chiggers by Hope Larson – After years of going to the same summer camp each year like clockwork, Abby is expecting this summer to be like every other one. But this is the year everything changes. Suddenly her best friend at camp has moved up to cabin assistant, her other friend has new piercings, making Abby feel deeply uncool and alone. And, when she finally finds a new friendship with a girl who comes to camp late, everything just gets more complicated. This book is sure to bring readers back to their own summer camp experiences.

Will & Whit by Laura Lee Gulledge – Wilhelmina “Will” Huxstep is confronting personal tragedy and a (possibly related) fear of the dark by creating beautiful, functional, and fun light fixtures. As summer comes to a close, she is enjoying her chance to hang out with like-minded friends at the local art festival until a hurricane throws their plans into disarray. Faced with her fear in the form of a local blackout, Will must find a way to deal with the darkness. Gulledge’s colorful artwork complements the story and makes it a nice read for the end of the summer.

Let us know in the comments if you do end up reading any of these during your summer break or tell us which perfect summer reads we have missed!

– Carli Spina, currently reading Agatha: The Real Life Agatha Christie by Anne Martinetti and Guillaume Lebeau

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It’s Your Monthly Monday Poll: June – Favorite Romance Tropes for Summer

Mon, 06/06/2016 - 07:00

It’s the first Monday in June, and that means it’s time for our monthly Monday poll!

Last month, we asked who your favorite siblings in contemporary YA are, and the results are in! Cath and Wren Avery from Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl *just* edged out the Lynch brothers from Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Cycle series, 29% to 27%. Jenny Han’s Song sisters from the newly-confirmed Lara Jean trilogy (yay! Thank you Jenny Han!) pulled in 17% of the vote, followed by Simon and his sisters from Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda with 14%, and Mikey, Mel, and kid sister Meredith from The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness with 10%. Thanks to everybody who voted.

As the weather heats up, so too do some of our reading lists. Do you enjoy a little extra romance in your summer reading list? Vote for your favorite romantic tropes for a summertime (book) fling below, and let us know in the comments which of your favorite tropes we’ve left out!

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll.

-Carly Pansulla, currently listening to The Diviners by Libba Bray, narrated by January LaVoy (yes, The Lair of Dreams was such fun as an audiobook I had to go back and listen to the first book as an audiobook too!).

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2016 Hub Challenge Check-in #19

Sun, 06/05/2016 - 07:00

Not signed up yet for YALSA’s 2016 Hub Reading Challenge? Read the official rules and sign up on the original post. Anything you’ve read since the awards were announced counts, and the challenge runs until 11:59pm EST on June 23, so sign up now!

I am pretty excited that it is summer. I know it might not technically be summer yet, but it is definitely in sight and I am personally looking forward to it! Summer is the perfect season to take a good book on vacation or read outside after a day at work, so I’d love to hear from you in the comments about where you’re reading and listening to your books these days.

My most recent Hub Challenge book was Sacred Heart by Liz Suburbia. I had no idea what to expect going into this particular book. I wasn’t familiar with Liz Suburbia’s work before this book, but I did know that Sacred Heart had won a number of accolades, including an Alex Award and a spot on the 2016 Great Graphic Novels for Teens Top Ten list. I also knew that it started as a webcomic. With this knowledge, I decided to delve into the story, which is simultaneously a comic about high school that feels as though it will be very relatable to a wide range of readers, and a mysterious story of a town where all of the adults have disappeared. Suburbia chooses to handle this central mystery very peripherally, particularly at first. Though many characters mention parents and other adults and their absence, it is not the focus of the story. This gives the reader a feeling of having been dropped into a world that has been dealing with the absence of adults for some time and allows Suburbia to explore the impact this has over time. While I don’t want to give too much away, I will say that most all readers will find something that surprises them as this story proceeds. If you want to learn more about the book, check out Elizabeth Norton’s Hub interview with Liz Suburbia.

I actually haven’t decided what I am going to read next, so I would love to hear recommendations in the comments! Which book have you read for the Hub Challenge that you loved? Or that you think people might have missed but should really read? Any books that got you interested in a whole new genre? How about a new format, like a book that made you love audiobooks or graphic novels more than ever before? Let me know in the comments! I can’t wait to see what you recommend as my next book. And, be sure to share any other thoughts you have on the books you’re reading for the Hub Challenge in the comments below, on Goodreads, or using the #hubchallenge hashtag on Instagram and Twitter

If you haven’t started the Challenge yet, time is running out! You only have until June 23rd to finish all of your reading. Be sure to sign up in the original post if you haven’t already and jump into your reading! On the other hand, if you’ve already completed the challenge, don’t forget to fill out this form!

– Carli Spina, currently reading The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

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The Margin Project – Socializing Books

Thu, 06/02/2016 - 07:00

How many times have you picked up a book and had so many feelings and reactions while reading it, that you just wanted to share them with the next reader? Look no further than The Margin Project! The Margin Project is something done at many public and school libraries, as well as being championed by writer Jen Malone (find out more about her here). The Margin Project is a great way to bring aspects of social media to reading, thus socializing books!

Courtesy of

I am currently in the process of starting The Margin Project for the teens at my library. I selected 30 books, including fiction and nonfiction, to be a part of this collection. This is a great way to showcase certain titles, including award books likes those on YALSA’s Awards and Selected Lists. I was sure to include some of 2017’s Abraham Lincoln and Rebecca Caudill nominees, to encourage reading those as well. This collection will be specifically labeled so readers know they are able to write in them! Each reader can write using their own pen color and/or symbol to distinguish themselves. From there the sky’s the limit!

Readers can underline their favorite quotes, draw an arrow and write “Pay attention to this!”, draw pictures, write questions, and so much more. I believe that this will also be passive Readers’ Advisory, and will help readers pick new books. If they enjoyed the opinion of a fellow participant in The Margin Project, they may look to see what other books they have read, written in, and loved.

As found on Pinterest.

Participants may also take pictures of and share their writings on social media. The Margin Project is prominent on Pinterest and the hashtag can be found on Instagram and Twitter. This passive program is a great way to bridge the gap between technology and books. This is also a fun way to create a book club. It is great for teens that may not enjoy speaking in large groups, or are unable to attend a regular book club due to scheduling. Creating a book club out of this could be done by circulating 12 titles and having each member alternately read them each month.

There are so many different ways that The Margin Project can impact not only the library’s collection, but the library’s patrons. By seeing which books are popular, it helps with future book selections. This also gives different patrons the ability to communicate with each other when they may not have otherwise. It brings new life to reading and annotating books!

Have any of you participated in The Margin Project at your library or school library? What were your experiences?

-Tegan Anclade, currently reading Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

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So You Want to Read an A.S. King Book?

Wed, 06/01/2016 - 07:00

Whenever I get a request for an “extraordinary teen book” – and, I get that request all the time – I always recommend books by A.S. King.  From real to surreal, love to hate, red helicopters to umbrellas, A.S. King writes books that make the teen experience feel real.

All of the characters in her books – Lucky, Astrid, Glory, and my personal fave, Vera, (just to name a few) are real people to me.  Sometimes I wonder what they might be doing now.  Eating a sandwich?  Feeling happy?  Riding in the red, invisible helicopter?  Her books helped me through reading slumps, a traumatic death, and plain ole’ boredom.

If you haven’t read an A.S. King book, yet – I have to let you know that you are in for a treat.  But!  With so many books and so many topics and subjects, where’s a reader to start?  Lucky for you, I created a super-simple (ha-ha!) flowchart to lead you directly to the book that will blow. your. mind.  Last year, I was lucky enough to have A.S. King visit my library for Teen Read Week.  When I was agonizing over what I was going to say in my introduction, I came upon the following quote, and it’s stuck with me so long because it’s so totally true.  From the New York Times Book Review:  “Maybe there are writers more adept than King at capturing the outrageous and outraged voice of teenagers, but it’s difficult to think of one.” Yes – that’s exactly correct.

So…without further ado…behold my arrow and box skills below…


So You Want to Read an A.S. King Book?


I hope you find as much inspiration, happiness, and joy in her books as I do!  See you next month, dear Hubbers!

—Traci Glass, currently reading The Last Boy and Girl in the World by Siobhan Vivian

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Reading Fanfiction

Thu, 05/26/2016 - 07:00

This year the teen council at my public library held a fanfiction writing contest. Though I was not a voting member, I did read all of the entries. This was my first foray into the fanfiction world, a world that absorbs many of the teens that I work closely with on a regular basis. Through this, I learned a lot about fanfiction and its appeals, and I had to check some of my assumptions at the door.

In the 2014 August issue of School Library Journal, Chelsey Philpot took an extensive look at fanfiction and teens. This highlights the creative outlet that writing fanfiction can be, and how it can be a place to explore emotions, sexuality, and identity for teen writers. One thing that surprised me through this process was that even though a lot of teens had written some fanfiction at some point, a lot of them just like to read it, and would like others to write it for them. This got me curious as to what were the major platforms they were accessing fanfiction on, especially as I will see mobile devices being passed around with a “have you seen this one?”

First thing I had to learn was some basic terminology of the types of fanfiction that there are, and how it is referred to:

  • Canon  – this is written in the world that the fanfiction is about and is something that could happen.
  • AU – “Alternative Universe” – this is where we are in the canon world but a few elements have been changed.
  • AU divergent – “Alternate Universe – Canon Divergence” – The story is set in a different universe from where the original takes place.
  • Crossover  – There are characters from different fandoms in a story.
  • One-Shot – There is only one body of text, usually a short story that is complete.


Most teens seem to be reading fanfiction on a mobile devices through apps. These are a few of the most common:

Most of the teens I talked to felt that this was a starter site for young readers to access fanfiction. They said that this site “can be a bit sketchy,” and felt dated because of its “bad 90s graphics.” There were some ways to filter and narrow results to whether something was “in-process” or “complete,” word count, and with ratings:

  • K  Suitable for most ages
  • K+ Some content may not be suitable for small children
  • T Contains content not suitable for children
  • M Contains content suitable for mature teens and older
  • MA Contain explicit content for mature adults only


Rebecca O’Neil’s fantastic piece on Wattpad for The Hub earlier this year shows what a great tool this is for writers. For avid readers, this doesn’t offer the easy access that they enjoy elsewhere, and seems to be a least favorite site among the teen readers I interviewed. It is a site where you need to create an account to access most of the content, and it is not as easy to filter to find desired content. However, they report that those that both avidly write and read fanfiction use this to build a writer’s community.


Of the apps, Tumblr is by far the favorite, and where most teens seem to be accessing their fanfiction. The favorite feature of Tumblr is that there are libraries and catalogs housing links to fanfiction pertaining to a particular fandom. An example of this is Phanfic, a catalog of fanfiction relating to YouTube stars Dan Howell and Phil Lester (Phil+Dan=Phan). Favorite features include “fic tags” where you can look for fiction by feels, smut levels and types of smut (smut is a very popular vocab word in the fanfic group), length, relationships, themes, and more. There are also options to submit prompts for those that would prefer to read than to write, but would like something very specific.


Not every fandom has its own catalog on Tumblr though, but teens really like the ability to sort out the type of fanfiction that they are reading. Some of this is easier done through a web browser than through an app.

Archive of Our Own or AO3

This is the most popular site among the teens that I talked to, but doesn’t have an official app. The teens felt that this site had the best selection of fanfiction, and they really appreciated the many ways to filter by ratings (if and how explicit), warnings (how angsty and what types of angst), categories (relationship types), crossover, characters, relationships, and whether is was canon, AU, or canon divergence. You can also filter by word count, if it is a one-shot or if it has chapters, and if it is complete or in-progress. They appreciated that the site gave summaries of the fanfiction, and also liked that you could keep narrowing down by searching tags.


This is a website that many of the teens I talked with said they first started with, and seems to be the most child friendly. Many said this is where they first posted their first fanfictions that they wrote when they were 10-years-old or younger. Some say they still go there to read as it is easier to stay away from the “smut.”

One thing that I see being a big draw for teens to reading fanfiction, and the sites that seem to be the most popular are,  that it offers them the opportunity to manage their own reader’s advisory experience through filters. There is a lot of romance happening in fanfiction, and this allows them to read about very specific situations with characters they know and love.

A lot of the teens that I work with identify as queer, and have mentioned that they mostly seek out queer fanfiction. Fanfiction is filling a hole that publishing hasn’t caught up with yet offering more variety of relationships being represented. Fanfiction seems to encourage more reading, and though a teen may read mostly fanfic it is not replacing published works and they still crave novels. Just the other day  a teen came up looking for reading suggestions of new queer books, saying, “I have been reading so much gay fanfic, I feel that I should read a real book now.”

There are other fanfiction apps and websites out there that weren’t discussed such as Kindle Worlds, Pocket Fiction, AsianFanFics, devianART, ficWad, Facebook, Goodreads, Live Journal, and some apps specific to particular fandoms such as Justin Beiber, One Direction, etc.

What are the teens in your area using? What are their favorites?

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YA Mental Health Resources

Tue, 05/24/2016 - 07:00

You may be familiar with YA fiction books that deal with mental health issues, but in honor of it being Mental Health Month, I’m highlighting mostly nonfiction YA resources  (with a few new or forthcoming fiction titles). When colleagues ask me for nonfiction books to recommend to teens to help them cope with mental health issues, I don’t find many. Sure, there are those written that will be useful for class reports, but not many nonfiction titles that offer real, practical, how-to advice.  Most of the helpful resources I have found are online in the form of blogs, articles, brochures, or pamphlets since that’s what’s easiest to keep up-to-date.

Youth Mental Health Resources – Online Resources

Medlineplus, that has health information from the National Library of Medicine, includes a teen mental health section on its database, that’s free to access.

KidsHealth  is part of the KidsHealth family of websites. These sites, run by the nonprofit Nemours Center for Children’s Health Media, provide accurate, up-to-date health information that’s free of “doctor speak.” Their site has very understandable and helpful information for teens on a variety of topics, including teen suicide.

TeensHealth has information about health  related to teens, such as information about body, mind, sexual health, food & fitness, diseases & conditions, infections, school & jobs, drugs & alcohol, and staying safe.

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has information that will help teens learn more about suicide, how to prevent it, cope with a suicide loss, research, and ways to get involved in suicide prevention, such as Out of the Darkness Walks. If you are a teen in crisis, resources are available online on this site for you.

Apps for Youth that Provide Mental Health Assistance –Many of these apps focus on crisis intervention, including:’s Crisis Text Line –Provides teens with free, round-the-clock access to trained counseling and referrals.

Mood 24/7  – This app allows users, including teens, to send a daily text message about how they feel to a doctor, a therapist or loved one.

CodeBlue – This project by Melon Health, scheduled to launch spring of 2016, is designed to help teens alert members of a designated support network with a text message whenever they feel acutely depressed. It is designed to provide teenagers struggling from depression or bullying with support when they need it. Users can choose several contacts to be part of their support group. With just a few taps, the app will alert the support group that the user needs immediate help. Members of the support group can then text or call the user. The app can also share the user’s location with the support group, and members can indicate that they are on their way to see the user in person. Code Blue will be free on both iOS and Android.

BoosterBuddy –This Canadian app provides teens with a list of coping mechanisms, tips for controlled breathing exercises, types of mental health concerns, and ways to manage symptoms. BoosterBuddy was created by Calgary-based developers Robots & Pencils, Island Health, Victoria Hospitals Foundation and a $150,000 donation from Coast Capital Savings. The app helps teens do the following:

  • Check-in with how you are feeling each day
  • Use coping skills
  • Keep track of appointments and medications
  • Get started on tasks
  • Follow self-care routines
  • Increase real-life socialization

Articles or Blogs for Teens on Mental Health Topics

OK2TALK: The goal of OK2TALK is to create a community for teens and young adults struggling with mental health problems and encourage them to talk about what they’re experiencing by sharing their personal stories of recovery, tragedy, struggle or hope. Anyone can add their voice by sharing creative content such as poetry, inspirational quotes, photos, videos, song lyrics and messages of support in a safe, moderated space. The creators hope this is the first step towards getting help and feeling better.

School Library Journal has a helpful bibliotherapy booklist for teens and offers suggestions for teens struggling with depression and suicide, and other tough topics, in this article.

The #MHYALit Discussion Hub– Mental Health in Young Adult Literature posted by TeenLibrarianToolbox on School Library Journal’s online site has regular posts on mental health topics for teens.

An example: #MHYALit: Fight the Stigma, Ask for Help, a guest post by Heather Marie, April 5, 2016


These resources are really helpful but sometimes actually seeing and hearing about a person’s struggle to cope with a mental health issue has more impact than any article or blog post. Kevin Hines, a suicide survivor and speaker and author on bipolar disorder and mental health issues, has created a video entitled, “I Jumped Off the Golden Gate Bridge” that’s unforgettable.


Cracked, Not Broken: Surviving and Thriving After a Suicide Attempt by Kevin Hines (2013) (Nonfiction)

This is the striking story of survival of author Hines, who at age nineteen jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge. The fall didn’t end his life; it began a chronicle of facing mental illness – bipolar disorder – and a series of breakdowns that challenged the author’s desire to live mentally well. His is a powerful saga that offers many insights to those struggling with life after a suicide attempt; from living daily with mental illness to navigating the world and discovering keys to better living.

Mind Your Head by Juno Dawson and Dr. Olivia Hewitt (2016) (Nonfiction)

This book, published in the UK, is only available in the US as an ebook on Kindle or Nook.

James Dawson, now writing as Juno Dawson has written a frank, factual and funny book, with added information and support from clinical psychologist Dr Olivia Hewitt. The book covers topics from anxiety and depression to addiction, self-harm and personality disorders. Juno and Olivia talk clearly and supportively about a range of issues facing young people’s mental health – whether fleeting or long-term – and how to manage them. With real-life stories from young people around the world and witty illustrations from Gemma Correll.

Elena Vanishing: A Memoir by Elena Dunkle and Clare B. Dunkle (2015) (Nonfiction)

This co-authored, mother-daughter memoir recounts daughter Elena’s five-year struggle to overcome anorexia nervosa after her diagnosis at 17. Elena’s memories often highlight the interwoven nature of her relationship with food to traumatic events in her life, from childhood feelings of maternal abandonment to a rape at age 13. Ultimately, this memoir illustrates how Elena found her own path out from this illness, and the treatment she received.

(And a few new, forthcoming fiction books, because I couldn’t resist):

A Tragic Kind of Wonderful by Eric Lindstrom (forthcoming Jan. 2017)

For sixteen-year-old Mel Hannigan, bipolar disorder makes life unpredictable. Her latest struggle is balancing her growing feelings in a new relationship with her instinct to conceal her diagnosis by keeping everyone at arm’s length. But when a former friend confronts Mel with the truth about the way their relationship ended, deeply buried secrets threaten to come out and upend her shaky equilibrium.

A World without You by Beth Revis (forthcoming July 2016)

Seventeen-year-old Bo attends Berkshire Academy, which he believes is a school for kids with superpowers, and struggles in the aftermath of his girlfriend, Sofia’s, suicide. Convinced he can travel through time, Bo refuses to believe Sofia died. Instead, he’s certain she’s trapped in the year 1692.

The Fall of Butterflies by Andrea Portes (May 2016)

At Pembroke, a tiny East Coast boarding school, Willa doesn’t care about being the poor, rural weirdo among the wealthy elite, because she plans to commit suicide—until she meets the mysterious, charismatic Remy.

These are just a few of the many resources available to help teens who might be struggling with mental health issues or who may be in crisis. I hope teens, or those of you who work with them, will find them useful.

–Sharon Rawlins, currently listening to The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury and reading A Darkness Strange and Lovely by Susan Dennard

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Gaming Anime

Mon, 05/23/2016 - 07:00

The response to the Sports Anime post was so enthusiastic that I am back again to highlight some gaming anime titles! My apologies to fans of the “stuck in a video game world” trope, you will have to wait your turn. These main characters are all into tabletop games! (If you must have a video game anime recommendation, I wrote about Summer Wars last year in my Anime Titles for Book Lovers to watch this Summer post.  

What we have this month is  a series about a haunted strategy board game, a dramatic show about a group of teens who trying to form a competitive memory card team, a slice of life comedy starring a mischievous student who distracts his classmate, and a series focused on trading card game battles.

Gaming is another broad sub-genre. While I attempted to select a range of games and themes, if you feel like I missed a show that this list cannot survive without, feel free to bring it up in the comments!

Hikaru no Go

Hundreds of years ago Sai Fujiwara flung himself into a river when he was dismissed from his position as the emperor’s Go instructor. Since his death, he has haunted a Go board hoping to someday achieve his dream of playing one “Divine Move.” Hikaru Shindo, the sixth grade boy he is currently haunting, doesn’t seem to mind his spectral hitchhiker. Will the two be able to work together to make Sai Fujiwara’s dream come true?

Hikaru no Go is the least spooky ghost story in the world, mostly because the show is so focused on the gameplay of Go and the interpersonal relationships of the players. While the 23 volume manga series is still available in the United States, the DVDs of the show are out of print. But do not despair!  both the subtitled and dubbed versions of all 75 episodes the show are available to stream (with commercials) on Viz’s website and Hulu. If you run an anime club or a convention you can contact Viz directly on their website using this form to ask for permission to screen the show to your group.

About the Game: Go

A two player strategy board game that you can pick up and play for little to no cost. The goal of Go is to capture the opposing player’s pieces by surrounding them. Learn more at the American Go Association’s website.


When she was younger, Chihaya Ayase was inspired by a classmate to take up competitive Hyakunin Isshu karuta, a matching and reflexes card game where the players memorize poetry.  Now that she is in high school she wants to draw her friends back together to compete as a team, but things are more complicated than they seem…

A skillful blend of humor and drama, there are two season so far of this series.  You get to know each character through multiple flashback sequences, so the main plot has a slow and steady build. This slow and steady pacing is balanced out by the aggressive animation of the karuta gameplay sequences. The English translation of the manga is out of print, but both seasons of the show are streaming on crunchyroll and if you are running a convention, anime club or library group you can request a commercial free account through crunchyroll’s outreach page

About the Game: Hyakunin Isshu karuta

The version of karuta played in Chihayafuru deals with poetry. The last lines of 100 different poems are printed on cards.  The goal is to match the beginning lines of these poems, which are read aloud, to the end lines printed on those cards. As each poem is read players compete to select the correct end before each other. There are also monster and regional decks, even a Shakespeare deck! Learn more about karuta here.

Tonari no Seki-kun: The Master of Killing Time

Toshinari Seki is busy doing anything and everything except school work. He sits at his desk in the back corner of the classroom; a master of killing time and covering his tracks. Some kids would create a flip book by doodling in the corner of their notebook or textbook. Seki records a voice track for his story, complete with sound effects. Some kids would bring in a remote controlled car and fool around with it during class. Seki sets up an obstacle course and spends all day taking a mock driving test. Rumi Yokoi is the perpetually distracted girl who sits next to him, and you really can’t blame her!

This short form anime is based off of the manga My Neighbor Seki  by Takuma Morishige and each episodes run under 10 minutes.  Since Seki rarely speaks and Yokoi doesn’t want to get in trouble during class, most of the show is Yokoi’s inner monologue and her reactions to Seki’s shenanigans are priceless. At only twenty-one episodes, the series is the shortest one featured today and will leave you begging for more! This show is available on DVD as well as streaming on crunchyroll.

Warning: many games, including a Seki-fied version of Go, make an appearance in Tonari no Seki-kun. Most are not accurate to actual game play. 

About the Game: Shogi

Shogi is played on a board, and is similar to chess in a number of ways. The goal of the game is to capture the opposing player’s king and each game piece may only move in prescribed ways (the king only one spot at a time, in any direction). One major difference is that captured members are absorbed into the aggressor’s forces.  Sadly, there are not usually trap doors, or secret identities in Shogi, that is all Seki. 

Cardfight!! Vanguard

Shy middle school student Sendo Aichi is having trouble making friends. The only thing he has going for him is that he has a super rare ‘Blaster Blade’ card from the popular ‘Vanguard’ card game, but he loses his precious card in his first match! Will he ever make any friends?

Similar to Pokémon or Yu-Gi-Oh!,  watching this show is like watching people play any trading card battle style game, except the battle sequences are brought to life in epic fashion. This would be a great series for fans of watching twitch or youtube playthroughs of games.  Cardfight!! Vanguard ran for four seasons, has had several spinoff manga, a movie Cardfight!! Vanguard Film: Neon Messiah, and an ongoing “new class” style spin off show, Cardfight!! Vanguard G. Set three years after the end of the original series, one of the main characters from the first series acts as a mentor to a new group of players seeking to be the very best, like no one ever was …

No, wait, that’s Pokémon. If you want more information on Pokémon check out this Teen Perspective post: Digitally Remastered – Comic books for gamers!

About the Game: Cardfight Vanguard

A trading card game of strategy and luck, Cardfight Vanguard has a fairly standard one-on-one battle structure. Each deck of cards is customized based on what is purchased or won from other players. The first player to receive six damage, or run out of cards, looses. In the show you actually get to see these battles taking place on the planet Cray, but in real life, that is left to the imaginations of the players. The two players decks are shuffled before the game begins, which means that a player with a less expensive deck, but a good sense of strategy and a healthy serving of luck, can win against an opponent with more powerful individual cards. 
— Jennifer Billingsley,  currently reading Denton Little’s Deathdate by Lance Rubin.

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